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Memories of Beethoven: From the House of the Black-Robed Spaniards (Canto original series) Paperback – March 31, 1995

ISBN-13: 978-0521484893 ISBN-10: 0521484898

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Product Details

  • Series: Canto original series
  • Paperback: 172 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (March 31, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521484898
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521484893
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.1 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,580,541 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers 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.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From 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.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 28, 1999
Format: Paperback
By its nature, what's most obvious can easily escape our attention, so it may be worth noting that Beethoven's era is beyond the recall of any living person. Theoretically, there might now be some living centenarian whose grandfather could have known him, or at least been in his presence and spoken with him - but this is conceptual, and though conjecture is fruitless it's still fascinating. We can't talk with Beethoven or his intimates, none of whom lived into the 20th century - but here one of them operatively speaks to us, if not literally then surely effectively.
Edited by Maynard Solomon and translated for the first time from the original German by him and Henry Mins, the book FROM THE HOUSE OF THE BLACK SPANIARD - REMEMBRANCES OF BEETHOVEN FROM MY YOUTH was authored by Dr. Gerhard von Breuning and first published in Vienna in 1874.
The title is fitting. As a 12-year-old, the author (whose father was a close friend of the composer) was privy to Beethoven's inner circle and played a small but important role in the composer's daily existence during the last year and a half of his life. He helped him in various ways by assisting with his correspondence, running special errands, helping him keep order in his dwelling, and doing what he could during Beethoven's last illness. The boy eventually developed for the composer a feeling approaching worship. Beethoven reciprocated this devotion by guiding some of the boy's musical education. When the young Gerhard eventually asked the older man's permission to address him with the familiar Du (rather than the formal Sie), the boy was overjoyed when Beethoven consented.
Dr. Solomon says in the book's introduction, "Like many children, Gerhard was a keen observer of small details...
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Southern Gal on June 4, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The previous reviewer did an excellent job in describing this book but I must give the book five stars. There is not much more I can add. The book is written in a delightful, honest, sensitive, and engrossing manner. What the previous reviewer wrote is true. Gerhard did come to address Beethoven in a familiar rather than a more formal manner. And Beethoven nicknamed the boy "Trouserbutton" as their close and loving relationship developed. Beethoven is shown as the man rather than the sometimes difficult genius we read about. What a gift Gerhard von Breuning has given us in recording his memories for later generations!

One thing I must comment on is how Beethoven is described to have faced impending death with grace and dignity. Beethoven had to have been in incredible pain during those last months. Not only did Beethoven suffer greatly from his disease but horrible bedsores were discovered when Beethoven's body was moved after his death. Yet it is recorded that he rarely complained.

I cannot imagine anyone not thoroughly enjoying this book. This is a book that I will keep in my personal library for a very long time.
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Format: Paperback
To someone immensely enjoying delving into the life of my favorite composer, this book was the "icing on the cake"! What better remembrances to read than those of a boy whose family rekindled an ealier friendship with the aging composer. You'll find interesting trivia not found elsewhere, such as the layout of his final large apartment, portraits of both Beethoven and others in his life. (Gerhard shares which ones he and his father felt were most realistic). It is sad to read of how much physical suffering Beethoven endured at the end, yet rarely complained. Also, how Vienna (previously apathetic to older Beethoven) became frenzied after his death for souvenirs. - Jonna Lambrosa Statt -
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