Beethoven's women: class differences, the immortal beloved and a possible love child

Composer Ludwig van Beethoven didn't pour all his passion into his music, as proven by the many loves in his life. The most important woman, however, may forever remain a mystery.

Maria Magdalena Beethoven

A boy's mother is his first love, but little is known about Beethoven's. Her union with Beethoven's father, court singer Johann, was her second marriage. She bore him seven children, but only three survived infancy. Her life wasn't easy: Her alcoholic husband was physically abusive, and she died of tuberculosis in 1787 shortly after Ludwig had returned to Bonn after a studying in Vienna.

Maria Anna Wilhelmine von und zu Westerholt-Gysenberg

Franz Gerhard Wegeler, a friend from Beethoven's youth, referred to a certain "beautiful and gracious mannered Fräulein v.W.," to whom Beethoven was "most lovingly attracted." And although Wegeler described it as a "Werther love" - in reference to Goethe's tragic novel "The Sorrows of Young Werther" - it seems that Miss v.W. didn't leave any particularly enduring mark on the composer's life.

Countess Josephine Brunsvik

In 14 love letters between 1804 and 1809, the composer called his recently widowed piano student "angel," "my everything" and his "only love." But their letters have a tone of desperation; had they married, she would have lost custody of her four young children. She married someone else in 1810, while Josephine's sister Therese claimed that Beethoven and the countess were made for each other.

Countess Giulietta Guicciardi

In 1801 or 1802, the Brunsvik sisters introduced Beethoven to their cousin, also a countess. It was love at first sight, but it was clear to both that due to their differing social status, marriage was out of the question - and Giulietta was already engaged. It seems Beethoven was drawn to impossible romances. But the composer did dedicate his "Moonlight Sonata" to Giulietta.

Therese von Malfatti

After Josephine Brunsvick remarried in 1810, Beethoven seriously entertained thoughts of proposing marriage to Therese von Malfatti, even writing back home in Bonn for a copy of his baptisim certificate. Both Therese and her family were against the union due to class differences, however. Beethoven seems to have gotten over it rather quickly, and they remained friends.

Marie Bigot

Beethoven gave Marie the handwritten original of the "Appassionata" sonata, and their emotional connection is clear in his letters to her. In early March 1807, he invited her along on an excursion. But after her husband's jealous reaction, he wrote to the couple saying, "I would never be in a more than friendly relationship with another man's wife."

Ludwig van Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 23 in F minor, Op. 57 (colloquially known as the Appassionata, meaning "passionate" in Italian) is among the three famous piano sonatas of his middle period

One of his greatest and most technically challenging piano sonatas, the Appassionata was considered by Beethoven to be his most tempestuous piano sonata until the twenty-ninth piano sonata (known as the Hammerklavier). 1803 was the year Beethoven came to grips with the irreversibility of his progressively deteriorating hearing.

 Elisabeth Röckel

Beethoven met the 15-year-old in early 1808. In those days, a common nickname for "Elisabeth" was "Elise" - and the wistful little piano piece "Für Elise" is one of the best-known compositions ever. At Beethoven's request, she visited him on his death bed, where he gave her a lock of his hair and his last quill. Music researchers have concluded that Fräulein Röckel is the enigmatic "Elise."

Bagatelle No. 25 in A minor (WoO 59, Bia 515) for solo piano, commonly known as "Für Elise" or "Fuer Elise": "For Elise", is identified as a bagatelle, but it is also sometimes referred to as an Albumblatt. According to a 2010 study by Klaus Martin Kopitz (de), there is evidence that the piece was written for the German soprano singer Elisabeth Röckel."Elise", as she was called by a parish priest (she called herself "Betty" too), had been a friend of Beethoven's since 1808. The singer was the first who played the title role of Beethoven's opera Fidelio. In a letter to Elisabeth she called her indeed "Elise"

 Antonie Brentano

The sister-in-law of the poet Bettina Brentano wrote in 1811 that "dearest" Beethoven visited her "nearly daily." It was to Antonie that Beethoven gave the handwritten score of the song "An die Geliebte" (To the Beloved). It's also documented that Antonie once traveled from Prague to Karlsruhe on a critical date, which could be relevant for the next woman in Beethoven's life…

An die Geliebte  for Voice and Pianoforte or Guitar

This song was written for Beethoven's friend Antonie Brentano, who was among other things, a guitarist. This song is the only piece known to have been written by Beethoven for guitar. The fact that the poem set is entitled "To the Beloved" and is an intimate love poem is taken as evidence by some that Brentano was the "Immortal Beloved," but this implication is inconclusive at best.

