by Emil Ludwig (Author)
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Was he not ugly? Squat, sturdy, broad-shouldered, with a short neck, a massive head, a snub nose; swarthy, with hairy hands and broad finger-nails. So he looked, standing and walking, always stooping a little; at home they called him the Spaniel, and meant nothing flattering by it. But Friend Wegeler was quite different to look at, and at the Breuning mansion there were moments of tension, explosions, confessions—in short, the first of those breaches between Beethoven and his friends of which there were to be so many more. It was not caprice or temper which then and later brought upon him perpetual chagrins—it was nothing but sheer good faith, the candid longing to take every heart by storm; and yet his sociable spirit was always seeking a friend, both among men and women. Like Mozart, he had worldly ambitions, and these urged him to establish social relations—continually repulsed, he was to become more of a solitary than he ever wished to be. For now the friendship between Eleonore, her brother Stefan, Wegeler, and Beethoven rose to ecstatic fervours, and led to her rupture with the latter, her marriage with the former, until at last they who had been friends in youth were reconciled—a trio who were never again to lose touch with one another.

But no one recognised and helped him better than young Count Waldstein. He had drawn the attention of the fat Elector to the young genius in his orchestra and got the boy-organist his appointment; and now he sent the youth to Vienna. There he was to be heard by the master.

Mozart in Vienna—in 1787, at the zenith of his fame—stood surrounded by his idolators, and the dark shy boy from the Rhine country sat before him, gazing at him with burning excited eyes, for he was waiting to be given a theme. It was given—he began to make variations upon it, but soon it was abandoned, he left it far behind in his soaring curves of flight, then swooped upon it again, lost sight of it again. In the next room Mozart was listening; in a low voice he said to his friends: “Keep your eye on that one; he will be talked about someday!” Beethoven went back to the Rhine—he had passed the test.

Publication date
May 24, 2020
File size
821 KB
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