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Alive again? then show me where he is: I'll give a thousand pound to look upon him. He hath no eyes, the dust hath blinded them. C o m b down his hair: look! look! it stands upright, Like lime-twigs set to catch my winged soul. WILLIAM S H A K E S P E A R E , HENRY T H E S I X T H , PART 2

O h , it would be so lovely to live a thousand lives. LUDWIG VAN B E E T H O V E N , IN A L E T T E R TO F R A N Z WEGELER


PRELUM

1

10

1770-1792.

T H E BOY W H O SNIPPED T H E LOCK

56

I79&-I80& A G I F T IN GILLELEJE

I803-I8I&

16

64

108

H A I R FOR 5 A L E A T SOTHEBY'S

1813-1824

118

143

C H E GUEVARA'5 H A I R

1824-1826

154

183

VERY MODERN MICROSCOPES

1826-1827 CODA

Acknowledgments

191

247 257

274


PRELUDE

BEETHOVEN'S

HAIR,

SHELTERED

FOR

NEARLY

two

c e n t u r i e s i n s i d e a glass l o c k e t , w a s a b o u t t o b e c o m e t h e s u b j e c t o f rapt a t t e n t i o n o n a w a r m D e c e m b e r m o r n i n g i n 1995. T h e t w o m e n p r i n c i p a l l y i n v o l v e d i n its p u r c h a s e — B r o o k l y n - b o r n Ira B r i l l i a n t , a r e t i r e d P h o e n i x real e s t a t e d e v e l o p e r , a n d a M e x i c a n - A m e r i c a n physician w h o s e surprising n a m e is C h e G u e v a r a — h a d b e e n j o i n e d by a coterie of inquisitors in a teaching theater at the University of Arizona Medical C e n t e r in T u c s o n : a forensic anthropologist was present; so w e r e a m e d ical e x a m i n e r , a n a r c h i v i s t a n d c o n s e r v a t o r , a m e d i c a l p h o t o g r a pher, a r e c o r d i n g secretary, a n o t a r y public, a local television


n e w s t e a m , plus a L o n d o n - b a s e d film c r e w from t h e B B C . E v e r y o n e gathered p r o m p d y at 10:30 because there was m u c h to do, a n d t h e first o r d e r of business was t h e signing of a contract that stipulated h o w the hair w o u l d b e divided. O n c e c o u n t e d , strand by aging and fragile strand, 27 p e r c e n t w o u l d remain the p r o p e r t y o f Dr. Alfredo " C h e " Guevara, t h e principal investor, a urological surgeon from the border t o w n of Nogales. T h e rem a i n d e r w o u l d b e d o n a t e d b y h i m a n d B r i l l i a n t t o t h e Ira F . Brilliant

Center

for

Beethoven

Studies

at

San Jose

State

University in California, w h e r e it w o u l d r e m a i n in perpetuity. C o n t r a c t s i g n e d a n d t h e n o t a r y ' s seal c o r r e c t l y affixed, s o o n i t w a s t i m e t o t u r n t o t h e l o c k e t that h e l d t h e hair. H o u s e d i n a d a r k - w o o d oval f r a m e a b i t m o r e t h a n t e n c e n t i m e t e r s l o n g , t h e coil o f f i n e b r o w n a n d gray hair was sealed b e t w e e n t w o p i e c e s o f glass, o n e o f w h i c h w a s c o n v e x . O n t h e b r i t t l e p a p e r that was sealed t o t h e f l a t b a c k o f t h e f r a m e , s o m e o n e n a m e d Paul

Hiller long ago

had written

the

following w o r d s

in

G e r m a n , t h e n a d d e d his s i g n a t u r e b e n e a t h t h e m :

T h i s h a i r w a s c u t off B e e t h o v e n ' s c o r p s e b y m y father, D r . Ferdinand

v.

Hiller

on

the

day

after

Ludwig

van

B e e t h o v e n ' s d e a t h , t h a t is, o n 2 7 M a r c h 1 8 2 7 , a n d w a s given to me as a birthday present in C o l o g n e on M a y 1, 1883.

W h i l e Ira B r i l l i a n t a n d t h e o t h e r s w a t c h e d w i t h f a s c i n a t i o n , Dr. G u e v a r a and conservator N a n c y O d e g a a r d — b o t h dressed


in

green

surgical

scrubs

and wearing

masks

and

gloves—

w o r k e d a t a s t e r i l e t a b l e , m e a s u r i n g w i t h c a l i p e r s t h e glass a n d t h e f r a m e t h a t s u r r o u n d e d it, c a l l i n g o u t a s e r i e s o f n u m b e r s a s well

as

their

impressions

of the

lockets

condition

before

G u e v a r a w i e l d e d a scalpel a n d p r e p a r e d t o g o i n s i d e . T h i s was s u r g e r y o f a s o r t , a n d t h e d o c t o r p r o c e e d e d w i t h careful c o n fidence, describing each cut and every observation with the k i n d of c o m m e n t a r y he m i g h t have m a d e if the subject at h a n d had been a h u m a n gut and the gathered observers w e r e surgical i n t e r n s still p r o n e t o g e t t i n g q u e a s y .

" N o w I ' m slicing

t h r o u g h t h e last o f t h e g l u e t h a t h o l d s t h e p a p e r b a c k i n g , " h e a n n o u n c e d , h i s v o i c e b e a r i n g m o r e t h a n a h i n t o f his p r e o c c u pation.

" I ' l l p u l l t h e b a c k i n g a w a y n o w , a n d . . . let's s e e ,

b e l o w . . . h e r e ' s a n o t h e r l a y e r o f p a p e r , w i t h w r i t i n g o n it, a n d . . . t h e w r i t i n g s in F r e n c h , I b e l i e v e . C a n s o m e o n e v e r i f y t h a t this i s i n F r e n c h a n d t r a n s l a t e i t for u s ? " A v i d e o c a m e r a d e s i g n e d for r e c o r d i n g t h e i n t r i c a c i e s a n d complexities

of rather

more

conventional

surgeries

looked

d o w n f r o m o v e r h e a d a n d t h e rest o f t h e g r o u p w a t c h e d t h e doctor's w o r k o n television m o n i t o r s placed a r o u n d the r o o m , a n d y e s , t h a t was F r e n c h , s o m e o n e o f f e r e d . T h e t e x t w a s set i n t y p e , b u t w a s difficult t o m a k e sense of, a n d t h e r o o m ' s q u i c k c o n s e n s u s w a s t h a t t h e p a p e r w a s s i m p l y n e w s p a p e r scrap t h a t h a d b e e n u s e d for b a c k i n g . Y e t t h e w o r d s w r i t t e n o n t h e n e x t layer G u e v a r a e x p o s e d w e r e b o t h decipherable a n d surprising. H a n d w r i t t e n this t i m e , a n d a g a i n i n G e r m a n , t h e y e x p l a i n e d that the locket was " n e w l y pasted" by a picture framer in C o l o g n e in

1 9 1 1 , the resealing d o n e at a time w h e n Paul

Hiller w o u l d have b e e n fifty-eight years old, a n d presumably


a b o u t t h e t i m e w h e n h e w r o t e his e x p l a n a t o r y n o t e o n t h e outer paper. A t last t h e s u r g e o n h e l d n o t h i n g m o r e t h a n t h e c o n j o i n e d p i e c e s o f glass i n his g l o v e d h a n d s , a n d O d e g a a r d h e l p e d s t e a d y t h e glass o n e d g e a s G u e v a r a b e g a n t o b r e a k t h e seal w i t h a scalpel. " W o w , c o u l d y o u h e a r t h a t ? " h e a s k e d . " I h e a r d a r u s h o f air like a v a c u u m w h e n I s t a r t e d t o s e p a r a t e t h e glass." T w o m i n u t e s passed as the surgeon's knife slowly c i r c u m n a v i g a t e d t h e oval, t h e n finally the pieces w e r e free and G u e v a r a delic a t e l y lifted t h e d o m e d glass a w a y f r o m its m a t e , a n d a l t h o u g h n o o n e s p o k e for a m o m e n t , y o u c o u l d s e n s e t h e m a s s e d e x c i t e m e n t . E x p o s e d for t h e f i r s t t i m e i n a t least e i g h t d e c a d e s , p e r h a p s m a n y m o r e , there w a s B e e t h o v e n ' s h a i r — d a r k e r t h a n i t a p p e a r e d u n d e r glass, a carefully s h a p e d c o i l c o n t a i n i n g a h u n d r e d o r t w o h u n d r e d strands, o n e o f t h e g r o u p guessed. W h e n h e h a d b e e n h e l p e d w i t h t h e straps t h a t h e l d his m a s k o v e r his n o s e , G u e v a r a b e n t t o t h e t a b l e t o s m e l l t h e hair. I t w a s o d o r less, h e d e c l a r e d , t h e n Ira B r i l l i a n t a n d t h e o t h e r s p r e s s e d f o r w a r d to get close to t h e r e m a r k a b l e relic themselves. Before

the

morning

ended

and

the

team

adjourned

for

s o m e t h i n g of a celebratory lunch, Beethoven's hair was p h o tographed, weighed, and examined under a high-power m i croscope. Forensic anthropologist Walter Birkby declared that on quick inspection the condition of the hair appeared consistent w i t h hair that was approximately t w o h u n d r e d years old; h e n o t e d t h a t i t a p p e a r e d t o b e f r e e o f l i c e — o r t h e carcasses o f lice—and the g r o u p was delighted w h e n he n o t e d as well that follicles w e r e a t t a c h e d t o a t least s o m e o f t h e s t r a n d s . F i f t e e n -


year-old Ferdinand Hiller must have pulled at the hair as he s n i p p e d i t — t h a t w a s t h e initial s u p p o s i t i o n — a n d t h e fact t h a t t h e b o y i n a d v e r t e n t l y p u l l e d a f e w follicles f r o m B e e t h o v e n ' s scalp m e a n t D N A t e s t i n g m i g h t i n d e e d b e feasible, a p o s s i b i l ity t h a t n o n e o f t h e g r o u p h a d d a r e d c o u n t o n t i l l t h a t m o ment. T h e cameras c o n t i n u e d to roll at a press c o n f e r e n c e in the e a r l y a f t e r n o o n , a n d t h e t e a m o u t l i n e d p u b l i c l y for t h e f i r s t t i m e t h e a r r a y o f tests i t p l a n n e d t o u n d e r t a k e . P r i o r t o e x a m i n i n g t h e hair's D N A — i f t h a t w e r e d o n e — l i k e l y t h e r e w o u l d be examinations to d e t e r m i n e w h e t h e r opiates had b e e n in B e e t h o v e n ' s s y s t e m a t t h e t i m e o f his d e a t h . O t h e r analyses w o u l d s e a r c h for t r a c e m e t a l s i n his h a i r : h i g h levels o f z i n c m i g h t m e a n t h a t his i m m u n e s y s t e m h a d b e e n s e v e r e l y c o m promised; the presence of m e r c u r y could indicate that he had b e e n t r e a t e d for a n i n f e c t i o n , a n d e l e v a t e d levels o f m e r c u r y might even go s o m e distance t o w a r d explaining Beethoven's n o t o r i o u s l y e c c e n t r i c b e h a v i o r ; a n a b u n d a n c e o f lead w o u l d p o i n t t o o n e p o t e n t i a l c a u s e o f t h e c o m p o s e r ' s deafness, a n d e v e n m i g h t explain the c o n c e r t of o t h e r maladies that had p l a g u e d h i m t h r o u g h o u t his a d u l t life. D r a w i n g on techniques a n d testing p r o c e d u r e s that w e r e established w h e n a lock of N a p o l e o n ' s hair was studied in t h e 1 9 7 0 s — t e s t s t h a t c o n c l u d e d t h a t t h e e m p e r o r h a d not b e e n poisoned,

contrary to w h a t m a n y historians long had sus-

p e c t e d — t h e B e e t h o v e n t£sts w o u l d b e d e s i g n e d t o d e s t r o y o r p e r m a n e n t l y alter o n l y a v e r y m i n i m a l a m o u n t of t h e hair he had just unlocked, Guevara informed the assembled reporters.


A n d t h e tests w o u l d b e c a r r i e d o u t o n l y b y h i g h l y q u a l i f i e d s c i entists: " W e ' r e g o i n g t o p r e p a r e a p r o t o c o l t o d o t h e w o r k u n d e r strict c o n d i t i o n s that are forensic, sterile, a n d m o d e r n . We plan to tabulate people w h o have FBI-quality expertise, t h e n i n v i t e t h e m t o p r o p o s e specific tests t o u s . B u t w e w o n ' t sacrifice t h e b u l k o f t h e hair. T h e m a i n t h i n g i s o u r h o p e t h a t t w o h u n d r e d years f r o m n o w p e o p l e w o n ' t think that t h e r e w e r e n e o p h y t e s a t w o r k w h o c o u l d n ' t g e t t h e i r act t o g e t h e r . T w e n t y - f i v e o r f i f t y y e a r s a g o , this k i n d o f t e s t i n g w o u l d n ' t h a v e b e e n possible. A n d f i f t y years f r o m n o w , m a y b e w e ' l l get m u c h m o r e information." B u t the n e w s p a p e r a n d television reporters w a n t e d t o k n o w m o r e : t h e y n e e d e d s o m e sense o f w h a t m o t i v a t e d G u e v a r a a n d his p a r t n e r t o b u y t h e h a i r a n d n o w b e g i n t h e p r o c e s s o f h a v ing it rigorously examined. W h a t was it a b o u t B e e t h o v e n that so obsessed t h e m ? " M y i n t e r e s t i n B e e t h o v e n i s like a f i r e b u r n i n g i n s i d e m e , " answered seventy-three-year-old

Ira B r i l l i a n t ,

his B r o o k l y n

accent diluted only a bit by thirty years of expatriation in Arizona. twenty

"I years

started collecting his letters ago

out

of a

deep

Beethoven himself had touched.

wish

and first editions to

own

something

It was my way of paying

h o m a g e t o his greatness." A s h o r t m a n w h o s e dense e y e b r o w s and

deep-set

eyes

seemed

to

mirror

the

composer's,

Ira

Brilliant explained that on a N o v e m b e r day almost a year earlier,

h e p h o n e d G u e v a r a , his

friend

a n d fellow B e e t h o v e n

z e a l o t , s o o n after h e h a d s e e n t h e l o c k o f h a i r listed i n a Sotheby's catalog, and the t w o had agreed that they w o u l d try


to m a k e it theirs. " T h i s was m u c h m o r e than simply s o m e t h i n g B e e t h o v e n h a d t o u c h e d . T h e h a i r i s B e e t h o v e n . It's a m a r velous relic." A n d the d o c t o r agreed, of course. A large m a n w i t h a thick s h o c k o f b l a c k h a i r a t o p his h e a d , h i s s p e e c h i n f l e c t e d w i t h e c h o e s o f his n a t i v e S p a n i s h — a n d " C h e " t o his f r i e n d s s i n c e his

long-ago

college

days—Guevara's

obsession

with

both

Beethoven's music and Beethoven the m a n tumbled out of h i m w i t h a k i n d of evangelical passion.

" B e e t h o v e n w a s deaf, a s

y o u k n o w . H e suffered f r o m k i d n e y stones, w h i c h i s a v e r y painful c o n d i t i o n . H e had heparins; h e h a d multiple episodes of gastrointestinal infections. For s o m e o n e to have that m a n y m a l a d i e s a n d t o suffer s o g r e a t l y a n d y e t p r o d u c e s u p e r h u m a n m u s i c , m u s i c t h a t c a n a c t u a l l y e l e v a t e t h e s p i r i t t o a m u c h different plane t h a n t h e o r d i n a r y plane we live in, is quite p h e nomenal." B e e t h o v e n ' s hair—still in the same coil in w h i c h it w a s w r a p p e d nearly t w o centuries ago, t h e h u n d r e d s o f separate s t r a n d s still w a i t i n g t o b e safekeeping, but C h e

c o u n t e d — h a d b e e n r e m o v e d for

Guevara spoke of it as t h o u g h it r e -

m a i n e d i n t h e r o o m : " T o get this close t o a m a n w h o was able t o d o t h i s . . . for m e it's a p e r s o n a l t r i u m p h . A c q u i r i n g t h e h a i r a l r e a d y h a s c h a n g e d m y life."

ON

A WARM

MAY

A F T E R N O O N a h u n d r e d and seventy

years before, B e e t h o v e n ' s hair w o u l d have spread wildly o u t


f r o m his h e a d a n d t h e d a r k e y e s b e n e a t h i t w o u l d h a v e a p p e a r e d s m a l l b u t p i e r c i n g l y b r i g h t a s h e m a d e his daily w a l k t h r o u g h t h e city. H i s c o m p l e x i o n w a s s w a r t h y , his f o r e h e a d b r o a d a n d h i g h , a n d m u c h o f his face h a d b e e n p o c k m a r k e d b y smallpox b a c k w h e n he was a boy. He was short, e v e n by t h e s t a n d a r d s o f h i s day, a n d b e c a u s e o f i n t e s t i n a l t r o u b l e s t h a t b y 1 8 2 4 h a d p l a g u e d h i m for t h r e e d e c a d e s , n o l o n g e r w a s h e t h e stout and stocky m a n

he

once

had been.

He would have

w a l k e d w i t h a l u m b e r i n g gait t h a t s p r i n g , o n e t h a t e v i d e n c e d a curious k i n d of clumsiness, and he w o u l d not have heard the d i n o f t h e g r a n d a n d boisterous city i n w h i c h h e t r o d — n o t t h e constant racket of v e n d o r s '

carts a n d carriages, n o r t h e c a -

c o p h o n o u s noise of the jugglers, p u p p e t e e r s , and street m u s i cians w h o s e e m e d t o clog e v e r y c o r n e r ; n e i t h e r t h e kindly proffered

greetings

of acquaintances

nor

the

taunts

of the

u r c h i n s w h o t a g g e d a t his h e e l s . T h e d e a f n e s s t h a t t w e n t y y e a r s before h a d b e g u n t o r o b h i m o f t h e subtlest kinds o f s o u n d s i n e x o r a b l y h a d r e d u c e d his w o r l d t o a n i m a t e d a n d v e r y i s o l a t e d s i l e n c e , a n d b y n o w h e c o u l d h e a r o n l y w h a t his m i n d i m a g ined. Y e t L u d w i g v a n B e e t h o v e n , this strange a n d e c c e n t r i c figu r e — w h o o n c e had b e e n arrested as a vagrant—was at that m o m e n t , i n fact, t h e m o s t c e l e b r a t e d c o m p o s e r i n a c i t y f i l l e d t o its e x q u i s i t e r o o f t o p s w i t h c o m p o s e r s . H i s N i n t h S y m p h o n y h a d b e e n p r e m i e r e d o n l y days b e f o r e t o t h e m o s t g l o r i o u s k i n d of acclaim. He had b e c o m e a true legend in Vienna in the t h r e e d e c a d e s s i n c e h e h a d m a d e t h e c i t y his h o m e , a n d his bold, passionate, and altogether revolutionary compositions al-


ready seemed destined to endure. T h e people w h o w o u l d have greeted or simply recognized h i m as he walked that afternoon would

have

understood

that

Herr

Beethoven

was

aging

q u i c k l y a n d c l e a r l y w a s n o t w e l l . B u t a t least his m u s i c , t h e y w o u l d h a v e w a r r a n t e d , w o u l d s u r v i v e for c e n t u r i e s .


LUDWIG

VAN

BEETHOVEN

HAD

BEEN

his

grandfather's

n a m e a s w e l l , a n d a l t h o u g h h e w a s n o t q u i t e t h r e e w h e n his grandfather died in 1773, the c o m p o s e r always imagined that his h u g e t a l e n t s h a d c o m e t o h i m

from

his m u c h r e v e r e d

n a m e s a k e — h i m s e l f t h e s o n of a baker in t h e Flemish city of M e c h e l e n — w h o h a d b e c o m e Kapellmeister,

music director, of

the B o n n court of Maximilian Friedrich in 1761. Beethoven's father, J o h a n n , w a s for m a n y y e a r s a t e n o r i n t h e c o u r t c h o i r ; h e t a u g h t s i n g i n g a n d w a s a passably a c c o m p l i s h e d p i a n i s t a n d violinist as well,

b u t a t t h e t i m e his f a t h e r d i e d i n

1773,

Johann's career was languishing and seemed unlikely to catch


fire in the foreseeable future. His wife, b o r n M a r i a M a g d a l e n a Keverich, the daughter of a c o o k at Maximilian Friedrich's s u m m e r palace at Ehrenbreitstein, already had b e e n w i d o w e d w h e n she m a r r i e d J o h a n n in t h e a u t u m n of 1767, a few days before her twenty-first birthday. A son by her first husband h a d died in infancy; so had her s e c o n d child, L u d w i g M a r i a , w h o d i e d six d a y s after his b i r t h i n 1 7 6 9 , t h e y e a r b e f o r e t h e t h i r d c h i l d , also n a m e d L u d w i g , w a s b o r n . Maria van B e e t h o v e n was intelligent, patient, kind, and, it a p p e a r s , u t t e r l y u n a s s u m i n g , t h e y o u n g family's c r i t i c a l c o u n terpoint t o J o h a n n , w h o g r e w increasingly bombastic, erratic, a n d u n d e p e n d a b l e f o l l o w i n g his father's d e a t h a n d t h e d e n i a l o f his a p p l i c a t i o n t o s u c c e e d h i m a s Kapellmeister,

his b e h a v i o r

later exacerbated by a severe d e p e n d e n c e on d r i n k . If M a r i a w a s h e r y o u n g son's r e a d y s u p p o r t , J o h a n n , a c c o r d i n g t o t h e few a c c o u n t s that exist, often w a s a t e r r o r to t h e boy, b u l l y i n g h i m , b e a t i n g h i m o n o c c a s i o n a s w e l l as, l e g e n d s c o n t e n d , d r a g g i n g t h e w e e p i n g f i v e - y e a r - o l d f r o m his b e d t o t h e p i a n o late at n i g h t a n d d r u n k e n l y c o m p e l l i n g h i m to practice. Y e t his father's r a g e s a n d o v e r b e a r i n g d e m e a n o r s o m e h o w n e v e r s o u r e d t h e b o y o n m u s i c , a n d his r e m a r k a b l e t a l e n t s quickly e m e r g e d despite t h e m . Y o u n g L u d w i g was only seven w h e n h e g a v e his f i r s t p u b l i c p e r f o r m a n c e o n t h e p i a n o ; a t eight, he b e g a n to receive piano, violin, a n d viola instruction from a series of n o t e d c o u r t musicians, a n d by age eleven he had b e c o m e d e p u t y t o c o u r t organist Christian G o t d o b Neefe, who

had taken

t h e b o y u n d e r his

tutelage a year before.

B e e t h o v e n , w h o s e academic education already h a d ended, o c c a s i o n a l l y p l a y e d t h e o r g a n a t masses a n d c o u r t f u n c t i o n s w h e n


N e e f e h a d t o b e a b s e n t , a n d t h e t u t o r w a s far f r o m r e l u c t a n t t o h e a p p r a i s e o n his y o u n g p r o t e g e . A t N e e f e ' s u r g i n g , t h e e d i tors

of t h e

German

Magazin

der Musik

posted

a

notice

in

M a r c h 1783 heralding Beethoven as a b o y of "most promising t a l e n t . H e plays t h e c l a v i e r v e r y skillfully a n d w i t h p o w e r [and] r e a d s at s i g h t v e r y w e l l . . . . T h i s y o u n g g e n i u s d e s e r v e s a s u b sidy in o r d e r to enable h i m to travel. He will surely b e c o m e a s e c o n d M o z a r t i f h e c o n t i n u e s a s w e l l a s h e has b e g u n . " I t r e m a i n s u n c l e a r w h e t h e r i t w a s N e e f e o r s o m e o n e else w h o a r r a n g e d f o u r y e a r s h e n c e f o r B e e t h o v e n t o visit V i e n n a , seat o f t h e H a p s b u r g t h r o n e , t h e c a p i t a l o f t h e H o l y R o m a n E m p i r e , a n d t h e l o c u s also o f E u r o p e ' s c u l t u r e d p a s s i o n for music. Neefe—rather m o r e in the m o l d of Beethoven's grandf a t h e r t h a n his f a t h e r — w a s k i n d , c u l t i v a t e d , a n d w e l l - r e a d , a s well as b e i n g a multitalented musician, and he p r e s u m e d that further training in Vienna, plus a m o r e general sort of e x p o s u r e t o its r a r e f i e d m u s i c a l c l i m a t e , w o u l d t r a n s f o r m t h e s i x teen-year-old's p r o d i g i o u s talents into m a t u r e r e n o w n . N e e f e e v e n had h o p e d privately that the b o y m i g h t secure an a p prenticeship w i t h Wolfgang M o z a r t , b u t it appears instead that the Austrian m a s t e r — w h o w o u l d be dead in only four m o r e y e a r s — h e a r d t h e y o u n g m a n play on solely a single occasion. M o z a r t ' s initial r e a c t i o n o n a n A p r i l a f t e r n o o n t o t h e s e l e c t i o n t h e b o y f r o m B o n n h a d p r e p a r e d for h i m w a s d e c i d e d l y c o o l — s u r e l y t h e r e w e r e d o z e n s o f y o u n g fellows i n V i e n n a w h o c o u l d master a single s h o w y piece. B u t w h e n B e e t h o v e n begged to be given a t h e m e on w h i c h he might improvise, M o z a r t acquiesced a n d soon was astonished by the teenager's range and inventiveness and the p o w e r w i t h w h i c h he played.


T h e y o u n g B e e t h o v e n still s e e m e d b e g u i l e d b y t h e m u s i c h e w a s d r a w i n g o u t o f t h e master's p i a n o w h e n M o z a r t f i n a l l y walked o u t of the r o o m a n d eagerly spoke to a g r o u p

of

courtiers w h o m h e h a d kept waiting: " K e e p y o u r eyes o n that o n e , " h e instructed. " S o m e d a y h e will give t h e w o r l d p l e n t y t o talk a b o u t . " B e e t h o v e n m i g h t have m e t M o z a r t again; h e m i g h t e v e n h a v e s t u d i e d w i t h h i m for a t i m e , b u t his s o j o u r n i n V i e n n a w a s a b r u p t l y c u t s h o r t b y n e w s f r o m B o n n t h a t his m o t h e r w a s g r a v e l y ill. H e w a s a b l e t o r e a c h h e r b e d s i d e b e f o r e s h e s u c c u m b e d to tuberculosis, but her death was a terrible blow to t h e w h o l e family. B e e t h o v e n ' s i n f a n t sister, M a r i a M a r g a r e t h a , d i e d a f e w m o n t h s l a t e r ; t w o y o u n g e r b r o t h e r s n o w w e r e left i n L u d w i g ' s c a r e , a n d his f a t h e r — n o w w i t h o u t his wife's h a r d y support and moderating influence—simply drank himself into a personal a n d professional collapse. W h e n J o h a n n w a s forced t o r e s i g n his m o d e s t p o s i t i o n i n 1 7 8 9 , B e e t h o v e n , w h o w a s n o t y e t n i n e t e e n , successfully p e t i t i o n e d t h e c o u r t t o g r a n t h i m h a l f h i s father's f o r m e r salary t o h e l p h i m k e e p t h e c l a n f r o m d e s t i tution, b e c o m i n g in the process the actual h e a d of the h o u s e hold. B u t a l t h o u g h h e n o w h a d t o a t t e n d c a r e f u l l y t o family m a t t e r s , B e e t h o v e n n o n e t h e l e s s also b e g a n t o b l o s s o m socially i n t h e y e a r s t h a t f o l l o w e d his m o t h e r ' s d e a t h . H e c o n t i n u e d t o play viola in the orchestras of t h e c o u r t chapel a n d c o u r t t h e ater, f o r g i n g l a s t i n g f r i e n d s h i p s w i t h o t h e r y o u n g m u s i c i a n s . H e m e t C o u n t F e r d i n a n d W a l d s t e i n , e i g h t y e a r s his s e n i o r , a m u s i c d e v o t e e t o w h o m h e b e c a m e closely attached. A n d i t was within

the

bonds

of the

prominent,

progressive,

and


i n t e l l e c t u a l l y c u r i o u s B r e u n i n g family, h e a d e d b y t h e d y n a m i c y o u n g w i d o w H e l e n e v o n B r e u n i n g , t h a t B e e t h o v e n first w a s e x p o s e d to a k i n d of joie de vivre t h a t a l w a y s h a d b e e n m i s s i n g i n his o w n h o m e . H e b e c a m e s o c l o s e l y t i e d t o t h e B r e u n i n g s that h e often e v e n slept a t t h e i r h o m e , a n d a l o n g t h e w a y h e became

something

of a

beloved

stepchild

to

Frau

von

B r e u n i n g : s h e n u r s e d h i m t h r o u g h b o u t s o f illness, h e l p e d b a t tle his r e c u r r e n t b l a c k m o o d s a n d sieges o f b r o o d i n g s i l e n c e , a n d did h e r best t o b u o y u p t h e self-confidence o f t h e y o u n g m a n w h o a t t i m e s w a s p a r a l y z i n g l y shy. It was Frau v o n B r e u n i n g , as well as C o u n t Waldstein and Neefe, w h o introduced the y o u n g m a n t o the thrilling n e w n o t i o n s o f r e f o r m , f r e e d o m , a n d b r o t h e r h o o d — t h e Aujklarung, or Enlightenment—that were becoming c o m m o n conversat i o n p i e c e s i n t h e cities t h a t f l a n k e d t h e R h i n e a n d t h r o u g h o u t m u c h of central E u r o p e . Yet it was Waldstein w h o n o w did the m o s t t o n u r t u r e Beethoven's musical d e v e l o p m e n t .

He dis-

creetly p r o v i d e d financial s u p p o r t t o t h e y o u n g m a n w h o m h e openly labeled a musical genius;

he

commissioned h i m to

c o m p o s e t h e m u s i c for his o w n p r o d u c t i o n o f a folk ballet; a n d he was a m e m b e r as well of a larger g r o u p of the B o n n n o b i l ity w h o c o m m i s s i o n e d B e e t h o v e n t o c o m p o s e t w o c a n t a t a s c o m m e m o r a t i n g the death of the much-loved E m p e r o r Joseph I I a n d t h e e l e v a t i o n o f h i s s u c c e s s o r , L e o p o l d II. A l t h o u g h n e i ther cantata was performed, Waldstein nonetheless recognized their brilliance. It is probable that it was he w h o pressed the Joseph Cantata i n t o t h e h a n d s o f c o m p o s e r F r a n z J o s e p h H a y d n d u r i n g his visit t o B o n n i n 1 7 9 2 i n a n effort t o c o n v i n c e h i m to tutor y o u n g Beethoven once he was at h o m e in Vienna


again, a n d it is certain that it w a s W a l d s t e i n w h o c o n v i n c e d his friend B o n n Elector Maximilian Franz,

Friedrich's successor,

b o t h t o p a y for B e e t h o v e n ' s j o u r n e y t o V i e n n a a n d t o s u p p o r t h i m while he remained in temporary residence there. T h e revolution in France that had c o m m e n c e d three years before

by

now

had led to

rumors

o f w a r across

much

of

E u r o p e . T h e n e w French r e g i m e had declared w a r o n Austria; F r e n c h forces already h a d r e a c h e d t h e R h i n e , and B e e t h o v e n — d e s p i t e his father's failing h e a l t h — h a d t o h u r r y t o l e a v e B o n n i f h e w e r e t o b e r e l a t i v e l y a s s u r e d ' o f safe t r a v e l b y c o a c h

to

V i e n n a . As he d e p a r t e d , he r e c e i v e d enthusiastic farewells from d o z e n s o f f r i e n d s a n d a d m i r e r s , all o f w h o m a n t i c i p a t e d his r e t u r n to his h o m e t o w n before t o o l o n g a t i m e , a n d in an a l b u m filled w i t h t h e i r w r i t t e n g o o d w i s h e s w a s i n c l u d e d t h i s m e s s a g e f r o m his d e v o t e d p a t r o n :

D E A R B E E T H O V E N : YOU a r e g o i n g t o V i e n n a i n fulfillment

of your

long-frustrated

wishes.

The

Genius

of

M o z a r t i s still m o u r n i n g a n d w e e p i n g o v e r t h e d e a t h o f her pupil. She f o u n d a refuge b u t no o c c u p a t i o n w i t h the inexhaustible H a y d n ; t h r o u g h h i m she wishes o n c e m o r e to f o r m a u n i o n w i t h another. W i t h the help of assiduous labor y o u

shall r e c e i v e :

Mozart's spirit from

Y O U R TRUE FRIEND, WALDSTEIN.

Haydn's hands.


T H E BOY WO SNIPPED T H E LOCK

IT WAS N O T U N T I L

1 8 7 1 t h a t Kapellmeister F e r d i n a n d H i l l e r ,

t h e c o r p u l e n t dean of music in t h e R h i n e - s i d e city of C o l o g n e , f i r s t d e s c r i b e d for f a s c i n a t e d G e r m a n r e a d e r s w h a t i t h a d b e e n l i k e t o m e e t L u d w i g v a n B e e t h o v e n a n d w h a t , i n fact, t h e c i r cumstances of the master composer's final days h a d b e e n . "I can s c a r c e l y b l a m e myself, m u c h a s I r e g r e t it, for n o t t a k i n g d o w n m o r e e x t e n d e d notes than I did," sixty-year-old Hiller w r o t e . " I n d e e d , I r e j o i c e t h a t a lad o f f i f t e e n y e a r s w h o f o u n d h i m s e l f i n a g r e a t c i t y for t h e f i r s t t i m e w a s self-possessed e n o u g h t o r e g a r d any details. [ B u t ] I c a n v o u c h w i t h t h e b e s t c o n s c i e n c e for t h e p e r f e c t a c c u r a c y o f all t h a t I a m able t o r e p e a t . "


Ferdinand Hiller had m a d e the snow-slowed j o u r n e y from W e i m a r t o musical, magical V i e n n a w i t h his p i a n o a n d c o m position instructor, J o h a n n N e p o m u k H u m m e l , i n t h e early s p r i n g o f 1 8 2 7 because H u m m e l h a d h e a r d t h e n o w far-flung n e w s that his old f r i e n d a n d musical rival was d y i n g . H e h a d w a n t e d t o see a n d e m b r a c e B e e t h o v e n again b e f o r e h e was g o n e , a n d t o o , h e h a d h o p e d his t a l e n t e d p r o t e g e m i g h t b e i n s p i r e d b y a t least a f e w m i n u t e s s p e n t i n t h e c o m p a n y o f i n contestable greatness. B e e t h o v e n had received the t w o m e n w a r m l y o n M a r c h 8 a n d h a d satisfied t h e m t h a t t h e i r c o m p a n y w o u l d b e efficacious i n fact; t h e y s t a y e d w i t h h i m for h o u r s t h a t day, t h e n r e t u r n e d t h r e e m o r e t i m e s d u r i n g t h e s u c c e e d i n g fortnight before B e e t h o v e n finally s u c c u m b e d to a diseased l i v e r a n d a life o f r e l e n t l e s s p a i n . Y e t o n t h a t f i r s t day, H i l l e r r e m e m b e r e d , t h e d y i n g m a n still h a d s e e m e d v e r y m u c h alive:

T h r o u g h a spacious a n t e r o o m in w h i c h high cabinets were

piled

with

thick,

tied-up

parcels

of music,

we

r e a c h e d — h o w my heart beat!—Beethoven's living-room, a n d w e r e n o t a little a s t o n i s h e d t o f i n d t h e m a s t e r s i t t i n g in apparent comfort at the w i n d o w He w o r e a long, gray sleeping-robe

and

high

boots

reaching

to

his

knees.

E m a c i a t e d b y l o n g a n d s e v e r e illness, h e s e e m e d t o m e , w h e n h e a r o s e , o f tall s t a t u r e ; h e w a s u n s h a v e n , his t h i c k , h a l f - g r a y h a i r fell i n d i s o r d e r o v e r h i s t e m p l e s . T h e e x pression

o f his

features

heightened

when

he

caught

sight o f H u m m e l , a n d h e s e e m e d t o b e e x t r a o r d i n a r i l y g l a d t o see h i m . T h e t w o m e n e m b r a c e d e a c h o t h e r m o s t


cordially.

Hummel

introduced me.

Beethoven

showed

h i m s e l f e x t r e m e l y k i n d a n d I w a s p e r m i t t e d t o sit o p p o site h i m at t h e w i n d o w . . . . [In o r d e r f o r h i m t o c a r r y o n a c o n v e r s a t i o n , ] t h i c k sheets of o r d i n a r y w r i t i n g paper in q u a r t o f o r m a n d lead p e n c i l s lay n e a r h i m a t all t i m e s . H o w p a i n f u l i t m u s t h a v e b e e n for t h e a n i m a t e d , easily i m p a t i e n t m a n t o b e o b l i g e d to wait for e v e r y answer, to m a k e a pause in e v e r y m o m e n t of conversation, during which, as it were, thought w a s c o n d e m n e d t o c o m e t o a standstill! H e a l w a y s f o l lowed

the

hand

of the

writer with

h u n g r y eyes

and

c o m p r e h e n d e d w h a t was w r i t t e n at a glance instead of r e a d i n g it. . . . T h e c o n v e r s a t i o n at first t u r n e d , as u s u a l , o n d o m e s t i c affairs—the j o u r n e y a n d sojourn, m y relations w i t h H u m m e l , and matters of that kind. B e e t h o v e n asked a b o u t G o e t h e ' s health w i t h e x t r a o r d i n a r y solicitude a n d w e w e r e able t o m a k e t h e best o f r e p o r t s , since o n l y a few days before t h e great p o e t h a d w r i t t e n in my a l b u m . C o n c e r n i n g his o w n p o o r state, p o o r B e e t h o v e n c o m p l a i n e d m u c h . " H e r e I h a v e b e e n l y i n g for f o u r m o n t h s , " he cried out,

" o n e m u s t a t last lose p a t i e n c e ! "

Other

t h i n g s i n V i e n n a d i d n o t s e e m t o b e t o his l i k i n g a n d h e s p o k e w i t h t h e u t m o s t s e v e r i t y o f " t h e p r e s e n t taste i n art" and " t h e dilettantism that is r u i n i n g everything." N o r d i d h e s p a r e t h e g o v e r n m e n t , u p t o t h e h i g h e s t levels. . . . "Little thieves are h a n g e d , b u t big ones are allowed to go f r e e ! " h e e x c l a i m e d i n ill h u m o r .

H e asked a b o u t m y

s t u d i e s a n d , e n c o u r a g i n g m e , said, " a r t m u s t b e p r o p a g a t e d ceaselessly," a n d w h e n I s p o k e o f t h e e x c l u s i v e i n -


terest in Italian o p e r a that t h e n prevailed in V i e n n a , he g a v e u t t e r a n c e t o t h e m e m o r a b l e w o r d s , " I t i s said vox popidi, vox dei. I n e v e r b e l i e v e d it." On M a r c h 13, H u m m e l t o o k me with h i m a second t i m e t o B e e t h o v e n . W e f o u n d his c o n d i t i o n t o b e m a t e rially w o r s e . H e lay i n b e d , s e e m e d t o suffer g r e a t p a i n s , a n d a t i n t e r v a l s g r o a n e d d e e p l y d e s p i t e t h e fact t h a t h e spoke

much

and

animatedly. . . . He

also

begged

of

H u m m e l t o b r i n g his w i f e t o s e e h i m ; s h e h a d n o t c o m e w i t h u s , for s h e h a d n o t b e e n a b l e t o p e r s u a d e h e r s e l f t o s e e i n his p r e s e n t s t a t e t h e m a n w h o m s h e h a d k n o w n a t t h e z e n i t h o f his p o w e r s . A s h o r t t i m e b e f o r e , h e h a d r e ceived a present of a picture of the house in w h i c h H a y d n was b o r n . He kept it close at h a n d a n d s h o w e d it to us. " I t g i v e s m e a c h i l d i s h p l e a s u r e , " h e said, " t h e c r a d l e o f s o great a m a n ! " Shortly throughout

after

our

Vienna

second that

the

visit,

the

report

Philharmonic

spread

Society

of

L o n d o n h a d s e n t B e e t h o v e n , ÂŁ 1 0 0 i n o r d e r t o ease his sickbed. It was a d d e d that this surprise h a d m a d e so great a n i m p r e s s i o n o n t h e p o o r m a n t h a t i t h a d also b r o u g h t p h y s i c a l relief. W h e n w e s t o o d a g a i n a t h i s b e d s i d e o n t h e 2 0 t h , w e c o u l d d e d u c e f r o m his u t t e r a n c e s h o w greatly h e h a d b e e n rejoiced b y this altruism, b u t h e w a s v e r y w e a k a n d s p o k e o n l y i n faint a n d d i s c o n n e c t e d p h r a s e s . " I shall, n o d o u b t , s o o n b e g o i n g a b o v e , " h e w h i s p e r e d after o u r greeting. Similar remarks r e c u r r e d frequently. In t h e intervals, h o w e v e r , he spoke of projects and hopes that w e r e destined n o t to be realized. Speaking of t h e n o b l e


c o n d u c t o f t h e P h i l h a r m o n i c Society a n d i n praise o f t h e English people, he expressed the intention, as soon as matters w e r e better with him, to undertake the j o u r n e y t o L o n d o n . " I w i l l c o m p o s e a g r a n d o v e r t u r e for t h e m , and a symphony." T h e n too, he told Frau H u m m e l , w h o h a d j o i n e d h e r h u s b a n d t h a t day, t h a t h e w o u l d visit h e r and g o t o I d o n o t k n o w h o w m a n y places. His eyes, w h i c h w e r e still l i v e l y w h e n w e s a w h i m o n o u r p r e v i o u s visit, w e r e c l o s e d n o w , a n d i t w a s difficult f r o m t i m e t o t i m e for h i m t o raise himself. I t w a s n o l o n g e r p o s s i b l e t o d e c e i v e o n e ' s self-—the w o r s t w a s t o b e f e a r e d . Hopeless was the picture presented by the extraordin a r y m a n w h e n w e saw h i m again o n M a r c h 23rd. I t was t o b e t h e last t i m e . H e lay, w e a k a n d m i s e r a b l e , s i g h i n g d e e p l y a t i n t e r v a l s . N o t a w o r d fell f r o m his lips; s w e a t s t o o d o u t o n his f o r e h e a d .

His handkerchief not being

c o n v e n i e n t l y a t h a n d , H u m m e l ' s w i f e t o o k h e r fine c a m bric

h a n d k e r c h i e f a n d d r i e d his

face

again

and

again.

N e v e r shall I f o r g e t t h e g r a t e f u l g l a n c e w i t h w h i c h his b r o k e n eyes l o o k e d u p o n her.

ON A

MONDAY

E V E N I N G T H R E E days h e n c e , Hiller a n d

b o t h H u m m e l s w e r e d i n i n g a t t h e h o m e o f friends w h e n a d ditional guests a r r i v e d w i t h t h e w o e f u l n e w s that B e e t h o v e n had died in the midst of the sudden afternoon storm. W h e n Hummel

and

the

Scbwarzspanierhaus,

boy

the

returned

to

the

"Black Spaniard's

lodging House,"

called

the

on Tuesday


t o p a y t h e i r f i n a l r e s p e c t s , t h e face o f t h e m a n w h o m H u m m e l loved and y o u n g Hiller n e w l y was in a w e of appeared strangely c h a n g e d . B e e t h o v e n ' s b o d y still lay i n h i s b e d r o o m , b u t n o w h a d b e e n p l a c e d i n a n o a k coffin t h a t s t o o d o n a brass b i e r , his h e a d r e s t i n g o n a w h i t e silk p i l l o w . H i s l o n g h a i r h a d b e e n c o m b e d a n d w a s c r o w n e d w i t h a w r e a t h o f w h i t e r o s e s , b u t his g r i z z l e d v i s a g e h a d g o n e b l u e a n d t h e sides o f h i s face w e r e oddly s u n k e n because at autopsy that m o r n i n g the temporal b o n e s s u r r o u n d i n g h i s e a r s — a s w e l l a s small b o n e s o f t h e e a r s t h e m s e l v e s — h a d b e e n r e m o v e d for f u t u r e study. T h e autopsy had been performed by Dr. Johannes Wagner, a p a t h o l o g i s t a n d associate of B e e t h o v e n ' s final physician, D r . A n d r e a s W a w r u c h , w h o h a d assisted h i m . D u r i n g t h e m e thodical m o r n i n g procedure, the t w o m e n had discovered that B e e t h o v e n ' s liver, s h r u n k t o h a l f t h e size o f a h e a l t h y o n e , w a s leathery a n d c o v e r e d w i t h n o d u l e s ; the spleen was black a n d t o u g h a n d t w i c e its n o r m a l size; t h e p a n c r e a s t o o w a s u n u s u ally large a n d h a r d ; a n d e a c h o f t h e p a l e k i d n e y s c o n t a i n e d n u m e r o u s calcified s t o n e s . T h e d e a f m a n ' s a u d i t o r y n e r v e s w e r e s h r i v e l e d a n d m a r r o w l e s s , b u t t h e n e a r b y facial n e r v e s w e r e impressively large; t h e a u d i t o r y arteries w e r e "dilated to m o r e t h a n t h e size o f a c r o w ' s q u i l l " a n d h a d b e c o m e s u r p r i s i n g l y b r i t t l e ; t h e b o n e o f t h e skull w a s s t r a n g e l y d e n s e , a n d t h e r e m a r k a b l y w h i t e a n d fluid-filled c o n v o l u t i o n s o f t h e b r a i n w e r e m u c h deeper, wider, and m o r e n u m e r o u s than t h e physicians w o u l d have expected t h e m to be. T h e t w o doctors had not been

surprised,

of course,

that was abnormal,

when

but knowledge

they

encountered

of both

much

pathology and


disease

etiology

remained

limited

enough

in

that

era

that

n e i t h e r m a n c o u l d infer f r o m t h e f i n d i n g s w h a t m i g h t h a v e caused t h e c o m p o s e r ' s deafness o r i n d e e d any o f his m a n y o t h e r maladies. B e c a u s e o f t h e t r a u m a i n d u c e d b y t h e a u t o p s y itself, a s w e l l a s t h e d i s f i g u r e m e n t o f his face c a u s e d b y t h e m i s s i n g b o n e s , B e e t h o v e n appeared only suggestive o f the m a n w i t h w h o m Hummel

and

Ferdinand

Hiller

had

conversed

a

few

days

earlier, a n d t h e t w o m e n d i d n o t r e m a i n for l o n g b e s i d e his coffin.

But

before

they

departed,

young

Hiller

asked

his

m e n t o r w h e t h e r he might be permitted to cut a lock of the m a s t e r c o m p o s e r ' s hair. choose

not

It was a request that Hiller w o u l d

to m e n t i o n

in

his

1871

recollection—perhaps

r e l u c t a n t t o d e t a i l o r a c k n o w l e d g e it, e v e n h a l f a c e n t u r y later, b e c a u s e t h r o u g h o u t his life t h e o t h e r w i s e o p e n a n d g r e g a r i o u s Hiller virtually n e v e r h a d s p o k e n a b o u t his p r i v a t e f i f e o r w h a t he

secretly

permission

held to

dear,

take

a

but

perhaps

keepsake

had

also not

because been

explicit

granted

by

Beethoven's brother Johann, by Stephan von Breuning, w h o h a d b e c o m e e x e c u t o r o f his e s t a t e , o r e v e n b y t h e f a c t o t u m A n t o n Schindler. Yet o t h e r locks of hair, it was o b v i o u s , h a d b e e n c u t already, a n d i t i s easy t o i m a g i n e H u m m e l w h i s p e r i n g his assent t o his s t u d e n t , t h e t w o m e n q u i e t l y m o v e d b y t h e simple ritual a n d t h e sadness o f t h e m o m e n t , F e r d i n a n d Hiller w i e l d i n g t h e scissors h e h a d b r o u g h t w i t h h i m for t h a t h o p e f u l p u r p o s e , lifting a t h i c k l o c k o f B e e t h o v e n ' s l o n g a n d h a l f - g r a y h a i r , p u l l i n g i t a w a y f r o m his h e a d , a n d s e t t i n g i t f r e e .


FERDINAND

HILLER

HAD

BEEN

BORN

i n Frankfurt i n

1811, the son of a wealthy merchant w h o , in order to help c o n c e a l his J e w i s h i d e n t i t y a t a t i m e w h e n a n t i - S e m i t i s m w a s r i s i n g p e r i l o u s l y i n E u r o p e , h a d c h a n g e d h i s n a m e late i n t h e e i g h t e e n t h c e n t u r y f r o m Isaac H i l d e s h e i m t o J u s t u s H i l l e r . Y e t F r a n k f u r t itself w a s a c o m p a r a t i v e l y t o l e r a n t city, o n e i n w h i c h J e w s , d e s p i t e a f e w significant l i m i t a t i o n s , w e r e able to live free from persecution.

Ferdinands

father

and

his

wife,

Regine

Sichel Hiller, w e r e w e l l - t o - d o , urbane, and cultivated; they w e r e c o m m i t t e d t o d o i n g e v e r y t h i n g t h e y c o u l d t o assimilate their son into Germany's cultural mainstream, b u t they w e r e d e t e r m i n e d a s w e l l t o e n s u r e t h a t h e t r u l y e n j o y e d his c h i l d h o o d , t r y i n g — r a t h e r unsuccessfully as it t u r n e d o u t — n o t to d r a w t o o m u c h e a r l y a t t e n t i o n t o his r e m a r k a b l e m u s i c a l t a l ents. W h e n he was seven, they acquiesced to entreaties f r o m friends, and agreed that the boy could b e c o m e a regular stud e n t of pianist Aloys S c h m i t t as w e l l as take lessons in c o m p o sition from Frankfurt c o m p o s e r J. G. Vollweiler. T h r e e years later, t e n - y e a r - o l d F e r d i n a n d p e r f o r m e d i n p u b l i c for t h e f i r s t time, playing Mozart's C o n c e r t o in C M i n o r and dazzling t w o musicians w h o w e r e present at the recital—his parents' friends L u d w i g S p o h r and Ignaz Moscheles, b o t h o f w h o m had b e e n colleagues of B e e t h o v e n d u r i n g years they spent in Vienna. T h e t w o m e n insisted that t h e b o y really m u s t b e sent t o W e i m a r to study with

Kapellmeister J o h a n n H u m m e l ,

himself

n o t o n l y a c o n t e m p o r a r y a n d f r i e n d o f B e e t h o v e n , b u t also t h e sole c o m p o s e r i n E u r o p e w h o s e talents e q u a l e d B e e t h o v e n ' s , a t least a c c o r d i n g t o m e n l i k e S p o h r a n d M o s c h e l e s .


Warm

and

generous

a n d surpassingly

homely,

the

much

loved and respected H u m m e l accepted few students, yet as a p r o d i g y h i m s e l f f o r t y y e a r s b e f o r e i n V i e n n a , h e h a d l i v e d for t w o years w i t h W o l f g a n g M o z a r t a n d h a d b e e n his s t u d e n t , a n e x t r a o r d i n a r i l y f o r m a t i v e e x p e r i e n c e t h a t h e n o w felt c o m pelled to try to return in kind. W h e n he m e t the y o u n g Hiller a n d h e a r d h i m play t h e piano, he was impressed by the boy's p r o m i s e , a n d s o o n after H i l l e r b e c a m e h i s p u p i l i n 1 8 2 5 t h e t w o also b e c a m e q u i t e close, H u m m e l a n d his w i f e , E l i s a b e t h , t a k i n g p a t e r n a l c h a r g e o f t h e t h i r t e e n - y e a r - o l d o n his p a r e n t s ' behalf, a n d e n c o u r a g i n g h i m t o e x p a n d his t a l e n t s i n e v e r y d i rection. Accordingly, they introduced h i m to former student Felix M e n d e l s s o h n , himself a n impressive p r o d i g y o n l y t w o years Hiller's senior, as well as t h e celebrated p o e t a n d playw r i g h t J o h a n n W o l f g a n g v o n G o e t h e . I n t h e days before t h e y h a d set o u t f r o m W e i m a r for V i e n n a i n t h e s p r i n g o f 1 8 2 7 , G o e t h e h a d w r i t t e n a verse in y o u n g Hiller's s o u v e n i r a l b u m , a n d B e e t h o v e n h a d b e e n h e a r t e n e d t o hear Hiller's n e w s o f G o e t h e w h e n h e a n d H u m m e l visited h i m i n t h e days before he died. Hiller h e a r d the venerated poet's n a m e i n t o n e d o n c e m o r e a t t h e gates o f t h e W a h r i n g c e m e t e r y o n t h e a f t e r n o o n o f B e e t h o v e n ' s funeral, w h e n actor H e i n r i c h Anschiitz declared that B e e t h o v e n a n d G o e t h e l o n g h a d b e e n t h e f o r e m o s t figures i n t h e arts o f t h e G e r m a n - s p e a k i n g w o r l d . Still o n l y a t e e n a g e r , Ferdinand Hiller had m e t and conversed w i t h b o t h of these t o w e r i n g m e n , a n d a s h e w a t c h e d H u m m e l , his p o r t l y f r i e n d a n d w o n d e r f u l teacher, t h r o w three laurel w r e a t h s o n t o the


c l o s e d coffin t h a t n o w lay d e e p i n t h e e a r t h , i t s e e m e d t o t h e y o u n g m a n — t h e l o c k o f h a i r h e h a d c l a i m e d safely t u c k e d a w a y i n his a l b u m — t h a t a life l i v e d r i c h l y i n t h e arts s u r e l y w a s all t h a t h e s h o u l d s t r i v e for.

F E R D I N A N D H I L L E R H A D R E T U R N E D T O W e i m a r again in

July

when

he

read

in

t h e ^Abendzeitung,

published

in

Dresden, an obituary written by poet and historian J o h a n n Sporschil that described an aspect of B e e t h o v e n that the b o y had not been fortunate e n o u g h to glimpse:

N o l o n g e r w i l l t h e c i t i z e n s o f f r i e n d l y V i e n n a . . . see h i m h u r r y i n g t h r o u g h t h e street w i t h his s h o r t y e t f i r m steps b a r e l y t o u c h i n g t h e g r o u n d , u n t i l , fast a s l i g h t n i n g , h e vanishes a r o u n d t h e c o r n e r . N o l o n g e r will t h e y b e able to whisper with benevolent and indulgent pride to one a n o t h e r : " D i d y o u see? B e e t h o v e n ! "

Y e s , H i l l e r had s e e n h i m , a n d h e e v e n h a d c a p t u r e d a l o c k o f t h e g r e a t c o m p o s e r ' s hair.

T h e m e m e n t o had been part of

B e e t h o v e n ; i t w a s n e i t h e r his flesh n o r his b l o o d b u t i t was h i m n o n e t h e l e s s . F o r m a n y y e a r s , his w i l d h a i r h a d b e e n t h e p h y s ical t h i n g t h a t m o s t i m m e d i a t e l y c h a r a c t e r i z e d h i m — i t w a s a metaphor

somehow

for

his

eccentric

ebullience,

his

utter


unpredictability,

his

astonishing

artistic

power—and

Hiller

k n e w he always w o u l d cherish the lock of hair and protect it vigilantly. It may have been d o n e while he remained in Weimar, or the task c o u l d h a v e b e e n c o m p l e t e d d u r i n g t h e m o n t h s h e s p e n t a t h o m e i n F r a n k f u r t w i t h his p a r e n t s , b u t b y t h e t i m e h e t r a v eled to Paris in O c t o b e r 1828, F e r d i n a n d Hiller h a d e m p l o y e d a p i c t u r e f r a m e r t o s e c u r e t h e l o c k o f h a i r i n s i d e a small, o v a l w o o d e n frame that had b e e n painted black, the kind of locket i n w h i c h m i n i a t u r e portraits c o m m o n l y w e r e displayed. T h e clutch of h a i r s — w h o k n e w h o w many of t h e m there w e r e ? — h a d b e e n l o o p e d i n t o a l o o s e c o i l , a n d p r o t e c t e d b y glass. T h e k e e p s a k e w a s n o w s e c u r e for t h o s e i n f r e q u e n t o c c a s i o n s w h e n he w o u l d choose to s h o w it to friends w h o m he was sure w o u l d a p p r e c i a t e its i m p o r t , a n d w h o c o u l d b e c o u n t e d o n t o demonstrate

a p p r o p r i a t e v e n e r a t i o n w h e n t h e y briefly held

something of Beethoven in their hands. Although

he had just turned seventeen in

1828,

Hiller's

m o v e t o P a r i s m a r k e d his e m a n c i p a t i o n i n t o a d u l t h o o d . H i s p a r e n t s w e r e i n h e a r t y s u p p o r t o f his s o j o u r n , a n d t h e y m a d e s u r e a s w e l l t h a t t h e i r s o n d i d n o t suffer f r o m m a t e r i a l w a n t s w h i l e h e w a s t h e r e . U n l i k e t h e y o u n g B e e t h o v e n , L e Savant Hiller, a s h e w o u l d b e c o m e k n o w n , w a s a b o n a fide f e l l o w o f m e a n s — a short, dark-eyed y o u n g m a n w h o s e r o u n d and exp r e s s i v e face e v i d e n c e d a n o p e n n e s s t h a t d r e w p e o p l e t o h i m . W i t h the revolution l o n g over, a n d on the heels of the final d e feat o f N a p o l e o n i n 1 8 1 5 , t h e g o v e r n m e n t o f F r a n c e h a d b e e n returned

to

a

repressive yet decidedly

insecure

monarchy,

t h o u g h faint w i n d s o f r e v o l u t i o n still b l e w t h r o u g h t h e s q u a l i d ,


disease-plagued districts o f Paris. O n c e again, r i c h a n d p o o r l i v e d u t t e r l y s e p a r a t e lives i n t h e c i t y t h a t n o w t o t a l e d a m i l l i o n r e s i d e n t s , a n d for a m o n e y e d i m m i g r a n t like F e r d i n a n d H i l l e r , i t w a s h a r d t o i m a g i n e a m o r e vital a n d s t i m u l a t i n g p l a c e t o c o n t i n u e his m u s i c a l t r a i n i n g . I t d i d s e e m t o H i l l e r , h o w e v e r , t h a t Paris's m u s i c a l c u l t u r e p o s s e s s e d a s i n g l e d i s t r e s s i n g flaw. U n l i k e t h e cities i n G e r m a n y a n d Austria that he h a d lived in or visited by n o w , w h e r e t h e w o r k s of L u d w i g van B e e t h o v e n had b e c o m e very widely adm i r e d , in Paris the music of the recently deceased c o m p o s e r still

was

deemed

too

peculiar,

too

intense,

too

"difficult"

s o m e h o w , a n d o n l y r e c e n t l y h a d b e g u n t o b e p e r f o r m e d a t all. Y e t early i n t h e w i n t e r o f 1 8 2 9 , H i l l e r m e t a t w e n t y - f i v e - y e a r o l d F r e n c h m u s i c i a n w h o w a s u t t e r l y d e t e r m i n e d t o set h i s c o u n t r y m e n s t r a i g h t a n d t o e n l i g h t e n t h e m a t l o n g last a b o u t "this inconceivable p r o d u c t o f the m o s t s o m b e r a n d reflective genius."

H e c t o r Berlioz

had been b o r n in La

Cote-Saint-

A n d r e , a n d h a d m o v e d t o P a r i s six y e a r s b e f o r e t o s t u d y m e d icine as well as music; he was a y o u n g m a n w i t h a wild laugh w h o a l w a y s s e e m e d t o b e filled t o o v e r f l o w i n g w i t h e n e r g y and the m o s t public kinds of passion, and Hiller quickly was c a p t i v a t e d b y h i m p e r s o n a l l y a s w e l l a s b y his s t a l w a r t a d v o c a c y o f B e e t h o v e n a n d his m u s i c . " I d o n o t t h i n k t h a t a n y o n e c o u l d have m e t Berlioz w i t h o u t being struck by the extraordinary e x p r e s s i o n o f his face," H i l l e r l a t e r w r o t e i n a m e m o i r . " T h e high forehead, precipitously o v e r h a n g i n g the deep-set eyes, t h e g r e a t c u r v i n g h a w k n o s e , t h e t h i n , f i r m l y c u t Hps, t h e r a t h e r s h o r t c h i n , t h e e n o r m o u s s h o c k o f hair. . . . W h o e v e r h a d o n c e s e e n t h i s h e a d c o u l d n e v e r f o r g e t it."


