The funeral was arranged for the afternoon of 29th March. Shortly afterwards Beethoven's
publisher, Tobias Haslinger, wrote a preface to an arrangement of Beethoven's Equale
that he entitled Trauer-Gesang bey Beethoven's Leichenbegängnisse in Wien den 29
A vast crowd collected before and inside the residence of the deceased - outside
the Schotten Gate, in the Glacis, in the Schwarzspanierhaus - both spectators as
well as mourners, the latter in complete mourning-garb, clothed in black, gloves
too, and fluttering crepe on the left sleeve. At three o'clock, the corpse, which
eight opera singers from the Royal and Imperial Court Opera Theatre had volunteered
to carry on their shoulders, Messrs Eichbeyger, Schuster, Cramolini, Ad. Miiller,
Hofmann, Rupprecht, Borschitzky, and Ant. Wranitzky (orchestra member), was put to
lie in state in the courtyard. A half-hour later the high clergy for the solemn escort
appeared; following the prayers spoken over the mortal remains, the aforesaid singers
intoned an earnest, solemn chorale by B. A. Weber, whereupon the whole procession,
in the order given below, started to move:
I. The cross-bearer,
II. Four trombonists, Messrs Böck (brothers), Weidi, and Tuschky,
III. The choirmaster, Mr. Assmayer, under whose direction
IV. A choir of singers, made up of Messrs Tietze, Schnitzer, Gross, Sykora, Frühwald,
Geissler, Rathmeyer, Kokrement, Fuchs, Nejebse, Ziegler, Perschl, Leidl, Weinkopf,
Pfeiffer, and Seipelt, performed the Miserere in alternation with the trombone quartet.
This ambulant orchestra was followed by
V. The high clergy
VI. The sumptuously adorned coffin flanked by Messrs Kapellmeisters Eybier, Hummel,
Seyfried, and Kreutzer on the right: Weigl, Gyrowetz, Gänsbacher, and Würfel on the
left, who held the white ribbons that hung down from the richly embroidered pall
VII. In rows on either sides, from the front of the procession to the coffin, were
the torchbearers, thirty-six in number, made up of friends of the arts, poets, authors,
composers, actors, and musicians, among them Messrs Anschiitz, Bernard, Jos. Böhm,
Castelli, Carl Czerny, Sigr. David, Grillparzer, Conr. Graf, GriAhbaum, Haslinger,
Hildebrand, Holz, Katter, Krall, Sigr. Lablanche, Baron Lannoy, Linke, Mayseder,
Mr. Meric, Merk, Mechetti, Meier, Sigr. Paccini, Piringer, Radicchi, Raimund, Riotte,
Schoberlechner, Schubert, Schickh, Schmidl, Streicher, Schuppanzigh, Steiner, Weidmann,
Wolfmayer, and many others, all in mourning-dress with white roses and lily bouquets
fastened on the sleeve with crepe, and with burning wax torches. In addition, one
caught sight in the procession (which moved at an extremely slow pace because of
the undulating throng) of many esteemed dignitaries: Messrs Privy Councillors von
Musel and Breuning (the latter being the deceased's childhood friend and executor);
Beethoven's brother; the pupils of the Conservatory; the students of the thoroughbass
teacher at St. Anna's, Mr. Kapellmeister Drechsler, etc., etc., all of them deeply
mourning a loss shared by anybody receptive to the almighty power of the musical
art. Having arrived at the church, the aforementioned sixteen singers began, during
the consecration, to sing the Libera me Domine de morte Aeterna by Mr Kapellmeister
von Seyfried, originally intended for use in performances of the Mozart Requiem,
and composed for four voices with organ accompaniment (score and parts published
by Tob. Haslinger), but here, as demanded by the occasion, simply rewritten as a
vocal chorale for four mens' voices 'a cappella'.
After this the four-in-hand ceremonial hearse drove off to the Währing Cemetery.
