Foto’s II

Beethoven mit dem Manuskript der Missa solemnis, 1820 – Ölgemälde von Joseph Karl Stieler

Stieler, Joseph Karl: Beethoven mit der Missa solemnis Ölgemälde, 1819

Nice to know
Joseph Karl Stieler had been a very popular portraitist during the first half of the 19th century. It was him, who painted the portrait of Ludwig van Beethoven, which today is supposedly the most famous one, and which was being reproduced and copied again and again since its creation in the spring of 1820. Stieler’s depiction shaped the perception developed by the broad public during the 19th and 20th century regarding the personality and the physical appearance of Beethoven. In the eyes of the ensuing ages, the painter also captured the creative genius of the composer in his idealistic portrait. The painting was created on commission of the married couple Franz and Antonie Brentano, who had been friends of Beethoven since around 1810. Beethoven’s conversation books give rather detailed information on the origins of the painting. The composer was sitting for the painter four times – a very unusual high number of sittings, since Beethoven is said to have been unable to sit still. Stieler’s portrait of Beethoven distinguishes itself above all through two novel elements. First of all – in contrast to all other contemporary paintings – it shows the composer while he is performing his art. Beethoven is holding a pen and seems to be working on the Credo of his “Missa solemnis”. The face of the manuscript he is holding says: “Missa solemnis / From D # (# stands for Major)”; on the page facing the composer, the word “Credo” can be recognized. Further on, Stieler shows the view to a forest landscape in the background and by doing this, he – for the first time – combines a portrait of Beethoven with romantic motives of the nature. Beethoven’s well-known love of nature and his famous “Sinfonia pastoral” op.68 with its haunting musical description of nature, provided him the biographical clues for such a depiction. Both motifs – “Beethoven composing” and “Beethoven in the nature” – became very popular during the further course of the 19th and 20th century, and until today, fine artists again and again were depicting those motifs.

Viola, Beethovens Dienstinstrument in der Bonner Hofkapelle

Realien: Beethovens Viola
At the age of 18 Beethoven was given a post as viola player in the Bonn court orchestra. After he had moved away from Bonn, the instrument was left behind with his violin teacher Franz Anton Ries, who was likewise a member of the orchestra. His descendants placed it at the disposal of the Beethoven-Haus. Following its restoration it is still played today on special occasions.

Realien: Beethovens Viola

Realien: Beethovens Viola

Realien: Beethovens Viola

Nice to know
Beethoven used this instrument when he was a member of the Bonn Court Chapel. Court Chapel musicians received their instruments from the employer. From 1784 onwards Beethoven was employed as Court Organist. In 1790 the court calendar lists him as violist for the first time. Probably, Beethoven held this position from mid-1789 onwards when the national theatre, that also comprised members of the Court Chapel, was rearranged. After the archiepiscopal state was dissolved by the French in 1794 Beethoven’s viola remained in the possession of the family of Franz Anton Ries, who was Beethoven’s violin teacher and also a member of the Court Chapel. Obviously the instrument was frequently played there because it was completely overhauled several times in the 19th century. Neck, fingerboard, string holder and peg were renewed. Violin manufacturer Sebastian Dalinger (1735-1809) from Vienna is said to have built the viola around 1780.

First edition of the Dressler Variations WoO 63

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In 1782 Beethoven’s first composition was published by a Mannheim publisher: Piano Variations on a March by Dressler. Beethoven’s teacher Christian Gottlob Neefe wrote about his pupil in the “Magazin der Musik” in 1783 with reference to the composition. He praised the twelve-year-old’s promising talent, who could “surely become a second Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, if he should progress as he has begun”.

Familie von Breuning (6 Personen) – Geschnittene und getuschte Silhouette, 1782

Scan_6070
The young Beethoven liked frequenting the Breunings’ house in Bonn. This connection was of the greatest importance for Beethoven’s personal development. The second oldest son, Stephan von Breuning, was still one of his closest and most reliable friends in Vienna. Beethoven gave the daughter Eleonore piano lessons. According to Gerhard, Stephan von Breuning’s son, there was also a “warm and everlasting bond of friendship” between them both.

