Why Beethoven had no family of his own

Beethoven's family life was chaotic. That is why the composer was constantly looking for a replacement.

By Beethoven-House Bonn

Beethoven-House Bonn

Ludwig van Beethoven (1712-1773) (1969) by Wilhelm Amelius RadouxBeethoven-House Bonn

The grandfather: musical foundation

Beethoven never founded his own family, but always had people around him who were very close to him. His grandfather died when Beethoven was three years old. He was a good singer and bandmaster - a role model for Ludwig. Unlike his father.

Ludwig van Beethoven (1838) by Joseph NeesenBeethoven-House Bonn

The father: heavy baggage for the young Beethoven

A series of strokes of fate turned Beethoven's father Johann into a broken man. After his wife Maria Magdalena died in 1787 and shortly after their only daughter, the father died of alcohol. At 19 Ludwig had to look after the family alone.

Beethoven's Nephew Karl van Beethoven (1806-1858)Beethoven-House Bonn

The son Beethoven never had

As if there had not been enough misfortune in Beethoven's life, his brother had also died early. This one left a son. And so Ludwig van Beethoven took over the responsibility for his nephew.

An end to all hopes

But Beethoven lacked father role models. He had too high expectations of himself and his nephew, abandoned him even at important moments. Karl Beethoven was shattered by this relationship - and with him Beethoven's hope for his own family.

Helene von Breuning (1751-1838) (1800) by AnonymousBeethoven-House Bonn

Substitute family Breuning

Beethoven found refuge from the difficult circumstances - and a substitute family - with the Breuning family. Court Councillor Helene von Breuning engaged Beethoven as piano teacher for her children. She became a motherly confidante for him.

Eleonore von Breuning (1771-1841) at the piano (1785) by AnonymousBeethoven-House Bonn

Eleonore von Breuning became Beethoven's most long-standing confidante. For them he composed two easy piano pieces, the Allegro and Adagio, WoO 51.

Portrait miniature of an unknown ladyBeethoven-House Bonn

The "immortal mistress"

Beethoven writes several love letters, but he has not sent them. Who, nobody knows. After his death, two small portraits of unknown women were found in his desk. This one could depict Countess Anna Maria Erdödy, with whom Beethoven even lived together for a short time - the "immortal lover"?

Letter to Beethoven (1805) by Josephine DeymBeethoven-House Bonn

Love Letters to Piano Students

For a long time Beethoven also raved about his piano student Josephine Deym: "A thousand voices whisper to me that they are my only friend, my only lover. But Josephine only replied, "I love you inexpressibly - as one pious spirit loves another."

Portrait miniature of an unknown lady (1810) by AnonymousBeethoven-House Bonn

Always a bachelor

Beethoven never married. Nor has he ever lived with a woman longer. This portrait found in Beethoven's desk could be of his piano student Julie Guicciardi. He dedicated his famous "Moonlight Sonata" to her.

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