T h a t Hiller, in t u r n , actually had b e e n in B e e t h o v e n ' s p r e s e n c e — t h a t h e h a d sat w i t h h i m a n d h e a r d h i m s p e a k , a n d e v e n h a d s n i p p e d a l o c k o f his h a i r — w a s a l m o s t t o o w o n d e r f u l t o imagine

for

Berlioz,

and

the

two

men

soon

became

fast

friends. Berlioz ardently believed that G e r m a n i c culture was m o r e e n l i g h t e n e d , m o r e f o r w a r d - t h i n k i n g t h a n his o w n , a n d he was therefore eager to attach himself to Hiller, despite the fact t h a t t h i s p a r t i c u l a r G e r m a n w a s still a t e e n a g e r w h o r e m a i n e d n a i v e a b o u t t h e w o r l d ' s p e r i l s a n d its p l e a s u r e s . B e r l i o z d e l i g h t e d i n s h o c k i n g his n e w f r i e n d w i t h g r i s l y tales f r o m t h e h o s p i t a l m o r g u e w h e r e h e h a d s t u d i e d , a n d h e d i d his b e s t t o educate h i m t o o a b o u t the pleasures o f a m o r o u s love, m a k i n g H i l l e r his r e a d y c o n f i d a n t a n d w r i t i n g h i m i m p a s s i o n e d n o t e s a b o u t his p a r t i c u l a r l o n g i n g for Irish actress H a r r i e t S m i t h s o n , w h o m he recently had seen onstage, t h e n subsequently had met. " M y dear Ferdinand!" he pleaded on o n e occasion. " C a n y o u tell m e w h a t i s t h i s o v e r w h e l m i n g p o w e r o f e m o t i o n , this faculty for s u f f e r i n g t h a t i s k i l l i n g m e ? . . . I h a v e s p e n t s o m e t i m e d r y i n g t h e f l o o d s t h a t h a v e fallen f r o m m y e y e s — w h i l e I s a w B e e t h o v e n l o o k i n g at me w i t h s e v e r i t y . . . . T r u l y : I am a most unhappy man." It was a curious notion to think that B e e t h o v e n might be w a t c h i n g d o w n o n h i m like a g o d a n d j u d g i n g w h e t h e r , i n fact, y o u n g B e r l i o z ' s d e s i r e for a y o u n g w o m a n ' s affections w a r r a n t e d his t o r m e n t e d e m o t i o n s . Y e t that was t h e d e g r e e t o w h i c h h e i m a g i n e d his h e r o ' s o m n i p o t e n c e a s w e l l a s t h e t r a n s c e n d e n t m a s t e r y his m u s i c h e l d o v e r t h o s e w h o o p e n e d t h e m selves t o it. A n d B e r l i o z , a s i t h a p p e n e d , w a s n o t a l o n e i n believing

that

the

posthumous

Beethoven

somehow

could


i n t e r v e n e i n c o n t e m p o r a r y lives. F o r m a n y y o u n g artists a n d writers as well as musicians, the w o r l d truly had t u r n e d d u r i n g the years of the N a p o l e o n i c wars and their aftermath; l o n g s t a n d i n g i d e a s a n d classical f o r m s o f e x p r e s s i o n h a d g o n e s o u r a n d stale, h a d b e c o m e i r r e l e v a n t i n fact, t h e i r p l a c e s s u b s u m e d b y a n e w artistic a n d i n t e l l e c t u a l c u r r e n t t h a t w a s c h a r a c t e r i z e d by devotion to nature, to e m o t i o n and imagination, as well as a c o n s c i o u s rebellion against established rules a n d c o n v e n t i o n s . W h o better than Beethoven exemplified Romanticism,

this

vital a n d t h r i l l i n g n e w m e a n s o f artistic e x p r e s s i o n ? A n d w h a t b e t t e r p l a c e w a s t h e r e t h a n P a r i s for y o u n g p e o p l e c o m m i t t e d t o this n e w f o r m o f s e l f - e x p r e s s i v e — a n d o f t e n s e l f - a b s o r b e d — artistic p a s s i o n t o g a t h e r i n s u p p o r t , m u t u a l e n c o u r a g e m e n t , and revelry? By the time Hiller arrived there, so m a n y y o u n g R o m a n t i c artists h a d e s t a b l i s h e d t h e m s e l v e s i n t h e g e n t e e l a s w e l l as b o h e m i a n e n v i r o n s of P a r i s t h a t a n a m e , Les Jeunes France, h a d b e e n a p p l i e d t o t h e m . " T h e Young France" included writers such as Victor H u g o , Honore

de

Balzac,

George

Sand,

and

the

German

poet

H e i n r i c h H e i n e ; artists s u c h a s E u g e n e D e l a c r o i x ; a n d a m o n g t h e m a n y m u s i c i a n s for w h o m P a r i s n o w h a d b e c o m e t h e e p i c e n t e r o f R o m a n t i c i n n o v a t i o n w e r e P o l i s h - b o r n pianist a n d composer

Frederic

Chopin,

Hungarian

Franz

Liszt,

Italian

V i n c e n z o B e l l i n i , as w e l l as B e r l i o z . C o l l e c t i v e l y , Les Jeunes France c o m p r i s e d a c u l t u r a l e l i t e , o n e c a p a b l e o f a p p r e c i a t i n g w h a t less s e n s i t i v e , less romantic m i n d s c o u l d n o t . " T h e o t h e r d a y I h e a r d o n e o f t h e late q u a r t e t s o f B e e t h o v e n . . . " B e r l i o z w r o t e t o h i s sister N a n c i , " t h e r e w e r e n e a r l y t h r e e h u n d r e d persons

present,

of w h o m

six

found

ourselves

half-dead


through the truth of the emotion we had experienced, but we six w e r e t h e o n l y o n e s w h o d i d n o t f i n d h i s c o m p o s i t i o n a b surd, incomprehensible, barbarous. He rose to such heights t h a t o u r b r e a t h b e g a n to fail u s . . . . T h i s is m u s i c [ o n l y ] for h i m o r for t h o s e o f u s w h o h a v e f o l l o w e d t h e i n c a l c u l a b l e flight o f his g e n i u s . " Although

Luigi

Cherubini,

director

of the

Paris

Con-

servatory, was skeptical a b o u t w h e t h e r B e e t h o v e n truly d e s e r v e d his s w e l l i n g r e p u t a t i o n , h e n o n e t h e l e s s h a d p l a y e d a k e y role in finally bringing Beethoven's music before the French public. T h e conservatory had sponsored the French premiere o f t h e Eroica S y m p h o n y a f e w m o n t h s b e f o r e H i l l e r h a d a r r i v e d i n P a r i s , a n d t h a t successful c o n c e r t s o o n h a d b e e n f o l l o w e d b y a p e r f o r m a n c e o f t h e Fifth S y m p h o n y t h a t left t h e c o g n o s c e n t i a m o n g its l i s t e n e r s foudroye, t h u n d e r s t r u c k , a s B e r l i o z r e m e m b e r e d it. B u t t h e p u b l i c p e r f o r m a n c e s o f t h e g r e a t s y m p h o n i e s w e r e far f r o m c o m m o n e v e n t s , a n d i t w a s a t s a l o n s h o s t e d b y t h e m u s i c i a n s a n d artists t h e m s e l v e s , a s w e l l a s b y t h e i r w e a l t h y benefactors,

that Beethoven's

chamber music

regularly was

p e r f o r m e d , analyzed, and profusely praised. It was a m a r k of H i l l e r ' s c h a r m a n d g e n i a l g o o d h u m o r a s m u c h a s o f his f i n a n cial w h e r e w i t h a l t h a t h i s o w n m o n t h l y s a l o n b e c a m e a n e a g e r l y s o u g h t - a f t e r invitation, particularly w h e n his m o t h e r R e g i n e m o v e d t o P a r i s i n 1 8 3 3 for t h e m a n i f e s t p u r p o s e o f h e l p i n g her son make the evenings spent at their h o m e decidedly m e m o r a b l e o n e s . T h e y w e r e lavish n i g h t s , r e p l e t e w i t h f o o d , drink, animated conversation, and the impassioned playing of m u s i c — e v e n i n g s as well, no d o u b t , w h e n a lock of hair in a


black w o o d e n f r a m e s o m e t i m e s was passed f r o m h a n d t o g r a t e ful h a n d . P a r i s w a s s u c h a feast o f a r t a n d p l e a s u r e s , i n fact, t h a t H i l l e r i n s i s t e d t h a t his f r i e n d F e l i x M e n d e l s s o h n , w h o h a d r e m a i n e d i n G e r m a n y , c o m e t a k e p a r t i n it, a n d b e g i n n i n g i n D e c e m b e r 1 8 3 1 , H i l l e r , C h o p i n , Liszt, a n d M e n d e l s s o h n f o r m e d a s h o w y P a r i s i a n f o u r s o m e for a t i m e , p l a y i n g t o g e t h e r r e g u l a r l y a t b o t h c o n c e r t s a n d salon recitals, as w e l l as s p e n d i n g h o u r s each day a t a f a v o r i t e s i d e w a l k cafe o n t h e B o u l e v a r d d e s I t a l i e n s , e a t i n g p a s t r i e s , p l a y i n g c h e s s , a n d t a l k i n g endlessly. M e n d e l s s o h n r e c o u n t e d for his n e w f r i e n d s a n d for H i l l e r h o w , i n t h e s p r i n g o f 1 8 3 0 , h e h a d v i s i t e d G o e t h e a t his h o m e i n W e i m a r , a n d a t t h e a g i n g p o e t ' s i n s i s t e n c e h a d p l a y e d for h i m a s u r v e y o f t h e great music o f t h e age. A l t h o u g h G o e t h e had a c k n o w l e d g e d B e e t h o v e n ' s artistic g e n i u s w h e n t h e y h a d m e t i n T e p l i t z e i g h t e e n y e a r s b e f o r e , t h e t r u e p l e a s u r e s o f his w o r k a l w a y s h a d e s c a p e d h i m , a n d i n t h i s p r i v a t e m u s i c - a p p r e c i a t i o n class l e d b y the y o u n g m a n w h o m he saw as a kind of surrogate grandson, G o e t h e h a d h o p e d s i m p l y t o s k i p o v e r t h e c o m p o s e r w h o m his visitor believed was wanted

nothing to

the

most important of them

do with Beethoven,"

all.

Mendelssohn

"He ex-

p l a i n e d , f e i g n i n g s h o c k , " b u t I t o l d h i m I c o u l d n o t let h i m e s c a p e , a n d p l a y e d t h e f i r s t p a r t o f t h e [Fifth] S y m p h o n y i n C M i n o r . I t h a d a s i n g u l a r effect o n h i m . A t f i r s t h e said, ' t h i s arouses no e m o t i o n ; n o t h i n g but astonishment; it is grandiose.' H e c o n t i n u e d g r u m b l i n g i n this w a y , b u t after a l o n g p a u s e h e b e g a n a g a i n . 'It i s v e r y g r e a t ; q u i t e w i l d ; i t m a k e s o n e fear t h a t t h e h o u s e m i g h t fall d o w n . ' "


T h e three w h o heard the story delighted in the n o t i o n that brave Mendelssohn had made a Beethoven convert of the great bard

of the

German-speaking

world.

But

Chopin,

"Little

C h o p i n e t t o , " as t h e o t h e r s called h i m , actually shared s o m e of Goethe's misgivings about Beethoven's might. C h o p i n certainly was the m o s t quiet, e v e n i n t r o v e r t e d m e m b e r o f t h e Paris fours o m e , his h e a l t h a l r e a d y p o o r w h e n h e m o v e d t o t h e city f r o m W a r s a w i n 1 8 3 1 , his d e m e a n o r fastidious a n d i n e v e r y w a y r e s e r v e d . Effusive a n d f i e r y e x p r e s s i o n s — w h e t h e r m u s i c a l o r o t h erwise—plainly repulsed him, and he did everything he could t o a v o i d t h e c o n s t a n t e m o t i o n a l t h e a t r i c s o f m e n like H e c t o r Berlioz. H e w a s a R o m a n t i c w h o disliked R o m a n t i c i s m , Franz Liszt e x p l a i n e d y e a r s later w h e n h e d e s c r i b e d his b y - t h e n deceased colleague's uncertainties a b o u t t h e cult of admiration they had built a r o u n d the Viennese composer. F o r his p a r t , t h e p a l l i d b u t d a s h i n g L i s z t — h i s face a r r e s t i n g l y h a n d s o m e a n d expressive, his dark hair c h o p p e d in a severe l i n e b e l o w his e a r s — b e l o n g e d , l i k e B e r l i o z , a t t h e h e a d o f t h e q u e u e of true-believers. A native of H u n g a r y , he had lived in P a r i s for m o r e t h a n a d e c a d e b y n o w a n d i n t h a t t i m e h a d e s t a b l i s h e d h i m s e l f a s a s p e c t a c u l a r l y i n n o v a t i v e p i a n i s t , o n e for w h o m t h e p e r f o r m a n c e difficulties i m p o s e d b y B e e t h o v e n ' s c o m p o s i t i o n s o n l y s e r v e d t o h i g h l i g h t his o w n v i r t u o s i t y . " F o r u s m u s i c i a n s , " Liszt a v e r r e d , " B e e t h o v e n ' s w o r k i s like t h e p i l lar o f c l o u d a n d f i r e t h a t g u i d e d t h e Israelites t h r o u g h t h e d e s e r t . " I t w a s a p a t h t h a t H i l l e r a n d his c o m r a d e m u s i c i a n s w e r e k e e n t o a d h e r e t o ; for t h e m i t r e p r e s e n t e d n o t o n l y a c o l legial a p p r e c i a t i o n o f B e e t h o v e n ' s c e r t a i n g e n i u s , b u t also a v i sion of t h e shape their o w n careers as c o m p o s e r s m i g h t take in


t h e years t o c o m e . W r i t i n g s y m p h o n i e s o r string quartets o r piano

pieces

was

taxing and

time-consuming

work,

how-

e v e r — i t d e p e n d e d on a k i n d of daily d r u d g e r y as m u c h as it did on inspiration. B o t h M e n d e l s s o h n and Hiller had the l u x u r i o u s m e a n s t o live a n d w o r k a n y w h e r e that best suited t h e m , and

early

in

1836

Mendelssohn,

already

home

again

in

G e r m a n y , c o n v i n c e d Hiller, n o w nearly t w e n t y - f o u r , that d e s p i t e his f l o u r i s h i n g f r i e n d s h i p s , his g r o w i n g r e p u t a t i o n a s a n o r g a n i n s t r u c t o r , a n d t h e f l a t t e r i n g e s t e e m h e e a r n e d f r o m his r e n o w n e d a n d highly favored sal^n, it was time, nevertheless, for h i m t o f o c u s his e n e r g i e s o n c o m p o s i t i o n , t o " l e a v e t h e Parisian a t m o s p h e r e of glory and pleasure and m o v e into the w o r k i n g quarters."

LUDWIG

VAN

BEETHOVEN

NEVER

JOURNEYED

to

England, as he long had h o p e d he would, n o r did he ever ret u r n t o t h e b r o a d valley o f t h e R h i n e w h e r e h e h a d b e e n r a i s e d . B u t t h e l o c k o f his l o n g h a i r t h a t h a d b e e n c u t f r o m his corpse by Ferdinand Hiller had b e c o m e remarkably peripatetic by 1844. It h a d traveled in Hiller's careful c o m p a n y first to Frankfurt and W e i m a r in

Germany,

to pleasure-laden Paris

w h e r e i t h a d r e m a i n e d for six y e a r s , t h e n i t j o i n e d t h e y o u n g c o m p o s e r i n his n e a r l y a n n u a l m o v e s b a c k t o F r a n k f u r t , o n t o Milan, to Frankfurt o n c e m o r e , then to Leipzig before r e t u r n ing

to

Italy—to

Florence

and

Rome

this

time—then

to

Frankfurt again, t h e n again to Leipzig, a n d finally to D r e s d e n , w h e r e a t last H i l l e r s l o w e d his m a r c h a n d s e t t l e d for t h r e e


y e a r s . S i n c e his d e p a r t u r e f r o m P a r i s , H i l l e r h a d b e e n i n s e a r c h o f a stable a n d l o n g - t e r m artistic p o s i t i o n , a t t e m p t i n g a s b e s t h e could to transform himself from child prodigy and adolescent savant i n t o a musician of m a t u r e r e n o w n . B u t for reasons that seemed to have m o r e to do with p o o r luck and unfortunate t i m i n g t h a n w i t h p a r t i c u l a r d e f i c i e n c i e s o n his p a r t , h e h a d y e t t o find t h e j o b h e w a n t e d , a n d w i t h o u t t h e k i n d o f security t h a t his f r i e n d F e l i x M e n d e l s s o h n h a d a c h i e v e d i n L e i p z i g — w h e r e he had b e c o m e director of the r e n o w n e d Gewandhaus O r c h e s t r a — i t s e e m e d t o F e r d i n a n d H i l l e r t h a t h e h a d little c h o i c e b u t t o g o w h e r e v e r fresh o p p o r t u n i t i e s l e d h i m . Hiller had held n u m e r o u s s h o r t - t e r m musical positions in Frankfurt a n d R o m e d u r i n g the 1830s; i n Milan, h e had d i r e c t e d t h e r a t h e r w a n l y r e c e i v e d p r o d u c t i o n o f Romilda,

his

first o p e r a , a n d i n L e i p z i g h e h a d o v e r s e e n a h u g e l y successful production Jerusalem.

He

of

the

oratorio

had replaced

he

titled

The

Mendelssohn in

Destruction

1841

while

of his

friend spent a hiatus in Berlin, b u t d u r i n g that year in w h i c h Hiller had m a n a g e d the Leipzig orchestra, a calamitous but u n e x p l a i n e d rift h a d d e v e l o p e d b e t w e e n h i m a n d M e n d e l s s o h n . N e i t h e r m a n w o u l d d e s c r i b e t h e details o f w h a t h a d g o n e s o a w r y b e t w e e n t h e m — i t was a quarrel caused by "social, n o t p e r s o n a l , sensitivities," Hiller o n l y w o u l d s a y — a n d each r e m a i n e d unwilling to repair the twenty-year-old relationship w i t h o u t first r e c e i v i n g a s i g n o f a p o l o g y f r o m t h e o t h e r . D u r i n g a s o j o u r n i n Italy t h e y e a r b e f o r e , H i l l e r h a d m e t a n d p r o m p t l y m a r r i e d singer Antolka H o g e , a native of Poland w h o , b e c a u s e o f h e r striking beauty, h a d b e e n d u b b e d L a Bella


P o l a c c a b y t h e m u s i c a l press. S h e w a s a C a t h o l i c ; H i l l e r l o n g had been a nonpracticing Jew, and the t w o chose to contend w i t h what w o u l d have been perceived as a scandalous i n c o m patibility by b e c o m i n g Protestants, a decision that was m a d e m u c h m o r e for convenience than out of a shared and n e w f o u n d faith. U n l i k e his f r i e n d H e c t o r B e r l i o z , w h o a l w a y s h a d b e e n s o b o l d , s o u t t e r l y o p e n a b o u t his r o m a n t i c e n t a n g l e m e n t s , H i l l e r , o n t h e o t h e r h a n d , a l w a y s h a d k e p t t h e details o f his r e l a t i o n s h i p s w i t h w o m e n r a t h e r s e c r e t . D e s p i t e his g r e g a r i o u s n a t u r e a n d his c o n s t a n t c o n v i v i a l i t y , H i l l e r w a s essentially p r i v a t e , a n d e v e n his d i a r y o n l y o b l i q u e l y refers t o t h e l i k e l i h o o d t h a t i n its f i r s t y e a r s his m a r r i a g e t o A n t o l k a w a s n o t a n easy o n e . O u t g o i n g F e r d i n a n d c o n t i n u e d t o e n j o y t h e c o m p a n i o n s h i p o f f e m a l e f r i e n d s — r e l a t i o n s h i p s t h a t his n e w w i f e a l w a y s w a s w a r y of-—and d e s p i t e

t h e fact t h a t t h e

would

than

remain

childless

for

more

a

decade,

couple Antolka

quickly was forced to subsume her singing career to her h u s b a n d ' s q u e s t for a stable a n d s u i t a b l y p r e s t i g i o u s m u s i c a l p o s i t i o n , n e c e s s a r i l y a b a n d o n i n g h e r b u r g e o n i n g f a m e i n Italy for t h e life o f a n i t i n e r a n t G e r m a n c o m p o s e r ' s w i f e . O n c e t h e y w e r e settled i n D r e s d e n i n 1844, A n t o l k a Hiller j o i n e d h e r h u s b a n d i n e s t a b l i s h i n g y e t a n o t h e r o f h i s s t o r i e d sal o n s , a f r e q u e n t g a t h e r i n g o f t h e city's artists a n d i n t e l l e c t u a l s that

this t i m e i n c l u d e d c o m p o s e r a n d m u s i c

critic R o b e r t

S c h u m a n n a n d his n e w w i f e , C l a r a , a s w e l l a s R i c h a r d W a g n e r , w h o s e dramatically innovative opera

Tannhduser r e c e n t l y h a d

been premiered before rather puzzled Dresden audiences. T h e t w o S c h u m a n n s , like s o m a n y o f F e r d i n a n d Hiller's musical


contemporaries,

were

ardent

believers

in

the

genius

of

B e e t h o v e n , a n d t h e fact t h a t H i l l e r r e p e a t e d l y c o u l d r e g a l e t h e m w i t h t h e tale o f his d e a t h b e d visits t o t h e m a s t e r f o r m e d an i m p o r t a n t c o m p o n e n t of their b u d d i n g friendship. F o r his p a r t , W a g n e r ' s p a s s i o n for B e e t h o v e n e v e n s u r p a s s e d the adoration of the Schumanns, with w h o m he had b e c o m e friends p r i o r to their separate arrivals in D r e s d e n in t h e 1840s. In

much

beguiled,

the it

same had

way

been

in

at

a

which Paris

Berlioz first had Conservatoire

been

concert—in

W a g n e r ' s case, a n 1 8 3 9 p e r f o r m a n c e o f t h e N i n t h S y m p h o n y , w h i c h w o u l d b e c o m e his l i f e l o n g o b s e s s i o n — w h e n h e h a d discovered the transcendent p o w e r of Beethoven's music. Like B e r l i o z , W a g n e r t o o c o u l d i m a g i n e n o artistic g e n i u s g r e a t e r t h a n that w h i c h Shakespeare a n d B e e t h o v e n clearly h a d shared; a n d like t h e F r e n c h m a n as well, W a g n e r was s p e l l b o u n d :

T h e effect o n m e w a s i n d e s c r i b a b l e .

T o this m u s t b e

added the impression p r o d u c e d on me by Beethoven's features, w h i c h I saw in the lithographs that w e r e c i r c u l a t e d e v e r y w h e r e a t t h a t t i m e , a n d b y t h e fact t h a t h e w a s deaf, a n d l i v e d a q u i e t , s e c l u d e d life. I s o o n c o n c e i v e d an image of h i m in my m i n d as a sublime and unique supernatural being, w i t h w h o m n o n e

could compare.

image

brain

was

associated

in

the

with

This

that

of

S h a k e s p e a r e ; i n ecstatic d r e a m s I m e t b o t h o f t h e m , s a w and

spoke

to

b a t h e d in tears.

them,

and on

awakening found

myself


N o t o n l y in D r e s d e n , b u t in Paris as well by t h e 1840s, praise for B e e t h o v e n ' s m u s i c h a d b e c o m e w i d e s p r e a d . N o l o n g e r w a s his m u s i c t o o a v a n t - g a r d e for F r e n c h tastes, o r for a n y o t h e r s , n o r w a s i t his m u s i c a l o n e t h a t h a d c a p t u r e d p e o p l e ' s f a s c i n a tion.

In t h e n i n e t e e n years since B e e t h o v e n ' s death, y o u n g

R o m a n t i c s l i k e W a g n e r , B e r l i o z , Liszt, t h e t w o S c h u m a n n s — a n d F e r d i n a n d H i l l e r — h a d s h o u t e d t h a t t h e r e must h a v e b e e n s o m e t h i n g s u p e r n a t u r a l a b o u t t h e m u s i c i a n himself; s u r e l y n o ordinary mortal could have reached such creative heights.

IN THE

DAYS

IMMEDIATELY

F O L L O W I N G the composer's

d e a t h , a p y r a m i d a l h e a d s t o n e h a d b e e n laid a t his g r a v e i n t h e W a h r i n g cemetery, bearing only the w o r d BEETHOVEN in c a p ital l e t t e r s . H i s e s t a t e h a d b e e n i n v e n t o r i e d , t h e n a u c t i o n e d — everything

from

manuscripts

to

musical

instruments,

from

household goods to clothes and shoes. Stephan v o n B r e u n i n g , t h e e x e c u t o r o f B e e t h o v e n ' s e s t a t e a n d his c h o i c e t o b e c o m e his n e p h e w Karl's g u a r d i a n , h a d d i e d u n e x p e c t e d l y o n l y t w o m o n t h s after B e e t h o v e n ' s d e a t h , a n d t h e w o r k o f d i s p o s i n g o f t h e e s t a t e — a s w e l l a s t h e f u t u r e o v e r s i g h t o f Karl's i n h e r i tance—had gone to lawyer Jacob Hotschevar. A n t o n Schindler, the factotum w h o m Beethoven b o t h had n e e d e d greatly and m u c h mistrusted, had helped himself d u r i n g t h e d a y s after t h e c o m p o s e r ' s d e a t h t o f o u r b u n d l e s o f c o n versation books,

m a n y manuscripts and letters, Beethoven's

eyeglasses a n d e a r t r u m p e t s , a f a v o r i t e c l o c k , a s w e l l a s o t h e r


m e m o r a b i l i a — t h e w r i t t e n materials taken w i t h Beethoven's prior permission, Schindler had contended, because they w e r e t o b e passed along t o J o h a n n F r i e d r i c h R o c h l i t z , t h e l o n g t i m e editor

of

the

Allgemeine

musikalische

Zeitung

and

the

man

B e e t h o v e n h a d h o p e d w o u l d b e his b i o g r a p h e r . B u t w h e n a g e a n d illness h a d p r e v e n t e d R o c h l i t z f r o m u n d e r t a k i n g t h e p r o j ect, Schindler believed that he had had no c h o i c e b u t to take it

on

himself,

producing

a

book

alleging

that

he

and

Beethoven had worked together longer and m u c h m o r e amicably t h a n t h e y actually had, a b o o k w h o s e accuracy w i t h r e g a r d t o m a n y a s p e c t s o f t h e c o m p o s e r ' s life q u i c k l y h a d b e e n c a l l e d i n t o q u e s t i o n . T h e first r e l i a b l e a c c o u n t o f B e e t h o v e n ' s life h a d b e e n p u b l i s h e d b y t h e c o m p o s e r ' s c l o s e c h i l d h o o d friend Franz

Wegeler

a

decade

later.

With

the

help

of

Beethoven's devoted piano pupil Ferdinand Ries, Wegeler had assembled d o c u m e n t s , anecdotes, and impressions from a variety of sources into a "biographical n o t e " that he had intended t o b e o f foremost interest t o people w h o k n e w the c o m p o s e r o r t o t h o s e w h o w e r e p a s s i o n a t e a b o u t his m u s i c , a s w e l l a s a v a l u a b l e r e s o u r c e for t h e b i o g r a p h e r w h o o n e d a y w o u l d w r i t e a c o m p r e h e n s i v e life o f B e e t h o v e n — a task t h a t a y o u n g l a w y e r from America named Alexander W h e e l o c k Thayer had begun t o c o n t e m p l a t e , i n fact. Almost as spellbound by Beethoven's music as the R o m a n t i c composers were, in the b e g i n n i n g T h a y e r simply had h o p e d to w r i t e a t r a n s l a t i o n o f S c h i n d l e r ' s b o o k for A m e r i c a n r e a d e r s , b u t w h e n he had b e g u n to c o m p a r e it to Wegeler and Ries's Notizen, h e h a d b e e n s t r u c k b y t h e m a n y s u b s t a n t i a l d i s c r e p a n cies b e t w e e n t h e m . I n o r d e r t o r e c o n c i l e t h e t w o a n d t o p r o -


duce a third b o o k that could be d e e m e d trustworthy in every d e t a i l , T h a y e r n o w h o p e d t o t r a v e l t o E u r o p e t o i n i t i a t e his o w n p r i m a r y r e s e a r c h for a m o n u m e n t a l p r o j e c t t h a t h e w o u l d n o t even b e g i n until 1849 and w h i c h , in the end, w o u l d c o n s u m e t h e r e s t o f his life. B i o g r a p h i e s o f t h e g r e a t m a n w e r e fine, a s far a s t h e y w e n t , b u t fierce B e e t h o v e n p a r t i s a n s s u c h a s F r a n z Liszt w e r e c o n v i n c e d t h a t a p h y s i c a l m o n u m e n t h o n o r i n g h i m a n d his i m mortality was immediately m u c h m o r e important.

In 1839,

Liszt h a d c o m e t o t h e r e s c u e o f a ^ g r o u p o f d i s t i n g u i s h e d c i t i z e n s i n B o n n w h o w e r e w o r k i n g t o raise t h e f u n d s t o e r e c t a s t a t u e i n h o n o r o f t h e i r city's n a t i v e s o n . T o a i d t h e m i n t h e i r efforts, Liszt h a d o r g a n i z e d a n d p e r f o r m e d a t a s e r i e s o f b e n e fit c o n c e r t s i n V i e n n a , P a r i s , a n d L o n d o n , e a c h o n e f e a t u r i n g m u s i c b y t h e m a s t e r , a n d b y w a y o f e x p r e s s i n g its t h a n k s t o h i m , t h e c o m m i t t e e i n t u r n r e q u e s t e d t h a t Liszt c o m p o s e a n e w w o r k t h a t w o u l d b e p r e m i e r e d a t a gala " B e e t h o v e n Festival," t h e h i g h l i g h t o f w h i c h w o u l d b e t h e u n v e i l i n g o f t h e grand statue of B e e t h o v e n in Bonn's Miinsterplatz. In August

1845, the bronze m o n u m e n t , designed by r e -

n o w n e d Dresden sculptor Ernst Julius Hahnel, was completed a n d i n p l a c e ; f i v e t h o u s a n d v i s i t o r s h a d d e s c e n d e d o n t h e small city, a n d a h i g h - m i n d e d a n d l a u d a t o r y c a n t a t a c o m p o s e d b y Liszt w a s r e a d y for p e r f o r m a n c e . T h e f o u r - d a y festival w a s a g r a n d l y successful, i f c h a o t i c e v e n t — t h e r e w e r e p e r f o r m a n c e s o f t h e Missa solemnis a n d t h e N i n t h S y m p h o n y a s w e l l a s t h e c a n t a t a b y Liszt; t h e r e w e r e g r a n d s o i r e e s a n d d i n n e r s a n d e v e n the

christening and

maiden

voyage

of the

S.S.

Ludwig van

Beethoven, w h i c h h e n c e f o r t h w o u l d p l y t h e l a n g u i d w a t e r s o f


the R h i n e — c u l m i n a t i n g in the unveiling of a larger-than-life figure of B e e t h o v e n , standing high on a pedestal and w e a r i n g r o b e s m e a n t t o m a k e h i m l o o k m a g i s t e r i a l a n d m o r e t h a n a little o t h e r w o r l d l y , h o l d i n g a p e n i n o n e h a n d a n d a n o t e b o o k i n the other. Eighty-year-old Franz W e g e l e r p r o u d l y was in attendance at t h e dedication; so t o o was H e c t o r Berlioz, n o w feeling distressingly old a t f o r t y - o n e . B u t F r e d e r i c C h o p i n d e c l i n e d t o a t t e n d t h e e v e n t s i m p l y b e c a u s e its p r o s p e c t s o u r e d his s t o m ach.

" L i s z t i s t o call o u t t h e h u r r a h s i n B o n n , w h e r e t h e

B e e t h o v e n m o n u m e n t i s t o b e p l a c e d , " h e w r o t e t o his f a m i l y i n t h e d a y s b e f o r e t h e festival b e g a n . " I n B o n n t h e y a r e s e l l i n g c i g a r s , veritables cigarres a la Beethoven, w h o p r o b a b l y s m o k e d n o t h i n g b u t V i e n n e s e p i p e s ; a n d t h e r e a l r e a d y has b e e n s u c h a sale o f o l d b u r e a u s a n d o l d d e s k s t h a t b e l o n g e d t o B e e t h o v e n t h a t t h e p o o r c o m p o s e r de la symphonie pastorale w o u l d h a v e h a d to d r i v e a h u g e trade in furniture." N e i t h e r was Felix M e n d e l s s o h n p r e s e n t , i n p a r t b e c a u s e his h e a l t h w a s p o o r , b u t also b e c a u s e h e , like C h o p i n , w a s d i s t r e s s e d b y t h e d e g r e e o f p e r s o n a l s h o w m a n s h i p h e w a s s u r e Liszt w o u l d d i s p l a y d u r i n g the four days, unfairly d i v e r t i n g a t t e n t i o n f r o m the n o m i n a l h o n o r e e . F e r d i n a n d Hiller, w h o r e m a i n e d a t h o m e i n D r e s d e n t h a t A u g u s t , s h a r e d C h o p i n ' s c o n c e r n , b u t h e also h a d g r o w n w a r y o f Liszt for a n o t h e r r e a s o n — b e c a u s e , H i l l e r h a d h e a r d r u m b l i n g s , t h e b o l d H u n g a r i a n n o w m a d e n o s e c r e t o f t h e fact t h a t h e d i d n o t like J e w s . I t w a s difficult t o b e l i e v e i n t h e b e g i n n i n g . T h e t w o m e n h a d r e v e l e d i n each other's c o m p a n y d u r i n g t h e i r Paris days; t h e y h a d m a d e s e v e r a l r e n d e z v o u s i n Italy, a n d a l t h o u g h t h e


m a n y miles that physically h a d separated t h e m m e a n t that t h e y d i d n o t see e a c h o t h e r o f t e n , t h e y h a d c o n t i n u e d t o e x c h a n g e w a r m , i f o n l y p e r i o d i c , g r e e t i n g s b y m a i l . Still s t u n g b y t h e r u p t u r e o f his f r i e n d s h i p w i t h M e n d e l s s o h n , F e r d i n a n d H i l l e r h a d b e e n d e t e r m i n e d n o t t o lose a n o t h e r l o n g - t e r m r e l a t i o n ship, a n d h e h a d simply i g n o r e d t h e occasional r u m o r s h e h a d h e a r d d u r i n g the t h r e e years he spent as an i n t e r i m music d i r e c t o r i n Diisseldorf b e f o r e b e g i n n i n g his f i r s t h e a d y a n d h e a r t e n i n g years in C o l o g n e — j u s t a d o z e n miles d o w n the R h i n e f r o m B o n n — w h e r e i n 1 8 5 0 h e h a d b e e n a p p o i n t e d t h e city's p e r m a n e n t Kapellmeister, t h e p o s i t i o n h e p a t i e n t l y h a d b e e n i n s e a r c h o f f o r t h e past f o u r t e e n y e a r s . I n 1 8 5 1 , H i l l e r w e n t s o far b y w a y o f r e a c h i n g o u t t o his f o r m e r p i a n o p a r t n e r as

to

dedicate

his Etudes RJrythmiques t o

Liszt, still t h e f i n e s t p i a n i s t H i l l e r e v e r h a d h e a r d . A y e a r later, Liszt r e t u r n e d t h e c o m m e n d a t i o n , w r i t i n g t o H i l l e r t o c o m m u n i c a t e t o h i m " t h e i m m e d i a t e impression o f y o u r beautiful s y m p h o n y that was p e r f o r m e d t o n i g h t in o u r t h e a t e r . . . a n d it is w i t h great sincerity that I transmit to y o u the c o m p l i m e n t s o f y o u r p u b l i c i n W e i m a r , " w h e r e Liszt n o w s e r v e d a s m u s i c director

for

Grand

Duke

Charles

Alexander.

Yet

within

m o n t h s o f m a i l i n g t h a t letter, Liszt n o n e t h e l e s s o p e n l y a s s a u l t e d J e w s i n g e n e r a l — a n d H i l l e r b y i m p l i c a t i o n — i n his n e w b o o k o n H u n g a r i a n gypsies a n d their music, p u b l i s h e d f i r s t i n F r a n c e a s Les Bohemiens, w h i c h c o n t e n d e d t h a t J e w s l a c k e d a n y c r e ative

abilities

and

recommended

that

they

leave

cultured

E u r o p e en masse a n d relocate in Palestine. Was it possible that the author of those sentiments did not k n o w that Ferdinand Hiller, t h e n o m i n a l L u t h e r a n , was Jewish? A l m o s t certainly it


w a s n o t , especially g i v e n Hiller's o w n assertion that h e n e v e r h a d b e e n " m o d e s t e n o u g h t o c o n c e a l t h e fact t h a t I b e l o n g t o o n e of the world's oldest races, t h r o u g h w h i c h I h a v e h a d the h o n o r o f e n r i c h i n g t h e city treasury e v e r y w e e k , " b y p a y i n g t h e tariffs t h a t t h e n w e r e i m p o s e d o n J e w s b y t h e G e r m a n g o v ernment. A l t h o u g h no evidence survives indicating w h e t h e r Hiller r e a d Liszt's w o r d s s o o n after t h e y w e r e p u b l i s h e d o r first h e a r d of t h e m from p e r p l e x e d friends, it is clear that their r e l a t i o n ship did n o t take a dramatic d o w n w a r d t u r n until 1855, t h r e e y e a r s after Les Bohemiens a p p e a r e d , a d e t e r i o r a t i o n t h a t b e g a n to be expressed publicly t h r o u g h the t w o men's crescendoing c r i t i c i s m s o f e a c h o t h e r ' s t a l e n t s . Liszt, like W a g n e r , h a d b e c o m e a n a v i d p r o p o n e n t o f w h a t p e o p l e h a d b e g u n t o call t h e N e w S c h o o l , a n d t h a t Liszt a n d his f r i e n d a n d c o n f e d e r a t e R i c h a r d W a g n e r s i m p l y l i k e d t o call " t h e m u s i c o f t h e f u t u r e . " B e e t h o v e n ' s R o m a n t i c flame still b u r n e d b r i g h t l y , a s far a s Liszt was c o n c e r n e d , but m a n y of the composers w h o had followed h i m h a d failed t h e m a s t e r b y c r e a t i n g a t e p i d k i n d o f m u s i c o f t h e i r o w n t h a t w a s " n e i t h e r fish n o r m e a t , " a s h e p u t it, c o m plaining as well that Hiller seemed "philosophically disintere s t e d " i n h i s o w n m u s i c o r a n y o n e else's. T h e b e a r d e d , b a l d i n g , a n d b y n o w r o t u n d Kapellmeister f r o m C o l o g n e r e s p o n d e d c u t t i n g l y i n k i n d , w r i t i n g a l o n g a n d b l i s t e r i n g r e v i e w for t h e Kolnische Zeitung,

C o l o g n e ' s l e a d i n g n e w s p a p e r , of Liszt's p e r -

formance as a c o m p o s e r and c o n d u c t o r at the 1857 A a c h e n M u s i c Festival, b u t p e n n i n g o n l y t w o w o r d s a b o u t t h e e v e n t i n his p e r s o n a l d i a r y : " M y R a g e ! " W h e n W a g n e r , n o w i n e x i l e i n Z u r i c h b e c a u s e o f his r a d i c a l


p o l i t i c s , r e a d H i l l e r ' s a s s e s s m e n t , h e w a s q u i c k t o d e f e n d Liszt against w h a t h e b e l i e v e d h a d b e e n a n u n w a r r a n t e d attack b y t h e "FalstafF from C o l o g n e , " a r e f e r e n c e m e a n t as a j a b at Hiller's physical b u l k as well as an i r o n i c r e m i n d e r that he w a s r e n o w n e d for his g e n i a l i t y r a t h e r t h a n his v e n o m . W a g n e r himself was u n c o n s t r a i n e d by a similar r e p u t a t i o n , a n d s o o n he w r o t e d i r e c d y t o H i l l e r t o tell h i m h o w d i s t r e s s e d h e w a s t o hear

that

Hiller

recently

Konservatorium in C o l o g n e .

had

reestablished

the

music

" B e t t e ^ a Destruktorium," he p o i n t -

edly suggested, before a d d i n g that he h o p e d Hiller w o u l d n o t t a k e his r e m a r k s t o o p e r s o n a l l y . I t w a s a h o p e W a g n e r p r o fessed t o c l i n g t o d e s p i t e t h e fact t h a t s e v e n y e a r s e a r l i e r h e h a d p u b l i s h e d a n o n y m o u s l y his o w n d i a t r i b e a g a i n s t J e w s , o n e t h a t h a d p r e c e d e d Liszt's racist r e m a r k s , i n fact. I n h i s 1 8 5 0 b o o k , Jewry in Music—which w a s r e r e l e a s e d , this t i m e w i t h his n a m e a t t a c h e d t o it, i n 1 8 6 9 — W a g n e r h a d i s s u e d a d a m n i n g i n d i c t ment

of the Jewish

spirit

and

its p e r n i c i o u s

influence

on

G e r m a n culture. J e w s , h e declared, w e r e interested i n art o n l y i n o r d e r t o sell it, a n d t h e y w e r e h o r r i b l y d e t r i m e n t a l t o t h e Fatherland's

cultural glory because they w o r k e d to

convert

t h e lofty r e a l m o f artistic c r e a t i o n i n t o a m e r e m a r k e t p l a c e . Without

mentioning

Hiller

or

anyone

else

by

name,

he

l a m e n t e d t h e fact t h a t J e w s n o w h e l d i m p o r t a n t artistic p o s i t i o n s t h r o u g h o u t G e r m a n y , and h e w o r r i e d that they i n a p p r o priately influenced music and the theater in particular. B y 1 8 7 0 , n e i t h e r W a g n e r n o r L i s z t — w h o lately h a d b e c o m e Wagner's father-in-law—pretended any longer that they r e tained

remnants

of their

early

friendships

with

Ferdinand

Hiller, a n d h e , i n t u r n , n o w was b l u n t a n d i m p a s s i o n e d i n his


assaults o n t h e t w o m e n ' s p o l i t i c s a s w e l l a s t h e k i n d s o f m u s i c they

made.

"Richard,

the

Wagnerian,

[began

to]

hurl

his

a n a t h e m a a g a i n s t t h e J e w s f r o m his p u l p i t i n S w i t z e r l a n d s o m e y e a r s a g o . . ." H i l l e r w r o t e in t h e Kolnische Zeitung, " a n d n o w h e h a s p u b l i s h e d a n e w p a m p h l e t t h a t i s b u r s t i n g w i t h falseh o o d a n d i n j u s t i c e . " T w o y e a r s later, H i l l e r j o k e d b i t t e r l y i n a letter t o his colleague, t h e c o n d u c t o r H e r m a n n Levi, " Y o u h a d n ' t t o l d m e t h a t y o u r e c e i v e d a kiss f r o m W a g n e r . I t s e e m s h e w a s n ' t afraid o f t h e J e w i s h c o n t a g i o n ! " A n d a g a i n i n t h e Kolnische Zeitung, H i l l e r w a s a c i d i c i n his r e s p o n s e t o t h e n e w s paper's

suggestion

Cologne—where Lohengrin—would

be

that he

Wagner's

would

akin

to

stage "a

upcoming and

bold

appearance

conduct

knight

his

in

opera

[entering]

the

c a m p o f d e c l a r e d e n e m i e s " : " I c a n n o t d e n y t h e fact t h e g r e a t e r part of w h a t H e r r W a g n e r writes, composes, and does is extremely unpleasant to me," Hiller w r o t e . "I must nevertheless p o i n t o u t t h a t I h a v e p r e s e n t e d his c o n c e r t c o m p o s i t i o n s t o t h e p u b l i c i n s p l e n d i d p e r f o r m a n c e s o v e r t h e y e a r s . T o see H e r r W a g n e r c o n d u c t i n g o n e o f his w o r k s i s s o m e t h i n g t h a t s h o u l d i n t e r e s t his foes a n d f o l l o w e r s alike, e s p e c i a l l y s i n c e h e w i l l b e u s i n g a b a t o n for t h i s a n d n o t his v i l e G e r m a n p r o s e . "

FELIX

MENDELSSOHN,

ONLY THIRTY-EIGHT,

had died

s u d d e n l y in 1847 before he a n d F e r d i n a n d Hiller had b e e n able to reconstruct their long and once-vital friendship, the dissol u t i o n o f w h i c h h e still c o n s i d e r e d " o n e o f t h e g r e a t e s t losses I h a v e h a d t o e n d u r e i n m y restless life."

Chopin,

the man


w h o m H i l l e r a d m i t t e d h e h a d fallen a little i n l o v e w i t h w h e n t h e y m e t i n w o n d r o u s Paris, h a d b e e n sickly since that t i m e a n d h a d d i e d t w o y e a r s after M e n d e l s s o h n ; S c h u m a n n , w h o s e m i n d h a d b e t r a y e d h i m , h a d s p e n t his f i n a l y e a r s i n a n a s y l u m i n B o n n b e f o r e his d e a t h i n

1856;

and dear and ebullient

B e r l i o z , o n c e s o w i l d a n d f l u s h w i t h life, n o w w a s g o n e a s w e l l . Liszt a n d t h e racist W a g n e r r e m a i n e d a m o n g t h e q u i c k , a n d a l t h o u g h Liszt l a m e l y i n s i s t e d t h a t t h e a n t i - S e m i t i c beliefs a t t r i b u t e d t o h i m h a d b e e n i n s e r t e d i n t o h i s b o o k w i t h o u t his a p p r o v a l b y his l o n g t i m e m i s t r e s s V r i n c e s s C a r o l y n e o f S a y n Wittgenstein, and that he was a friend of m a n y J e w s , b o t h m e n p r e s e n t l y w e r e a s far f r o m H i l l e r ' s life a s h e c o u l d p u s h t h e m . T h e aging R o m a n t i c n o w was quite alone. Y e t for t w e n t y y e a r s F e r d i n a n d H i l l e r h a d b e e n t h e d y n a m i c s p a r k o f C o l o g n e ' s r i c h m u s i c a l life, a n d h e w a s g r e a t l y g r a t i f i e d b y w h a t h e h a d a c c o m p l i s h e d . T h e city's m u s i c c o n s e r v a t o r y f l o u r i s h e d n o w a n d its e d u c a t i o n a l q u a l i t y w a s h e r a l d e d t h r o u g h o u t G e r m a n y ; h e h a d e s t a b l i s h e d t h e city's m o n t h l y Giirzenich c o n c e r t s , as w e l l as t h e Niederrheinische Musikfeste, a s u m m e r festival, b r i n g i n g E u r o p e ' s f i n e s t m u s i c i a n s a n d c o m posers to C o l o g n e , as well as achieving there over m a n y years w h a t h e still b e l i e v e d h a d b e e n " m y g r e a t e s t j o y , m y g r e a t e s t s o u r c e o f p r i d e — t o b e able t o c o n d u c t s o m a n y m a r v e l o u s performances of the N i n t h S y m p h o n y of Beethoven." D u r i n g his t e n u r e i n C o l o g n e , H i l l e r h a d b e c o m e m u c h s o u g h t - a f t e r as a visiting c o n d u c t o r by orchestras across the c o n t i n e n t ; he had organized and judged dozens of performance competit i o n s ; h e h a d b e c o m e a r e s p e c t e d w r i t e r a n d c r i t i c , a n d his skills a s a p i a n i s t — w h i c h f i r s t h a d c a u g h t t h e c o n n o i s s e u r s '


attention fifty years

before—still

were

t h e stuff o f l e g e n d .

H i l l e r a n d his w i f e , A n t o l k a , i t w a s t r u e , n e v e r h a d f o u n d a w a y to forge a j o y o u s m a r r i a g e or a truly supportive p a r t n e r ship,

but they

had chosen to

remain by each

o t h e r ' s side

nonetheless, and their C o l o g n e salon h a d b e c o m e as storied o v e r t h e y e a r s a s t h o s e g a t h e r i n g s t h e y h a d h o s t e d i n cities e l s e w h e r e . A n d although Hiller virtually never w r o t e or spoke p u b l i c l y a b o u t his f a m i l y life,

i t i s also

clear that he w a s

m u c h a d o r e d b y his son, Paul, a n d his d a u g h t e r , T o n y , b o t h of w h o m

had

r e a c h e d t h e i r early

adulthoods

by

n o w and

w h o , t o his g r e a t d e l i g h t , h a d b e c o m e m u s i c i a n s t h e m s e l v e s . But at those m o m e n t s w h e n he was utterly honest w i t h h i m self, H i l l e r also h a d t o c o n f e s s a s i n g l e y e t e n o r m o u s d i s a p pointment: he had not become the towering composer he once b e l i e v e d h e c o u l d b e . H e r e m e m b e r e d w h a t his b e l o v e d m e n t o r J o h a n n H u m m e l o n c e h a d t o l d h i m a b o u t his o w n efforts t o achieve a certain greatness, and he w o n d e r e d w h e t h e r a similar fate m i g h t h a v e b e f a l l e n h i m . " I n m y o p i n i o n , H u m m e l w o u l d have achieved m o r e as a c o m p o s e r if Beethoven's o v e r p o w e r i n g g e n i u s h a d n o t a p p e a r e d r i g h t i n t h e m i d d l e o f his d e v e l o p m e n t like a t e r r i b l e t r o u b l e m a k e r , " H i l l e r w r o t e i n his b o o k Lives of the Artists.

" ' I t w a s a s e r i o u s m o m e n t for me w h e n

B e e t h o v e n a p p e a r e d , ' m y m a s t e r t o l d m e o n e day. ' S h o u l d I r e ally a t t e m p t t o f o l l o w i n t h e f o o t s t e p s o f s u c h a g e n i u s ? F o r a long while I did n o t k n o w w h e r e my place w a s . ' " Ferdinand Hiller t o o h a d faced f o r m i d a b l e c o m p e t i t i o n a l o n g t h e w a y — his m i n d r e e l e d t o t h i n k o f t h e e x t r a o r d i n a r y n u m b e r o f g r e a t c o m p o s e r s w h o m h e h a d c o u n t e d a m o n g his f r i e n d s — b u t n o w


he could n o t help but w o n d e r w h e t h e r he too had been too s l o w t o r e c o g n i z e his p l a c e . N o n e o f h i s six o p e r a s e v e r h a d b e e n r e c e i v e d enthusiastically;

only o n e

o f his

three sym-

p h o n i e s h a d f a r e d b e t t e r ; his o r a t o r i o s , o n t h e o t h e r h a n d , h a d b e e n b o t h p o p u l a r a n d critical successes, a n d h e a g r e e d that his s o n g s a n d p i a n o p i e c e s likely w e r e his b e s t w o r k , b u t h e r e mained haunted by what Mendelssohn had told h i m as long ago a s 1 8 3 7 , w h e n H i l l e r h a d b e g g e d for a n h o n e s t c r i t i q u e : " I b e l i e v e t h a t y o u a r e n o w e q u a l t o a m / m u s i c i a n a s far a s t a l e n t i s concerned, but I do not k n o w of any piece of yours w h i c h is p r o p e r l y c a r r i e d o u t . " M u c h later, a t a b o u t t h e r i m e w h e n t h e i r falling o u t c o m m e n c e d , Liszt, t o o , f r a n k l y h a d f o u n d H i l l e r ' s m u s i c w a n t i n g : " O n e c o u l d r e p r o a c h h i m for n o t h a v i n g faults, a n d for n o t g i v i n g sufficient g r o u n d s for c r i t i c i s m . H e s h o w s himself to be a musician w h o is well organized and experie n c e d , w h i c h h e i s i n all t h i n g s , w i t h o u t b e i n g a m a s t e r o f a n y o n e o f t h e m . " A n d b e f o r e h e h a d b e c o m e m e n t a l l y ill, i t w a s S c h u m a n n w h o h a d said i t all t o o s u c c i n c t l y : H i l l e r ' s m u s i c s i m p l y " l a c k e d t h a t t r i u m p h a n t p o w e r t h a t w e a r e u n a b l e t o resist." For the occasion of w h a t w o u l d have been Beethoven's eightieth birthday, Hiller had c o m p o s e d b o t h text a n d m u s i c for a c a n t a t a i n his h o n o r , p e r f o r m e d for t h e f i r s t a n d o n l y t i m e a t a C o l o g n e Society C o n c e r t o n the night o f D e c e m b e r 17, 1850. T w o d e c a d e s later, F e r d i n a n d H i l l e r h a d p r o p o s e d i n a l o n g e s s a y — p u b l i s h e d in a special issue of t h e m a g a z i n e Salon t h a t celebrated Beethoven's c e n t e n a r y — p r e c i s e l y w h e r e the light of his g e n i u s s h o n e m o s t b r i g h t l y . H e h a d c o n c l u d e d t h a t t h e f u n d a m e n t a l brilliance of t h e master's music w a s that it achieved


softness

without

weakness,

enthusiasm

without

hol-

lowness, l o n g i n g w i t h o u t sentimentality, passion w i t h o u t madness. He is d e e p b u t n e v e r turgid, pleasant b u t n e v e r i n s i p i d , lofty b u t n e v e r b o m b a s t i c . I n t h e e x p r e s s i o n o f love, fervent, tender, overflowing, but never w i t h ignoble sensuality. H e c a n b e c o r d i a l , c h e e r f u l , j o y f u l t o e x t r a v a g a n c e , t o e x c e s s — n e v e r t o v u l g a r i t y . I n t h e d e e p e s t suff e r i n g h e d o e s n o t lose h i m s e l f — h e t r i u m p h s o v e r it. . . . M o r e u n i v e r s a l effects h a v e b e e n a c h i e v e d b y o t h e r s , b u t n o n e m o r e d e e p o r n o b l e . N o , w e m a y say w i t h o u t e x a g g e r a t i o n t h a t n e v e r d i d a n artist l i v e w h o s e c r e a t i o n s w e r e so truly n e w — h i s sphere was the unforeseen.

It is impossible to k n o w w h e t h e r Caroline van Beethoven, the w i d o w o f B e e t h o v e n ' s n e p h e w Karl, m i g h t have read those w o r d s prior to writing to Ferdinand Hiller in M a r c h 1876. But for s o m e r e a s o n — p e r h a p s she k n e w that h e o n c e h a d m e t h e r l a t e h u s b a n d ' s c e l e b r a t e d u n c l e , p e r h a p s i t w a s his w e a l t h t h a t was r e n o w n e d — i t was Hiller i n faraway C o l o g n e t o w h o m she c h o s e t o r e a c h o u t for f i n a n c i a l h e l p . K a r l v a n B e e t h o v e n , t h e c o m p o s e r ' s sole h e i r , h a d b e e n i n t h e A u s t r i a n m i l i t a r y u n t i l 1832, the year in w h i c h he married. He had w o r k e d as a farm m a n a g e r f o r t w o y e a r s u n t i l t h e d e a t h o f his u n c l e J o h a n n , w h o , like h i s b r o t h e r L u d w i g , h a d b e e n c h i l d l e s s , a n d w h o also b e q u e a t h e d t h e w h o l e o f his estate t o h i s n e p h e w . T h e sole b e n e f i c i a r y o f b o t h u n c l e s , K a r l a n d his f a m i l y h a d h a d t h e m e a n s t o live i n c o m f o r t , a n d Karl h a d n o t b e e n e m p l o y e d again before he died in April 1858.


F o l l o w i n g h e r h u s b a n d ' s d e a t h , C a r o l i n e h a d b e e n able t o c a r e for h e r f o u r d a u g h t e r s a n d h e r s o n w i t h t h e little c a p i t a l that r e m a i n e d from t h e t w o estates, as w e l l as w i t h a s t i p e n d offered h e r by m e m b e r s of Vienna's Society of t h e F r i e n d s o f M u s i c . B u t h e r w i d o w h o o d h a d n o t b e e n easy:

her son,

n a m e d L u d w i g , h a d b e e n a difficult c h i l d a n d h a d g r o w n u p to be a m o s t disreputable m a n — e m p l o y i n g himself as a dealer in b o g u s B e e t h o v e n m e m o r a b i l i a , s w i n d l i n g a substantial s u m from the k i n g of Bavaria, to whc^m he had b e e n i n t r o d u c e d by

Richard

Wagner,

and

ending

up

in

prison

in

1872.

Caroline's y o u n g e s t d a u g h t e r , H e r m i n e , h a d suffered a l o n g illness a n d a l m o s t h a d s u c c u m b e d t o t h e " s t r a i n s o f p o v e r t y , " F r a u v a n B e e t h o v e n e x p l a i n e d i n h e r l e t t e r t o H i l l e r , a n d lately the

family

had

fallen

into

desperate

straits

because

the

S o c i e t y for t h e F r i e n d s o f M u s i c h a d n o t i f i e d h e r t h a t , m o s t regrettably,

the

funds

for

the

Beethoven

monument

it

p l a n n e d t o e r e c t i n V i e n n a w e r e p r o v i n g insufficient, a n d that therefore the society w o u l d have to discontinue her stipend immediately. F e r d i n a n d H i l l e r ' s r e p l y t o C a r o l i n e v a n B e e t h o v e n has n o t survived, b u t a s e c o n d letter to h i m m a k e s it clear that he a n swered her solicitation, probably suggesting that she m a k e h e r difficult c i r c u m s t a n c e s m o r e w i d e l y k n o w n b y m a k i n g a n a p peal in a music j o u r n a l . B u t such a public entreaty w o u l d p r o v e disastrous, she e x p l a i n e d in t h e s e c o n d letter; family m e m b e r s w e r e g r e a t l y a n n o y e d w i t h h e r for p u b l i c i z i n g t h e i r p o v e r t y t o t h e d e g r e e t h a t s h e a l r e a d y h a d . N o t for h e r s e l f b u t for h e r d a u g h t e r , s h e b e g g e d , m i g h t t h e k i n d a n d c a r i n g p e o p l e o f B o n n b e able t o offer assistance? M i g h t H i l l e r m o u n t a


p r o d u c t i o n o f Fidelio i n C o l o g n e a n d p l e d g e its p r o c e e d s t o h e r daughter? Hiller, it appears, t u r n e d a w a y from h e r supplication at that p o i n t , n e i t h e r t a k i n g i t u p w i t h associates i n n e a r b y B o n n n o r personally agreeing to a charitable performance on Frau van B e e t h o v e n ' s behalf. H e r m i n e m a r r i e d i n 1 8 7 6 , t h e s a m e y e a r i n w h i c h h e r b r o t h e r L u d w i g was released from prison, at w h i c h p o i n t h e a b a n d o n e d his w i f e a n d s i x - y e a r - o l d s o n a n d e m i g r a t e d t o A m e r i c a , w h e r e h e w o r k e d for a t i m e for t h e U n i o n Pacific

Railroad.

Although

poor,

Caroline

van

Beethoven

w o u l d l i v e fifteen m o r e y e a r s — l o n g e n o u g h t o b e m a d e a g u e s t of honor, together with her four daughters, at the M a y 1880 dedication in the Vienna square r e n a m e d Beethovenplatz of a b r o n z e statue placed in m e m o r y of a m a n w h o m she n e v e r had m e t , his c o l o s s a l l i k e n e s s s e a t e d a t o p a t w e n t y - t w o - f o o t - h i g h granite pedestal, to the base of w h i c h c l u n g t w e l v e angels and c h e r u b s . D r e s s e d i n t h e k i n d o f c l o t h i n g h e actually w o r e , this B e e t h o v e n looked d o w n w i t h the severest k i n d o f c o n c e n t r a t i o n o n t h e m a n y t h o u s a n d s w h o h a d g a t h e r e d b e l o w h i m for t h e a u g u s t o c c a s i o n , t h e c o m p o s e r d e p i c t e d this t i m e a bit m o r e l i k e a h u m a n b e i n g t h a n t h e g o d H i l l e r a n d his c o n t e m p o r a r i e s had believed h i m to be.

