Tuesday, July 03, 2012

News at Eleven: Goethe's social attitudes, like his musical tastes,

were shaped in a more formal age. For Beethoven, 21 years his junior, the only true aristocrats were artists. In the mythology, his disillusionment was clinched by Goethe's behaviour when they encountered royalty in the street, as reported 20 years later by Bettina: 'Beethoven said to Goethe: keep walking as you have until now, holding my arm, they must make way for us, not the other way around. Goethe thought differently; he drew his hand, took off his hat and stepped aside, while Beethoven, hands in pockets, went right through the dukes and their cortege . . . They drew aside to make way for him, saluting him in friendly fashion. Waiting for Goethe who had let the dukes pass, Beethoven told him: "I have waited for you because I respect you and I admire your work, but you have shown too much esteem to those people."'

from Gramophone: A meeting of genius: Beethoven and Goethe, July 1812


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