Beethoven's Letters 1790-1826, Volume 1

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Excerpt FIRST PART.LIFE'S JOYS AND SORROWS.1783 TO 1815. 1.TO THE ELECTOR OF COLOGNE, FREDERICK MAXIMILIAN. ILLUSTRIOUS PRINCE,-- Music from my fourth year has ever been my favorite pursuit. Thus early introduced to the sweet Muse, who attuned my soul to pure harmony, I loved her, and sometimes ventured to think that I was beloved by her in return. I have now attained my eleventh year, and my Muse often whispered to me in hours of inspiration,--Try to write down the harmonies in your soul. Only eleven years old! thought I; does the character of an author befit me? and what would more mature artists say? I felt some trepidation; but my Muse willed it--so I obeyed, and wrote. May I now, therefore, Illustrious Prince, presume to lay the first-fruits of my juvenile labors at the foot of your throne? and may I hope that you will condescend to cast an encouraging and kindly glance on them? You will; for Art and Science have ever found in you a judicious protector and a generous patron, and rising talent has always prospered under your fostering and fatherly care. Encouraged by this cheering conviction, I venture to approach you with these my youthful efforts. Accept them as the pure offering of childlike reverence, and graciously vouchsafe to regard with indulgence them and their youthful composer, LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN. [Footnote 1: The dedication affixed to this work, "Three Sonatas for the Piano, dedicated to my illustrious master, Maximilian Friedrich, Archbishop and Elector of Cologne, by Ludwig van Beethoven in his eleventh year," is probably not written by the boy himself, but is given here as an amusing contrast to his subsequent ideas with regard to the homage due to rank.] 2.TO DR. SCHADE,--AUGSBURG. Bonn, 1787. Autumn. MY MOST ESTEEMED FRIEND,-- I can easily imagine what you must think of me, and I cannot deny that you have too good grounds for an unfavorable opinion. I shall not, however, attempt to justify myself, until I have explained to you the reasons why my apologies should be accepted. I must tell you that from the time I left Augsburg my cheerfulness, as well as my health, began to decline; the nearer I came to my native city, the more frequent were the letters from my father, urging me to travel with all possible speed, as my mother's health was in a most precarious condition. I therefore hurried forwards as fast as I could, although myself far from well. My longing once more to see my dying mother overcame every obstacle, and assisted me in surmounting the greatest difficulties. I found my mother indeed still alive, but in the most deplorable state; her disease was consumption, and about seven weeks ago, after much pain and suffering, she died [July 17]. She was indeed a kind, loving mother to me, and my best friend. Ah! who was happier than I, when I could still utter the sweet name of mother, and it was heard? But to whom can I now say it? Only to the silent form resembling her, evoked by the power of imagination. I have passed very few pleasant hours since my arrival here, having during the whole time been suffering from asthma, which may, I fear, eventually turn to consumption; to this is added melancholy,--almost as great an evil as my malady itself....
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