Spieltisch von “Beethovens Orgel” aus der Kirche St. Remigius (bis 1803 Minoriten-Kirche) im Museum Beethoven-Haus Bonn, 2001

Musikinstrumente: Orgelspieltisch aus der Minoritenkirche
Beethoven had played on this organ console at the Bonn Minorite Church (today Remigius Church) from the age of ten. When the organ was rebuilt in 1904, the historic console was dismantled by the organ builder firm Klais and given to the Beethoven-Haus in 1905.

Musikinstrumente: Orgelspieltisch aus der Minoritenkirche

Musikinstrumente: Orgelspieltisch aus der Minoritenkirche

Musikinstrumente: Orgelspieltisch aus der Minoritenkirche

Nice to know
1784, when Ludwig van Beethoven was 13 years old, he was engaged as an assistant organist in the court orchestra of Bonn. At the age of twelve years, he already substituted the main organist Christian Gottlob Neefe who replaced the musical director of the court’s chapel. Beethoven’s duty was to play the morning mass in the Minorite Church of Bonn. At that time, he played on the console shown here.

The organ of the Minorite Church was built by a Cologne organ builder in the middle of the 18th century. Due to the war, its frame had been destroyed in 1944 , but its physical appearance is handed down by some old pictures. Until then, the organ had already been rebuilt several times and, among other things, the old console had been removed. In 1905, it was given to the Beethoven-Haus as a gift. After a fire in 1960, it was restored in a slightly different shape, but it was restored to original condition in the 1980s (during the last restoration of the Beethoven-Haus).

Beethovens Schreibtisch aus der Wohnung des Komponisten im “Schwarzspanierhaus”

Realien: Schreibtisch Beethovens
The writing desk (with a walnut veneer) is one of Beethoven’s few surviving pieces of furniture. In his numerous Viennese lodgings the desk was always afforded pride of place.

Realien: Schreibtisch Beethovens

Realien: Schreibtisch Beethovens

Realien: Schreibtisch Beethovens

Realien: Schreibtisch Beethovens

Nice to know
This big desk from the estate of Ludwig van Beethoven originates from the composer’s last apartment in the “House of the Black-robed Spaniards”. According to Gerhard von Breuning’s memories of his youth, which he published in 1874, this piece of furniture was standing in the so-called “notes room”. This room was a small room next to the apartment, where Beethoven kept his drafts, his notes and sketches. The room was a total chaos.

In the 19th century, people often believed that the devenport has a safe-deposit. They also said, that Beethoven had kept his bank shares and his love letter to the “immortal beloved” and portrait miniatures of two unknown ladies in this safe-deposit, and that they had been found there. They related those two ladies to the famous letter. Indications in the sources however, are so contradictory, that contemporary research of music history doubts this theory.

Ludwig van Beethoven, Trio in einem Satze für Klavier, Violine und Violoncello (B-Dur) WoO 39, Partitur, Autograph

WoO  39
Maximiliane Brentano, the musical daughter of Franz and Antonie Brentano, was not yet ten when Beethoven composed his Piano Trio in one movement WoO 39 for her “to encourage her piano playing”. The score is unusually cleanly written; it could be used for performance. Beethoven added fingerings to the piano part for ease of playing. No other Beethoven manuscript contains such extensive fingerings. The encouragement seems to have paid off. Nine years later Beethoven dedicated his Piano Sonata op. 109 to the adult Maximiliane Brentano.

