- 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: #3,655,042 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Beethoven's Only Beloved: Josephine!: A Biography of the Only Woman Beethoven ever Loved Paperback – June 16, 2011
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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both German and English, he is thus able to understand the nuances of meaning in each language as he analyzes reams of historical documents.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.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
True, the subject was not new to me, as I have known about the Immortal Beloved "riddle" for more than forty years. The first book I read dealing with the subject was Ludwig van Beethoven by Jean and Brigitte Massin, an excellent biography of Beethoven if ever there was one. The Massins, after a well-researched study, had already guessed that the only possibility for the identity of the Immortal Beloved was Josephine von Brunswik. However, and being honest historians, they thought it was highly probable, but not absolutely certain. The certainty came to them some time later, in their "Recherche de Beethoven". Since then, other eminent scholars such as Tellenbach, Beahrs and Steblin, among others, have added more evidence to the case, making Josephine the one and only Immortal Beloved possible. In this book, Klapproth summarizes all these studies in a beautiful and easy to grasp presentation, while at the same time delving into every detail and giving the original citations in German. I dare say with utmost confidence that he has laid the case to rest.
How, then, did Maynard Solomon come up with his theory about Antonie Brentano(an "absurd" hypothesis for the Massins) remained a mystery to me, until Klapproth opened my eyes on the fact that Solomon did not understand German(I even found out that MY German is better than Solomon's!). And since most of the serious research on the subject is in German, this explains Solomon's "wisdom", as Klapproth aptly names it...But there is even worse: in 2011, Edward Walden was still trying to "square the circle" by publishing a book in which he claims to have solved the mystery: the Immortal Beloved is ...Bettina Brentano! Why? Because in one single letter, Beethoven addressed her with a "du"! This makes even Solomon's "wisdom" pale into insignificance!
So, if you are interested in this episode of Beethoven's life, and you have only time for reading one book, this is the one for you...
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.