I found this book (The Musician’s World, Great Composers in their Letters) at an antique store about 15 years ago and bought it mostly because I have always loved the passion in the music of Beethoven and I wanted to get to know the “real” Beethoven. After all, what better way to get to know someone than to read their personal letters.
The tone of Beethoven’s written “voice” in most of the letters just confirms what one would expect- a man alive with passion. Most would agree he was a temperamental and sensitive man, and thankfully so. Without his musical vigor and depth of feeling we likely would not have the genius and gift of his great compositions. I found his letters in this book both hilarious and sad, and hope you enjoy reading them, too.
If you haven’t seen the 1994 movie “Immortal Beloved” starring Gary Oldman as Beethoven, you might love it whether or not you are a Beethoven fan and it also is a good way to get to know his story a little more thoroughly. I watched it for the first time in my 20s and thought it was just a perfect portrayal of the way I imagined Beethoven would have lived and felt- revealing his flaws, passions, and sorrows (especially his hearing loss) raw and real on the screen. I watched it for the second time a month or so before writing this just to see if I enjoyed it as much or if it seemed dated, and really, the movie could have been made last year for all you can tell watching it. I loved it just as much the second time. So- you will have to go elsewhere to find the movie if you want to see it, but here I am giving you a few of Beethoven’s letters- they will make you laugh and maybe cry, too.