" I A M L I V I N G T H R O U G H M Y f i n a l e only reasonably well," F e r d i n a n d H i l l e r w r o t e t o his f r i e n d a n d f o r m e r p u p i l , t h e C o l o g n e - b o r n composer M a x Bruch in N o v e m b e r 1882. In recent years, he had been m a d e a m e m b e r of the prestigious


Berlin Academy, the University of B o n n had granted h i m an honorary doctoral degree, and he had been knighted as well w h e n the O r d e r of the C r o w n of W u r t t e m b e r g was bestowed o n h i m . H e n o w w a s t h e e s t e e m e d D r . F e r d i n a n d von H i l l e r , b u t h e w a s also o l d a n d failing a n d o f t e n w a s d e p r e s s e d . " A t r i m e s quite sick—at r i m e s s o m e w h a t d i s g r u n t l e d — I pull m y self t o g e t h e r b o t h p h y s i c a l l y a n d m e n t a l l y i n o r d e r t o g o o n , " he c o n t i n u e d in the letter to B r u c h . " T h e meanness and v u l garity that, i t seems, b e l o n g t o t h ^ necessities o f m a n k i n d are the most miserable of things." T h e great physical w e i g h t that H i l l e r h a d c a r r i e d for s o m a n y y e a r s b y n o w h a d t a k e n a h e a v y toll o n his h e a r t a n d c i r c u l a t o r y s y s t e m , a n d a l t h o u g h h e c o n t i n u e d t o h o l d t h e m u s i c d i r e c t o r s h i p t h a t h a d b e e n his life's f o c u s for m o r e t h a n t h i r t y y e a r s , h e n o n e t h e l e s s s u s p e c t e d t h a t his life w a s d r a w i n g t o a c l o s e . W r i t i n g t o his d e a r f r i e n d J o h a n n e s B r a h m s i n V i e n n a , h e c o n f i d e d o n e y e a r later, " I have n o t h i n g against living a few m o r e years. B u t I really h o p e it w o n ' t be that many." B r a h m s ' s r e j e c t i o n o f t h e s o - c a l l e d N e w S c h o o l , a s w e l l a s his r a t h e r u n f a s h i o n a b l e r e t u r n t o classical f o r m s i n h i s o w n c o m positions, had greatly e n d e a r e d h i m to Hiller, and Hiller h o p e d that the city administrators o f C o l o g n e o n e day w o u l d a c c e d e t o his r e c o m m e n d a t i o n t h a t B r a h m s b e n a m e d his p e r m a n e n t r e p l a c e m e n t . B u t b e f o r e h e left p u b l i c life, H i l l e r w o r k e d h a r d to conclude it in ways he found fitting, c o n d u c t i n g as always a n d still w r i t i n g

frequently—about

music, religion, and the

w o r l d o f p o l i t i c s , w h i c h h e a v i d l y h a d o b s e r v e d t h r o u g h o u t his life, i f a l w a y s f r o m s o m e d i s t a n c e . In his b o o k Letters to an Anonymous

Woman, a c o l l e c t i o n of


m e m o i r s a n d essays p r e s e n t e d a s m i s s i v e s p e n n e d t o a f i c t i o n a l w o m a n w h o m h e h a d m e t only i n passing b u t h a d b e e n e n c h a n t e d by, H i l l e r c o n f i d e d ,

You are right, dearest M a d a m , m u s i c a n d religion are t h e t w o things a b o u t w h i c h the most e r r o n e o u s things have b e e n t h o u g h t , said, a n d w r i t t e n . F o r t u n a t e l y , o u r m u s i c i s quite an i n n o c e n t thing a n d is in no position to cause g r e a t d a m a g e . . . a n d its p r i e s t s a r e h a r m l e s s p e o p l e . . . . R e l i g i o n , w h i c h s h a r e s w i t h m u s i c t h e fact t h a t i t i s also an unsolved mystery, s h o u l d imitate t h e latter a n d allow t h e believers to a d h e r e to t h e manifestations that best suit t h e m . . . . T h e a d v a n t a g e t h a t m u s i c h a s o v e r r e l i g i o n is that it is capable of uplifting and inspiring m a n y p e o p l e w i t h o u t h a v i n g to a p p r o a c h reason t o o closely . . . [but b o t h ] a r e u n i t e d i n t h e task o f lifting h u m a n i t y a b o v e t h e prosaic h u m d r u m of life—to b r i n g h o p e and consolation, to transfigure grief and joy.

In Lives of the Artists, he w r o t e w i t h g r e a t p a s s i o n a b o u t t h e life a n d t h o u g h t o f J e w i s h p h i l o s o p h e r M o s e s M e n d e l s s o h n , grandfather of Felix, a r g u i n g that it was scandalous that t h e "Jews of Berlin, b o t h the n o n c o n v e r t e d and the converted," h a d n o t y e t e r e c t e d a m o n u m e n t in t h e nation's capital in h o n o r o f the h u m b l e b u t brilliant m a n w h o s o eloquently had insisted that it w a s possible i n d e e d to be b o t h J e w i s h a n d a p a -


triotic G e r m a n . A n d , of course, Hiller had b e e n outraged b e ginning in

1881

w h e n state-sanctioned p o g r o m s perpetrated

against J e w s in Russia h a d led to increasingly v i o l e n t r h e t o r i c a n d scattered anti-Semitic attacks t h r o u g h o u t eastern E u r o p e and in G e r m a n y as well. M o r e t h a n thirty years before, Hiller briefly h a d b e e n elated by the promise of another revolution in France,

the

1848

w o r k e r s ' r e v o l t i n Paris that h a d led o n c e m o r e t o t h e e s t a b lishment of a republican government.

" I n the space of t w o

d a y s , t h e F r e n c h h a v e p r o p e l l e d w o r l d h i s t o r y f o r w a r d b y fifty years,"

he had written at the time.

" N o one would have

t h o u g h t of the establishment of a n e w republic in the middle of old E u r o p e , and certainly n o t so soon. H o w generous and m a g n i f i c e n t i s t h e b e g i n n i n g o f t h i s n e w e r a i n t h e life o f n a t i o n s ! " B u t a s a n o l d a n d n o w far m o r e c y n i c a l m a n , F e r d i n a n d H i l l e r n o l o n g e r easily c o u l d m u s t e r o p t i m i s m a b o u t t h e c o n tinent's political future, particularly w i t h regard to the w a y in w h i c h h e i n c r e a s i n g l y o b s e r v e d J e w s b e i n g r o b b e d o f basic h u m a n rights. " A lot o f w a t e r will flow d o w n the R h i n e b e f o r e a J e w is g i v e n a fine f u n e r a l in G e r m a n y . I f i n d t h e p o l i t ical a n d r e l i g i o u s c i r c u m s t a n c e s e v e r y w h e r e t o b e w o r t h y o f the strongest criticism," he w r o t e to aging J e w i s h theologian Berthold Auerbach shortly before Auerbach's death. "I w o n d e r w h e t h e r y o u a n d I w i l l r e a l l y miss t a k i n g p a r t i n t h e n e x t fifty y e a r s . I d o n ' t t h i n k so. W e w i l l b e able t o t r a v e l m o r e c o m f o r t a b l y — m a y b e we will e v e n eat a n d d r i n k b e t t e r — b u t a lot o f b l o o d will flow a n d m e n will n o t b e h u m a n a n y m o r e , " he added w i t h chilling prescience.


O n M a y 1 , 1 8 8 3 , F e r d i n a n d Hiller systematically b e g a n t o p u t his affairs i n o r d e r i n p r e p a r a t i o n for t h e d e a t h t h a t h e s e n s e d s o o n w o u l d b e a t h a n d , a n d t h e first o f h i s f i n a l acts w a s t o offer his s o n , P a u l — n o w a n o p e r a s i n g e r w i t h a b u r g e o n i n g c a r e e r like h i s m o t h e r o n c e h a d h a d — a m o m e n t o u s gift o n t h e o c c a s i o n o f his t h i r t i e t h b i r t h d a y . H i l l e r w a n t e d h i s o n l y s o n t o have and h e n c e f o r t h safeguard the locket in w h i c h fifty-six years

before

he

had

secreted

the

lock

of Ludwig

van

B e e t h o v e n ' s hair. N e x t , h e r e t i r e d f r o m t h e p o s i t i o n t h a t h a d b e e n his h o n o r a n d g r e a t j o y t o h o l d for t h i r t y - f o u r y e a r s ; a n d t h e n , w i t h his wife Antolka's help, he b e g a n to catalog t h e w r i t i n g and c o r r e s p o n d e n c e t h a t carefully c h r o n i c l e d his r i c h life. H e b e g a n o n e m o r e p r o j e c t , a series o f essays h e h o p e d t o title Letters from the Sick Room, b u t s o o n his failing h e a l t h p r e c l u d e d it. "You w a n t to k n o w h o w I ' m doing," he scribbled in response to an i n q u i r y from friend and fellow c o m p o s e r Carl R e i n e c k e . " T h i s i s h a r d t o a n s w e r . I eat, s l e e p , e v e n c o m p o s e a little, b u t i n b e t w e e n I a m p l a g u e d b y s u c h m i s e r y t h a t I basically h a v e little j o y left i n life. I h a v e n ' t left m y r o o m n o w for m o r e t h a n two months." H i s h e a r t r e m a i n e d u n d e r e n o r m o u s stress, his b l a d d e r failed, a n d l a c k o f c i r c u l a t i o n c a u s e d his legs t o b e c o m e g r o s s l y a n d painfully

swollen.

He

complained

about

the

music—the

noise—he h e a r d c o m i n g f r o m h u r d y - g u r d y p l a y e r s i n t h e s t r e e t o u t s i d e his w i n d o w , a n d f r i e n d s w o u l d c o m e o n o c c a s i o n t o offer h i m t h e blissful s o u n d s o f v i o l i n s o r t h e s o n g s o f t h e i r v o i c e s i n s t e a d , b u t t h e n , i n t h e still a n d d a r k e a r l y m o r n i n g o f


M a y 1 1 , 1885, seventy-three-year-old Ferdinand Hiller died, h i s h e a d h e l d i n his s o n ' s e m b r a c i n g a r m s . N e w s p a p e r s t h r o u g h o u t E u r o p e r e p o r t e d his p a s s i n g , a n d obituaries n o t e d in particular the astonishing n u m b e r of great musicians w i t h w h o m h e h a d c o m e i n close c o n t a c t d u r i n g his l o n g life, m a n y o f w h o m h e h a d m a d e his d e a r a n d d e v o t e d friends.

London's

Musical

Times

noted

that

"Hiller,

in

the

r e c o r d s o f his a r t , w i l l s t a n d h i g h a m o n g t h e dei minores, a n d e v e n w i t h i n t h e s h a d o w o f t h e t h r o n e o f g e n i u s — n o t t h e loftiest p l a c e , b u t o n e w o r t h g a i n i n g surely." F o l l o w i n g a s o m b e r m e m o r i a l s e r v i c e h e l d for f a m i l y m e m b e r s i n his h o m e o n M a y 13,

Hiller's

remains

were

carried

to

Cologne's

Melaten

Cemetery, w h e r e a Lutheran minister conducted a brief graveside

service

and

conductor

Franz

Wiillner

delivered what

e v e r y o n e in a t t e n d a n c e a g r e e d w a s a lyrical a n d utterly m e r ited eulogy, W i i l l n e r affirming that his friend h a d s u c c e e d e d w o n d e r f u l l y i n his lifelong c o m m i t m e n t t o c o u n t e r i n g m u n danity with the exhilarating sounds of beauty, that he had d e v o t e d his life t o a r t . N o a c c o u n t o f t h e act has s u r v i v e d — a n d o f c o u r s e i t m a y n o t h a v e h a p p e n e d — b u t t h e r e i s fitting s y m m e t r y i n s u p p o s i n g t h a t b e f o r e h e h e l p e d c o m m i t his b o d y t o t h e g r o u n d , P a u l H i l l e r s u r e l y s a v e d a l o c k o f his f a m e d father's h a i r .


M U C H L I K E T H E M U S I C H E made, Beethoven himself harbored

stark

contradictions

and

moods

that

would

vacillate

w i l d l y . H e w a s o b s e s s i v e a b o u t b a t h i n g , for e x a m p l e , b u t i n his later years he s e e m e d to i g n o r e utterly t h e filthy clothes that he w o r e . H e b e l i e v e d i n t h e n o b i l i t y o f a r t b u t also w a s e n d u r ingly impressed by t h e rather paler nobility that was b e s t o w e d b y s o c i a l class. " Y o u w i l l see t h a t I h a v e b e c o m e a f i r s t - r a t e f e l l o w , " h e h a d b o a s t e d i n a l e t t e r t o F r a n z W e g e l e r , his b o y h o o d friend from B o n n w h o was then a medical student. " N o t only a s a n artist b u t also a s a m a n y o u w i l l f i n d m e b e t t e r a n d m o r e fully d e v e l o p e d . " B u t t h e f e l l o w w h o m W e g e l e r h a d e n c o u n -


17 9 2 - 1 8 0 2

tered w h e n he visited V i e n n a h a d p r o v e d as capable of b e i n g irascible, s e l f - o b s e s s e d , tactless, a n d p e t t y a s h e s o m e t i m e s w a s at demonstrating o v e r w h e l m i n g kindness, the m o s t stalwart sort of friendship, a n d a ready, still-boyish sense of h u m o r . In a d d i t i o n , B e e t h o v e n r e p e a t e d l y fell i n l o v e w i t h w o m e n w h o s e m a r r i a g e s o r social p o s i t i o n s h a d m a d e a c t u a l a n d a u t h e n t i c r e lationships w i t h h i m impossible, yet rather simpler friendships w i t h f e m a l e s w e r e o f t e n difficult for h i m . T h e c l o s e c o m p a n i o n w h o m h e r e p e a t e d l y h a d l a b e l e d a "false d o g " w o u l d b e c o m e , j u s t a s c e r t a i n l y , his " D e a r L i t t l e I g n a z o f m y H e a r t " w i t h i n a day o r t w o each t i m e . Yet this m a n o f m a n y t e m p e r s a n d d i v e r s e o p i n i o n s also w a s c a p a b l e o f r e c o g n i z i n g his c o n tradictions a n d bountiful shortcomings, confessing to t h e m as r e a d i l y a s h e o c c a s i o n a l l y a c k n o w l e d g e d his g e n i u s . " I t i s a p e c u l i a r f e e l i n g , " h e o n c e h a d a l l o w e d t o his c l o s e f r i e n d , t h e v i olinist a n d t h e o l o g i a n Karl A m e n d a , " t o s e e a n d h e a r o n e s e l f praised a n d at t h e same t i m e to realize one's o w n inferiority as fully as I d o . " Surely s o m e of Beethoven's petulant t e m p e r a m e n t — o r even t h e lion's s h a r e o f it, i n f a c t — w a s e x p l a i n e d b y h i s p e r e n n i a l l y p o o r h e a l t h . W h i l e still a n a d o l e s c e n t , h e h a d b e g u n t o b e b a t t e r e d b y b o u t s o f g a s t r o i n t e s t i n a l disease, a n d i n m a d d e n i n g p r o g r e s s i o n o v e r t h e s u c c e e d i n g y e a r s h e also h a d suffered i n t e n s e h e a d a c h e s , a s e r i e s o f v i r u l e n t abscesses a n d i n f e c t i o n s , p n e u m o n i a , a n d b r o n c h i t i s . A t s i x t e e n , s o o n after h e w a s r e c a l l e d f r o m V i e n n a t o his m o t h e r ' s d e a t h b e d ,

he had c o n -

tracted a s u d d e n fever a c c o m p a n i e d by l a b o r e d b r e a t h i n g , a n d the t w o maladies had b e e n succeeded by w h a t he labeled a melancholia, and w h i c h surely could have b e e n attributed to


h e r death. By the t i m e he settled in V i e n n a in 1792, he p e r i odically

was

plagued

with

the

abdominal

pain,

constipation, and diarrhea that t h e n was labeled

cramping,

kolik.

H e suf-

fered a p r o l o n g e d b o u t of this " c o l i c " in 1 7 9 5 ; t h e n in 1797 "a t e r r i b l e t y p h u s " befell h i m , a n illness t h a t likely w a s a s e v e r e , d i s o r i e n t i n g fever. W h e n a t last h e c o n f e s s e d h i s failing h e a r ing in an 1801 letter to Franz Wegeler, w h o n o w was a p r a c t i c i n g p h y s i c i a n i n B o n n , his w h o l e h e a l t h a p p e a r e d t o b e collapsing:

F o r t h e last t h r e e y e a r s m y h e a r i n g h a s b e c o m e w e a k e r and weaker. T h e trouble is supposed to have b e e n caused by the condition of my abdomen, which, as you know, w a s w r e t c h e d e v e n b e f o r e I left B o n n , b u t h a s b e c o m e w o r s e i n V i e n n a , w h e r e I h a v e b e e n c o n s t a n t l y afflicted w i t h diarrhea a n d have b e e n suffering in c o n s e q u e n c e from an e x t r a o r d i n a r y d e b i l i t y . . . . D u r i n g t h i s last w i n t e r I w a s t r u l y w r e t c h e d for I h a d d r e a d f u l a t t a c k s o f kolik a n d again relapsed c o m p l e t e l y i n t o my f o r m e r c o n d i t i o n . . . . I n o r d e r t o g i v e y o u s o m e i d e a o f this s t r a n g e deafness, let m e tell y o u t h a t i n t h e t h e a t e r I h a v e t o p l a c e m y s e l f q u i t e close t o t h e orchestra i n o r d e r t o u n d e r s t a n d w h a t t h e a c t o r is saying, a n d that at a distance I c a n n o t h e a r t h e h i g h n o t e s o f i n s t r u m e n t s o r v o i c e s . A s for t h e s p o k e n w o r d , it is surprising that s o m e people have never noticed m y deafness; b u t s i n c e I h a v e a l w a y s b e e n liable t o fits o f absentmindedness they attribute my hardness of hearing to that. S o m e t i m e s t o o I can scarcely h e a r a p e r s o n w h o


17 9 2 - 1 8 0 2

s p e a k s softly; I c a n h e a r s o u n d s , it is t r u e , b u t I c a n n o t m a k e o u t t h e w o r d s . B u t i f a n y o n e s h o u t s , I c a n ' t b e a r it. Heaven alone knows what is to b e c o m e of me.

For the time being, Beethoven confided only in Wegeler in B o n n a n d his f r i e n d K a r l A m e n d a , w h o h a d left t h e c i t y o n a n e x t e n d e d j o u r n e y i n 1 7 9 9 . E x c e p t for t h e s e t w o d i s t a n t c o n f i d a n t s , h e r e m a i n e d m u t e a b o u t hjs t e r r i b l e n e w t r o u b l e a n d d i d his b e s t t o s h i e l d i t f r o m f r i e n d s a n d c o l l e a g u e s a t h o m e , a l t h o u g h i t s e e m s sadly c e r t a i n t h a t h e s u c c e e d e d i n f o o l i n g o n l y himself.

I T WAS I N 1 7 9 7 , A T T H E a g e o f t w e n t y - s i x , w h e n h e h a d b e g u n t o miss w o r d s a n d t h e n w h o l e p h r a s e s i n c o n v e r s a t i o n s , a n d h e b e g a n t o o to hear incessant, painful,

and surely d e r a n g i n g

b u z z i n g a n d r i n g i n g sounds. B u t four years had passed before h e h a d b e e n a b l e t o c o n f e s s his failing h e a r i n g a n d t o b e g i n t o s e e k t h e c u r e t h a t n e v e r h a d c o m e . F i v e m o n t h s later, after W e g e l e r h a d b e g g e d for m o r e i n f o r m a t i o n a b o u t his h e a r i n g loss, B e e t h o v e n a g a i n w r o t e t o his f r i e n d , b u t t h i s t i m e w i t h slightly b e t t e r n e w s . " M y life i s a g a i n s o m e w h a t p l e a s a n t e r , for I a m m i x i n g m o r e i n society. Y o u c a n s c a r c e l y i m a g i n e w h a t a d r e a r y , sad life I l e d d u r i n g t h e past t w o y e a r s . " A l t h o u g h his h e a r i n g h a d n o t i m p r o v e d , t h e r e w a s a v e r y specific r e a s o n w h y his spirits h a d lifted: " T h i s c h a n g e h a s b e e n b r o u g h t a b o u t b y a d e a r c h a r m i n g girl w h o l o v e s m e a n d w h o m I l o v e . A f t e r


t w o y e a r s I a m a g a i n e n j o y i n g a f e w blissful m o m e n t s ; a n d for t h e f i r s t t i m e I feel t h a t m a r r i a g e m i g h t b r i n g m e h a p p i n e s s . U n f o r t u n a t e l y , s h e i s n o t o f m y class, a n d n o w — f o r t h e m o ment

I

certainly

could

not

marry—I

must

bravely

bustle

about." A l t h o u g h h e didn't n a m e her, the y o u n g w o m a n w h o m B e e t h o v e n was e n c h a n t e d by as the year 1801 c a m e to a close almost

certainly

was

his

seventeen-year-old

piano

student,

Countess Giulietta Guicciardi, s o m e o n e w h o s e nobility w o u l d h a v e m a d e m a r r i a g e t o h i m m o s t unlikely. A n d she was n o t , i n fact, t h e f i r s t w o m a n B e e t h o v e n h a d c o n s i d e r e d m a r r y i n g — h i s 1795 proposal to singer Magdalena W i l l m a n quickly had b e e n r e j e c t e d — b u t it is clear in t h e letters he w r o t e to C o u n t e s s G u i c c i a r d i t h a t , a t least briefly, B e e t h o v e n b e l i e v e d h e finally h a d f o u n d s o m e o n e w h o n o t o n l y l o v e d h i m b u t w h o also m i g h t m a k e b e a r a b l e his s t e a d i l y d i m i n i s h i n g h e a r i n g . N i n e m o n t h s later, n e a r t h e e n d o f a s o j o u r n i n t h e t r a n q u i l v i l l a g e o f H e i l i g e n s t a d t n o t far f r o m V i e n n a — w h e r e h e h a d g o n e o n t h e a d v i c e o f his p h y s i c i a n — B e e t h o v e n h a d g r o w n d e e p l y d i s t r a u g h t n o t o n l y a b o u t h i s a d v a n c i n g deafness b u t also his g r o w i n g r e c o g n i t i o n t h a t his r e l a t i o n s h i p w i t h a c o u n t ess little m o r e t h a n h a l f his a g e s i m p l y h e l d n o p r o m i s e . O n O c t o b e r 6 , 1 8 0 2 , h e a d d r e s s e d t o his t w o b r o t h e r s a l o n g , f u l minating letter that s e e m e d intended to be at o n c e a public c o n f e s s i o n o f his t e r r i b l e m e d i c a l s e c r e t — a w i l l o f s o r t s , p e r h a p s e v e n a s u i c i d e n o t e — a s w e l l a s a n i m p a s s i o n e d p l e a for u n d e r s t a n d i n g . " Y o u m e n w h o t h i n k o r say I a m h o s t i l e , p e e vish, o r m i s a n t h r o p i c , " h e w r o t e ,


h o w greatly y o u w r o n g m e . You d o n o t k n o w t h e secret cause w h i c h m a k e s m e s e e m s o t o y o u . F r o m c h i l d h o o d o n , m y h e a r t a n d s o u l w e r e full o f t h e t e n d e r f e e l i n g o f goodwill, and I was always inclined to accomplish great d e e d s . B u t j u s t t h i n k , for six y e a r s n o w I h a v e h a d a n i n c u r a b l e c o n d i t i o n . . . . T h o u g h b o r n w i t h a fiery, lively t e m p e r a m e n t , s u s c e p t i b l e t o t h e d i v e r s i o n s o f society, I s o o n h a d t o w i t h d r a w myself, t ^ s p e n d m y life a l o n e . A n d y e t i f I w i s h e d a t r i m e s t o i g n o r e all t h i s , o h h o w h a r s h l y w a s I p u s h e d b a c k b y t h e d o u b l y sad e x p e r i e n c e o f m y b a d h e a r i n g ; a n d y e t i t w a s i m p o s s i b l e for m e t o say t o p e o p l e , " S p e a k l o u d e r , s h o u t , for I a m deaf." A h , h o w c o u l d I possibly a d m i t w e a k n e s s of t h e o n e sense w h i c h s h o u l d be m o r e perfect in me t h a n o t h e r s , a sense w h i c h I o n c e possessed in t h e greatest perfection, a p e r f e c t i o n such as few in my profession have or ever have had? W h a t h u m i l i a t i o n for m e w h e n s o m e o n e s t a n d i n g n e a r m e h e a r d a flute i n t h e d i s t a n c e a n d I h e a r d n o t h i n g , o r s o m e o n e h e a r d t h e s h e p h e r d singing and again I heard n o t h i n g . S u c h incidents b r o u g h t me almost to despair; a little m o r e a n d I w o u l d h a v e e n d e d m y life. O n l y m y art held m e back. A h , i t s e e m e d t o m e i m p o s s i b l e t o l e a v e t h e w o r l d u n t i l I h a d p r o d u c e d all t h a t I felt w a s w i t h i n m e ; a n d so I s p a r e d t h i s w r e t c h e d life. . . . You, my brothers, Carl and [johann], as soon as I am d e a d , i f D r . S c h m i d t i s still alive, ask h i m i n m y n a m e t o d e s c r i b e m y disease, a n d a t t a c h this w r i t t e n d o c u m e n t t o


h i s a c c o u n t o f m y illness, s o t h a t a t least a s m u c h a s p o s s i b l e t h e w o r l d m a y b e r e c o n c i l e d t o m e after m y death. . . . Farewell, and do n o t c o m p l e t e l y forget me w h e n I am d e a d . I h a v e d e s e r v e d this from y o u , since I often t h o u g h t o f y o u d u r i n g m y life, a n d o f w a y s t o m a k e y o u h a p p y ; d o b e so.

Still

two

months

away

from

his

thirty-second birthday,

L u d w i g van Beethoven was c o n s u m e d with the melodramatic c e r t a i n t y t h a t h i s l i f e — o r a t least t h e life t h a t m a t t e r e d t o h i m — w a s c o m i n g t o a close. H e h a d a c c o m p l i s h e d m u c h i n t h e d e c a d e s i n c e his a r r i v a l i n V i e n n a : h e c o u l d c l a i m a c e r t a i n p e r s o n a l fame a m o n g t h e c u l t u r e d elite, a r e p u t a t i o n as t h e f i n e s t p i a n i s t his a d o p t e d

city ever h a d seen,

and growing

r e n o w n as a composer. His oeuvre by n o w included m o r e than t w o d o z e n p i a n o sonatas, violin sonatas, p i a n o trios, string quartets, a piano quintet, a piano concerto, a C major symphony, as well as a n e w s y m p h o n y in D major, on w h i c h he c u r r e n t l y was at w o r k . C r i t i c s w e r e fascinated by his music, if o f t e n m o r e t h a n a little p e r p l e x e d b y it; h i s loyal a n d g e n e r o u s p a t r o n s , a s w e l l a s t h e p u b l i c a t i o n o f his c o m p o s i t i o n s , n o w k e p t h i m c o m f o r t a b l e f i n a n c i a l l y ; f r i e n d s w e r e q u i c k t o rally t o h i s a s s i s t a n c e — a n d t o his d e f e n s e w h e n r e q u i r e d — a n d a t l o n g last h e e v e n h a d p r o v e d t o h i m s e l f t h a t h i s c h a r m s w e r e n o t e n t i r e l y lost o n w o m e n . Y e t n o n e o f i t s e e m e d t o m a t t e r a s his e x i l e i n H e i l i g e n s t a d t d r e w t o a c l o s e . H e h a d little c h o i c e , i t a t last s e e m e d clear, b u t t o r e t u r n t o his life i n t h e r a u c o u s c i t y


17

9

2 - 1 8 0 2

w h o s e s o u n d s i n c r e a s i n g l y w e r e lost t o h i m a n d t o r e s o l v e , n o n e t h e l e s s , t o d r a w t h e m u s i c o u t . H e confessed his terrible c a l a m i t y , h i s a w f u l fate, t o h i s b r o t h e r s a n d all t h e w o r l d , b u t t h e n B e e t h o v e n f o l d e d t h e p a p e r o n w h i c h h e h a d w r i t t e n his a c h i n g t e s t a m e n t a n d t u c k e d i t a w a y , s h o w i n g i t t o n o o n e for t h e r e m a i n d e r o f his life.


A GIFT IN GILLELEJE

AUTUMN

SOON WOULD

G I V E WAY t o w i n t e r and C o l o g n e

art dealer H e r m a n n Grosshennig's busy C h r i s t m a s season was u n d e r w a y in m i d - D e c e m b e r 1911 w h e n he m a d e time to att e n d to a special request. A r a t h e r formal b u t nonetheless c o n genial g e n t l e m a n sporting a Kaiser W i l h e l m m u s t a c h e — h e was a j o u r n a l i s t a n d l o n g a g o w a s a singer, he h a d e x p l a i n e d — r e cently

had

come

into

Grosshennig's

small

gallery

in

the

Langgasse b e a r i n g a w o o d - f r a m e locket r o u g h l y as b i g a r o u n d a s a n a p p l e . T h e l o c k e t h e l d t i g h t t w o p i e c e s o f glass a n d b e t w e e n t h e m was a lock of hair shaped i n t o a coil. T h e m a n ' s father h a d placed t h e hair in the locket eighty-four years b e -


f o r e , b a c k w h e n h e w a s still a b o y , a n d after n e a r l y a c e n t u r y of b e i n g passed f r o m h a n d to h a n d , it n o w n e e d e d a bit of r e pair. G r o s s h e n n i g m a d e f r a m e s for t h e a r t w o r k h e s o l d , a n d y e s , h e a s s u r e d t h e m a n , h e c o u l d reseal a n d r e s t o r e t h e l o c k e t . T h e hair inside it was Beethoven's, t h e m a n had told h i m . He w a s c e r t a i n i t h a d b e l o n g e d t o t h e g r e a t c o m p o s e r b e c a u s e his o w n f a t h e r h a d c u t it, a n d his f a t h e r h a d b e e n C o l o g n e ' s beloved

Kapellmeister F e r d i n a n d H i l l e r , w h o m G r o s s h e n n i g r e -

m e m b e r e d , of course.

^

W h e n Paul Hiller, n o w f i f t y - e i g h t , r e t u r n e d t h e w e e k before C h r i s t m a s t o t h e g a l l e r y t h a t lay i n t h e l o n g s h a d o w o f t h e Dom—Cologne's

enormous,

twin-spired

Gothic

cathedral—

the locket was ready to be collected as promised, and it seemed t o b e p r e p a r e d a s w e l l for a n o t h e r e i g h t y y e a r s o f s e r v i c e . T h e t w o p i e c e s o f glass w e r e c l e a n e d a n d p o l i s h e d , a n d t h e e d g e s w h e r e t h e y t o u c h e d h a d b e e n sealed t o g e t h e r w i t h glue; t h e w o o d e n f r a m e w a s freshly p a i n t e d , a n d i t t o o h a d b e e n s e a l e d w i t h b r o w n b a c k i n g paper. B u t the craftsman h a d d o n e o n e m o r e thing, h e explained t o the locket's o w n e r , a n d h e h o p e d H e r r Hiller w o u l d n o t object: b e n e a t h the outer backing was a similar layer of p a p e r on w h i c h G r o s s h e n n i g had w r i t t e n , " N e w l y pasted to m a k e it dust-free. Original condition i m p r o v e d . C o l o g n e d . 1 8 / 1 2 1 9 1 1 . " H e h a d s i g n e d his n a m e a s w e l l , h e said, b e c a u s e a c h e r i s h e d r e l i c s u c h a s this d e s e r v e d careful d o c u m e n t a t i o n , a n d also b e c a u s e i t m e a n t v e r y m u c h to him to have drawn so near to Beethoven, even if only briefly a n d i n a m a n n e r s o s i m p l e . It is impossible to k n o w — b e c a u s e , unlike the frame maker, he did n o t date the w o r d s he w r o t e — b u t presumably it was


also d u r i n g t h a t h o l i d a y s e a s o n o f 1 9 1 1 w h e n P a u l H i l l e r m a d e his o w n i n s c r i p t i o n o n t h e b r o w n p a p e r t h a t w a s visible o n t h e l o c k e t ' s u n d e r s i d e : " T h i s h a i r w a s c u t off B e e t h o v e n ' s c o r p s e b y m y f a t h e r , D r . F e r d i n a n d v . H i l l e r o n t h e d a y after L u d w i g v a n B e e t h o v e n ' s d e a t h , t h a t is, o n 2 7 M a r c h 1 8 2 7 , a n d w a s given to me as a birthday present in C o l o g n e on M a y 1, 1883." Grosshennig had

been

correct,

Hiller

recognized:

it

made

g o o d sense t o d o c u m e n t w h a t treasure t h e locket c o n t a i n e d , p a r t i c u l a r l y b e c a u s e t h e i n c r e d i b l y c u r i o u s p r i z e his l o c k e t h e l d w a s a palpable bit of L u d w i g v a n B e e t h o v e n himself.

PAUL

HILLER

HAD

B E E N T H I R T Y y e a r s o l d w h e n his fa-

t h e r — - j u s t t w o y e a r s a w a y f r o m his d e a t h — h a d p r e s e n t e d h i m w i t h t h e l o c k e t t h a t h e l d t h e hair. I t w a s a gift t h a t m i g h t h a v e b e e n m a d e t o h i s sister, T o n y , t h r e e y e a r s his e l d e r a n d a n a c c o m p l i s h e d m u s i c i a n herself, b u t l i k e l y i t h a d s e e m e d m o r e f i t t i n g t o t h e e l d e r l y F e r d i n a n d H i l l e r t o pass B e e t h o v e n ' s f r a g i l e r e m a i n s t o his o n l y s o n . B o r n i n P a r i s i n 1 8 5 3 d u r i n g his p a r e n t s ' b r i e f h o l i d a y t h e r e , P a u l H i l l e r h a d b e c o m e a p r o f e s s i o n a l s i n g e r — l i k e his m o t h e r b e f o r e h i m — b y t h e t i m e o f his t h i r t i e t h b i r t h d a y , a b a r i t o n e i n t h e city o p e r a at C h e m n i t z , n e a r D r e s d e n . A l t h o u g h t h e r e is n o r e c o r d o f h i m b e i n g m a r r i e d a t t h a t t i m e , h e also w a s t h e father o f a o n e - y e a r - o l d son, Felix F e r d i n a n d , w h o w a s b o r n in C h e m n i t z in

1882.

N i n e t e e n y e a r s after t h e gift o f t h e

l o c k e t — w h e n Paul Hiller was forty-nine—he had returned to live i n C o l o g n e again, a n d h e f i n a l l y h a d m a r r i e d i n 1 9 0 2 .


L i t t l e i s k n o w n a b o u t his w i f e , S o p h i e L i o n , e x c e p t t h a t , like h e r h u s b a n d , she was b o t h a J e w a n d a professional singer, a n d that soon she b o r e h i m t w o m o r e sons, Edgar Ferdinand, b o r n in May 1906, and Erwin Ottmar, b o r n in April 1908. A y e a r after his m a r r i a g e , P a u l H i l l e r w a s a p p o i n t e d m u s i c critic o f C o l o g n e ' s

Rheinische Zeitung, a n e w s p a p e r p o s i t i o n h e

w o u l d h o l d for t w e n t y - f o u r y e a r s , r e v i e w i n g o v e r t h e c o u r s e of a quarter c e n t u r y virtually every operatic and orchestral p e r f o r m a n c e s c h e d u l e d t h r o u g h o u t tl^e l o w e r R h i n e l a n d , i n c l u d ing the monthly

Giirzenich c o n c e r t s h i s f a t h e r h a d e s t a b l i s h e d

l o n g a g o , a n d t h e still e n o r m o u s l y p o p u l a r s u m m e r m u s i c festival t h a t h a d b e e n his father's o f f s p r i n g a s w e l l . I t w a s w o n derful w o r k for s o m e o n e w h o h a d b e e n s t e e p e d i n m u s i c a n d c u l t u r e t h r o u g h o u t his life: P a u l H i l l e r w a s able t o m a k e his h o m e i n t h e vital, R h i n e - s i d e m e t r o p o l i s w h e r e h e h a d g r o w n u p ; h e h a d t h e h e a d y p r i v i l e g e o f a t t e n d i n g c o n c e r t s for a l i v i n g a n d s u b s e q u e n t l y s p e a k i n g his m i n d a b o u t t h e i r d e l i g h t s a n d d e m e r i t s ; a n d h e h a d t i m e t o o t o w r i t e a t l e n g t h a b o u t his rather

more

specialized

German-language Verdi's o p e r a s Ricordi;

he

musical

interests.

translations of t h e

He

librettos

wrote to

new,

Giuseppe

Ernani, Rigoletto, a n d // Trovatore f o r t h e p u b l i s h e r translated Camille

Saint-Saens's

Dejanire i n t o

G e r m a n a s w e l l ; a n d h e p u b l i s h e d t w o s c h o l a r l y texts—The

Lieder Cycle of A. Friedrich von Hessen in 1 9 1 0 , a n d Old English Tunes i n 1 9 1 1 . A l t h o u g h his n a m e i s n o t a t t a c h e d t o it, P a u l Hiller seems certain to have b e e n the a u t h o r as well of a tribu t e t o his f a t h e r p u b l i s h e d i n t h e

Kolnische Zeitung o n O c t o b e r

2 4 , 1 9 1 1 , t h e o n e h u n d r e d t h a n n i v e r s a r y o f F e r d i n a n d Hiller's birth.


T h e elder Hiller h a d c o n t r i b u t e d d o z e n s o f articles a n d letters t o C o l o g n e ' s l e a d i n g n e w s p a p e r d u r i n g his t h r e e - d e c a d e t e n u r e a s t h e city's m u s i c d i r e c t o r , s o i t w a s f i t t i n g t h a t i t w a s the

Kolnische Zeitung

that chose to r e m e m b e r h i m . His son was

e m p l o y e d by a rival n e w s p a p e r , t h o u g h , a n d t h e article r e f e r r e d t o h i m i n t h e t h i r d p e r s o n , y e t b o t h its t o n e a n d its c o n t e n t a f f i r m t h a t h e , i n fact, w a s t h e t r i b u t e ' s a n o n y m o u s a u t h o r . Anecdotal

and

enormously

appreciative

of the

breadth

of

F e r d i n a n d Hiller's musical career, t h e s h o r t article cataloged h i g h l i g h t s r a n g i n g f r o m his t e e n a g e e n c o u n t e r w i t h G o e t h e t o his sad f a r e w e l l f r o m p u b l i c life. I n his e a r l y y e a r s i n P a r i s , t h e a r t i c l e r e c o u n t e d , F e r d i n a n d H i l l e r " b e f r i e n d e d t h e s p i r i t u a l h e r o e s o f t h e t i m e . . . [and] w e recall t h e p i q u a n t w o r d s t h a t C o u n t e s s P l a t e n u s e d t o a d d r e s s C h o p i n , a n d w h i c h s o aptly c h a r a c t e r i z e d Hiller's personality a n d s i g n i f i c a n c e : ' M y little C h o p i n ! I f I w e r e y o u n g a n d m e r r y , I w o u l d t a k e y o u a s m y h u s b a n d , H i l l e r a s m y f r i e n d , a n d Liszt a s m y l o v e r . ' " T h e t r i b u t e m a d e special n o t e o f t h e dazzling b e a u t y of Ferdinand's wife, Antolka, as well as h e r years of " p r u d e n t a n d skillful s u p e r v i s i o n " o f S u n d a y c o n c e r t s a t t h e

Rheinberg

beside t h e river, w h e r e , t o g e t h e r w i t h h e r husband,

t h e y "assembled e v e r y o n e i n t h e city w h o played, t h o u g h t , a n d strove t o w a r d s music." T h e article n o t e d F e r d i n a n d Hiller's close relationships w i t h M e n d e l s s o h n , S c h u m a n n , a n d B r a h m s ; i t a c k n o w l e d g e d his distaste f o r t h e " N e w S c h o o l " c o m p o s e r s w h o s e w o r k followed theirs, and it admitted as well that he h a d c o n t i n u e d t o c o m p o s e l o n g after " t h e rest o f t h e w o r l d h a d c e a s e d t o e n c o u r a g e h i m t h e r e i n . . . . I n later y e a r s a f r i e n d o n c e a s k e d h i m , ' W h a t , a r e y o u still c o m p o s i n g ? ' T o w h i c h h e


replied, ' W h a t do y o u want? C o m p o s i n g is such a great pleasure a n d staved p a p e r is so c h e a p ! ' " T h e t r i b u t e also d e c l a r e d t h a t F e r d i n a n d H i l l e r " t o o k w i t h h i m indelible impressions

from

his m a n y visits t o t h e d y i n g

B e e t h o v e n " e i g h t y - f o u r years before, i m p r e s s i o n s that lasted t h r o u g h o u t his l i f e t i m e , a n d i t c o n f e s s e d t h a t t h e f i f t e e n - y e a r o l d t o o k s o m e t h i n g else f r o m t h e g r e a t m a n a s w e l l : " H e w a s allowed to cut a lock of the dead master's hair that today is in t h e possession of Hiller's son, the^music w r i t e r Paul Hiller of C o l o g n e , w h o g u a r d s i t a s a c h e r i s h e d legacy." T o g e t h e r w i t h the explanation he inscribed on the back of the locket, those few w o r d s comprise the only written acknowledgments yet d i s c o v e r e d o f t h e fact t h a t F e r d i n a n d H i l l e r d i d i n d e e d c l i p a l o c k o f B e e t h o v e n ' s h a i r , t h e n t r e a s u r e d i t t h r o u g h o u t his life.

IN T H E

DAYS

F O L L O W I N G T H E publication o f the tribute

to F e r d i n a n d Hiller, it is p r o b a b l e , given t h e great e s t e e m in w h i c h B e e t h o v e n was held, that Hiller's son Paul m u s t h a v e had

a

flood

of requests

from

friends,

acquaintances,

even

s t r a n g e r s w a n t i n g t o see t h e l o c k o f h a i r . T h i s m a y e x p l a i n w h y six w e e k s l a t e r h e c h o s e t o h a v e t h e l o c k e t r e f u r b i s h e d , o r p e r h a p s i t w a s s i m p l y t h e c e n t e n a r y o f his father's b i r t h a n d t h e a c cumulated

emotional weight of the

g r e a t gift

he

had been

g i v e n t h a t t o g e t h e r m a d e t h e t i m e s e e m r i g h t for t h e r e s t o r a tion.

B u t t h e r e c o r d g r o w s d i s t r e s s i n g l y faint a t t h i s p o i n t :

Hermann

Grosshennig's

inscription

paper, d a t e d j u s t t h i r t e e n days before

on

the

locket's

inner

1911 c a m e to a close,


followed—presumably s o o n — b y Paul

Hiller's

own

explana-

t o r y n o t e , p r o v i d e t h e last p h y s i c a l e v i d e n c e o f t h e l o c k o f h a i r o r its w h e r e a b o u t s f o r t h e s u b s e q u e n t t h i r t y - t w o y e a r s . In

only three m o r e years,

Francis

Ferdinand,

heir

to

t h e assassination o f A r c h d u k e the

Austro-Hungarian

throne,

w o u l d c a t a p u l t all o f E u r o p e i n t o a d i s a s t r o u s w a r ; i n j u s t e i g h t m o r e y e a r s , t h e f o r m a t i o n o f t h e N a t i o n a l Socialist G e r m a n W o r k e r s ' P a r t y a n d its r a p i d r i s e t o p r o m i n e n c e w o u l d i g n i t e the kind of organized persecution of J e w s in G e r m a n y that F e r d i n a n d H i l l e r fearfully h a d e n v i s i o n e d f o r t y y e a r s b e f o r e ; A d o l f H i t l e r w o u l d seize n a t i o n a l p o w e r i n t w e n t y - t w o y e a r s , summarily excluding Jews

from

the protections of G e r m a n

l a w ; a n d i n little m o r e t h a n t w e n t y - f i v e y e a r s h e n c e , E u r o p e w o u l d b e a t w a r for a s e c o n d t i m e i n t h e n e w c e n t u r y , a n d t h e Nazis' would

Endldsung, be

the "6nal solution of the Jewish problem,"

horrifyingly

under

way.

Not

only

would

the

parochial i m p o r t a n c e of a cherished lock of hair shrink in the midst of the events that w o u l d m a k e E u r o p e a calamitous k i l l i n g g r o u n d , b u t t h o s e m o m e n t o u s e v e n t s t h e m s e l v e s also would

shape

dramatically

the

lockets

future

and

hold

its

w h e r e a b o u t s in dusky shadow. I n t h e e i g h t y y e a r s s i n c e H i l l e r , B e r l i o z , Liszt a n d t h e i r m u sical c o m r a d e s i n P a r i s first h a d s t r i v e n t o e l e v a t e B e e t h o v e n t o t h e status o f a c o m p o s e r - G o d , l o v e o f his c o m p o s i t i o n s a n d d e votion

to

him

as

a

mythic

ideal

had

continued

to

swell

t h r o u g h o u t m u c h of the world. His orchestral and c h a m b e r music had increased in popularity in each succeeding decade, d e s p i t e d r a m a t i c a l l y e v o l v i n g m u s i c a l tastes; a s e r i e s o f b i o g r a p h i e s — s o m e accurate and highly informative, others elabo-


rately

fictionalized—had

d o z e n s o f plays,

b e e n published in three languages;

p o e m s , and novels,

including one by the

R u s s i a n l u m i n a r y L e o T o l s t o y , h a d e m p l o y e d t h e basic s t o r y o f B e e t h o v e n ' s life a s t h e i r n a r r a t i v e g r i s t , a n d g r e a t s t a t u e s i n h i s h o n o r h a d b e e n e r e c t e d i n B o n n a n d V i e n n a . W h e n his g r a v e had

fallen

into

disrepair in

1863,

Vienna's

Society

of the

F r i e n d s o f M u s i c successfully h a d p e t i t i o n e d for p e r m i s s i o n t o e x h u m e B e e t h o v e n ' s b o d y a n d r e b u r y it. T h e n i n 1 8 8 8 , his b o d y h a d b e e n d i s t u r b e d a second^ t i m e w h e n i t w a s r e m o v e d t o t h e city's C e n t r a l C e m e t e r y a n d i n t e r r e d a l o n g s i d e t h e r e mains of V i e n n a - b o r n Franz Schubert, twin headstones m a r k ing the t w o c o m p o s e r s ' resting places. A y e a r later, r e s i d e n t s o f B o n n h a d r e m i n d e d t h e w o r l d t h a t B e e t h o v e n w a s their n a t i v e s o n w h e n t h e h o u s e w h e r e h e w a s b o r n had been restored and made into a m u s e u m , but it was in V i e n n a a g a i n i n 1 9 0 2 w h e n a g r o u p o f a v a n t - g a r d e artists a n d musicians had ushered Beethoven's m e m o r y and music into the

brave

Exhibition."

new

century

Centered

with

around

a

sensational

"Beethoven

the

ceremonial

unveiling of

Leipzig sculptor M a x Klinger's marble m o n u m e n t , w h i c h had b e e n seventeen years in construction, the exhibition had b e e n t h e b r a i n c h i l d o f a g r o u p o f y o u n g , i c o n o c l a s t i c V i e n n a artists led

by

painter

"Secessionists."

Gustav

Klimt

For them,

who

Beethoven

dubbed

themselves

epitomized

not only

artistic g e n i u s b u t also t h e p e r s o n a l t r i u m p h o f p u r i t y o v e r b a s e sensuality, a s u b j e c t s c a n d a l o u s l y a d d r e s s e d b y K l i m t s

Frieze, year-old

Beethoven

w h i c h c o v e r e d t h r e e walls of t h e i n t e r i o r o f t h e f o u r Secession

Pavilion

when

the

exhibition

opened.

M u c h h u m a n nakedness indeed was depicted in Klimt s frieze,


a n d K l i n g e r ' s l a r g e r - t h a n - l i f e B e e t h o v e n also w a s s t r i p p e d o f c l o t h i n g , his m o d e s t y p r o t e c t e d o n l y b y a s w a t h o f m a r b l e cloth. C o n s t r u c t e d of m a n y types of stone, as well as ivory, gold, b r o n z e , and gems, Klinger's B e e t h o v e n was seated on a t h r o n e a d o r n e d b y f i v e a n g e l s , y e t his f a c e — p a t t e r n e d after a life m a s k m a d e l o n g a g o b y s c u l p t o r F r a n z K l e i n — w a s u n a d o r n e d , h u m a n , a n d strikingly reminiscent o f the m a n w h o o n c e h a d lived only a block away a c e n t u r y before. A l t h o u g h renowned

French sculptor Auguste

R o d i n had pronounced

t h e e x h i b i t i o n " t r a g i c a n d m a g n i f i c e n t " f o l l o w i n g its o p e n i n g on

April

Vienna's

5—for

which

Imperial

Opera,

occasion had

Gustav

Mahler,

rescored parts

head

of the

of

Ninth

S y m p h o n y s o l e l y for w o o d w i n d s , brass, a n d v o i c e s — m o s t c r i t ics h a d b e e n c o n v i n c e d t h a t t h e g r e a t i n s t a l l a t i o n i n s i d e t h e starkly

modern

highbrow

Secession Pavilion was

pornography,

utterly

nothing more

unsuited

to

than

"honorable

w o m e n and y o u n g maidens." But the scandal—such as it w a s — h a d been b r e w e d by the y o u n g S e c e s s i o n i s t s , n o t b y B e e t h o v e n surely, a s u b t l e t y t h a t t h e c r i t i c s t o o k p a i n s t o p o i n t o u t , a n d his g o d l i k e r e p u t a t i o n h a d n o t suffered g r e a t l y o r for l o n g i n V i e n n a o r i n E u r o p e a t large. T h e m y t h o f t h e d i v i n e B e e t h o v e n h a d r e m a i n e d i n t a c t for s o m e t i m e l o n g e r a c r o s s t h e A t l a n t i c a s w e l l , w h e r e n i n e teenth-century

transcendentalists

such

as

Ralph

Waldo

E m e r s o n a n d M a r g a r e t Fuller l o n g since had c o n v i n c e d their l i k e - m i n d e d c o u n t r y m e n i n t h e U n i t e d States t h a t B e e t h o v e n w o n d e r f u l l y e m b o d i e d an ideal spiritual reality capable of t r a n s c e n d i n g t h e base a n d often painful physical w o r l d . B e e t h o v e n h a d b e e n d e a d for e i g h t d e c a d e s w h e n P a u l H i l l e r


r e f u r b i s h e d t h e l o c k e t t h a t h e l d his hair. B u t t h e c o m p o s e r h a d r e m a i n e d v i t a l l y alive i n t h e h e a r t s o f h i s a d h e r e n t s a s t h e t w e n t i e t h c e n t u r y o p e n e d , m u c h m o r e a g o d still a m o n g t h e m t h a n a s i m p l e m a n w h o o n c e h a d lived a n d suffered a n d m a d e extraordinary music. It wasn't until W o r l d W a r I had b e g u n to soak the r e m n a n t s o f R o m a n t i c i s m i n b o t h b l o o d a n d misery that the cult of B e e t h o v e n , w h i c h Ferdinand Hiller l o n g ago h a d p l a y e d a p a r t i n c r e a t i n g , a t last c a m e t o a s o b e r e d c l o s e . Particularly in France and the English-speaking w o r l d , p e o p l e s u d d e n l y n o l o n g e r c o u l d i g n o r e t h e fact t h a t B e e t h o v e n — f o r all his m u s i c a l g e n i u s — h a d b e e n a

German,

and an e n e m y na-

tion simply could not p r o d u c e s o m e o n e w o r t h y of a kind of w o r s h i p . T h e Fifth S y m p h o n y , t h e N i n t h , t h e K r e u t z e r S o n a t a , a n d the late string quartets r e m a i n e d splendid music, o f c o u r s e . B u t i n t h e h o r r o r o f t h e f i g h t i n g a n d its h o l l o w a f t e r m a t h , s o m e t h i n g s e e m e d n e w l y clear t o m a n y w h o o n c e had b e lieved starkly o t h e r w i s e : t h e m a n w h o h a d created t h o s e great works had been only a man in the end.

PAUL

HILLER,

JOURNALIST

AND

MUSIC

scholar,

had

b e e n keenly interested over the years to read the infrequently published volumes of the m o n u m e n t a l

Life of Beethoven

that

American Alexander W h e e l o c k Thayer had begun w o r k on m o r e t h a n a h a l f c e n t u r y b e f o r e , a b i o g r a p h y , u n l i k e m o s t o f its predecessors, that had been intended to describe the c o m p o s e r ' s life a s i t a c t u a l l y h a d o c c u r r e d . S o o n after T h a y e r h a d initiated the project in 1849, he had enlisted the l o n g - t e r m


assistance

of writer and historian

Hermann

Deiters,

whose

p r i n c i p a l task i t w o u l d b e t o e d i t T h a y e r ' s w r i t i n g a n d t r a n s l a t e it into G e r m a n , the appropriate language in which the exhaustive biography should be published, T h a y e r believed. T h e t w o m e n had succeeded in completing three v o l u m e s — a d d r e s s i n g t h e c o m p o s e r ' s life t h r o u g h

1 8 1 6 — w h e n , following

y e a r s o f failing h e a l t h a n d a m o u n t i n g w r i t e r ' s b l o c k , T h a y e r h a d d i e d i n 1 8 9 7 a n d t h e task o f c o m p l e t i n g t h e p r o j e c t h a d fallen t o D e i t e r s a l o n e . D e i t e r s h a d b e e n able t o finish t h e b i o g r a p h y ' s f o u r t h v o l u m e i n t h e w e e k s before t o his o w n d e a t h i n 1 9 0 7 , t h e n i t h a d fallen t o his c o l l e a g u e H u g o R i e m a n n t o c o m p l e t e t h e fifth a n d f i n a l v o l u m e , t o r e e d i t its p r e d e c e s s o r s , a n d t o o v e r s e e t h e publication in 1917 of t h e definitive,

five-volume

set, a b i o g -

r a p h y t h a t i n t h e e n d s u c c e e d e d s t u n n i n g l y i n its s c o p e , its scale, a n d its " d e v o t i o n t o B e e t h o v e n t h e

many

as T h a y e r l o n g

ago had h o p e d it w o u l d — a w o r k that p r o v e d to Paul Hiller a n d thousands o f k i n d r e d B e e t h o v e n devotees that the c o m p o s e r h a d b e e n , i n fact, all t h e m o r e r e m a r k a b l e for his f l a w e d h u m a n i t y . H i s w a s human m u s i c , n o t t h e w o r k o f a g o d o f a n y r a n k , a n d t h e r e i n lay b o t h its m y s t e r y a n d its e n o r m o u s , e n d u r i n g appeal. P a u l H i l l e r , a g e e i g h t y - o n e , w h i t e - h a i r e d , still h a n d s o m e , a n d n o t a t all t h e c o r p u l e n t m a n his f a t h e r h a d b e e n , d i e d o n J a n u a r y 2 7 , 1 9 3 4 , s o o n after s u f f e r i n g a s t r o k e a t his h o m e a t 3 1 Eifelstrasse i n C o l o g n e . A t his b e d s i d e w e r e his w i f e S o p h i e , h e r age u n k n o w n , a n d his t w o y o u n g e r s o n s — E d g a r , s o o n t o b e t w e n t y - e i g h t a n d a n o p e r a s i n g e r like his f a t h e r a n d g r a n d m o t h e r before h i m had been, and Erwin, then twenty-six and


a n a c t o r , b o t h s o n s still l i v i n g a t t h e i r p a r e n t s ' h o m e . U n k n o w n to t h e m a n d residing in Berlin at t h e t i m e was their half b r o t h e r Felix, fifty-one, w h o h a d g r o w n u p i n C h e m n i t z , a n d w h o h a d s u p p o r t e d h i m s e l f a s a n artist i n his y o u n g e r days b e fore b e c o m i n g a c o m p o s e r , c o n t i n u i n g in t h e tradition of his paternal grandfather. T h r e e d a y s after P a u l H i l l e r ' s d e a t h , a p a i d o b i t u a r y a p p e a r e d i n a C o l o g n e n e w s p a p e r , t h e small n o t i c e b e a r i n g a t h i c k b l a c k b o r d e r a n d h e a d e d b y a s i m p l e b l a i k c r o s s . " A f t e r a life o f r i c h artistic c r e a t i v i t y , " it r e a d ,

r i g h t e o u s u p t o his d e a t h , o u r u n f o r g e t t a b l e d e a r h u s b a n d a n d father, H e r r Paul Hiller, m u s i c w r i t e r , passed a w a y u n e x p e c t e d l y . . . a t the age o f e i g h t y - o n e . H e died f i r m l y b e l i e v i n g i n his S a v i o r . I n a c c o r d a n c e w i t h his w i s h e s , w e h a v e laid o u r b e l o v e d d e p a r t e d o n e q u i e t l y t o h i s f i n a l r e s t in the Southern C e m e t e r y in Cologne. In deep sorrow: S o p h i e H i l l e r ; E d g a r a n d E r w i n H i l l e r . W e ask f r i e n d s t o a b s t a i n f r o m c o n d o l e n c e visits.

P a u l H i l l e r h a d w o r k e d as a staff w r i t e r for t h e

Zeitung

Rheinische

for a q u a r t e r c e n t u r y , a p o s i t i o n h e h a d h e l d u n t i l e i g h t

years b e f o r e , yet it was n o t that n e w s p a p e r in w h i c h his family chose to have the obituary published. N e i t h e r did it appear in the

Kolnische Zeitung,

t h e p e r i o d i c a l that h a d p u b l i s h e d Paul's

m e m o r i a l a r t i c l e o n t h e c e n t e n a r y o f h i s father's b i r t h . I n s t e a d , the obituary had b e e n purchased in the

Westdeutscher Beobachter,


a n d t h e r e i n lay t h e first o f m a n y s u b s e q u e n t m y s t e r i e s . W h y d i d P a u l H i l l e r ' s f a m i l y c h o o s e t o n o t e his p a s s i n g i n t h e C o l o g n e n e w s p a p e r that was the m o s t zealously p r o - N a z i at that m o m e n t ? H a d P a u l H i l l e r b o r n e ill w i l l t o w a r d t h e n e w s p a p e r w h e r e h e h a d w o r k e d s o l o n g , a n d w a s this c h o i c e t h e r e f o r e e v i d e n c e o f s o m e spite? O r d i d t h e family m e m b e r s c h o o s e t o publish t h e o b i t u a r y in t h e

Westdeutscher Beobachter

specifically

in o r d e r to help mask their J e w i s h identity, to p r o t e c t t h e m selves f r o m h a r a s s m e n t a n d t h e g r o w i n g t h r e a t o f v i o l e n c e ? C o u l d that a t t e m p t at c o n c e a l m e n t a c c o u n t as well for t h e use o f t h e cross a n d t h e s h o r t notice's t w o separate references to

Paul

Hiller's—and

by

inference

his

family's—devout

C h r i s t i a n i t y ? F e r d i n a n d H i l l e r a n d his w i f e , A n t o l k a , h a d b e c o m e converted Lutherans almost a century before, and their s o n t h e r e f o r e w a s a t least a n o m i n a l C h r i s t i a n , y e t b y all a c c o u n t s his p a r e n t s ' c o n v e r s i o n h a d b e e n o n e o n l y o f c o n v e n i e n c e . F o r four g e n e r a t i o n s b y n o w , t h e H i l d e s h e i m family h a d c a l l e d itself H i l l e r i n o r d e r t o h e l p i t a s s i m i l a t e i n t o m i d d l e class G e r m a n s o c i e t y a s w e l l a s c i r c u m v e n t t h e v e r y r e a l p o s s i bility of p e r s e c u t i o n . W e r e t h e p o s t i n g of Paul's o b i t u a r y in a pro-Nazi

newspaper

and

the

repeated

references

to

his

C h r i s t i a n faith m e r e l y t h e c o n t i n u a t i o n o f a l a m e n t a b l e b u t necessary family tradition c a r r i e d o u t this t i m e in frighteningly d a n g e r o u s times?