Immortal Beloved

Dated July 6 and 7, 1812, and penned in the Bohemian spa town of Teplitz, the letter to an "Immortal Beloved" is addressed to a woman Beethoven had met with days earlier in Prague and who had then traveled on to "K." (possibly Karlsruhe). So was it Antonie Brentano? Or Josephine Brunsvik, whom he'd also just met and who gave birth to a daughter nine months later? Music researchers still disagree.

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TEN Reasons to Read Dr. Fuddle and The Gold Baton!

10. Piano practice is more fun if you pretend that you have to turn evil monsters into harmless pets by resolving the scales.

9. You’ve memorized The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and you want another story about children being called into a magical land to save it.

8. The book explains what a glass harmonica is, something I’ve been curious about since listening to a particular version of the Carnival of the Animals which acknowledged a section that was meant to be played on a glass harmonica being played on a gluckenspiele instead.

7. You need some new creative names for foods, like Bellini Bread or Rossini Rolls.

6. Reading Dr. Fuddle and the Gold Baton can be a balance reminding us of the importance of music, when we otherwise read way too many novels about math and science.

5. The abundant references to musical concepts, to composers and songs can help normalize the importance of musical knowledge. It encourages a child to say “I’ve heard of that!” It raises the bar for what is seen as normal everyday knowledge.

4 . The book contains a glossary of music terms a child can refer back to.

3. The book provides positive role models. The children within it are struggling with different challenges – wanting to figure out who they are, and what they want in life. They deal with both guilt and forgiveness.

2.  The book reinforces the idea of practice, that it takes time and energy to improve one’s skills at an instrument, but at the same time that music is not just about developing technical skill and bored routine.

1.Most importantly: the book is fun. It is well written, reasonably fast paced and has a bit of a surprise at the ending.

 The book mentions many different songs, most of which one could find samples of on YouTube. If you read the book outloud with your kids, you can have a musical soundrtrack to go with it.


Author Interview - Warren L Woodruff - On My Addiction Books!

Dr. Warren L. Woodruff is a passionate music instructor whose affection for classical music led to the creation of Dr. Fuddle and the Gold Baton. We are honoured to be able to do an interview with someone of such talent.

Welcome Warren.

Warren, how long have you been in the classical music industry?

I’ve been teaching for 26 years, but playing classical music for almost 40 years.

What inspired you to cross the boundaries from musician to author?

I’ve always wanted to inspire others through the joy of great music, not just through my many students, but in written word. I’ve also faced a lifelong challenge like Beethoven, a degenerative hearing disorder, which threatens my musical career, so I wanted to leave a written legacy, since I am not a genius composer like Beethoven.

Do you find the title of author to merely be an added side to your musical side or do you treat them as separate personas?

They are definitely separate personas. I will always be, first and foremost, a musician, even if my hearing disorder has other plans! But being an author is very important also. Other than writing the series of Dr. Fuddle novels, screenplays and picture books, I have many other written projects I would like to complete, all of them musically oriented, except for one, an unpublished manuscript on religious philosophy.

What is your goal behind this novel of Dr. Fuddle and the Gold Baton?

My goal is to create something classic and very different in today’s market--not something that will just be “hot” for a few years and forgotten. The driving force behind each story is mystery and adventure, to engage and entertain young readers. But I also want to pique their interest in music, particularly classical music, INSPIRE them to excellence, and to find their lifelong passion, as I found mine at a very early age.

