- Paperback: 270 pages
- Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (June 16, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1461186382
- ISBN-13: 978-1461186380
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,728,584 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Beethoven's Only Beloved: Josephine!: A Biography of the Only Woman Beethoven ever Loved Paperback – June 16, 2011
|New from||Used from|
ForeWord Clarion Review NONFICTION: BIOGRAPHY
Beethoven's Only Beloved: Josephine! A Biography of the Only Woman Beethoven ever Loved
John E. Klapproth
CreateSpace 978-1-4611-8638-0 Four Stars (out of Five)
Fans of Charles Schulz's Peanuts cartoons will remember Schroeder, the Beethoven-obsessed character who kept a bust of the composer on his piano and never let the feminine charms of Lucy interrupt his playing. John E. Klapproth is like Schroeder, similarly absorbed in Beethoven's music and life story. In Beethoven's Only Beloved: Josephine! the author identifies the composer's anonymous lover and muse, the "Immortal Beloved" Beethoven refers to in a passionate 1812 letter. She is the subject of much debate among classical music scholars and devotees. Klapproth is suited to tackling this detective work. A serious Beethoven fan and fluent in both German and English, he is thus able to understand the nuances of meaning in each language as he analyzes reams of historical documents. He identifies Josephine, Countess von Brunsvik (later, Baroness von Stackelberg), as Beethoven's beloved, laying out proof for his theory in a chronological account of her life, and Beethoven's, and where they intersect. Klapproth believes that the composer fell in love with Josephine, his musical pupil, and would have married her if only Josephine's aristocratic mother had not had a wealthy old nobleman in mind for her nuptials. In addition, Klapproth makes a case that Beethoven fathered a daughter with Josephine during her difficult and loveless second marriage. The book is packed with footnotes, quotes, charts, and paragraph after paragraph of literary detective work, which will be absorbing to Beethoven afficionados, but perhaps not to many other readers. The footnotes are printed in small type, which adds to the work of plowing through them. Klapproth's prose style has verve and charm, but he relies a bit too much on the parenthetical asides. It would also be beneficial to have a few illustrations of Beethoven, Josephine, and their love child, Minona, or some of the architectural landmarks of Vienna, Prague, Budapest, and Bonn to give the reader a better understanding of the atmosphere that surrounded Beethoven's life in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Beethoven's Only Beloved: Josephine! is an extensively researched and well-written book, but it is hard to know if it will have an audience beyond the hardcore classical music buff or Beethoven scholar. The author provides a great deal of information about the Eastern European cultural scene during Beethoven's time, but the book is primarily an exhaustive argument in favor of identifying Josephine as Beethoven's lover, which may limit a wider readership. Rachel Jagareski --ForeWord Clarion Reviews
About the Author
John E Klapproth was born in West Germany. After studying Mathematics and Physics in Frankfurt, and Sociology and Psychology in Regensburg, he worked as an Industrial Psychologist and as a Computer Programmer. In 1987, he moved to New Zealand and had a spell in Melbourne (1996-2007). Currently he is employed by the NZ Government in Wellington. John first became fascinated by Beethoven’s music when hearing the Symphony #8 on the radio - he turned it so loud that the neighbors complained! He has been hooked ever since. His favorites are the “Pastoral” Symphony and Op. 114. John owns a fairly complete collection of more than 550 works by Beethoven on CD (over 2,500 tracks), a dozen Beethoven movies and documentaries on DVD and some 50 books about the composer. He also wrote the "Josephine!" story as a screen play.
If you buy a new print edition of this book (or purchased one in the past), you can buy the Kindle edition for only $1.99 (Save 50%). Print edition purchase must be sold by Amazon. Learn more.
For thousands of qualifying books, your past, present, and future print-edition purchases now lets you buy the Kindle edition for $2.99 or less. (Textbooks available for $9.99 or less.)