THE TREATY

OF V E R S A I L L E S ,

S I G N E D i n 1 9 1 9 i n t h e af-

termath of W o r l d W a r I, had stripped G e r m a n y of military


c o n t r o l o f w h a t h a d b e e n B e e t h o v e n ' s h o m e l a n d a s w e l l a s its t e r r i t o r i a l h o l d o n his a d o p t e d c o u n t r y . E x c l u d e d b y t h e v i c torious Allied nations

from

participation in the Paris Peace

C o n f e r e n c e a t w h i c h E u r o p e ' s n e w political b o u n d a r i e s h a d been delineated, G e r m a n y had been forced to accept the d e m i l i t a r i z a t i o n o f t h e R h i n e l a n d a l o n g its w e s t e r n b o r d e r w i t h France. It had b e e n Germany's humiliations in the aftermath of W o r l d W a r I that had helped make the c o u n t r y ripe d u r i n g the 1 9 2 0 s for t h e e m e r g e n c e o f t h e ^ N a t i o n a l Socialist

German

W o r k e r s ' Party. L e d b y a n obsessive A u s t r i a n i m m i g r a n t n a m e d A d o l f H i t l e r , its m e m b e r s h a d b e e n m a n i a c a l l y c o m m i t t e d t o rebuilding Germany's military power, as well as ridding their country

o f its

insidious

Communists,

t h e vast

majority

of

w h o m w e r e Jews, or so the Nazis believed. Following the onset of a disastrous international depression in

1929,

the

Nazis had argued that the

depression was a

C o m m u n i s t plot engineered by Jewish financiers; they had promised voters a strong G e r m a n y free of Jewish good jobs,

a n d national glory,

and

Nazi

control,

representation in

the G e r m a n parliament had risen sharply following elections in

1930.

In

January

1933,

German

president

Paul

von

H i n d e n b u r g had acquiesced to m o u n t i n g pressure within the parliament and had appointed Hitler as the nation's n e w c h a n cellor. A m o n t h later, t h e

Reichstag,

the national parliament

b u i l d i n g in Berlin, h a d b e e n b u r n e d by arsonists, a n d in t h e fear a n d f u r o r t h a t f o l l o w e d t h a t a t t a c k , w h i c h H i t l e r h i m s e l f m a y h a v e i n s t i g a t e d , h e h a d b e e n able t o o u t l a w all p o l i t i c a l parties

but

his

own

and

to

win

passage

of the

so-called

Enabling Act, w h i c h had dissolved the republican g o v e r n m e n t


and had granted to Hitler b r o a d dictatorial powers. S o o n business, l a b o r , a g r i c u l t u r e , e d u c a t i o n , a n d c u l t u r e all h a d b e c o m e s u b j e c t t o N a z i c o n t r o l , a n d a s e c r e t state p o l i c e , t h e G e s t a p o , had b e e n established in o r d e r to crush potential dissent a n d i n s u r r e c t i o n , its b r u t a l i t y o p e n l y a i m e d a t J e w s , w h o t h e n c e f o r t h had been

removed

from leading positions

in

all

facets

of

G e r m a n life. I n t h e m o n t h s following Paul Hiller's d e a t h i n J a n u a r y 1 9 3 4 , i t r e m a i n e d u n c l e a r p r e c i s e l y h o w difficult life w o u l d b e c o m e for G e r m a n y ' s J e w s , b u t b y t h e a u t u m n o f 1 9 3 5 , w i t h t h e p a s sage o f t h e s o - c a l l e d N u r e m b e r g L a w s , t h e f u t u r e h a d b e g u n t o g r o w s h o c k i n g l y clear: J e w s n o w n o l o n g e r c o u l d v o t e , t h e y c o u l d n o t h o l d an array of j o b s a n d professions, a n d p r o p e r t y o w n e d b y J e w s c o u l d legally b e s e i z e d . T h r o u g h o u t Germany, hundreds of thousands of J e w s — i n cluding those w h o w e r e converted Protestants as well as those whose parentage meant they were what the Nazis deemed "half-Jews"—now began to debate whether it would be wisest t o f l e e t h e c o u n t r y r a t h e r t h a n r i s k f u r t h e r p e r s e c u t i o n , a l t h o u g h e m i g r a t i n g a p p e a r e d a s a t r u l y feasible o p t i o n o n l y t o t h o s e w h o h a d t h e f i n a n c i a l m e a n s t o d o so, a p r i v i l e g e d g r o u p that w o u l d h a v e i n c l u d e d Paul Hiller's w i d o w , S o p h i e , a n d h e r s o n s a m o n g its n u m b e r s . J e w i s h w r i t e r s , artists, a n d m u s i c i a n s w e r e a m o n g t h e f i r s t t o b e g i n t o f l e e t h e i r h o m e l a n d , i n fact, a n d a s m a n y a s f i f t e e n h u n d r e d o f t h e m f l e d specifically t o neighboring Denmark beginning in 1933. T h e 1 9 3 4 Adressbuch, C o l o g n e ' s c i t y d i r e c t o r y , listed o n l y Sophie Hiller and her son Edgar as living in the house at


Eifelstrasse 3 1 . I t i s possible, h o w e v e r , t h a t E r w i n , t h e y o u n g e s t son, then t w e n t y - s e v e n , r e m a i n e d in residence there as well and s i m p l y w a s n o t listed, b u t b y 1 9 3 5 , n e i t h e r son's n a m e a p p e a r e d i n t h e Adressbuch, a l t h o u g h t h e i r m o t h e r d i d still live at h e r l o n g t e r m h o m e . B y 1 9 3 6 , t h e city's streets n o w j a m m e d w i t h s t e r n visaged soldiers in the w a k e of the Nazis' massive remilitarization of the Rhineland, the

Adressbuch

n o longer showed evidence of

any m e m b e r o f t h e H i l l e r family l i v i n g i n C o l o g n e , n o t i n t h e leafy Eifelstrasse n o r a n y w h e r e else ifc t h e g r e a t city t h a t h a d b e e n t h e family's h o m e for m o r e t h a n e i g h t y y e a r s . H a d S o p h i e H i l l e r fled G e r m a n y for a n o t h e r c o u n t r y w h e r e she w o u l d have believed herself m o r e secure? H a d h e r sons e s c a p e d a s w e l l ? H a d t h e y t r a v e l e d t o g e t h e r , separately, o r d i d they remain in G e r m a n y s o m e h o w sheltered from view? A n d what

had

become

of the

storied

lock

of Ludwig

van

B e e t h o v e n ' s hair? Paul Hiller had c o n t e n d e d twenty-five years before that he g u a r d e d t h e h a i r a s a c h e r i s h e d l e g a c y o f his father, a n d , t a k i n g h i m a t his w o r d , i t i s difficult t o i m a g i n e t h a t h e m i g h t h a v e s o l d t h e h a i r o r s i m p l y lost t r a c k o f i t s o m e t i m e d u r i n g t h e t w e n t y - t h r e e years that followed. W h a t seems probable is that P a u l H i l l e r p l a n n e d t o pass i t t o o n e o f his s o n s . F e l i x , his e l d e s t , m i g h t h a v e r e c e i v e d t h e gift, y e t h e l i v e d i n f a r a w a y B e r l i n , a n d i t b e a r s n o t i n g a s w e l l t h a t his i l l e g i t i m a c y p r o b a bly k e p t h i m at a significant physical a n d e m o t i o n a l r e m o v e f r o m his f a t h e r i f h e w a s i n c o n t a c t w i t h h i m a t all. T h e n e x t son, the singer Edgar, elder of the t w o sons w h o m Paul a n d Sophie shared, might have b e e n b e q u e a t h e d the locket that


h e l d t h e h a i r , b u t i t also i s v e r y p o s s i b l e t h a t i t r e m a i n e d i n Sophie's possession s o m e t i m e into t h e future. Despite h e r h u s band's advanced age, he nevertheless died unexpectedly, and it is possible that he did so before he m a d e k n o w n w h o m he w i s h e d t o o w n B e e t h o v e n ' s hair. W h a t is wonderfully certain, h o w e v e r , is that the lock of hair did s u r v i v e . R e s e a l e d i n s i d e its l o c k e t t h i r t y - t w o y e a r s b e f o r e , B e e t h o v e n ' s h a i r r e a p p e a r e d , m o s t i m p r o b a b l y , i n t h e small fishing

port

of Gilleleje—pronounced

Gill-uh-LIE-uh—on

t h e n o r t h c o a s t o f t h e D a n i s h island o f S j a d l a n d i n O c t o b e r 1943. B u t h o w did it reach that sea-battered outpost only a few k i l o m e t e r s a c r o s s t h e icy O r e s u n d

from

the shores of war-

n e u t r a l S w e d e n ? A n d w h e r e h a d i t a n d its o w n e r r e s i d e d d u r i n g t h e y e a r s b e f o r e ? H a d t h e l o c k o f h a i r still r e m a i n e d i n Germany on

Kristallnacht,

t h e N i g h t o f B r o k e n Glass, w h e n , in

N o v e m b e r 1938, brownshirted mobs broke the w i n d o w s of J e w i s h shops, b u r n e d synagogues, a n d attacked J e w i s h citizens i n t h e s t r e e t s o f C o l o g n e a n d t h r o u g h o u t all o f G e r m a n y ? W h e r e w e r e t h e l o c k o f h a i r a n d its s u r e l y f e a r - r a c k e d o w n e r w h e n , t e n m o n t h s later, G e r m a n t r o o p s i n v a d e d P o l a n d a n d the S e c o n d W o r l d W a r dramatically was u n d e r way, G e r m a n y ' s b o r d e r s c l o s e d a n d t h e c o u n t r y all b u t i m p o s s i b l e t o e s c a p e ? H o w d i d i t c o m e t o pass t h a t a l o c k o f h a i r c l i p p e d f r o m t h e h e a d of a l o n g - d e a d c o m p o s e r was o n e of t h e few possessions c a r r i e d b y a r e f u g e e f l e e i n g for his life o r for h e r s ? A n d i f t h e lock of hair was carried on the escape simply because it was p r e c i o u s , w h y t h e n d i d its o w n e r s u b s e q u e n t l y g i v e i t a w a y i n Gilleleje on a cold O c t o b e r night?


WITHIN

NINE

MONTHS

OF

GERMANY'S

invasion

of

P o l a n d a n d t h e o n s e t o f W o r l d W a r II, v i r t u a l l y all o f c o n t i n e n t a l w e s t e r n E u r o p e lay u n d e r t h e c o n t r o l o f t h e N a z i s a n d t h e i r fascist c o n f e d e r a t e s i n Italy. D e n m a r k a n d N o r w a y fell to

the

G e r m a n s in April

1940;

in

early

May,

so

did the

Netherlands, Belgium, and L u x e m b o u r g , and most of France s u c c u m b e d i n t h e f i r s t t h r e e days o f J u n e . Hitler's armies h a d b e e n t h o r o u g h l y p r e p a r e d for t h e s e r i e s o f " l i g h t n i n g s t r i k e " i n v a s i o n s , a n d c o u n t r i e s l i k e D e n n \ a r k h a d b e e n a b l e t o offer only the most token kind of opposition. I n D e n m a r k ' s p a r t i c u l a r c i r c u m s t a n c e , i n fact, t h e N a z i s r e warded the

D a n e s for t h e i r p a s s i v i t y b y p r o m i s i n g t h e m a

m e a s u r e o f a u t o n o m y . T h e r e h a d b e e n n o G e r m a n casualties during

the

few

moments

of

fighting—Denmark's

King

C h r i s t i a n X h a d s u r r e n d e r e d his c o u n t r y ' s n i n e h u n d r e d years o f i n d e p e n d e n c e less t h a n t h r e e h o u r s after G e r m a n t r o o p s h a d w a d e d a s h o r e — a n d therefore the G e r m a n s pledged their willingness to allow the D a n i s h g o v e r n m e n t to r e m a i n in place. C o u r t s , p o l i c e , e v e n t h e small a r m y c o n t i n u e d u n d e r D a n i s h jurisdiction.

Hitler w o u l d allow the Danes to maintain r e -

m a r k a b l e levels of self-rule, b u t o n l y so l o n g as agricultural a n d industrial p r o d u c t s steadily s t r e a m e d s o u t h t o

Germany,

so

l o n g as a disruptive resistance m o v e m e n t did n o t b e g i n to b u r geon, and, equally i m p o r t a n t , so l o n g as D e n m a r k ' s "Jewish p r o b l e m " d i d n o t fester. But "there is no Jewish problem in D e n m a r k , " national p o lice c h i e f T h u n e J a c o b s e n i n f o r m e d H e i n r i c h H i m m l e r , h e a d o f N a z i p o l i c e f o r c e s d u r i n g H i m m l e r ' s visit t o D e n m a r k s o o n after t h e o c c u p a t i o n . J a c o b s e n ' s b l u n t r e s p o n s e r e f l e c t e d t h e


fact t h a t t h e c o u n t r y ' s J e w i s h p o p u l a t i o n w a s v e r y small. I t comprised only about eight thousand people,

roughly two

t h o u s a n d o f w h o m w e r e noncitizen refugees w h o had escaped persecution, in Russia and G e r m a n y in particular, in t h e years leading up to t h e war. B u t it was reflective t o o of t h e t r u t h that the D a n e s simply did n o t share the Nazis' maniacal conviction that the J e w s w h o m they lived a m o n g w e r e d e m o n s . T h e y w e r e Danes f o r e m o s t , a n d t h a t t o o w a s t h e w a y i n w h i c h m o s t Danish Jews perceived themselves. Nazi

officials

in

Berlin

naively

presumed

that

patriotic

D a n i s h c i t i z e n s w o u l d feel n o small m e a s u r e o f c o m f o r t a n d satisfaction u n d e r t h e p r o t e c t i o n o f t h e f o r c e s t h a t s o o b v i o u s l y s o o n w o u l d w i n t h e w a r , a n d for a t i m e , life d i d g o o n i n D e n m a r k r e m a r k a b l y a s i t h a d b e f o r e t h e i n v a s i o n for b o t h J e w s a n d n o n - J e w s alike. S y n a g o g u e s a n d r e l i g i o u s s c h o o l s r e m a i n e d o p e n , t h e activities o f J e w i s h organizations c o n t i n u e d without

disturbance,

and

most

Danish

Jews—like

their

Christian n e i g h b o r s — f o u n d it virtually impossible to believe the r u m o r s filtering n o r t h a b o u t t h e N a z i p e r s e c u t i o n , d e p o r tation, and execution of J e w s elsewhere in occupied E u r o p e . Y e t t h e D a n e s n e v e r d i d g r o w c o m f o r t a b l e w i t h t h e affront p o s e d b y G e r m a n soldiers a n d G e r m a n w e a p o n r y c l o g g i n g their h i t h e r t o tranquil streets. N e w s a b o u t t h e t r u e h o r r o r o f t h e N a z i r e g i m e a t last b e g a n t o h a v e a s i c k e n i n g r i n g o f t r u t h a b o u t it; a n d , i n e v i t a b l y , a v i g o r o u s D a n i s h r e s i s t a n c e m o v e m e n t did develop in time, relations b e t w e e n the g o v e r n m e n t s in Berlin and C o p e n h a g e n dramatically deteriorating as well o n c e t h e w a r a t l a r g e b e g a n t o g o b a d l y for H i t l e r ' s f o r c e s . T h e


Soviet R e d A r m y ultimately had repelled the Nazis' drive d e e p i n t o R u s s i a . T h e G e r m a n s p l a i n l y h a d failed i n t h e i r efforts t o b o m b t h e British i n t o submission; t h e i r offensive i n N o r t h Africa h a d c o l l a p s e d , a n d e v e n i n o n c e - c o m p l i a n t D e n m a r k , sabotage against G e r m a n t r o o p s carried o u t b y D a n i s h f r e e d o m fighters became a true irritant by the s u m m e r of 1943. W h e n t h e D a n i s h g o v e r n m e n t r e f u s e d t o i n s t i t u t e its o w n f o r m o f martial German

law in an forces

effort t o

took

quell the

command

^f the

m o u n t i n g resistance, king's

residence

in

C o p e n h a g e n on August 29, arrested m e m b e r s of parliament as w e l l a s l e a d i n g D a n i s h c i t i z e n s , a n d d e c l a r e d a state o f e m e r g e n c y . I n a r e s p o n s e t h a t w a s little m o r e t h a n s y m b o l i c , t h e Danish g o v e r n m e n t p r o m p t l y resigned and a general strike e n s u e d , y e t t h e G e r m a n s a t last h e l d c o m p l e t e c o n t r o l o v e r t h e country. W i t h o u t a g o v e r n m e n t to appease, a n d n o w utterly u n i n t e r ested in p r e s e n t i n g a c o o p e r a t i v e image to t h e D a n i s h p e o p l e themselves, the Nazis no longer w e r e forced to sanction w h a t they d e e m e d the preferential treatment of Denmark's Jews. I m m e d i a t e l y f o l l o w i n g t h e i n t r o d u c t i o n o f t h e state o f e m e r g e n c y , t h e y c o n f i s c a t e d lists c o n t a i n i n g t h e n a m e s a n d a d d r e s s e s of m e m b e r s of the nation's Jewish c o m m u n i t y , and soon it was t e r r i f y i n g l y a p p a r e n t t h a t D e n m a r k n o l o n g e r w a s t h e small b u t safe h a v e n i t h a d b e e n s i n c e w e l l b e f o r e t h e o n s e t o f t h e w a r . R u m o r s n o w swirled t h r o u g h o u t C o p e n h a g e n that a G e r m a n s h i p r e c e n t l y d o c k e d i n t h e city's h a r b o r w a s w a i t i n g , i m p a tiently, for a c a r g o o f c a p t i v e J e w s .


THE

CAVERNOUS

DANISH

NATIONAL

ARCHIVES

con-

tain no e v i d e n c e indicating that a G e r m a n e m i g r a n t n a m e d Sophie Hiller or either of her t w o sons, Edgar or E r w i n , w e r e admitted to D e n m a r k b e t w e e n 1934 and 1943. N e i t h e r do the archives c o n t a i n a r e c o r d establishing that Sophie's stepson Felix Hiller was o n e o f the thousands o f G e r m a n refugees w h o had passed t h r o u g h D a n i s h i m m i g r a t i o n p r i o r t o t h e o u t b r e a k o f the war. It is possible, of course, that o n e — o r e v e n a l l — o f t h e m were

a d m i t t e d u n d e r false

identities.

Hundreds

of refugees

present in D e n m a r k in 1943 entered the c o u n t r y by clandestine m e a n s a n d w i t h o u t official s a n c t i o n , a n d t h e r e f o r e n o r e c o r d o f their p r e s e n c e has ever existed. W h a t i s i r r e f u t a b l e , h o w e v e r , i s t h a t t h e lives o f t h i s s i n g l e family s t e e p e d i n m u s i c h a d b e e n r u p t u r e d i n a w a y that w o u l d have b e e n utterly unimaginable as recently as 1934, the year in w h i c h Paul Hiller passed away. T h e available e v i d e n c e m a k e s it appear certain that n o n e of the Hillers r e m a i n e d in C o l o g n e in 1943, and the reappearance of the locket likewise makes it p o s s i b l e t h a t a t least o n e o f t h e m e s c a p e d t o D e n m a r k b e f o r e t h e late s u m m e r o f t h a t y e a r , w h e n t h e N a z i s s e i z e d m a r t i a l c o n t r o l o f t h e i r o c c u p i e d c o u n t r y a n d set a b o u t t h e s c u r r i l o u s business o f d e p o r t i n g J e w s . B u t w o u l d Sophie, Edgar, o r E r w i n Hiller h a v e b e e n readily identifiable as J e w i s h in a c o u n t r y w h e r e that designation was d e e m e d insignificant i n c o m p a r i son w i t h the grave importance it had b o r n e in n e i g h b o r i n g G e r m a n y ? O n c e i n D e n m a r k , w o u l d the Hillers have s h u n n e d their Jewish ethnicity as a further m e a n s of self-protection? Or conversely, m i g h t t h e y h a v e s o u g h t o u t that c o u n t r y ' s small c o m m u n i t y of J e w s as a w a y to d r a w vital assistance a n d s u p -


p o r t from o t h e r s w h o similarly w e r e h u n t e d ? M i g h t a m e m b e r o f t h e H i l l e r family h a v e b e e n a m o n g t h e l a r g e c r o w d t h a t h a d gathered

at

morning

of September

the

venerable 30,

Copenhagen 1943,

to

Synagogue hear

Rabbi

on

the

Marcus

Melchior's stunning announcement:

Last n i g h t I r e c e i v e d w o r d t h a t t o m o r r o w t h e G e r m a n s plan t o raid J e w i s h h o m e s t h r o u g h o u t C o p e n h a g e n t o arrest all t h e D a n i s h J e w s for s h i p m e n t t o c o n c e n t r a t i o n camps. T h e y k n o w that t o m o r r o w is R o s h Hashanah and o u r families w i l l b e h o m e . T h e s i t u a t i o n i s v e r y s e r i o u s . We m u s t take action immediately. You m u s t leave t h e synagogue

now

and

contact

all

relatives,

friends,

and

n e i g h b o r s y o u k n o w a r e J e w i s h a n d tell t h e m w h a t I h a v e t o l d y o u . Y o u m u s t tell t h e m pass t h e w o r d o n t o e v e r y o n e t h e y k n o w i s J e w i s h . Y o u m u s t also s p e a k t o all y o u r C h r i s t i a n f r i e n d s a n d tell t h e m t o w a r n t h e J e w s . Y o u m u s t d o this immediately, w i t h i n t h e n e x t few m i n u t e s , s o that t w o o r t h r e e h o u r s from n o w e v e r y o n e will k n o w w h a t i s h a p p e n i n g . B y n i g h t f a l l t o n i g h t , w e m u s t all b e i n hiding.

This extraordinary information had c o m e to the rabbi from C.

B.

Henriques,

a supreme court barrister and longtime

leader of the Jewish c o m m u n i t y , w h o had received it from s o cial d e m o c r a t i c p a r t y c h i e f H a n s H e d t o f t , w h o , i n t u r n , h a d been personally w a r n e d by G e r m a n shipping attache G e o r g


D u c k w i t z that a Nazi

aktion

w a s i m m i n e n t . D u c k w i t z first h a d

r i s k e d a r r e s t for t r e a s o n o n S e p t e m b e r 8 w h e n h e h a d a t t e m p t e d t o i n t e r c e p t a t e l e g r a m c a b l e d t o B e r l i n b y his c l o s e friend W e r n e r Best, t h e Nazis' plenipotentiary in D e n m a r k , in w h i c h Best had r e c o m m e n d e d t o Hitler that n o w was the right time to deal decisively w i t h t h e nation's J e w s . D u c k w i t z had failed i n t h a t e n d e a v o r , b u t w h e n , t e n d a y s later, H i t l e r h a d o r dered

the

abductions

and

deportations

to

commence

on

O c t o b e r 1 , D u c k w i t z h a d b e e n u n a b l e t o stay silent. I t h a d b e e n solely his d e c i s i o n o f c o n s c i e n c e t h a t h a d g i v e n m e m b e r s o f t h e J e w i s h c o m m u n i t y t h e s i n g l e day's n o t i c e , d u r i n g w h i c h t i m e t h e y h a d b e e n a b l e t o h i d e o r t o f l e e , his d e c i s i o n a l o n e that h a d m o b i l i z e d the resistance m o v e m e n t a n d thousands of h i t h e r t o passive D a n e s . B e f o r e nightfall o n S e p t e m b e r 3 0 , a d e t e r m i n e d , i f i m p r o m p t u , n a t i o n w i d e effort t o r e s c u e D e n mark's J e w s was u n d e r way. Messengers

immediately

were

mobilized

in

Copenhagen

a n d s m a l l e r cities a n d t o w n s t o s p r e a d t h e c r i t i c a l w o r d , v o l unteers knocking on every door they came to because theretofore t h e r e h a d b e e n n o general awareness i n D e n m a r k o f w h o was Jewish and w h o was not. Lutheran ministers m a d e urgent t e l e p h o n e pleas t o t h e i r p a r i s h i o n e r s t o s h e l t e r J e w s h o w e v e r t h e y c o u l d ; resistance leaders b e g a n t o marshal t h e aid o f m e r chant safety;

fishermen Boy

w h o s e boats could begin to ferry J e w s to

Scouts a n d m e m b e r s of h u n t i n g clubs c o m b e d

w o o d l a n d s in search of refugees w h o h a d sought the limited cover of trees,

attempting to direct t h e m to

harbor towns

w h e r e boats m i g h t await t h e m ; e v e r y w h e r e hospitals suddenly w e r e filled to overflowing with patients w h o s e names w e r e


listed a s H a n s e n , P e t e r s e n , o r J e n s e n , a n d a s w o r d r e a c h e d t h e h o s p i t a l s a b o u t families w h o w e r e p r e c a r i o u s l y h i d d e n — o r n o t h i d d e n at a l l — a m b u l a n c e s quickly w e r e dispatched to fetch them. Taxis that o t h e r w i s e w o u l d h a v e b e e n plying C o p e n h a g e n ' s cobbled

streets

on

an

early

autumn

afternoon

now

sped

t h r o u g h t h e q u i e t c o u n t r y s i d e e n r o u t e t o t h e f i s h i n g villages t h a t r i n g e d t h e 0 r e s u n d coast; a n d seaside trains, t o o , w e r e p a c k e d as t h o u g h t h e s u m m e r holiday season suddenly had recommenced,

their hushed,

grim-visaged passengers w e a r -

i n g as m a n y clothes as they c o u l d fit b e n e a t h their h e a v y coats. F i s h i n g p o r t s like R u n g s t e d , H u m e l b a e k , H e l s i n g o r , H o r n b a e k , a n d Gilleleje b e g a n t o s w e l l w i t h t h e i r n e w a r r i v a l s , t o w n s p e o p l e o p e n i n g t h e i r s h o p s , t h e i r b a r n s , attics, a n d l i v i n g r o o m s t o guests w h o had b e e n utterly u n e x p e c t e d t h e day before. P e r h a p s b e c a u s e it was farthest from C o p e n h a g e n a n d t h e p e r c e i v e d t h r e a t o f t h e G e s t a p o , b u t also c e r t a i n l y b e c a u s e t h e t r a i n d e a d - e n d e d t h e r e , t h e village o f G i l l e l e j e o n t h e n o r t h e r n t i p o f Sjaelland s o o n felt a p a r t i c u l a r s u r g e o f t e m p o r a r y i n h a b i t a n t s . O n T u e s d a y , O c t o b e r 5 — f i v e d a y s after t h e r e s c u e effort h a d h a s t e n e d to l i f e — t h e e v e n i n g train i n t o Gilleleje carried 3 1 4 people instead of the three d o z e n it n o r m a l l y did, the Gilleleje stationmaster p e n c i l i n g t h e w o r d " J e w s " beside t h e n u m b e r h e s c r i b b l e d i n a n effort t o e x p l a i n t h e f l o o d o f p a s sengers. B u t these w e r e not the first refugees to reach the t o w n of seventeen h u n d r e d inhabitants; m a n y had arrived in the p r e c e d i n g days a n d already had b o a r d e d fishing boats d o c k e d i n Gilleleje's small h a r b o r a n d safely c r o s s e d t o t h e p o r t o f H o g a n a s in n e u t r a l S w e d e n , a d o z e n nautical miles across t h e


w i n d - c h o p p e d expanse w h e r e the n a r r o w O r e s u n d met the o p e n w a t e r s o f t h e K a t t e g a t Sea. T h e first eight refugees—two

families

from

Copenhagen

w h o h a d n o t n e e d e d t o wait for R a b b i M e l c h i o r ' s u r g e n t a n n o u n c e m e n t to sense that flight from the Nazis was a b o u t to b e c o m e t h e i r o n l y o p t i o n — h a d escaped across t h e s o u n d i n t h e early m o r n i n g h o u r s o f W e d n e s d a y , S e p t e m b e r 2 9 . H i d d e n b y s h o p k e e p e r T a g e J a c o b s e n a n d his wife, t h e n ferried t o S w e d e n b y r e t i r e d f i s h e r m a n N i e l s C l a u s e n , w h o h a d lost a l e g a n d h a d n o t b e e n t o sea for s e v e r a l y e a r s , b u t w h o h a d a g r e e d to transport t h e m nonetheless, the four adults a n d four child r e n had b e e n interrogated by police in H o g a n a s on their arrival, t h e n q u a r t e r e d in a b o a r d i n g h o u s e . By Friday, O c t o b e r 1, d o z e n s m o r e refugees h a d a r r i v e d in t h e village.

The

Gilleleje

Inn

had been filled, as had the

B a d e h o t e l , d e s p i t e t h e fact t h a t its o w n e r s , t o w n s p e o p l e said, w e r e open about their p r o - N a z i sentiments. So many people w h o p l a i n l y h a i l e d f r o m s o m e w h e r e else h a d b e g u n t o w a l k t h e streets that n e r v o u s residents b e g a n to invite t h e strangers i n t o their h o m e s , a n d g r o c e r G i l b e r t Lassen o p e n e d t h e s u m m e r h o u s e s for w h i c h h e a c t e d a s c a r e t a k e r t o r e f u g e e s a s w e l l , c e r t a i n t h a t t h e i r o w n e r s w o u l d a p p r o v e o f his largesse. B e f o r e long, f r i g h t e n e d J e w s anxious t o f l e e D e n m a r k , their n a m e s alm o s t n e v e r m e n t i o n e d to their hosts, h a d b e e n sheltered virtually e v e r y w h e r e i n and a r o u n d t h e v i l l a g e — i n garages a n d lofts, i n s h e d s a n d w a r e h o u s e s , a t t h e h o s p i t a l , t h e b o a t b u i l d e r ' s yard, the waterworks, and the brewery. Fishing cutters and oceangoing schooners

from

t h e large

G i l l e l e j e f l e e t h a d sailed u n p r e d i c t a b l y b u t o f t e n d u r i n g t h e


f i r s t days o f t h e r e s c u e . T h e p a s s e n g e r s t h e y t o o k o n b o a r d p a i d w h a t t h e y c o u l d for t h e s h o r t v o y a g e t o safety, t h e f i s h e r m a n a c c e p t i n g p a y m e n t simply b e c a u s e it h a d b e e n irresistible n o t t o d e m a n d it, b u t also b e c a u s e t h e y h a d r i s k e d t h e i r b o a t s , t h e i r livelihoods, even prison if they had been apprehended by the feared Gestapo. K n o t s of h u d d l e d refugees had w a i t e d at the d o c k s for h o u r s i n o p e n d a y l i g h t i n t h e b e g i n n i n g , t h e n s i m ply had walked on b o a r d a readied boat. B u t before long their swelling n u m b e r s , as well as the sheer n u m b e r s of e m b a r k a t i o n s , h a d n e c e s s i t a t e d t h a t r u n s l a r g e l y b e a t t e m p t e d late a t night.

T h e ships m a d e t h e crossing w i t h o u t t h e benefit o f

lights, a n d s o o n thereafter d e p a r t u r e s f r o m t h e h a r b o r gave w a y t o safer a n d m o r e s u r r e p t i t i o u s l a u n c h e s f r o m t h e b e a c h e s t h a t lay east a n d w e s t o f t o w n , a h a l f d o z e n r e f u g e e s a t a t i m e l o a d e d i n t o d i n g h i e s i n t h e s e c o n d s b e t w e e n t h e crash o f e a c h successive w a v e , t h e n ferried o u t t o t h e the

Haabet,

the

Fri,

or the

Wasa

Maagen,

the

Tyboren,

w a i t i n g in d e e p water.

I n s t e a d o f s e t t i n g a c o u r s e d u e east t o H o g a n a s , c a p t a i n s o f t h e e r s t w h i l e f i s h i n g vessels h a d t e n d e d t o sail n o r t h i n t o t h e Kattegat as they departed the

D a n i s h coast,

and only had

steered eastward across t h e s o u n d o n c e they r e a c h e d o p e n water, w h e r e the likelihood of encountering G e r m a n patrol boats had b e e n even slimmer than it otherwise was. A n d o n c e t h e trickle of refugees had r e a c h e d a steady flow, the neutral S w e d e s — o p e n l y favoring t h e Allied p o w e r s n o w that N a z i military fortunes had b e g u n to ebb dramatically—had d o n e what they could to make the fishermen's round-trip journeys simpler.

Swedish

naval

vessels

made

rendezvous

with

the

D a n i s h ships a m i l e or t w o o u t from t h e w e l c o m i n g coast,


their h u m a n cargo transferred on n a r r o w gangplanks from o n e w a v e - p i t c h e d ship to a n o t h e r before b e i n g delivered to the Swedish harbor. But then on the m o r n i n g of Wednesday, October 6, Gestapo chief H a n s Juhl, based in the nearby port of Helsingor and sniffing t r o u b l e , d e c l a r e d all t h e h a r b o r s o f n o r t h Sjaslland off l i m i t s t o a n y o n e w h o d i d n o t possess a v a l i d f i s h e r m a n ' s c a r d ; h e i n s t r u c t e d m e m b e r s o f t h e D a n i s h civilian coast g u a r d t o m o n i t o r c a r e f u l l y all a c t i v i t y a l o n g t h e s h o r e — a l t h o u g h t h e g u a r d ' s a l l e g i a n c e t o h i m w a s t e n u o u s a t b e s t — a n d J u h l a n d his m e n b e g a n t o m a k e p e r i o d i c raids o n h a r b o r s a n d s u s p e c t e d h i d i n g places in h o p e s of catching the D a n e s in w h a t they p e r c e i v e d a s b l a t a n t acts o f s a b o t a g e — t h e s e c r e t i n g o f h u n t e d J e w s o u t o f G e r m a n y ' s grasp.

WEDNESDAY

MORNING

DAWNED

DREARY

AND

over-

cast, a l i g h t r a i n c o n t i n u i n g f r o m t h e s t o r m t h a t h a d r a g e d i n t h e n i g h t , a n d a h a r d s o u t h e a s t w i n d still s w e p t a c r o s s t h e v i l lage's t h a t c h e d a n d t i l e d r o o f s , t h e n o u t i n t o a t r o u b l e d sea. T h e m o r e t h a n t h r e e h u n d r e d refugees w h o had arrived b y train the night b e f o r e — t o g e t h e r w i t h those already in t o w n but w h o had not yet found their w a y to S w e d e n — w e r e dry a n d m o m e n t a r i l y safe, a t least, i f n o t e n t i r e l y c o m f o r t a b l e i n m a k e s h i f t l o d g i n g s t h r o u g h o u t G i l l e l e j e a n d its s u r r o u n d i n g s . B y t h e e s t i m a t e o f a g r o u p o f t o w n s p e o p l e m e e t i n g a t first l i g h t a t O l u f O l s e n ' s b u t c h e r s h o p , a s m a n y a s five h u n d r e d J e w s w h o s e lives w e r e i n r e a l p e r i l w e r e h i d d e n a t t h e m o m e n t . S o


m a n y refugees h a d d e s c e n d e d o n Gilleleje that n e w locations i n w h i c h t h e y c o u l d h i d e w e r e b e c o m i n g distressingly scarce, and t h e local leaders spoke urgently a b o u t h o w best to deal w i t h an increasingly grave situation. S h o u l d the refugees be m o v e d far i n l a n d s o m e h o w ? S h o u l d s o m e o n e t r y t o g e t w o r d to resistance organizers in C o p e n h a g e n that Gilleleje already w a s p a c k e d t o o v e r f l o w i n g w i t h p e o p l e w h o c o u l d n o t sail t o S w e d e n b e c a u s e t h e G e s t a p o h a d g r o w n d e t e r m i n e d a t last t o stop them? Should the townspeople attempt to organize a sing l e , large, b u t i n h e r e n t l y v e r y r i s k y t r a n s p o r t , b o a r d i n g m o s t — o r e v e n a l l — o f t h e r e f u g e e s o n t o o n e o f t h e l a r g e ships t h a t had sought shelter in the harbor d u r i n g the long storm? W o u l d t h e c a p t a i n o f o n e o f t h o s e ships a g r e e t o t h e d r a m a t i c p l a n ? G r o c e r G i l b e r t Lassen a t t e n d e d the m e e t i n g a t Olsen's s h o p ; so did fishmonger J u h l Jensen, high school teachers Assenchenfeldt

Frederiksen

and

Mogens

Schmidt,

Pastor

Kjeld-

gaard Jensen, and Christian Petersen, chairman of the parish c o u n c i l . A t least six o u t - o f - t o w n e r s also w e r e p r e s e n t : a m a n n a m e d N i e l s e n w h o sold insurance i n nearby Hillerod; Niels T h o r s e n a n d J e a n Fischer, r e s i s t a n c e activists a n d s t u d e n t s a t C o p e n h a g e n ' s T e c h n i c a l U n i v e r s i t y ; A r n e K l e v e n , a star f o o t ball p l a y e r a f e w y e a r s b e f o r e , n o w a u n i o n a d m i n i s t r a t o r , a n d

Nordisk Front;

as w e l l as

forty-four-year-old

baritone

w r i t e r for t h e u n d e r g r o u n d n e w s p a p e r Henry from the

Skjaer, Royal

the

renowned,

Danish

Opera.

Neither

the

well-known

K l e v e n n o r Skjaer w e r e J e w i s h , a n d t h e r e f o r e t h e i r lives w e r e n o t i n d a n g e r , b u t t h e y , like t h e s t u d e n t s , h a d b e c o m e v e r y a c tive in o r g a n i z i n g the escape d u r i n g t h e p r e c e d i n g w e e k , a n d b o t h h a d a r r i v e d i n Gilleleje o n t h e p a c k e d T u e s d a y e v e n i n g


t r a i n , t o g e t h e r w i t h h u n d r e d s o f p e o p l e i n f l i g h t for w h o m t h e y n o w h a d a s s u m e d m o r e t h a n tacit r e s p o n s i b i l i t y . A t t h e c l o s e o f t h e early m o r n i n g m e e t i n g , t h e a d h o c r e s c u e c o m m i t t e e a g r e e d t h a t a l t h o u g h t h e effort w o u l d e n t a i l s e r i o u s risk, t h e o p t i o n that m a d e m o s t sense w a s to a r r a n g e a large-scale transport a n d to do so as s o o n as possible. T h e students w e r e charged w i t h collecting m o n e y f r o m the refugees t o p a y for t h e i r passage, a n d t h e t e a c h e r S c h m i d t v o l u n t e e r e d t o g o t o t h e h a r b o r t o c o n v i n c e t h e c a p t a i n o f a t least o n e o f t h e s t o r m - s h e l t e r e d ships t h a t t h e b o u n t y h e w o u l d r e c e i v e for a t w o - h o u r detour to S w e d e n w o u l d be well w o r t h the shortt e r m r i s k t o his s h i p a n d c r e w . A l t h o u g h t w e n t y vessels h a d a n c h o r e d i n t h e small h a r b o r d u r i n g t h e n i g h t s t o r m , t h e o n l y skipper w h o m

S c h m i d t c o u l d find i n

t h e h a r b o r area was

G u n n a r F l y v b j e r g , c a p t a i n o f a large, f a m i l y - o w n e d s c h o o n e r named the

Flyvbjerg.

B u t for t h e s e d u c t i v e fee o f 5 0 , 0 0 0 D a n i s h

k r o n e r , t h e captain a n d his mates readily a g r e e d that t h e y w o u l d m a k e a single r u n to H o g a n a s , d e p a r t i n g at o n e o ' c l o c k t h a t a f t e r n o o n . T h e h o l d o f t h e Flyvbjerg w a s e m p t y , a n d a l t h o u g h its p a s s e n g e r s c o u l d n o t b e c o m f o r t a b l y a c c o m m o d a t e d en route, many hundreds of refugees—perhaps even everyone in t o w n w h o was desperate to g o — c o u l d c o m e aboard. News

of

the

impending

transport

spread

immediately

t h r o u g h o u t t h e village, a n d i n o n l y a n h o u r a w o r r i s o m e n u m b e r of refugees had b e g u n to gather o p e n l y along the docks at the harbor,

anxious about h o w many people

the schooner

c o u l d c a r r y , a n d e a g e r t o a s s u r e t h e m s e l v e s o f passage. T h e o r ganizers h a d p l a n n e d to escort p e o p l e to t h e w a i t i n g ship only


i n small g r o u p s , b u t t h e r u s h o f r e f u g e e s t o t h e h a r b o r b y l a t e m o r n i n g m e a n t that s c h e m e had to be a b a n d o n e d before it e v e n began. Instead, h u n d r e d s of p e o p l e simply s w a r m e d the h a r b o r a r e a b y m i d d a y — m e n , w o m e n , a n d c h i l d r e n o f all a g e s b u n d l e d i n h e a v y c l o t h i n g , t h e i r faces e t c h e d w i t h fear a n d u n c e r t a i n t y , m a n y a t t e m p t i n g t o m a n a g e suitcases, t r u n k s , a n d b a b y c a r r i a g e s . T o w n s p e o p l e g a t h e r e d t o o , i f for n o o t h e r r e a son than that

nothing

like t h i s e v e r h a d o c c u r r e d i n G i l l e l e j e ,

a n d e v e r y o n e — w h e t h e r b o u n d fqr S w e d e n o r simply t h e r e t o see t h e r e f u g e e s o n t h e i r w a y — k n e w t h a t G e s t a p o c h i e f J u h l a n d his m e n m i g h t a r r i v e f r o m H e l s i n g o r a t a n y m o m e n t , t r a p ping the J e w s at the water's edge before they could board and be gone. A t last p e o p l e w e r e a l l o w e d t o b e g i n m a k i n g t h e i r w a y a l o n g a n a r r o w b r e a k w a t e r t o t h e p l a c e w h e r e t h e Flyvbjerg w a s m o o r e d , then to begin boarding. T h e c r o w d surged toward t h e stone j e t t y that w o u l d lead t h e m o u t t o t h e ship; p e o p l e struggled to maintain their places in line; a n d a l t h o u g h s o m e w e r e safely o n b o a r d after a t i m e , t h e p r o c e s s w a s t e r r i b l y slow. To the dismay of many, a fisherman began to try to direct the crowd, and w h e n someone shouted, " T h r o w him in the harbor!

He's

an

agent!,"

others

misunderstood

and

began

to

scream, " T h e Gestapo! T h e Gestapo are coming." In the seconds of panic that ensued the r u m o r soon seemed true, and e v e n t h e Flyvbjerg's c a p t a i n q u i c k l y w a s c o n v i n c e d t h a t t h e N a z i s w e r e b e a r i n g d o w n o n his s h i p . H e s t a r t e d his s c h o o n e r ' s m o t o r s , p u s h e d a w a y t h e d e s p e r a t e p e o p l e w h o still s t r u g g l e d t o b o a r d , t h e n cast off, p a s s i n g b e y o n d t h e e n c i r c l i n g b r e a k -


w a t e r s i n o n l y a m o m e n t a n d h e a d i n g o u t t o sea, s t r a n d i n g h u n d r e d s o n t h e j e t t y , h u n d r e d s m o r e still o n s h o r e . Although the

182 refugees ultimately r e a c h e d S w e d e n a b o a r d

Flyvbjerg

t h a t day, p e r h a p s 3 0 0 m o r e d i d n o t . D e s p i t e t h e

fact t h a t t h e G e s t a p o h a d c a p t u r e d n o o n e , t h e t r a n s p o r t p l a n h a d failed. F o r t h e m o m e n t , a t least, t h e h u n d r e d s o f t e r r i f i e d , perplexed,

and angry p e o p l e — a few separated

from

family

members w h o n o w were en route to Hoganas—were ushered inside the big repair shed that stood at t h e foot of the jetty, a n d a frenzied meeting soon was under way to try to determine what to

do next.

No o n e had been captured, but it n o w

s e e m e d clear that future e m b a r k a t i o n s as large as t h e o n e j u s t attempted, w h e t h e r disrupted by Nazis or not, surely w o u l d p o s e s i m i l a r l o g i s t i c a l p r o b l e m s . A c a r e f u l l y c r a f t e d s t r a t e g y for g e t t i n g s m a l l g r o u p s efficiently o n t o ships h a d t o b e d e v i s e d , but in the m e a n t i m e , the J e w s simply had to be shrouded from sight. A small g r o u p o f r e f u g e e s b r i e f l y h a d b e e n h e l d a t t h e v i l l a g e church during the m o r n i n g while they had waited to board the

Flyvbjerg,

a n d it s e e m e d t o m a k e s e n s e t o h i d e a l a r g e r

g r o u p t h e r e o n c e a g a i n . I n a n e m p t y loft a b o v e t h e n a v e , p e r haps a h u n d r e d p e o p l e could be c o n c e a l e d — f o r a l o n g time, if necessity d e m a n d e d — a n d before the m e e t i n g b r o k e up, A r n e Kleven, the u n i o n administrator and writer, agreed to escort a g r o u p of refugees to the c h u r c h and lock himself inside w i t h t h e m i n o r d e r t o assure t h e m that t h e y w o u l d n o t b e forgott e n . I t w a s a p r o m i s e t h a t w a s t o b e c o m e all t o o easy for h i m to keep.


DURING

THE

SUNDAY

MORNING

SERVICE

t h r e e days

b e f o r e , P a s t o r K j e l d g a a r d J e n s e n h a d r e a d t o his p a r i s h i o n e r s t h e letter that h a d b e e n issued b y t h e bishops o f t h e D a n i s h L u t h e r a n c h u r c h i n r e s p o n s e t o t h e crisis. I t w a s t h e d u t y o f c h u r c h m e m b e r s , t h e letter i n s t r u c t e d , t o p r o t e s t against t h e persecution of D e n m a r k ' s J e w s because Jesus had b e e n a Jew, b e c a u s e p e r s e c u t i o n w a s c o n t r a r y t o his c o m m a n d t o love o n e ' s n e i g h b o r s , a n d also s i m p l y b e c a u s e p e r s e c u t i o n "is c o n trary to t h e c o n c e p t i o n of justice that prevails in the Danish people." Pastor J e n s e n himself h a d taken the letter very m u c h t o h e a r t : h e h a d j o i n e d t h e efforts o f t h e a d h o c o r g a n i z i n g c o m m i t t e e ; h e h a d m a d e t h e c h u r c h a n d t h e p a r i s h hall r e a d ily a v a i l a b l e for t h e h i d i n g o f r e f u g e e s ; a n d t h e n , late i n t h e afternoon on Wednesday, O c t o b e r 6, he w e n t to the church door, loudly spoke the w o r d

hdbet,

" h o p e , " the password that

p r o v e d h e w a s a f r i e n d , t h e n w a s let i n s i d e b y A r n e K l e v e n . H e c l i m b e d t h e s t e e p a n d n a r r o w stairs t o t h e loft, t h e n a n n o u n c e d to the m a n y people gathered there that as vicar of the sacred place w h e r e they n o w waited, h e w o u l d protect each o n e o f t h e m w i t h his life i f c a l l e d u p o n t o d o s o . T h e s p i r i t s o f t h e p e o p l e n o w s h e l t e r e d i n t h e loft h a d b e e n crushed w h e n the chaotic scene in the harbor stranded t h e m o n shore, the members,

Flyvbjerg,

embarking

for

s o m e o f t h e i r friends, e v e n family Sweden

without

them.

Many

of

t h e m h a d s p e n t all t h e m o n e y t h e y p o s s e s s e d t o s e c u r e p a s s a g e o n the

Flyvbjerg,

a n d d e s p i t e a s s u r a n c e s from t o w n s p e o p l e t h a t

t h e y w o u l d n o t b e asked t o pay again, t h e y c o u l d n o t b e e n t i r e l y c e r t a i n t h a t t h a t w o u l d b e t h e case. T h e y h a d b e e n t o l d a s w e l l t h a t t h e y w o u l d r e m a i n i n t h e c o l d , d a r k , a n d airless loft


o n l y u n t i l t o w n s p e o p l e c o u l d p l a n a w a y for t h e m safely t o b o a r d t h e Jan, a n o t h e r o f t h e s e v e r a l s c h o o n e r s t h a t h a d s o u g h t safety i n t h e G i l l e l e j e h a r b o r t h e p r e v i o u s n i g h t , a n d w h o s e c a p t a i n also h a d a g r e e d t o t r a n s p o r t r e f u g e e s . T h i s t i m e , t h e p l a n w a s f o r t h e Jan t o l e a v e t h e h a r b o r , t h e n w e i g h a n c h o r w e l l o f f s h o r e ; small g r o u p s o f r e f u g e e s w o u l d b e f e r r i e d o u t t o t h e ship in

dinghies in the dead of night from Smidstrup

S t r a n d , a s e c l u d e d b e a c h east o f t o w n . K l e v e n t o l d t h e r e f u g e e s that t h e y w o u l d b e t r a n s p o r t e d that n i g h t , i f possible. T h e o r g a n i z e r s a p o l o g i z e d for t h e i r d i s c o m f o r t , b u t t h e y a s s u r e d t h e huddled and desperate Jews—as Pastor Jensen had d o n e — t h a t t h e y d i l i g e n t l y w o u l d p r o t e c t t h e m u n t i l t h e y w e r e safely o n S w e d i s h soil. I n a d d i t i o n t o t h e sixty o r s o a n o n y m o u s p e o p l e w h o h a d made

their way

to

the

loft

from

the

harbor under Arne

Kleven's escort, a n o t h e r g r o u p o f nameless refugees w h o h a d j u s t a r r i v e d i n t h e village n o w s o u g h t t h e s h e l t e r o f t h e c h u r c h as

the

dreary

day

gave

way

to

night.

Before

leaving

C o p e n h a g e n e a r l i e r i n t h e a f t e r n o o n a n d t r a v e l i n g i n taxis a n d p r i v a t e c a r s t o G i l l e l e j e , H e n r y Skjaer, t h e o p e r a s i n g e r , s o m e h o w h a d g o t t e n w o r d t o a g r o u p o f fleeing J e w s a b o u t t h e p l a n n e d t r a n s p o r t a b o a r d t h e Jan, a n d h a d t o l d t h e m t h a t t h e y should seek shelter at the c h u r c h until t h e secret o p e r a t i o n was u n d e r way. Earlier, M a r t a F r e m m i n g , a n u r s e a n d wife of D r . Kay F r e m m i n g , o n e of the town's t w o physicians, h a d c o m e to the parish hall—a block away

from

the c h u r c h — t o inform

G r e t e Frederiksen, w h o lived in an a p a r t m e n t on t h e premises, t h a t this n e w g r o u p — n u m b e r i n g a s m a n y a s sixty p e o p l e


t h e m s e l v e s — w o u l d arrive a b o u t dark, and so they did, in sing l e c a r l o a d s , b e g i n n i n g at 6 P.M. A l t h o u g h no record survives directly linking M a r t a F r e m m i n g t o H e n r y Skjaer, i t s e e m s v i r t u a l l y c e r t a i n t h a t t h e y m u s t have w o r k e d jointly t o b r i n g the n e w g r o u p o f refugees t o the t o w n and to the c h u r c h . W h a t is sure is that the u n m a r r i e d Miss F r e d e r i k s e n w e l c o m e d t h e n e w a r r i v a l s t o t h e p a r i s h hall w h e n thev knocked on her kitchen d o o r and spoke the password "hope." She m a d e the first t w o dozen people as comfortable as t h e y c o u l d b e i n t h e p a r i s h hall itself, w h e r e t h e y s p e n t t h e e v e n i n g i n its d a r k a n d u n h e a t e d c e n t r a l r o o m ; t h e o t h e r s s h e e s c o r t e d t o t h e c h u r c h loft, w h e r e t h e y b r o u g h t t h e t o t a l n u m ber of people n o w hidden there to perhaps ten dozen. Virtually e v e r y o n e in t o w n , of course, k n e w that the c h u r c h was f i l l e d w i t h J e w i s h refugees. T h r o u g h o u t the afternoon and evening, people b r o u g h t blankets and coats, tureens of soup, e v e n a roast. B u t as s o o n as n i g h t d e s c e n d e d , it b e c a m e i m p o s s i b l e for t h o s e w h o w e r e h i d d e n t o eat b e c a u s e i t w a s s i m ply t o o d a n g e r o u s to t u r n on e v e n a single light. B u c k e t s w e r e p l a c e d i n a c o r n e r t o s e r v e a s m a k e s h i f t t o i l e t facilities, b u t n e i t h e r c o u l d t h e y b e l o c a t e d o n c e n i g h t fell a n d t h e i n t e r i o r o f t h e loft g r e w d a r k a s a c a v e . T h e t e m p e r a t u r e h o v e r e d b a r e l y a b o v e f r e e z i n g ; p e o p l e ' s h a n d s a n d feet w e n t n u m b ; a n d t h e place was eerily s i l e n t — m o r e than a h u n d r e d p e o p l e packed i n t o t h e s m a l l attic s p a c e , s a y i n g n o t h i n g for h o u r s o n e n d , n o t e v e n d a r i n g to whisper, the only s o u n d t h e incessant ticking of t h e c l o c k i n t h e t o w e r , its m a d d e n i n g r e p e t i t i o n s s e e m i n g t o m o c k t h e r e f u g e e s ' p r e c a r i o u s fate.


It is n o t clear w h e n it h a p p e n e d , b u t at s o m e p o i n t p r i o r to m i d n i g h t , D r . F r e m m i n g w a s called t o t h e c h u r c h t o a t t e n d t o s o m e o n e w h o w a s ill. H e m a y h a v e a r r i v e d w i t h R e d C r o s s w o r k e r s , a n d p e r h a p s h e w a s c a l l e d i n s t e a d t o t h e p a r i s h hall. N e i t h e r i s i t k n o w n h o w l o n g h e s t a y e d o r w h e t h e r h e still r e m a i n e d w h e n a series o f k n o c k s w e r e m a d e o n t h e h e a v y d o o r . " G e t out! T h e G e r m a n s are coming," those w h o w e r e k n o c k i n g w h i s p e r e d loudly, b u t w h o e v e r these p e o p l e w e r e , they did n o t utter the password, and A r n e Kleven therefore did not o p e n the door, and neither could he take credence in their warning. At about midnight, however, the Gestapo did descend. T h e y b e a t o n t h e p a r i s h - h a l l d o o r w i t h pistols d r a w n ;

they

spoke the

p a s s w o r d , a n d w h e n G r e t e F r e d e r i k s e n c r a c k e d t h e d o o r t o see w h o i t w a s , a G e s t a p o officer s h o v e d his b o o t i n t h e o p e n i n g to prevent her from slamming it shut, t h e n a host of troopers b u r s t i n t o t h e p l a c e , r e a d i l y c a p t u r i n g all t h e J e w s w h o w e r e h i d d e n i n s i d e , o n l y a f e w officers n e e d e d t o d e t a i n t h e r e f u g e e s t h e r e w h i l e t h e rest left for t h e c h u r c h . P o s i t i o n e d b e s i d e t h e b a r r e d c h u r c h d o o r , K l e v e n c o u l d h e a r for a s e c o n d t i m e l o u d knocks and a s h o u t e d w a r n i n g that the G e r m a n s w e r e on their w a y — t h e a d m o n i t i o n c o m i n g this t i m e f r o m G r e t e F r e d e r i k sen's b r o t h e r a n d f i a n c e , w h o m s h e h a d b e e n able t o a l e r t b y e s c a p i n g o u t t h e p a r i s h hall's k i t c h e n d o o r . B u t for t h e s e c o n d time too, these m e n , speaking Danish, had n o t k n o w n the password, and so Kleven d e t e r m i n e d that he should do n o t h ing m o r e

than

search

for a l t e r n a t i v e

h i d i n g places

in

the

c h u r c h , o r for a n o t h e r e x i t , n e i t h e r o f w h i c h h e c o u l d find.


Y e t t h e r e was a t i n y d o o r c o n c e a l e d b e h i n d t h e altar, a n d Pastor Jensen was attempting to o p e n it from the outside in o r d e r t o a l e r t K l e v e n a n d t h o s e i n t h e loft o f t h e i m m e d i a t e danger w h e n a Gestapo agent positioned nearby spotted him. In hopes of gaining a bit of time, J e n s e n told the Gestapo that c h u r c h s e x t o n Aage J o r g e n s e n possessed t h e o n l y key t o t h e b u i l d i n g , a n d , a c c e p t i n g his story, h e a n d G e s t a p o c h i e f J u h l m a d e their way to Jorgensen's house, w h e r e Jorgensen t o o h e l p e d stall for p r e c i o u s m i n u t e s b y i n s i s t i n g t h a t t h e k e y w a s a tricky o n e , and that perhaps he should c o m e o p e n the d o o r himself, b u t t h e officers w o u l d h a v e t o w a i t w h i l e h e d r e s s e d , h e t o l d t h e m , a n d his d r e s s i n g w o u l d b e s l o w b e c a u s e his b a c k was very bad. P r e v i o u s l y , t h e G e s t a p o h a d c a r r i e d o u t its raids w i t h o u t t h e assistance o f t h e

thousands of G e r m a n soldiers stationed in

n o r t h Sjaelland, b u t t h e b a r r i c a d e d c h u r c h a p p e a r e d t o b e a b i g e n o u g h prize that the Gestapo chief n o w o r d e r e d troops from a n e a r b y g a r r i s o n t o p r o v i d e assistance, a n d b y a b o u t 4 A . M . , t h e exterior of the c h u r c h was flooded by light from a u t o m o b i l e s and troop trucks, and was s u r r o u n d e d as well by battle-ready s o l d i e r s . T h e l o n g n i g h t o f d e s p a i r suffered b y t h e p e o p l e i n t h e loft n o w a p p e a r e d t o b e e n d i n g i n u t t e r h o r r o r , b u t f r o m d o w n stairs K l e v e n d i d his b e s t t o assure t h e r e f u g e e s t h a t t h e i r f o r t r e s s w o u l d hold. Because Kleven's key was pressed into the lock from t h e inside,

the

sexton—with the

small

and impatient

G e s t a p o c h i e f a t his s i d e — w a s u n a b l e t o o p e n t h e d o o r , a n d still m o r e terrifying m o m e n t s passed before J u h l a n n o u n c e d a t t h e d o o r that he n o w had no choice but to firebomb the building:


the refugees either w o u l d be forced o u t by the ensuing smoke, or they w o u l d b u r n to death, or they could spare themselves and o p e n the door. It was their decision, he shouted. At 5 A.M., A r n e K l e v e n t o o k a d e e p breath, steeled himself for w h a t e v e r w a s a b o u t t o follow, t h e n o p e n e d t h e h e a v y d o o r . P e o p l e i n t h e loft a b o v e h i m h a d b e g u n t o p l e a d for h i m t o d o so, a n d h e t o o k n e w t h a t h o p e n o w w a s lost.

" W h e r e are

t h e y ? " J u h l c r i e d a s h e b u r s t i n t o t h e small c h u r c h . " Y o u can d a m n well find t h e m yourselves," Kleven replied, and it was only

seconds

later

when

men

armed

with

machine

guns

b o u n d e d i n t o t h e loft, a i m e d b l i n d i n g l i g h t s o n t h e h u d d l e d , frozen figures they e n c o u n t e r e d there, then forced t h e m o u t of t h e loft, i n t o t h e n i g h t , a n d d o w n t h e s l o p i n g s t r e e t t o t h e parish hall, w h e r e , t o g e t h e r w i t h t h e refugees w h o h a d b e e n c a p t u r e d earlier, t h e y w a i t e d e i g h t m o r e h o u r s b e f o r e t h e y w e r e l o a d e d i n t o c a n v a s - t o p p e d t r o o p t r u c k s b o u n d for t h e Horserod prison camp near Helsingor. A h u n d r e d and twenty Jews

had

Sweden,

failed

in

their

a n d v i r t u a l l y all

desperate

effort t o

reach

exile

in

t h e t o w n s p e o p l e o f Gilleleje n o w

a c h e d w i t h t h e b e l i e f t h a t t h e y h o r r i b l y h a d let t h e m d o w n .

