The many women of ludwig van beethoven, music, dw

The famous composer’s passion for women was certainly as great as that for his music. His numerous love affairs suggest that. The most important of them is still puzzling to this day.

Of differences in class and an immortal lover: Beethoven and the women

Maria Magdalena van Beethoven

The first love in a boy’s life is his own mother. For Maria Magdalena van Beethoven, the connection with Johann, Ludwig’s father, a chamber singer, was the second marriage. She gave him seven children, only three survived infancy. Her life was not easy: her husband was an alcoholic and violent. She died of tuberculosis in 1787, at just 40 years of age.

Of differences in class and an immortal lover: Beethoven and the women

Maria Anna Wilhelmine from and to Westerholt-Gysenberg

Beethoven’s childhood friend and biographer Franz Gerhard Wegeler referred to the "loving affection" to a "beautiful and kind Miss v. W.". Although Wegeler considered this one "Werther Love" described – a reference to Goethe’s letter novel "The Sorrows of Young Werther" with tragic outcome – has "Miss v. W." leave no deeper marks in the composer’s biography.

Of differences in class and an immortal lover: Beethoven and the women

Countess Josephine Brunsvik

Between 1804 and 1809, Beethoven wrote a total of 14 love letters and named the newly widowed woman among others. "my all" and his "only love". At the same time, hopelessness can be seen from the correspondence: Brunsvik would be in a marriage custody of their Children have been deprived. Brunsvik’s sister wrote that Beethoven and the countess were "made for each other" been.

Of differences in class and an immortal lover: Beethoven and the women

Therese Malfatti

After Josephine Brunsvik’s marriage was excluded, Beethoven made serious marriage plans with Therese Malfatti. For this he ordered a copy of his baptismal certificate from the authorities in his hometown of Bonn. Because of the difference in status, the Malfatti family refused a wedding. Beethoven seems to have quickly overcome the disappointment; the two remained friends.

Of differences in class and an immortal lover: Beethoven and the women

Countess Giulietta Guicciardi

Between 1801 and 1802 the Brunsvik sisters introduced Beethoven to her cousin – once again a countess. Love caught fire quickly, but it was clear to both that it would not bring lasting fulfillment: Giulietta was already engaged. However, she received a valuable gift: Beethoven dedicated the famous one to her "Moonlight Sonata".

Of differences in class and an immortal lover: Beethoven and the women

Marie Bigot

Beethoven also had strong feelings for her and gave her the autograph of his piano sonata by the nickname "Appassionata". When Beethoven invites Bigot on an excursion in March 1807, the husband is extremely jealous. In a letter to the couple, Beethoven wrote that it was his principle "never to be in a relationship other than friendship with another’s wife."

Of differences in class and an immortal lover: Beethoven and the women

Elisabeth Röckel

For "Elisabeth" was "Elise" then a common nickname. You immediately think of the dreamy piano piece "For Elise", one of the most famous musical works. At Beethoven’s request, she visited him on his deathbed, where he gave her a lock of his hair and his last pen. Musicologists believe that Röckel is actually the most mysterious "Elise".

Of differences in class and an immortal lover: Beethoven and the women

Antonie Brentano

The poet-in-law Bettina Brentano’s sister-in-law wrote in 1811 that Beethoven was hers "one of the dearest people" and he visits her "almost every day". The composer gave Antonie the original script of his song "To the beloved". It is known that Antonie traveled from Prague to Karlsruhe at a critical time. That could be relevant for the following story …

Of differences in class and an immortal lover: Beethoven and the women

Immortal lovers

The letter "To the immortal lover", dated July 6th and 7th, 1812, refers to a meeting a few days earlier in Prague, after which the mysterious woman follows "K." (maybe Karlsruhe) traveled on. Was it Antonie Brentano? Or Josephine Brunsvik, who had also recently met Beethoven, and one nine months later daughter born? Researchers disagree.

Author: Rick Fulker

Of differences in class and an immortal lover: Beethoven and the women

Maria Magdalena van Beethoven

The first love in a boy’s life is his own mother. For Maria Magdalena van Beethoven, the connection with Johann, Ludwig’s father, a chamber singer, was the second marriage. She gave him seven children, only three survived infancy. Her life was not easy: her husband was an alcoholic and violent. She died of tuberculosis in 1787, at just 40 years of age.

Of differences in class and an immortal lover: Beethoven and the women

Maria Anna Wilhelmine from and to Westerholt-Gysenberg

Beethoven’s childhood friend and biographer Franz Gerhard Wegeler referred to the "loving affection" to a "beautiful and kind Miss v. W.". Although Wegeler considered this one "Werther Love" described – a reference to Goethe’s letter novel "The Sorrows of Young Werther" with tragic outcome – has "Miss v. W." leave no deeper marks in the composer’s biography.

Of differences in class and an immortal lover: Beethoven and the women

Countess Josephine Brunsvik

Between 1804 and 1809, Beethoven wrote a total of 14 love letters and named the newly widowed woman among others. "my all" and his "only love". At the same time, hopelessness can be seen from the correspondence: Brunsvik would be custody of a marriage their children been withdrawn. Brunsvik’s sister wrote that Beethoven and the countess were "made for each other" been.

