Tuesday, 16 December 2014


As far as I’m concerned, the main significance of today’s date is that it is the probable date of Beethoven’s birth, in 1770.

Most pictures of Beethoven are ‘romantic’ in the popular sense, and give people a false idea of a man who, at least in later life, was angry and embittered, dirty, and ridden by syphilis. Unexpectedly for a publication that was at the time (and probably still is) very conventional and conservative in its views, the 9th edition of the Oxford Companion to Music, edited by Percy Scholes and published in 1955, has as its frontispiece the portrait by the artist who called himself ‘Batt’; it gives a much more plausible idea of how he may have looked:


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