Academic journal article The Beethoven Newsletter

Psychoanalysis and the Historiocritical Method: On Maynard Solomon's Image of Beethoven (Part 2)

Academic journal article The Beethoven Newsletter

Psychoanalysis and the Historiocritical Method: On Maynard Solomon's Image of Beethoven (Part 2)

Article excerpt

In Part 1 the author argued that psychoanalysis has recently reached beyond its proper domain in the study of literature, the staging of plays and operas, and in the study of history. While she concedes that psychoanalysis may take a part in understanding history, Tellenbach holds that psychoanalytic biographical studies must be grounded on standard historiocritical methods. Pan 1 included discussions of Solomon's interpretations of Beethoven 's dreams, the "Family romance" theory, the Heiligenstadt Testament, the "Nobilitypretense" theory, Beethoven and his nephew, Johanna van Beethoven's real character, and Beethoven's relationships with women.

- The editor

The Immortal Beloved and the State of Josephine's Marriage during the Summer of 1812

One of Solomon's most widely accepted conclusions concerns Antonie Brentano as the identity of Beethoven's "Immortal Beloved," the woman to whom he wrote his famous letter of July 6-7, 1812. Solomon suggests that Antonie Brentano is the Immortal Beloved and that she offered to leave her husband Franz for Beethoven while pregnant with what would be her youngest son. Solomon writes of Beethoven's letter of July 6-7: "It is not merely a letter of renunciation, but a document in which acceptance and renunciation struggle for domination."1

A false reading of an important passage by Schindler and the corresponding English translation may be primarily responsible for this misinterpretation. A correct translation of the passage reads: "Oh, wherever I am, you are with me, I talk with myself and with you, arrange that I can live with you, what a life !!!! as it is !!!! without you -"2 (see the facsimile) Beethoven enjoins the beloved who is usually assumed to be married - to free herself for him. This passage clearly reveals, however, that for Beethoven, it was not a matter of rejection or acceptance, but a question of patience while waiting for situations to change. Therefore he wrote: "be calm, only through quiet contemplation of our existence can we reach our goal of living together -[.]" Furthermore, there is no doubt that Beethoven wanted to return to Vienna after his July travels if the obstacles could be eliminated: "Yes, I have resolved to stray about in the distance, until I can fly into your arms, and can call myself entirely home with you ..."3 Where is resignation in this?

There are other problems with Solomon's solution. Later evidence speaks against her as the Immortal Beloved. First, in a letter of 1817, Beethoven called Antonie "meine werte Freundin." Solomon translates it "My beloved friend"!4 But it simply means "esteemed," or at most "dear friend"; the word "wert," as well as the salutation "Freundin," suggests an emotional distance. Beethoven used it in the old-fashioned sense and signed his name "Your friend Beethoven" to a whole series of women. Second, there seems to be no special feeling about the letters from the Brentanos in Frankfurt; once Beethoven even had to be reminded by Karl: "Brentano's letter must be read!"5 Solomon also sees evidence for a love affair in the dedication of the Diabelli Variations to Antonie. But Beethoven expressed himself quite clearly on this point to Ferdinand Ries: "The dedication to Brentano was only to apply to Germany. I was under a great obligation to her..."6 We know that the Brentanos had given him a loan for a long period of time.7

Solomon also attempts to rule out Josephine Brunswick as the Immortal Beloved based on the lack of information about her whereabouts in 1812 and three questionable documents about the state of her marriage from 1812. Unfortunately, reports concerning Josephine's movements during the summer of 1812 are indeed conspicuously missing. While records exist for all previous years, a gap in the information begins in the middle of June 1812. The diary of her sister Therese stops at that point. The pages from Josephine's own diary were cut out long ago.

All that we know is that Therese was in Dornbach near Vienna with all the children by August 6 at the latest and that her trip to the country was originally planned to coincide with Josephine's trip to Franzenbad. …

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