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Beethoven - FINANCIAL WORRIES

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With life issues swirling around him—such as financial worries, deafness, lack of sponsors, lack of a "love life"—Beethoven considers what lies before him. Fortunately, he finds patrons who will sponsor him...if he stays in Vienna. Image, of Beethoven online, courtesy Richard Rudd.

 

The December 22, 1808 concert was a great success - in everything but money.  

Beethoven's financial situation was becoming precarious, and he considered leaving Vienna.  Before that happened, a group of patrons agreed to sponsor him - on the condition that Ludwig stay in the city.  It was the best of all possible solutions - while it lasted.

Although his “money problems” were resolved, for the time being, Beethoven was still missing an important part of life - love.  He wanted a wife, with whom he could share his world.  It seems he'd found someone - whom he called his "Immortal Beloved" - but historians cannot be positive who she was.  Many think it was Antonie Brentano.  

Ludwig, however, was a close friend of both Antonie and her husband, and some biographers doubt the mystery woman was Antonie.  Since letters to his “Immortal Beloved” did not surface until after Beethoven died, even his closest friends could not identify the object of his affections.

In the end, marriage remained a dream.  Some music-lovers think Beethoven’s compositions benefitted from this deprivation.  

Meanwhile ... as French rule over Austria continued ...Ludwig’s patrons (or their heirs) were unable (or unwilling) to make the annuity payments once promised.  Not only did melaise engulf Beethoven, his hearing loss dramatically worsened.

To pull himself out of his deteriorating situation, the maestro visited the spa town of Teplitz.  While there, he began work on his Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92.  He completed the work (with its extremely popular second movement) in April of 1812 and premiered it - to great acclaim - on December 8th, the following year. 

As Beethoven battled back, he had a chance encounter with his brother Karl whom he saw on a Vienna street.  Very ill, likely with consumption (tuberculosis), Karl was in the last stage of his life.

Following this unexpected meeting, Beethoven worked his way back into the family.  Still believing Johanna was a bad wife and mother, Ludwig had his very-ill brother sign a document giving him control over his young nephew in the event Karl died.  It was an act Karl would have regretted, had he lived.

Johanna could not comprehend why her husband (if he died) would allow their son to live with his mostly unknown uncle.  Ludwig, after all, knew nothing about children and needed to keep working. 

Things improved professionally, for Beethoven, when his opera Leonore (by then renamed Fidelio) was selected for a performance.  Excruciatingly difficult for the tenor soloist to sing, the words focused on peace and freedom.  It was a kind of respite following the end of Napoleon's reign.

Although Fidelio made Beethoven the most sought-after composer in Europe, there was no respite for the maestro.  His brother's illness, not to mention his own physical ailments, were taking an adverse toll on him.

No longer a brilliant pianist, he sometimes played so loudly the notes were unintelligble.  Other times he played so softly, it seemed as though notes were missed.  Humiliated by this - when he tried to privately perform with a trio - Beethoven gave up.  His inability to hear had eliminated one of his life’s joys.

Karl removed another joy when he changed his mind and appointed his wife, Johanna, as young Karl’s guardian.  By thus amending his Will, he meant to do what was best for his son.  Ludwig vehemently disagreed and, after his brother’s death, filed custody litigation. 

Engaged in a long legal battle, to win sole custody for himself, Beethoven focused less on composing and more on fighting for his nephew.

Yet ... the maestro was not finished.  Some of his most extraordinary works were not yet written.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5124stories and lessons created

Original Release: Mar 01, 2009

Updated Last Revision: Mar 18, 2017


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