By Howard Jay Smith
Thus concludes one of the most famous love notes in history; Beethoven’s “Immortal Beloved,” letter written to a mysterious and as yet unknown woman. Not only did he fail address her by name, he further baffled music historians by simply dating the letter, July 7th, leaving off the year. Outside of Beethoven’s actual music, there is more speculation about the women in his life than anything else.
So who was this woman, this Immortal Beloved, that has been the focus of such fevered study in the nearly 190 years since his death in 1827, when a copy of the letter was found in his apartment by accident alone?
Will we ever know her true identity and give this woman her due? Was she a married aristocrat with whom he had an affair? Or a childhood sweetheart he longed to see once again? Or was she even the mother of a child he never knew?
Speculation is rife, even today, when the descendants of over a dozen women, including the dedicatee of the “Moonlight Sonata,” claim him as their own.
At the moment of his death, in his last seconds of conscious, Beethoven raised his fist and shook it at his Creator. Did he demand to know why it is, that he, whose hearing once surpassed all others in sensitivity and degree had been cast out as history’s cruel joke, a deaf composer who was also denied the comforts of family and the affections of his Immortal Beloved?
For all his creative genius, Beethoven was a flawed man who led a troubled life. In my novel we explore the depths of that love and pain. In that last tick of the clock, our Beethoven pleads with Providence to grant him one final wish… One day, just one day of pure joy in her arms. Thus begins a spiritual journey to the borders of Elysium, where Beethoven re-experience each of those precious moments. He struggles to come to peace not only with all the failings of his life but to also to find solace in the embrace of his Immortal Beloved.
Will he succeed? As one of the characters Beethoven encounters so on the road to paradise proudly proclaims, “What is a novel but a collection of lies we tell to reveal greater truths?”
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Howard's Literary Opus: Beethoven In Love; Opus 139
As Beethoven ultimately faces the realities of his just-ended life, we encounter the women who loved and inspired him. In their own voices, we discover their Beethoven—a lover with whom they savor the profound beauty and passion of his creations. And it’s in the arms of his beloveds that he comes to terms with the meaning of his life and experiences the moment of true joy he has always sought.
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