"Truly, in Schubert there is a divine spark!"

GOETHE, Johann Wolfgang von

"When you write to Goethe about me search out all the words

which can express my deepest reverence and admiration. I am

myself about to write to him about 'Egmont' for which I have

composed the music, purely out of love for his poems which make

me happy"


"Goethe is too fond of the atmosphere of the court; fonder

than becomes a poet. There is little room for sport over the

absurdities of the virtuosi, when poets, who ought to be looked

upon as the foremost teachers of the nation, can forget

everything else in the enjoyment of court glitter"

NAPOLEON, Bonaparte

"He, too, then, is nothing better than an ordinary man! Now

he will trample on all human rights only to humor his ambition;

he will place himself above all others,--become a tyrant!"


Ludwig van Beethoven

Beethoven On Composing


Feb 13th 1814 to Count Brunswick in Buda

"As regards me, great heavens! my dominion is in the air; the tones whirl like the wind, and often there is a like whirl in my soul."


1815 to Charles Neate in Baden

"I always have a picture in my mind when composing, and follow its lines."


A remark in the sketches for the Pastoral Symphony

"Carried too far, all delineation in instrumental music loses in efficiency."


From notes in the instruction book of Archduke Rudolph 

"Good singing was my guide; I strove to write as flowingly as possible and trusted in my ability to justify myself before the judgment-seat of sound reason and pure taste."


From notes in the instruction book of Archduke Rudolph

"Many assert that every minor piece must end in the minor. Nego! On the contrary I find that in the soft scales the major third at the close has a glorious and uncommonly quieting effect. Joy follows sorrow, sunshine--rain. It affects me as if I were looking up to the silvery glistering of the evening star."


"Rigorists, and devotees of antiquity, relegate the perfect fourth to the list of dissonances. Tastes differ. To my ear it gives not the least offence combined with other tones."


Reported by Karl Hirsch, (grandson of Beethoven's former teacher Albrechtsberger) 1816

"My dear boy, the startling effects which many credit to the natural genius of the composer, are often achieved with the greatest ease by the use and resolution of the diminished seventh chords."


July 1st 1823 to Archduke Rudolph

"Continue, Your Royal Highness, to write down briefly your occasional ideas while at the pianoforte. For this a little table alongside the pianoforte is necessary. By this means not only is the fancy strengthened, but one learns to hold fast in a moment the most remote conceptions. It is also necessary to compose without the pianoforte; say often a simple chord melody, with simple harmonies, then figurate according to the rules of counterpoint, and beyond them; this will give Y. R. H. no headache, but, on the contrary, feeling yourself thus in the

midst of art, a great pleasure."


June 1st 1816 to Dr.Karl Von Bursy

"I never write a work continuously, without interruption. I am always working on several at the same time, taking up one, then another."


To Louis Schlosser 1822/3

"I carry my thoughts about me for a long time, often a very long time, before I write them down; meanwhile my memory is so faithful that I am sure never to forget, not even in years, a theme that has once occurred to me. I change many things, discard, and try again until I am satisfied. Then, however, there begins in my head the development in every direction, and, in as much as I know exactly what I want, the fundamental idea never deserts me,--it arises before me, grows,--I see and hear the picture in all its extent and dimensions stand before my

mind like a cast, and there remains for me nothing but the labour of writing it down, which is quickly accomplished when I have the time, for I sometimes take up other work, but never to the confusion of one with the other.


You will ask me where I get my ideas. That I cannot tell you with

certainty; they come unsummoned, directly, indirectly,--I could

seize them with my hands,--out in the open air; in the woods;

while walking; in the silence of the nights; early in the morning;

incited by moods, which are translated by the poet into words, by

me into tones that sound, and roar and storm about me until I have

set them down in notes."


Feb 19th 1813 to George Thomson

"I am not in the habit of rewriting my compositions. I never did it because I am profoundly convinced that every change of detail changes the character of the whole."


July 13th 1809 in an announcement of several compositions 

"The unnatural rage for transcribing pianoforte pieces for string instruments (instruments that are in every respect so different from each other) ought to end. I stoutly maintain that only Mozart could have transcribed his own works, and Haydn; and without putting myself on a level with these great men I assert the same thing about my pianoforte sonatas. Not only must entire passages be elided and changed, but additions must be made; and right here lies the rock of offence to overcome which one must be the master of himself or be possessed of the same skill and inventiveness. I transcribed but a single sonata for string quartet, and I am sure that no one will easily do it after me."

Ludwig van Beethoven

Beethoven on God


Tagebuch 1816

"It was not the fortuitous meeting of the chordal atoms that made the world; if order and beauty are reflected in the constitution of the universe, then there is a God."



"He who is above,--O, He is, and without Him there is nothing."


August 1823 to Archduke Rudolph

"There is no loftier mission than to approach the Divinity nearer than other men, and to disseminate the divine rays among mankind."