WoO  39

WoO  39

WoO  39

WoO  39

WoO  39

WoO  39

WoO  39

WoO  39

WoO  39

WoO  39

WoO  39

Nice to know
Present for a little girl
A first glance at this autograph score shows that it does not look like most of Beethoven’s other autograph scores.
The Piano Trio in One Movement WoO 39 has been written in a particularly careful and neat manner, and it contains almost no corrections. Beethoven has provided fingerings throughout the piano part. Why? The answer lies on the top of the first page: “Vien am 26ten Juni. 1812. für meine kleine Freundin Maxe Brentano zu ihrer Aufmunterung im Klawierspielen. – lvBthwn.” (“Vienna, 26 June 1812. for my little friend Maxe Brentano to encourage her with her piano-playing. -lvBthwn.”). Maximiliane Brentano was ten years old in 1812. She was the daughter of Franz and Antonie Brentano, who were close friends of Beethoven’s (Franz was the half-brother of Clemens and Bettina Brentano). Beethoven’s desire to “encourage her with her piano-playing” seems to have been successful, as he dedicated another work to her nine years later: op. 109, one of his late piano sonatas.

Beethovens Reiseschreibpult

Realien: Reisepult Beethovens
In the last weeks of Beethoven’s life this travel desk was placed right next to his bed. Three days before he died, he wrote a codicil to his will at the desk, in which he named his nephew Karl as his sole heir. Beethoven probably kept his letter to the “Immortal Beloved” in the open compartment shown here.

Realien: Reisepult Beethovens

Realien: Reisepult Beethovens

Realien: Reisepult Beethovens

reisepult_265

Beethovens Streichquartettinstrumente im Museum Beethoven-Haus Bonn, 2001

Musikinstrumente: Streichquartett-Instrumente
Beethoven was given these four valuable stringed instruments around 1800 by his friend and patron Prince Lichnowsky, possibly in connection with the creation of the String Quartets op. 18, Beethoven’s first works for this classical Viennese genre. As one of the composer’s first Viennese patrons, Prince Lichnowsky gave him an annual stipend of 600 gulden. The composer was to be given access to this until he was able to find an appropriate position. The instruments are marked with a big “B” and Beethoven’s signet on the back.

Musikinstrumente: Streichquartett-Instrumente

Musikinstrumente: Streichquartett-Instrumente

Musikinstrumente: Streichquartett-Instrumente

Musikinstrumente: Streichquartett-Instrumente

Musikinstrumente: Streichquartett-Instrumente

Musikinstrumente: Streichquartett-Instrumente

Musikinstrumente: Streichquartett-Instrumente

Musikinstrumente: Streichquartett-Instrumente

Ludwig van Beethoven, Brief an Franz Gerhard Wegeler in Bonn, Wien, 29. Juni 1801, Autograph

Brief Beethoven an Franz Gerhard Wegeler, 29. Juni 1801 (BG 65)
Beethoven confided in Franz Gerhard Wegeler, a doctor and his boyhood friend, that his hearing had become worse over the last three years. In the theatre he was now forced to move close to the orchestra so as to be able to hear the actors. He was no longer able to distinguish the higher notes of instruments and singers from a distance. When people spoke softly he could hear the sound but was no longer able to distinguish the words. Shouting caused him pain. His ears were filled with whistling and buzzing day and night. Even worse than the physical side-effects seemed to be those on his personality. He felt deeply humiliated. That such a disaster should befall him, a composer at the height of his creativity!

Brief Beethoven an Franz Gerhard Wegeler, 29. Juni 1801 (BG 65)

Brief Beethoven an Franz Gerhard Wegeler, 29. Juni 1801 (BG 65)

Brief Beethoven an Franz Gerhard Wegeler, 29. Juni 1801 (BG 65)

Nice to know
This letter which Beethoven wrote to his friend Franz Gerhard Wegeler in Bonn is one of the few which gives us a deeper insight into Beethoven’s private life.
At the beginning Beethoven assures his childhood friend of his friendship and close attachment, which he also feels for his home town: “I will consider the time when I can see you again and can greet our father Rhine to be one of the happiest occasions in my life”. He then goes on to report about his circumstances at the time, saying he is very happy with them. Prince Lichnowsky, one of his patrons, pays him 600 florins a year; apart from this the sales from his compositions are good.
For the first time Beethoven talks about his loss of hearing, which he sees as a “jealous demon” against his professional success. He also describes other health problems and the more or less successful methods of treatment. He tells him of his insecurity and doubt caused by his increasing deafness, but asks his friend to preserve the strictest confidence on the matter. Wegeler is not even to mention it to his future wife Eleonore von Breuning, a mutual childhood friend. Beethoven is afraid of the humiliation which deafness would bring a successful musician.
Beethoven tells him that he is doing a lot with Stephan von Breuning, whose company he greatly values. Furthermore he promises to send his friend music and also the engraving which Wegeler had apparently requested (it is probably a representation from Greek mythology by the painter Heinrich Füger). In addition Beethoven promises him an engraving of himself (Neidl after Stainhauser). In return he asks Wegeler to send him a portrait of his grandfather (Radoux).
Beethoven suggests to the young Ferdinand Ries that it would be better for him to go to Paris than to Vienna. There are now a great many artists in Vienna and so it is difficult to be successful there. However Beethoven promises to do whatever he can for him.

