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Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827) was a prolific letter writer. Often written in great haste - he regularly signed off 'in der Eile' - his correspondence allows us to follow his anxieties and preoccupations. From his first letter, written at the age of thirteen, wherein he declared his lifelong commitment to the craft of music, through the poignant 'Heiligenstadt Testament', up to the final codicil to his will, these documents reveal the human figure behind some of the greatest music ever written. In this two-volume English translation of 1909, John South Shedlock (1843–1919) retains as far as possible the idiosyncratic and error-ridden texts as written by the great composer. Volume 1 covers the years to 1816, and includes the heartbreaking unsent 1802 letter to his brothers in which Beethoven reveals his misery over his increasing deafness and his determination to overcome his physical and emotional weaknesses.
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827) was a prolific letter writer, with thousands of examples surviving to this day. Often written in great haste - 'in der Eile' was a common sign-off - they allow us to follow the great composer's anxieties and preoccupations, revealing the human figure behind some of the greatest music ever written. Despite the fact that 'many of Beethoven's letters slumber in foreign lands, especially in the unapproachable cabinets of curiosities belonging to various close-fisted English collectors', the German musicologist Ludwig Nohl (1831–85) published his collection of letters in 1865, and this two-volume English translation by Grace Jane Wallace (1804–78) appeared the following year, reflecting the fact that interest in Beethoven had not diminished nearly forty years after his death. Volume 1 includes the letter by the thirteen-year-old Beethoven which declares his life's commitment to the craft of music, and the still poignant 'Heiligenstadt Testament'.