Copied into the Tagebuch 1816 from an unidentified work with the remark: "From Indian Literature"

"God is immaterial, and for this reason transcends every conception. Since He is invisible He can have no form. But from what we observe in His work we may conclude that He is eternal, omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent."


Ludwig van Beethoven

Worldly Wisdom

From notes in the instruction book of Archduke Rudolph

"Every day is lost in which we do not learn something useful. Man has no nobler or more valuable possession than time; therefore never put off till tomorrow what you can do today."


Tagebuch 1816

"This is the mark of distinction of a truly admirable man: steadfastness in times of trouble."


Conversation book 1819

"Force, which is a unit, will always prevail against the majority which is divided."


August 15th 1812 to Bettina Von Arnim

"Kings and Princes can create professors and councillors, and confer orders and decorations; but they can not create great men, spirits that rise above the earthly rabble; these they can not create, and therefore they are to be respected."


Tagebuch 1816

"Follow the advice of others only in the rarest cases."


Conversation book 1825

"Only the praise of one who has enjoyed praise can give pleasure."


August 15th 1812 to Bettina Von Arnim

"The world must give one recognition,--it is not always unjust. I care nothing for it because I have a higher goal."


Baden July 24th 1804 to Ries

"The foundation of friendship demands the greatest likeness of human souls and hearts."


Beethoven Reference Site  © 2010

Ludwig van Beethoven


Beethoven on his deafness


October 6th 1802; Heiligenstadt Testament

"It was impossible for me to say to others: speak louder;shout! for I am deaf. Ah! was it possible for me to proclaim a deficiency in that one sense which in my case ought to have been more perfect than in all others, which I had once possessed in greatest perfection, to a degree of perfection, indeed, which few of my profession have ever enjoyed?"


October 6th 1802; Heiligenstadt Testament

"How great was the humiliation when one who stood beside me heard the distant sound of a shepherd's pipe, and I heard nothing; or heard the shepherd singing, and I heard nothing. Such experiences brought me to the verge of despair;--but little more and I should have put an end to my life. Art, art alone deterred me."


November 16th, 1800 or 1801 to Wegeler 

"My defective hearing appeared everywhere before me like a ghost; I fled from the presence of men, was obliged to appear to be a misanthrope although I am so little such."


Tagebuch 1816

"Live alone in your art! Restricted though you be by your defective sense, this is still the only existence for you."


1815 to Brauchle, tutor in the house of Countess Erdody

"Dissatisfied with many things, more susceptible than any other person and tormented by my deafness, I often find only suffering in the association with others."


Tagebuch 1815

"Perfect the ear trumpets as far as possible, and then travel; this you owe to yourself, to mankind and to the Almighty! Only thus can you develop all that is still locked within you;-- and a little court,--a little chapel,--writing the music and having it performed to the glory of the Almighty, the Eternal, the Infinite---"


Tagebuch 1812

"You must not be a man like other men: not for yourself, only for others; for you there is no more happiness except in yourself, in your art.--O God, give me strength to overcome myself, nothing must hold me to this life."


May 2nd 1810 to Wegeler

"Had I not read somewhere that it is not pending man to part voluntarily from his life so long as there is a good deed which he can perform, I should long since have been no more, and by my own hand. O, how beautiful life is, but in my case it is poisoned."

Ludwig van Beethoven

Beethoven on Other people


BACH, Johann Sebastian

"The Father of harmony"

"His name ought not to be Bach (brook), but ocean, because of his inexhaustible wealth of tonal combinations and harmonies"

HANDEL, George Frederick

"Handel is the greatest composer who ever lived. I would uncover my head and kneel down at his tomb"



"Of all our contemporaries, I have the highest regard for him"

MOZART, Wolfgang Amadeus

"I have always counted myself amongst the greatest admirers of Mozart and shall remain so until my last breath"

Beethoven on Nature


On The Kahlenberg Sept 1812

Almighty One

In the woods

I am blessed.

Happy every one

In the woods.

Every tree speaks

Through Thee.


O God!

What glory in the


On the Heights

is Peace,--

Peace to serve



To Baroness Von Drossdick

"How happy I am to be able to wander among bushes and herbs, under trees and over rocks; no man can love the country as I love it. Woods, trees and rocks send back the echo that man desires."


Baden - July 1814

"My miserable hearing does not trouble me here. In the country it seems as if every tree said to me: 'Holy! holy!' Who can give complete expression to the ecstasy of the woods! O, the sweet stillness of the woods!"

Copied into his Tagebuch 1818 from Sturm's "Betrachtungen uber

die Werke Gottes in der Natur.

"Nature is a glorious school for the heart! It is well; I shall be a scholar in this school and bring an eager heart to her instruction. Here I shall learn wisdom, the only wisdom that is free from disgust; here I shall learn to know God and find a foretaste of heaven in His knowledge. Among these occupations my earthly days shall flow peacefully along until I am accepted into that world where I shall no longer be a student, but a knower of wisdom."