65. Beethoven an Franz Gerhard Wegeler in Bonn

Vien am 29ten. Juni [1801] .

Mein guter lieber Wegeler, wie sehr danke ich dir für dein Andenken an mich, ich habe es so wenig verdient und um dich zu verdienen gesucht, und doch bist so sehr gut, und läßt dich durch nichts, selbst durch meine unverzeihliche Nachläßigkeit nicht abhalten, bleibst immer der treue gute biedere Freund; – daß ich dich und überhaupt euch, die ihr mir einst alle so lieb und theuer waret, vergessen könnte, nein das glaub nicht, es giebt Augenblicke, wo ich mich selbst nach euch sehne, ja bey euch einige Zeit zu Verweilen; – mein Vaterland die schöne gegend, in der ich das Licht der Welt erblickte, ist mir noch immer so schön und deutlich vor meinen Augen, als da ich euch verließ, kurz ich werde diese Zeit als eine der glüklichsten Begebenheiten meines Lebens betrachten, wo ich euch wieder sehen und unsern Vater Rhein begrüßen kann. – wann dies seyn wird, das kann ich noch nicht bestimmen, so viel will ich euch sagen, daß ihr mich nur recht groß wiedersehen werdet, nicht als Künstler sollt ihr mich größer, sondern auch als Mensch sollt ihr mich besser, Vollkommener finden, und ist dann der Wohlstand etwas besser in unserm vaterlande, dann soll meine Kunst sich nur zum Besten der Armen zeigen, o glückseeliger Augenblick, wie glücklich halte ich mich, daß ich dich herbey schaffen, dich selbst schaffen kann – von meiner Lage willst du was wissen, nun sie wäre eben so schlecht nicht, seit vorigem Jahr hat mir Lichnowski , der, so unglaublich es dir auch ist, wenn ich dir sage, immer mein wärmster Freund war und geblieben, (kleine Mißhelligkeiten gab’s ja auch unter unß), (und haben nicht eben diese unsere Freundschaft mehr befestigt?) eine sichere Summe von 600 fl. ausgeworfen, die ich, so lang ich keine für mich passende Anstellung finde, ziehen kann, meine Komposizionen tragen mir viel ein, und ich kann sagen, daß ich mehr Bestellungen habe, als es fast möglich ist, daß ich machen kann. auch habe ich auf jede Sache 6, 7 Verleger und noch mehr, wenn ich mir’s angelegen sein lassen will, man accordirt nicht mehr mit mir, ich fodere und man zahlt, du siehst, daß es eine hübsche Lage ist, z.B. ich sehe einen Freund in Noth und mein Beutel leidet eben nicht, ihm gleich zu helfen, so darf ich mich nur hinsezen und in kurzer Zeit ist ihm geholfen – auch bin ich ökonomischer als sonst, sollte ich immer hier bleiben, so bringe ichs auch sicher dahin daß ich jährlich immer eine[n] Tag zur Akademie erhalte, deren ich einige gegeben. nur hat der neidische Dämon, meine schlimme Gesundheit, mir einen schlechten Stein ins Brett geworfen nemlich: mein Gehör ist seit 3 Jahren immer schwächer geworden, und das soll sich durch meinen Unterleib, der schon damals wie Du weist elend war, hier aber sich verschlimmert hat indem ich beständig mit einem Durchfall behaftet war, und mit einer dadurch außerordentlichen schwäche, ereignet haben, Frank wollte meinem leib den Ton wieder geben durch stärkende Medizine und mein Gehör durch Mandelöhl, aber prosit , daraus