Sunday 1 January 2012

Beethoven’s Crisis 1. Inner Circle Seminar 179 (1 July 2012)

Ludwig van Beethoven
by Joseph Joseph Carl Stieler

Ludwig van Beethoven
by Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller

Antonie Brentano

Bettina Brentano
Josephine Brunsvik

Karl van Beethoven

Beethoven's Crisis 1

His ‘immortal beloved’, his nephew and his religious quest:
a search for existential understanding
– 200 years after Beethoven’s letter to his ‘immortal beloved’ (6-7 July 1812) 
Anthony Stadlen
Inner Circle Seminar No. 179
Sunday 1 July 2012
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Two hundred years ago this week, on 6 and 7 July 1812, Beethoven wrote a letter to a woman he did not name but addressed as his ‘immortal beloved’. Who was she? Why are at least ten candidates proposed by different biographers? What was Beethoven’s relationship with her? And why did he fight his widowed sister-in-law so fiercely for sole custody of his nephew Karl? Why did Karl attempt suicide? Does Beethoven’s music reflect any of this? Are any of these questions decidable? How are they linked? What sense can we make of what facts we can find?
Beethoven’s life is well documented. He was deaf, and his conversation books record one side of many of his conversations. But how are we to interpret the documents, including his compositions and sketch books? The psychoanalysts Editha and Richard Sterba postulated a split between Beethoven’s ‘genius’ in his music and his ‘tyrannical’ treatment of his sister-in-law and nephew. But other musicologists, including the distinguished biographer Maynard Solomon who makes creative use of psychoanalysis, see Beethoven as a decent, moral man, both in his music and in his human relationships. Can biography, historiography, musicology, psychoanalysis, or existential analysis do justice to such a quintessentially human life as Beethoven’s? What are the criteria for truth in this field?
We shall devote two seminars to these questions. The second, on 17 March 2013, will be conducted by Professor Barry Cooper, the eminent Beethoven scholar and biographer. But each seminar is self-contained. Your contribution to the discussion will be welcome.

Venue: ‘Oakleigh’, 2A Alexandra Avenue, London N22 7XE
Cost: Psychotherapy trainees and music students £50 (£90 for both seminars), others £135 (£250 for both seminars); coffee, tea, biscuits, mineral water included; payable in advance; no refunds unless seminar cancelled
Apply to: Anthony Stadlen, ‘Oakleigh’, 2A Alexandra Avenue, London N22 7XE
Tel: +44 (0) 20 8888 6857 E-mail:
For further information on seminars, visit:

The Inner Circle Seminars were founded by Anthony Stadlen in 1996 as an ethical, existential, phenomenological search for truth in psychotherapy. They have been kindly described by Thomas Szasz as ‘Institute for Advanced Studies in the Moral Foundations of Human Decency and Helpfulness’. But they are independent of all institutes, schools and colleges.

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