Top Customer Reviews
The author ingeniously uses musical concepts as section headings. Each year of the relationship between the two lovers is treated in a separate chapter. A clear, easy to look up life story is provided to the reader.
Thus one is enticed to read the book (as a German), even though it is in English. Fortunately Klapproth at least provides the German quotations in the original language. Because even the love terms Beethoven had chosen for his beloved Josephine sound strangely sober, prosaic, even flat in the English translation. This is of course not Klapproth's fault. German terms that go deep into one's soul do not match the equivalent English expression (e.g., "my everything" for Beethoven's "mein Alles"; "happyness" for "Glückseligkeit"; "opposite sex" for "das andere Geschlecht"! awful!).
Tellenbach's book appeared in 1983, before the opening of the "Iron Curtain". Therefore important documents in Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic to support her research results were not yet available. Such documents - and Klapproth refers to them - have been found by another musicologist, first published in 2002 in "Österreichische Musikzeitschrift" 57/6: Rita Steblin, "Josephine Gräfin Brunswick-Deyms Geheimnis enthüllt: Neue Ergebnisse zu ihrer Beziehung zu Beethoven" [Countess Josephine Brunsvik-Deym's Secret Revealed: New Results on her Relationship to Beethoven].
They all arrive - together with other researchers - at the same result: "The `Immortal Beloved' was Josephine and no one else" (Steblin).
Beethoven, as a human being, now appears to us in all his profoundness and grandeur, corroborated by a better assessment of Josephine's noble character and her aspirations: She sacrificed her great love for the sake of her children whom she would have lost in case of a marriage to Beethoven who was "only" a commoner. That was the law and the custom of the nobility at the time. And the narrow-minded snobbery of the Brunsviks only aggravated the emotional distress of the two great lovers.
Klapproth's book is a treasure trove of quotations from all major documents on the subject in question. He dedicates a separate chapter to the misleading interpretations by the American writer Maynard Solomon whose psychoanalytic speculations about Beethoven are downright slander. Although they were already clearly refuted by Tellenbach, they are nevertheless, as observed by Klapproth, recommended to the German public by the German "Beethoven-establishment".
Klapproth's valuable book should be widely distributed, and one must hope that a German translation will follow soon.
by John E Klapproth
A book review written by Michael Burton
I have been interested for some time in the question of who Beethoven's "Immortal Beloved" really was. Every writer has a muse, mortal or immortal. Beethoven probably had a few, but is it not significant which woman's soul he poured his music into as a gift of love? The one great, famous letter to this Immortal Beloved that was found in a secret compartment of his desk after his death left her inconveniently unnamed. That letter has been called (I forget by whom) "the greatest outpouring of passion ever written by a man to a woman," and for close to 200 years people have wondered who the mysterious recipient of the letter really was.
When I did my own research into Beethoven's life for my one-man-play Being Beethoven (first performed around America by Marke Levene and a decade later done by myself in various parts of New Zealand), I was convinced by American music critic, Maynard Solomon, that the mystery woman was family friend, Antonie Brentano. John Klapproth has a whole chapter, and many scattered remarks elsewhere, aimed at rubbing my nose in my own foolishness for ever believing such nonsense. John is scathing of the logic that could put forward a candidate who has so little to recommend herself other than that she was in the right place at the right time. His woman, Beethoven's "only beloved" Josephine, (Josephine Brunswick) is someone who was indisputably connected to Beethoven romantically in an earlier part of their lives. He wrote to her letters in the same style as the Immortal Beloved letter, calling her, as he did in the Immortal letter, "my Angel". If I had read those letters myself, they alone would have been enough to convince me - the style is so similar. Other evidence comes from letters from Josephine's sister, Teresa. Like Josephine, she was in love with Beethoven and was faithful to him over many decades, but she makes it quite clear that it was her sister who was the chosen one. All in all, the evidence of a deep romantic attachment between Ludwig and Josephine - an attachment that survived the vicissitudes of space and time - is simply too great to be denied.