WE WILL LIKELY

N E V E R K N O W precisely w h e n , o r w h e r e ,

s o m e o n e f l e e i n g for his life o r for h e r s g a v e K a y F r e m m i n g a c o i l e d k n o t o f L u d w i g v a n B e e t h o v e n ' s h a i r , h e l d safe i n a w o o d - f r a m e locket. T h e identity—and the unexplained m o rive—of that person long m a y r e m a i n a mystery as well. A l t h o u g h r u m o r s s w i r l e d a r o u n d t h e s m a l l h a r b o r t o w n for


m o n t h s , even years afterward that Dr.

F r e m m i n g had been

g i v e n s o m e t h i n g precious b y o n e o f t h e h u n t e d refugees, h e was a quiet a n d always insular m a n w h o appears n e v e r to have s p o k e n o p e n l y a b o u t a m o s t u n u s u a l gift h e r e c e i v e d o n o r a b o u t O c t o b e r 6 , 1 9 4 3 . N o r d i d h e e v e r affirm, o n t h e o t h e r h a n d , t h a t h e h a d a g r e e d t o h o l d a n d g u a r d t h e l o c k e t u n t i l its o w n e r r e t u r n e d for i t s o m e t i m e h e n c e . Y e t w h e t h e r t h e l o c k of hair was a p r o f o u n d offering of gratitude or simply s o m e o n e else's k e e p s a k e , w h i c h h e a g r e e d t o h o l d i n t r u s t u n t i l t h e day w h e n it could be reclaimed, it is sure b e y o n d any d o u b t t h a t this fragile b i t o f t h e c o r p o r e a l B e e t h o v e n fell i n t o K a y F r e m m i n g ' s p o s s e s s i o n s o m e t i m e d u r i n g t h o s e f e w days o f d e t e r m i n e d h e r o i s m o n D e n m a r k ' s sea-buffeted shore. D e s p i t e t h e a b s e n c e o f c e r t a i n t y , t h e r e a r e c l u e s , a t least, w i t h w h i c h it is possible to p i e c e t o g e t h e r a s c e n a r i o — o r several of t h e m — t h a t b r i n g t h e g i v i n g of t h e lock of hair into plausible focus. M a r t a F r e m m i n g did c o n f i r m l o n g a g o that t h e lock o f hair was given to her h u s b a n d in the midst of those m o s t m o m e n t o u s d a y s i n Gilleleje's h i s t o r y . I t i s c e r t a i n a s w e l l t h a t s h e a n d h e r h u s b a n d w e r e a c t i v e i n t h e c o l l e c t i v e effort t o p r o t e c t the Jews w h o rushed to their t o w n in hopes that they could f i n d a w a y t o f r e e d o m i n S w e d e n . A n d t h e fact s e e m s i n escapable,

m o r e specifically, t h a t K a y a n d M a r t a F r e m m i n g

w e r e i n c o n t a c t , i f n o t careful c o l l a b o r a t i o n , w i t h o p e r a b a r i t o n e H e n r y Skjaer, w h o h a d u r g e d r e f u g e e s t o t r a v e l f r o m C o p e n h a g e n t o Gilleleje o n t h e a f t e r n o o n o f O c t o b e r 6 , i n s t r u c t i n g t h e m t o g o t o t h e c h u r c h t o a w a i t passage t o H o g a n a s on the

Jan.

W h a t is n o t k n o w n positively is w h e t h e r Dr. F r e m m i n g and


his w i f e also h i d r e f u g e e s i n t h e i r h o m e o r a t t h e i r c l i n i c s o m e t i m e d u r i n g the days of t h e rescue, a l t h o u g h that probability seems quite high as w e l l — t h e lock of hair conceivably given to the doctor by s o m e o n e he had b e g u n to get to k n o w and w h o s e d e b t to h i m seemed great. O t h e r questions, too, r e main: W h y w a s C o p e n h a g e n r e s i d e n t H e n r y Skjaer, a l r e a d y a l u m i n a r y i n t h e small a n d r a r e f i e d c o m m u n i t y o f D a n i s h m u s i c , so

intimately

involved

in

the

rescue

cause

in

Gilleleje,

a

provincial t o w n that i n those days w a s a b o u t t h r e e h o u r s a w a y f r o m t h e city b y t r a i n ? U n l i k e A r n e K l e v e n , w h o s e u n i o n a n d journalism

background made

him

a

ready sort

o f activist,

Skjasr's p r o f e s s i o n a n d his n o t o r i e t y , o n t h e i r face, d o n o t m a k e it appear obvious that he w o u l d have b e e n eager to be i n v o l v e d . D i d h e , like K l e v e n , t r a v e l t o G i l l e l e j e a n d a t t e m p t t o help people he did n o t k n o w simply o u t of a heightened pers o n a l s e n s e o f m o r a l a n d p a t r i o t i c d u t y ? O r w a s Skjaer e n d e a v o r i n g t o assist o n e o r a f e w p e r s o n s i n p a r t i c u l a r — c o l l e a g u e s , f r i e n d s , family m e m b e r s ? A l t h o u g h p e o p l e clearly r e m e m b e r t h a t Skjser w a s p r e s e n t a t a hastily c a l l e d m e e t i n g i n t h e early afternoon

of O c t o b e r 6,

departure

from

s o o n after t h e

Flyvbjerg's a b r u p t

t h e h a r b o r , his w h e r e a b o u t s d u r i n g t h e r e -

m a i n d e r of the day a n d the e n s u i n g awful night are u n k n o w n . What

is

certain

is

t h a t H e n r y Skjasr

informed

people

in

C o p e n h a g e n — e i t h e r i n p e r s o n or, m o r e likely, b y t e l e p h o n e — t h a t t h e Jan w o u l d sail f r o m S m i d s t r u p B e a c h , a n d t h a t its p a s sengers w o u l d w a i t a t t h e Gilleleje C h u r c h t o b e taken t o t h e s h i p . B u t d i d h e , i n fact, g i v e t h a t i n f o r m a t i o n t o t h e p e r s o n


w h o t h e n c h o s e t o flee t o G i l l e l e j e c a r r y i n g w i t h h i m o r h e r t h e l o c k of hair? Indeed,

might that person

have been

thirty-five-year-old

E d g a r H i l l e r , also a p r o f e s s i o n a l s i n g e r , w h o h a d b e e n e m p l o y e d b y t h e C o l o g n e o p e r a w h e n t h e r e c o r d o f his w h e r e a b o u t s w a s i n t e r r u p t e d b a c k i n 1 9 3 5 ? W e r e H e n r y Skjasr a n d E d g a r H i l l e r — r e s i d e n t i n D e n m a r k u n d e r a false n a m e

for

s o m e y e a r s p e r h a p s — m u s i c a l c o l l e a g u e s , e v e n c l o s e friends? W i t h Skjaer's h e l p , w a s E d g a r H i l l e r h i d d e n a t t h e F r e m m i n g ' s h o u s e ? O r d i d t h e d o c t o r a t t e n d t o h i m , o r a family m e m b e r , w h e n h e w a s called t o t h e c h u r c h ? D i d t h e d o n o r s o m e h o w b e c o m e aware that the doctor himself was m u c h e n a m o r e d of m u s i c a n d t h a t h e w a s a n a c c o m p l i s h e d flutist a s w e l l ? T h e s e q u e s t i o n s b e g still o t h e r s like t h e m , y e t t h e y c a n b e distilled i n t o t h r e e e l e m e n t a l a n d e n d u r i n g q u e r i e s : W h y d i d t h e l o c k e t ' s o w n e r c h o o s e t o g i v e i t u p i n Gilleleje? W h y d i d Kay

F r e m m i n g forever r e m a i n s o silent a b o u t t h e c i r c u m -

s t a n c e s o f t h e g i v i n g ? A n d w a s i t E d g a r H i l l e r , i n fact, w h o g a v e a w a y t h e l o c k o f h a i r his g r a n d f a t h e r h a d c u t f r o m a g r e a t man's corpse?

W H E N T H E N A Z I S ' P R I S O N E R S B E G A N t o arrive a truckload at a t i m e at the H o r s e r o d c a m p at midday on O c t o b e r 7, they were ushered into a windowless r o o m w h e r e they were f o r c e d t o c o n t i n u e t h e l o n g w a i t u n t i l all 1 2 0 o f t h e m h a d b e e n delivered

from

G i l l e l e j e . A t last a m e t h o d i c a l i n t e r r o g a t i o n

103

L


b e g a n , e a c h p r i s o n e r q u i z z e d a b o u t his r e s i d e n c e , j o b , n a t i o n ality, a n d w h e t h e r , i n fact, h e w a s a J e w . T h o s e w h o w e r e n o t Jewish, w h o w e r e "half-Jews," and even those J e w s w h o w e r e m a r r i e d to non-Jews, w e r e shuttled to a barracks to await transit t o C o p e n h a g e n , w h e r e t h e y w o u l d b e r e l e a s e d . E v e r y o n e e l s e — a b o u t sixty

people

in

total—was

moved

to

wooden

sheds, w h e r e the waiting c o n t i n u e d until the g r o u p was transp o r t e d again to

Helsingor.

There,

together with

hundreds

m o r e w h o h a d b e e n c a p t u r e d i n o t h e r places, t h e refugees f r o m t h e G i l l e l e j e C h u r c h w e r e p a c k e d t i g h t l y i n t o c a t t l e cars l o a d e d a b o a r d a G e r m a n s h i p for t h e o v e r n i g h t j o u r n e y t o t h e German port of

S w i n e m i i n d e , w h e r e t h e cars c o n t i n u e d b y

rail f o r f o u r m o r e t o r t u o u s d a y s t o C z e c h o s l o v a k i a a n d t h e c o n c e n t r a t i o n c a m p t h e N a z i s called T h e r e s i e n s t a d t . A r n e K l e v e n , o n e o f f o u r D a n e s a r r e s t e d for a t t e m p t i n g t o help J e w s escape t o S w e d e n , w a s jailed briefly i n C o p e n h a g e n before a Danish j u d g e sentenced h i m to thirty days' i m p r i s o n m e n t for h i s c r i m e — t h e n p o i n t e d l y e x p l a i n e d t h a t his p a p e r s w o u l d b e p l a c e d a t t h e b o t t o m o f a v e r y fat s t a c k . T h e s e n t e n c e n e v e r w a s c a r r i e d o u t . H e n r y Skjaer, t o o , r e t u r n e d t o his h o m e i n t h e c a p i t a l city, b u t i n G i l l e l e j e t h e r e s c u e effort w a s far

from

over.

The

misadventure

with

the

Flyvbjerg

on

Wednesday afternoon and the tragedy at the church in the early h o u r s o f T h u r s d a y simply s p u r r e d the t o w n s p e o p l e t o f i n d far b e t t e r w a y s t o h i d e t h e r e f u g e e s , t h e n t o g e t t h e m safely a b o a r d t h e f i s h e r m e n ' s ships. W h e n t h e effort's l e a d e r s m e t a g a i n o n T h u r s d a y m o r n i n g a t auto mechanic Peter Petersen's house, they created a formal committee

of ten

townspeople—the

"Jewish

Committee,"


s o m e a m o n g t h e m called i t — t h a t h e n c e f o r t h carefully w o u l d c o n t r o l all r e s c u e o p e r a t i o n s . T h e c o m m i t t e e w o u l d s e c u r e t h e s h i p s a n d r e g u l a t e t h e fees t h a t w e r e c h a r g e d for passage, assign h i d i n g p l a c e s a n d t h e specific tasks o f t h e v o l u n t e e r s , a n d w o u l d ensure as well that the disorganization and p o o r c o m m u n i c a t i o n that h a d p l a g u e d t h e p r e v i o u s days w o u l d n o t b e r e p e a t e d . Gilleleje's g o o d n a m e w a s a t s t a k e , a s w e r e h u m a n lives, said school inspector L. C. Jensen, w h o agreed to b e c o m e the c o m mittee's chairman. Peter Petersen was charged w i t h securing deals w i t h c o o p e r a t i n g f i s h e r m e n ; G i l b e r t Lassen w o u l d o v e r see t h e t e m p o r a r y q u a r t e r i n g of refugees; E. K. R a s m u s s e n , w h o m a d e f i s h i n g nets, w o u l d organize embarkations f r o m the nearby beaches; and Dr.

Hjalmar Vilstrup,

Kay Fremming's

medical partner, was n a m e d treasurer, in charge of ensuring t h a t all r e f u g e e s c o u l d sail, r e g a r d l e s s o f w h a t e a c h o n e c o u l d pay. S u r e l y P a s t o r K j e l d g a a r d J e n s e n w o u l d h a v e j o i n e d t h e g r o u p as well, b u t t h e arrest of t h e J e w s at t h e c h u r c h — c o u p l e d w i t h his f a i l u r e t o p r e v e n t i t — h a d d e a l t h i m a t e r r i b l e b l o w ; h e fell ill a n d d i d n o t r e j o i n t h e r e s c u e effort a g a i n . N o o n e b l a m e d t h e p a s t o r for w h a t h a d o c c u r r e d a t t h e c h u r c h , y e t clearly

someone

had told the Gestapo w h e r e they

w o u l d f i n d a large n u m b e r o f h i d d e n J e w s , a n d s o m e o n e e v e n h a d g o n e s o far a s t o d i v u l g e t h e p a s s w o r d . S o m e b l a m e d t h e flirtatious d a u g h t e r o f t h e p r o - N a z i o w n e r s o f t h e B a d e h o t e l ; others c o n t e n d e d that a Danish secretary to the Nazi c o m m a n d a n t o f t h e H o r s e r o d prison c a m p h a d visited t h e c h u r c h on W e d n e s d a y afternoon, t h e n had s e e m e d curiously pleased with herself w h e n the prisoners w e r e b r o u g h t to the c a m p on Thursday.


T h e c h u r c h n e v e r again was used as a h i d i n g place, a n d n e i t h e r w e r e refugees sheltered again in a single place in s u c h n u m b e r s . B u t t h e c o m m i t t e e ' s d i l i g e n t efforts, c o u p l e d w i t h t h e e x t r a o r d i n a r y s u p p o r t o f v i r t u a l l y all o f t h e t o w n ' s s e v e n t e e n h u n d r e d p e o p l e , u l t i m a t e l y r e s u l t e d i n n o t h i n g less t h a n s t u n n i n g s u c c e s s . T h r e e h o u r s after d a r k o n F r i d a y e v e n i n g — and forty-eight

h o u r s after i t first

h a d p l a n n e d t o sail for

S w e d e n — t h e Jan p u l l e d its a n c h o r i n t h e w a t e r s off S m i d s t r u p B e a c h a n d f e r r i e d 1 2 3 J e w i s h r e f u g e e s a c r o s s t h e s o u n d . Its j o y f u l l y u n e v e n t f u l passage a n d W e d n e s d a y ' s p a n i c k e d r u n b y the

Flyvbjerg

w e r e t h e t w o largest s i n g l e t r a n s p o r t s o f r e f u g e e s

d u r i n g t h e m o n t h l o n g series o f u n d e t e c t e d a n d u n i m p e d e d d e p a r t u r e s t h a t e n s u e d . O n t h e vast m a j o r i t y o f c r o s s i n g s , p e o p l e t r a v e l e d i n small n u m b e r s , y e t b y t h e t i m e t h e o p e r a t i o n d r e w t o a c l o s e a t t h e e n d o f O c t o b e r , w i t h v i r t u a l l y all o f D e n m a r k ' s J e w s a l r e a d y safely i n e x i l e , t h e p e o p l e o f G i l l e l e j e w e r e q u i etly p r o u d i n d e e d o f w h a t t h e y h a d a c c o m p l i s h e d . D u r i n g t h a t short span o f time, thirteen h u n d r e d J e w s w h o s e n a m e s they n e v e r k n e w — D a n e s a s w e l l a s stateless i m m i g r a n t s — s u c c e s s fully f o u n d t h e i r w a y t o f r e e d o m v i a t h e h o m e s a n d s h e d s a n d ships o f t h e o u t p o s t h a r b o r t o w n , far m o r e t h a n f r o m a n y o t h e r village o n Sjaelland's c o a s t . N a t i o n w i d e , a t o t a l o f 7 , 9 0 6 p e o p l e safely w e r e e s c o r t e d t o S w e d e n ' s w e l c o m i n g s h o r e s i n t h e a u t u m n o f 1 9 4 3 ; o n l y 5 8 0 failed t o e s c a p e , 4 6 4 o f t h o s e s h i p p e d like s t o c k t o T h e r e s i e n s t a d t , a m o n g t h e m s o m e sixty p e o p l e w h o briefly h a d s o u g h t refuge i n t h e Gilleleje C h u r c h . I t w a s a n a s t o u n d i n g c o l l e c t i v e effort. I t w a s m a d e p o s s i b l e b y t h e fact t h a t o n l y t h e r e l a t i v e l y small n u m b e r s o f G e s t a p o agents assigned t o D e n m a r k w e r e enlisted b y G e r m a n a u t h o r -


ities t o t r y t o s t o p it. N e i t h e r w o u l d t h e r e s c u e h a v e s u c c e e d e d without

Georg

Duckwitz's

valiant

early

warning,

nor,

he

w o u l d c o n t e n d after t h e w a r e n d e d , w i t h o u t t h e tacit c o m plicity o f R e i c h c o m m a n d e r W e r n e r Best, w h o always h a d f o u n d a r e a d y a r g u m e n t against e m p l o y i n g a r m y t r o o p s i n t h e h u n t despite loud d e m a n d s to do so from Berlin. Yet most of all, J e w s e s c a p e d i n D e n m a r k i n s u c h o v e r w h e l m i n g n u m b e r s because D e n m a r k ' s citizens a g r e e d s u d d e n l y a n d en masse that t h e y would e s c a p e , t h a t t h e y w a r r a n t e d p e r s e c u t i o n n o m o r e t h a n a n y o n e else, t h a t t h e N a z i h o r r o r s i m p l y c o u l d n o t b e countenanced in their beloved homeland.


I T WAS

BEETHOVEN'S THIRD

SYMPHONY,

drafted a n d

c o m p l e t e d i n o n l y four m o n t h s d u r i n g t h e s u m m e r a n d early fall o f 1 8 0 3 , t h a t a t last c l e a r l y s e p a r a t e d his style f r o m t h o s e o f H a y d n a n d M o z a r t . He had i n t e n d e d to create a w o r k that w o u l d address the transcendent subject of h e r o i s m — t h e t r i u m p h o v e r pain, t u r m o i l , and the reality o f d e a t h — a n d a s h e w r o t e it he had b e c o m e increasingly c o n v i n c e d that the w o r k should be tided "Bonaparte" to h o n o r Napoleon's heroic, o n g o i n g effort

to

shape

a

liberated and

utterly

n e w kind

of

Europe. But w h e n , in 1804, Beethoven heard the news from his f r i e n d a n d p i a n o p u p i l F e r d i n a n d R i e s t h a t t h e g e n e r a l h a d


18 0 3 - 1 6 1 2

declared himself e m p e r o r of France, he flew into a rage a n d t o r e t h e title p a g e o f h i s a u t o g r a p h s c o r e i n half. " S o h e t o o i s nothing m o r e than an ordinary man," Beethoven responded to R i e s i n disgust. T h e n h e a d d e d w i t h impressive p r e s c i e n c e : " N o w h e w i l l t r a m p l e o n all h u m a n r i g h t s a n d i n d u l g e o n l y h i s o w n a m b i t i o n . H e will place himself above e v e r y o n e and b e c o m e a tyrant." Retitled

Sinfonia Eroica,

t h e g r a n d s y m p h o n y at last w a s p e r -

f o r m e d in public in F e b r u a r y 180^, yet it was t o o lengthy, t o o i n n o v a t i v e , e v e n s i m p l y t o o big t o r e c e i v e initially t h e k i n d o f p u b l i c a c c l a i m B e e t h o v e n h a d h o p e d for. " T h i s l o n g c o m p o s i t i o n , e x t r e m e l y difficult o f p e r f o r m a n c e , i s i n r e a l i t y a t r e m e n dously

expanded,

daring,

and

Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung.

wild

fantasia,"

declared

the

W h e n B e e t h o v e n himself c o n -

ducted the s y m p h o n y at Vienna's T h e a t e r - a n - d e r - W i e n t w o m o n t h s later, a c o r r e s p o n d e n t for B e r l i n ' s arts a n d l e t t e r s j o u r n a l Freymuthige d i v i d e d t h e a u d i e n c e ' s r e a c t i o n s i n t o t h r e e d i s tinct camps: those w h o w e r e sure it was a masterpiece perhaps a t h o u s a n d y e a r s a h e a d o f its t i m e ; a s e c o n d f a c t i o n w h o " d e n i e d t h a t t h e w o r k has a n y artistic v a l u e a n d p r o f e s s e d t o see i n i t a n u n t a m e d s t r i v i n g for s i n g u l a r i t y " ; a n d a t h i r d , v e r y small g r o u p , w h o s e o p i n i o n lay i n t h e large m i d d l e g r o u n d b e t w e e n the other two. F o r his p a r t , B e e t h o v e n w a s able t o s h e d r a t h e r q u i c k l y h i s d i s a p p o i n t m e n t s , a n d o c c a s i o n a l l y his r e v u l s i o n , o v e r t h e d e cidedly m i x e d reactions to the T h i r d S y m p h o n y — a s well as to t h e rest o f h i s g r o u n d b r e a k i n g w o r k . H e u n d e r s t o o d t h e m e r its o f his m u s i c , e v e n i f f e w o t h e r s c o u l d j o i n h i m i n its a p p r e c i a t i o n , a n d i t s u i t e d his t e m p e r a m e n t far b e t t e r s i m p l y t o rail


a g a i n s t his c r i t i c s a n d m o v e o n t h a n t o f l o o d h i m s e l f w i t h selfd o u b t s . T o o , h e h a d b e c o m e financially successful e n o u g h b y n o w t h a t e v e n his lifestyle r e g u l a r l y r e m i n d e d h i m o f h i s t a l e n t s ; h e c o u l d afford g o o d w i n e , s e r v a n t s , h a n d s o m e l o d g i n g s in Vienna, and s u m m e r sojourns in the country. People recognized h i m a n d g r e e t e d h i m w a r m l y w h e n t h e y passed h i m i n t h e streets, a n d e v e n those w h o s e o w n circumstances m a d e i t unlikely

that

they

ever w o u l d

hear the

performance

of a

B e e t h o v e n s y m p h o n y o r o n e o f his signature p i a n o sonatas n o n e t h e l e s s t r e a t e d h i m w i t h a d e f e r e n c e r e s e r v e d for s o m e o n e substantial, s o m e o n e w h o m a d e miraculous music, a m a n w h o , in s h o r t , w a s a g e n i u s . But if things w e r e going well at the

m o m e n t for H e r r

B e e t h o v e n , d e s p i t e his o n g o i n g p h y s i c a l c o n c e r n s , this d e c i d e d l y w a s n o t a n e q u a l l y g o o d t i m e for his a d o p t e d c o u n t r y . T h e French had declared w a r on the Hapsburg dynasty back in 1792, a n d their constant aggression a n d p e r i o d i c attacks by n o w h a d b r o u g h t t h e far-flung a n d disintegrating H o l y R o m a n E m p i r e c l o s e t o t h e e n d o f its m i l l e n n i a l h i s t o r y . T h e r u l e o f E m p e r o r F r a n z II, w h o w a s n e r v o u s i n d e e d a b o u t w h e t h e r a F r e n c h - i n s p i r e d r e v o l t o f t h e m a s s e s s o o n w a s i n s t o r e for Austria and H u n g a r y as well, had b e c o m e increasingly repressive o f t h e c o m m o n p e o p l e i n r e c e n t y e a r s , a n d e v e n V i e n n a ' s aristocrats—otherwise occupied with

lavish

parties,

theater,

o p e r a , a n d i n s t r u m e n t a l m u s i c — h a d t o suffer distress a n d a b i t o f d i s r u p t i o n w h e n N a p o l e o n ' s f o r c e s b r i e f l y o c c u p i e d t h e city in 1805, t h e n r e t u r n e d to b o m b it into submission four years hence. N a p o l e o n o c c u p i e d t h e emperor's S c h o n b r u n n Palace and


18 0 3 - 1 8 1 2

his military c o m m a n d e r s filled a few of t h e T h e a t e r - a n - d e r W i e n ' s o t h e r w i s e e m p t y seats w h e n B e e t h o v e n ' s o p e r a

Fidelio

h a d its u n t i m e l y p r e m i e r e o n N o v e m b e r 2 0 , 1 8 0 5 . I n g e s t a t i o n for t w o y e a r s , t h e n a s c e n t o p e r a h a d b e e n b e s e t b y d e l a y s o f s e v e r a l s o r t s , t h e n , j u s t p r i o r t o its l o n g - s c h e d u l e d o p e n i n g , t h e state t h e a t e r c e n s o r h a d d e c l a r e d its s u b j e c t u n f i t for p u b l i c c o n s u m p t i o n . Its l i b r e t t o w a s t h e s t o r y o f a s i x t e e n t h - c e n t u r y p o l i t i c a l p r i s o n e r i n S p a i n w h o i s r e s c u e d b y his w i f e , d i s g u i s e d as a m a n , f r o m death at the hands of a tyrannical p r i s o n g o v e r nor, the k i n d of story that had understandably intrinsic appeal for a m a n i n B e e t h o v e n ' s c i r c u m s t a n c e s . I t w a s n ' t u n t i l t h e last m o m e n t — a n d the arrival of a w r i t t e n assurance to the censor from Court

Secretary Josef Sonnleithner that the

emperor's

w i f e , i n p o i n t o f fact, w a s e n c h a n t e d b y t h e t a l e — t h a t t h e p r o duction had been allowed to proceed. B u t on opening night, N a p o l e o n ' s military m e n labeled the p r o d u c t i o n n o t h i n g m o r e than a crashing b o r e and the few others in attendance found it simply m u c h too long and c u m b e r s o m e . M a n y of Beethoven's g r e a t e s t a d m i r e r s , like his early p a t r o n P r i n c e K a r l L i c h n o w s k y , w h o had c h a m p i o n e d the production along the way and w h o likely w o u l d h a v e e n j o y e d i t e n o r m o u s l y , r e c e n t l y h a d fled t h e c i t y o u t o f u n c e r t a i n t y a b o u t w h e t h e r t h e y w o u l d b e specific targets o f N a p o l e o n ' s w r a t h .

Fidelio

c l o s e d after o n l y t h r e e p e r f o r m a n c e s . It w a s r e v i v e d ,

h o w e v e r — o n c e B e e t h o v e n v e r y r e l u c t a n t l y a g r e e d t o c u t its l e n g t h t o t w o acts f r o m t h r e e a n d r e s h a p e i t — f o r t w o p e r f o r m a n c e s i n t h e s p r i n g o f 1 8 0 6 , a t a t i m e w h e n his b e n e f a c t o r s a n d a r d e n t a d m i r e r s h a d r e t u r n e d t o t h e city. T h i s t i m e they w e r e enthusiastic, but n o w the c o m p o s e r was not, a n d


following an angry confrontation with the director of the theater, B e e t h o v e n refused to sanction future p e r f o r m a n c e s .

It

w a s n ' t u n t i l 1 8 1 4 , a n d f o l l o w i n g still m o r e s u b s t a n t i a l r e v i s i o n , t h a t w h a t p r o v e d t o b e his o n l y c o m p l e t e d o p e r a — o n e w h o s e trials, h e c o n t e n d e d , o u g h t t o h a v e e a r n e d h i m a m a r t y r ' s crown—was

again

presented

to

the

public,

this

rime

at

V i e n n a ' s K a r n t n e r t o r T h e a t e r , a n d a t last t o g r e a t a c c l a i m . F r o m t h e m o m e n t o f his r e s o l u t e r e t u r n f r o m i s o l a t i o n i n t h e village o f H e i l i g e n s t a d t i n t h e a u t u m n o f 1 8 0 2 — d e t e r m i n e d , a s h e h a d a f f i r m e d t o his f r i e n d W e g e l e r , t o refuse t o let his a d v a n c i n g deafness " b e n d o r c r u s h m e c o m p l e t e l y " — u n t i l t h e a u s p i c i o u s o c c a s i o n o f his l o n g - a n t i c i p a t e d m e e t i n g with

the

towering

German

poet

and

playwright Johann

W o l f g a n g v o n G o e t h e a d e c a d e later, B e e t h o v e n h a d c o m posed a s t u n n i n g array of music,

m u c h of w h i c h ,

in

fact,

s e e m e d w e l l o n its w a y t o s u r v i v i n g t h e t h o u s a n d y e a r s p r o p h esied b y those w h o b e l i e v e d t h e y h e a r d s o m e t h i n g i m m o r t a l i n that original performance of the

Eroica.

D e s p i t e t h e fact t h a t

c o n v e r s a t i o n h a d b e c o m e m u c h m o r e difficult a s t h e y e a r s p r o g r e s s e d , a n d a l t h o u g h h a r s h n o i s e s still a t t a c k e d h i m a s t h o u g h t h e y w e r e k n i v e s p l u n g e d i n t o his e a r s , h e c o n t i n u e d t o b e a b l e t o h e a r , a t least m i n i m a l l y a n d w i t h effort,

the

breadth of the w o r k he c o m p o s e d in that period: five symp h o n i e s , i n c l u d i n g t h e spirited, sunlit F o u r t h ; t h e dramatic, m a g n e t i c , a n d fateful Fifth; a s w e l l a s t h e S i x t h , B e e t h o v e n ' s P a s t o r a l S y m p h o n y , a g l o r i o u s s u m m a t i o n o f his l i f e l o n g l o v e of nature, as well as seven p i a n o sonatas, t w o violin sonatas, five p i a n o trios, five string quartets, five concertos, an o r a t o rio, a mass, and m u c h m o r e , including t h e overture and inci-


d e n t a l o r c h e s t r a l m u s i c t h a t w e r e w r i t t e n for a n 1 8 1 0 p r o d u c tion of Goethe's tragedy

Egmont.

B e e t h o v e n h a d b e e n a g r e a t a d m i r e r o f t h e plays a n d p o e m s o f G o e t h e s i n c e his a d o l e s c e n t d a y s i n B o n n , a n d like m o s t o f his c o n t e m p o r a r i e s , h e c o n s i d e r e d G o e t h e a n d G o e t h e ' s f r i e n d a n d colleague J o h a n n C h r i s t o p h v o n Schiller t o b e t h e foremost

men

o f letters

in

the

German-speaking world.

And

G o e t h e , in turn, suspected that B e e t h o v e n was led by " t h e l i g h t o f g e n i u s t h a t i l l u m i n e s his i^iind like a s t r o k e o f l i g h t n i n g " i n w a y s t h a t o t h e r m e n s i m p l y w e r e n o t , d e s p i t e t h e fact that the composer's w o r k often was simply t o o Goethe's

classical

tastes.

At

his

suggestion—one

"new" to

for

which

B e e t h o v e n eagerly a g r e e d — t h e t w o m e n f i n a l l y m e t i n t h e B o h e m i a n spa o f T e p l i t z w h i l e o n h o l i d a y i n t h e s u m m e r o f 1812, seeing each other repeatedly d u r i n g the course of a week.

But

Beethoven

it was

strangely

that

took

he

characteristic

offense

when

his

of the

mercurial

new

friend r e -

s p o n d e d t o a p i a n o p i e c e h e p l a y e d for h i m s i m p l y b y w i p i n g a w a y tears r a t h e r t h a n a p p l a u d i n g .

"From you,

Goethe,

I

w o n ' t stand for this," B e e t h o v e n loudly r e p r i m a n d e d the p o e t , explaining that in Berlin in 1 7 9 6 an a u d i e n c e similarly " h a d b e e n so educated and refined that they n o w staggered towards m e w i t h t h e i r h a n d k e r c h i e f s w e t w i t h e m o t i o n [ w h i c h ] w a s all q u i t e i r r e l e v a n t to a c r u d e

e n t h u s i a s t like myself. . . . Y o u

yourself m u s t k n o w h o w pleasant it is to be applauded by hands that o n e respects. I f y o u d o n ' t r e c o g n i z e m e and consider m e a s y o u r e q u a l , w h o will? T o w h a t s o r t o f a p a c k o f r a g a m u f f i n s shall I t u r n for u n d e r s t a n d i n g ? " Goethe had been

i n t r i g u e d y e t substantially confused b y


B e e t h o v e n ' s m u s i c for s o m e t i m e , a n d n o w t h a t h e h a d m a d e t h e c o m p o s e r ' s a c q u a i n t a n c e , h e w a s e q u a l l y f a s c i n a t e d b y his p e r s o n a l artistry.

"A m o r e self-contained,

energetic, sincere

artist I n e v e r saw," h e w r o t e t o his w i f e f r o m T e p l i t z . B u t t h e n t h e r e w a s t h e other s i d e o f h i m , G o e t h e e x p l a i n e d i n a s u b s e q u e n t l e t t e r , t h i s o n e s e n t t o his f r i e n d C a r l F r i e d r i c h Z e l t e r i n B e r l i n . N o t o n l y h a d t h e c o m p o s e r b e r a t e d h i m b i z a r r e l y for failing t o a p p l a u d i n t h e w a y h e c o n s i d e r e d p r o p e r , b u t h e w a s coarse, r o u g h , u n c o u t h . H e s e e m e d t o care n o t h i n g a b o u t tact o r d i s c r e t i o n a n d e v e n less a b o u t his p e r s o n a l a p p e a r a n c e , l e t t i n g his h a i r s t a n d o u t i n e v e r y d i r e c t i o n a n d w e a r i n g i l l - f i t t i n g and soiled clothes. " H i s talent a m a z e d m e , " G o e t h e explained. "Unfortunately he is an utterly u n t a m e d personality w h o is not altogether in t h e w r o n g in h o l d i n g the w o r l d to be detestable, b u t s u r e l y d o e s n o t m a k e i t a n y t h e m o r e e n j o y a b l e e i t h e r for h i m s e l f o r o t h e r s b y his a t t i t u d e . H e i s easily e x c u s e d , o n t h e o t h e r h a n d , a n d m u c h t o b e p i t i e d , a s his h e a r i n g i s l e a v i n g h i m , w h i c h p e r h a p s m a r s t h e m u s i c a l p a r t o f his n a t u r e less t h a n t h e social."

BEETHOVEN

OFTEN

HAD

BEEN

QUIET,

even brooding

a n d m e l a n c h o l y , i n t h e y e a r s b e f o r e his e a r s b e g a n t o b e t r a y h i m . B u t his i n c r e a s i n g l y s e v e r e i n a b i l i t y t o h e a r t h e w o r d s t h a t were

spoken

to

him

and

his

ever m o r e laconic

responses

n o n e t h e l e s s d i d n o t m a k e i t i m p o s s i b l e for h i m t o f o r g e r o m a n t i c — i f often

curiously imbalanced—relationships with

a


series o f w o m e n , a s w e l l a s t o h a r b o r t h e c o n t i n u a l h o p e t h a t o n e day he w o u l d marry. Countess Giulietta Guicciardi had b e e n the second w o m a n in V i e n n a w h o , for a t i m e a t least, h e d e s p e r a t e l y h a d w i s h e d w o u l d b e c o m e his m a t e . T w o y e a r s l a t e r a n d k e e n a g a i n t o find love, he b e c a m e close to J o s e p h i n e B r u n s v i k D e y m , a d a u g h t e r o f H u n g a r i a n a r i s t o c r a t C o u n t A n a t o l B r u n s v i k a n d his w i f e , A n n a , t o w h o m h e had b e c o m e acquainted s o m e years before. J o s e p h i n e a n d h e r sister T h e r e s e h^d b e e n B e e t h o v e n ' s p i a n o pupils in the years before J o s e p h i n e m a r r i e d — s h e subsequently gave birth to four children, t h e n was suddenly w i d o w e d in 1 8 0 4 . A l t h o u g h a t first h e m a y h a v e i n t e n d e d t o offer h e r o n l y the c o n d o l e n c e a n d s u p p o r t of a friend, B e e t h o v e n soon was d e e p l y i n l o v e w i t h J o s e p h i n e , o p e n l y d e c l a r i n g his feelings for h e r in a series of letters that s p a n n e d t h r e e years, assuring h e r t h a t s h e w a s h i s " o n l y b e l o v e d , " a n d c o m p o s i n g for h e r t h e s o n g

An die Hqffnung,

" T o H o p e " — t h e w i s h t h a t at last s h e w o u l d

a c q u i e s c e a n d r e t u r n his affections i n k i n d . B u t a l t h o u g h F r a u D e y m c a r e d for B e e t h o v e n a n d w a s t e m p t e d a s w e l l b y his e n treaties, it appears unlikely that she e v e r a g r e e d to an i n t i m a c y that was closer t h a n a w a r m and d e v o t e d friendship. She, like C o u n t e s s G u i c c i a r d i , w o u l d h a v e h a d t o i g n o r e his m o d e s t s o cial s t a n d i n g i n o r d e r t o a l l o w t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p t o d e e p e n , a n d marriage to B e e t h o v e n w o u l d have stripped her of her nobility a n d h e r e s t a t e . I t s e e m s s u r e a s w e l l t h a t his t o t a l c o m m i t m e n t t o his m u s i c , h i s a l l - t o o - p r e d i c t a b l e m o o d s w i n g s , h i s e c c e n t r i c p e r s o n a l h a b i t s a n d w a n t o f social g r a c e s , t o say n o t h i n g o f his s u s p e c t h e a l t h a n d h e a r i n g loss, c o m b i n e d t o c o n v i n c e h e r i n


1807 that a u n i o n w i t h h i m w o u l d n o t be best for her, h e r child r e n , o r i n d e e d p e r h a p s for h i m . Y e t h e c o n t i n u e d t o h o p e t h a t o n e d a y h e w o u l d find t h e kind

o f idyllic

domestic

contentment

that

he

openly

had

y e a r n e d for o v e r t h e y e a r s , a n d a g a i n g l i m p s e d t h a t p o s s i b i l i t y i n his r e l a t i o n s h i p w i t h T h e r e s e M a l f a t t i , a n i e c e o f t h e Italian physician

G i o v a n n i Malfatti,

who

had become Beethoven's

d o c t o r following the death of J o h a n n Schmidt the year before. Although

the

surviving

letters

between

the

forty-year-old

c o m p o s e r a n d t h e y o u n g w o m a n w h o w a s h a l f his a g e d o n o t demonstrate

the

kind

of passionate

love

he

expressed

to

J o s e p h i n e D e y m a f e w y e a r s b e f o r e , B e e t h o v e n d i d discuss w i t h f r i e n d s his h o p e s t o b e m a r r i e d s o o n . H e w e n t s o far a s to w r i t e to Franz W e g e l e r in B o n n , asking h i m to search the a r c h i v e s for his b a p t i s m a l c e r t i f i c a t e , w h i c h h e w o u l d n e e d i n o r d e r to o b t a i n a m a r r i a g e license, b u t t h e relationship c o o l e d , t h e n e n d e d , before t h e certificate was n e e d e d . He

probably

Beethoven

did

never

proposed

continue

to

be

marriage drawn

to

again,

although

sensitive,

artistic

w o m e n , and if they s o m e h o w w e r e unobtainable, so m u c h the better, it seemed. W h i l e vacationing at Teplitz in the s u m m e r s o f 1 8 1 1 a n d 1 8 1 2 , h e d e v e l o p e d a lively a n d f l i r t a t i o u s r e l a tionship w i t h a y o u n g opera singer n a m e d Amalie Sebald, b u t she lived in distant Berlin and t h e y spent only those t w o s u m m e r s in relative proximity to each other. A n d at r o u g h l y the same t i m e at h o m e in V i e n n a he h a d b e c o m e close to a m a r ried w o m a n , A n t o n i e B r e n t a n o , t h e wife of a Frankfurt businessman n a m e d Franz Brentano, Beethoven's friend Bettina B r e n t a n o s half b r o t h e r .


In 1809, while her husband r e m a i n e d in Frankfurt, A n t o n i e had returned with her children to Vienna, her h o m e t o w n , to a t t e n d t o h e r a g i n g father. S h e h a d b e e n s e r i o u s l y ill for a p e r i o d in 1811 and B e e t h o v e n had e m p a t h i z e d w i t h h e r physical distress, v i s i t i n g h e r r e g u l a r l y a n d s p e n d i n g l o n g h o u r s a t h e r p i a n o c o m f o r t i n g h e r w i t h his m u s i c . I t s e e m s c e r t a i n t h a t A n t o n i e e n c o u n t e r e d m u c h in B e e t h o v e n that was missing i n h e r d o m e s t i c life i n F r a n k f u r t a n d t h a t h e r e l i s h e d h e r c o m pany i n t u r n . I t m a y , i n fact, h a v e b e e n A n t o n i e t o w h o m B e e t h o v e n w r o t e f r o m T e p l i t z inVarly J u l y 1 8 1 2 , a d d r e s s i n g h e r — o r s o m e o n e — a s his " i m m o r t a l b e l o v e d " i n a p a s s i o n a t e t h r e e - p a r t l e t t e r t h a t o p e n e d w i t h his a r d e n t d e t e r m i n a t i o n t o find a w a y t o live w i t h h e r , y e t w h i c h c l o s e d i n s u b s t a n t i a l d o u b t : " Y o u r love makes me at o n c e that happiest and u n h a p piest o f m e n — a t m y a g e I n e e d a steady, q u i e t l i f e — c a n t h a t be so in o u r c o n n e c t i o n ? . . . O h , c o n t i n u e to love m e — n e v e r m i s j u d g e t h e m o s t faithful h e a r t o f y o u r b e l o v e d . " L i k e t h e l e t t e r B e e t h o v e n h a d w r i t t e n t o his b r o t h e r s f r o m H e i l i g e n s t a d t a d e c a d e b e f o r e i n w h i c h h e c o n f e s s e d his g r o w i n g deafness, i t a p p e a r s t h a t t h i s m i s s i v e also w a s n e v e r m a i l e d . "I m u s t close at o n c e so that y o u m a y receive this letter at o n c e , " h e w r o t e , y e t it, like t h e 1 8 0 2 l e t t e r t h a t h e w r o t e i n H e i l i g e n s t a d t , w a s f o u n d a m o n g his b e l o n g i n g s i n t h e d a y s after his d e a t h .


HAIR FOR 5ALE AT 5 0 T H E B V 5

O N T H E M O R N I N G O F M A Y 5 , 1 9 4 5 , listeners i n D e n m a r k w h o s e radios w e r e t u n e d t o the B B C heard the stupendous n e w s that

G e r m a n forces h a d s u r r e n d e r e d .

By midday,

the

news was being proclaimed on Danish R a d i o as well, and British troops w e r e

entering C o p e n h a g e n and quelling the

scattered s h o o t i n g b y G e r m a n soldiers w h o had yet t o receive the news themselves. Within twenty-four hours, everyone in D e n m a r k , it s e e m e d , had r u s h e d to t h e capital city to o b s e r v e m e m b e r s of the Danish Brigade, Denmark's o w n army, paradi n g d o w n t h e pedestrian Stroget i n t h e city c e n t e r — D a n e s once m o r e in control of their sea-encircled country.


Unlike Germany, occupied D e n m a r k had b e e n spared the destruction b y Allied b o m b i n g that had b r o u g h t a b o u t the e n d o f t h e w a r ; t h e lives o f a l m o s t all its c i t i z e n s — J e w s a n d n o n J e w s a l i k e — m i r a c u l o u s l y h a d b e e n s p a r e d ; a n d its p e o p l e n o w w e r e giddy w i t h delight that the l o n g siege was over. A m o n g t h e i r last o r g a n i z e d acts, y o u n g D a n i s h r e s i s t a n c e f i g h t e r s i n sisted, t h e n e n s u r e d w i t h o p e n l y b r a n d i s h e d w e a p o n s , t h a t d e feated G e r m a n soldiers m a d e their w a y t o t h e b o r d e r w i t h o u t delay, a n d s o o n t h e D a n i s h J e w s w h o h a d b e e n i n e x i l e s i n c e October 1943 began to return to Their homeland. This time t h e y simply crossed t h e O r e s u n d o n regularly s c h e d u l e d ferries i n t h e b r i g h t a n d o p e n l i g h t o f day, a n d for a l m o s t all o f t h e m , the w e l c o m e they received from their c o u n t r y m e n was nearly a s e x t r a o r d i n a r y a s t h e assistance t h e y h a d b e e n o f f e r e d b a c k w h e n t h e y m a d e their secret escapes.

In

Copenhagen and

t h r o u g h o u t t h e n a t i o n , t h e r e f u g e e s c a m e h o m e t o find t h e i r h o u s e s a n d a p a r t m e n t s s e c u r e a n d c l e a n — e v e n freshly p a i n t e d i n s o m e c a s e s — t h e i r p e t s a n d g a r d e n s w e l l c a r e d for, t h e i r k i t c h e n s filled w i t h f o o d , t h e i r j o b s a n d t h e i r b u s i n e s s e s e a g e r l y awaiting their return. Although,

i n t i m e , m a n y o f t h e p e o p l e w h o h a d fled t o

S w e d e n d i d g o b a c k t o G i l l e l e j e a n d t h e o t h e r f i s h i n g villages, for

the

time

being,

memories

of the

terror of that flight

r e m a i n e d t o o r a w for m o s t t o b e e a g e r t o r e t u r n . Y e t t h r e e f a m i l i e s — t h e i r n a m e s still u n r e c o r d e d , e v e n i n n a s c e n t p e a c e t i m e — d i d r e v i s i t G i l l e l e j e i n t h e d a y s s o o n after t h e l i b e r a t i o n t o claim t h e t h r e e c h i l d r e n w h o m , i n desperate m o m e n t s , t h e y had b e e n forced to leave b e h i n d a year a n d a half before: " M o n a , " w h o had b e e n only t h r e e m o n t h s old w h e n she was


taken in by Margrethe Hansen; " H e n n i n g , " w h o had been s e v e n m o n t h s o l d w h e n E d i t h Back C a r l s e n b e g a n t o c a r e for him; and one-year-old "Tove," adopted by Svend Andreasen's family. E a c h w a s n o w w a l k i n g , e v e n t a l k i n g w h e n p a r e n t s t h e y didn't recognize c a m e t o t o w n t o take t h e m h o m e , their tearful d e p a r t u r e s t h a t M a y u n a m b i g u o u s p r o o f t o t h e p e o p l e o f little G i l l e l e j e t h a t t h e w a r h a d c o m e t o a c l o s e . B u t i t w a s n ' t l o n g b e f o r e o t h e r c h i l d r e n , still m o r e v i c t i m s o f t h e ravages of the w a r that h a d devastated m o s t of E u r o p e , arr i v e d i n t h e village, r e m i n d e r s t h a t its l e g a c y w o u l d last a v e r y long time. Early in 1946, a g r o u p of thirty F r e n c h w a r o r p h a n s arrived i n D e n m a r k u n d e r t h e auspices o f t h e D a n i s h R e d C r o s s , a n d w e r e m a t c h e d w i t h a d o p t i v e families i n s e v e r a l N o r t h Sjaslland t o w n s , a n d a m o n g t h e g r o u p o f five w h o w e r e s e n t t o G i l l e l e j e w a s a s i x - y e a r - o l d girl

from

t h e village o f

Sannois, n e a r Paris. Tiny, m a l n o u r i s h e d , b u t b r i g h t - e y e d a n d fiercely i n d e p e n d e n t , M i c h e l e de R y b e l had b e e n sorely in n e e d o f assistance, b u t s h e w a s n o t , i n fact, a n o r p h a n . H e r B e l g i a n - b o r n father, T h e o p h i l e , w a s a b i c y c l e - s h o p c l e r k a n d a deteriorating alcoholic; her m o t h e r M a r i a n n e struggled to feed a n d c a r e for s e v e n m o r e c h i l d r e n i n a d d i t i o n t o M i c h e l e , y e t i t w a s o n l y s h e w h o w a s failing d a n g e r o u s l y , o n l y s h e w h o m h e r parents v e r y reluctantly h a d a g r e e d t o send away. Michele had b e e n both confused and frightened about w h a t w a s i n s t o r e for h e r d u r i n g t h e e i g h t d a y s i n t h e s p r i n g o f t h a t year that she spent in quarantine near Sannois w i t h as m a n y as sixty o t h e r c h i l d r e n , a n d s h e still h a d n o t b e e n s u r e w h e r e s h e w a s g o i n g w h e n s h e w a s p u t a b o a r d a t r a i n i n P a r i s b o u n d for C o p e n h a g e n , c a r r y i n g o n l y a s i n g l e small s u i t c a s e c o n t a i n i n g


r e m n a n t s o f t h e life s h e w a s l e a v i n g b e h i n d . S h e w a s d e l i g h t e d t o d i s c o v e r t h a t t h e t o w n t h a t w a s h e r d e s t i n a t i o n lay b e s i d e a b e a u t i f u l sea, b u t t h e p e o p l e i n G i l l e l e j e s p o k e a l a n g u a g e t h a t s o u n d e d like n o t h i n g s h e e v e r h a d h e a r d , a n d t h e w o r s t p a r t o f this n e w h o m e , s h e s o o n w a s c e r t a i n , w a s t h e family t o w h i c h she h a d b e e n assigned. B y n o w i t h a d b e c o m e clear t o y o u n g M i c h e l e t h a t h e r n a t u r a l p a r e n t s i n t e n d e d for h e r t o b e a w a y f r o m F r a n c e for a v e r y l o n g t i m e ; h e r m o t h e r h a d t o l d h e r h o w m u c h s h e l o v e d h e r , b u t s h e also w a n t e d h e r t o live a n d t h r i v e i n d i s t a n t D e n m a r k . T h e c o u n t y a d m i n i s t r a t o r a n d his w i f e w h o explained t o her that they n o w w e r e her parents, h o w e v e r , s e e m e d s t r a n g e a n d aloof, e v e n c r u e l . T h e y k e p t w h o l e r o o m s of their house locked so she could n o t enter t h e m ; she n e v e r w a s a l l o w e d t o p l a y w i t h t h e dolls t h a t b e l o n g e d t o h e r n e w sister o r t o t o u c h a n y t h i n g else t h a t c a p t u r e d h e r c u r i o s ity;

a n d often, w h e n t h e rest o f the family w o u l d g o o u t ,

M i c h e l e w a s m a d e t o stay b e h i n d , l o c k e d i n s i d e t h e h o u s e a s t h o u g h it w e r e a prison. After t h r e e m o n t h s i n h e r n e w h o m e , M i c h e l e h a d g r o w n and was physically healthier, yet she was bitterly h o m e s i c k a n d h a t e d t h e c i r c u m s t a n c e s o f h e r n e w life. S h e k n e w t h a t s h e c o u l d n o t m a n a g e t o f i n d h e r w a y b a c k t o F r a n c e b y herself, b u t p e r h a p s s h e could f i n d o t h e r p e o p l e i n G i l l e l e j e w h o w o u l d treat h e r as if she truly w e r e theirs. N o t e v e r y o n e in t o w n was m e a n , she h a d c o m e t o u n d e r s t a n d . T h e d o c t o r a n d his wife t h e n u r s e , for e x a m p l e , h a d b e e n v e r y k i n d t o h e r w h e n s h e h a d v i s i t e d t h e i r c l i n i c for e x a m i n a t i o n s ; a n d w h e n M i c h e l e d i s c o v e r e d , t h r e e m o n t h s after h e r a r r i v a l , t h a t t h e y h a d n o c h i l d r e n o f t h e i r o w n , s h e s i m p l y sat d o w n o n e d a y i n f r o n t o f


t h e large, y e l l o w - b r i c k h o u s e that o v e r l o o k e d Vesterbrogade a n d w a i t e d for t h e i r r e t u r n , a n n o u n c i n g t o K a y a n d M a r t a F r e m m i n g w h e n at last t h e y e n c o u n t e r e d h e r t h a t it w a s their d a u g h t e r w h o m she w o u l d like t o b e .

NOT

UNLIKE

MANY DANES

O F his g e n e r a t i o n , K a y A l e x -

a n d e r F r e m m i n g kept m u c h that m a t t e r e d inside h i m — u n s p o ken,

unshared,

undisclosed.

N o o n e a m o n g t h e p e o p l e still

living i n t h e seaside t o w n o f Gilleleje w h o r e m e m b e r s t h e blond, blue-eyed, and

friendly-countenanced

physician claims

t o h a v e b e e n his c o n f i d a n t o r e v e n t o h a v e k n o w n h i m w e l l ; no o n e r e m e m b e r s ever h e a r i n g h i m speak at length on any topic.

A n d although some remain sure of the r u m o r s they

heard in t h e a u t u m n of 1943 that the d o c t o r had b e e n given s o m e t h i n g precious b y o n e o f the a n o n y m o u s refugees w h o passed t h r o u g h their t o w n en r o u t e to freedom, it appears that K a y F r e m m i n g h i m s e l f n e v e r m e n t i o n e d t h e gift h e h a d b e e n g i v e n — o r the

venerated

object he

had

agreed

to

hold in

t r u s t — t o a n y o n e o t h e r t h a n his wife, M a r t a , d u r i n g t h e subseq u e n t d e c a d e d u r i n g w h i c h t h e c o u p l e c o n t i n u e d t o live a n d w o r k in their yellow-brick house at 27 Vesterbrogade, four b l o c k s f r o m t h e s m a l l h a r b o r w h e r e a fleet o f f i s h i n g b o a t s c o n t i n u e d t o p u t t o sea. Born in Copenhagen in June

1905 to parents w h o w e r e

t e a c h e r s , K a y a n d his b r o t h e r K u r t , t h r e e y e a r s his j u n i o r , b o t h h a d h a d early d r e a m s o f b e c o m i n g d o c t o r s . Yet w h i l e K u r t h a d p l a n n e d t o s p e c i a l i z e — a n d i n t i m e d i d , i n fact, b e c o m e a p s y -


chiatrist—it was general medicine to w h i c h

Kay had been

d r a w n w h e n he c o m p l e t e d medical school in 1932. For t h e first four years of his career,

he

h a d s e r v e d o n staff a t t h e

C o m m u n i t y Hospital in t h e city of A r h u s in Jylland, t h e n , s o o n after h i s 1 9 3 6 m a r r i a g e t o M a r t a M a r i a R a s m u s s e n — a nurse w h o m he had m e t at t h e hospital, herself a C o p e n h a g e n n a t i v e — t h e c o u p l e h a d m o v e d b a c k t o Sjaelland a n d t h e h a r b o r t o w n o f Gilleleje, w h e r e u n t i l t h e i r a r r i v a l , D r . H j a l m a r Vilstrup had b e e n s o m e w h a t dramatically o v e r w o r k e d as the c o m m u n i t y ' s sole p h y s i c i a n . T h e F r e m m i n g s ' n e w life i n G i l l e l e j e s o o n h a d p r o v e d t o b e the kind they had h o p e d f o r — o n e shaped by hard but valued w o r k in a c o m m u n i t y w h e r e people k n e w and cared about their n e i g h b o r s . Gilleleje w a s a p r e t t y seaside t o w n swelling w i t h t o u r i s t s a n d c i t y folk i n t h e s p l e n d i d s u m m e r t i m e , a p l a c e w h e r e t h e s u m m e r s u n lit t h e sky till a l m o s t m i d n i g h t . I n w i n ter, t h e t o w n w o u l d s h r i n k t o a t i n y k n o t o f r e s i d e n t s w h o k e p t i n d o o r s a n d o u t o f t h e gales, t h e r a i n , a n d t h e s n o w e x c e p t w h e n i t w a s r i m e t o t a k e t o t h e i r ships. T h e F r e m m i n g s a n d t h e i r n e i g h b o r s h a d passed t h o s e l o n g w i n t e r e v e n i n g s a t h o m e b y r e a d i n g n e w s p a p e r s sent f r o m t h e city a n d b o o k s b o r r o w e d f r o m t h e l o c a l library, l i s t e n i n g t o m u s i c o n D a n i s h R a d i o a s well as on c h e r i s h e d p h o n o g r a p h s , a f e w — l i k e K a y w i t h his flute and Marta her cello—even making music themselves. Early o n , w h i l e t h e big h o u s e o n V e s t e r b r o g a d e was b e i n g built, t h e F r e m m i n g s h a d r e n t e d an a p a r t m e n t a n d fashioned a clinic o u t o f t h e s e c o n d - f l o o r s p a c e a b o v e a c l o t h i n g s h o p . B u t after t h a t f i r s t y e a r i n G i l l e l e j e , b o t h h o m e a n d c l i n i c h a d b e e n q u a r t e r e d t o g e t h e r — t h e c l i n i c d o w n s t a i r s this t i m e , t h e p r i v a t e


r o o m s above it—and it had seemed to Kay and Marta in the a u t u m n o f 1 9 4 3 , six y e a r s after t h e i r a r r i v a l , t h a t this s u r e l y w o u l d b e t h e i r h o m e for a v e r y l o n g t i m e t o c o m e . T h e y h a d n o c h i l d r e n y e t — t o w n s p e o p l e , i n fact, h a d b e g u n t o w h i s p e r that probably they could n o t — b u t their medical practice had c o n s u m e d all o f t h e t i m e t h a t t h e y d i d n ' t o t h e r w i s e r e s e r v e for a f e w f r i e n d s a n d for t h e i r m u s i c . M a r t a , t o o , h a d j o i n e d t h e R e d C r o s s as a c o m m u n i t y v o l u n t e e r in t h e early years of the war, and it m a y have b e e n because of that role that she and her h u s b a n d first b e c a m e active in the i m p r o m p t u b u t impassioned effort t o assist J e w s i n t h e i r f l i g h t f r o m t h e N a z i s . Y e t i t also m a y h a v e b e e n specifically b e c a u s e t h e t w o o f t h e m b e l o n g e d t o t h e small b u t close-knit clan o f t h e nation's m e d i c a l p r a c t i tioners that their help first was sought. W i t h i n h o u r s after G e r m a n n a v a l a t t a c h e G e o r g D u c k w i t z first h a d c o n f i d e d t h a t a N a z i

aktion

against D e n m a r k ' s J e w s

was i m m i n e n t , it had b e e n doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals w h o h a d assumed key roles in the mobilization. I n C o p e n h a g e n — w h e r e m o s t o f the p e o p l e lived w h o n o w w e r e i n i m m e d i a t e d a n g e r — d o c t o r s t h r o u g h o u t t h e city had b e e n able t o c o n t a c t t h e i r J e w i s h p a t i e n t s a n d g e t w o r d t o t h e m that t h e y s h o u l d c o n s i d e r any hospital or private clinic a safe h a v e n o f s o r t s . H o s p i t a l w a r d s t h r o u g h o u t t h e city q u i c k l y had

been

transformed

into

hostels,

ambulances

had

been

pressed i n t o service as makeshift public transport, and in t w o d o z e n fishing c o m m u n i t i e s a l o n g t h e coast, it often h a d b e e n t o clinics a n d h o s p i t a l s t h a t f r i g h t e n e d r e f u g e e s w e r e d e l i v e r e d t o w a i t a g a i n u n t i l t h e i r ships c o u l d sail. A l t h o u g h t h e e v i d e n c e is sketchy, it n o n e t h e l e s s appears c e r -


tain that t h e F r e m m i n g s t o o h a d b e c o m e p a r t o f this a d h o c m e d i c a l n e t w o r k , r e c e i v i n g refugees i n t o their clinic o v e r a s p a n o f d a y s i n e a r l y O c t o b e r , i n t o t h e l i v i n g q u a r t e r s t h a t lay a b o v e it, a n d , for a t i m e a t least, h i d i n g t h e m i n t h e i r t h i r d story attic. M a r t a , t o o , h a d b e e n actively i n v o l v e d i n h e l p i n g people

in

flight

reach

the

Gilleleje

Church

on

the

early

e v e n i n g o f O c t o b e r 6 , a n d h e r h u s b a n d h a d visited t h e c h u r c h t o a t t e n d t o s o m e o n e w h o w a s ill s o m e t i m e b e f o r e t h e e a r l y h o u r s of the following m o r n i n g . B u t apart from those few certainties—and the physical e v i d e n c e of a simple black locket w i t h a c o i l o f h a i r i n s i d e — i t i s likely t h a t little m o r e e v e r w i l l b e d i s c o v e r e d a b o u t h o w t h e d o c t o r c a m e t o possess a c o r p o real b i t o f t h e i n c o m p a r a b l e L u d w i g v a n B e e t h o v e n , t h e r e markable circumstances of that gift-giving s h r o u d e d forever by K a y ' s p e r s o n a l i n s u l a r i t y , his k i n d l y d i f f i d e n c e , a n d his e v i d e n t u n d e r s t a n d i n g t h a t n e i t h e r his n o r a n y o n e else's r o l e i n r e n d e r i n g help to the refugees h a d b e e n u n i q u e d u r i n g those days and certainly should not have b e e n labeled heroic.