From the synopsis I was provided the novel seems to create an adventurous flow between music and an exciting storyline. Can you please tell our readers a bit more? What can they expect from reading it?

They can expect a very fun reading experience, even if they have no knowledge of classical music. This book is not an educational tool to promote my art form. It is an adventure from beginning to end, which happens to be set in the musical, magical land of Orphea. They can also expect to feel a longing to hear the music described in the book and a desire to see the whole story played out as a major motion picture, which is in development.

Does the novel contain some of the beautiful sketches that are beside your characters on your blog? 

Yes. All of the artwork is incorporated into the book at the appropriate places in the storyline.

What age group and genre are you targeting?

This first book, middle grade, from 6th-8th grade, but I’m quickly getting feedback that my adult readers are enjoying it every bit as much as the target age group, just like the HARRY POTTER series. As my series continues, the protagonists will age, and the target age group will become Young Adult.

How has the novel been doing in the open market?

We had thousands of downloads the first weekend and have already gotten twenty-three five star reviews, plus feedback from many readers saying they can’t wait to see the movie!

From a little googling I noticed that there is also mention of another novel called First Lady of the Organ, Diane Bish: A Biography can you give our readers a bit more insight to the novel.

This biography was an extension of my Ph.D. dissertation on the most important and visible female organist in history. She is still alive, performing and signing these biographies at her concerts. The book was self-published in 1994, but is still selling. Talk about a project with longevity!

Where can people find your works?

Right now, DR. FUDDLE AND THE GOLD BATON is available exclusively as an e-book for one year at, but the hard copies are also available at Amazon, and other web stores. Autographed copies will be available through and  

Are you working on anything else currently that we should be on the lookout for?

Yes. I’m working on the next book in the Fuddle series, which will be a prequel to the first book, the back story of how things “got to how they got in Orphea” in the first novel. I’m also redrafting my stage play entitled BEETHOVEN. The dramatic rights will be made available to smaller, off-Broadway type venues. It is the moving account of the life of Beethoven, my greatest hero, in six scenes, with narration and music. Eventually, when the timing is right, I will publish my book on religious philosophy.

How has your journey been on becoming an author?

From a general public perspective I always assumed it was something easy. You write and then you send it in, if people like it they go for it, if they don’t you try someone else. The perception is not at all the case, writing in its own sense is an art.

I’ve mostly just written with ease from the heart in a state of inspiration. Oftentimes the writing experience has seemed--for lack of a better word--supernatural. Parts of DR. FUDDLE AND THE GOLD BATON felt as though I was receiving the words from an unseen source, like it was writing itself. This was particularly true of my book on religious philosophy, too, as though my fingers were moving rapidly on the keys, like an automatic dictation for hours on end, as strange as they may sound. But there were also some times, not often, where writing just seemed like hard work.

Do you have any messages that you would like to leave our audience with?

Open your hearts, minds and imaginations to the totally new world of Dr. Fuddle and Orphea! Be ready to experience literature and music in a way you never dreamed possible.

Thanks so much for taking the time to do this small interview. We wish you well in all your future endeavors. 

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10 reasons why making music is good for your brain

It doesn't matter if you've always played or just started, playing music makes your brain better.

Turns out Mom and Dad were right. Those piano lessons you despised and those endless hours in school band practice truly were good for you. From making you smarter, to diminishing the effects of brain aging, to improving emotional stability, it seems that playing an instrument has a hand in reconfiguring your brain and enhancing it. Permanently. And let's be clear: Just listening to music doesn't cut it. It's the active work of bringing sounds to life that delivers the biggest benefit.

Researchers are still discovering all the ways that making music enriches your brain, but the impact is undeniable. So dust off that old guitar from college. Unpack your grade-school clarinet. Join a neighborhood jam or kick back at home, just you and your favorite instrument. And by all means encourage your kids to play, too. The younger they start, the better . Here are 10 reasons why you'll be glad you did.