Many equipages followed it out across the custom-line. Before the cemetery, Royal
and Imperial Court Actor Mr Anschütz recited a text written by Grillparzer in memory
of the deceased. Mr Haslinger handed three laurel wreaths to Mr Hummel, Court Kapellmeister
of the Grand-Duchy of Weimar, who lowered them on to the coffin. The grieving friends
of the departed remained until the earth was levelled off. Both of the aforementioned
musical works, Miserere and Libera, were given in the Augustinian Court Parish Church
on the occasion of the office for the dead held for L. van Beethoven, on 3rd April
(Mozart's Requiem), organised by the association of local music dealers, and on 26th
of the same month (Cherubini's Requiem) by the Society of the Friends of Music, where
it was repeated by popular request during the functions of the high clergy at the
catafalque, at the end of the requiem.
FRANZ GRILLPARZERS FUNERAL ORATION:
We who stand here at the grave of the deceased are in a sense the representatives
of an entire nation, the whole German people, come to mourn the passing of one celebrated
half of that which remained to us from the vanished brilliance of the fatherland.
The hero of poetry in the German language and tongue still lives -- and long may
he live. But the last master of resounding song, the gracious mouth by which music
spoke, the man who inherited and increased the immortal fame of Handel and Bach,
of Haydn and Mozart, has ceased to be; and we stand weeping over the broken strings
of an instrument now stilled.
An instrument now stilled. Let me call him that! For he was an artist, and what he
was, he was only through art. The thorns of life had wounded him deeply, and as the
shipwrecked man clutches the saving shore, he flew to your arms, oh wondrous sister
of the good and true, comforter in affliction, the art that comes from on high! He
held fast to you, and even when the gate through which you had entered was shut,
you spoke through a deafened ear to him who could no longer discern you; and he carried
your image in his heart, and when he died it still lay on his breast.
He was an artist, and who shall stand beside him? As the behemouth sweeps through
the seas, he swept across the boundaries of his art. From the cooing of the dove
to the thunder's roll, from the subtlest interweaving of wilful artifices to that
awesome point at which the fabric presses over into the lawlessness of clashing natural
forces -- he traversed all, he comprehended everything. He who follows him cannot
continue; he must begin anew, for his predecessor ended where art ends.
Adelaide and Leonore! Commemorations of the heroes of Vittoria and humble tones of
the Mass! Offspring of three and four-part voices. Resounding symphony, "Freude,
schöner Götterfunken", the swansong. Muses of song and of strings, gather at his
grave and strew it with laurel!
He was an artist, but also a man, a man in every sense, in the highest sense. Because
he shut himself off from the world, they called him hostile; and callous, because
he shunned feelings. Oh, he who knows he is hardened does not flee! (It is the more
delicate point that is most easily blunted, that bends or breaks.)
Excess of feeling avoids feelings. He fled the world because he did not find, in
the whole compass of his loving nature, a weapon with which to resist it. He withdrew
from his fellow men after he had given them everything and had received nothing in
return. He remained alone because he found no second self. But until his death he
preserved a human heart for all men, a father's heart for his own people, the whole
Thus he was, thus he died, thus he will live for all time!
And you who have followed his escort to this place, hold your sorrow in sway. You
have not lost him but won him. No living man enters the halls of immortality. The
body must die before the gates are opened. He whom you mourn is now among the greatest
men of all time, unassailable forever. Return to your homes, then, distressed but
composed. And whenever, during your lives, the power of his works overwhelms you
like a coming storm; when your rapture pours out in the midst of a generation yet
unborn; then remember this hour and think: we were there when they buried him, and
when he died we wept!
