Beethoven-A Documentary Study compiled and edited by H.C Robbins Landon.


Published 1970.

This is a book is one of my favourites in my Beethoven book collection- it is full of contemporary sources- letters, diaries and anecdotes from Beethoven’s friends and contemporaries and the great man himself. It is lavishly illustrated throughout ( portraits of Beethoven and those of his friends, places he lived, visited etc..), many in colour.

The pictures and anecdotes bring a vivid and immediate snapshot of Beethoven:



(Note: meaning the French army, not the French people in general- having once being told to play for soldiers at a dinner given by Prince Lichnowsky which annoyed him, so he left)

An unusual pencil drawing of Beethoven, by Ludwig Schnorr von Carolsfield, 1808/1809, seen side on, which gives a different impression than the usual portraits. If you look at the drawing, his expressions seem to change- one moment he is thoughtful, the next his mouth sets in determination, then amusements flickers in his eyes and the corner of his mouth..a fascinating image of him indeed! It is also interesting as we can see in 1808/1809 he still had the fashionable short hair, sideburns and flicked up fringe. He would have been 38-39 years old.

B drawing

Robbins Landon says in the book, that the artist was very famous at that time, and the drawing was done in the Malfatti family’s sketchbook, now sadly “disappeared.”. The author doesn’t say how it was lost, nor who last owned this drawing. I am presuming that this is a photograph of the drawing- maybe it is hidden in a drawer somewhere and will one day be found…