(1824 - 1827)

Much has been written about the spiritual quality of Beethoven's Late String Quartets. A brief biographical overview of Beethoven's life such as this can not dare to endeavor to even slightly touch the meaning of these masterworks. What it can do, however, is to provide a faithful chronological account of the outer events as well as of the basic history of the creation of these works during that period. It might, at least, provide to that friend of Beethoven's music who is still a "beginner" in the enjoyment of those works a "road map" to all of the events surrounding their creation.

During the spring of 1824, while preparations for the premiere of his last two great public works in May were underway, Beethoven also negotiated with the publishers Schott & Sons in Mainz for the publication of these two works. These as well as the first Gallitzin String Quartet, Op. 127, would eventually be published by this company.

By the summer of 1824, Beethoven's nephew Carl was continuing his classical language studies at the University of Vienna. In one of the conversation book entries of that time he expressed his wish to become a soldier. Beethoven was continually worried about as to whether Carl put forth all possible efforts in his studies. With respect to Carl and to his Will, Beethoven wrote the following letter to his lawyer, Dr. Bach, on August 1st:

"Most worthy friend!

My heartfelt thanks for your kind recommendation here; I am really well taken care of--I must remind you of the part of my Will concerning Carl. I think that I might have a stroke some day, like my worthy grandfather whom I take after. Carl is and remains the sole heir of all that I have and that may be found after my death. However, since one must leave something to one's relatives, even when they are quite uncongenial, my brother is to receive my French piano from Paris.- . . . " (Thayer: 918).

In September 1824, Andreas Streicher, out of concern for his friend Beethoven's financial security, suggested a plan of action for Beethoven: He should hold six high-class subscription concerts during the next winter which, on the basis of 600 subscribers, should have yielded him a total of 4,800 florins, and that Beethoven's plans of having his collected works published, should now be realized, hopefully resulting in a profit of 10,000 florins. Moreover, he suggested that piano and organ transcriptions of the Missa Solemnis be sold to Singing Societies.

To a friendly visitor from London, the Thuringian-born Johann Andreas Stumpff (not the Stumpff who tuned his Broadwood Piano), Beethoven admitted that he revered Handel above all other composers. Stumpff made a secret vow to find and send Beethoven the complete works of Handel. He would fulfill this secret promise two years later.

Beethoven's concern over his nephew Carl's conduct never abated, as is evidenced in his letter to Tobias Haslinger of October 6th and in some conversation book entries from Baden.

On his return to Vienna, Beethoven had trouble in that his life-style as a deaf composer (excessive piano noise!) and his quarrels with Carl affected his stay at the first apartment he moved to. It is not clear, however, if he had to move or if he could stay there. Gerhard von Breuning, in his Memories of Beethoven: From the House of the Black-Robed Spaniards, lists another residence, namely Krügerstraße 1009, for the winter of 1824/25.

With respect to his state of health, Beethoven mentioned in his November 18th, 1824 letter to his pupil, Archduke Rudolph, that he had returned to Vienna in ill health.

Beethoven's main composition of 1824 was the Quartet in E-flat, Op. 127. We know that Prince Gallitzin requested this work from Beethoven in the fall of 1822, while Beethoven must already have had ideas for a quartet in his mind when he mentioned these to Peters of Leipzig in June, 1822. Work on it began after May 1824. In the meantime, Prince Gallitzin had also subscribed to the Mass and paid Beethoven 50 ducats for it.

Gallitzin's letter of April 8th, 1824, described to Beethoven the first full performance of the Mass in St. Petersburg on April 7th. Gallitzin's opinion was that the work's beauties would only be fully understood in the future. The composer sent the completed quartet to Gallitzin at the end of the year, who, in turn, acknowledged its receipt in his letter to Beethoven of April 29th, 1825, after he had already performed it several times.

Charles Neate of London, in his letter to Beethoven of December 20th, 1824, extended an invitation by the Philharmonic Society for him to visit London. Beethoven replied on January 15th and 27th, 1825, basically accepting the offer and asking for an advance which, according to Neate's letter of February 1st, could not be extended by the Philharmonic Society. Neate promised to extend it in person. Beethoven's friends urged him to go to England, but his fears about his health and his concerns over Carl prevented him from making up his mind in favor of this journey.

