Immortal Beloved Response Immortal Beloved is a 1994 film about the life of composer Ludwig van Beethoven.

Immortal Beloved Response

Immortal Beloved is a 1994 film about the life of composer Ludwig van Beethoven.

The story follows Beethoven’s secretary and first biographer Anton Schindler as he attempts to

ascertain the true identity of the Unsterbliche Geliebte addressed in three letters found in the

late composer’s private papers. Schindler journeys throughout the Austrian Empire interviewing

women who might be potential candidates as well as through Beethoven’s own tumultuous life.

When Ludwig van Beethoven dies, his assistant and close friend Schindler deals with

his last will and testament. There remains a question as to who Beethoven’s “immortal beloved”,

an unnamed woman mentioned in one of his letters, may be. Schindler embarks on a quest to

find out who this woman is. Retrospective footage of Beethoven from his younger years until

his death is featured as the film progresses. The conclusion ultimately is that the individual is

Johanna Reiss, the daughter of Anton Van Reiss, a prosperous Viennese upholsterer. In the film,

she becomes pregnant by Beethoven; when by an accidental turn of events he does not marry her

in time, she marries his brother, Kaspar. Their son, Karl van Beethoven, is raised by Ludwig in

the vain hope of making him an important musician in his own right.

Beethoven had a personality that resonated with his music. He is portrayed in Immortal

Beloved as a brooding artist who bordered on insane. He played his piano like a madman until

he went deaf and then he played it like an outright lunatic, if the stories are to be believed. Of

course, he did so in order to feel his music because he could no longer hear it. Nonetheless, his

character stuck. He was unmarried, grumpy and extremely talented. However, upon his death,

another side of Beethoven was revealed — one that remains steeped in mystery.

Beethoven died in 1827. He was in his 50s when he passed away. After his death, a

single letter written in three parts was discovered. The letter was written to a woman he referred

to only as his “Immortal Beloved.” The letter seems to have never been sent. Therefore, there is

no date or addressee on the letter, which consists of 10 pages. However, the papers have been

dated to 1812.

It is made abundantly clear in Beethoven’s letters to his Immortal Beloved that he is

either very in love with her or a very smooth talker. He opens the letter with, “My angel, my

everything, my very self.” He goes on to say, “We will probably see each other soon . . . ” and

then leaves off the first part with “Your faithful Ludwig.” The first part does give the impression

that the two lovers have a past together and that their feelings are mutual. It also gives the

impression that there is some difficulty to their relationship.

The second part of the Immortal Beloved letters opens with, “You are suffering, you my

dearest creature . . . ” Why is she suffering? He goes on to lament their lack of contact, giving

the impression that her suffering is caused by their being apart or not getting letters from each

other soon enough. He mentions he is upset that she will not get news from him until a later date.

In this part of the missive, Ludwig van Beethoven writes, “. . . as much as you love me — I love

you even more deeply . . . ” By now, the reader knows there is a past there, but who could the

recipient be? It seems the letter was never sent. Did something prevent it? Did he simply see her

before he could send the letters? Was this the last of their relationship? Why are there no more

letters if this one was important enough to keep?

Beethoven’s amorous exchanges with Julie came roughly a decade before the Immortal

Beloved letters were written, but she is still considered a potential recipient. Josephine was the

recipient of a number of love letters from Ludwig, but they ceased two years before the Immortal

Beloved letters, as far as we know. Despite his deranged appearance in later years, he was quite

dashing in his early portraits. He had no trouble getting these women to love him back. The

problem was getting society to accept his taste in women

The candidates for Beethoven’s Immortal Beloved are his two known lovers listed above,

Josephine being the favorite choice, Antonie Brentano (a married woman whose husband was

a friend to Beethoven) and Countess Terez Brunswick (Josephine’s sister). The likely reason

Beethoven never married is that all of these women were out of the reach of his social class.

Perhaps the reason that he never married after the Immortal Beloved letters is that his Immortal

Beloved was unattainable. Whatever the case may be, Beethoven never did settle down. He spent

much of his later life engaged in a fierce custody battle over his nephew against a sister-in-law

who was decidedly unfit and a known thief. He also dealt with much depression over his hearing

loss. He died as he lived — a bachelor with a string of love letters in his wake.

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