Beethoven’s secretary was truer than he knew

Beethoven’s secretary was truer than he knew

Album Of The Week

norman lebrecht

June 24, 2022

From the Lebrecht Album of the Week:

While writing a book about Beethoven (to be published next year), I recoiled from many of the pupils, acolytes, secretaries, amanuenses, self-seeking musicians and all sorts of hangers-on who lived off their connection with the great man and published reminiscences of him, many of them invented. A singular exception was Ferdinand Ries, a young man from Beethoven’s home town who grew up in the Bonn court orchestra and shared some of the same teachers. Ries, so far as I can tell, never made up stories about Beethoven or made him out to be anything other than he was — a towering genius with a terrible temper….

Read on here.

And here.

In The Critic here.

En francais ici.

In Spanish here.


  • Murray Citron says:

    The pianist Susan Kagan has recorded at least 3 CDs of the works of Ferdinand Ries for Naxos.

    • David K. Nelson says:

      And she (Susan Kagan) has recorded several CDs of (and written the biography of) Beethoven’s most famous pupil, the Archduke Rudolf.

      N.L. seems to lump everyone but Ries together as being unreliable sources, but Rudolf hardly exploited the relationship for his own benefit (nor did he need to of course, given his rank in life), and his relatively few preserved anecdotes seem reliable enough because they are not self serving.

  • John Dietmann says:

    After reading Norman’s review of a new cd of Ries compositions, I immediately went into my QOBUZ subscription. There are at least 40 Reis cds by various artists. All steaming in flac and many in high resolution.
    Listening now to one through my stereo hifi system. A CPO cd of piano quartets & sextets by the Ensemble Concertant Frankfort.