T H E SIXTY

P E O P L E W H O H A D b e e n taken f r o m the high

loft o f t h e c h u r c h — o n e o f t h e m t h e l o c k e t ' s b e n e f a c t o r , p e r h a p s , e a c h o f t h e m a "full J e w " for w h o m t h e m a n i a c a l N a z i s held utter c o n t e m p t — h a d been transported in m i d - O c t o b e r , together

with

four

hundred

others

apprehended

elsewhere

throughout the country, to Theresienstadt, the Nazis' w a y station c o n c e n t r a t i o n c a m p i n o c c u p i e d Czechoslovakia, n o t far f r o m t h e G e r m a n b o r d e r . T h e r e t h e y h a d j o i n e d a s m a n y


as 80,000 other prisoners from t h r o u g h o u t western Europe, m o s t o f w h o m s o o n w o u l d b e transferred again t o t h e c o m p l e x of death camps located near the t o w n of Auschwitz in southern Poland, only to be replaced by nearly equal n u m b e r s of n e w arrivals. B u t because o f q u i c k a n d t h e n c o n s t a n t political pressure

directed

at

Gestapo

head

Heinrich

Himmler

by

D a n i s h officials i n C o p e n h a g e n — a s w e l l a s t h e c u r i o u s e n couragement

of

Denmark's

Nazi

plenipotentiary

Werner

B e s t — n o n e of the Danes had ever b e e n forced to m a k e that final t r i p f r o m w h i c h n o o n e w o u l d r e t u r n . D a n i s h p r i s o n e r s , i n fact, h a d b e e n a l l o w e d t o r e c e i v e l e t t e r s and occasional parcels of food and clothing sent from h o m e , a n d o n J u n e 2 3 , 1 9 4 4 , s e v e n m o n t h s after t h e i r a r r i v a l , a d e l egation comprising m e m b e r s of the Danish R e d Cross and the Danish foreign ministry had arrived to inspect the c a m p and s e e k visual p r o o f t h a t t h e p r i s o n e r s ' b a s i c n e e d s w e r e b e i n g m e t . Y e t life i n T h e r e s i e n s t a d t — e v e n for t h e s e " p r i v i l e g e d " D a n e s — h a d r e m a i n e d brutal a t best. T h e defeated, d i g n i t y s t r i p p e d p r i s o n e r s h a d b e e n fed n o t h i n g b u t g r a y g r u e l a n d a n o c c a s i o n a l b i t o f b r e a d for m o n t h s o n e n d ; d a i l y t h e y h a d h a d to

perform

backbreaking

work

despite

their

dramatically

w e a k e n e d c o n d i t i o n s ; a n d p e r h a p s w o r s t o f all, a p r i s o n e r s ' " E l d e r C o u n c i l " h a d b e e n forced t o select w h i c h captives, i n g r o u p s five t o

ten

thousand strong,

would

be shipped to

Auschwitz each week, the prisoners themselves made to m u s cle t h e i r f e l l o w J e w s i n t o t h e c a t t l e c a r s t h a t w o u l d c a r r y t h e m to their deaths. E x p r e s s l y for t h e n i g h d y e n t e r t a i n m e n t o f t h e c a m p ' s g u a r d s


and c o m m a n d e r s , a g r o u p of forty prisoners w h o had b e e n musicians prior to their capture had b e e n formed into an o r chestra of sorts a n d

made

t o p e r f o r m a t six o ' c l o c k e a c h

e v e n i n g a s t h e i r day's p h y s i c a l l a b o r a t last c a m e t o a c l o s e . E a c h of the ten D u t c h m e m b e r s of the e n s e m b l e had held chairs in Amsterdam's w e l l - k n o w n K o n c e r t g e b o u w before they w e r e seized by t h e Nazis; t h r e e D a n e s had b e e n professional m u s i cians as well, a n d a fourth, f o u r t e e n - y e a r - o l d Paul R a b i n o witsch, a precocious y o u n g t r u m o e t player w h o was a c c o m p l i s h e d e n o u g h t o j o i n t h e g r o u p , h a d b e e n c a p t u r e d i n t h e loft o f t h e Gilleleje C h u r c h .

Sometimes, people w h o had been

professional singers and actors j o i n e d t h e orchestra as well and s a n g for t h e p l e a s u r e o f t h e i r c a p t o r s — s a c r e d c h o r a l m u s i c , G e r m a n folk t u n e s , a n d e v e n a f e w s o n g s c o m p o s e d b y t h e i m p r i s o n e d m u s i c i a n s t h e m s e l v e s , t h e i r l y r i c s , like t h o s e o f " T h e S o n g o f M u s i c , " t o o s u b t l e t o enlist t h e N a z i s ' w r a t h :

E v e r y d a y T h e r e s i e n s t a d t has its m u s i c , W e play adagio, a n d a n t e a n d allegro, C y m b a l a n d d r u m say b u m b u m c h i n g b u m c h i n g , Enthusiastic, the audience is applauding. B u t can't y o u hear? T h e r e is a child crying W h i l e t h e m u s i c i s p l a y i n g s o cheerfully.

Music gives us delight and dreams F l o w i n g afar, o u t s i d e t h e b a r b e d w i r e , C y m b a l a n d d r u m say b u m b u m c h i n g b u m c h i n g ,


Enthusiastic, the audience is applauding. B u t can't y o u hear? T h e r e is a child c r y i n g W h i l e t h e m u s i c i s p l a y i n g s o cheerfully.

A n d t h e v o y a g e r s g o off. W h e r e ? Y o u m a y g u e s s , A n d w h e n they arrive at the destined place T h e only thing they can b r i n g w i t h t h e m Is t h e m u s i c , t h e m u s i c , t h e m u s i c . . .

It had b e e n immediately following the musicians' m a n c e o f Verdi's

Requiem

perfor-

i n O c t o b e r 1 9 4 4 , n e a r l y a y e a r after

t h e D a n i s h p r i s o n e r s ' arrival, that virtually e v e r y o n e associated w i t h t h e p e r f o r m a n c e — t h e o r c h e s t r a , soloists, a n d all o f t h e a d h o c c h o i r — w a s o r d e r e d t o p r e p a r e for i m m e d i a t e t r a n s p o r t t o A u s c h w i t z . O n l y the four players f r o m D e n m a r k , the b o y t r u m p e t e r a m o n g t h e m , h a d b e e n a l l o w e d t o stay b e h i n d ; t h e o t h e r s , i t w a s o b v i o u s a t last, h a d b e e n f o r c e d t o p e r f o r m — t o t h e N a z i s ' sadistic d e l i g h t — t h e m a s s for t h e d e a d for t h e m s e l v e s . Six m o n t h s later, o n A p r i l 1 3 , 1 9 4 5 , m o r e t h a n n i n e t e e n m o n t h s after t h e i r a r r i v a l i n T h e r e s i e n s t a d t , t h e 4 1 8 D a n i s h p r i s o n e r s w h o still s u r v i v e d h a d b e e n o r d e r e d t o p r e p a r e for t h e i r d e p a r t u r e s a s w e l l . Y e t t h e y w e r e n o t b o u n d for P o l a n d , they soon had learned, but—miraculously it seemed to t h e m — t o safety i n S w e d e n i n s t e a d . O n c e m o r e , D a n i s h l e a d e r s h a d s u c c e e d e d i n t h e i r efforts t o p e r s u a d e t h e N a z i s t h a t i t m a d e n o sense to k e e p " p e r m a n e n t " p r i s o n e r s at T h e r e s i e n s t a d t , e s p e cially w h e n S w e d e n w o u l d a g r e e t o t a k e t h e s e p a r t i c u l a r p r i s o n e r s off t h e G e r m a n s ' h a n d s .


T w o m o r n i n g s later, a f l e e t o f w h i t e b u s e s , m a r k e d w i t h h u g e r e d crosses o n their roofs a n d t h e w o r d " D E N M A R K " p a i n t e d b o l d l y o n t h e i r sides, h a d a r r i v e d a t t h e c a m p a n d t h e n q u i c k l y h a d b e g u n t o d e p a r t . F o r t h e n e x t t w o days, this c o n v o y o f r e s c u e d J e w s , m a n y b a r e l y c l i n g i n g t o life, h a d h a d t o w e n d its w a y w a r i l y t h r o u g h t h e b o m b - b a t t e r e d cities a n d v i l lages o f G e r m a n y — t h a t c o u n t r y less t h a n a m o n t h a w a y f r o m total s u r r e n d e r to Allied f o r c e s — t h e n briefly cross t h e island of Sjaelland i n D e n m a r k b e f o r e coast of S w e d e n .

As each

boarding

b o a t s b o u n d for t h e

bus had pulled away that April

morning, the non-Danish m e m b e r s of a newly organized orchestra had stood nearby, playing b r i g h t m a r c h e s at first, t h e n t h e familiar songs, f o l l o w e d by a final, t r i u m p h a l y e t n o n e t h e less sad f a r e w e l l — t h e s t i r r i n g m e l o d y o f B e e t h o v e n ' s " O d e t o J o y " f r o m t h e N i n t h S y m p h o n y offered i n salute t o t h e p r i s oners w h o w e r e departing by others w h o had had no choice b u t t o stay b e h i n d . F o r t h e six y e a r s t h a t E u r o p e , a n d t h e n all t h e w o r l d , h a d b e e n a t war, t h e spirit a n d t h e m u s i c o f L u d w i g van B e e t h o v e n h a d b e e n c l a i m e d a s t h e i r o w n b y p a r t i s a n s o n b o t h sides o f t h e terrible conflagration. For m a n y t h o u s a n d s of early a d h e r e n t s t o N a t i o n a l S o c i a l i s m , B e e t h o v e n a n d his m u s i c r e a d i l y h a d seemed to prove Aryan superiority and a particular G e r m a n genius in t h e art of music; a n d A d o l f H i t l e r himself often h a d insisted d u r i n g t h e 1930s that t h e c o m p o s i t i o n s o f B e e t h o v e n , Wagner, and other G e r m a n masters w e r e the noblest expressions o f t h e G e r m a n i c soul. T h e p e r f o r m a n c e o f i n s t r u m e n t a l m u s i c h a d b e e n e n c o u r a g e d a n d h a d t h r i v e d , i n fact, d u r i n g the

years

of the

Third

Reich;

musicians,

conductors,

and


c o m p o s e r s had b e e n assured b e g i n n i n g in 1939 that their artistic e n d e a v o r s w e r e k e y c o m p o n e n t s o f t h e w a r effort; G e r m a n soldiers

had

carried

pocket

editions

of Wagner's

novella

Pilgrimage to Beethoven w i t h t h e m i n t o b a t t l e ; a n d it h a d b e e n Beethoven's Ninth Symphony—his h y m n to b r o t h e r h o o d — that Berlin Philharmonic c o n d u c t o r W i l h e l m Furtwangler had c h o s e n t o p e r f o r m for t h e F i i h r e r a t h i s f i f t y - t h i r d b i r t h d a y c e l ebration in Berlin on April 19, 1942. It was the universally recognized o p e n i n g m o t i v e of the g r e a t c o m p o s e r ' s Fifth S y m p h o n y , o n t h e o t h e r h a n d , t h a t h a d begun Service,

each

clandestine

broadcast

of the

its b r i e f p r o g r a m s o f m u s i c

BBC's

German

and German-language

news first beamed onto the continent in 1938, then continuing t h r o u g h o u t the w a r — a n estimated 15 million G e r m a n s t u n i n g i n e a c h d a y d e s p i t e t h e fact t h a t a n y o n e c a u g h t l i s t e n ing to the e n e m y broadcasts w o u l d have b e e n punished with d e a t h . T h a t " f a t e " m o t i v e — d a , da, da, dum!—by c h a n c e also had corresponded with the notation in Morse code,

three

shorts a n d a l o n g , for the letter V, w h i c h h a d b e c o m e a u b i q u i t o u s A l l i e d s y m b o l for v i c t o r y .

For millions

in

Western

Europe's occupied nations, as well as in Britain and N o r t h America, Beethoven's extraordinary music had been w r e n c h ing e v i d e n c e o f t h e tragedy that had befallen t h e G e r m a n p e o ple. B u t e v e n in a p o c k e t of hell like T h e r e s i e n s t a d t , t h e music that o n c e had b e e n played in h o n o r of the s u p r e m e architect of the madness had been, nonetheless, the same music a few of the N a z i s ' m o s t desperate victims h a d c h o s e n to play o n e day i n o r d e r t o h e r a l d a ray o f h o p e .


I M P R O B A B L E A S I T S E E M S , T H E proffer y o u n g M i c h e l e d e R y b e l made to Kay and Marta F r e m m i n g in the s u m m e r of 1 9 4 6 s o o n w a s a c c e p t e d . T h e d o c t o r a n d his w i f e p r i v a t e l y d e b a t e d h e r b o l d proposal, t h e n discussed it as well w i t h h e r c u r rent adoptive parents, w h o , as it happened, admitted to being only a bit m o r e fond of h e r than she was of t h e m , and w h o cautioned Kay and Marta that the diminutive thing was quite a h a n d f u l , i n fact, b e f o r e e a g e r l y a n n o u n c i n g t h a t , y e s , s h e w a s t h e i r s i f t h e y w a n t e d h e r . S o t h e gi^l f r o m S a n n o i s n o w h a d y e t a n o t h e r n e w h o m e , a n d t h i s r i m e , a l t h o u g h t h e f i t still w a s less than perfect, M i c h e l e began to t h r i v e — e m o t i o n a l l y as well as physically. S h e l e a r n e d D a n i s h r a t h e r effortlessly, b a l k e d o n l y a bit a t t a k i n g m u s i c lessons, a n d l o v e d e x p l o r i n g t h e t o w n o n the bicycle that soon was presented to her. It was true that she b u r i e d keys t o t h e h o u s e o u t i n t h e g a r d e n o n o c c a s i o n — h e r fear t h a t s h e m i g h t b e l o c k e d i n s i d e a g a i n still h a u n t i n g h e r — but it

wasn't long before

Kay

and Marta

and

t h e i r Gallic

d a u g h t e r M i c h e l e a p p e a r e d t o t h e t o w n s p e o p l e o f Gilleleje t o be a b o n a fide family i n d e e d . T h i n g s w o r k e d o u t s o w e l l , i n fact, t h a t M i c h e l e ' s y o u n g e r sister R o l a n d e c a m e t w i c e w i t h i n t e n t i o n s t o j o i n t h e m — s t a y i n g first for t h e t h r e e g l o r i o u s m o n t h s o f s u m m e r , t h e n o n c e a g a i n for a n e n t i r e y e a r . E v e n t u a l l y , h o w e v e r , t h o u g h s h e p r o fessed t h a t i t w a s i n G i l l e l e j e w h e r e s h e w a s h a p p i e s t , R o l a n d e c o u l d n o t b r i n g herself t o a b a n d o n forever t h e family that w a s hers

in

France.

For

her

part,

Michele's

sentiments

always

s e e m e d t h e r e v e r s e ; s h e a d o r e d t h e t h r e e visits t o h e r h o m e l a n d t h a t s h e m a d e w h i l e still a c h i l d , o n e o f t h e m i n t h e c o m pany of Kay and Marta; the t o w n of Sannois and the nearby


splendor o f Paris w e r e wonderfully w o r l d l y i n

comparison

w i t h o u t p o s t Gilleleje, a n d she a n d h e r natural m o t h e r shared something taciturn

ineffable

Marta.

Yet

that

always

somehow,

was

missing

Denmark

had

with

often-

become

her

h o m e , a n d i n Gilleleje M i c h e l e willingly r e m a i n e d — g r o w i n g into adolescence in the big brick house in the heart of the town,

playing violin

now

a n d j o i n i n g h e r p a r e n t s for i m -

p r o m p t u c h a m b e r c o n c e r t s , h e l p i n g t h e m a s w e l l i n t h e small p h a r m a c y at the clinic until suddenly a n d utterly unexpectedly, Kay's d a y s a s a G i l l e l e j e d o c t o r sadly w e r e d o n e . It h a d s e e m e d to be a m i n o r injury in the beginning: o n e day i n 1 9 5 3 h e m e r e l y h a d lifted his h e a v y m e d i c a l b a g a n d h a d p u l l e d a m u s c l e i n his b a c k , o r s o h e t h o u g h t . B u t t h e p a i n h a d g r o w n so severe that he was nearly i m m o b i l i z e d before long, a n d w h e n h e finally, a n d q u i t e r e l u c t a n t l y , h a d s o u g h t m e d i c a l h e l p himself, t h e d i s t r e s s i n g d i a g n o s i s h a d b e e n a r u p t u r e d disc that probably c o u l d be repaired o n l y by surgery. W h e n , in time, Kay m a d e the decision to forgo the surgery because it b o r e a r i s k o f paralysis, a s e c o n d e v e n t u a l i t y a p p e a r e d o r d a i n e d as well: no m o r e could he w o r k as a rural doctor. For sixteen years, he had b e e n a stalwart m e m b e r of the Gilleleje c o m m u n i t y , treating the maladies a n d injuries a n d w o r r i e s o f n e a r l y a t h o u s a n d o f his n e i g h b o r s , a n d i t h a d b e e n w o r k h e loved. N e v e r gregarious, a n d always p r e s u m e d t o b e a b i t a p a r t f r o m t h e c r o w d — i f for n o o t h e r r e a s o n t h a n t h e w a y i n w h i c h d o c t o r s i n t h a t era s i m p l y w e r e p r e s u m e d t o b e l o n g to a separate class—Kay F r e m m i n g nonetheless had b e e n r e n o w n e d i n n o r t h e r n Sjaelland for his m e d i c a l skills, his k i n d -

if I


ness, a s w e l l a s for a c e r t a i n s e n s i t i v i t y t o s u f f e r i n g t h a t w a s u n usual in a m a n , e v e n in o n e w h o was a physician. B u t n o w K a y t o o h a d e n c o u n t e r e d stark, d e b i l i t a t i n g , a n d e n d u r i n g pain, a n d — a w a r e of the myriad ways in w h i c h the distress w o u l d c o m p r o m i s e his w o r k — h e s i m p l y c h o s e t o g i v e i t u p . I n J a n u a r y 1 9 5 4 , Kay, M a r t a , a n d M i c h e l e — n o w f i f t e e n — m a d e t h e s h o r t m o v e east t o N a e r u m , w h e r e K a y w a s able t o w o r k p a r t - t i m e a t t h e O r e s u n d Hospital, t h e n ultim a t e l y o n t o H o l t e , thirty k i l o m e t e r s s o u t h o f Gilleleje, i n M a y 1955, w h e r e the w o r k that was d e m a n d e d o f h i m i n the t u berculosis w i n g of the nearby Central Hospital in Hillerod was b o t h m a n a g e a b l e a n d r e w a r d i n g i n its o w n w a y . H e was o n l y f i f t y years old, b u t t h e injury t o his spine h a d f o r c e d h i m i n t o t h e k i n d o f life n o r m a l l y l e d b y s o m e o n e far o l d e r — h i s w o r k d a y l i m i t e d a n d e t c h e d w i t h p a i n , his a b i l i t y t o t r a v e l a n d e v e n t o w a l k drastically d i m i n i s h e d , his c h a i r a s a f l u t i s t i n t h e r e g i o n a l o r c h e s t r a a n d his c o l l e c t i o n o f m o r e t h a n two

hundred

classical

phonograph

records—featuring

the

m u s i c o f B a c h , H a y d n , a n d B e e t h o v e n — f i l l i n g t h e b u l k o f his leisure time. For f o u r t e e n m o r e years, Kay and M a r t a c o n t i n ued to

live

in

Hillerod,

during which

time

Michele was

a d o p t e d legally a t last, c o m p l e t e d s c h o o l , t h e n m a r r i e d , a n d e v e n t u a l l y b e g a n a family o f h e r o w n . S h e c o n t i n u e d t o l i v e nearby, a n d w a s i n c o n s t a n t t o u c h w i t h t h e D a n i s h p a r e n t s w h o m she always h a d called b y their g i v e n n a m e s , a n d K a y was delighted w h e n Carsten

and

he became a grandfather to

Thomas.

Then,

on

a

blustery

day

her sons in

late

S e p t e m b e r 1969, he collapsed on a train that was h o m e w a r d


bound

from

Copenhagen, where he had gone to buy n e w

l o n g - p l a y i n g r e c o r d s t o a d d t o his c o l l e c t i o n . O t h e r p a s s e n g e r s a n d t h e c o n d u c t o r t r i e d t o assist h i m , a n d a n a m b u l a n c e w a s w a i t i n g at t h e train's n e x t stop, b u t at a n e a r b y hospital he c o u l d not be revived. Kay F r e m m i n g had died of a sudden and massive h e a r t attack at age sixty-four.

IT WASN'T

UNTIL

SOMETIME

DURING

t h e f i r s t f e w sad

a n d s e e m i n g l y e m p t y d a y s after h e r father's woman

whose

name

now

had

become

death

that the

Michele

Wassard

Larsen first h e a r d of the prized lock of B e e t h o v e n ' s hair that had belonged throughout

to

the

her adoptive three

decades

father. since

Utterly she

had

unmentioned joined

the

F r e m m i n g family, t h e h a i r a n d t h e b l a c k l o c k e t t h a t c o n t a i n e d i t s i m p l y h a d lain i n a d r a w e r i n t h e d o c t o r ' s d e s k . M a r t a e x plained that it had b e e n given to h i m by o n e of the Jewish r e f u g e e s h e h a d h e l p e d l o n g a g o . S h e c o u l d n o t tell h e r d a u g h ter t h e n a m e o f t h e p e r s o n w h o h a d insisted that t h e d o c t o r take i t — t h e locket had b e e n given to h i m at a d a n g e r o u s time w h e n thousands o f J e w s w h o necessarily kept their n a m e s t o t h e m s e l v e s briefly h a d passed t h r o u g h G i l l e l e j e — b u t she c o u l d say w i t h o u t q u e s t i o n t h a t h e r h u s b a n d a l w a y s h a d v a l u e d i t g r e a t l y . B u t w h y , t h e n , h a d h e n e v e r d i s p l a y e d it, a n d w h y i n the world had he never s h o w n it to her? Kay F r e m m i n g always had b e e n a m o d e s t m a n , M a r t a r e m i n d e d h e r daughter. D i d she ever r e m e m b e r h i m m a k i n g a s h o w of anything that he o w n e d or had accomplished? D u r i n g


the nineteen m o n t h s b e t w e e n the time w h e n the locket came i n t o his p o s s e s s i o n a n d t h e e n d o f t h e w a r , i t w o u l d h a v e b e e n foolhardy for h i m to

have

m e n t i o n e d it,

Marta explained.

E v e r y o n e i n G i l l e l e j e n e c e s s a r i l y k e p t t h e details o f t h e i r efforts t o r e s c u e J e w s q u i e t for fear o f s o m e s o r t o f r e p r i s a l ; D e n m a r k , after all, still h a d b e e n o c c u p i e d b y t h e N a z i s , a n d m e m b e r s o f the Gestapo always had prided themselves on the length of their m e m o r i e s . After the war, p e o p l e simply h a d m o v e d o n w i t h t h e i r lives, a n d n o o n e w h c y h a d b e e n p a r t o f t h e r e s c u e effort b e l i e v e d h e o r s h e h a d d o n e a n y t h i n g t h a t d e s e r v e d c e l e b r a t i o n o r special r e m e m b r a n c e . E v e n o n c e i t h a d b e c o m e safe t o d o so, i t w o u l d h a v e b e e n v e r y u n l i k e h e r h u s b a n d t o have discussed the lock of hair or to h a v e s h o w n it to a n y o n e . D o i n g s o w o u l d h a v e i m p l i e d — a t least i n his m i n d , i f p e r h a p s i n n o o t h e r s — t h a t s o m e h o w h e h a d e a r n e d t h e gift, t h a t h e had been heroic in a way in w h i c h others had not. T h e l o c k o f h a i r a n d t h e c i r c u m s t a n c e s o f its r e c e i p t s e l d o m w e r e mentioned, either by m o t h e r or daughter, following that conversation on the day in 1969 w h e n the t w o of t h e m sorted Kay's t h i n g s , a n d for a n o t h e r d e c a d e , t h e 1 5 0 - y e a r - o l d l o c k e t c o n t i n u e d t o lie u n m o l e s t e d a n d r a r e l y o b s e r v e d i n a d r a w e r i n M a r t a s h o u s e i n H o l t e . I t w a s o n l y i n t h e late 1 9 7 0 s , o n t h e occasion of M a r t a s decision to give the lock of hair to her daughter, that t h e peripatetic relic o n c e m o r e m a d e a m o v e o f its o w n , t h i s r i m e t h e s h o r t d i s t a n c e t o M i c h e l e ' s h o m e i n t h e t o w n o f S o l l e r o d , w h e r e , for t h e first t i m e i n m o r e t h a n t h r e e decades, it saw the light of t h e D a n i s h d a y — h a n g i n g on a wall i n h e r l i v i n g r o o m w h e r e M i c h e l e c o u l d see i t o f t e n .


ON

A

TENNIS

COURT

IN

the

town

of Holte

in

1964,

Michele, then twenty-five, had met and immediately had been drawn

t o a n a v a l officer

from

t h e W e s t Sjaslland t o w n o f

Vanlose w h o was stationed aboard o n e o f D e n m a r k ' s t w o act i v e s u b m a r i n e s . S h e a n d O l e W a s s a r d L a r s e n , also t w e n t y - f i v e , h a d m a r r i e d s o o n thereafter, a n d their son C a r s t e n had b e e n b o r n in 1965. T h e i r second son, T h o m a s , had arrived nine m o n t h s before Kay F r e m m i n g s death in 1969, by w h i c h rime O l e h a d left t h e n a v y a n d h a d a c c e p t e d a p o s i t i o n a s a n e n g i n e e r w i t h the Danish division of I B M . In addition to raising h e r s o n s i n t h e t o w n o f S o l l e r o d , M i c h e l e also h a d w o r k e d a t a n e a r b y p h a r m a c y until T h o m a s w a s b o r n — h e r early a p p r e n t i c e s h i p i n G i l l e l e j e still s e r v i n g h e r w e l l — a n d b y 1 9 7 6 , O l e had b e c o m e IBM's national chief of technicians, imagining that t h e h u g e m u l t i n a t i o n a l c o r p o r a t i o n w o u l d b e his s o l e e m p l o y e r for t h e r e s t o f h i s w o r k i n g life. W h a t n e i t h e r h e n o r his f a m i l y c o u l d h a v e k n o w n w a s t h a t b o t h h i s c a r e e r a n d his life s o o n w o u l d b e c u t s o s h o r t . I n early D e c e m b e r o f t h a t year, O l e h a d remained behind in Sollerod while Marta, Michele, and the t w o b o y s h a d t r a v e l e d t o t h e C a n a r y Islands for a n e a r l y - w i n t e r h o l i d a y . H e h a d p l a n n e d t o j o i n his f a m i l y i n a f e w d a y s , b u t o n l y h o u r s after t h e i r a r r i v a l i n t h e C a n a r i e s , O l e , j u s t t h i r t y e i g h t , h a d b e e n felled b y a s u d d e n h e a r t a t t a c k i n m u c h t h e s a m e w a y t h a t his f a t h e r - i n - l a w ,

Kay Fremming,

had been

seven years before. O l e h a d survived for almost t w e n t y - f o u r h o u r s , b u t h a d d i e d b e f o r e his f a m i l y h a d b e e n a b l e t o r e a c h his b e d s i d e . N o t yet forty a n d already w i d o w e d , M i c h e l e had struggled t o s u p p o r t h e r s o n s b y herself. S h e h a d a c c e p t e d a p o s i t i o n a t


t h e library in nearby H o l t e , a n d she a n d h e r sons h a d m a n a g e d as best t h e y c o u l d . By t h e t i m e M a r t a , almost eighty-six, e n tered a nursing h o m e in

October

1994—her body grown

w e a k a n d f r a i l , h e r m i n d n o w d r a m a t i c a l l y l o s i n g its m o o r i n g s , her

memory

entirely

through school

and

gone—Michele

into

adulthood.

had

seen

the

And it was with

boys her

y o u n g e r son, T h o m a s — w i t h w h o m she long had shared a special b o n d — t h a t M i c h e l e first b e g a n t o discuss t h e p o s s i b i l i t y o f selling t h e s t o r i e d l o c k of hair. W h e n h e r m o t h e r h a d m a d e i n q u i r i e s late i n t h e 1 9 7 0 s a t t h e Copenhagen

office

of Christie's,

the

international

auction

h o u s e , she h a d b e e n told that e v e n if h e r d u b i o u s relic w e r e l e g i t i m a t e , its v a l u e w o u l d b e q u i t e s m a l l . B u t M i c h e l e a n d T h o m a s b e g a n to suspect that Marta must have b e e n given p o o r information. T h e inscription in G e r m a n on the back of t h e l o c k e t c e r t a i n l y m a d e its a u t h e n t i c i t y s e e m p r o b a b l e , a n d , presuming that it was indeed w h a t it was p u r p o r t e d to be, then surely s o m e hairs f r o m the head o f the m o n u m e n t a l B e e t h o v e n m i g h t be w o r t h a great deal. F u r t h e r m o r e , w o u l d n ' t it m a k e g o o d s e n s e for t h e l o c k o f h a i r t o b e o w n e d b y s o m e o n e w h o m i g h t r e v e r e it in ways that M i c h e l e did not? Yes, t h e blackframed locket w i t h t h e coil of hair inside was a m e m e n t o of h e r father, a n d a r e m i n d e r a s w e l l o f a t i m e w h e n h e a n d his n e i g h b o r s h a d refused to allow the Nazis to carry o u t their anti-Semitic madness in D e n m a r k , but if Michele s mother, M a r t a , o n c e k n e w i n d e t a i l h o w t h e l o c k o f h a i r specifically had factored in those events, her d e m e n t i a n o w m a d e it i m possible for h e r t o

r e m e m b e r or describe

them.

Recently,

M i c h e l e h a d m a d e a gift o f s o m e t h i n g else t h a t h a d b e l o n g e d


to

her

father—three

fragile

pieces

of illuminated,

twelfth-

century church m u s i c — t o the nearby E s r u m Abbey, an eighthundred-year-old Cistercian monastery and n o w a regional m u s e u m ; m a y b e there was a n o t h e r m u s e u m i n D e n m a r k that s i m i l a r l y m i g h t c o v e t a b i t o f B e e t h o v e n ' s hair. I t w a s s o o n after M i c h e l e h a d m o v e d o n c e m o r e , this t i m e t o H i l l e r o d , w h e r e s h e w o u l d b e n e a r e r h e r s o n s a n d h e r failing m o t h e r , t h a t s h e a n d T h o m a s c o n c l u d e d that if the lock of hair actually did h a v e r e a l m o n e t a r y v a l u e , p e r h a p s i t w o u l d b e b e s t for h e r t o sell it. A t t h e v e r y least, t h e t w o o f t h e m d e t e r m i n e d t o m a k e i n quiries in that regard, and so they did in April 1994. A t t h e C o p e n h a g e n office o f S o t h e b y ' s , i t w a s m a n a g e r A n n e L e h m a n n w h o f i r s t t o o k M i c h e l e L a r s e n ' s t e l e p h o n e call t o schedule an a p p o i n t m e n t ; and it was she as well w h o g r e e t e d t h e d e m u r e a n d p e t i t e w o m a n w i t h s h o r t - c r o p p e d silver h a i r a n d h e r tall a n d s t r i k i n g s o n a s t h e y a r r i v e d a t B r e d g a d e 6 i n t h e h e a r t of t h e city on April 19. It w a s utterly c o m m o n p l a c e for t h e office t o r e c e i v e q u e r i e s a b o u t its p o t e n t i a l i n t e r e s t i n any n u m b e r of reputedly rare and precious objects. Paintings by van G o g h , Renoir, even R e m b r a n d t were presented quite r e g u l a r l y , i n fact, a l t h o u g h i n a l m o s t e v e r y case t h e y q u i c k l y p r o v e d t o b e p o o r f o r g e r i e s . B o t h L e h m a n n a n d office d i r e c t o r H a n n e W e d e l l - W e d e l l s b o r g initially h a d b e e n r a t h e r s k e p tical t h e r e f o r e a b o u t h o w a l i b r a r y e m p l o y e e

from

Hillerod

m i g h t h a v e c o m e t o possess a r e l i c o f t h e m a s t e r c o m p o s e r . A n d h o w m i g h t its a u t h e n t i c i t y b e d e t e r m i n e d i n a n y case? B u t M i c h e l e offered t h e m a simple and quite plausible, if n o n e t h e less n e r v o u s , e x p l a n a t i o n o f h o w t h e l o c k o f h a i r h a d c o m e t o be hers—a Jewish refugee in flight from the Nazis had given


it to h e r father, t h e n a physician in Gilleleje, in O c t o b e r 1 9 4 3 , w h i c h surely w a s t h e m o s t storied single m o n t h i n t h e history of twentieth-century

Denmark.

That

explanation,

together

w i t h Paul Hiller's straightforward inscription o n t h e back o f the locket—as well

a s s o m e t h i n g ineffable

about h o w

the

l o c k e t l o o k e d a n d felt w h e n t h e y h e l d i t i n t h e i r h a n d s — s o o n stripped the practiced skepticism from the t w o Sotheby's e m ployees. T h e lock of hair certainly appeared as t h o u g h it could be w h a t it was purported to be, ^Wedell-Wedellsborg agreed, b u t e x p e r t s a t t h e c o m p a n y ' s offices i n L o n d o n w o u l d n e e d t o e x a m i n e it to be sure. W o u l d the Larsens allow h e r to send the l o c k e t t h e r e for i n s p e c t i o n a n d a p r o m p t r e s p o n s e ? W i t h i n little m o r e t h a n a w e e k , M i c h e l e L a r s e n r e c e i v e d a t e l e p h o n e call f r o m A n n e L e h m a n n r e p o r t i n g t h e p r o p i tious n e w s that S t e p h e n R o e , head of Sotheby's B o o k s and Manuscripts D e p a r t m e n t , was confident that the lock of hair in question indeed had been cut from the head of Ludwig van B e e t h o v e n , a n d t h a t t h e c o m p a n y w o u l d e a g e r l y a g r e e t o sell i t o n h e r b e h a l f a t its n e x t " m u s i c a n d c o n t i n e n t a l b o o k s " a u c t i o n , s c h e d u l e d for D e c e m b e r . R o e h a d b e e n w i l l i n g t o v o u c h for t h e hair's a u t h e n t i c i t y for a v a r i e t y o f r e a s o n s :

the locket's

w o o d e n f r a m e was consistent w i t h those that w e r e c o m m o n i n G e r m a n y e a r l y i n t h e n i n e t e e n t h c e n t u r y ; its p a p e r b a c k i n g a n d inscription

appeared

never

to

have

been

tampered

with;

Ferdinand Hiller indeed had had a son n a m e d Paul w h o w o u l d have b e e n thirty years old on M a y 1, 1883, as the n o t e claimed; and m o s t critically i m p o r t a n t , it was well d o c u m e n t e d in t h e B e e t h o v e n literature that t h e elder Hiller h a d m a d e several visits t o t h e d y i n g c o m p o s e r i n t h e c o m p a n y o f his m e n t o r


J o h a n n H u m m e l , and had remained in Vienna until following B e e t h o v e n ' s funeral. On M a y 26, 1994, Michele signed a simple contract, referencing p r o p e r t y receipt n u m b e r H I 5 1 4 9 2 , agreeing to allow t h e L o n d o n h o u s e t o sell a t a u c t i o n " 1 l o c k o f h a i r (framed) f r o m B e e t h o v e n . G i v e n a s a p r e s e n t t o P a u l H i l l e r , w h o s e father did the cutting of the hair 27 M a r c h 1827." T h e c o m p a n y e s t i m a t e d t h e relic's v a l u e a t b e t w e e n t w o t h o u s a n d a n d t h r e e t h o u s a n d p o u n d s sterling, a n d M i c h e l e in t u r n a g r e e d that the lock of hair w o u l d n o t be sold unless a reserve p r i c e of ÂŁ 1 , 8 0 0 w e r e m e t . In addition to a 10 p e r c e n t c o m m i s s i o n , she w o u l d p a y t h e c o s t o f its t r a n s p o r t a t i o n f r o m C o p e n h a g e n t o L o n d o n , its i n s u r a n c e f r o m t h e d a t e o f t h e c o n t r a c t u n t i l t h e d a t e o f t h e sale, a s w e l l a s t h e c o s t o f p h o t o g r a p h i n g i t for i n c l u s i o n i n t h e company's f o r t h c o m i n g b o o k and music catalog. W h e n a copy of the catalog arrived in Hillerod near the end o f the s u m m e r , M i c h e l e and T h o m a s Wassard Larsen w e r e i m pressed by the p r o m i n e n c e w i t h w h i c h the lock of hair had b e e n displayed. At the t o p of page 22 of the impressive v o l u m e was the p h o t o g r a p h she had funded and b e l o w it was the plainspoken description of the lock of hair:

33

BEETHOVEN

BEETHOVEN'S thentication

(LUDWIG

HAIR,

signed

by

with

Paul

VAN)

LOCK

autograph

Hiller,

son

note

OF

of au-

of Ferdinand

Hiller, w h o t o o k the cutting ("Diese H a a r e hat m e i n e Vater Dr. van

Ferdinand v.

Beethovens

Tode,

Hiller am Tage nach d.i.

am

27,

Miirz

Ludwig

1827,

von


Beethovens Leiche abgeschnitten u n d mir . . . iibergeben. C o i n , a m 1. M a i 1 8 8 3 . P a u l H i l l e r " ) ,

framed and glazed,

oval, c. 10.5 x 9.5 cms. T h e f i f t e e n - y e a r - o l d F e r d i n a n d Hiller was taken t o see B e e t h o v e n b y H u m m e l ; h e r e c o r d e d his visits i n " A u s dem

Tonleben

unserer

Zeit"

(1871:

see

Thayer,

pp.

1044$). £2,000-3,000

\ T h e catalog—listing h u n d r e d s o f letters, antiquarian b o o k s , and

music

manuscripts,

but certainly no

other human

re-

m a i n s — h a d been mailed to b o o k and music agents and p r o m i n e n t c o l l e c t o r s a r o u n d t h e w o r l d ; t h e a u c t i o n h a d b e e n set for the

saleroom at

Sotheby's

offices

on

N e w Bond

Street

in

L o n d o n for 1 0 A . M . o n D e c e m b e r 1 , a n d n o w t h e r e w a s n o t h i n g m o r e for t h e a n x i o u s seller o f t h e l o c k o f h a i r t o d o b u t wait. If it w e r e to garner the Danish equivalent of _£1,800 or m o r e , M i c h e l e s share of those funds w o u l d be w e l c o m e a n d e n o r m o u s l y h e l p f u l . If, o n t h e o t h e r h a n d , n o o n e a n y w h e r e i n t h e w o r l d c a r e d t o p a y a t least t h a t m u c h for t h e r e l i c t h a t for s o l o n g h a d b e e n h a r b o r e d i n n o r t h Sjaelland, w e l l , t h e n s h e w o u l d b e v e r y glad t o h a v e i t h o m e again.

IN

LONDON

December

1,

ON 1994,

THE

RAIN-DRIZZLED

agent

and

rare-music

morning

dealer

of

Richard

Macnutt, a virtual fixture at Sotheby's semiannual b o o k and


music auctions, paid particularly acute attention w h e n it was l o t 33's b r i e f t u r n o n t h e d o c k e t . A d a p p e r a u c t i o n e e r w i t h a discreet gavel clasped in his p a l m o p e n e d t h e brisk b i d d i n g at £2,000,

and in only a matter of moments,

Macnutt—with

c o n s i d e r a b l e y e t utterly u n d e m o n s t r a t e d satisfaction—was able to place a s y m b o l i c tick beside lot 33 in his catalog, as well as n o t i n g t h e p r i c e , £ 3 , 6 0 0 , for w h i c h h e h a d b e e n a b l e t o s e c u r e t h e l o c k o f B e e t h o v e n ' s h a i r for c l i e n t s i n t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s , whose names were not mentioned. A l e t t e r n o t i f y i n g M i c h e l e W a s s a r d L a r s e n o f t h e successful sale w a s m a i l e d f r o m N e w B o n d S t r e e t t h e f o l l o w i n g m o r n ing, a n d in t w o days' t i m e a small article o d d l y a p p e a r e d in t h e

Politiken,

Copenhagen's

leading

newspaper,

"BEETHOVEN'S

HAIR," it was headlined, and M i c h e l e only could assume that the paper had b e e n tipped a b o u t the historic sale—it was a m o m e n t o u s o n e for h e r a t a n y r a t e — b y o n e o f t h e t w o w o m e n i n t h e C o p e n h a g e n office. " A little o l d l a d y r e c e n t l y w a l k e d i n t o S o t h e b y ' s D a n i s h offices o n B r e d g a d e , " i t b e g a n , a n d M i c h e l e was so nettled by that description of herself that she wasn't sure she w a n t e d to c o n t i n u e to read. Yet perhaps a mischaracterizat i o n l i k e t h a t w a s t h e p r i c e y o u p a i d for a m o m e n t o f f a m e , s h e recognized bemusedly, a brief r e n o w n that she—perhaps inexo r a b l y — h a d b e g u n to b r i n g on herself on the day forty-eight y e a r s b e f o r e w h e n s h e h a d sat d o w n o n t h e s t e p i n f r o n t o f t h e y e l l o w - b r i c k h o u s e i n Gilleleje i n w h i c h she h o p e d h e r n e w parents w o u l d reside, a h o u s e inside of w h i c h a m u c h - t r a v e l e d l o c k o f L u d w i g v a n B e e t h o v e n ' s h a i r also, a n d e v e r s o c u r i ously, h a d b e e n a t h o m e .


IN A LIFE L A C E D W I T H enormous accomplishment, Ludwig v a n B e e t h o v e n a l w a y s h a d l o n g e d , n o n e t h e l e s s , for a s e c u r e a n d n u r t u r i n g f a m i l y life, t h e k i n d t h a t a s a b o y h e n e v e r h a d had. H e h a d w a n t e d t o b e m a r r i e d , b u t m o r e t h a n that, this gruff and a w k w a r d a n d often inconsiderate m a n had w a n t e d to love and to be loved in r e t u r n . He repeatedly had t r i e d — a n d e a c h t i m e h a d f a i l e d — t o b e c o m e a d e v o t e d h u s b a n d , t h e n , late i n 1 8 1 5 , h e set h i m s e l f o n a s t r a n g e a n d d i s t u r b i n g m i s s i o n t o b e c o m e a de facto father. I n t h e days b e f o r e his b r o t h e r C a s p a r C a r l d i e d o f c o n s u m p t i o n i n N o v e m b e r o f t h a t y e a r , t h e b r o t h e r h a d r e v i s e d his w i l l


to

name

Beethoven

as

his

nine-year-old

son

Karl's

sole

g u a r d i a n . Y e t in a later codicil altering t h e will, Caspar C a r l n a m e d his w i f e J o h a n n a a s " c o g u a r d i a n " a s w e l l . " I b y n o m e a n s d e s i r e t h a t m y s o n b e t a k e n a w a y f r o m his m o t h e r , " r e a d the codicil,

" b u t that he shall. . . always

remain with

his

mother, to w h i c h end the guardianship of h i m is to be exercised by h e r as well as by my b r o t h e r . . . . For t h e welfare of m y child I r e c o m m e n d

compliance

t o m y wife a n d m o r e

moder-

ation t o m y b r o t h e r . G o d p e r m i t t h e m t o b e h a r m o n i o u s f o r t h e sake o f m y child's w e l f a r e . " Caspar Carl

had been

well

aware

t h a t his w i f e

a n d his

b r o t h e r L u d w i g constantly had q u a r r e l e d in the years since he h a d m a r r i e d J o h a n n a and she had b o r n e their only child, a n d his a n x i e t i e s a b o u t h o w t h e y w o u l d s h a r e t h e b o y ' s c a r e s o o n proved

prophetic.

Within

days

of

his

brother's

death,

Beethoven had appealed to the Royal and Imperial C o u r t to d e c l a r e h i m y o u n g Karl's sole c u s t o d i a n , c i t i n g t h e fact t h a t four years earlier J o h a n n a for

embezzlement.

In

had

January

been 1816,

tried the

and

imprisoned

court

ruled

in

B e e t h o v e n ' s f a v o r a n d Karl w a s r e m o v e d f r o m his m o t h e r ' s home. A l t h o u g h B e e t h o v e n soon realized that he was utterly u n p r e p a r e d to a t t e n d to the daily n e e d s of a child, he delighted, nonetheless, in what he had accomplished in court, crowing in a letter to A n t o n i e B r e n t a n o — n o w r e t u r n e d to Frankfurt with her h u s b a n d — t h a t he had "fought a battle to wrest a p o o r u n h a p p y c h i l d f r o m t h e c l u t c h e s o f his u n w o r t h y m o t h e r , a n d I h a v e w o n . H e is t h e s o u r c e o f m a n y c a r e s , b u t

cares that arc

sweet t o me." I n t h e m o n t h s t h a t f o l l o w e d , B e e t h o v e n r e f u s e d


t o r e s p o n d t o J o h a n n a ' s increasingly frantic q u e r i e s a b o u t h e r s o n ' s w h e r e a b o u t s a n d w e l f a r e , successfully c o n v i n c i n g h i m s e l f t h a t h e r t a r n i s h e d a n d u n s a v o r y r e p u t a t i o n p r o v e d , i n fact, t h a t t h i s " Q u e e n o f t h e N i g h t " w a s a s w e l l a s a thief, a p r o s t i t u t e , and that she even had poisoned her husband. For t w o years, J o h a n n a van B e e t h o v e n saw h e r y o u n g son only on those infrequent occasions w h e n her b r o t h e r - i n - l a w sanctioned her brief visits—although he sometimes accused her o f m a k i n g c l a n d e s t i n e t r i p s t o Karl's s c h o o l , a p o s s i b i l i t y t h a t c o n c e r n e d h i m e n o u g h that in J a n u a r y 1818 he b r o u g h t the b o y t o live w i t h h i m again, o r d e r i n g h i m t o k e e p t h e m o v e s e c r e t f r o m his m o t h e r . T w i c e that year, J o h a n n a unsuccessfully p e t i t i o n e d t h e c o u r t t o g r a n t h e r a t least l i m i t e d access t o h e r s o n , b u t w h e n K a r l r a n a w a y f r o m B e e t h o v e n ' s l o d g i n g s t o his m o t h e r i n D e c e m b e r , s h e w a s able t o r e t u r n t o c o u r t a g a i n , c i t i n g his u n h a p p i n e s s , his p o o r p h y s i c a l c o n d i t i o n , a n d his u n c l e ' s d i c t a t o r i a l r u l e a s g r o u n d s for r e c o n s i d e r a t i o n . In

the

December

course 1818,

o f m a k i n g his o w n Beethoven

said

case

of Karl,

to in

the

court

passing,

in "of

c o u r s e , if he w e r e of n o b l e b i r t h . . . ," n e g l e c t i n g to realize as he did so that if Karl was n o t a n o b l e m a n , t h e n it followed that n e i t h e r w a s h e . T o B e e t h o v e n ' s g r e a t m o r t i f i c a t i o n , t h e case immediately was

transferred to

the

V i e n n a Magistracy,

the

c o m m o n e r ' s c o u r t , w h e r e this t i m e J o h a n n a was g r a n t e d t e m p o r a r y c u s t o d y . F o r a n o t h e r y e a r t h e legal s k i r m i s h c o n t i n u e d , w i t h b o t h m o t h e r and B e e t h o v e n refusing to s u r r e n d e r the issue u n t i l t h e y m e t i n t h e C o u r t o f A p p e a l s a f i n a l t i m e i n A p r i l 1 8 2 0 . J o h a n n a h a d m a i n t a i n e d c u s t o d y o f K a r l for a n o t h e r y e a r a n d a half, a n d h e p r o f e s s e d h a p p i n e s s t o b e w i t h h e r


again, b u t this t i m e B e e t h o v e n p r e v a i l e d u p o n several p o w e r ful f r i e n d s — i n c l u d i n g his f o r m e r p i a n o p u p i l , t h e A r c h d u k e R u d o l p h , son of the e m p e r o r — t o do w h a t they could to influence the t h i n k i n g of the councilors of appeal. They, in turn, issued a final ruling that gave B e e t h o v e n shared guardianship o f K a r l , n o w t h i r t e e n , w i t h his t u t o r , K a r l P e t e r s . J o h a n n a lost c u s t o d y of h e r son forever. B e e t h o v e n had paid o n l y i n t e r m i t t e n t a t t e n t i o n t o m u s i c d u r i n g m u c h o f t h e e x t e n d e d b a t t l e ; his h e a l t h h a d d e t e r i o r a t e d d r a m a t i c a l l y — b o u t s o f i n t e s t i n a l illness and respiratory infections confronting h i m nearly constantly n o w — a n d in the n a m e of loving devotion he had wrested Karl

from

his m o t h e r for n o n e e d , a n d h a d d e m a n d e d f r o m

h i m t h e k i n d o f l o v e t h a t h e n e v e r h a d b e e n a b l e t o offer his o w n father.

T H E Y E A R B E F O R E HIS B R O T H E R Caspar Carls death had s e e n t h e a p o g e e o f B e e t h o v e n ' s p o p u l a r a c c l a i m i n his a d o p t e d city. A s

1814 opened, the Seventh S y m p h o n y recently had

b e e n p r e m i e r e d t o critical delight; t h e E i g h t h h a d b e e n p e r f o r m e d for t h e f i r s t t i m e i n F e b r u a r y , a n d w i t h i t b y p o p u l a r demand

had been

Victory—written

to

an

encore

commemorate

performance the

Duke

o f Wellington's of Wellington's

defeat of t h e F r e n c h t h e year before at t h e Battle of V i t t o r i a — t h e splashy orchestral

piece d'occasion

complete with jingoistic

fanfares, c a n n o n a d e s , a n d e v e n a fugal r e n d i t i o n o f " G o d S a v e the King." In May,

Fidelio

h a d been revived, a n d w h e n the

Congress of Vienna had convened in the summer—its purpose

'•J I


the

rather

giddy

Napoleon's

redivision

disastrous

of Europe

on

defeat—Beethoven

the had

heels

of

composed

choruses in celebration of that "glorious m o m e n t , " music that w a s far f r o m his f i n e s t w o r k , b u t w i t h w h i c h , n o n e t h e l e s s , his p o p u l a r i t y h a d c o n t i n u e d t o soar. Yet it was in 1814 as well w h e n B e e t h o v e n had been forced t o m a k e h i s f i n a l p u b l i c a p p e a r a n c e a s a p i a n i s t b e c a u s e his h e a r i n g h a d g r o w n s o faint. A n d t h e n m o r e t r o u b l e h a d d e s c e n d e d : t h e p o s t w a r e u p h o r i a h a d b e e n all t o o q u i c k l y f o l l o w e d by a severe e c o n o m i c depression,

o n e t h a t h a d left

B e e t h o v e n a n d v i r t u a l l y e v e r y o n e else i n V i e n n a i n s e r i o u s l y c o m p r o m i s e d f i n a n c i a l c o n d i t i o n s . T h e p a l a c e o f his l o n g t i m e patron Prince Andreas R a z u m o v s k y — t h e scene of a score of Beethoven's performing triumphs—had burned to the ground in December, and the count, battered by the b o t t o m e d - o u t economy, suddenly and almost incomprehensibly had b e e n t o o p o o r t o r e b u i l d it. H i s d e a r f r i e n d a n d b e n e f a c t o r , P r i n c e K a r l L i c h n o w s k y , h a d d i e d t h a t y e a r ; his b r o t h e r h a d b e e n c l a i m e d b y c o n s u m p t i o n t h e n e x t , a n d his s t a l w a r t p a t r o n P r i n c e F r a n z Joseph Lobkowitz in turn had succumbed in midst

of the

long

and

onerous

battle

for

1816. Karl's

In the custody,

Beethoven's musical o u t p u t had slowed to only a trickle; he had a c k n o w l e d g e d as well that he was " n e v e r in g o o d health" a n y m o r e , a n d d u r i n g t h e r e c e n t w e e k s o f p r o t r a c t e d fever h e even had begun to w o n d e r w h e t h e r he might be the next t o die. The

adulation,

the

virtual

hero-worship

that

had

been

heaped on B e e t h o v e n by Vienna's musical cognoscenti only a few years before h a d w a n e d dramatically by now. T h e operas


o f Italian c o m p o s e r G i o a c c h i n o R o s s i n i h a d b e c o m e t h e e x alted music o f t h e m o m e n t , and B e e t h o v e n i n t u r n spoke w i t h d e e p e n i n g d i s d a i n for t h e p l a c e t h a t h a d b e e n his h o m e for h a l f h i s life. V i e n n a h a d g r o w n " s h a b b y a n d m i s e r l y . . . f r o m t o p to b o t t o m , e v e r y o n e is a scoundrel," a n d few held art in h i g h e s t e e m a n y m o r e , h e o p i n e d i n great disgust. Further, and d e spite t h e use of ear t r u m p e t s , as well as a pencil he w o u l d h o l d i n his t e e t h a n d p r e s s t o his p i a n o t o h e l p h i m s e n s e its v i b r a t i o n s , B e e t h o v e n n o w w a s f o r c e d t o c o m p o s e w i t h o u t t h e vital f e e d b a c k o f s o u n d . H i s deafness h a d b e c o m e s o c o m p l e t e t h a t h e c o u l d h e a r o n l y w h a t his m i n d i m a g i n e d i t h a d h e a r d . T h e genesis o f t w o o f B e e t h o v e n ' s m o s t transcendent w o r k s also h a d b e e n a n c h o r e d i n t h o s e u g l y y e a r s o f familial f i g h t i n g , c o n t i n u o u s treks to court, and e n v e l o p i n g silence.

In J u n e

1817, the P h i l h a r m o n i c Society of L o n d o n had invited h i m , f o r a h a n d s o m e fee, t o c o m p o s e t w o n e w s y m p h o n i e s a n d t o t r a v e l t o E n g l a n d for t h e i r p r e m i e r e s i n t h e w i n t e r c o n c e r t s e a son of 1818. L o n g since repulsed by F r e n c h republicanism, B e e t h o v e n n o w saw m u c h t o b e a d m i r e d i n British p a r l i a m e n t a r y d e m o c r a c y ; he felt a " p a r t i c u l a r r e g a r d a n d affection . . . for t h e E n g l i s h n a t i o n , " a n d a l t h o u g h h e h a d n o c h a n c e o f m e e t i n g t h e L o n d o n deadline a n d had declined t o travel o n a c c o u n t o f his p o o r h e a l t h , h e n o n e t h e l e s s lately h a d b e g u n t o sketch the first of the proposed symphonies. Closer to h o m e , and spurred by an even m o r e pressing c o m p l e t i o n date, B e e t h o v e n h a d b e g u n w o r k on a n e w mass, a n a scent project

in

which

he

placed

the

highest

importance.

E i g h t e e n years his j u n i o r , A r c h d u k e R u d o l p h , son o f t h e e m peror, had been Beethoven's piano and composition pupil and


a r e a l f r i e n d for m a n y y e a r s ; t o h i m h e h a d d e d i c a t e d his Fourth

and

Fifth

Piano

'Archduke" Trio, the

Concertos,

Hammerklavier

a

violin

sonata,

the

S o n a t a as w e l l as t h e

sonata that had b e c o m e k n o w n as "Les Adieux," w h o s e subject w a s t h e a r c h d u k e ' s flight f r o m V i e n n a d u r i n g t h e F r e n c h o c cupation. Early in 1819, B e e t h o v e n had learned that the a r c h d u k e — o n e o f the very few patrons w i t h w h o m h e never had s e r i o u s l y q u a r r e l e d — w a s t o b e g r a n t e d ecclesiastical h o n o r s b y the church; he w o u l d be elevated flp cardinal, then, on M a r c h 9,

1820,

he

would be

installed

formally

as archbishop

of

Olmiitz. Beethoven had been neither commissioned nor encouraged t o c o m p o s e a m a s s for t h e o c c a s i o n , b u t h e n o n e t h e l e s s h a d set to work, neglecting to consider h o w great the undertaking w o u l d b e o r h o w m u c h t i m e h e w o u l d c o n t i n u e t o lose t o l i t igation.

N i n e m o n t h s later, t h e m a s s w a s far f r o m f i n i s h e d

w h e n t h e a r c h d u k e d u l y was installed a s a r c h b i s h o p . I t w o u l d be t w o m o r e years before h e w o u l d c o m p l e t e the

Missa solem-

nis, m o r e t h a n t h r e e y e a r s i n g e s t a t i o n , t h e w o r k t h a t b y t h e n Beethoven boldly was confident was the finest he ever had written.

I T H A D B E E N I N B O N N d u r i n g his a d o l e s c e n c e , i n fact, t h a t B e e t h o v e n f i r s t h a d i m a g i n e d setting t o m u s i c Schiller's p o e m

An die Freude, above

an

a h y m n to the notion of a loving Father dwelling

earthly b r o t h e r h o o d

c o m p r i s i n g all p e o p l e s .

But

nearly four decades passed b e f o r e it struck h i m that he m i g h t


conclude the monumental n e w symphony he had begun to s k e t c h for t h e L o n d o n P h i l h a r m o n i c S o c i e t y w i t h a c h o r u s o f v o i c e s g l o r i o u s l y i n t o n i n g Schiller's w o r d s a n d s e n t i m e n t s . N o c o m p o s e r ever had used voices in a traditional s y m p h o n y in this w a y before, b u t B e e t h o v e n certainly wasn't d e t e r r e d b y

t h e l a c k o f p r e c e d e n t , a n d o n c e t h e Missa solemnis w a s c o m p l e t e d a t l o n g last, h e set t o w o r k o n t h e n e w s y m p h o n y — h i s n i n t h — w i t h a r a p i d i t y a n d f e r v o r t h a t w e r e r e m i n i s c e n t o f his m o s t p r o d u c t i v e days. It h a d b e e n a d e c a d e since m u s i c - m a d V i e n n a h a d h o s t e d the p r e m i e r e of a major orchestral w o r k by B e e t h o v e n , and four y e a r s s i n c e h e h a d m a d e his difficult final a p p e a r a n c e a t a c o n cert

podium—conducting

a

charity

performance

S e v e n t h S y m p h o n y b u t h e a r i n g it h a r d l y a t all.

Fidelio

of

the

had been

r e v i v e d for a v e r y successful p e r f o r m a n c e i n 1 8 2 2 , b u t o t h e r wise the music of the m a n w h o by n o w was considered s o m e thing

of an

Beethoven

old

master

had

fallen

out

of currency,

and

had been reluctant to sanction the first perfor-

m a n c e s o f e i t h e r t h e Missa solemnis o r t h e n e w c h o r a l s y m phony

in

his

home

city.