According to Klapproth, the reason why so many people in the English-speaking world languish under the illusion that the jury is still out concerning the identity of the woman arises because so much of the recent research has been done in German and not translated. Klapproth builds a case that certainly seems to be watertight. He quotes from what we know and fills in the gaps out of deduction, making it clear when events are proved and when there is still some ground for uncertainty. Solomon dismissed Josephine from being a serious candidate because there is no record of her being near to where Beethoven was when he wrote the letter. Klapproth shows that although there is no evidence she was there then, there is also no evidence that she was not there; in fact there were compelling reasons for her to have been travelling in secret at that time in a way that would have left no official record.
During their lifetimes, secrecy was necessary between Ludwig and Josephine, and Beethoven went out of his way to keep his feelings hidden because he and his beloved were star-crossed lovers who could not marry. They were first pushed apart because Josephine was a countess, forced by her mother to marry someone rich and noble (and old). Then later, after her first husband's death, a tragic turn comes into Josephine's life due to her ghastly destiny-connection with her second husband - a tutor to her children who seduced her and got her pregnant (a "mistake" if there ever was one!) - a man who had the power to take all her children from her if she dared to follow her heart and be with Beethoven.
Though much was cloaked in secrecy, Beethoven and his beloved left many traces of their long-term involvement. The book is impeccably researched, and all the key statements of letters, diaries, etc., are provided in German as well as English. This is important because Klapproth shows how many mistakes have been made through bad translations. He even asserts that Solomon was told the error of his ways regarding some mistranslations and yet refused to make changes in later editions of his book because his translation fitted the interpretation he was angling for. (One notable example Klapproth provides is in a passage in Beethoven's notebook where a certain musician asks Beethoven, "Wollen Sie bey meiner Frau schlafen?" (p. 157) and this is translated by Solomon as, "Do you want to sleep with my wife?" As Beethoven apparently answered in the affirmative, this was cited as evidence of the deaf composer's declining morals, however a better translation, and one which fits a following sentence which Solomon left out, would be the somewhat less alarming, "Do you want to sleep at my wife's place?")
Beethoven's Only Beloved: Josephine! is not only a detective story to find out who the mystery woman was - it is an absolutely absorbing account of human tragedy that would engage the heart even if the heroine's lover were not Beethoven. The account of Josephine's decline into physical illness and mental instability is poignant. Klapproth builds up a picture of the personality of this woman, so linked to Beethoven and yet forced to remain far from him as regards what was possible in an earthly relationship. Anyone who knows and loves Beethoven's music really should get a copy of this book and read their tragic tale.
Will music-lovers of the English-speaking world, now exposed to German scholarship through this book, come to a new understanding of Beethoven and listen to some of his music with new ears through being able to imagine the situation he was in and the person he was writing for? Beethoven's music is continually rediscovered and played anew for different generations and no one hears it exactly as those who have gone before. To me, it certainly makes a huge difference, knowing how Beethoven's secret commitment fired his will and helped him to create his music. Beethoven had his share of affairs and entanglements, but Josephine was his soul-mate - his equal in many ways and the source of much of his music - some of it, the most beautiful and romantic music ever written.
I will be forever grateful to this book for pointing out to me a story that, without it, would have remained to me unknown. Beethoven can be perceived as an even greater man through having kept this secret faith over decades. And Josephine - life gave her few blessings during her lifetime but such a book as this places her before the English-speaking world in a way in which we can recognize her, understand her and feel compassion for the impossibility of her tragic destiny. May she find fulfillment in the region of the stars beyond earthly suffering and in the companionship of her Immortal Beloved, Beethoven.
This is very well researched and delightfully points out the audacity of researchers in musicology, especially in America. Having been to my fair share of musicology conventions, it is clear to me that uncovering and revealing research is far less important to maintaining and bolstering one's name and academic position as a musicologist. Fortunately, that is not the main point of the book which is very well described in previous reviews on Amazon.