Memories of Beethoven: From the House of the Black-Robed Spaniards / Edition 1

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These are the personal memories of an elderly man who, as a child, was closely acquainted with Beethoven. Gerhard von Breuning, the son of one of Beethoven's oldest friends, was a favourite of the ageing composer, who delighted in the boy's frequent visits. This firsthand account provides us with telling details about Beethoven's daily life, his personality, and his relationships with family and friends. It is as a clear-eyed witness of Beethoven's final illness that Breuning is particularly compelling, providing graphic reports on the atmosphere of the sickroom, the course of the medical treatment and Beethoven's death throes after he despaired both of his doctor and of his life and, muttering 'Oh, that ass!', turned his face to the wall. This is an English translation of a fascinating document. The Beethoven scholar, Maynard Solomon, has provided many explanatory notes as well as a full and informative introduction. A permanent contribution to the Beethoven literature, this book provides a sensitive and unique insight into the life of the composer during his later years.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Two years before his death in 1827, Ludwig van Beethoven moved into an apartment at the so-called Schwarzspanierhaus (the house of the black-robed Spaniards) in Vienna, around the corner from the home of his close friend Stephan von Breuning. Von Breuning's son Gerhard (1813-1892), at the time a precocious 12-year-old, visited the composer frequently and observed his character and habits so closely that Beethoven nicknamed the boy ``Hosenknopf,'' or trouser button (``because I stuck to him like a button on trousers''). Gerhard, who became a doctor, later wrote a small book of reminiscences about the irascible genius; published in 1874 and reprinted several times, it became an important source of information about the composer's last years and final illness, despite the fact that the author added fabrications from a notoriously inaccurate biography by Anton Schindler, another of Beethoven's contemporaries. The deft English translation of this fascinating book contains a lucid introduction by Solomon ( Beethoven ), who has also provided copious endnotes to clarify von Breuning's references and to call attention to spurious material. Illustrations not seen by PW. (Nov.)
Library Journal
During the last few years of Beethoven's life, the von Breuning family, including 12-year-old Gerhard, lived around the corner from the composer's residence at the Schwarzspanierhaus in Vienna. Von Breuning, a precocious and observant child, spent many hours at Beethoven's side and later chronicled his memories in a thin volume that is considered a minor classic among music historians. Solomon, a highly respected Beethoven scholar, has provided the first translation of the book, which was originally published in 1874. The meticulous editorial work is invaluable, as much of our knowledge of Beethoven's final years has been tainted by the fraudulent memoirs of Anton Schindler; even von Breuning himself occasionally relies upon Schindler's untrustworthy accounts. Many of the author's anecdotes and observations have been included in the major biographies, but they are told here with an affecting charm and freshness. Highly recommended for music libraries and lovers of Beethoviana.-- Larry Lipkis, Moravian Coll., Bethlehem, Pa.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521484893
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/2003
  • Series: Canto original Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 154
  • Product dimensions: 5.43 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.39 (d)

Table of Contents

Editor's introduction; Author's foreword; From the House of the Black-Robed Spaniards; Abbreviations; Annotations; List of illustrations; Index.

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