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Ludwig van Beethoven, Brief an Franz Gerhard Wegeler in Bonn, Wien, 29. Juni 1801, Autograph

Beethoven-Haus Bonn, Sammlung Wegeler, W 17

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This letter which Beethoven wrote to his friend Franz Gerhard Wegeler in Bonn is one of the few which gives us a deeper insight into Beethoven's private life.
At the beginning Beethoven assures his childhood friend of his friendship and close attachment, which he also feels for his home town: "I will consider the time when I can see you again and can greet our father Rhine to be one of the happiest occasions in my life". He then goes on to report about his circumstances at the time, saying he is very happy with them. Prince Lichnowsky, one of his patrons, pays him 600 florins a year; apart from this the sales from his compositions are good.
For the first time Beethoven talks about his loss of hearing, which he sees as a "jealous demon" against his professional success. He also describes other health problems and the more or less successful methods of treatment. He tells him of his insecurity and doubt caused by his increasing deafness, but asks his friend to preserve the strictest confidence on the matter. Wegeler is not even to mention it to his future wife Eleonore von Breuning, a mutual childhood friend. Beethoven is afraid of the humiliation which deafness would bring a successful musician.
Beethoven tells him that he is doing a lot with Stephan von Breuning, whose company he greatly values. Furthermore he promises to send his friend music and also the engraving which Wegeler had apparently requested (it is probably a representation from Greek mythology by the painter Heinrich Füger). In addition Beethoven promises him an engraving of himself (Neidl after Stainhauser). In return he asks Wegeler to send him a portrait of his grandfather (Radoux).
Beethoven suggests to the young Ferdinand Ries that it would be better for him to go to Paris than to Vienna. There are now a great many artists in Vienna and so it is difficult to be successful there. However Beethoven promises to do whatever he can for him.

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