After Beethoven's Death
Oct13th 1863 - First exhumation of both Schubert and Beethoven in order to better
preserve the body by placing it in a metal casket within a bricked-in vault. Gerhard
Breuning (who as a 13 year old boy had known Beethoven) was present, and noted the
compact thickness of Beethoven's skull in comparison to the 'almost feminine thinness'
of Schubert's. Another striking feature was the presence of a fine gold filling in
the last left molar - a rarity for the 1820's. Both skulls were photographed by J.B.Rottmayer
and plaster casts were made by Wittman. As a member of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde,
Gerhard Breuning had custody of Beethoven's skull - In his own words " what stormy
feelings passed through my mind evoking such powerful memories, as I had possession
of that head for a few days, cleaned from it bits of dirt, took plaster casts of
the base of the skull for Professor Romeo Seligmann, kept it by my bedside overnight,
and in general proudly watched over that head from whose mouth, in years gone by,
I had so often heard the living word!"
The original graves of Schubert and Beethoven in the Wahring cemetery (now The Schubert
June 22nd 1888 - 4 pm - During the second disinterment, the casket was opened and
scientists were allowed twenty minutes to examine and measure the bones. Photographs
were again taken. The composer Anton Bruckner was present and Bruckner was a very
traditional Catholic with a reverence for relics, such as the remains of saints.
For him composers like Beethoven were "saints," and when Beethoven and Schubert's
remains were exhumed for reburial close to each other in the Central Cemetery in
Vienna, Bruckner insisted upon being present and in handling the remains of Beethoven,
even being the one to put Beethoven's skull back in the casket after examination
by physicians. Afterwards he was proud of the fact that he might have lost a lens
out of his pince nez glasses in handling Beethoven's bones and that the lens might
have ended up being buried with Beethoven!
"O ye men who think or say that I am hostile, stubborn or misanthropic, how greatly
do you wrong me!"
After Beethoven's death in March 1827, this very moving document was found amongst
his possessions (along with the letters to the 'Immortal beloved') - It was written
at Heiligenstadt (now a suburb of Vienna) in Oct 1802 at a time when Beethoven aged
31, had given up all hope of his hearing improving. It was never sent, but in it
he reveals his soul and the inner torment he was suffering.
The house in Heiligenstadt, where Beethoven wrote the Testament
"...ah it seemed impossible to leave the world until I had produced all that I felt
called upon me to produce, and so I endured this wretched existence."
The Testament serves, as does his music as an inspiration to mankind - that no matter
whatever adversity we are facing there is always hope and in Beethoven's belief,
The cause of Beethoven's deafness is generally thought to have been Otosclerosis
- the abnormal growth of bone of the inner ear. This bone prevents structures within
the ear from working properly and causes hearing loss.
Otosclerosis is a disease, which results in new bone formation either in the area
of the stapes bone or in the cochlea housing the hearing nerve; or it can be a combination
of both. When the bony deposits infiltrate the stapes bone, this bone is unable to
vibrate and pass the sound into the inner ear. This results in what is called a conductive
hearing loss, i.e., the sound is not being properly "conducted" into the inner ear.
As a general rule, the thicker the bony deposit the greater the hearing loss, and
the longer the hearing loss, the greater is the amount of deposits. The fixation
of the stapes usually follows a slow and relentless course with progressively worsening
Hüttenbrenner:"In the last moments no one except myself and frau Beethoven [probably
the housekeeper Sali] were present. Beethoven lay in the final agony, unconscious
and with the death rattle in his throat, from 3pm when I arrived until 5.00pm; then
there was suddenly a loud clap of thunder accompanied by a bolt of lightning which
illmunated the death chamber with a harsh light (there was snow outside). After this
unexpected phenomenon, Beethoven opened his eyes , raised his right hand and , his
fist clenched, looked upwards for several seconds with a very grave, threatening
countenance as though to say "I defy you, powers of evil! Away, God is with me".
As he let his hand sink down onto the bed again, his eyes half closed. My right hand
lay under his head, my left hand rested on his breast. There was no more breathing,
no more heartbeat.
The great composer's spirit fled from this world of deception into the kingdom of
I shut the half open eyes of the deceased, kissed them, and then his forehead , mouth
and hands. At my request frau Van Beethoven cut a lock of his hair and gave it to
me as a sacred relic of Beethoven's last hour."
