Voices and Metrical Dramas in Beethoven's Goethe-Songs, Op. 83
by Frank Samarotto
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."