ward nichts, mein gehör ward immer schlechter, und mein Unterleib blieb immer in seiner vorigen Verfassung, das dauerte bis voriges Jahr Herbst, wo ich manchmal in Verzweiflung war, da rieth mir ein Medizinischer asinus das kalte Bad für meinen Zustand, ein gescheiderer das gewöhnliche Lauwarme DonauBad, das that wunder, mein Bauch ward besser mein Gehör blieb oder ward noch schlechter, diesen Winter gieng’s mir wircklich elend, da hatte ich wirckliche schreckliche Koliken, und ich sank wieder ganz in meinen Vorigen Zustand zurück; und so bliebs bis ohngefähr 4 Wochen, wo ich zu Wering gieng indem ich dachte, daß dieser Zustand zugleich auch einen Wundarzt erfodere, und ohnedem hatte ich immer vertrauen zu ihm, ihm gelang es nun fast gänzlich diesen heftigen Durchfall zu hemmen, er verordnete mir das laue Donaubad, wo ich jedesmal noch ein fläschgen stärkende sachen hineingießen muste, gab mir gar keine Medizin, bis vor ohngefähr 4 Tagen Pillen für den Magen und einen Thee für’s Ohr, und darauf kann ich sagen befind ich mich stärker und besser nur meine ohren, die sausen und Brausen tag und Nacht fort; ich kann sagen, ich bringe mein Leben elend zu, seit 2 Jahren fast meide ich alle gesellschaften, weils mir nun nicht möglich ist, den Leuten zu sagen, ich bin Taub, hätte ich irgend ein anderes Fach, so giengs noch eher, aber in meinem Fach ist das ein schrecklicher Zustand, dabey meine Feinde, deren Anzahl nicht geringe ist, was würden diese hiezu sagen – um dir einen Begriff von dieser wunderbaren Taubheit zu geben, so sage ich dir, daß ich mich im Theater ganz dicht am Orchester gar anlehnen muß, um den schauspieler zu verstehen, die hohen Töne von Instrumenten singstimmen, wenn ich etwas weit weg bin höre ich nicht, im sprechen ist es zu Verwundern daß es Leute giebt die es niemals merkten, da ich meistens Zerstreuungen hatte, so hält man es dafür, manchmal auch hör ich den Redenden der leise spricht kaum, ja die Töne wohl, aber die worte nicht, und doch sobald jemand schreit, ist es mir unausstehlich, was es nun werden wird, das weiß der liebe Himmel, weringsagt, daß es gewiß besser werden wird,  wenn auch nicht ganz – ich habe schon oft den schöpfer und mein daseyn verflucht, Plutarch hat mich zu der Resignation geführt, ich will wenn’s anders möglich ist, meinem schicksaal trozen, obschon es Augenblicke meines Lebens geben wird, wo ich das unglücklichste Geschöpf gottes seyn werde. Ich bitte dich von diesem meinen Zustand niemanden auch nicht einmal der Lorchen etwas zu sagen, nur als geheymniß vertraue ich dir’s an, lieb wäre mirs, wenn du einmal mit Wering darüber Brief wechseltest, sollte mein Zustand fortdauren, so komme ich künftiges frühjahr zu dir, du miethe[s]t mir irgendwo in einer schönen Gegend ein Hauß auf dem Lande, und dann will ich ein halbes Jahr ein Bauer werden, vieleicht wird’s dadurch geändert, resignation : welches elende Zufluchtsmittel, und mir bleibt es doch das einzige übrige. –
