Final Years

Final Journey

At the end of the summer in 1826, Beethoven, worn out and embittered after what happened to his nephew and adopted son, Karl, decided to spend some time in the country. He was to be a paying guest in a house, which his brother Johann had in Gnaixendorf. He went there accompanied by his nephew. A few days later Karl finally joined the army.

His relationship with his brother Johann hadn't improved and after a heated argument, he left the house. This was on 1st December 1826. He hastily set out for Vienna in a rickety, uncovered cart, which belonged to a local milkman.

The bad weather, which he encountered on this trip, would have fatal consequences for Beethoven. By the time he got home he was seriously ill. Pneumonia was diagnosed which was further complicated by hydropsy and surgery was carried out.

Death of a Genius

Conscious that the end was near Beethoven made out his will, leaving his nephew Karl as sole beneficiary. His financial position at that time was quite delicate, being just about able to survive thanks to a donation of a thousand florins from the London Philharmonic Society.

By 24th March 1827 the situation was hopeless and two days later in the presence of his secretary Anton Schindler and the Breuning family, he died. On the day of his death, at about five in the evening, a violent storm broke out over the city, flashes of lightning illuminating the bedroom. Beethoven had his last breath. Outside it began to snow.

The funeral took place two days later in the Währing cemetery in Vienna. More than twenty thousand people turned out to pay their respects. The funeral oration was from a poem by Franz Grillparzer, the final part of which was in many ways prophetic: "He who comes after him will not follow in his footsteps, he must begin anew, for this innovator has finished his life's work at the limits of art.

Ludwig Van Beethoven
Ludwig Van Beethoven
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