Beethoven's former pupil Ries had, in the meantime, bought an estate at Godesberg and settled there, from where he continued to correspond with Beethoven, inviting him to Godesberg. Ries reported to Beethoven on the successful performance on May 23rd, 1825, of the Ninth Symphony in Aix-a-Chapelle. He sent Beethoven 40 Louis d'Or as a fee.

In March and April, Beethoven and Carl were also "at it again". Beethoven wanted Carl to continue his studies of classical Greek, having the lofty goal of a Professor of languages in mind for Carl who, if Beethoven was not willing to let him become a soldier, wanted to at least change his studies to a business course at the Polytechnicum. In the end, after consulting his friend and co-guardian of Carl, Peters, Beethoven gave in to this. Carl entered the Polytechnical institute around Easter of 1825. Beethoven tried to continue to monitor Carl's leisure hours to ensure himself of his moral conduct and of his diligence as a student. This put, of course, a new strain on their difficult relationship.  A passage of Beethoven's June 9th letter to Carl reveals some of his frustration with Carl:

" . . . I would have liked not to have spent so much in order to have given the world an ordinary man . . . " (Thayer: 952).

Ignaz Schuppanzigh was anxious to have his quartet, consisting of himself and Holz playing the violin, Weiss the viola and Linke the violoncello, performing Beethoven's new String Quartet in a new subscription series of quartets and concerts. Since the new quartet was not ready, yet, Schuppanzigh had to substitute Op. 95 for it. A letter of Beethoven to Schuppanzigh from early March indicates that Beethoven allowed Schuppanzigh to have the Quartet for about a week. It was, with little rehearsal time, performed on March 6th. Beethoven then gave the work to Boehm for his performance (Boehm had led the Viennese String Quartet performances during Schuppanzigh's absence). Beethoven watched the rehearsals and was able to detect the slightest change in tempo or rhythm, but on observing that the quartet did not carry out his indication of meno vivace on the score, he allowed Boehm to leave it, by saying, "Let it remain so", going to his desk and crossing out meno vivace on the scores for all four instruments. This performance received enthusiastic applause. Actually, three performances were held around March 23rd and one for Boehm's benefit in April. On April 15th and in late April, it was also performed by Joseph Mayseder.

Here we should also note the Berlin poet Rellstab's recollection of his visits with Beethoven in early April. Rellstab apparently told him that he was moved by the performance of Op. 127 which he had just heard.

"Beethoven read and remained silent, we looked at each other mutely, but a world of emotions surged in my breast. Beethoven, too, was unmistakably moved. He arose and went to the window" (Thayer: 948).

Thayer mentions that Holz had, by this time, already made the personal acquaintance of Beethoven and that he shortly thereafter began to fill the void Schindler's 1824 departure as personal secretary had left. He even advised the composer on his choice of publishers and assisted the composer in monitoring the activities of Carl.

Coming back to the early spring of 1825, we can note that Beethoven, having felt encouraged by the successful performance of Op. 127 by Boehm, gladly continued to work on the next Quartet, Op. 132, with sketches for the first two movements in good progress when a severe illness befell him. We may quote his April 18th letter to Dr. Anton Braunhofer:

"My honored friend,

I am feeling poorly and hope you will not deny me your help since I am suffering great pain. Is it possible for you to visit me as early as today, this I beg of you from the bottom of my heart--with everlasting gratitude and respect, your

Beethoven" (Thayer: 945).

Dr. Braunhofer's orders for a strict diet were: no wine, no coffee, no spices of any kind. By the beginning of May, Beethoven's condition had improved to the point that he could set out for Baden. By May 17th he confirmed to Carl that he was composing again on the A minor Quartet, Op. 132. In a conversation book in use during May and June, Beethoven wrote: "Hymn of Thanksgiving to God of an invalid on his convalescence. Feeling of new strength and reawakened feeling." This was to be the "theme" for his third movement of the new work.

