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Preface


This little book came into existence as if it were by chance.
The author had devoted himself for a long time to the study of
Beethoven and carefully scrutinized all manner of books,
publications, manuscripts, etc., in order to derive the greatest
possible information about the hero. He can say confidently that
he conned every existing publication of value. His notes made
during his readings grew voluminous, and also his amazement at
the wealth of Beethoven's observations comparatively unknown to
his admirers because hidden away, like concealed violets, in
books which have been long out of print and for whose
reproduction there is no urgent call. These observations are of
the utmost importance for the understanding of Beethoven, in
whom man and artist are inseparably united. Within the pages
of this little book are included all of them which seemed to
possess value, either as expressions of universal truths or as
evidence of the character of Beethoven or his compositions.
Beethoven is brought more directly before our knowledge by these
his own words than by the diffuse books which have been written
about him. For this reason the compiler has added only the
necessary explanatory notes, and (on the advice of professional
friends) the remarks introductory to the various subdivisions of
the book. He dispensed with a biographical introduction; there
are plenty of succinct biographies, which set forth the
circumstances of the master's life easily to be had. Those who
wish to penetrate farther into the subject would do well to
read the great work by Thayer, the foundation of all Beethoven
biography (in the new revision now making by Deiters), or the
critical biography by Marx, as revised by Behncke. In sifting
the material it was found that it fell naturally into thirteen
subdivisions. In arranging the succession of utterances care
was had to group related subjects. By this means unnecessary
interruptions in the train of thought were avoided and
interesting comparisons made possible. To this end it was
important that time, place and circumstances of every word
should be conscientiously set down.

Concerning the selection of material let it be said that in all
cases of doubt the authenticity of every utterance was proved;
Beethoven is easily recognizable in the form and contents of his
sayings. Attention must be directed to two matters in particular:
after considerable reflection the compiler decided to include in
the collection a few quotations which Beethoven copied from books
which he read. From the fact that he took the trouble to write
them down, we may assume that they had a fascination for him, and
were greeted with lively emotion as being admirable expressions
of thoughts which had moved him. They are very few, and the fact
that they are quotations is plainly indicated. By copying them
into his note-books Beethoven as much as stored them away in the
thesaurus of his thoughts, and so they may well have a place
here. A word touching the use of the three famous letters to
Bettina von Arnim, the peculiarities of which differentiate them
from the entire mass of Beethoven's correspondence and compel an
inquiry into their genuineness: As a correspondent Bettina von
Arnim has a poor reputation since the discovery of her pretty
forgery, "Goethes Briefwechsel mit einem Kinde" (Goethe's
Correspondence with a Child). In this alleged "Correspondence"
she made use of fragmentary material which was genuine, pieced
it out with her own inventions, and even went so far as to turn
into letters poems written by Goethe to her and other women. The
genuineness of a poem by Beethoven to Bettina is indubitable; it
will be found in the chapter entitled "Concerning Texts." Doubt
was thrown on the letters immediately on their appearance in 1839.

Bettina could have dissipated all suspicion had she produced the
originals and remained silent. One letter, however, that dated
February 10, 1811, afterward came to light. Bettina had given it
to Philipp von Nathusius. It had always been thought the most
likely one, of the set to be authentic; the compiler has
therefore, used it without hesitation. From the other letters,
in which a mixture of the genuine and the fictitious must be
assumed so long as the originals are not produced, passages have
been taken which might have been thus constructed by Beethoven.
On the contrary, the voluminous communications of Bettina to
Goethe, in which she relates her conversations with Beethoven,
were scarcely used. It is significant, so far as these are
concerned, that, according to Bettina's own statement, when she
read the letter to him before sending it off, Beethoven cried out,
"Did I really say that? If so I must have had a raptus."

In conclusion the compiler directs attention to the fact that in
a few cases utterances which have been transmitted to us only in
an indirect form have been altered to present them in a direct
form, in as much as their contents seemed too valuable to omit
simply because their production involved a trifling change in
form.

Published:
Jan 6, 2016
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