Memories of Beethoven: From the House of the Black-Robed Spaniards

Gerhard Von Breuning, Author, Maynard Solomon, Editor, Henry Minns, Translator
Gerhard Von Breuning, Author, Maynard Solomon, Editor, Henry Minns, Translator Cambridge University Press $24.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-521-41710-5
Paperback - 168 pages - 978-0-521-48489-3
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Two years before his death in 1827, Ludwig van Beethoven moved into an apartment at the so-called Schwarzspanierhaus (the house of the black-robed Spaniards) in Vienna, around the corner from the home of his close friend Stephan von Breuning. Von Breuning's son Gerhard (1813-1892), at the time a precocious 12-year-old, visited the composer frequently and observed his character and habits so closely that Beethoven nicknamed the boy ``Hosenknopf,'' or trouser button (``because I stuck to him like a button on trousers''). Gerhard, who became a doctor, later wrote a small book of reminiscences about the irascible genius; published in 1874 and reprinted several times, it became an important source of information about the composer's last years and final illness, despite the fact that the author added fabrications from a notoriously inaccurate biography by Anton Schindler, another of Beethoven's contemporaries. The deft English translation of this fascinating book contains a lucid introduction by Solomon ( Beethoven ), who has also provided copious endnotes to clarify von Breuning's references and to call attention to spurious material. Illustrations not seen by PW. (Nov.)
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