The new work was written down by the end of July. Beethoven's anxiety over the first performance of this work and of his agitation and exhaustion is documented in this letter to his nephew Carl:

"Baden on Aug. 11 [1825]

Dear Son!

I am worried to death about the quartet, namely the third, fourth, fifth and sixth movements. Holz has taken them along. The first measures of the third movement have been left here, that is to say, thirteen in number . . . I hear nothing from Holz--I wrote him yesterday. Usually he writes. What a terrible misfortune if he should have lost it. Just between us, he is a hard drinker. Give me reassurance as quickly as possible--you can find out Linke's address at Haslinger's. Haslinger was here, yesterday, was very friendly, brought out the periodicals and other things and begged for the new quartets. Don't engage in idle talk, it leads to vulgarities--but for God's sake give me some peace of mind concerning the quartet: what a terrible loss, the main ideas have been written on nothing but small scraps of paper, and I shall never be able to write out the whole thing again in the same way.

Your true Father" (Kolodin: 294).

On October 15th, a Saturday, Beethoven moved back to Vienna into a spacious apartment in the Schwarzspanierhaus, his last lodgings in Vienna, and thereby became an immediate neighbor of his lifetime Bonn friend, Stephan von Breuning.  Actually, they had met in Vienna in August on occasion, and Stephan von Breuning's wife assisted Beethoven in hiring, for a change, reliable household staff which would remain with him until the end, namely his housekeeper Sali.  Stephan von Breuning's son, Gerhard von Breuning, about 12 - 14 years of age during these years, to whom the composer took a great liking, vividly described his memories of Beethoven in his book, Erinnerungen aus dem Schwarzspanierhause, which has been edited by Maynard Solomon in its first publication in the English language.

Depiction of Beethoven's Study
at the Schwarzspanierhaus

The Quartet in a minor was first performed publicly on November 6th in the Music Society's room at the Roter Igel in a benefit concert for Josef Linke. This concert, which also featured a Carl Maria von Bocklet as pianist, playing the Trio in B-flat major, was a great success. Schuppanzigh received permission to perform the Quartet again on November 20th.

During the late summer and fall of 1825, Beethoven also wrote the next Quartet in B-flat, Op. 130, which was completed in November. This work was sold to Artaria and did not appear until May, 1827. It was first performed publicly in March, 1826, with the Great Fugue as its original finale.

The year 1826 would see the creation of Beethoven's greatest String Quartet, the Quartet in c-sharp minor, Op. 131, that of his last String Quartet, Op. 135, as well as a new last movement to Op. 130, all of which took place in the midst of Beethoven's constant worries over and arguments with Carl about his conduct. To this, Thayer has to say: "That he could continue to write amidst all the disturbing circumstances of this year in the higher and purer regions of chamber music was a source of admiration and wonder to his friends." (Thayer: 973).

Those who were in closest contact with Beethoven during this time were, of course, Holz as his private secretary, Stephan von Breuning and his family, Schindler here and there as a partly jealous observer (of Holz) and advisor, and last, and maybe least, his brother Johann. There were also conversation book entries to be found of Schuppanzigh, Kuffner, Grillparzer, Abbé Stadler and Matthias Artaria.

Near the end of January, Beethoven's old abdominal complaints returned. He also complained about his eyes. He was told to refrain from alcohol and coffee. He appeared to have improved during March.

At this time, Beethoven also became interested in the first performance of his Leibquartett,Op. 130. It was performed on March 21st. Most of the movements, particularly the moving Cavatina and the Danza alla Tedesca, were immediately liked by the audience. The second and fourth movements had to be repeated. The Great Fugue, its finale, however, was not understood. Of the Cavatina, Holz reported that "it cost the composer tears in the writing and brought out the confession that nothing he had written had so moved him; in fact merely to revive it afterwards in his thoughts and feelings brought forth renewed tributes of tears." With respect to the Great Fugue, Beethoven agreed to write a new ending for the quartet and to let the Fugue stand as a separate work, Op. 133.

