No more Beethoven?

No more Beethoven?


norman lebrecht

October 08, 2020

My survey of the complete works of Beethoven ended last weekend.

For the first time in nine months, we have no Beethoven to discuss.

But there will be more in the future.

Meantime, you can continue this discussion here.



  • Doc Martin says:

    No Beethoven to discuss? You have not yet discussed his fascinating medical history, his illnesses, diagnoses, the appalling treatment he received from those “doctors” of his, his appalling living conditions resembling Steptoe & Son. (Actually he would have suited the Holyland in Belfast!)

    The fact that he could afford to send for an attending doctor, rather than spend time in the dreadful General hospital in Vienna. He was in point of fact resurrected twice, once in 1863 and again 1888, the latter was to move him from Wahring to the Zentralfriedhof so he would end up amongst the Great and the Good.

    During his second resurrection and auld fella obsessed with dead bodies by the name of Anton Bruckner was present who created an awful scene, he held Beethoven’s skull aloft asking why were you so deaf?, Apparently his glasses fell into the coffin! They are apparently still there inside, the late Prof Gerhard Kramer informed me.

    Here is a potted medical history of Beethoven, by Mai presented at a meeting I attended in Edinburgh some years ago.

    Hepatic failure being the main cause of death, he probably had Crohn’s disease and most likely Paget’s disease.
    The Beethoven Genome project at Cambridge is presently carrying out some interesting research, we might have him sequenced soon.

    (Doc Martin is a retired GP, based in Belfast, an amateur composer, antiquarian and Irish harpist)

  • Greg Bottini says:

    “For the first time in nine months, we have no Beethoven to discuss.”
    That’s what SHE said.

  • JohnG says:

    It’s been a great project, Norman. Thank you for making the discussions happen.

  • Wimsey says:

    A great project, thanks!
    Now it’s time to choose another composer for 2021.

  • Doc Martin says:

    Beethoven even before he went to Vienna often complained of diarrhoea and vomiting. He most likely had recurrent gastroenteritis, possibly Salmonella, E coli or viral related, given the very poor hygiene standards of the period, food and water would be of questionable quality. Crohn’s disease is also very probable.

    I seem to recall reading somewhere ( it was a translated German memoir of Ferdinand Ries I think) a report of a visit he made to Beethoven in some digs he was living in Heiligenstadt and saw several overflowing unemptied night pots under his piano and what looked like a bad attack of the skitters in the outside privy.

  • Doc Martin says:

    You have forgotten Beethoven’s Tenth in Es-dur, Andante-Allegro-Andante. A realisation attempted by Barry Cooper.

    I think he planned it for the Philharmonic Society for Sir George Smart.

  • Doc Martin says:

    I came across an interesting monograph in AMS, concerning the mathematics of Beethoven’s metronome, which suggests it may well have been totally banjaxed (Irish for FUBAR).

    If this is the case, clearly those numbers say for op 106 and op 125 need reappraising. In the case of the latter there is some evidence the copyist wrote down page number 106 by mistake for the Scherzo?

    You can read the monograph here. Warning for the non numerate, it contains some horrendous equations!

  • E says:

    Still a lot of listening to do, at least for me! I’ve enjoyed the essays immensely. And reader comments bring up good suggestions for even more listening. There’s a long way to

  • Yi Peng Li says:

    Although I’ve contributed to your Beethoven discussions (and occasionally chipped in late), I find that I tend to listen to more Beethoven in the last quarter of the year. I feel better spending time with his music in the last quarter because it is like a year-end reminder of perseverance and persistence, of hanging in there. It feels like you’ve finished your time with Beethoven and I’m starting on mine.

  • Doc Martin says:

    Here are some composers who were born 300 years ago in 2021

    Quirino Gasparini (1721-1778)
    Pieter Hellendaal (1721-1799)
    John Garth (1721-1810)

    Here are some composers who died 300 years ago in 2021

    Johann Christoph Bach (1642-1721)
    Jan Antonin Losy (1643-1721)
    Jeronimo de Carrion (1660-1721)

    Here are some composers who were born 400 years ago in 2021

    Mathew Locke (1621-1677)

    Here are some composers who died 400 years ago in 2021

    Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck (1562-1621)
    Michael Praetorius (1571-1621)

    Here are two composers who died 100 years ago in 2021

    Engelbert Humperdinck (1854-1921)

    Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921)

    There you go Norman!

    I would go for Mathew Locke, he was a rare fellow, who carved his name in the pews of Exeter Cathedral.