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Ludwig van Beethoven, Brief an Franz Gerhard Wegeler in Bonn, Wien, 16. November 1801, Autograph

Beethoven-Haus Bonn, Sammlung Wegeler, W 18

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Beethoven had been very close friends with Franz Gerhard Wegeler since his childhood. Wegeler was a doctor. Beethoven told his friend early on about something which he had anxiously hidden from the outside world: his increasing loss of hearing (see W 17, BGA 65).

This letter is one of the most well-known and at the same time most touching of Beethoven's letters. First of all Beethoven tells him of his state of health and the treatments which he is having. Since 1801 he had suffered the symptoms of two conditions which accompanied him throughout his life: deafness and abdominal cramps. He is not happy with his doctor, Dr. Vering and is considering changing to Dr. Schmidt. Beethoven has heard about Schmidt's modern and successful methods of treatment and asks Wegeler's opinion.

Beethoven also tells his friend about a "dear charming" girl "who loves me and whom I love". He is even thinking about marriage, although sadly their difference in class is a barrier to this. The girl in question is probably Julie Guicciardi, to whom Beethoven dedicated the Piano Sonata op. 27 no. 2 (the so-called Moonlight Sonata). In 1801 Beethoven was very successful professionally and he tells Wegeler that he would like to travel more. The problem with this is his decreasing hearing.

Despite his complaint Beethoven is confident and in no way wants to seem unhappy or misanthropic, "I want to grasp fate by the throat, it should certainly not completely bend me - it is so good to live life a thousand times - I am no longer made for a quiet life - no, I can feel it."
The children in the Breuning family also numbered amongst Beethoven's childhood friends in Bonn. (Wegeler also knew the Breunings very well and married Eleonore von Breuning in 1802.) Around 1800 Stephan von Breuning was in Vienna with the Deutscher Orden. Beethoven is very concerned about his state of health and asks Wegeler to influence him.
"Steffen" is working too hard, is isolated and does not even come to special musical functions any more.

Finally Beethoven says that he wants to send Wegeler music ("my music") and the latest engraving of his portrait, as long as he agrees to pay the postage costs. He sends greetings to Eleonore, Maria Helene and Christoph von Breuning.

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