The

depression

that

had rocked

V i e n n a s o m e y e a r s b e f o r e still h a d n o t e n t i r e l y a b a t e d , a n d Beethoven had had to struggle—and to connive a bit—with h i s p u b l i s h e r s i n o r d e r t o c o n t i n u e t o live i n t h e c o m f o r t a b l e m a n n e r he long had enjoyed. He had c o n c o c t e d the clever but ultimately distracting n o t i o n

t o sell " s u b s c r i p t i o n s " — i n t h e

f o r m o f m a n u s c r i p t c o p i e s — o f t h e mass t o t h e several c r o w n e d h e a d s o f E u r o p e , a n d h e s i m u l t a n e o u s l y h a d o f f e r e d its initial p u b l i c a t i o n t o n o less t h a n s e v e n p u b l i s h e r s , c o n c e a l i n g t h e fact a t f i r s t , t h e n p l a y i n g t h e i r offers a g a i n s t e a c h o t h e r u n t i l h e h a d


b e e n satisfied t h a t h e w o u l d b e fairly p a i d for b o t h t h e m a s s a n d the n e w s y m p h o n y by a publisher w h o m he trusted, the firm Schott & Sons of M a i n z . He had m a d e inquiries in Berlin as well about w h e t h e r p r e miere performances of the t w o n e w works might be popular a n d f i n a n c i a l successes i f h e l d t h e r e , b u t w h e n n e w s o f t h a t i n quiry reached p r o m i n e n t m e m b e r s of Vienna's music c o m m u n i t y early i n 1 8 2 4 , t h e y r e s p o n d e d b y m a i l i n g t o B e e t h o v e n a n extraordinary j o i n t appeal, signed^ by thirty benefactors a n d musicians, acknowledging in the most florid kind of language t h a t a l t h o u g h " B e e t h o v e n ' s n a m e a n d c r e a t i o n s b e l o n g t o all contemporaneous humanity and every country which opens a susceptible b o s o m to art, it is Austria w h i c h is best entitled to claim h i m as her o w n . " The

appeal

moved and

g r e a t l y p l e a s e d its r e c i p i e n t — a l -

t h o u g h h e was o u t r a g e d w h e n r u m o r s briefly spread that h e h i m s e l f h a d p r o m p t e d t h e letter's c o m p o s i t i o n — a n d i n t h e e n d h e a c q u i e s c e d t o t h e s c h e d u l i n g o f a gala c o n c e r t a t V i e n n a ' s Karntnertor Theater, w h i c h w o u l d include the overture that h e h a d c o m p o s e d for t h e d e d i c a t i o n o f t h e J o s e p h s t a d t T h e a t e r t w o years before, t h e Kyrie, C r e d o , a n d A g n u s D e i f r o m t h e

Missa solemnis,

a n d t h a t w o u l d b e c o n c l u d e d by, as t h e a n -

n o u n c e m e n t proclaimed, "A Grand S y m p h o n y with Solo and C h o r u s V o i c e s e n t e r i n g i n t h e f i n a l e o n Schiller's O d e t o J o y . " T h e response in Vienna on the heartening spring evening of M a y 7 , 1 8 2 4 , w a s , t o say t h e least, e n t h u s i a s t i c . T h e i m p e r i a l b o x w a s e m p t y , b u t o t h e r w i s e t h e c o n c e r t hall w a s c r o w d e d . A l t h o u g h A r c h d u k e R u d o l p h — n o w a n a r c h b i s h o p i n distant Olmiitz—could not attend, Beethoven's longtime friends and


benefactors t u r n e d o u t i n force, a m o n g t h e m t h e ailing and otherwise

bedridden

Baron

Nikolaus

c a r r i e d t o his seat i n a s e d a n c h a i r .

Zmeskall,

who

was

T h e r e n o w n e d Ignaz

S c h u p p a n z i g h w a s B e e t h o v e n ' s c h o i c e for first v i o l i n ; M i c h a e l Umlauf, w h o had conducted

Fidelio

in 1814, c o m m a n d e d the

p o d i u m , and Beethoven himself—resplendent in a dark green f r o c k c o a t , w h i t e n e c k e r c h i e f a n d w a i s t c o a t , b l a c k silk b r e e c h e s a n d s t o c k i n g s , a n d s h o e s w i t h brass b u c k l e s , h i s g r a y i n g h a i r c a r e f u l l y c o i f e d a n d p i n n e d for t h e o c c a s i o n — s t o o d n e a r b y , setting t h e t e m p o s o f t h e several m o v e m e n t s . T h e o v e r t u r e and t h e t h r e e " g r a n d h y m n s " f r o m t h e mass w e r e received with great w a r m t h by the unusually attentive g a t h e r i n g , b u t i t w a s t h e n e w s y m p h o n y for w h i c h t h e a u d i e n c e r e s e r v e d its m o s t u n r e s t r a i n e d r e s p o n s e s . W h e n t i m p a n i s t h u n d e r e d i n t h e s e c o n d m o v e m e n t , t h e listeners b r o k e o u t into s p o n t a n e o u s applause, then did so four m o r e times until at last t h e p o l i c e c o m m i s s i o n e r y e l l e d , " S i l e n c e ! " A v i o l e n t , c o n v u l s i v e fanfare c o n c l u d e d t h e f o u r t h m o v e m e n t b e f o r e a s i n g l e bass v o i c e r a n g o u t , " O F r i e n d s , n o m o r e t h e s e s o u n d s ! L e t u s s i n g m o r e c h e e r f u l s o n g s , m o r e full o f j o y ! , " a n d t h e n , a s i f i n specific r e s p o n s e t o his e x h o r t a t i o n , t h e e n t i r e c h o r u s t o o k u p his t h e m e , t h e i r c o l l e c t i v e h y m n s u n g t o j o y f u l n o i s e , t o h o p e , t o b r o t h e r h o o d : " M i l l i o n s , I e m b r a c e y o u . T h i s kiss i s for all the world!" W h e n a t last t h e v o i c e s a n d i n s t r u m e n t s w e r e stilled, a p plause and s h o u t e d cheers e r u p t e d t h r o u g h o u t the c o n c e r t hall, b u t B e e t h o v e n , u n n o t i c i n g , s i m p l y s t o o d a t his m u s i c s t a n d , c l o s i n g t h e p a g e s o f his s c o r e u n t i l t h e c o n t r a l t o soloist took him by the arm and turned him toward the proscenium


s o a t least h e c o u l d see t h e w i l d r e s p o n s e s o f t h e p e o p l e w h o m h i s s y m p h o n y , his s o n g t o j o y , h a d s o e n t h r a l l e d . H i s face r e m a i n e d e x p r e s s i o n l e s s a s h e p e e r e d o u t a t t h e m , b u t a t last h e o f f e r e d a s u b t l e b o w — t h e final t i m e h e e v e r w o u l d s t a n d o n a stage a n d a c k n o w l e d g e t h e public's p r a i s e — a n d w h e n h e did s o t h e applause a n d cries c r e s c e n d o e d again; w h i t e handkerchiefs w a v e d like flags f r o m h u n d r e d s o f h a n d s a n d a h u n d r e d hats r o s e i n t o t h e l a m p - l i t air.


CHE GUEVARA'5 HAIR

BEETHOVEN

ENTHUSIAST

IRA

BRILLIANT

necessar-

ily h a d f o c u s e d his a t t e n t i o n o n h i s f a m i l y a n d h i s n a s c e n t b u s i n e s s d u r i n g his f i r s t d e c a d e i n A r i z o n a , y e t his e a r l y fascination with the figure of Beethoven never had abandoned h i m . T h e d e a t h o f his o n l y d a u g h t e r e l e v e n years before, a n d his l o n g a n d v e r y s l o w r e c o v e r y f r o m that terrible w o u n d , h a d m a d e h i m all t h e m o r e a s t o n i s h e d b y w h a t t h e c o m p o s e r h a d a c c o m p l i s h e d , b y w h a t h e h a d b e e n a b l e t o offer t o t h e w o r l d d e s p i t e h a v i n g t o c o n t e n d w i t h p e r s o n a l t r a g e d i e s o f his o w n . B e e t h o v e n b y n o w h a d b e c o m e for B r i l l i a n t n o t o n l y t h e v i v i d p e r s o n i f i c a t i o n o f t h e m i g h t o f t h e m u s i c itself, b u t also a k i n d


o f m e n t o r , a g r u f f g u i d e t h r o u g h t h e trials o f life, a n d i n c r e a s i n g l y h e l o n g e d t o possess s o m e t h i n g t h a t t h e c o m p o s e r h i m self h a d t o u c h e d — a letter, a s k e t c h leaf, a s c r i b b l e d n o t e . B y early 1 9 7 5 , that desire h a d g r o w n great e n o u g h that n o w h e b e l i e v e d h e s i m p l y had t o a c t , a n d h e f o c u s e d his d e s i r e o n a letter B e e t h o v e n had w r i t t e n in 1824, o n e in w h i c h he had r e quested of P r i n c e Ferdinand v o n T r a u t m a n n s d o r f t h e use of a c o n c e r t hall for t h e p r e m i e r e o f his N i n t h S y m p h o n y . B e n e a t h t h e text was B e e t h o v e n ' s large a n d f l o r i d a n d a l t o g e t h e r b e a u t i f u l s i g n a t u r e . Y e t for a l m o s t a y e a r , t h e letter's $ 7 , 5 0 0 p r i c e kept Brilliant from acting. T h e n on D e c e m b e r 1,

1975, he

t e l e p h o n e d t h e seller a s e c o n d t i m e a n d w a s b o t h r e l i e v e d a n d d e l i g h t e d t o l e a r n t h a t i t still w a s available. H e m a d e a f i n a l — and

rather feeble—attempt to ascertain w h e t h e r the

dealer

w o u l d l o w e r t h e p r i c e a b i t , b u t o n c e h e h a d failed i n t h a t eff o r t , his p a s s i o n t o o k c o n t r o l o f h i m a n d h e h e a r d h i m s e l f a n n o u n c e into t h e p h o n e , "Well, t h e n I am b u y i n g a n d y o u are selling m e this B e e t h o v e n l e t t e r . " A f e w days later, s e a t e d w i t h t h e p a c k a g e c o n t a i n i n g t h e l e t ter on t h e table in front of h i m , Brilliant slowed to savor t h e moment,

a n d as m a n y as thirty m i n u t e s passed before he

m e t i c u l o u s l y h a d o p e n e d t h e p a c k a g e a n d lifted t h e l e t t e r f r o m its p r o t e c t i v e w r a p p i n g s . B u t a t last t h e r e i t lay: t h e a n c i e n t paper was brittle a n d had t u r n e d a pale o c h e r color; t h e w o r d s w r i t t e n i n G e r m a n w e r e difficult t o m a k e i m m e d i a t e s e n s e of, but the broad,

bold,

quill-drawn

signature

of Ludwig van

B e e t h o v e n s e e m e d t o sparkle u p a t h i m . T h e great m a n h a d employed that very paper 152 years before; he had w r i t t e n his

name

upon

it,

and n o w

Ira B r i l l i a n t — w h o

had acted


i m p u l s i v e l y i n t h e letter's p u r c h a s e , h e r e a d i l y w o u l d c o n f e s s — a t last c o u l d h o l d i t i n his h a n d s . It was the music of Brahms, in the beginning, to w h i c h he first h a d b e e n a t t r a c t e d w h i l e still a t e e n a g e r i n B r o o k l y n . B u t i t w a s n ' t l o n g b e f o r e B r i l l i a n t ' s a l l e g i a n c e h a d shifted s o m e h o w , a n d i t w a s B e e t h o v e n w h o s e c o m p o s i t i o n s m o s t successfully had b e g u n to t o u c h a deep and i m p o r t a n t place inside h i m . He h a d loved t h e sonata titled "Les A d i e u x " in p a r t i c u l a r — t h e w a y i n w h i c h i t s o p r o f o u n d l y l i m n e d t h e loss o f s o m e o n e dear—and the Archduke Trio had seemed to h i m to be an utt e r l y p e r f e c t c o m p o s i t i o n . H e h a d b e e n d r a w n t o specific p a s sages, t o p a r t i c u l a r m o v e m e n t s , m o r e t h a n h e w a s t o w o r k s i n their entirety, and he had b e e n attracted as well to the c o m p l e x f i g u r e o f t h e c o m p o s e r himself. H a r r y B r i l l i a n t , his f a t h e r (his A m e r i c a n i z e d s u r n a m e d e r i v e d f r o m t h e R u s s i a n w o r d for " d i a m o n d " ) , h a d i m m i g r a t e d t o t h e U n i t e d States f r o m R u s s i a i n 1 9 0 6 o n l y d a y s b e f o r e h e w o u l d h a v e b e e n drafted i n t o t h e Czar's a r m y B y t h e t i m e h e had married V e r m o n t - b o r n Anna Silverman and they had had t h r e e s o n s , t h e e l d e r B r i l l i a n t also h a d e s t a b l i s h e d a successful b u s i n e s s t h a t m a d e w i p i n g rags o u t o f s u r p l u s fabric. Ira, t h e m i d d l e son, h a d b e e n g r o o m e d t o supervise t h e technical asp e c t s o f t h e family b u s i n e s s d u r i n g t h e t w o y e a r s h e s p e n t a t Brooklyn College, followed by t w o m o r e at the Lowell Textile Institute in Massachusetts, but before he could assume that role f o l l o w i n g his father's early d e a t h , h e h a d s e r v e d i n t h e a r m y for three years, w o r k i n g d u r i n g the S e c o n d W o r l d W a r as a c h e m ical w a r f a r e t e c h n i c i a n i n N o r t h e r n I r e l a n d a n d F r a n c e u n t i l t h e A x i s p o w e r s a t last s u r r e n d e r e d a n d h e a n d t e n m i l l i o n


m o r e A m e r i c a n m e n h a d b e e n able t o c o m e h o m e a n d c o n t i n u e t h e i r lives. A l t h o u g h his d e v o t i o n t o classical m u s i c n e v e r h a d f a l t e r e d , n e i t h e r h a d i t o c c u p i e d c e n t e r stage for h i m i n t h e early p o s t w a r years. T h e family business h a d h a d t o b e a t t e n d e d to, and, while vacationing in Florida in M a r c h 1947, he had m e t and fallen i n l o v e w i t h f e l l o w N e w Y o r k e r I r m a M a i z e l . T h e t w o h a d b e e n m a r r i e d six m o n t h s later, a n d a d a u g h t e r , M a x i n e , had b e e n b o r n i n S e p t e m b e r 1 9 5 2 . y \ l t h o u g h she had c o m m u n i c a t i o n difficulties, s h e h a d l e a r n e d t o p l a y t h e p i a n o b y t h e time she was s e v e n — e x h i b i t i n g w h a t appeared to be an u n canny musical talent—but t h e n she suddenly and utterly u n e x pectedly had died. T h e p a i n h e r p a r e n t s h a d felt i n t h e i r d a u g h t e r ' s a b s e n c e , t h e t e r r i b l e e m p t i n e s s t h a t i t h a d s e e m e d c o u l d n e v e r b e filled, h a d m a d e t h e i r o n c e - c o m f o r t a b l e h o u s e — a n d e v e n all o f w e s t e r n L o n g Island—a place from w h i c h they had b e e n desperate to f l e e , a n d t o h e l p c o n s o l e his w i f e , Ira B r i l l i a n t h a d a s s u r e d h e r that as s o o n as t h e family business c o u l d be sold a n d countless arrangements m a d e , they w o u l d leave N e w York and j o u r n e y far away. B y t h e s u m m e r o f 1 9 6 3 , t h e sale o f t h e b u s i n e s s h a d b e e n c o n v e r t e d i n t o a nest e g g large e n o u g h to assure t h e Brilliants o f t h e i r f i n a n c i a l safety for s o m e m o n t h s . T h e y h a d p a c k e d a n e w P o n t i a c s t a t i o n w a g o n w i t h essential b e l o n g i n g s a n d a f e w treasured

possessions—including

their

seven-year-old

son,

R o b e r t — a n d h a d s t r u c k o u t for a n e w life i n A r i z o n a . Ira h a d f o u n d w o r k s e l l i n g r e a l e s t a t e — o r a t least a t t e m p t i n g t o — a n d i t h a d b e e n v e r y s l o w g o i n g a t first, b u t after a y e a r o f little


success, he a n d a p a r t n e r nonetheless had b e c o m e c o n v i n c e d that t h e t i m e was right to b e g i n a business of their o w n , o n e that w o u l d focus o n d e v e l o p m e n t i n t h e d o w n t o w n c o r e o f t h e s m a l l r e s o r t c i t y o f S c o t t s d a l e , j u s t a f e w m i n u t e s ' d r i v e east o f t h e B r i l l i a n t s ' h o m e . A d e c a d e later, h e h a d t h r i v e d i n w a y s h e n e v e r h a d i m a g i n e d h e m i g h t , a c h i e v i n g e n o u g h success, i n fact, t h a t h e e v e n h a d b e g u n t o c o n s i d e r t h e p r e v i o u s l y u n thinkable

possibility

of acquiring

something

that

the

great

Beethoven had owned.

UNLIKE

I R A B R I L L I A N T , W H O B E L O N G E D t o the gener-

ation that h a d c o m e o f age d u r i n g t h e G r e a t D e p r e s s i o n , t h e n h a d s p e n t its e a r l y a d u l t h o o d e m b a t t l e d i n w a r , t h e y o u n g m a n w h o s e n a m e had b e c o m e C h e Guevara a few years before b e l o n g e d to t h e subsequent generation of A m e r i c a n s , o n e that, beginning in

the

1960s,

had transformed the

image of the

Argentinian physician and freedom fighter of the same n a m e i n t o a c u r i o u s k i n d o f folk h e r o .

This

Che Guevara—the one

n o w ensconced in study at the University of Texas Medical S c h o o l in G a l v e s t o n — n e v e r had b e e n a t r u e partisan of the c o u n t e r c u l t u r e that had e m e r g e d so infectiously d u r i n g the p r e c e d i n g decade, yet he nonetheless t o o k great pleasure in the n o m i n a l link b e t w e e n himself and the storied revolutionary. Alfredo G u e v a r a , Jr., h a d g r o w n u p i n Laredo, Texas, o n the U . S . side o f t h e w i d e a n d shallow r i v e r that f o r m s t h e b o r d e r w i t h M e x i c o . H i s m o t h e r ' s family h a d c o m e f r o m t h e M e x i c a n


CHE

C U E VA ft A " 5

HAIR

s t a t e o f C o a h u i l a , a n d his f a t h e r l o n g h a d h e l d a s e r i e s o f j o b s m a n a g i n g gas s t a t i o n s i n L a r e d o ' s b a r r i o s , w h e r e his y o u n g namesake had had to w o r k as well. T h e boy had g r o w n up s p e a k i n g S p a n i s h i n t h e s m a l l , s i n g l e - r o o m b l o c k h o u s e his fat h e r h a d built b y h a n d — h o m e n o w t o his p a r e n t s a n d t h r e e m o r e siblings—but o n c e in school, he learned English rather effortlessly a n d s o o n p r o v e d t o b e a b r i g h t a n d d i l i g e n t s t u d e n t . By the time he reached high school, c o v e r t o c o v e r e v e r y v o l u m e o f tl^e

"Alfredito" had read

World Book

encyclopedia

s i m p l y b e c a u s e h e e n j o y e d its b r e a d t h o f s u b j e c t s . A s a h i g h school senior, the science project to w h i c h he had d e v o t e d h i m s e l f for t h r e e full y e a r s h a d e a r n e d h i m a w a r d s a t b o t h n a tional and international science-fair c o m p e t i t i o n s as well as t h e attention of Northwestern University near Chicago. It was there in 1970 that a d o r m - m a t e had n i c k n a m e d h i m " C h e " G u e v a r a o n t h e d a y o f his a r r i v a l , a n d w h e r e h e first h a d b e c o m e i n t r i g u e d b y classical m u s i c . H e h a d r e m e m b e r e d t h e t i m e l o n g b e f o r e w h e n a L a r e d o f r i e n d h a d p l a y e d for h i m a 7 8 r p m r e c o r d i n g o f B e e t h o v e n ' s Fifth S y m p h o n y , its s o u n d s l i n g e r i n g i n his m i n d like a c o m p e l l i n g k i n d o f d r e a m , b u t o t h erwise,

the bronze-skinned freshman

had been

entirely an

open b o o k with regard to the world of music. Although he h a d r e m a i n e d a p a s s i o n a t e B e a t l e s fan, b e f o r e l o n g t h e m u s i c he most w a n t e d to hear had b e e n Beethoven's. His c o m p o s i tions, singularly a n d uniquely, h a d s e e m e d to crawl inside t h e y o u n g m a n ' s chest, inside his h e a d ; B e e t h o v e n ' s m u s i c h a d s e e m e d t o b e a n e x p r e s s i o n o f t h e c o m p o s e r ' s c o m p l e x life e x p e r i e n c e s offered in a strictly musical language, a n d by t h e time


he had returned to Texas for medical school in Guevara had become

1974, C h e

convinced that it was a language

he

w a n t e d t o listen t o forever.

IF

IRA

BRILLIANT

WERE

TO

continue

to

purchase

B e e t h o v e n letters, h e w o u l d n e e d m u c h m o r e available c a p i tal t h a n h e c u r r e n t l y c o u l d c l a i m . Beethoveniana—letters,

notes,

O n e - o f - a - k i n d pieces of

sketch

leafs,

handwritten

s c o r e s — c o m m a n d e d substantial prices in t h e m i d - 1 9 7 0 s , a n d o n l y v e r y f e w o f t h e m i n a n y y e a r w e r e o f f e r e d for sale w o r l d wide.

But

the

purchase

of that

first

letter—known

as

" A n d e r s o n 1 2 7 2 " i n t h e small a n d a r c a n e s p h e r e o f B e e t h o v e n s c h o l a r s h i p — h a d i m m e d i a t e l y instilled in h i m a desire to a c quire m o r e original material, to s u r r o u n d himself as best he c o u l d w i t h v e s t i g e s o f B e e t h o v e n ' s life a n d w o r k . A n d , a s i t h a p p e n e d , t h e r e was o t h e r c o l l e c t i b l e y e t a f f o r d a b l e m a t e r i a l t o w h i c h he s o o n was d r a w n : first-edition scores of Beethoven's m y r i a d c o m p o s i t i o n s — p u b l i s h e d d u r i n g his lifetime a n d , in alm o s t all cases, a p p r o v e d b y t h e c o m p o s e r h i m s e l f — w e r e c o m p a r a t i v e l y m u c h less p r i c e y o n t h e a n t i q u a r i a n m u s i c m a r k e t , d e s p i t e t h e fact t h a t t h e y w e r e far f r o m c o m m o n p l a c e a n d t h a t t h e y often possessed significantly m o r e musical v a l u e t h a n t h e l e t t e r s d i d . A n d Ira B r i l l i a n t b e g a n t o i m a g i n e t h a t i f h e w e r e able t o collect e n o u g h f i r s t a n d early e d i t i o n s , p e r h a p s s o m e day they m i g h t e v e n f o r m the f o u n d a t i o n of a scholarly legacy of some kind. H i s n e w p l a n for a c q u i s i t i o n s clear, B r i l l i a n t , w h o r e m a i n e d


a c t i v e i n r e a l e s t a t e — h i s success i n S c o t t s d a l e t h e sole m e a n s w i t h w h i c h h e c o u l d fund this n e w a v o c a t i o n , i n fact—slowly b e g a n t o establish r e l a t i o n s h i p s w i t h t h e h a n d f u l o f E u r o p e a n a n d A m e r i c a n music dealers w h o traded i n antiquarian music: H e r m a n n Baron, England;

Hans

Richard Macnutt, Schneider

in

a n d Albi R o s e n t h a l i n

Germany—as

well

as

Mary

Benjamin in Harper, N e w York, each of w h o m b e c a m e well a c q u a i n t e d i n t h e s u c c e e d i n g y e a r s w i t h t h e small m a n w h o s e p a s s i o n for B e e t h o v e n b u r n e d s o Uprightly R o s e n t h a l " w o u l d c o n d u c t b u s i n e s s , a s d i d all t h e o t h e r s , w i t h h i s s t o c k s u r r o u n d i n g h i m o n s h e l f after s h e l f i n a l a r g e r o o m w i t h a f i r e p l a c e , " B r i l l i a n t w r o t e i n 1 9 9 0 . " W e w o u l d visit, e x c h a n g e all t h e n e w s , w h i l e I w o u l d carefully i g n o r e a small p i l e o f m u s i c stacked on a nearby table. After a p r o p e r interval, he w o u l d c a sually i n v i t e m e t o l o o k o v e r t h e p i l e a n d m a k e m y s e l e c t i o n s . T h e s e h a d b e e n s a v e d for m e . " B y 1 9 8 3 , Ira B r i l l i a n t h a d a s s e m b l e d a c o l l e c t i o n o f m o r e t h a n s e v e n t y first e d i t i o n s o f B e e t h o v e n c o m p o s i t i o n s — e a c h piece possessing significant m a r k e t value, t h e collection as a w h o l e w o r t h far m o r e t h a n t h e s u m o f its p a r t s — a n d h e w a s certain that the time had c o m e to put the collection to w o r k , r a t h e r t h a n s i m p l y let i t f i l l a c l o s e t s h e l f i n his h o u s e . B u t w h e n h e a n d his w i f e I r m a a p p r o a c h e d t h e d e a n o f F i n e A r t s a n d t h e d i r e c t o r o f t h e S c h o o l o f M u s i c a t A r i z o n a State U n i v e r s i t y i n nearby T e m p e ,

they quickly w e r e rebuffed:

that institution

s i m p l y w a s n o t i n t e r e s t e d . A s fate w o u l d d i c t a t e a f e w w e e k s later, h o w e v e r , t h e B r i l l i a n t s t r a v e l e d t o S a n J o s e , C a l i f o r n i a , on the heels of a c o n v e n t i o n of T h e M a n u s c r i p t Society in San

F r a n c i s c o t o visit D a v i d S h a p i r o ,

a friend and f o r m e r


e c o n o m i c s p r o f e s s o r a t A r i z o n a S t a t e , a n d c u r r e n t l y o n faculty a t S a n J o s e S t a t e U n i v e r s i t y . S h a p i r o a s k e d his h o u s e g u e s t s i f h e m i g h t b r o a c h t h e s u b j e c t o f a s i m i l a r gift t o a n a p p r o p r i a t e d e a n a t t h e s c h o o l w h e r e h e n o w w a s e m p l o y e d . Ira B r i l l i a n t a g r e e d , a n d w i t h i n d a y s d r a m a t i c a l l y c h a n g e d h i s life. It was M e m o r i a l Day, M a y 30, 1983, w h e n Shapiro telephoned at

h o m e Arlene

Okerlund,

dean of the School of

H u m a n i t i e s and t h e Arts at SJSU, a n d quickly i n t r i g u e d h e r enough

that

she

proposed

a

meeting

with

him

and

the

Brilliants at n i n e the following m o r n i n g . At the close of that first

meeting,

O k e r l u n d was nearly

giddy with

excitement

a b o u t t h e possibility of b u i l d i n g a b o n a fide B e e t h o v e n r e search center a r o u n d the Brilliant collection, a n d before that w e e k was out, she and university librarian Barbara Jeskalian f l e w t o P h o e n i x t o i n s p e c t t h e c o l l e c t i o n . I n less t h a n a n o t h e r f o r t n i g h t , Ira B r i l l i a n t r e c e i v e d a l e t t e r w h o s e i m p a c t c l o s e l y r i v a l e d his r e c e i p t o f " A n d e r s o n 1 2 7 2 " e i g h t y e a r s b e f o r e , y e t this o n e w a s a c o n t e m p o r a r y m i s s i v e d r a f t e d b y t h e S J S U p r e s ident rather than the long-deceased composer. " O n b e h a l f o f t h e faculty a n d s t u d e n t s a t S a n J o s e S t a t e University," university president Gail Fullerton w r o t e , "I w a n t t o t h a n k y o u for y o u r i n t e r e s t i n t h i s c a m p u s a s a p o t e n t i a l h o m e for y o u r c o l l e c t i o n o f B e e t h o v e n m a t e r i a l s . W e h a v e a n excellent music department, a c o m m i t m e n t to developing o u r s c h o l a r l y r e s o u r c e s , a n d a l o v e for B e e t h o v e n t h a t i s s h a r e d b y the surrounding community.

I do believe that w o r k i n g t o -

g e t h e r w e c a n a c h i e v e o u r s h a r e d i d e a l o f c r e a t i n g the m a j o r c e n t e r for B e e t h o v e n r e s e a r c h i n A m e r i c a . " T h e l e t t e r w e n t o n t o specify t h a t i f t h e B r i l l i a n t s a g r e e d t o p r o c e e d w i t h t h e p r o j -


ect, the university w o u l d guarantee t h e m contractually that t h e i r c o l l e c t i o n n e v e r w o u l d b e sold o r d i v i d e d ,

that they

w o u l d h a v e access t o i t a t all t i m e s , t h a t t h e c e n t e r w o u l d b e p r o v i d e d w i t h adequate, climate-controlled space in a c a m p u s library or in the music d e p a r t m e n t , and that b o t h a curator and a musicologist specializing in B e e t h o v e n w o u l d be hired to a d minister the

center and

help

it

meet

its

goal

of bringing

Beethoven's a c h i e v e m e n t s to an e v e r - w i d e n i n g circle of stud e n t s , s c h o l a r s , a n d c i t i z e n s a t larg^. W h a t F u l l e r t o n p r o p o s e d w a s t h e k i n d o f p u b l i c l y accessible r e s e a r c h i n s t i t u t i o n t h a t Ira B r i l l i a n t h a d b e g u n t o d r e a m a b o u t almost a decade before, and, of course, he responded quickly a n d enthusiastically. N e g o t i a t i o n s b e t w e e n t h e B r i l l i a n t s a n d the

university

were

completed

and

a

contract

signed

on

September 7, 1983, creating and ensuring the existence in perp e t u i t y o f w h a t O k e r l u n d a n d F u l l e r t o n h a d insisted w o u l d b e n a m e d t h e Ira F . B r i l l i a n t C e n t e r for B e e t h o v e n S t u d i e s , t h e o n l y o n e o f its k i n d i n t h e W e s t e r n H e m i s p h e r e .

Thomas

W e n d e l , a SJSU history professor and a keen B e e t h o v e n e n thusiast himself, w a s n a m e d i n t e r i m d i r e c t o r ; t e m p o r a r y s p a c e was carved o u t of t h e sixth floor of the campus's Wahlquist Library; an i n t e r n a t i o n a l search to find a p e r m a n e n t d i r e c t o r got u n d e r w a y ; and, to be sure, t h e still-swelling collection of B e e t h o v e n f i r s t e d i t i o n s — n u m b e r i n g s e v e n t y - s e v e n i n t h e fall o f 1 9 8 3 — f o u n d its w a y t o S a n J o s e . Ira B r i l l i a n t n o w o w n e d a t o t a l o f f o u r i m p o r t a n t a n d h i g h l y coveted

Beethoven

letters

as

well,

the

latest

of which,

" A n d e r s o n 7 5 8 , " a c q u i r e d for h i m b y d e a l e r R i c h a r d M a c n u t t , had been p e n n e d by B e e t h o v e n to Franz Brentano, husband of


the

woman

whom

many

scholars

believed

was

his

secret

" I m m o r t a l Beloved," a n d w h o s e son Karl Josef possibly c o u l d h a v e b e e n sired b y B e e t h o v e n .

If Antonie Brentano indeed

w a s b o t h t h e c o m p o s e r ' s l o v e r a n d t h e m o t h e r o f his c h i l d , t h e letter's g e n e r o u s e x p r e s s i o n o f B e e t h o v e n ' s h o p e t h a t h e r h u s b a n d w o u l d l i v e v e r y l o n g a s t h e h e a d o f his l a r g e a n d v e r y f i n e family m a d e it a r e m a r k a b l e d o c u m e n t i n d e e d . Brilliant h a d a c q u i r e d t h e l e t t e r — n o w t h e c r o w n j e w e l i n his w h o l e c o l l e c t i o n — o n l y a m o n t h before he signed the contract creating the c e n t e r , a n d s o o n h e w o u l d a m e n d his w i l l t o e n s u r e t h a t i t a n d t h e o t h e r B e e t h o v e n l e t t e r s also w o u l d b e c o m e t h e p r o p e r t y o f t h e c e n t e r u p o n his d e a t h . B u t u n t i l t h e n , h e c h o s e t o k e e p t h e m i n a b a n k v a u l t n e a r his h o m e i n P h o e n i x s i m p l y b e c a u s e h e c o n t i n u e d t o t a k e s o m u c h p l e a s u r e i n c a s t i n g his e y e s o n t h e m t w o or t h r e e times a year, as well as e x h i b i t i n g t h e m to awestruck friends on occasion. A l t h o u g h each letter was p r o t e c t e d b y a n a c i d - f r e e m y l a r c o v e r , still i t w a s a u n i q u e k i n d o f gift t h a t h e l o v e d t o g i v e t o a f e w p e o p l e w h o c o u l d p e r c e i v e its

transcendent

significance—the

opportunity

for

them

to

hold in their o w n hands s o m e t h i n g that the great B e e t h o v e n had held as well.

CHE

GUEVARA

HAD

BEEN

BUOYED

b y the

music

of

B e e t h o v e n d u r i n g the four years he spent in medical school in G a l v e s t o n , T e x a s , a s w e l l a s t h e six t a x i n g y e a r s o f s u r g e r y a n d urology residencies that followed at the University of Arizona. Late in 1981 he m e t and s o o n m a r r i e d an e l e m e n t a r y school


t e a c h e r n a m e d R e n e e Baffert, w h o l i v e d s i x t y m i l e s s o u t h o f T u c s o n i n h e r h o m e t o w n o f N o g a l e s , w h e r e a h i g h steel fence c u t a c r o s s t h e s e r e hills o f t h e s m a l l city, s e p a r a t i n g t h e U n i t e d States

from

Mexico.

The

young

doctor

determined

that

N o g a l e s , i n fact, w o u l d b e t h e p e r f e c t p l a c e for h i m t o e s t a b lish a p r a c t i c e ; t h e a r e a n e e d e d a u r o l o g i s t , p a r t i c u l a r l y o n e w h o w a s a s a d e p t a t s p e a k i n g S p a n i s h a s h e w a s a t ease w i t h E n g l i s h , a n d i n 1 9 8 3 A l f r e d o G u e v a r a , J r . , b e g a n t o e a r n his o w n i n c o m e a g a i n for t h e f i r s t r i m ^ s i n c e h e h a d a b a n d o n e d his father's gas s t a t i o n f o u r t e e n y e a r s b e f o r e . It took s o m e time to build the kind of practice he long had h o p e d t o , a n d a l t h o u g h his life w a s e n r i c h e d i n t h e 1 9 8 0 s b y t h e b i r t h o f t h r e e c h i l d r e n , h e still w a s a s u b s t a n t i a l d i s t a n c e f r o m b e c o m i n g t h e affluent p h y s i c i a n h e h a d b e g u n t o d r e a m a b o u t b e i n g back w h e n he was five years old and almost always h u n g r y . B u t slowly, h e d i d b e g i n t o p r o s p e r , a n d b y 1 9 8 9 , h e h a d a f i n e c l i n i c w i t h his n a m e o n t h e d o o r a n d a b i t o f m o n e y i n t h e b a n k a t l o n g last, a n d C h e G u e v a r a d e c i d e d t h a t t h e n e w space was a perfect o n e in w h i c h he c o u l d host a b i r t h d a y party in the great Beethoven's h o n o r . He sent o u t invitations to c o l leagues in Nogales's medical c o m m u n i t y a n d to friends a n d family m e m b e r s far a n d n e a r . H e a r r a n g e d t o s e r v e a n e l a b o r a t e M e x i c a n buffet a n d for m u s i c a l e n t e r t a i n m e n t t o b e p r o vided by beautifully c o s t u m e d mariachis; a b r i g h t b a n n e r that r i n g e d t h e w a i t i n g r o o m r e a d HAPPY BIRTHDAY, LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN, and the party was such a h u g e success—it was the social e v e n t o f t h e y e a r , p e o p l e c o n t e n d e d — t h a t t h e c e l e b r a tion b e c a m e an annual event. Each year the invitation fist g r e w larger—as

did

its

substantial

cost,

of c o u r s e — a n d

in

late


November

1993,

C h e Guevara telephoned an invitation to

that year's c e l e b r a t i o n t o A r i z o n a State U n i v e r s i t y professor Wayne

Senner,

whose

article

on

the

critical

reception

of

B e e t h o v e n ' s c o m p o s i t i o n s d u r i n g his l i f e t i m e G u e v a r a h a d r e a d in an A S U publication.

S e n n e r was b o t h flattered a n d i n -

trigued by the generous gesture, but he informed the Nogales p h y s i c i a n t h a t i f his g o a l w e r e t o i n v i t e A r i z o n a ' s f o r e m o s t Beethoven

enthusiast—one w h o

c o u l d rival o r e v e n b e t t e r

G u e v a r a h i m s e l f - — t h e n s u r e l y t h e n a m e o f Ira B r i l l i a n t s h o u l d b e a d d e d t o his g u e s t list. C h e G u e v a r a ' s i n t e r e s t q u i c k l y w a s p i q u e d , and he assured S e n n e r that he w o u l d be delighted to i n v i t e b o t h m e n a n d t h e i r w i v e s a s w e l l . T h e y all w o u l d b e his guests; he w o u l d h o u s e t h e m at a nearby resort hotel, a n d w o u l d l o o k forward eagerly t o m e e t i n g t h e m o n the e v e n i n g of December

16, w h e n t o g e t h e r t h e y enthusiastically w o u l d

celebrate the birth of the m a n w h o mattered so very m u c h to t h e m all.

I R A B R I L L I A N T W A S M O R E T H A N a little r e l i e v e d t o d i s cover that B e e t h o v e n was n o t part of the mariachis' musical r e p e r t o i r e w h e n h e a n d his w i f e , I r m a , t r a v e l e d t o N o g a l e s i n m i d - D e c e m b e r . Yet the celebration was o n e he greatly e n j o y e d b e i n g p a r t of,

and

he

was

utterly c h a r m e d by

Che

G u e v a r a . T h e t w o m e n discovered a t t h e b i r t h d a y party, a n d t h e n in subsequent e n c o u n t e r s , that although they w e r e very different p e o p l e , t h e y u n d e r s t o o d each o t h e r entirely w h e n i t c a m e t o t h e i r e n d u r i n g d e v o t i o n t o B e e t h o v e n a n d his m u s i c .


CHE

G U E VA R A' 5

HAIR

A s t h e t w o m e n b e c a m e m o r e closely a c q u a i n t e d o v e r the e n suing m o n t h s ,

as

they

began

to

consider themselves

true

friends, C h e Guevara found himself increasingly intrigued by Brilliant's collecting a v o c a t i o n . H e b e c a m e fascinated b y w h a t he learned about the tiny b u t intensely focused sphere of collectors a r o u n d the world; he was attracted, too, by the w a y in w h i c h there seemed to be a kind of sacramental connection b e t w e e n collectible objects and t h e great people t o w h o m they h a d b e l o n g e d ; he was lured as w^ll by t h e financial aspects of the enterprise, w h i c h transformed attempts to b u y at bargain prices and the anxious bidding at auctions into something of a h e a d y b u t a n x i o u s s p o r t . B u t h e w a s c a p t i v a t e d , m o s t o f all, b y the

way

in

which

Brilliant

had been

able

truly

to

bring

B e e t h o v e n t o life a g a i n — a t least i n his o w n h e a r t — b y g a t h e r ing together scattered tokens and m e m e n t o s

from

the time

l o n g ago w h e n t h e m a s t e r h a d m a d e his music. Yet C h e G u e v a r a did n o t b e g i n to aspire to b e c o m e a c o l l e c t o r h i m s e l f — t h e r e w e r e his t h r e e c h i l d r e n a n d t h e i r e d u c a t i o n s t o t h i n k of, i f n o t h i n g e l s e — a n d h e d o u b t e d w h e t h e r t h e d e m a n d s o f his m e d i c a l p r a c t i c e w o u l d a l l o w h i m t h e t i m e h e w o u l d n e e d t o l e a r n successfully t h e v e r y s u b d e t r i c k s o f t h e trade. C o l l e c t i n g was a potential n e w passion he simply w o u l d s u r r e n d e r , b u t n o n e t h e l e s s , h e w o u l d l o v e t o possess

something,

a trifle, a s m a l l m e m e n t o o f B e e t h o v e n o r h i s r i m e s , h e a d m i t t e d f i r s t t o himself, a n d t h e n t o his n e w f r i e n d . Ira B r i l l i a n t recently h a d p u r c h a s e d a p r i n t e d invitation to B e e t h o v e n ' s fun e r a l — a small c a r d a n n o u n c i n g t h e c o m p o s e r ' s d e a t h a n d t h e date, t i m e , a n d location in t h e

Alsergasse

of the private service

at the c h u r c h outside of w h i c h so m a n y thousands of Vienna's


citizens w o u l d wait to pay their final respects. It was s o m e t h i n g precisely like t h e funeral invitation, G u e v a r a explained, that he w o u l d l o v e t o possess o n e day, a n d B r i l l i a n t a s s u r e d h i m t h a t h e w o u l d k e e p his e y e s o p e n o n his f r i e n d ' s behalf. I t m i g h t take a bit of time, and the m e m e n t o m i g h t cost a c o u p l e of thousand

dollars

or

thereabouts,

b u t yes,

he

could

garner

s o m e t h i n g f r o m B e e t h o v e n ' s t i m e for C h e G u e v a r a t o t r e a s u r e forever.

i

I N T H E D E C A D E S I N C E I T h a d b e e n established, t h e C e n t e r for B e e t h o v e n S t u d i e s t h a t b o r e Ira B r i l l i a n t ' s n a m e h a d m a d e massive strides t o w a r d b e c o m i n g the k i n d of institution that h e , his wife, I r m a , a n d t h o s e enthusiastic San J o s e State a d ministrators first had h o p e d it w o u l d be.

In August

1985,

T h o m a s W e n d e l , the history professor w h o had s h e p h e r d e d t h e f l e d g l i n g c e n t e r s i n c e its i n c e p t i o n , h a d b e c o m e p r e s i d e n t o f its b o a r d a n d s u r r e n d e r e d its d a i l y a d m i n i s t r a t i o n t o t h i r t y one-year-old doctoral

William

degree

in

Meredith,

musicology

who earlier

had been that

awarded

month

by

a

the

U n i v e r s i t y o f N o r t h C a r o l i n a a t C h a p e l H i l l . T h e s e a r c h for a p e r m a n e n t d i r e c t o r h a d s p r e a d a s far f r o m S a n J o s e a s W e s t e r n E u r o p e , a n d several already r e n o w n e d B e e t h o v e n scholars had a p p l i e d for t h e p o s i t i o n . B u t M e r e d i t h c l e a r l y h a d p o s s e s s e d not

only

the

requisite

Beethoven

scholarship

but

also

the

y o u t h , e n e r g y , a n d self-effacing g e n i a l i t y t h a t t h e b o a r d h a d b e l i e v e d w o u l d b e essential q u a l i t i e s i n a successful d i r e c t o r . T h e d a t e for t h e d e d i c a t i o n o f t h e c e n t e r l o n g h a d b e e n


planned

for

September

15,

and

in

preparation

for it,

Ira

B r i l l i a n t h a d m a d e a c a s h p l e d g e o f $ 5 0 , 0 0 0 t o k i c k off a c a m paign a i m e d at raising an eventual $1.5 million e n d o w m e n t . H e a n d his w i f e also h a d c o m m i s s i o n e d t h e c o n s t r u c t i o n o f a f o r t e p i a n o that w o u l d resemble v e r y closely t h e k i n d o f i n strument that B e e t h o v e n himself had played and c o m p o s e d on as a y o u n g m a n . Built by instrument makers Paul and Janine P o l e t t i o f O a k d a l e , C a l i f o r n i a , i t w o u l d b e smaller, q u i e t e r , a n d m o r e fragile t h a n a c o n t e m p o r a r y p i a n o , a n d w o u l d h a v e less r a n g e a s w e l l , y e t its s o l i d w o o d c o n s t r u c t i o n a n d s e n s i t i v e a c tion w o u l d allow it to e c h o the kind of tones with w h i c h the c o m p o s e r a n d his a u d i e n c e s w o u l d h a v e b e e n i n t i m a t e l y familiar. An exact replica of a f o r t e p i a n o that was built circa 1 7 9 5 b y J o h a n n D u l c k e n i n M u n i c h , a n d for w h i c h D u l c k e n h a d drafted detailed plans, t h e i n s t r u m e n t w o u l d be h o u s e d at t h e c e n t e r itself, a n d w o u l d b e a gift

from

the Brilliants in

m e m o r y of their daughter. T h e A m e r i c a n B e e t h o v e n Society, a n o n p r o f i t organization o f B e e t h o v e n e n t h u s i a s t s d e d i c a t e d t o s u p p o r t i n g its e n d e a v o r s , h a d b e e n f o r m e d n o t l o n g after t h e c e n t e r g o t d o w n t o daily business, a n d Patricia Stroh, w h o h a d d e g r e e s i n b o t h music history

and

library

science,

soon

had

been

named

curator.

S u p p o r t e d i n t h e e n s u i n g y e a r s b y g r a n t s a n d gifts f r o m t h e N a t i o n a l E n d o w m e n t for t h e H u m a n i t i e s , t h e C a l i f o r n i a S t a t e Library, a n d n u m e r o u s private charitable trusts, t h e center's s u b s e q u e n t g r o w t h a n d its significant successes h a d b e e n b o t h swift a n d i m p r e s s i v e . B y t h e early w i n t e r d a y i n D e c e m b e r 1 9 9 3 w h e n Ira B r i l l i a n t f i r s t s u g g e s t e d t o his n e w f r i e n d C h e G u e v a r a t h a t h e t o o s h o u l d j o i n t h e B e e t h o v e n S o c i e t y i n s u p p o r t o f its


m y r i a d missions, the center had a c c u m u l a t e d nearly 3 0 0 first e d i t i o n s o f B e e t h o v e n ' s w o r k s , m o r e t h a n 1,600 early e d i t i o n s published d u r i n g t h e composer's lifetime, a n d a library of almost 3,400 b o o k s and scholarly m o n o g r a p h s in ten languages d e v o t e d t o t h e c o m p o s e r ' s life a n d m u s i c . A n a n n u a l p i a n o c o m p e t i t i o n for h i g h s c h o o l m u s i c i a n s o f e x c e p t i o n a l p r o m i s e h a d b e e n established, as h a d a B e e t h o v e n - i n - t h e - S c h o o l s p r o g r a m , a s w e l l a s f r e q u e n t B e e t h o v e n festivals, c o s p o n s o r e d w i t h t h e San Jose Symphony.

A n d the center's semiannual

Beethoven

Journal, e d i t e d b y M e r e d i t h , b y n o w h a d p u b l i s h e d articles, l e t ters, and c o m m e n t a r i e s by virtually every legendary B e e t h o v e n scholar in the world. M o r e t h a n a n y t h i n g else, i t w a s Ira B r i l l i a n t ' s c o m m u n i c a tions and interactions with those individuals—scholarly l u m i n a r i e s like J o s e p h K e r m a n , L e w i s L o c k w o o d , a n d M a y n a r d S o l o m o n i n t h e U n i t e d States; W i l l i a m K i n d e r m a n i n C a n a d a ; Barry C o o p e r and Alan Tyson in Great Britain; and Sieghard Brandenburg and

and

enormously

Hans-Werner influential

Kuthen

at

the

Beethoven-Archiv

renowned in

Bonn,

G e r m a n y — t h a t p r o v e d t o h i m t h a t his d r e a m a t last w a s b e i n g t r a n s f o r m e d i n t o a n u n a r g u a b l e k i n d o f reality. H e w a s a s i m p l e r e a l e s t a t e m a n , after all; for m a n y y e a r s h e h a d b e e n n o t h ing m o r e than a B e e t h o v e n layman, a m e r e foot soldier of s o r t s , y e t h i s l o n g - t e r m c o m m i t m e n t h a d r e s u l t e d i n his early seventies in b u r g e o n i n g friendships w i t h the world's foremost a u t h o r i t i e s o n B e e t h o v e n ' s life a n d h i s w o r k . T h e y c a l l e d h i m b y his f i r s t n a m e , h e w a s p r o u d t o n o t e , a n d b y n o w h e c a l l e d t h e m b y t h e i r s a s w e l l ; t h e y r e s p e c t e d his w i d e - r a n g i n g s t o r e of k n o w l e d g e ; they recognized w h a t an important institution


the center he had established had b e c o m e , and, to a p e r s o n , it w a s c l e a r t h a t t h e y w e r e b e g u i l e d a s w e l l b y Ira B r i l l i a n t ' s p r o f o u n d a n d particular passion. I n all h i s y e a r s o f c o l l e c t i n g , h o w e v e r , B r i l l i a n t n e v e r h a d b e e n able t o a c q u i r e a f i n e f i r s t e d i t i o n o f B e e t h o v e n ' s O p u s 1 , the Piano Trios n u m b e r s 1-3, w h i c h had been published in 1 7 9 5 , t h r e e y e a r s after t h e c o m p o s e r ' s m o v e t o V i e n n a f r o m B o n n . B e e t h o v e n was by no means widely r e n o w n e d in those early days, a n d o n l y a handful o ^ t h e first edition of t h e trios s u r v i v e d t o t h e p r e s e n t day. N o t o n l y w a s a f i r s t - e d i t i o n s c o r e r a r e , b u t its o p u s n u m b e r l e n t i t a p a r t i c u l a r c a c h e t ,

and

B r i l l i a n t a n d t h e c e n t e r ' s staff w e r e e a g e r t o f i n d a c o p y a n d a c q u i r e it, i f its c o s t w e r e n o t t o o d e a r . A n d i t w a s i n e a r l y November

1994

that g o o d fortune

m o r e in the mail.

seemed to arrive once

In t h e catalog for Sotheby's s e m i a n n u a l

b o o k s and music auction, Brilliant spotted precisely w h a t he h a d b e e n l o o k i n g for: l o t n u m b e r 2 7 , t o b e s o l d i n L o n d o n o n D e c e m b e r 1, was a first-edition O p u s 1 in excellent c o n d i t i o n . Sotheby's estimate that it was w o r t h ÂŁ 1 , 5 0 0 - 2 , 0 0 0 was a bit daunting,

b u t Brilliant quickly d e t e r m i n e d to

do what

he

c o u l d t o s e c u r e it. H e w o u l d m a k e a s g e n e r o u s a p l e d g e a s h e c o u l d , a n d o t h e r k e y s u p p o r t e r s o f t h e c e n t e r likely w o u l d d o so as well, and t o g e t h e r surely they c o u l d a r m English agent R i c h a r d M a c n u t t w i t h f u n d s sufficient for its p u r c h a s e . B u t t h e r e w a s s o m e t h i n g else i n t h e c a t a l o g t h a t also q u i c k l y c a u g h t his e y e . I n t h e t w o d e c a d e s s i n c e h e h a d b e c o m e a c o l lector, h e n e v e r h a d e n c o u n t e r e d h u m a n remains o f any k i n d b e i n g offered at a u c t i o n , yet t h e r e it was unmistakably: lot 3 3 , its

value

estimated

at

ÂŁ2,000-3,000

and

its

authenticity


certified as unassailable, w a s a lock of t h e great B e e t h o v e n ' s hair. W h e n h e b r o a c h e d t h e p o s s i b i l i t y o f p u r c h a s i n g t h e l o c k o f hair w i t h M e r e d i t h and W e n d e l , b o t h w e r e i m m e d i a t e l y e n thusiastic,

and

then

Brilliant

remembered

his

friend

in

Nogales. H e w a s a b l e t o r e a c h C h e G u e v a r a a t his c l i n i c a t t h e c l o s e o f t h e day, a n d B r i l l i a n t f i r s t r e m i n d e d his f r i e n d t h a t h e h a d asked h i m to find a suitable B e e t h o v e n m e m e n t o s o m e t i m e . Y e s , o f c o u r s e , t h e d o c t o r r e m e m b e r e d . I n t h a t case, a n d n o w b a r e l y c o n c e a l i n g his e x c i t e m e n t , t h e s e n i o r m a n p o s e d a s u b sequent question: w o u l d C h e by chance be interested in acq u i r i n g a b i t o f L u d w i g v a n B e e t h o v e n ' s hair? It

was

an

extraordinary

notion—a

lock

of the

master's

h a i r t h a t o n e d a y h e m i g h t h o l d i n t h e p a l m o f his h a n d , B e e t h o v e n h i m s e l f a l i v e a g a i n , o r a t least u n d e n i a b l y a m o n g the he

living—and would

Che

pledge

Guevara

$5,000

enthusiastically

toward

its

affirmed

acquisition.

that

Brilliant

t h a n k e d h i m b o t h for his g e n e r o s i t y a n d his q u i c k d e c i s i o n , b u t he cautioned h i m that, based on Sotheby's o w n projections, i t m i g h t t a k e t w i c e t h a t a m o u n t t o s e c u r e it. Y e t h e t o o c o u l d c o n t r i b u t e , a n d surely t h e r e w e r e a few o t h e r m e m b e r s of the B e e t h o v e n Society w h o might as well. He w o u l d do w h a t he c o u l d to p u t t o g e t h e r a small c o n s o r t i u m of b u y e r s , a n d t h e y w o u l d m a k e t h e i r b e s t c o l l e c t i v e effort t o b r i n g t o the relic.

United

States

this

unlikely but

enormously

intriguing

I m a g i n e it, t h e t w o m e n u r g e d e a c h o t h e r : a b i t o f

B e e t h o v e n ' s hair.


THE

FIRST

ORDER

OF

B U S I N E S S was t o marshal the f i -

nancial resources that w o u l d be necessary to acquire b o t h the O p u s 1 s c o r e a n d t h e l o c k o f hair. D u r i n g t h e s u c c e e d i n g d a y s , A m e r i c a n B e e t h o v e n Society president T o m W e n d e l eagerly added $ 5 0 0 to the hair-acquisition pot, as did longtime s u p porter Caroline C r u m m e y ; C h e Guevara had pledged $5,000, o f c o u r s e ; B r i l l i a n t also c o u l d c o n t r i b u t e $ 2 , 0 0 0 o r s o o v e r a n d above the a m o u n t he had c o m m i t t e d to O p u s 1, but as he tallied t h e several c o n t r i b u t i o n s , he^believed he c o u l d a u t h o r i z e his agent R i c h a r d M a c n u t t t o bid n o h i g h e r t h a n £ 4 , 2 0 0 . T h a t a m o u n t might f e t c h t h e r e l i c , b u t w h o k n e w ? T h e i t e m at a u c t i o n w o u l d b e B e e t h o v e n h i m s e l f , i n p o i n t o f fact, s o i t s e e m e d entirely possible that s o m e o n e s o m e w h e r e i n t h e w o r l d m i g h t b e w i l l i n g t o s p e n d a p r i n c e l y s u m t o s e c u r e it. W h e n h e f a x e d h i s f i n a l i n s t r u c t i o n s t o M a c n u t t a f e w d a y s b e f o r e t h e sale, B r i l l i a n t m a d e i t c l e a r t o his a g e n t t h a t , s h o u l d t h e y fail i n t h e i r attempt to acquire O p u s 1 as lot 27 was auctioned, t h e n he s h o u l d b e a g g r e s s i v e i n his a t t e m p t t o a c q u i r e t w o o t h e r , i f d e c i d e d l y lesser, B e e t h o v e n f i r s t e d i t i o n s t h a t also w o u l d b e a u c t i o n e d . I f t h e y lost O p u s 1 — a n d h e s o r e l y h o p e d t h e y w o u l d n o t — M a c n u t t t h e n s h o u l d f o c u s his efforts o n t h e m , a s w e l l a s that b e g u i l i n g bit of hair h e l d in a small black l o c k e t that w a s labeled lot 3 3 . A fax f r o m L o n d o n w a s w a i t i n g for Ira B r i l l i a n t w h e n h e g o t out of bed on the m o r n i n g of D e c e m b e r 2, 1994, and the news from R i c h a r d M a c n u t t was both bad and good. T h e O p u s 1 s c o r e h a d s o l d for £ 6 , 5 0 0 , m o r e t h a n t h r e e t i m e s t h e S o t h e b y ' s estimate, a n d almost twice w h a t he had b e e n authorized to bid.


O n t h e o t h e r h a n d , M a c n u t t h a d b e e n successful i n a c q u i r i n g t h e " F a r e w e l l S o n g " a n d S e r e n a d e for F l u t e a n d F o r t e p i a n o first e d i t i o n s , a n d y e s , h e also h a d p u r c h a s e d o n B r i l l i a n t ' s b e h a l f t h e l o c k o f B e e t h o v e n ' s hair. N o o n e h a d c h o s e n t o b e t t e r M a c n u t t s high b i d o f ÂŁ 3 , 6 0 0 for lot 3 3 , a n d a l t h o u g h h e had b e e n p r e p a r e d to go a g o o d bit higher, of course, t h e gavel h a d fallen

before

he

had

been

forced

to

do

so—meaning

that

Guevara, Brilliant, and their partners w o u l d spend a total of about $7,300 o n c e Sotheby's surcharge, M a c n u t t s commission, a n d t h e s h i p p i n g c h a r g e s w e r e tallied. M a c n u t t i n f o r m e d his client that a l t h o u g h the b i d d i n g on t h e hair had b e e n brisk at its o u t s e t , i t q u i c k l y h a d r e a c h e d its u p p e r l i m i t s , a n d , g i v e n w h a t t h e y m i g h t h a v e h a d t o pay, M a c n u t t w r o t e t h a t h e b e lieved the w i n n i n g price " w a s in a sense quite comfortable." H i s hair. Ira B r i l l i a n t a n d his p a r t n e r s n o w a c t u a l l y o w n e d a b i t o f B e e t h o v e n ' s hair. N o t h i n g a k i n t o i t m i g h t e v e r b e offered again, he realized before a n o t h e r n o t i o n nearly buckled his k n e e s . H e a n d I r m a a n d C h e G u e v a r a a n d their cluster o f associates i n S a n J o s e s o o n w o u l d b e a b l e t o h o l d s o m e t h i n g o f the great m a n himself in their quavering hands. It truly was e x t r a o r d i n a r y , b u t h e t r i e d t o b e c a l m a s h e p l a c e d a n u r g e n t call to Nogales. " D o y o u h a v e y o u r c o m b r e a d y ? " h e asked w h e n h e h e a r d C h e Guevara's voice.