Of differences in class and an immortal lover: Beethoven and the women

Therese Malfatti

After Josephine Brunsvik’s marriage was excluded, Beethoven made serious marriage plans with Therese Malfatti. For this he ordered a copy of his baptismal certificate from the authorities in his hometown of Bonn. Because of the difference in status, the Malfatti family refused a wedding. Beethoven seems to have quickly overcome the disappointment; the two remained friends.

Of differences in class and an immortal lover: Beethoven and the women

Countess Giulietta Guicciardi

Between 1801 and 1802 the Brunsvik sisters introduced Beethoven to her cousin – once again a countess. Love caught fire quickly, but it was clear to both that it would not bring lasting fulfillment: Giulietta was already engaged. However, she received a valuable gift: Beethoven dedicated the famous one to her "Moonlight Sonata".

Of differences in class and an immortal lover: Beethoven and the women

Marie Bigot

Beethoven also had strong feelings for her and gave her the autograph of his piano sonata by the nickname "Appassionata". When Beethoven invites Bigot on an excursion in March 1807, the husband is extremely jealous. In a letter to the couple, Beethoven wrote that it was his principle "never to be in a relationship other than friendship with another’s wife."

Of differences in class and an immortal lover: Beethoven and the women

Elisabeth Röckel

For "Elisabeth" was "Elise" then a common nickname. You immediately think of the dreamy piano piece "For Elise", one of the most famous musical works. At Beethoven’s request, she visited him on his deathbed, where he gave her a lock of his hair and his last pen. Musicologists believe that Röckel is actually the most mysterious "Elise".

Of differences in class and an immortal lover: Beethoven and the women

Antonie Brentano

The poet-in-law Bettina Brentano’s sister-in-law wrote in 1811 that Beethoven was hers "one of the dearest people" and he visits her "almost every day". The composer gave Antonie the original script of his song "To the beloved". It is known that Antonie traveled from Prague to Karlsruhe at a critical time. That could be relevant for the following story …

Of differences in class and an immortal lover: Beethoven and the women

Immortal lovers

The letter "To the immortal lover", dated July 6th and 7th, 1812, refers to a meeting a few days earlier in Prague, after which the mysterious woman follows "K." (maybe Karlsruhe) traveled on. Was it Antonie Brentano? Or Josephine Brunsvik, who had also met Beethoven recently and gave birth to a daughter nine months later? Researchers disagree.

Author: Rick Fulker

He was small and had a pockmarked face. He was often neglected and the grim expression known from his most famous portraits was also typical. Contemporaries also reported that his manners made it difficult for him to deal with society. With increasing hearing loss and various illnesses, he became introverted and isolated over the years.

A true womanizer?

And still: Ludwig van Beethoven had a great attraction for the female gender. According to his childhood friend Franz Gerhard Wegeler, the rather unsightly musician "always in love relationships" and made conquests, "which would have become very difficult for some Adonis".

Beethoven’s seductive power lay in his music, especially in his imaginative piano improvisations. Many of his love objects were nobles, a reference to his self-image: he was convinced that he had an inner nobility that was equivalent to every official title. In reality, however, his social standing stood in the way, and the official recognition of his love affairs or even marriage was denied.

Impossible love

From Johanna von Honrath, a girl whom he adored in his youth, to the Countess Marie von Erdődy to the mysterious one "immortal beloved", the Beethoven revealed his innermost in a three-part letter – again and again affection, friendship, mutual respect and passion can be recognized in Beethoven’s relationship with these women – partly also of a platonic nature. Many of the women were his piano students.

But Beethoven’s various love affairs had something else in common: they were impossible or at least unlikely – due to differences in status or because the women were already married. So something we had today remained "stable relationship" would always be unattainable for the composer.

You can find out more about the women in Beethoven’s life in our picture gallery.

The editors recommend

Who was Beethoven’s Elise?

If Beethoven were still entitled to royalties, this melody alone could have made him a rich man. From classical to hard rock and jazz and from cabaret to cell phone ringtone: "For Elise" everyone knows. (04.09.2009)

Nike Wagner: "The Beethovenfest creates space for quiet feelings"

Stop in a noisy world – through music. The director of the Bonn Beethoven Festival Nike Wagner outlines this year’s program and announces a more programmatically quieter festival in 2017. (05.09.2017)

Beethovenfest 2017 looks up "The distant lover"

A song cycle and a mysterious unapproachable lover led to an explosion in productivity in Ludwig van Beethoven’s later creative period. That is exactly what the festival named after him will show. (03.24.2017)

G20 concert: peace, joy, provocation

Angela Merkel has requested Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony for her G20 guests in the Hamburg Elbphilharmonie. Does Trump and Co. pay attention to the subtext? (07.07.2017)

Of differences in class and an immortal lover: Beethoven and the women

There were many love affairs, but none of them lasted. The composer seemed unsuitable for a permanent connection – consciously or unconsciously avoided it. And there is still speculation about the most important woman of all. (06.09.2017)

  • date 06/09/2017
  • Writer / Author Rick Fulker
  • topics pagesBonn, Ludwig van Beethoven, Richard Wagner, Bachfest Leipzig, Nike Wagner, Yehudi Menuhin, Beethovenfest, Nikolaus Harnoncourt
  • TagsLudwig van Beethoven, classical music, composer, music history, music, Bonn, Beethovenfest
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