Fan S. Noli “Beethoven and the french revolution” Beethoven the jovial

According to the legend, the hero is a very sad creature who never laughs. Consequently, Beethoven looks terribly serious in his pictures, which does not correspond to the facts at all. As a rule, he was very jovial in spite of all his sorrows and tribulations. As he himself puts it: «Heaven be thanked, in spite of my agitato’s, everything for the time being goes on all right and as wished for.»[1] As an artist h loved variety and after the agitato an allegro or a scherzo followed. His letters to intimate friends are full of puns, nicknames, jokes and roars of Homeric laughter.

He calls Schindler Papageno, Schuppanzigh Falstaff, Diabelli Diabolus, one of his sisters-in -law the Queen of the Night and the other one the Former and Present Courtesan.[2] But Baron Zmeskall, the Plenipotentiary of the Beethovenian Realm, beats everybody else in the titles the Grand Mogul showers upon his head. Here are some of them: His Zmeskallian Zmeskality,the Lord of all e Hungarian and Burgundian Vineyards, Music Count , Dinner Count, Supper Count, Glutton Count, Carnival Ragamuffin, Commander of all e Loose Fortresses, and Pasha of all the Rotten Harems ! Then after the titles follows a warning: Beware of wounds received in the conquest of loose fortresses because the latter are more murderous than the impregnable ones!

Beethoven never missed an occasion to make pun. If his brother is a Landowner (Gutsbesitner), Beethoven is a Brainowner (Hirnbesitzer). When he receives the diploma of Honorary Citizen (Ehrenbürger), he asks whether there are also Dishonorary[3] Citizens (Schandbürger) in the City if Vienna. He writes to Nanette Streicher that his housekeeping (Haushaltung) is without keeping (ohne Hartung) and the Educational Institute (Erziehungs-Institut) of Giannatasio del Rio become a Seducetional[4] Institute (Verziehungsinstitut). He writes to Ries: “1 understand that your wife is pretty. I kiss her mentally and hope to kiss her this winter personally.” In another letter to Ries he writes: “When I come to London, I intend to commit an opposition against you and submit a proposition to your wife.” He  writes to Ries again: “When I come there, look out. I am not an old man, I am only an old boy.”

 Even on his death-bed Beethoven kept on making jokes: When dropsy developed an operation became necessary in order to prevent a rupture of the abdomen from the pressure  the enormous volumes of collected water. Dr. Wawruch had retained Dr. Seibert, principal surgeon of the hospital, to perform the operation. When Dr. Seibert introduced the tube into the incision and the water spurted out, Beethoven said, .”Professor, you remind me of Moses striking the rock with his staff .[5]

[1] Letter to Haslinger, Oct. 6, 1824, Kastner-Kapp, p, 730.

[2] «Vormalige und jetzige Hure.»

[3] Som etimes Beethoven distorts a word, or coins a new one, to suit his pun.

[4] Distorted in Beethovenian fashion.

[5] Herr Professor, Sie Kommen mir vor wie Moses, der mit seinem Slab an den Felsen .chlägt” – Thayer, German Edition, V, p, 431; Eng. Ill, p, 276.


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