du verzeihst mir doch, daß ich dir in deiner ohnedem trüben Lage noch auch diese Freundschaftliche Sorge aufbinde – Steffen Breuning ist nun hier und wir sind fast täglich zusammen, es thut mir so wohl die alten Gefühle wieder hervorzurufen, er ist wirklich ein guter Herrlicher Junge geworden der was weiß, und das Herz wie wir alle mehr oder weniger auf dem Rechten Flecke hat, ich habe eine sehr schöne Wohnung jezt, welche auf die Bastey geht und für meine gesundheit doppelten werth hat, ich glaube wohl, daß ich es werde möglich machen können, daß B. zu mir komme. –
deinen Antiochum sollst du haben, und auch noch recht viele Musikalien von mir, wenn du anders nicht glaubst, daß es dich zu viel kostet, aufrichtig deine Kunstliebe freut mich doch noch sehr, schreibe mir nur, wie es zu machen ist, so will ich Dir alle meine Werke schicken, das nun freylich eine hübsche Anzahl ist, und die sich täglich vermehrt –
statt dem Portrait meines Großvaters, welches ich dich bitte mir sobald als möglich mit dem Postwagen zu schicken, schicke ich Dir das seines Enkels deines dir immer guten und herzlichen Beethowen, welches hier bey Artaria, die mich hier darum oft ersuchten so wie viele andere auch auswärtige Kunsthandlungen, herauskommt. – Stoffel will ich nächstens schreiben, und ihm ein wenig den Text lesen über seine störrische laune, ich will ihm die alte Freundschaft recht ins Ohr schreien, er soll mir heilig versprechen, euch in euren ohnedem trüben Umständen nicht noch mehr zu kränken – auch der guten Lorchen will ich schreiben, nie habe ich auch einen unter euch lieben guten Vergessen, wenn ich euch auch gar nichts von mir hören ließ, aber schreiben, das weist du, war nie meine sache, auch die besten Freunde haben Jahre lang keine Briefe von mir erhalten, ich lebe nur in meinen Noten, und ist das eine kaum da so ist das andere schon angefangen, so wie ich jezt schreibe, mache ich oft 3 4 sachen zugleich – schreibe mir jezt öfter, ich will schon sorge tragen, daß ich Zeit finde, dir zuweilen zu schreiben, grüße mir alle, auch die gute Frau Hofräthinn , und sag ihr, daß ich noch zuweilen einen raptus han, was Koch’s angeht, so wundere ich mich gar nicht über deren Veränderung, das glück ist kugelrund und fällt daher natürlich nicht immer auf das edelste, das beste – wegen Rieß , den mir herzlich grüße, was seinen sohn anbelangt, will ich dir näher schreiben, obschon ich glaube, daß um sein Glück zu machen Parisbesser als wien sey, Vien ist überschüttet mit Leuten, und selbst dem Bessern Verdienst fällt es dadurch hart, sich zu halten – bis den Herbst oder bis zum Winter werde ich sehen, was ich für ihn thun kann, weil dann alles wieder in die Stadt eilt –
leb wohl guter treuer Wegeler sey versichert von der liebe und Freundschaft
deines Beethowen.
© 1998 G. Henle Verlag, München
Realie: mittelgroßes Hörrohr Beethovens
Beethoven had been increasingly battling hearing difficulties since he was thirty. In 1813 he had Johann Nepomuk Mälzel, an inventor of mechanical devices, produce several ear trumpets. They did not, however, prove very useful. Yet for a long time he placed his hopes on “hearing machines”.

