Ludwig van Beethoven and his romantic, kind heart
The kindness of Ludwig van Beethoven is often overlooked, forgotten about- tales abound of him throwing books at his servants, or being irritable (due to his many ailments) but this true story of a great kindness he did for a young man, Ludwig Lowe, an actor is not widely known…
It was in the summer of 1811 that Ludwig Lowe, the actor, first met Beethoven in the dining-room of the Blue Star at Toplitz. Lowe was paying his addresses to the landlord’s daughter; and conversation being impossible at the hour he dined there, the charming creature one day whispered to him: “Come at a later hour when the customers are gone and only Beethoven is here. He cannot hear, and will therefore not be in the way.” This answered for a time; but the stern parents, observing the acquaintanceship, ordered the actor to leave the house and not to return. “How great was our despair!” relates Lowe. “We both desired to correspond, but through whom? Would the solitary man at the opposite table assist us? Despite his serious reserve and seeming churlishness, I believe he is not unfriendly. I have often caught a kind smile across his bold, defiant face.” Lôwe determined to try. Knowing Beethoven’s custom, he contrived to meet the master when he was walking in the gardens. Beethoven instantly recognized him, and asked the reason why he no longer dined at the Blue Star. A full confession was made, and then Lowe timidly asked if he would take charge of a letter to give to the girl.
“Why not?” pleasantly observed the rough-looking musician. “You mean what is right.”
So pocketing the note, he was making his way onward when Lowe again interfered.
“I beg your pardon, Herr van Beethoven, that is not all.”
“So, so,” said the master.
“You must also bring back the answer,” Lowe went on to say.
“Meet me here at this time to-morrow,” said Beethoven.
Lowe did so, and there found Beethoven awaiting him, with the coveted reply from his lady-love. In this manner Beethoven carried the letters backward and forward for some five or six weeks—in short, as long as he remained in the town.
And a touching description of Ludwig by Carl Maria Weber:
“The square Cyclopean figure attired in a shabby coat with torn sleeves.” Everybody will remember his noble, austere face, as seen in the numerous prints: the square, massive head, with the forest of rough hair; the strong features, so furrowed with the marks of passion and sadness; the eyes, with their look of introspection and insight; the whole expression of the countenance as of an ancient prophet. Such was the impression made by Beethoven on all who saw him, except in his moods of fierce wrath, which toward the last were not uncommon, though short-lived. A sorely tried, sublimely gifted man, he met his fate stubbornly, and worked out his great mission with all his might and main, through long years of weariness and trouble. Posterity has rewarded him by enthroning him on the highest peaks of musical fame.
I recently acquired some records from the 1960s Great Musicians Series. Each record comes with a cardboard covered magazine which has some interesting articles.
Below is from one of them entitled Was Beethoven A Romantic?
The author of this article is not given, but the editor was Robert Simpson of the BBC Music Division. This was published in 1966.