List journal issues Table of contents


Volume 12 • Number 2

Fall 2005



Multiple Voices and Metrical Dramas in Beethoven's Goethe-Songs, Op. 83


by Frank Samarotto

Beethoven's connection to Goethe is intertwined with a third person, Bettina Brentano von Arnim, whose own account places her near the genesis of some of Beethoven's songs on texts by Goethe:

One day in May [of 1810], Beethoven, sitting at the pianoforte with a song just composed before him, was surprised by a pair of hands being placed upon his shoulders. He looked up "gloomily," but his face brightened as he saw a beautiful young woman who, putting her mouth to his ear said: "My name is Brentano." She needed no further introduction. He smiled, gave her his hand without rising and said: "I have just made a beautiful song for you; do you want to hear it?" Thereupon he sang . . . "Kennst du das Land?" He asked: "Well, how do you like it?" She nodded. "It is beautiful, isn't it?" he said enthusiastically, "marvellously beautiful; I'll sing it again." He sang it again, looked at her with a triumphant expression, and seeing her cheeks and eyes glow, rejoiced over her happy approval. "Aha!" said he, "most people are touched by a good thing; but they are not artist-natures [Künstlernaturen]. Artists are fiery; they do not weep [Künstler sind feurig, die weinen nicht]." He then sang another song of Goethe's, "Trocknet nicht Thränen der ewigen Liebe."

view PDF



Issue Index
© 2007 by the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois
Content in Beethoven Forum is intended for personal, noncommercial use only. You may not reproduce, publish, distribute, transmit, participate in the transfer or sale of, modify, create derivative works from, display, or in any way exploit the Beethoven Forum database in whole or in part without the written permission of the copyright holder.

Terms and Conditions of Use