Beethovens mittelgroßes Hörrohr; gefertigt von Johann Nepomuk Maelzel, 1812/1813

Realie: mittelgroßes Hörrohr Beethovens

Realie: mittelgroßes Hörrohr Beethovens

Nice to know
When the problems with his impaired hearing became worse, Ludwig van Beethoven tried to find an aid, that would make communication with others easier. So he contacted the well-known mechanic and inventor Johann Nepomuk Mälzel (1772-1838), who had lived in Vienna since 1792, and who had been in close contact with Beethoven around 1812/1813.

Mälzel developed a number of differently shaped ear trumpets for the composer, which partly were to be attached to the head with a metal circlet. (Four of those hearing aids can be seen in the Beethoven-Haus in Bonn, another one is in possession of the society of music-lovers in Vienna.) Apart from the ear trumpets, two other inventions by Mälzel became important for Beethoven. One was the “Panharmonicon”, which was some sort of a music box, for which Beethoven wrote the original version of his battle symphony “Wellingtons Sieg” (Wellington’s Victory) Op. 91 in 1813. The other invention was the metronome, which he used as the first important composer.

Hammerflügel, Beethovens letzter Flügel, Wien, 1826

Musikinstrumente: Graf-Flügel
The pianoforte was built by the Viennese piano manufacturer Conrad Graf. Graf placed the instrument with quadruple stringing at Beethoven’s disposal in January 1826. It originally had an additional sounding board to increase the sound. The piano was added to the Beethoven-Haus collection in 1889.

Musikinstrumente: Graf-Flügel

Musikinstrumente: Graf-Flügel

Musikinstrumente: Graf-Flügel

Realien: Haarlocke Beethovens
Many people paid the composer a last honour, when he was laid out in state – they took a lock of his hair as a souvenir. Afterwards, Beethoven’s head was completely bald. Many of these locks of hair ended up in the Beethoven-Haus. Two of the locks are on display together with a certificate of authentication from the Viennese art expert Anton Gräffer, who later undertook the auction of Beethoven’s music.

Nice to know
Strands of hair of deceased famous people were a popular and appreciated memory of the person in the 19th century. Very often they had been enclosed in pieces of jewellery and people kept them over generations. Strands of Beethoven’s hair, too, were in great demand by the composer’s friends and admirers. After Beethoven’s death, numerous visitors came to his apartment, to pay their last respects to him. Apparently, many of them took the opportunity to cut a strand of hair from the head of Beethoven’s corpse. Gerhard von Breuning, the son of one of Beethoven’s oldest friends, Stephan von Breuning, said: “On March 29, when I went over to Beethoven’s apartment with my father to clip some strands of Beethoven’s hair – father had allowed me to do that only towards the end of the laying out, so the physical appearance [of Beethoven] would not be ruined earlier -, we saw, that strangers had already cut all of his strands of hair.” (Memories of Beethoven: From the House of the Black-robed Spaniards, by Gerhard von Breuning. Vienna 1874)

Josef Danhauser (1805-1845), Totenmaske Ludwig van Beethovens – Gipsabguß nach der von Josef Danhauser angefertigten Maske

Danhauser, Josef: Totenmaske Beethovens; Abguß der Maske von Danhauser
Beethoven died during the afternoon of 26 March 1827 in his Viennese lodgings in the “Schwarzspanierhaus”. The next morning the painter Josef Danhauser was asked to take a death mask of the composer.

Danhauser, Josef: Totenmaske Beethovens; Abguß der Maske von Danhauser

Danhauser, Josef: Totenmaske Beethovens; Abguß der Maske von Danhauser

Danhauser, Josef: Totenmaske Beethovens; Abguß der Maske von Danhauser

Danhauser, Josef: Totenmaske Beethovens; Abguß der Maske von Danhauser

Nice to know
Immediately after he had heard the news of Beethoven’s death, Josef Danhauser asked the composers’s friend Stepahn von Breuning whether he might make the composer’s death mask. Breuning complied with this wish and Danhauser was allowed to make the mould in Beethoven’s apartment. Although the surviving sources agree on these basic facts the exact time of Danhauser’s visit cannot be ascertained, as references in reports of the time widely differ.

According to present-day research Josef Danhauser and his brother Carl in all probability went to the composer’s apartment in the early morning, a few hours after Beethoven’s death. Carl Danhauer records this fact in a report from 1888. Josef Danhauser seems to have preserved the original negative of Beethoven’s face up to his death in April 1845, although it has since disappeared. A few months later Aloys Fuchs writes in his “Verzeichnis aller bisher erschienenen Abbildungen Ludwig van Beethovens” that it was in the possession of the Viennese portrait painter Eduard Cramolini (1807-1881), who also possessed a cast of Beethoven’s life mask.

bhbonn
© Abbildungen: Beethoven-Haus Bonn

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