The painter Josef Danhauser (1805–1845) drew a portrait of the dead master and made
a death mask. Before this, bones of an ear had been taken during the post mortem
in order to discover the cause of deafness.
Dies (26th Mar-4.45p.m.) 28th Mar: Autopsy performed by Dr.Johann Wagner. Petrous
portion of the temporal bone was sawn through and removed. Cause of death Cirrhosis
of the liver accompanied by dropsy.
Eye pain. Due to nearsightedness, he uses glasses.
Rheumatic troubles. Stays in Teplitz and Franzensbaden.
Serious intestinal illness
Further deterioration of hearing. Last public appearance as pianist
Use of ear trumpets
Conversation books. (Conversation had to be written)
Jaundice, goes to Johannesbad.
Almost totally deaf (left ear not as bad as right)
Intestinal illness. Recovery in July
Final illness; Chirohsis/dropsy. (5 operations to drain fluid)
Baden, the spa town near Vienna which Beethoven frequented
Only 26 kilometers south of Vienna, Baden offers a rich variety of baths and springs,
parks and coffeehouses. It was the favourite summer residence of Beethoven, and he
stayed there many times over the years. Mozart had also frequented the spa. The origin
of Baden lies in the healing powers of the sulphur springs. The Romans experienced
and enjoyed the waters, calling the place "Aquae". Its thermal water, which emerges
from the springs at a temperature of 36°C, is rich in valuable minerals. Every day,
about 4 million litres of superior thermal sulphur water are used in Baden. After
the devastating fire of 1812, Baden was rebuilt in the Biedermeier style.
First signs of deafness
Complains of buzzing in ears in letter to Wegeler and Amenda
"Heiligenstadt testament" - Beethoven writes of his despair at worsening hearing
Serious illness in the spring, slow convalescence
The spa towns
The use of mineral waters for treatment of various ailments goes back to ancient
times, when the Romans developed places for taking a cure around existing mineral
springs. In the Middle Ages kings and princes rediscovered the benefit of drinking
waters with therapeutic properties to cure various ailments. In the 18th and 19th
centuries the aristocracy developed resorts around the sources of these waters at
which they gathered to relax and meet each other. Some of the oldest spas in continous
existence are located in Central Europe, in present day Austria, Czech Republic and
Tragically Beethoven was completely deaf when the 9th symphony was first performed
Further test results on the Guavera lock of Beethoven's hair have been published
"The second test was a trace metals analysis conducted by Dr. William Walsh at the
HRI & Pfeiffer Research Center in Naperville, Illinois. This test will reveal the
presence of any trace heavy metals. The following results of this test were announced
by Dr. Walsh on Tuesday, October 17th 2000:
High lead concentrations in Beethoven's hair were found in independent analyses by
McCrone Research Institute & Argonne National Laboratory. This is evidence that Beethoven
had plumbism (lead poisoning) which may have caused his life-long illnesses, impacted
his personality, and possibly contributed to his death. Distinctive trace-metal patterns
associated with genius, irritability, glucose disorders, and malabsorption were not
present in the Beethoven samples tested by McCrone Research Institute. Very low (undetectable)
mercury levels were reported independently by McCrone Research Institute and Argonne
National Laboratory. These results provide no evidence that Beethoven received medical
treatment for syphilis, usually treated in the 1820's with mercury compounds. This
supports the consensus of Beethoven scholars who believe that Beethoven never had
syphilis. Rumors that Beethoven suffered from syphilis have been discounted in all
serious musicological literature for the last thirty years."
Mälzels hearing aids
There are various theories circulating today regarding Beethoven's health and hearing
loss. It has been suggested that Beethoven was suffering from Syphilis (now discredited)
or that he was poisoned. I have listed the presently accepted causes of his ailments
and death, though tests are being carried out on his hair and should prove the matter