With respect to Dembscher's desire to have this Quartet performed at his house, Beethoven refused to give him the score as the former had not attended Schuppanzigh's premiere. A "compensation" of 50 florins was arrived at with Dembscher asking, "Must it be?", and Beethoven humorously supplying the canon, "Es muss sein!" (It must be). Out of this joke arose the finale of his last quartet, Op. 135.

In May, Beethoven suffered from anxiety in not receiving from Prince Gallitzin payment for his second and third quartets of the series that he had already sent to Russia. It took until November to receive an informative reply from Russia in which Gallitzin explained that he had suffered great losses from several bankruptcies but that he would send the payment, soon. Beethoven was made to sign one last letter of appeal for his money on his deathbed and did not see it arriving during his life.

In his ongoing negotiations with respect to Op. 131 with Artaria, Beethoven finally turned about and gave it to Schott & Sons in Mainz.

With respect to the history of the creation of Op. 131, Thayer mentions first notes of it appearing in a December 1825 conversation book, while Beethoven was busy writing the work during the first part of 1826. It is not known for certain if the work was ever publicly performed during Beethoven's lifetime. On March 28th, the composer asked of Schott 60 Gold Ducats for it. The score was finally given to Schott's agents in Vienna on August 12th, and published in June, 1827. In a letter of Beethoven to Schott of February 22nd, 1827, mention was made that the work was originally to be dedicated to Beethoven's friend and admirer, Johann Wolfmayer, but in his March 10th , 1827, letter to Schott, Beethoven asked them to change the dedication to Baron Joseph von Stutterheim, Lieutenant Field-Marshal, whose significance in Beethoven's and his nephew Carl's lives would become apparent in late 1826.

In the midst of Beethoven's plans to finally spend the rest of the warm season either in Ischl or in Baden, an event took place which turned his life upside down: his nephew Carl's failed suicide attempt. In order to trace the development leading up to this event, we have to "track back" to a certain extent.

While Carl's spring 1825 beginnings at the Polytechnicum showed some promise, he also needed a tutor to catch up for having entered the term late. It appears that he may never have been able to entirely achieve that.  Beethoven estimated that he would spend 2,000 florins a year for Carl's schooling, lodging and tuition, and wanted to see some positive results for it, while Carl's real occupational aim was that of becoming a soldier. His change from classical language studies to business studies was a compromise that did not work to either his or Beethoven's advantage.

Beethoven had Schlemmer, at whose house Carl lodged, confirm to him as to whether Carl spent his evenings there, studying, or if he went out. Schlemmer confirmed that Carl was always at his lodgings after classes and at night and that any of his amusements, such as playing billiards, must have taken place in lieu of his going to classes. During the carnival season of 1826, Beethoven was almost anxious enough to personally supervise Carl's attendance of a ball, should he decide to go to one. Holz agreed to observe Carl in Beethoven's stead. Beethoven also wanted Carl to move back in with him and only reluctantly agreed to his staying at Schlemmer's house. Their conversations now seemed to mainly consist of Beethoven's sermons and reproaches and Carl's self-defenses. Johann van Beethoven also tried to intervene, on the one hand speaking for the boy, on the other strongly advising Beethoven to see to Carl's immediate employment on completion of his course in summer. Beethoven also mistrusted Carl in money matters and wanted to see receipts for his expenses. Beethoven visited and reproached Carl at Schlemmer's several times, on which occasion, at least once, Carl appears to have grabbed his uncle in a violent reaction which Holz' entering interrupted. As if Beethoven could foresee the outcome of this development, he urged Carl on thus in a letter to him:

"If for no other reason than that you obeyed me, at least, all is forgiven and forgotten; more today by word of mouth. Very quietly--do not think, that I am governed by anything but thoughts of your well-being, and from this point of view judge my acts--do not take a step which might make you unhappy and shorten my life--I did not get to sleep until 3 o'clock, for I coughed all night long--I embrace you cordially and am convinced that soon you will no longer misjudge me; I thus judge your conduct yesterday--I expect you without fail today at one o'clock--Do not give me cause for further worry and apprehension--meanwhile farewell!

