Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Schmindle Pamphlet Library

Beethoven's Lost Love Letters

The Schmindle Pamphlet Library offers an eclectic variety of topics as pocket-sized booklets that are usually 8 pages. In most cases, tasteful graphics accompany these texts. Edition #27, “Beethoven’s Love Letters,” is available for only two cents and a self-addressed stamped envelope. The full text is shown below:

Though Ludwig Beethoven’s (1770-1827) compositions are among humankind’s greatest achievements, his love letters reveal the temperament of a frustrated suitor whose overwrought prose would benefit from a rewrite by the average Tin Pan Alley songwriter. The Schmindle Pamphlet Library has discovered a small cache of his letters, luckily never mailed, in an article from the March 1930 issue of The Etude Magazine. The following letters were found after Beethoven’s death in a secret drawer of his desk. The addressee is unknown. They bear no date, nor even the place where they were written. Some musical scholars maintain that the “Immortal Beloved,” to whom they were addressed, was Countess Giulietta Guicciardi.

My Angel! My all! My second self! Only a few words written with the pencil (your own!). Why this deep grief, when necessity compels? Can our love exist without sacrifices and by refraining from desiring all things? Can you alter the fact that you are not wholly mine and I wholly yours? (Translator’s note: The “not” seems to indicate that the young lady had other ties.) You don’t sufficiently remember that I must live both for you and for myself. Were we wholly united you would feel this sorrow as little as I should. We will soon meet again…My heart is overflowing with all I have to say to you. Ah! There are moments when I think that speech is actually nothing…Take courage! Continue to be true and only treasure, my all, as I am yours. The Gods must ordain what is further to be. “Your devoted Ludwig”
You suffer, my faithful creature—just now I discover that the letters must be mailed early in the morning, Monday or Thursday, the only days when the post goes from here to K. You suffer—ah, be assured that where I am you are with me. I must live together with you. However dearly you may love me, I love you still more fondly. O Heaven, so near and yet so far! Is not our love a truly celestial mansion, as firm as the vault of Heaven itself? I must live either with you or not at all. Indeed I have resolved to wander far away till the moment arrives when I can fly into your arms and feel that they are my home and send forth my soul in unison with yours into the realm of spirits. Alas, it must be so! Take courage, for you know my fidelity. Never can another possess my heart! Never! Why must I fly from her I so fondly love? Your love makes me the most happy and, at the same time, the most unhappy of mortals. Yesterday, today, what longing for you, what fear for you! My life, my all! Farewell! Oh, love me forever! Never doubt of the faithful heart of your lover.” “Ever thine Ever mine Ever each other’s!”

Translator’s note: We possess more documentary evidence of his (as it appears unreciprocated) passion for Therese Malfatti, the daughter of a wealthy Austrian landowner.
You receive here, my dear Therese, what I have promised, and, were it not for serious obstacles, you would receive still more. I hope you are having a pleasant time—however not so pleasant that it makes you totally forget us! It would be perhaps too great a presumption from my part to tell you that some persons are not only together when they are present in reality, but also when they are distant. And still, who would dare to say so to one who like you takes everything so lightheartedly? I live very lonesome and quiet, and, although some light would seem to radiate on me, a deep chasm has been opened in my soul, which even my art, otherwise so faithful to me, seems not to succeed in bridging over.

Translator: To make poor Beethoven drain the cup of misery to the dregs, Therese married afterwards Baron von Drossdick, yes, Drossdick.

Despite encroaching, then absolute, deafness, Beethoven was able to soldier on with his compositions. Though he had no luck with his femme fatales, he was able to victoriously barnstorm the divine muse to the bitter end.

Translator: In the following letter dated June 25, 1800, Beethoven gives to his friend, Dr. Wegeler, in Bonn, a detailed account of his sufferings:
It seems that a jealous Demon has played a bad trick on my health. Since three years my hearing has become always weaker and weaker. They say it comes from my bowels, which, as you know, were always in bad condition. Here, however, they have more and more deteriorated and I was afflicted with an excessive weakness. Franz (a doctor) wished to strengthen my intestines through invigorating medicines and my hearing through almond oil, but no good came of it: my hearing remained in the same condition. This lasted until the past year when I at times was driven to desperation. Then a medical asinus (t: health care professional) advised me to take cold baths. My bowels improved; my hearing on the contrary grew worse. This winter I felt miserable. I suffered terrible colics and was thrown back into my former condition. I then went to Vering (another doctor) thinking that my ailments needed the care of a surgeon. He succeeded indeed in stopping the violent colics. He prescribed tepid Danube baths, into which I had to empty a bottle of invigorating salts. He gave me also some pills for the stomach, and tea for the ears, after which I felt stronger and better. Only I am worried day and night by a continuous ringing and singing in my ears, which make my existence miserable. For three years I have avoided all society as it is impossible for me to tell people that I am deaf. Would I be in another occupation, I could perhaps bear it, but, as a musician, it is maddening. What would my enemies, whose number is by no means small, say when they know of it? To give you an idea of this deafness, I must tell you that in the theater I must sit quite near the stage to be able to understand the actors. At any distance I cannot hear at all the high notes of instruments and voices. In conversation, it is a wonder that people do not become aware of my condition. They think perhaps it comes from my absent-mindedness. I hardly hear those who speak softly. I hear sounds but not words and, if somebody speaks loudly, I hardly can stand it. God knows what will become of it. I have often cursed the Creator and my whole existence. Only Plutarch has taught me some resignation, but there are moments when I feel the most wretched creature in the world. I beg of you not to disclose to anybody this secret which I entrust to you alone.