Eleonore von Breuning

To a cetain extent it can be said that Beethoven was nearly always in love. There were many women in his life, one of the most important bing Eleonore von Breuning. She was the daughter of the family that did so much for Ludwig after his mother had died.

In the opera "Fidelio", it is no mere accident that the name of the main female character Leonora is so similar to that of his beloved young friend Eleonore.

And among the letters written by the German genious there is one dated 2nd November 1793 which opens with the charming statement: "Adorable Eleonora..."

Fräulein Jeanette D'Honrath and Fräulein Westerhold

For Beethoven these were fleeting affairs that served as a distraction from domestic difficulties and court duties. These two ladies were flirtations, which he would always remember with affection.

Magdalena Willmann

In 1975 Beethoven's feelings for this charming singer quickly turned to love. But when he told her he loved her was brutally rejected; for two reasons: "He is ugly and he is half mad."

Giulietta Giucciardi

Another of the tortured loves of the musical genius; she was a sixteen-year-old countess and one of his pupils. the immortal "Moonlight Sonate" is dedicated to her.

Josephine von Deym

A countess and widowed from 1803, Beethoven became good friends with her.

Therese Malfatti and Amália Seebald

Although there is hardly any documentary evidence about these two women, several biographers have linked them with Beethoven between 1801 and 1812.


Teachers in Vienna

All his teachers from this period agree that Beethoven had a difficult personality and that his musical training was deficient in certain areas. Owing to being self-taught in Bonn, Beethoven really had to apply himself to the study of counterpoint. Ludwig himself admitted that when he studied under Haydn he had never paid a great deal of attention and for this reason he refused to be called Haydn's pupil, as he felt he did not deserve it. But in fact he owes much to Haydn, especially when it comes to style.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

In 1787 Beethoven traveled to Vienna for the first time hoping to be accepted by Mozart as one of his pupils. He met the genius from Salzburg and was indeed accepted. Some biographers maintain that Beethoven never actually received instruction from Mozart. This assertions supposed by the fact that Beethoven had to go back to Germany suddenly due to the unexpected death of his mother and that he did not return to Vienna for some time. On the other hand, other biographers claim, perhaps more convincingly, that Beethoven was indeed a pupil of Mozart's but only for a period of four months and the subject studied was composition.

Joseph Haydn

In 1792 Beethoven began his studies with Haydn. These lasted three years, that is up to 1794 when Haydn moved to London. Beethoven venerated Haydn, and was the only man whom Beethoven was to bend his knee before, in order to kiss his hand.

Johann Georg Albrechtsberger

After Haydn, Beethoven continued his studies until 1795 with Johann Georg Albrechtsberger, an organist at the imperial court in Vienna. He was an outstanding teacher who made an important contribution to Beethoven's musical education.

Antonio Salieri

Mozart's old rival was also one of Beethoven's teachers. He taught him vocal composition during the period he was studying under Albrechtsberger.

Aloys Forster

Beethoven continued his studies with this composer who was a specialist in writing scores for quartets.



Among his friends special mention must be given to Prince Lichnowsky, who had welcomed him as a guest of honor in his house. Apart from a horse and servants, Beethoven also had a string formation composed of professional musicians at his disposal. Prince Lobkowitz, who was the same age, as Beethoven became his most intimate friend.

Count Moritz, a brother of Prince Lichnowsky and Baron von Gleichenstein were also friends and patrons.

In musical circles Beethoven was friendly with the violinists Schuppanzigh and Krumpholz, the pianists Karl Czerny, Hummel, Harig and Eppingers, and the singer Kiesewetter. To his group we must add the musicians he met during his Bonn period: Wegeler, Reicha, Stephan and Lorenz von Breuning... He was also friendly with theologian Amenda. This evidence tends to suggest that despite his brusque personality Beethoven had a wide circle of friends.


Loss of Hearing

Around 1801, Beethoven began to lose his hearing. He suffered a severe form of tinnitus, a "roar" in his ears that made it hard for him to appreciate music and he would avoid conversation. The cause of Beethoven's deafness is unknown, but it has variously been attributed to syphilis, lead poisoning, typhus, or possibly even his habit of immersing his head in cold water to stay awake. Over time, his hearing loss became acute: there is a well-attested story that, at the premiere of his Ninth Symphony, he had to be turned round to see the tumultuous applause of the audience, hearing nothing. In 1802, he became depressed, and considered committing suicide. He left Vienna for a time for small Austrian town of Heiligenstadt, where he wrote the "Heiligenstadt Testament", in which he resolved to continue living through his art. He continued composing even as his hearing deteriorated. After a failed attempt in 1811 to perform his own "Emperor" Concerto, he never performed in public again.

As a result of Beethoven's hearing loss, a unique historical record has been preserved: he kept conversation books discussing music and other issues, and giving an insight into his thought. Even today, the conversation books form the basis for investigation into how he felt his music should be performed, and his relationship to art - which he took very seriously.

There are a variety of theories as to why Beethoven suffered from hearing loss, from illness to lead poisoning. The oldest explanation, from the autopsy of the time, is that he had a distended inner ear which developed lesions over time. This theory is outlined in Beethoven et les malentendus by Maurice Porot et Jacques Miermont.

Russell Martin argued, from analysis done by Walsh and McCrone on a sample of Beethoven's hair, that there were alarmingly high levels of lead in Beethoven's system. And that high concentrations of lead can lead to bizarre & erratic behavior, including rages. Another symptom of lead poisoning is deafness. In Beethoven's era, lead was used widely without true understanding of the damage it could lead to: in sweetening wine, finishes on porcelain, and even medicine. The investigation of this link was detailed in the book, "Beethoven's Hair : An Extraordinary Historical Odyssey and a Scientific Mystery Solved". While the likelihood of lead poisoning is very high, the deafness associated with it seldom takes the form that Beethoven exhibited. It is more likely that his generally bad health as he grew older was related to plumbism rather than his hearing loss.