Franz Wegeler - Beethoven Reports "I am Deaf"

Franz Wegeler received a letter from Beethoven Reporting

Beethoven's surviving letters tell us more about his deafness.  He appears to have first confided his "secret" to a person he could trust. 

On the 29th of June, 1800, he wrote to his long-time friend Franz Wegeler (who married Eleonore von Beuning):

I may say that I live a wretched existence. For almost two years I have avoided all social gatherings because it is impossible for me to tell the people I am deaf. If my vocation were anything else it might be more endurable, but under the circumstances the condition is terrible; besides what would my enemies say, - they are not few in number!

To give you an idea of this singular deafness let me tell you that in the theatre I must lean over close to the orchestra in order to understand the actor; if I am a little remote from them I do not hear the high tones of instruments and voices; it is remarkable that there are persons who have not observed it, but because I am generally absent-minded my conduct is ascribed to that.
. . .
I beg you not to tell anyone about this; don't say even a word to Lorchen [Eleonore].  I only tell it you as a secret . . .

Pray forgive me for telling you of a friend's trouble . . . Steffen Breuning [Eleonore's brother] is now here, and we are together almost daily. 
. . .
I have never forgotten a single one of you dear good people, although you never get any news from me; but writing, as you well know, was never a strong point with me - years, even, have passed without my best friends receiving anything.  I only live in my music, and I have scarcely begun one thing when I start on another.  As I am now working, I am often engaged on three or four things at the same time.

Media Credits

Portrait of Dr. Franz Wegeler, online courtesy "Mad About Beethoven."

Quoted passage from Beethoven's Letters, by Ludwig van Beethoven, edited by Alfred Christlieb Kalischer, et al., pages 18-21.


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"Franz Wegeler - Beethoven Reports "I am Deaf"" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. Oct 19, 2019.
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