1. Enriches connections between the left and right brain

Studies show that music makers have more white matter in their corpus callosum, the bundle of neural wires connecting the brain's two hemispheres. This means greater communication between the brain's creative right side and its analytic left side, which in turn may translate into numerous cerebral benefits, including faster communication within the brain and greater creative problem-solving abilities. However, not all instrumentalists reap these cognitive advantages equally. Both age and amount of play time matter. Research shows that kids who practice more seem to build a greater bridge between the two sides of the brain. Plus, those who start earlier— around age 7 is ideal — benefit more than later starters.

2. Boosts executive brain function

More white matter may be why people with musical training are also better at making decisions, processing and retaining information, and adjusting course based on changing mental demands. That's good news for musicians because these executive brain functions likely contribute more to academic success than IQ. Some researchers even speculate that playing an instrument could prove beneficial in helping kids with neurological problems that involve executive functioning, including ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).

3. Strengthens speech processing

It's no surprise that making music helps your brain process musical sounds. But tickling the ivories or strumming guitar strings also aids in processing consonant and vowel sounds in speech. In a new study from Northwestern University, researchers measured brain performance in low-income kids who attended Harmony Project, an after-school music program in Los Angeles. Kids who had two years of music instruction were able to process many more speech sounds — and with greater precision — than those who only had one year of instruction. Researchers speculate that music and speech share common characteristics — pitch, timing and timbre — and that the brain relies on the same neural pathways to process both. Sharper language skills, including reading, may in turn help kids learn better in all subjects, from math to social studies. A case in point is Harmony Project itself: More than 90 percent of its graduates have gone on to college since 2008, while the drop-out rate in the neighborhoods the children come from is 50 percent or higher.

4. Magnifies memory

Related to speech processing, those with musical training are also better at remembering spoken words (verbal memory). A study from Germany recently found that second-graders who spent 45 minutes a week learning a musical instrument recalled more words recited to them than kids who received no musical training or those who spent the same amount of time in science class. Music-making also seems to boost working memory — the ability to temporarily store and use information that helps you reason, learn or complete a complex task.

5. Promotes empathy

Musical training doesn't just upgrade your brain's sound-processing centers; it also lifts its capacity to detect emotions in sound . That is, musicians may be better at reading subtle emotional cues in conversation. In turn, this could equip them for smoother, more emotionally rich relationships. If true, musical training also bodes well for helping kids with emotional-perception problems, such as autism.

6. Slows brain aging

Brain gains made from playing an instrument apparently don't wane as you age either. Studies show that speech-processing and memory benefits extend well into your golden years — even if your musical training stopped after childhood. A new Canadian study found that older people who had musical training when they were young could identify speech 20 percent faster than those with no training. In another study , people aged 60 to 83 who'd studied music for at least 10 years remembered more sensory information, including auditory, visual and tactile data, than those who'd studied for one to nine years. Both groups scored higher than people who'd never learned an instrument.

7. Fosters math and science ability

Musical notes, chords, octaves, rhythm, and meter can all be understood mathematically. So playing music should raise your math game, right? The research is mixed, but there seems to be an underlying correlation between music-making and better math skills. For instance, a recent study found that preschoolers who got keyboard lessons performed better on a test of spatial-temporal reasoning (the ability to mentally envision spatial patterns and understand how they fit together) than kids who got computer instruction or those who didn't participate in either activity. Researchers believe that elevated spatial-temporal reasoning leads to better math and science performance.

8. Improves motor skills

No doubt about it, playing an instrument requires stellar hand-eye-ear coordination (getting hands and fingers to translate musical notes on a page into sound). And for music-makers who start young enough, those heightened musical motor skills seem to translate into other areas of life as well. Researchers in Canada found that adult musicians who started playing before age 7 had better timing on a non-music motor-skill task than those who started music lessons later. What's more, their superior motor abilities actually showed up in their brains. Scans revealed stronger neural connections in motor regions that help with imagining and carrying out physical movements.

