Another kind deed by Ludwig van Beethoven.


Johann Sebastian Bach’s second wife, Anna Magdalena, a gifted singer who shared his work and who bore him 13 children, died in great poverty 10 years after Bach’s passing.

Her last child (JSB’s 20th), Regina Susanne, died in 1809, the year of Felix Mendelssohn’s birth.

A decade before her death, Regina Susanne was also living in poverty. Friedrich Rochlitz, the editor of the Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung, put out an appeal on her behalf, saying that she was starving, but that she “cannot, no, she should not, no she shall not beg.”

Among those who answered the appeal was Ludwig van Beethoven, who sent her 307 Gulden — a large sum. At the same time, he wrote to his publisher, Breitkopf & Härtel, to give her the royalties from one of his forthcoming compositions. Regina Susanne wrote to him: “With tears of joy, I received this sum, which surpasses all my expectations. Not a day that Providence grants me will go by that I will not remember you with heartfelt thanks, my benefactor.”

By Norman Lebrecht.