Your real and true father."

"We shall be alone for I shall not permit Holz to come--the more so since I do not wish anything about yesterday to be known--do come--do not permit my poor heart to bleed any longer" (Thayer: 994).

Beethoven's monitoring of Carl went as far as coming to pick him up from school. Schindler reports of Carl's reply to the rebuke by his teachers: "My uncle! I can do with him what I want, some flattery and friendly gestures make things all right, again, right away." Alas, during the last days of July, Beethoven received news that Carl had vanished and intended to take his life. The reasons Carl gave for this step were his debts. Beethoven had Holz go after Carl to detain him, but Carl gave him the slip. Carl pawned his watch on Saturday, July 29th. He bought two pistols, powder and balls. He drove to Baden, spending the night with writing letters to his uncle and to his friend Niemetz. On Sunday he climbed up the ruins of Rauhenstein in the Helenenthal and fired both pistols at his left temple. The first bullet missed, and the second only ripped his flesh and grazed the bone, but did not go into his skull. A coach rider found Carl and brought him to his mother's house in Vienna, where Beethoven found him. Holz, who went with Beethoven, reported the matter to the police and Beethoven went home, while a doctor already looked after Carl. Police transported Carl from his mother's house to the general hospital on August 7th. As was usual in such cases, a priest was ordered to provide religious instruction to the suicide candidate and to extract a conversion. Holz reported to Beethoven that Carl had grown tired of life which he perceived differently from his uncle, and to the Police Magistrate Carl said that Beethoven "tormented him too much" and that "I got worse, because my uncle wanted me to be better."

While the event began to pave the way for Carl's personal career choice, it had a devastating effect on Beethoven which soon had him, aged fifty-five, according to Schindler, look like a man of seventy. A decision had to be reached as to Carl's future. Stephan von Breuning, a court councillor in the war department, advised on a military career and also suggested that Beethoven relinquish his guardianship. In the meantime, Beethoven had already begun to work on the last String Quartet, Op. 135. The question arose as to where Carl should recuperate after his dismissal from the hospital, while Stephan von Breuning arranged for Carl to enter the regiment of Baron von Stutterheim as a cadet on his full recovery, and he also agreed to act as co-guardian of Carl in lieu of Professor Reisser of the Polytechnicum who had laid it down.

Finally it was decided that Beethoven and Carl should spend the time Carl needed to recuperate at Johann van Beethoven's estate in Gneixendorf. Johann was in Vienna at that time and offered them that choice. On September 28th, they set out for there. It was only to be a short visit, but turned into a two-month-stay.

Beethoven's Room
at Gneixendorf

Beethoven arrived in Gneixendorf already in a serious state of health. He did also not enjoy the company of his brother and sister-in-law. A servant named Michael was assigned to him whom he grew to trust. On the occasion of Michael's falling out of graces with Therese van Beethoven, the composer urged her to re-hire the just fired Michael. From then on, Beethoven stayed in his room for his meals. He also walked through the fields around Gneixendorf, gesticulating, humming, beating tact to the music in his "inner ear". Thus Op. 135 was completed in Gneixendorf as well as the new last movement of Op. 130. The date on the autograph of Op. 135 is October 30th, on which Johann took it to Vienna. The new finale for Op. 130 was delivered by Haslinger to Artaria on November 25th. Beethoven's relationship with Carl was still as touchy as could be expected, with both acting "in character", as usual.

Beethoven's health worsened in Gneixendorf. Soon, he could only eat soup and soft-boiled eggs, but still drank wine and contracted diarrhea. Towards the end of November, he had lost his appetite, altogether, complaining of thirst. He also developed edemous feet. All of this pointed to a serious liver disease. Johann now also became concerned with Carl's future and urged Beethoven to take him back to Vienna so that he could join his regiment soon, but did so in a letter and not in a personal argument. Beethoven's state of mind was in such a disarray at that time that he even asked his brother to leave his entire estate to their nephew Carl, thereby cutting out Therese. As for the vehicle in which they returned to Vienna, one should not rely on Schindler's biased interpretation that Johann had denied Beethoven the use of his carriage. Nevertheless, it can be assumed that they traveled in an open wagon, as Beethoven later stated to his physician, Professor Wawruch.