9. Elevates mental health

Studies show that fiddlers, saxophonists, keyboardists and other instrumentalists are more focused and less prone to aggression, depression and anger than non-musicians. In fact, creating music seems to prime their brains for heightened emotional control and concentration. In one study, researchers examined brain scans of kids aged 6 to 18. Those who played an instrument had a thicker brain cortex in regions that regulate emotions, anxiety levels, and the capacity to pay attention (meaning they had superior abilities in these areas). Other studies show that making music also relieves stress . In other words, musicians may suffer from fewer stress-related psychological and physical symptoms, including burnout, headaches, high blood pressure and lower immune function.

10. Sharpens self-esteem

Not surprisingly, mental-health gains from musical mastery (and maybe the camaraderie of playing with others) transfers into greater feelings of self-worth. In one study kids who received three years of weekly piano lessons scored higher on a measure of self-esteem than kids who got no musical instruction. And another study found that at-risk kids who participated in a music-performance group at school felt less alienated and more successful.

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The Composer and his Muse: Frédéric Chopin and George Sand

Frédéric Chopin and George Sand, 1917 by Adolf Karpellus

Portrait of George Sand - Eugene Delacroix
George Sand was a French Romantic novelist, one of the first female French writers to establish an international reputation. She become known for behavior unusual for a woman at the time, including openly conducting affairs, smoking a pipe and wearing men's clothing. Sand had been a friend of Delacroix for a number of years, though the painter did not hold her work in high regard. She met Chopin in 1836 and from 1838 conducted a relationship with him for ten years, until two years before he died. Much of the composer's best work was done during those ten years. Though their relationship began as physical, Chopin's failing health in time changed her role to that of caregiver.

Early in 1837, Chopin fell seriously ill. His pulmonary problems were beginning to badly trouble him. He had been jilted by Maria Wodzińska, and at that same time, Franz Liszt introduced to him a woman of much greater fascination and importance. Her name was George Sand. At first, prim and proper Chopin was repulsed by the notorious cigar smoking, trouser wearing novelist. Lacking traditional feminine qualities, he actually asked Liszt if she was indeed a woman. Chopin and Sand eventually formed a romantic relationship. In November of 1838, the couple spent three months in Majorca, where Chopin completed his 23 preludes in each of the major and minor keys.

George Sand is often cast as the villain of the piece, though actually, she did wonders for Frederic Chopin by shielding him from the buffetings of the world. At Nohant, the Sand”s family estate, and under her management, he could escape to another kind of island; a sprawling manor house in the style of Louis XVI, surrounded by woods, fields, and gardens. He played games with the children, improvised at the piano for guests, and organized a puppet theatre. But at the same time, he fretted and agonized over his compositions.

---The French literary historian, Sainte-Beuve, who knew Sand, argued that he couldn’t imagine anything worse than an affair with a woman writer -- because your private life would always end up in print. This is why Oscar Wilde, commenting at the end of the 19th century, could write, “Like Goethe, George Sand had to live her romances before she could write them.” Wilde knew of what he wrote for he did the same. Others have been more hostile. Baudelaire called her "stupid, heavy and garrulous" while Nietzsche dismissed her as "a cow that writes."

In Paris during the winter months, when Nohant was too cold for them, Chopin would toil mightily, but with fewer results. There were too many distractions. Living with Sand in the rue Pigalle and later on the Square d’Orleans, they were the center of a brilliant literary and artistic circle that included Delacroix, Victor Hugo, Balzac and Heine. His concerts were attended by the whole elite of society, the richest financiers, and the aristocracy of birth, fortune and beauty. However, his health was deteriorating and in time, he weighed less than a hundred pounds.:

The so-called honeymoon for Chopin and Sand proved to be a disaster. The people of Majorca were weary of Chopin's coughing, assuming it to be tuberculosis. And Sand did not attend church, which was seen as a scandal. Chopin, at first, thought the island a paradise, but several weeks later his health worsened and he was unable to enjoy the pleasures of the island.

Daguerreotype images are so haunting. This one is of Chopin, 1846 when he was still working on some of his last masterpieces, or perhaps the photograph was taken a little later, around the time of his acrimonious split with George Sand that left him so devastated.

