Beethoven was a true son of the Rhine in his love for nature. As
a boy he had taken extended trips, sometimes occupying days, with
his father "through the Rhenish localities ever lastingly dear to
me." In his days of physical health Nature was his instructress
in art; "I may not come without my banner," he used to say when
he set out upon his wanderings even in his latest years, and
never without his note books. In the scenes of nature he found
his marvelous motives and themes; brook, birds and tree sang to
him. In a few special cases he has himself recorded the fact.
But when he was excluded more and more from communion with his
fellow men because of his increasing deafness, until, finally,
he could communicate only by writing with others (hence the
conversation-books, which will be cited often in this little
volume), he fled for refuge to nature. Out in the woods he again
became naively happy; to him the woods were a Holy of Holies, a
Home of the Mysteries. Forest and mountain-vale heard his sighs;
there he unburdened his heavy-laden heart. When his friends need
comfort he recommends a retreat to nature. Nearly every summer he
leaves hot and dusty Vienna and seeks a quiet spot in the
beautiful neighborhood. To call a retired and reposeful little
spot his own is his burning desire.
12. On the Kahlenberg, 1812, end of September:
In the woods
I am blessed.
Happy every one
In the woods.
Every tree speaks
What glory in the
On the Heights
Peace to serve
(This poetic exclamation, accompanied by a few notes, is on a
page of music paper owned by Joseph Joachim.)
13. "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."
(To Baroness von Drossdick.)
14. "O God! send your glance into beautiful nature and comfort
your moody thoughts touching that which must be."
(To the "Immortal Beloved," July 6, in the morning.)
[Thayer has spoiled the story so long believed, and still
spooking in the books of careless writers, that the "Immortal
Beloved" was the Countess Giulietta Guicciardi, to whom the
C-sharp minor sonata is dedicated. The real person to whom the
love-letters were addressed was the Countess Brunswick to whom
Beethoven was engaged to be married when he composed the fourth
Symphony. H. E. K.)
15. "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!"
(July, 1814; he had gone to Baden after the benefit performance
16. "My fatherland, the beautiful locality in which I saw the
light of the world, appears before me vividly and just as
beautiful as when I left you; I shall count it the happiest
experience of my life when I shall again be able to see you,
and greet our Father Rhine."
(Vienna, June 29, to Wegeler, in Bonn.)
[In 1825 Beethoven said to his pupil Ries, "Fare well in the Rhine
country which is ever dear to me," and in 1826 wrote to Schott,
the publisher in Mayence, about the "Rhine country which I so long
to see again."]
17. "Bruhl, at "The Lamb"--how lovely to see my native country
18. "A little house here, so small as to yield one's self a
little room,--only a few days in this divine Bruehl,--longing or
desire, emancipation or fulfillment."
(Written in 1816 in Bruehl near Modling among the sketches for
the Scherzo of the pianoforte sonata op. 10.)
[Like many another ejaculatory remark of Beethoven's, it is
difficult to understand. See Appendix. H. E. K.]
19. "When you reach the old ruins, think that Beethoven often
paused there; if you wander through the mysterious fir forests,
think that. Beethoven often poetized, or, as is said, composed
(In the fall of 1817, to Mme. Streicher, who was at a cure in
20. "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
(Copied into his diary, in 1818, from Sturm's "Betrachtungen uber
die Werke Gottes in der Natur.")
21. "Soon autumn will be here. Then I wish to be like unto a
fruitful tree which pours rich stores of fruit into our laps! But
in the winter of existence, when I shall be gray and sated with
life, I desire for myself the good fortune that my repose be as
honorable and beneficent as the repose of nature in the winter
(Copied from the same work of Sturm's.)
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