They arrived back in Vienna on Saturday, December 2nd, with Beethoven in a fever from a chill he had caught in their overnight stay in an unheated room. The circumstances of Carl's delayed summoning of a doctor for his uncle are anything but clear so that we have to refrain from laying the blame on Carl. Dr. Braunhofer and Dr. Staudenheim apologized for not being able to attend on Beethoven. On the third day of his fever, Professor Wawruch of the General Hospital took Beethoven on as a patient. He treated the inflammation and lowered his fever. On the seventh day, Beethoven could get up and read and write. Now he found time to answer Wegeler's letter of a year ago. On the eighth day, however, Wawruch found his patient worse after a severe colic attack. Dropsy developed from then on. The illness progressed to nightly suffocation attacks in the third week. Johann, who had come to Vienna on December 10th, attended to his brother as did Carl as long as he was still in Vienna. Stephan von Breuning also attended, as did Holz and Schindler. On December 20th, Beethoven's abdomen had to be tapped to release the water. This was performed by Dr. Seibert, chief surgeon at the General Hospital. Present were also Johann and Carl, as well as Schindler. Dr. Seibert's comment on Beethoven's endurance was, "You bore yourself like a knight." One joyful occasion in this gloom was the arrival of the collected works of Handel Stumpff had now sent Beethoven. Gerhard von Breuning vividly recalls this event in his book. The boy was now a daily visitor who cheered Beethoven up.

Stephan von Breuning had finalized the arrangement for Carl to enter von Stutterheim's regiment. Carl left Vienna on January 2nd, 1827, and would never see his uncle again. On January 3rd, Beethoven wrote yet another letter to his lawyer, Dr. Bach, in which he reiterated his declaring Carl as his sole heir. On January 8th, Beethoven was tapped a second time. The patient had by now grown impatient with Wawruch. When he entered the room, Beethoven would turn around in his bed towards the wall, commenting, "Oh, the ass!" He requested that Dr. Malfatti, his former physician, be called in. The composer had had a falling-out with Malfatti ten years prior to that. They were finally reconciled after initial hesitation by Malfatti. The latter prescribed ice punch and the rubbing of Beethoven's abdomen with ice. While this treatment brought some relief at first, its abuse by Beethoven led to a "violent pressure of the blood on the brain . . . Began to wander in his speech . . . And when . . . Colic and diarrhea resulted, it was high time to deprive him of this precious refreshment" (Thayer: 1031). Malfatti did not take over from Wawruch as Beethoven's main physician, however. Beethoven had to be tapped a third time on February 2nd.

The conversation book entries of February show the names of Haslinger, Streicher, the writer Bernard and the singer Nanette Schechner. A letter from Wegeler arrived on February 1st. Beethoven replied on February 17th. On February 18th, he also replied to his old bed-ridden friend, Baron Zmeskall's inquiry. In his letter of Feburary 8th, Beethoven thanked Stumpff of London for the gift of the Handel edition. He also mentioned his writing to Charles Smart and Ignaz Moscheles for financial aid from London. On Stumpff's initiative, the Philharmonic Society sent Beethoven the sum of 100 pounds in financial support during his illness.

During February, Beethoven became very melancholic over the outcome of his illness, over financial worries, and over the neglect of Carl's writing to him. Friends visited to take his attention away from his melancholy.

The fourth tapping took place on February 27th. To Wawruch's attempt at cheering him up, Beethoven replied, "My day's work is finished. If there were a physician who could help me 'his name shall be called wonderful'" (Thayer: 1038). On March 1st, Beethoven wrote to Schott in Mainz and also asked for a delivery of Moselle wine. On March 18th, he gratefully acknowledged the receipt of the 100 lb. from London.

