Beethoven’s library and love of literature

Beethoven’s library and love of literature.

This is a companion post to an earlier one about Beethoven and Philosophy. In the excellent article on : “Nietzsche and Beethoven, Tracing Beethoven’s Relationship to Literature and Philosophy,” the writer begins by examining Beethoven’s “Heiligenstadt Testament”  written in October 1802, where he makes a reference to being “forced” at age 28 “to become a philosopher.”

Beethoven testament

Here is the full text in English:

Here is the article which examines Beethoven’s literary interests, authors he admired such as Goethe and Schiller, and discusses what books he had in his library, which was very extensive- some 200- 300 books!

Ludwig lush2

Beethoven as he was around the time he wrote the “Heiligenstadt     Testament.”

Reconstruction of Beethoven’s Library at Beethoven- Haus Bonn:

You can help build up his library by adopting a book!

Below are photographs of some of Ludwig’s books. It is fascinating to see his annotations:



three(Picture credits: Hans Conrad Fischer, 1970)


Beethoven’s Spirituality and Philosophies.


 Freedom,—progress, is purpose in the art-world as in universal creation, and if we moderns have not the hardihood of our ancestors, refinement of manners has surely accomplished something.”

July 29, 1819, to Archduke Rudolph.

Beethoven’s spiritual beliefs and philosophical interests.

In the summer and fall of 1809, when Beethoven suffered physical distress and mental anguish from the French bombardment and occupation of Vienna and the temporary collapse of his cultural and social world, he seems to have been possessed by a great need for artistic and intellectual sustenance. Repeatedly pressing Breitkopf & Hartel for scores and literary works, he can’t get enough: J.S. and Emmanuel Bach, Handel’s Messiah, Mozart’s Requiem, Haydn’s Masses– no, everything by Mozart and Haydn, Goethe and Schiller– all that can be had, Wieland, Ossian, Euripides. Beethoven made such requests throughout his life, though rarely with such breathless intensity. One of these letters is as self-reflective as it is self-aggrandizing:
You will not easily find an essay that is too learned for me; although I don’t claim to be genuinely learned, I have tried since I was a child, to grasp the spirit of the best and wisest [minds] of every age. Shame on the artist who does not consider it his duty to achieve at least so much.

[Ludwig van Beethoven: Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe II, no. 408 (1997-98);Emily Anderson, Letters of Beethoven, I, no. 228 (1961)

As seen from the above quote, Ludwig van Beethoven was very much concerned with spirituality- the search for knowledge and learning, as well as his musical development and creation throughout his life.

Here you can find various words of wisdom by Ludwig on all sorts of subjects ranging from music, education, art, suffering and literature.




By Ludwig van Beethoven

Edited by Friedrich Kerst and Henry Edward Krehbiel