Sand took great care of Chopin and insisted that he spend five months of the year at her country home in Nohant, France, where he would file and polish his compositions of the winter. Chopin and Sand spent almost nine years together and eventually ended their relationship. This was very unfortunate for Chopin because she protected and nursed the increasingly consumptive and irritable composer while attending to his every whim.

The separation with George Sand and his ill health broke Chopin. His weight dramatically decreased while his coughing became continuous. In the last two and a half years of his life, he only composed a few pages of music. He played his last concert in Paris on February 16, 1848; the year of the French Revolution.

His funeral was a major event held at the Madeleine Church (L'église de la Madeleine) in Paris. Mozart's Requiem was played at his own request. He was buried at the Paris cemetery, Père Lachaise, and it is said that there has never been a day since his death that flowers have not been placed on his grave.

Sources: Madam Pickwick

The Composer and his muse: Chopin and Maria Wodziński

Maria Wodzinska was a dark-eyed Polish beauty. She sang, painted watercolors, and played Chopin’s Ballades on the piano. And they were old family friends: “I used to chase her through the rooms at Pszenny in days gone by,” wrote Chopin; Maria’s older sister recalled, “Of all the boys he was the most willing to joke and play.

On the way back from Paris, Chopin met Maria Wodziński, daughter of his parents' friends. 

Frédéric Chopin knew the Wodzinsky family since childhood, and in the summer of 1835 he was invited to Dresden to spend a short time with them There he met Maria again, the youngest daughter. He remembered her as a child who used to annoy the grown-ups by pulling faces at them or rowdily running around. Now, she was a beautiful girl of sixteen who liked painting and played the piano. Frédéric, who had already turned twenty-five, reciprocated the hospitality by giving piano lessons to Maria every afternoon.

Chopin's Nocturne in E Flat

The maestro asked the young girl to have her music book at hand on the piano, in order to write down any musical ideas that would arise at any time.

A page of this book is shown in the picture: a sketch of the Nocturne in E flat, opus 9 No 2, in its early stages. Obviously, it is just a germ of an idea: barely three bars of the melody. Frédéric will add later the accompaniment making it possible that these scrawled and hard-to-read signs could sound like this. Here we have, in four minutes, the most popular romantic piece for piano of all times.

Maria was the recipient of Chopin's Waltz Brilliant (op. 18) in 1834. She also painted the composer, creating what Tad Szulc called "one of the best portraits of Chopin extant—after that by Delacroix—with the composer looking relaxed, pensive, and at peace".

When Chopin was 25 and Maria was 16, the girl next door had become the living embodiment of the land he’d left behind. He was lonely, homesick, and living in Paris. She was wealthy, beautiful, and thoroughly and delightfully Polish. Chopin could stand it no longer. Visiting her family on holiday in 1836, Chopin made his first – and only – proposal of marriage. “At the Twilight Hour,” snippily noted Teresea Wodzinska.

Maria was thrilled; Mom and Dad weren’t so sure. There was the matter of Chopin’s ever-fragile health. And his whirlwind social life. And his suspect status as a composer. The Wodzinskas made a counter-offer: A one-year waiting period to see if Chopin’s health, fortunes, and habits would improve. Hence the warnings, buried in motherly advice.

But it was not to be. Chopin’s life only got messier, once George Sand entered the picture. The following summer, Chopin receives a “Dear Fryderyk” letter from Maria Wodzinska. He wraps Marie’s correspondence and the rejection letter in a bundle and labels it My Sorrow. And writes this “Farewell” Waltz in A-flat major, inscribed “To Mademoiselle Maria.”  (read more)


Wodzińska's nephew Antoni—not to be confused with his father, Maria's brother Antoni, who was a boarder in the Chopin home during Chopin's childhood and lived in Paris when Chopin was there—wrote a book detailing Chopin's relationship with her: Les trois romans de Frédéric Chopin, published in 1886.

Frederick Niecks, Chopin's first exhaustive biographer, said the book was "more of the nature of a novel than of a biography". In 1912 he wrote a biography of his aunt, O Marii Wodzińskiej (About Maria Wodzińska), whose first book edition was published in 2015.