In March, no-one denied Beethoven the simple pleasures of wine and good food, anymore, as the outcome of his illness was clear by now.  Baron Pasqualati, von Breuning and Streicher sent their gifts of that kind.  During those days, in addition to Handel's works, Beethoven also studied those of his young Viennese colleague, Franz Schubert, crying out, "truly a divine spark dwells in Schubert" (Thayer: 1043).  With his friend, Anselm Hüttenbrenner, as Thayer reports, Schubert allegedly visited Beethoven eight days before his death. Johann Nepomuk Hummel also visited on March 8th.

It was now time to bring his affairs into order. His last written statement with respect to his Will reads as follows:

"My nephew Carl shall be sole heir, but the capital of the estate shall fall to his natural or testamentary heirs.--

Vienna on March 1827

Ludwig van Beethoven" (Thayer: 1048).

All other signatures for more particular documents with respect to his estate that had been drawn up before had to be obtained with great difficulty, as from about March 20th on, Beethoven was already very weak. Schindler reports that on March 23rd, after the signing of his Will, Beethoven is to have said, "plaudite, amici, comoedia finita est", implying that nothing could be done for him, anymore.

As to Beethoven's submitting to and receiving the last rites, Anselm Hüttenbrenner recalled that "Beethoven was asked in the gentlest manner by Herr Johann Baptist Jenger and Frau van Beethoven, wife of the landowner, to strengthen himself by receiving Holy Communion . . . On the day of her brother-in-law's death, Frau van Beethoven told me that after receiving the viaticum he said to the priest, 'I thank you, ghostly sir! You have brought me comfort!" (Thayer: 1049).

Around one o'clock on March 24th, the shipment of Moselle wine had arrived. Beethoven, looking at the bottles, mumbled, "pity, pity, too late!" These were his last reported words. He was given spoonfuls of the wine. Later that day, he fell into a coma which would last for two days. Anselm Hüttenbrenner, who was present when Beethoven died on March 26tharound five-thirty in the evening, recalls:

"There came a flash of lightning accompanied by a violent clap of thunder, which garishly illuminated the death-chamber . . . Beethoven opened his eyes, lifted his right hand and looked up for seconds with his fist clenched and a very serious, threatening expression . . . When he let the raised hand sink to the bed, his eyes closed half-way. My right hand was under his head, my left rested on his breast. Not another breath, not a heartbeat more!" (Thayer: 1051).

While Hüttenbrenner was present during Beethoven's last moments, Schindler and von Breuning had gone to make arrangements for his burial in the nearby Währing cemetery. The day after, von Breuning, Schindler, Johann van Beethoven and Holz gathered in the apartment to look for Beethoven's papers and for the seven bank shares. Johann van Beethoven insinuated that the search was a sham. In a rage, von Breuning left the house and returned later. The shares were then found in a secret drawer of Beethoven's cabinet, along with his letter to the Immortal Beloved.

Beethoven's funeral took place at three o'clock in the afternoon, on March 29th. A crowd of possibly over 10,000 (and maybe not quite 20,000, as Gerhard von Breuning reports) had gathered in front of the Schwarzspanierhaus to bid farewell to him.

Funeral Procession

Eight Kapellmeisterwere the pallbearers, among which were Hummel and Seyfried. Among the torchbearers were the actor Anschütz, the journalist and Beethoven friend Bernard, his former pupil Carl Czerny, Grillparzer, Haslinger, Franz Schubert, Andreas Streicher, Schuppanzigh, Wolfmayer and others.

Anschütz read Grillparzer's funeral oration in front of the gate to the Währing Cemetery. Part of it reads as follows:

"He was an artist, but a man as well. A man in every sense--in the highest. Because he withdrew from the world, they called him a man-hater, and because he held aloof from sentimentality, unfeeling. Ah, one who knows himself to be hard of heart, does not shrink! The finest points are those most easily blunted and bent or broken. An excess of sensitiveness avoids a show of feeling!  He fled the world because, in the whole range of his loving nature, he found no weapon to oppose it.  He withdrew from mankind after he had given them his all and received nothing in return. . . . Thus he was, thus he died, thus he will live to the end of time."