I R M A B R I L L I A N T W A S M A D E M O R E t h a n a little u n e a s y b y t h e p a c k a g e t h a t sat u n o p e n e d o n h e r h u s b a n d ' s d e s k for t h r e e


full d a y s . T h e c i r c u m s t a n c e s d i d n o t s e e m t o h e r t o b e v e r y different from possessing the c r e m a t e d remains of a stranger, alb e i t o n e w h o h a d b e e n h e l d i n t h e h i g h e s t r e g a r d . Finally, h o w e v e r , Ira w a s r e a d y t o o p e n t h e p a c k a g e ; t h e r e h a d b e e n a m o u n t i n g k i n d o f p l e a s u r e for h i m i n l e t t i n g i t sit u n a t t e n d e d , in k n o w i n g w h a t treasure it contained yet keeping that treas u r e a t bay, a n d t h e n , i n m u c h t h e s a m e w a y h e h a d w i t h h i s first B e e t h o v e n letter t w o decades before, he spent most of an h o u r meticulously u n w r a p p i n g th^ Sotheby's packaging before a t last h e h e l d t h e b l a c k - f r a m e l o c k e t i n his h a n d s a n d s a w w i t h astonishment the hair that had g r o w n on the head of the m a n w h o m he revered m o r e than any other. W h e n Brilliant a n d h e m e t i n T u c s o n a few days h e n c e , C h e G u e v a r a r e s p o n d e d i n k i n d t o his f i r s t g l i m p s e o f this m o s t u n likely p r i z e . N e i t h e r m a n s p o k e for a m o m e n t w h e n B r i l l i a n t r e m o v e d t h e l o c k e t f r o m t h e small b o x i n w h i c h h e h a d c a r ried it from P h o e n i x , a n d their silence b e s p o k e their shared e m o t i o n s . T h i s hair, this r e m a r k a b l e r e l i c o f B e e t h o v e n h i m self, w a s n o t s o m e t h i n g t h e y h a d e n d e a v o r e d for y e a r s t o o b t a i n ; n e i t h e r m a n , i n fact, h a d k n o w n o f its e x i s t e n c e j u s t six weeks before, yet the improbable dispatch with w h i c h it had c o m e into their possession didn't diminish in any w a y the p r o fundity of that m o m e n t in w h i c h they first v i e w e d it together. It was at that s a m e m e e t i n g , h o w e v e r , w h e n a significant m i s u n d e r s t a n d i n g b e t w e e n t h e m first c a m e i n t o focus as well. A l t h o u g h p r i o r t o t h e a u c t i o n t h e t w o h a d d i s c u s s e d t h e fact t h a t t h e y w o u l d d i v i d e t h e h a i r i f i t b e c a m e t h e i r s , its a c q u i s i t i o n h a d b e e n u n c e r t a i n e n o u g h t h a t t h e p a r t i c u l a r s o f t h e split n e v e r h a d b e e n discussed. N o w that t h e lock o f hair b e l o n g e d


t o t h e m , h o w e v e r , i t w a s t i m e t o b e g i n t o settle issues o f t h a t sort, a n d G u e v a r a m a d e it clear that it s e e m e d to h i m that t h e division should be based on the a m o u n t each had invested. It s e e m e d t o h i m t h a t s i n c e h e h a d p a i d $ 5 , 0 0 0 o f its $ 7 , 3 0 0 c o s t , t w o - t h i r d s of the hair therefore b e l o n g e d to h i m . B u t Brilliant w a s q u i c k t o d i s a g r e e . A s h e s a w it, G u e v a r a h a d s u p p l i e d t h e largest s h a r e o f t h e hair's p u r c h a s e p r i c e , y e s , b u t o n t h e o t h e r h a n d , i t w a s h e w h o f i r s t h a d l e a r n e d o f t h e p e n d i n g sale, w h o h a d e m p l o y e d his E n g l i s h a g e n t i n its a c q u i s i t i o n , w h o h a d paid the entire cost o f the t w o f i r s t editions, a n d w h o w o u l d have been willing as well to spend m o r e than the $1,300 he ultimately

had

contributed

to

the

hair's

purchase

if he

had

n e e d e d t o d o so. B r i l l i a n t d i d n o t offer his o w n p r o p o s a l for h o w the hair should b e d i v i d e d — w h a t seemed equitable simp l y w a s n ' t c l e a r t o h i m a s y e t — b u t h e d i d say t h a t h e h o p e d m u c h o f the hair ultimately w o u l d b e h o u s e d — i n p e r p e t u i t y — a t the B e e t h o v e n C e n t e r in San Jose. T h e t w o m e n agreed to give the matter m o r e thought, and s o o n t h e s u b j e c t o f t h e i r c o n v e r s a t i o n shifted. M i g h t i t m a k e s e n s e , D r . G u e v a r a w o n d e r e d , t o test a b i t o f t h e hair, t o h a v e i t e x a m i n e d b y f o r e n s i c scientists? W a s i t p o s s i b l e t h a t t e s t i n g o f t h e h a i r t h a t lay o n t h e t a b l e b e t w e e n t h e m m i g h t b e able t o announce

something

conclusive

about

the

last

days

of

B e e t h o v e n ' s life? C o u l d i t d e m o n s t r a t e w h a t m e d i c a t i o n s h e h a d c o n s u m e d ? C o u l d i t c o n c e i v a b l y e x p l a i n t h e r e a s o n s for h i s c h r o n i c i n t e s t i n a l distress, o r e v e n d e c i p h e r his deafness? T h i s w a s a t h r i l l i n g t h i n g for t h e t w o m e n t o c o n s i d e r : i n his Heiligenstadt Testament, p e n n e d nearly t w o h u n d r e d years b e fore, B e e t h o v e n himself h a d expressed t h e h o p e that o n e day


t h e r e a s o n s f o r h i s h e a r i n g loss m i g h t b e d e t e r m i n e d a n d m a d e p u b l i c , a n d n o w p e r h a p s t h e t w o o f t h e m c o u l d h e l p fulfill t h e c o m p o s e r s poignant request. Was

that

the reason why, they

asked themselves, the hair s o serendipitously h a d c o m e t o t h e m ?

U N D E R U S U A L C I R C U M S T A N C E S , I T I S Sotheby's policy n o t to disclose t h e sources of the^objects it presents at a u c t i o n . B u t o n t h i s o c c a s i o n — o n t h e a p p e a l o f Ira B r i l l i a n t a n d C h e Guevara and, of course, because of the r e n o w n of the m a n whose

hair

the

locket

contained—Stephen

Roe,

head

of

Sotheby's B o o k s and Manuscripts D e p a r t m e n t , agreed to c o n tact t h e p r e v i o u s o w n e r o f t h e hair, e x p l a i n i n g t h a t t h e p e o p l e w h o n o w h e l d i t h o p e d t h e y m i g h t l e a r n s o m e t h i n g o f its p a r t i c u l a r a n d unlikely p r o v e n a n c e . R o e m a d e i t clear w h e n h e w r o t e t o M i c h e l e Wassard Larsen i n D e n m a r k that she w a s under no obligation whatsoever to surrender her anonymity or t o describe h o w the lock o f hair h a d c o m e into h e r possession, but, as it h a p p e n e d , she was very willing indeed. T w o m o n t h s after t h e a r r i v a l o f B e e t h o v e n ' s h a i r i n A m e r i c a , i t w a s f o l l o w e d by a letter posted from Hillerod and mailed to t h e B e e t h o v e n C e n t e r i n San Jose. " H e l l o ! " t h e t y p e d missive called o u t ,

My n a m e is T h o m a s Wassard Larsen, and i am w r i t i n g to y o u a b o u t a lock of B e e t h o v e n s hair, sold by Sotheby's a u k tions i L o n d o n . I h o p e you understand the m e e n i n g with this l e t t e r , b e c a u s e i ' m n o t v e r y g o o d a t w r i t i n g i n e n g l i s h .


T h e l o c k w a s o w n e d b y m y m o t h e r , w h o h a d t o sell i t due to h e r economical situation. My m o t h e r M i c h e l e was b o r n in France a cupple of years before 2.nd w o r l d war. D u r i n g w.w.2 my g r a n d m o t h e r had 8 kids i n c l u d i n g my m o t h e r , a n d s h e c o u l d n o t feed t h e m all s o t h e r e f o r e m y m o t h e r w a s a d o p t e d b y a n i c e family i n D e n m a r k . S h e was n o w in the age of 8 years. My m o t h e r s n e w parents w e r e a D o c t o r and a nurse who

lived

Gilleleje. Sweden,

in This

a

little

little

town

town

in

was

North one

Sealand

of the

called

closest

to

t o w i t c h m a n y j u d e s f l e e d d u r i n g 2 . n d w.w.

M a n y o f these j u d e s w e r e w e r y p o o r and s o m e o f t h e m h a d s o m awfull d e c e a s e s . M y m o t h e r s n e w father w h o was a d o c t o r h e l p e d m a n y o f t h e s e j u d e s , i n t h e start o n l y w i t h m e d i c i n , b u t l a t e r h e w o r k e d t o g e t h e r w i t h t h e local f i s h e r m e n , i n t h e n i g h t t o smuggel j u d e s to S w e d e n . It was o n e of these j u d e s w h o g a v e t h e l o c k o f B e e t h o v e n s h a i r t o h i m for his h e l p . M y g r a n d f a t h e r k e p t t h i s m e d a l l i o n u n t i l his d e a d i n 1 9 6 9 , t h e same year that i was b o r n .

T h o m a s Larsen w a n t e d the locket's n e w o w n e r s t o k n o w h o w pleased h e a n d his m o t h e r w e r e that B e e t h o v e n ' s hair h a d g o n e t o p e o p l e w h o g r e a t l y a p p r e c i a t e d it, w h o w o u l d h o n o r i t a s t h e y a l w a y s h a d . A n d y e s , h e said, t h e y w o u l d w e l c o m e c o n t i n u e d c o m m u n i c a t i o n a n d w o u l d offer w h a t e v e r h e l p t h e y could

in

unraveling m o r e

of the

locket's

history.

Thomas


L a r s e n k n e w t h a t his g r a n d f a t h e r h a d b e e n a h u m a n i t a r i a n , t o b e s u r e , b u t t h e y o u n g m a n also w i s h e d t o k n o w m o r e a b o u t w h o t h e J e w s h a d b e e n a n d h o w his g r a n d f a t h e r h a d h e l p e d t h e m survive. W e r e t h e y called Hiller t o o , their n a m e t h e s a m e a s t h e o n e i n s c r i b e d o n t h e l o c k e t ? T h e y h a d r e a c h e d safety i n Sweden, he hoped, but then what had become of them? W h a t T h o m a s Larsen's letter c o n v e y e d was d u m b f o u n d i n g n e w information: it appeared that L u d w i g van B e e t h o v e n — m o s t u n w i t t i n g l y a n d far m o r e t h ^ i a c e n t u r y after h i s d e a t h — h a d p l a y e d a small y e t n o n e t h e l e s s s i g n i f i c a n t r o l e i n h e l p i n g J e w s escape the G e r m a n killing m a c h i n e . It was n e w s that t r a n s f i x e d Ira B r i l l i a n t i n p a r t i c u l a r — h e h a d f o u g h t against t h e N a z i s a n d w a s a J e w h i m s e l f — a n d s o o n after t h e r e c e i p t o f t h e letter, t h e y o u n g D a n e ' s q u e r i e s b e c a m e questions h e n o w r e solved to try to answer, solutions to these enigmas suddenly every bit as i m p o r t a n t to h i m as w e r e the potential explanat i o n s o f B e e t h o v e n ' s diseases t h a t f o r e n s i c scientists s o m e d a y m i g h t deliver. Like T h o m a s Larsen, Brilliant a n d G u e v a r a a n d e v e r y o n e i n A m e r i c a a s s o c i a t e d w i t h this i m p r o b a b l e l o c k o f hair n o w h o p e d they could succeed in tracking the descendants o f P a u l H i l l e r a n d his father, F e r d i n a n d , t h e m a n w h o h a d m e t t h e m i g h t y B e e t h o v e n a n d w h o s e c r e t e d t h e relic a w a y . I n t h e t u m u l t u o u s a f t e r m a t h o f W o r l d W a r II, d i d m e m b e r s o f t h e H i l l e r f a m i l y t r a v e l o n t o E n g l a n d , t o t h e U n i t e d States, o r t o t h e n a s c e n t state t h a t w a s t a k i n g s h a p e i n P a l e s t i n e ? H a d t h e y b e e n a b l e t o r e p a i r t h e i r lives i n t h e d e c a d e s b e t w e e n t h e w a r and now? H a d they—as the great composer had d o n e — e v e n tually f o u n d a w a y to o v e r c o m e awful adversity?


I N T H E M O N T H S S I N C E T H E p u r c h a s e o f B e e t h o v e n ' s hair, Ira B r i l l i a n t , C h e G u e v a r a , a n d t h e c e n t e r ' s staff h a d b e g u n t o discuss i n s o m e detail t h e possibility o f t e s t i n g t h e hair, a n d h a d h a d p r e l i m i n a r y c o n v e r s a t i o n s w i t h s c i e n t i s t s a s far a w a y a s t h e Massachusetts Institute of T e c h n o l o g y and as near at h a n d as t h e L a w r e n c e - L i v e r m o r e N u c l e a r L a b o r a t o r i e s , less t h a n a n hour's d r i v e f r o m t h e B e e t h o v e n C e n t e r i n San Jose. B u t l o n g b e f o r e a n y analysis c o u l d b e g i n , t h e issue o f t h e hair's o w n e r s h i p a n d its d i v i s i o n h a d n e e d e d t o b e d e c i d e d , a n d b y t h e e a r l y s u m m e r o f 1 9 9 5 , Brilliant h a d s u g g e s t e d this possible r e s o l u t i o n t o G u e v a r a : m o s t o f t h e h a i r , 7 3 p e r c e n t o f it, i n fact, would b e c o m e property of the Beethoven Center, w h e r e it w o u l d remain in perpetuity, and w h e r e it conceivably could be m a d e a v a i l a b l e s o m e t i m e far i n t o t h e f u t u r e for t e s t i n g w i t h f o r e n s i c t o o l s t h a t d i d n o t exist i n t h e p r e s e n t day. I t w o u l d b e labeled the " G u e v a r a Lock of Beethoven's H a i r " in a c k n o w l e d g m e n t o f t h e p h y s i c i a n ' s k e y r o l e i n its p u r c h a s e a n d o f his g e n e r o u s gift t o t h e c e n t e r . T h e r e m a i n d e r o f t h e h a i r w o u l d b e c o m e C h e G u e v a r a ' s sole possession, a n d h e c o u l d d o w i t h it what he chose, although the center w o u l d have the first o p t i o n t o p u r c h a s e i t i f i t e v e r w e r e o f f e r e d for sale. A n y c o n t e m p o r a r y testing w o u l d e m p l o y strands f r o m this p o r t i o n o f the

lock,

maker

and

with

Guevara

regard

to

himself w o u l d be what

tests

were

the

key

performed

decision and

by

whom. At

Ira B r i l l i a n t ' s

urging and in advance

o f his

response,

G u e v a r a h a d t r a v e l e d t o S a n J o s e t h a t s u m m e r t o visit t h e c e n t e r f o r t h e f i r s t t i m e a s a m e a n s o f g a u g i n g its m i s s i o n a n d its


m e r i t s for himself, a s w e l l a s t o a t t e n d t h e a n n u a l " B e e t h o v e n B a s h " s p o n s o r e d b y t h e A m e r i c a n B e e t h o v e n Society. W h i l e t h e r e , his i m p r o m p t u c h e e r l e a d i n g h a d s u c c e e d e d i n r a i s i n g t h e final portion renowned

of funds

1814

needed

to

Letronne-Hofel

purchase Beethoven

a

print

of the

engraving,

and

B r i l l i a n t h a d c o m e a w a y f r o m t h e i r j o i n t visit t o C a l i f o r n i a hopeful that t h e physician ultimately w o u l d agree that San Jose was the place w h e r e m o s t o f t h e hair b e l o n g e d . A n d s o o n t h e r e a f t e r , G u e v a r a h a d , i n fact, r e ^ h e d t h e s a m e c o n c l u s i o n ; h e h a d c o n s u l t e d b o t h h i s h e a r t a n d his p i l l o w , h e i n f o r m e d h i s f r i e n d , a n d h e w o u l d agree t o Brilliant's p r o p o s e d disposition o f t h e l o c k o f h a i r t h a t h e n c e f o r t h w o u l d b e a r his n a m e . Several m o r e m o n t h s passed before contracts w e r e r e a d y t o sign certifying t h e t e r m s o f t h e a g r e e m e n t , a n d b e f o r e C h e Guevara had succeeded in assembling a team of medical and scientific c o l l e a g u e s w h o w o u l d t a k e t h e f i r s t s t e p i n a f o r e n s i c p r o c e s s t h a t likely w o u l d t a k e s o m e y e a r s t o c o m p l e t e . B u t f i nally, o n t h e m o r n i n g o f D e c e m b e r 1 2 , 1 9 9 5 , all t h e n e c e s s a r y advance w o r k had been completed and a coterie of interested individuals w e r e prepared to m e e t at the University of Arizona M e d i c a l C e n t e r for t h e s i g n i n g o f t h e d o c u m e n t s a n d t h e n a t last t o o p e n t h e l o c k e t t h a t h e l d t h e p r e c i o u s h a i r — t h e f i r s t time

its

contents

had

been

exposed

since

frame

maker

H e r m a n n Grosshennig had refurbished the locket in C o l o g n e precisely e i g h t y - f o u r years before. Dr. G u e v a r a himself w o u l d p e r f o r m a s o r t o f s u r g e r y o n t h e l o c k e t late i n t h e m o r n i n g . O b s e r v i n g a n d offering their separate kinds of expertise w o u l d be conservator N a n c y Odegaard, Dr. George Drach, a professor

of urology

for

whom

Guevara

felt

great

loyalty

and


affection, a n d forensic a n t h r o p o l o g i s t D r . W a l t e r Birkby, e a c h from the

University

of Arizona;

forensic

pathologist

Dr.

R i c h a r d Froede, a former Pima C o u n t y medical examiner; a n d Ira a n d I r m a B r i l l i a n t , o f c o u r s e . A n d t h e r e w o u l d b e o t h ers w a t c h i n g t h e p r o c e d u r e as well: local television n e w s teams and print reporters w o u l d attend; A m y Stevens, a

Journal

Wall Street

staff r e p o r t e r , also w o u l d b e o n h a n d ; a n d a B r i t i s h

B r o a d c a s t i n g C o m p a n y c r e w w o u l d film t h e e v e n t a s p a r t o f a d o c u m e n t a r y t h e y w e r e p r o d u c i n g o n B e e t h o v e n ' s life a n d music. I t w a s g o i n g t o b e a t h r i l l i n g day, a n d Ira B r i l l i a n t h a d b e e n e a g e r t o g e t u n d e r w a y b e f o r e t h e traffic g o t b a d e a r l y o n t h a t T u e s d a y . H e w a s e x c i t e d , o f c o u r s e , b u t h e also felt c u r i o u s l y b e m u s e d a s h e n e g o t i a t e d his w a y t h r o u g h t h e c r u s h o f cars o n I n t e r s t a t e 1 0 . I t w a s all s o w i l d l y u n l i k e l y , w a s n ' t it? H e w a s l i v ing a kind of d r e a m , and it was truly hard to believe these i m probable circumstances: there in the backseat of the Buick en r o u t e to T u c s o n was a small a n d i n c o n s p i c u o u s b o x inside of w h i c h w a s C h e Guevara's hair—carefully coiled strands that were,

in

Beethoven

point

o f fact,

himself.

a

miraculous

bit

of L u d w i g

van


B Y T H E M I D D L E O F T H E 1820S, B e e t h o v e n r e q u i r e d r e g u lar assistance n o t o n l y w i t h m u s i c a l a n d f i n a n c i a l affairs, b u t also w i t h his r a t h e r m o r e m u n d a n e d o m e s t i c r e q u i s i t e s . I n t h e t h i r t y - t w o years h e h a d lived i n and a r o u n d V i e n n a , h e h a d never bought a h o m e — a l t h o u g h he long had had the means to d o s o — i n largest part b e c a u s e s o m e t h i n g i n h i m d e m a n d e d a c o n s t a n t c h a n g e o f s c e n e , b u t also b e c a u s e h e a n d l a n d l o r d s q u i c k l y t e n d e d t o f i n d c a u s e s for q u a r r e l . W i t h e a c h o f h i s m o r e than forty moves, B e e t h o v e n had prevailed u p o n friends, t h e n l a t e r f r i e n d s a n d s e r v a n t s , t o assist h i m , all o f w h o m w e r e w e l l a w a r e t h a t t h e r e q u e s t s u r e l y w o u l d b e r e p e a t e d w i t h i n six


m o n t h s o r so. A l t h o u g h h e c o u l d b e s h r e w d i n n e g o t i a t i n g w i t h m u s i c p u b l i s h e r s t h e p r i c e h e w o u l d c h a r g e for a n e w piece, he was notoriously p o o r at household computations, c o n c l u d i n g o n e t i m e after m u c h difficult c o g i t a t i o n t h a t t h e s u m o f e l e v e n h a l v e s m u s t t o t a l t e n a n d a half. A n d o n c e s e r vants h a d b e c o m e integral t o his h o u s e h o l d , h e e v e n h a d r e quired advice about h o w he o u g h t to

interact with t h e m .

" W h a t o u g h t o n e t o g i v e 2 s e r v a n t s t o eat a t d i n n e r a n d s u p per b o t h as to quantity and quality?" he had inquired of a friend. " W h a t allowance p e r day d o t h e h o u s e k e e p e r and m a i d receive? H o w about the washing? D o the housekeeper and maid get m o r e ? H o w m u c h w i n e and beer? D o e s o n e give i t to t h e m and w h e n ? Breakfast?" Servants had c o m e and g o n e constantly d u r i n g the years in w h i c h h e h a d b e e n able t o afford t h e i r s e r v i c e s ; m o s t h e w o u l d fire w i t h i n t w o m o n t h s of their arrival, a few w o u l d vanish after o n l y a d a y o f t h e d e a f m a n ' s t i r a d e s a n d w i l d d e m a n d s . N e p h e w K a r l n o w t r i e d t o b e w i t h his u n c l e a s o f t e n a s his university

studies

permitted,

and

when

Schindler

and

Beethoven parted c o m p a n y in the wake of Beethoven's accus a t i o n s a b o u t p u r l o i n e d r e c e i p t s f r o m t h e gala c o n c e r t a t w h i c h his N i n t h S y m p h o n y w a s p r e m i e r e d , h e w a s r e p l a c e d — b u t still w i t h o u t p a y m e n t — b y K a r l H o l z , also a v i o l i n i s t , y e t o n e w h o w a s rather m o r e gifted t h a n

Schindler in that regard,

and

s o m e o n e o f w h o m B e e t h o v e n g r e w v e r y fond d u r i n g the year before Holz's marriage quite curtailed the a m o u n t of time and assistance h e w a s able t o offer. I n m u c h t h e s a m e w a y t h a t t h e y always had,

Beethoven's benefactors and longtime friends—

w h o , o f c o u r s e , w e r e d r a w n t o h i m for t h e m u s i c h e m a d e , b u t


also b e c a u s e s o m e t h i n g a b o u t t h e irascible o l d g o a t w a s c u r i o u s l y d e a r a n d e v e n l o v a b l e — c o n t i n u e d t o visit h i m w i t h r e g ularity, a l w a y s i n q u i r i n g a b o u t h i s w e l f a r e a n d e n j o y i n g h i s g o o d c o m p a n y o n t h o s e d a y s w h e n his s p i r i t s w e r e b r i g h t . G o o d m o o d s , h o w e v e r , w e r e l i m i t e d b y e v e r m o r e illness. W h e n his o n g o i n g gastrointestinal w o e s a n d yet a n o t h e r u n r e m i t t i n g fever sent h i m to b e d in t h e spring of 1826, D r . A n t o n Braunhofer, a well-respected professor at t h e university, p r e s c r i b e d a s t r i c t d i e t a b s e n t coffe^, w i n e , s p i r i t s , o r spices o f a n y k i n d , o n e t h a t s e e m e d far m o r e c r u e l t h a n p o t e n t i a l l y p a l liative t o t h e p a t i e n t w h o h a d few pleasures. B u t t h e fever s l o w l y s u b s i d e d e n o u g h t h a t B e e t h o v e n w a s able t o t r a v e l i n M a y t o t h e n e a r b y spa t o w n o f B a d e n , w h e r e t h e d o c t o r h o p e d daily m i n e r a l b a t h s also m i g h t b e efficacious. Y e t B e e t h o v e n ' s c o n d i t i o n did n o t s o o n i m p r o v e . " W e are in bad health—still v e r y w e a k and belching and so forth," he r e p o r t e d in a letter to Braunhofer. "I think that a stronger m e d i c i n e is g o i n g to be necessary, b u t o n e w h i c h is n o t b i n d i n g . A n d n o w surely I s h o u l d b e a l l o w e d t o d r i n k w h i t e w i n e d i l u t e d w i t h w a t e r , for that mephitic beer is simply revolting. My catarrhal c o n d i t i o n is as f o l l o w s : I still spit a g o o d d e a l of b l o o d , b u t o n l y from my w i n d p i p e , I p r e s u m e . B l o o d also f r e q u e n t l y f l o w s f r o m m y n o s e and m y s t o m a c h has b e c o m e dreadfully w e a k , a n d s o has, generally, m y w h o l e c o n s t i t u t i o n . " Still c a p a b l e , h o w e v e r , o f a b i t o f m e r r i m e n t , h e c l o s e d his l e t t e r w i t h t h e n o t a t i o n o f a s h o r t , s i x t e e n - b a r c a n o n , its t w o l i n e s s t a t i n g , t h e n r e p e a t i n g t h e playful p h r a s e , " C l o s e t h e d o o r a g a i n s t d e a t h , D o c t o r ; I plead that these notes will help w i t h my need." D e s p i t e t h e c o n t i n u a l trials o f illness, B e e t h o v e n ' s ability t o


m a k e m u s i c h a d n o t y e t b e e n r e d u c e d solely t o t h e c o m p o s i n g of comical ditties, h o w e v e r . A l t h o u g h he had n o t w r i t t e n a string quartet since 1810, he had b e e n intrigued three years b e f o r e b y R u s s i a n p r i n c e N i c o l a s G a l i t z i n ' s offer t o c o m m i s sion three quartets, w h i c h , by advance arrangement, w o u l d be d e d i c a t e d t o h i m . T h e p r i n c e h a d let B e e t h o v e n set his o w n price and the c o m p o s e r in t u r n had assured h i m that the first quartet could be finished quite soon, but the demands made by

t h e Missa solemnis a n d t h e N i n t h S y m p h o n y h a d , i n fact, d e layed the quartet's c o m p l e t i o n until February 1825. B e e t h o v e n always had f o u n d s o m e t h i n g wonderfully therapeutic in the c o m p o s i t i o n o f m u s i c — i t w a s t h e sole m e d i c a t i o n h e r e l i a b l y c o u l d c o u n t o n — a n d this t i m e h e also t o o k p a r t i c u l a r p l e a s u r e i n r e t u r n i n g t o a f o r m h e l o n g h a d o v e r l o o k e d . W h i l e still i n B a d e n , w h e r e daily m i n e r a l b a t h s a t last s e e m e d t o b e h e l p i n g h i m a s w e l l , h e set t o w o r k o n t h e s e c o n d q u a r t e t , w h i c h h e quickly completed. T h e quartet's

molto adagio

third m o v e m e n t

was a " H y m n of thanksgiving to the Almighty, in the Lydian m o d e , offered by a convalescent," he w r o t e on t h e score, and b e s i d e its l i l t i n g , u p - t e m p o s e c t i o n h e s c r i b b l e d " F e e l i n g n e w strength." H e felt s t r o n g e n o u g h , i n fact, t o b e g i n w o r k o n G a l i t z i n ' s third quartet—the

last o n e r e q u i r e d o f h i m — w h i l e h e r e -

mained in the country, completing it in Vienna at the end of t h e y e a r , y e t still h e w a s c o m p e l l e d t o k e e p w r i t i n g . M o r e a b d o m i n a l illness—this t i m e a c c o m p a n i e d by painful j o i n t s a n d a w o r r i s o m e r e t u r n o f pain i n his e y e s — i n t e r r u p t e d w o r k o n a

fourth

q u a r t e t i n t h e w i n t e r , b u t it t o o w a s v i r t u a l l y c o m p l e t e


in July 1826, w h e n B e e t h o v e n was shattered by terrible, nearly incomprehensible news. " M y m o t h e r m e t h i m o n t h e Glacis, c o m p l e t e l y u n d o n e , " remembered

Gerhard

von

Breuning,

son

of Stephan

von

B r e u n i n g , h i s early f r i e n d f r o m B o n n , w h o h a d m o v e d t o V i e n n a w i t h his f a m i l y m a n y y e a r s b e f o r e .

" D o you know

w h a t has h a p p e n e d ? M y Karl h a s s h o t h i m s e l f ! " B e e t h o v e n a n n o u n c e d , i m p o s s i b l y . " I t w a s a g l a n c i n g s h o t ; h e i s still l i v i n g , there's h o p e that he can be savedj—but t h e disgrace he has b r o u g h t u p o n m e ; a n d I l o v e d h i m so." I t w a s e m b l e m a t i c o f t h e n a t u r e o f his r e l a t i o n s h i p w i t h his n e p h e w t h a t B e e t h o v e n c o n s i d e r e d t h e h o r r i f i c e v e n t ' s effect o n his r e p u t a t i o n a s r e a d ily a s h e w o r r i e d a b o u t t h e b o y ' s s u r v i v a l , b u t t h e r e w a s n o d o u b t , nonetheless, that the attempted suicide devastated h i m . " T h e p a i n t h a t h e r e c e i v e d f r o m this e v e n t w a s i n d e s c r i b a b l e , " G e r h a r d v o n B r e u n i n g r e c a l l e d . " H e w a s cast d o w n a s a f a t h e r w h o h a d lost h i s m u c h - b e l o v e d s o n . " A l t h o u g h always eager t o please h i m , Karl, n o w n i n e t e e n , i n c r e a s i n g l y h a d b e e n p l a g u e d b y his u n c l e ' s d e m a n d s , his p o s sessiveness, his c o n s t a n t s u s p i c i o n s a n d q u i c k a n g e r . B e e t h o v e n d i s l i k e d Karl's f r i e n d s a n d h a d b e c o m e ceaselessly m i s t r u s t f u l o f t h e i r m o t i v e s ; h e c o m p l a i n e d t h a t t h e b o y w a s lazy, a s p e n d thrift, a n d h e h a d b e e n o u t r a g e d w h e n K a r l c o n t i n u e d t o s e e his m o t h e r s u r r e p t i t i o u s l y . F o r his p a r t , a n d p r i o r t o t h e i n c i d e n t , K a r l h a d i n f o r m e d his u n c l e ' s assistant K a r l H o l z t h a t h e s i m p l y h a d g r o w n " t i r e d o f life b e c a u s e [I] s e e i n i t s o m e t h i n g different

from

what

[my uncle] judiciously and righteously

w o u l d approve." "I g r e w worse because my uncle wanted me


t o b e b e t t e r , " h e e x p l a i n e d t o t h e p o l i c e after t h e fact, a n d s o o n J u l y 2 9 K a r l h a d p a w n e d his p o c k e t w a t c h , b o u g h t t w o n e w pistols, a n d t r a v e l e d t o B a d e n , w h e r e , h i g h o n a hill t h a t for m a n y y e a r s h a d b e e n o n e o f h i s u n c l e ' s f a v o r i t e h i k i n g s p o t s , h e h a d f i r e d b o t h w e a p o n s a t his t e m p l e s , fully i n t e n d i n g t o kill h i m s e l f . O n e b u l l e t h a d m i s s e d Karl's h e a d e n t i r e l y , h o w e v e r , a n d t h e o t h e r , i n c r e d i b l y , h a d failed t o p e n e t r a t e his skull. H e h a d b e e n found, barely conscious, and had b e e n h u r r i e d back to Vienna, w h e r e f i r s t h e h a d b e e n t a k e n t o his m o t h e r ' s h o u s e , a n d t h e n to a nearby hospital. As had h a p p e n e d the previous s u m m e r in B a d e n , this t i m e t o o B e e t h o v e n was a s s u m e d to be a peasant w h e n h e a r r i v e d a t t h e h o s p i t a l t o see h i s w o u n d e d n e p h e w . B u t w h e n a p h y s i c i a n ' s assistant f i n a l l y a c q u i e s c e d t o his i n s i s tence that he was the famous composer, the shabby old m a n q u i c k l y t o o k t h e assistant i n t o his c o n f i d e n c e , e x p l a i n i n g t h a t h e " d i d n o t really w a n t t o visit [Karl] for h e d o e s n o t d e s e r v e it; h e h a s g i v e n m e t o o m u c h v e x a t i o n , " t h e n t a k i n g r i m e t o o u t l i n e t h e b o y ' s m a n y m i s d e e d s b e f o r e a t last h e a s k e d t o b e t a k e n t o his r o o m . I t w a s late S e p t e m b e r b e f o r e K a r l w a s r e l e a s e d f r o m t h e h o s pital, b y w h i c h r i m e B e e t h o v e n f i n a l l y h a d b e g u n t o c o n t e n d w i t h t h e p o s s i b i l i t y t h a t his o w n b e h a v i o r t o w a r d his n e p h e w m i g h t have played a part in p u s h i n g h i m t o w a r d suicide. He n e v e r o p e n l y a d m i t t e d as m u c h , b u t he did agree that Karl n o w should be allowed to j o i n the army, s o m e t h i n g he had w a n t e d t o d o for s o m e t i m e , a n d B e e t h o v e n also m a d e a l a s t - d i t c h e n d e a v o r of sorts to p a t c h his splintered family b a c k together. Although he did n o t attempt a direct r a p p r o c h e m e n t with


Karl's m o t h e r , h e d i d ,

in the end,

a c k n o w l e d g e that Karl

s h o u l d s p e n d a b i t o f r i m e w i t h h e r b e f o r e h e b e g a n his m i l i t a r y s e r v i c e , a n d h e e v e n w e n t s o far a s t o w r i t e t o J o h a n n a , h e n c e f o r t h o f f e r i n g h e r Karl's h a l f o f h e r h u s b a n d ' s p e n s i o n a n d a d d i n g that " s h o u l d I be in a position later on to give y o u a sum

from

m y b a n k for t h e i m p r o v e m e n t o f y o u r c i r c u m -

s t a n c e s , i t w i l l c e r t a i n l y b e d o n e . " H e h a d w i s h e d h e r "all p o s sible g o o d " a s h e c o n c l u d e d t h a t letter, a n d n o w h e s e e m e d t o w i s h t h e s a m e t o e v e r y o n e w h o carried t h e B e e t h o v e n n a m e , a g r e e i n g a t last t o his b r o t h e r J o h a n n ' s p l e a t h a t h e a n d K a r l , w h o w a s still c o n v a l e s c i n g , s h o u l d c o m e stay for t h e r e m a i n d e r o f t h e a u t u m n w i t h h i m a t his small e s t a t e n e a r t h e village o f Gneixendorf. B e e t h o v e n l o n g had despised Johann's wife because he b e l i e v e d — n o t w i t h o u t e v i d e n c e — t h a t she husband

repeatedly,

but Johann,

had cuckolded her

a pharmacist,

assured

his

b r o t h e r that h e w o u l d "scarcely see t h e w o m a n , " a n d a c u r i o u s l y wistful B e e t h o v e n n o t o n l y s o o n b e c a m e c o m f o r t a b l e i n r e s i d e n c e w i t h his b r o t h e r , b u t also w a s c a p t i v a t e d b y t h e bright and o p e n countryside that spread away from it t o w a r d the D a n u b e a n d the distant Styrian m o u n t a i n s . " T h e scenes a m o n g w h i c h I a m s o j o u r n i n g , " h e w r o t e t o his m u s i c p u b lisher i n M a i n z , " r e m i n d m e s o m e w h a t o f t h e R h i n e c o u n t r y t h a t I s o g r e a t l y l o n g t o see a g a i n , h a v i n g left i t i n m y y o u t h . " A s had b e e n c o m m o n p l a c e for s o m e r i m e , h o w e v e r , h e often was w i t h d r a w n a n d o n s o m e days was terribly depressed. A n d d e s p i t e t h e fact t h a t h e also c o n t i n u e d t o b e ill w i t h w o r r i s o m e regularity, h e w a s a t ease e n o u g h a t G n e i x e n d o r f n o w that h e m a n a g e d t o r e t u r n t o w o r k o n a fifth q u a r t e t , w h i c h h e h a d


b e g u n in July a

few

days b e f o r e

Karl's

a t t e m p t e d suicide.

A l t h o u g h m o r e m o d e s t i n scale t h a n t h e p r e v i o u s q u a r t e t s , t h e r e w e r e aspects o f t h e n e w piece that yet again p o i n t e d i n novel directions. " W h a t I w r i t e n o w bears no resemblance to w h a t I w r o t e f o r m e r l y . I t i s s o m e w h a t b e t t e r , " h e d e c l a r e d , still b u o y e d b y n e w c h a l l e n g e s . H e c a l l e d t h e last m o v e m e n t o f t h e quartet

"The

Difficult R e s o l u t i o n , "

its title

unintentionally

i r o n i c , s i n c e h e c o u l d n o t t h e n k n o w t h a t i t w o u l d b e t h e last c o m p l e t e p i e c e h e e v e r w o u l d f i n i s h , his w o r k o n i t d o n e i n D e c e m b e r b e f o r e a t e r r i b l e r o w w i t h his b r o t h e r a n d a l a r m i n g n e w medical troubles persuaded h i m that it was time to return t o t h e city.


VERY MODERN MICR05COPE5

IT WAS AN

UNUSUAL

P U B L I C A T I O N i n w h i c h t o see his

byline, and t h e language in w h i c h the article was w r i t t e n was o n e he didn't speak, b u t nonetheless they b o t h had appeared in the September 1995 edition of

Jedisk Orientering,

the monthly

newsletter of Copenhagen's "Mosaic," or Jewish, community. "Last D e c e m b e r , a fellow B e e t h o v e n lover and I a c q u i r e d a c e r t i f i e d l o c k o f B e e t h o v e n ' s h a i r i n L o n d o n , " Ira B r i l l i a n t h a d b e g u n , his w o r d s t r a n s l a t e d i n t o D a n i s h b y t h e n e w s l e t t e r ' s e d itor, Birte K o n t . " W e l e a r n e d that it h a d b e e n c o n s i g n e d by a w o m a n in D e n m a r k . We were contacted by her son w h o told u s that t h e l o c k was g i v e n t o h e r b y h e r father. H i s n a m e w a s


K a y A l e x a n d e r F r e m m i n g . " B r i l l i a n t h a d g o n e o n t o tell t h e compelling story that F r e m m i n g s grandson first had described i n a l e t t e r m a i l e d t o t h e U n i t e d States six m o n t h s b e f o r e , a n d t h e A m e r i c a n h a d o u t l i n e d for D a n i s h r e a d e r s a s w e l l t h e i n triguing j o u r n e y the hair had m a d e t h r o u g h time and the w a r scarred nations of western E u r o p e . Because it appeared that Beethoven had been involved—albeit very indirectly—in the s a v i n g o f a J e w i s h life, a n d b e c a u s e h e s a w s u c h p o w e r f u l s y m b o l i s m i n t h a t possibility, B r i l l i a n t h a d a p p e a l e d t o D e n m a r k ' s c o n t e m p o r a r y J e w s for a n y a d d i t i o n a l i n f o r m a t i o n t h e y m i g h t have that w o u l d shed m o r e light on the circumstances that l o n g ago h a d led to the giving of t h e black locket to D r . F r e m m i n g . A n d Brilliant had expressed a n o t h e r h o p e as well: " I a m a l w a y s i n t e r e s t e d i n d a t a c o n c e r n i n g B e e t h o v e n a n d his influence on western culture, and as an A m e r i c a n J e w I am also e a g e r t o h e l p s p r e a d a s t o r y o f m a n ' s c o n c e r n for his fell o w m a n , a s p e r s o n i f i e d b y t h e s p o n t a n e o u s effort o f t h e D a n e s to help their fellow D a n e s in their h o u r of need." Ira B r i l l i a n t f i r s t h a d w r i t t e n t o B i r t e K o n t a t t h e s u g g e s t i o n o f N e w York University psychology professor Leo Goldberger, a childhood immigrant to Denmark from Germany, one w h o still h a d b e e n a s c h o o l b o y i n O c t o b e r 1 9 4 3 w h e n h e a n d his family w e r e forced t o f l e e t o S w e d e n f r o m t h e i r C o p e n h a g e n h o m e . A l t h o u g h G o l d b e r g e r h a d l i v e d i n t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s for m a n y years by now, he r e t u r n e d to D e n m a r k often, and in 1987 he had edited

The Rescue of the Danish Jews,

an English-

l a n g u a g e c o l l e c t i o n o f m e m o i r s a n d essays b y p r o m i n e n t D a n e s w h o had participated in those terrifying events.

Goldberger

himself, h o w e v e r , h a d n o t p a s s e d t h r o u g h t h e t o w n o f G i l l e l e j e


e n r o u t e t o safety, a n d t h e r e f o r e h a d b e e n u n a b l e t o offer s p e cific assistance w h e n B r i l l i a n t f i r s t h a d w r i t t e n t o h i m . Y e t h e , like s o m a n y o t h e r s already, h a d b e e n f a s c i n a t e d b y T h o m a s W a s s a r d L a r s e n ' s s t o r y o f h o w his g r a n d f a t h e r h a d c o m e t o p o s sess a l o c k o f t h e i m m o r t a l c o m p o s e r ' s hair, a n d t h e p r o f e s s o r had suggested n u m e r o u s people w h o m Brilliant m i g h t contact in

addition

to

the

e d i t o r o f Jedisk

Orientering.

In

particular,

G o l d b e r g e r was aware that a retired R o s k i l d e University p r o fessor n a m e d C h r i s t i a n T o r t z e n h a ^ p u b l i s h e d i n D a n i s h s o m e y e a r s b e f o r e a b o o k t i t l e d Gilleleje,

Oktober 1943, w h i c h h a d f o -

c u s e d solely o n h o w t h e e v e n t s o f t h e r e s c u e h a d u n f o l d e d there. It had taken Brilliant s o m e m o n t h s to locate a n d t h e n hear f r o m T o r t z e n , b u t w h e n a t last h e r e c e i v e d a l e t t e r f r o m h i m on the same afternoon he r e t u r n e d h o m e from watching Dr. G u e v a r a o p e n t h e l o c k e t i n T u c s o n , t h e n e w s T o r t z e n h a d for h i m was disappointing. His b o o k had b e g u n as an oral history p r o j e c t u n d e r t a k e n w i t h s t u d e n t s late i n t h e 1 9 6 0 s w h e n h e h a d b e e n a h i g h s c h o o l t e a c h e r i n t h e n o r t h Sjaslland t o w n o f H i l l e r o d , a few k i l o m e t e r s s o u t h o f Gilleleje. H e h a d b e c o m e so fascinated, a n d so m o v e d , by w h a t t h e residents of t h e small s e a p o r t h a d d e s c r i b e d t o h i m a n d his s t u d e n t s a b o u t t h a t t u r bulent time

t h a t h e s u b s e q u e n t l y h a d felt h o n o r - b o u n d

to

c o m p i l e their collective stories into a b o o k . A n d yes, of course, he

informed

Ira

Brilliant,

he

was

familiar w i t h

who

Dr.

F r e m m i n g h a d b e e n , b u t n o , n e i t h e r h e n o r his s t u d e n t s h a d b e e n able t o i n t e r v i e w h i m p r i o r t o his d e a t h i n 1 9 6 9 , a n d n e i t h e r h a d a n y o n e e v e r t o l d T o r t z e n a tale a b o u t a gift o f a l o c k o f hair. N o n e t h e l e s s , h e a s s u r e d t h e i n q u i r i n g A m e r i c a n i n h i s


boldly scribbled hand, "I am trying to find persons w h o have k n o w n Dr. Kay A l e x a n d e r F r e m m i n g i n o r d e r t o identify t h e J e w i s h refugee w h o gave h i m the hair lock. You will hear from m e later."

T H E O P E N I N G O F T H E L O C K E T o n that D e c e m b e r day had been a wonderful event, both reverential and riveting, as m o v i n g a s i t also h a d b e e n e t c h e d w i t h a n t i c i p a t i o n , a n d its s e v e r a l p a r t i c i p a n t s h a d c o m e a w a y q u i t e h o p e f u l t h a t t h e y h a d set i n motion

the

eventual

discovery

of important

new

informa-

tion—whatever it might b e — a b o u t Ludwig van Beethoven's l o n g - b a t t e r e d h e a l t h , d a t a n o w h i d d e n i n s t r a n d s o f his g r a y i n g h a i r . A n d e v e n t h a t v e r y day, n e w f i n d i n g s a b o u t b o t h t h e h a i r a n d its s k e t c h y p r o v e n a n c e h a d b e e n f o r t h c o m i n g : t h e l o c k e t i n w h i c h the hair had b e e n h o u s e d was identical to those that were commonplace in early-nineteenth-century Europe; it had b e e n refurbished in 1 9 1 1 , or so a bit of paper found inside attested, a n d that likely e x p l a i n e d w h y t h e strands r e m a i n e d i n surprisingly g o o d condition. T h e hair appeared t w o h u n d r e d years

old,

Birkby

had

or

thereabouts,

declared,

and

forensic under

anthropologist

microscopic

Walter

examination,

B i r k b y also h a d n o t e d t h e p r e s e n c e o f a f e w follicles a t t h e r o o t s o f i n d i v i d u a l h a i r s , m e a n i n g t h a t o r g a n i c D N A t e s t i n g likely w o u l d be possible, if it was d e e m e d a p p r o p r i a t e . It w a s n ' t until a f e w w e e k s h e n c e , h o w e v e r , that B i r k b y startled Brilliant, G u e v a r a , a n d their colleagues by i n f o r m i n g t h e m t h a t his

meticulous

count

had revealed that

the

presumed


150—200 h a i r s n u m b e r e d , i n fact, 5 8 2 . Y o u n g F e r d i n a n d H i l l e r had snipped away m u c h m o r e hair than a n y o n e previously had supposed, and therefore the Beethoven Center w o u l d receive 4 2 2 individual h a i r s — a n a m o u n t large e n o u g h that, o n c e r e t u r n e d t o t h e l o c k e t , its v o l u m e w o u l d a p p e a r h a r d l y t o h a v e b e e n d i m i n i s h e d — w h i l e Dr. G u e v a r a w o u l d claim 160 strands for h i m s e l f a n d for t h e t e s t i n g t h a t s o o n w o u l d g e t u n d e r w a y . T h e larger sample, t o g e t h e r w i t h the locket in w h i c h it h a d resided since the 1820s, w o u l d b^ h o u s e d in a t e m p e r a t u r e and h u m i d i t y - c o n t r o l l e d vault at the B e e t h o v e n C e n t e r in San Jose. D r . G u e v a r a w o u l d c h o o s e simply t o curl t h e hairs that n o w w e r e h i s i n s i d e a s t e r i l e p e t r i d i s h , its lid h e l d t i g h t w i t h a silver r i b b o n , w h i c h i n t u r n h e p l a c e d i n s i d e w h a t h e b e l i e v e d was

his

fireproof,

bombproof,

and

t h e f t p r o o f office

safe.

B e e t h o v e n ' s h a i r w o u l d b e n e a r b y a s h e s a w his p a t i e n t s e a c h day, a n d t h a t c e r t a i n t y g r e a t l y a p p e a l e d t o t h e p h y s i c i a n , y e t h e also w a s r e a d y t o a n n o u n c e i n M a r c h 1 9 9 6 t h a t a f e w o f t h o s e peripatetic hairs w e r e a b o u t to travel again. In collaboration with m e m b e r s of the Tucson-based team that had observed the o p e n i n g of the locket, and in regular c o n s u l t a t i o n w i t h Ira B r i l l i a n t a s w e l l , D r . G u e v a r a lately h a d d e s i g n a t e d t w o scientists w h o initially w o u l d b e e n t r u s t e d w i t h t h e p r e c i o u s r e l i c . First, h e w o u l d s h i p t w e n t y h a i r s — n o n e o f t h e m c o n t a i n i n g a follicle o r s o - c a l l e d " b u l b " — t o D r . W e r n e r Baumgartner, head of Psychemedics C o r p o r a t i o n in the Los Angeles s u b u r b o f C u l v e r City, California, w h o w o u l d c o m p l e t e a d r u g analysis o f t h e h a i r s b e f o r e f o r w a r d i n g t h e m i n turn

to

Dr.

William

Walsh's

Health

Research

Institute

in

N a p e r v i l l e , I l l i n o i s , for f u r t h e r a n d far m o r e e x t e n s i v e analysis.


I n t h e m o n t h s s i n c e t h e s e a r c h for t h e p r o p e r s c i e n t i s t s h a d c o m m e n c e d , Dr. pathologist

Guevara,

Richard

Froede

Ira B r i l l i a n t ,

Walter Birkby, a n d

separately

in

had been

contact

w i t h d o z e n s o f r e s e a r c h scientists a t l a b o r a t o r i e s a n d u n i v e r s i ties a r o u n d t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s a n d h a d f o u n d t h e m a l m o s t u n i versally interested i n t a k i n g o n t h e u n u s u a l project. E a c h h a d b e e n i n f o r m e d that the person ultimately selected w o u l d be r e q u i r e d t o a g r e e t o several k e y c o n d i t i o n s : t h e w o r k w o u l d b e conducted according to the

h i g h e s t c o n t e m p o r a r y scientific

standards; t h e n a m e o f the subject f r o m w h o m the hair h a d come

would

never be

attached

to

the

sample;

the

testing

would be completed in a timely manner and would be done free of charge; the sample w o u l d be returned immediately to G u e v a r a o n his v e r b a l r e q u e s t ; a n d all f i n d i n g s w o u l d b e k e p t u t t e r l y c o n f i d e n t i a l , u n l e s s G u e v a r a w e r e t o g i v e t h e scientists his e x p r e s s p e r m i s s i o n t o p u b l i c i z e t h e m . T h o s e d e m a n d s h a d deterred no o n e in the end, and ultimately the physician had b a s e d his d e c i s i o n s i n largest p a r t o n t h e s c i e n t i s t s ' c o l l e g i a l reputations; the t w e n t y hairs f r o m B e e t h o v e n ' s h e a d w o u l d g o to B a u m g a r t n e r and Walsh, the d o c t o r explained, simply b e cause their colleagues had affirmed that they w e r e t h e v e r y best i n t h e business a t t h e k i n d s o f analyses b o t h w e r e e a g e r t o u n dertake.

SOON

THE

SEARCH

FOR

MORE

information about the

locket's trip t h r o u g h t i m e necessarily spread f r o m D e n m a r k t o G e r m a n y a s w e l l . W i t h t h e f r e q u e n t assistance o f his f r i e n d


H a n s - W e r n e r K i i t h e n a t t h e B e e t h o v e n - A r c h i v i n B o n n , Ira B r i l l i a n t w a s able t o d e t e r m i n e b y t h e t i m e t h e t e s t i n g g o t u n d e r w a y that Paul H i l l e r — t o w h o m the hair had b e l o n g e d f r o m M a y 1 8 8 3 u n t i l a t least D e c e m b e r 1 9 1 1 a n d p e r h a p s u n t i l his d e a t h i n 1 9 3 4 — h a d b e e n a n o p e r a s i n g e r i n his y o u t h , a s

h i s m o t h e r h a d b e e n . A 1 9 2 2 e d i t i o n of Wet ist's? (Who's Who?) n o t e d , h o w e v e r , t h a t h e h a d s p e n t t h e m a j o r i t y o f his w o r k i n g life a s a m u s i c j o u r n a l i s t ; h e h a d m a r r i e d S o p h i e L i o n i n J u n e 1902 and she had b o r n e h i m t w o sons, Edgar in 1906, and E r w i n t w o y e a r s later. I t w a s c u r i o u s t h a t a 1 9 5 9 e d i t i o n o f t h e Musiklexikon failed t o m e n t i o n e i t h e r h i s w i f e o r t h e i r s o n s , y e t i t d i d n o t e t h a t i n 1 8 8 2 , t w e n t y y e a r s b e f o r e his m a r r i a g e , P a u l Hiller h a d fathered a s o n n a m e d Felix d u r i n g t h e t i m e he lived i n t h e c i t y o f C h e m n i t z . Felix a l m o s t c e r t a i n l y w o u l d b e d e ceased, Brilliant a n d Kiithen agreed, as w o u l d S o p h i e Hiller; b u t although b o t h m e n w o u l d be elderly by now, it was possib l e , w a s n ' t it, t h a t o n e o r b o t h o f S o p h i e ' s s o n s r e m a i n e d alive? Yet w h e r e — a n d h o w — o n earth could they be found? W i t h t h e d e d i c a t e d assistance o f a F r a u G o d d e n ( w h o s e first n a m e she n e v e r surrendered) at the Nordrhein-Westfalisches H a u p t s t a a t s a r c h i v i n Diisseldorf, B r i l l i a n t finally w a s a b l e t o p i e c e t o g e t h e r a H i l l e r family t r e e t h a t r e a c h e d b a c k as far as F e r d i n a n d H i l l e r ' s p a r e n t s , J u s t u s H i l l e r a n d his w i f e , R e g i n e , a n d w h i c h r e a c h e d far e n o u g h f o r w a r d i n t i m e t o r e c o r d t h e names and birth Kwast,

Paul

dates o f t h e g r a n d c h i l d r e n o f T o n y Hiller

Hiller's

sister

and

only

sibling.

But

nothing

B r i l l i a n t o r his assistants i n G e r m a n y c o u l d find o f f e r e d n e w i n f o r m a t i o n a b o u t w h a t had b e c o m e o f Paul Hiller's wife o r a n y o f his s o n s . I t s e e m e d p r o b a b l e , o f c o u r s e , t h a t t h e i r lives


h a d b e e n d i s r u p t e d d r a m a t i c a l l y b y t h e rise o f N a z i s m a n d t h e subsequent state-sponsored persecution of Jews that had begun e a r l y i n t h e 1 9 3 0 s , b u t s o far a t least, t h e r e w a s n o w a y t o b e sure. T h e 1933

Adressbuch

for t h e c i t y o f C o l o g n e d e c l a r e d t h a t

P a u l H i l l e r a n d his s o n E d g a r , w h o w a s listed a s a n o p e r a s i n g e r by

profession,

resided

at

31

Eifelstrasse, j u s t off t h e s m a l l

E i f e l p l a t z , n e a r t h e city's s o u t h e r n r a i l w a y s t a t i o n . P u b l i s h e d a f e w m o n t h s after P a u l H i l l e r ' s d e a t h , t h e 1 9 3 4 e d i t i o n o f t h e d i r e c t o r y l i s t e d S o p h i e H i l l e r a n d s o n E d g a r a s still i n r e s i d e n c e ; b y 1 9 3 5 , o n l y S o p h i e H i l l e r still r e s i d e d t h e r e , o r s o t h e d i r e c t o r y c l a i m e d ; a n d b y 1 9 3 6 , n o one f r o m P a u l H i l l e r ' s f a m ily a p p e a r e d t o l i v e i n C o l o g n e a n y l o n g e r . S u r e l y S o p h i e H i l l e r o r o n e o f h e r t w o s o n s h a d fled n o r t h t o D e n m a r k a t a b o u t t h a t t i m e , Ira B r i l l i a n t n o w p r e s u m e d , a n d h a d t a k e n i n t o w t h e s t o r i e d l o c k o f hair. I t also s e e m e d p r o b a b l e t h a t o n e o f t h e t h r e e , o r c o n c e i v a b l y all o f t h e m t o gether,

h a d b e e n safe

in

Copenhagen

o r its e n v i r o n s u n t i l

O c t o b e r 1 9 4 3 , w h e n t h e y h a d b e e n f o r c e d t o flee a g a i n . B u t the t o w n s p e o p l e had k n o w n virtually n o n e o f the n a m e s o f the r e f u g e e s w h o p a s s e d t h r o u g h G i l l e l e j e e n r o u t e t o safe h a v e n i n S w e d e n . A n d i f t h a t w e r e t h e case, w o u l d i t e v e r b e p o s s i b l e t o prove w h o h a d p r e s s e d t h e l o c k e t i n t o K a y F r e m m i n g ' s hands?

" I N MY S C I E N T I F I C AND

P H I L O S O P H I C battles, I h a v e

d e r i v e d m u c h solace and strength

from

Beethoven's music,"

W e r n e r B a u m g a r t n e r w r o t e i n his r e p o r t t o D r . G u e v a r a a n d


Ira B r i l l i a n t w h e n h e c o m p l e t e d his e x a m i n a t i o n o f t h e t w e n t y hairs G u e v a r a had sent t o h i m . H e w a n t e d the m e n t o k n o w t h e r e f o r e h o w m u c h t h e o p p o r t u n i t y t o test t h e h a i r for t h e presence of m o r p h i n e had m e a n t to him. Baumgartner was a n a t i v e o f A u s t r i a , a n d c e r t a i n l y his n a t i o n a l i t y m a d e h i m feel a kind of kinship with the great composer, yet there was s o m e thing m o r e that d r e w h i m to Beethoven: B a u m g a r t n e r was a l o n g - s t a n d i n g disciple o f t h e V i e n n a - b o r n p h i l o s o p h e r o f scie n c e Karl P o p p e r a s well. P o p p e r , y v h o died i n 1 9 9 4 a n d w h o also h a d b e e n a n a c c o m p l i s h e d c o m p o s e r a n d m u s i c o l o g i s t , believed that B e e t h o v e n remained the world's foremost " s u b j e c t i v e " c o m p o s e r , s o m e o n e w h o " h a d m a d e [his] m u s i c a n i n strument of self-expression" in a way that w o u l d have been d i s a s t r o u s , e v e n " d a n g e r o u s , " w i t h o u t his " p u r i t y o f h e a r t , his d r a m a t i c p o w e r s , his u n i q u e c r e a t i v e gifts." I n m u c h t h e s a m e w a y t h a t i t h a d s e e m e d t o P o p p e r , B a u m g a r t n e r also s u s p e c t e d that B e e t h o v e n never could have expressed that p r o f o u n d s u b j e c t i v e e m o t i o n h a d fate n o t f o r c e d h i m t o suffer c h r o n i c a n d p r o f o u n d physical pain, and it was in that c o n t e x t that the Los A n g e l e s s c i e n t i s t w a s s o s t a r t l e d b y t h e f i n d i n g his test p r o duced. S i n c e 1 9 7 7 , B a u m g a r t n e r a n d his c o l l e a g u e s a t P s y c h e m e d i c s C o r p o r a t i o n had tested m o r e than t w o million h u m a n hair samples using a patented p r o c e d u r e capable of detecting the presence of m o r p h i n e , heroin, and other opiate metabolites, a n d h a d s t r u g g l e d — a t last s u c c e s s f u l l y — t o c o n v i n c e a l e g i o n o f s k e p t i c s t h a t e x a m i n a t i o n o f h a i r for d r u g u s e w a s , i n fact, far m o r e a c c u r a t e t h a n u r i n a l y s i s . B a u m g a r t n e r , his w i f e A n n e t t e , and two

colleagues first had published the

results o f t h e i r


c o m p a r i s o n o f d r u g testing o f b o t h hair a n d u r i n e in t h e

of Nuclear Medicine

Journal

in 1979, b u t m o r e t h a n a d e c a d e h a d passed

b e f o r e their p r o c e d u r e h a d b e c o m e w i d e l y c o n s i d e r e d t h e state o f t h e a r t . C a p a b l e o f d e t e c t i n g d r u g c o n c e n t r a t i o n s a s small a s a billionth of a g r a m in weight, the B a u m g a r t n e r m e t h o d util i z e d r a d i o i m m u n o a s s a y , a l a b o r a t o r y t e c h n i q u e first d e v e l o p e d i n t h e 1 9 5 0 s b y N o b e l l a u r e a t e R o s a l y n Yalow, w h i c h c o m b i n e d r a d i o i s o t o p e t r a c i n g a n d basic i m m u n o l o g y t o c r e a t e a very accurate and straightforward means of measuring m i n u t e concentrations of biological

and pharmacological substances

i n b l o o d o r o t h e r fluid s a m p l e s .

Baumgartner's proprietary

m e t h o d of hair radioimmunoassay by n o w was e m p l o y e d by m o r e than sixteen h u n d r e d police departments,

parole d e -

partments, corporations, schools, and universities a r o u n d the U n i t e d S t a t e s , a n d successfully h a d w i t h s t o o d n u m e r o u s c h a l lenges in c o u r t . In a series of studies u n d e r t a k e n by t h e N a t i o n a l Institute

of Standards

and

Technologies

during

the

1990s,

seven r o u n d s of " b l i n d " hair samples had b e e n sent to l a b o r a t o ries across t h e c o u n t r y , a n d B a u m g a r t n e r ' s h a d b e e n t h e sole l a b o r a t o r y t h a t w a s 1 0 0 p e r c e n t successful i n i d e n t i f y i n g b o t h positive and negative samples. W h a t was particularly i m p o r t a n t w i t h regard to testing the B e e t h o v e n s a m p l e was that B a u m g a r t n e r a n d his colleagues h a d b e e n a b l e t o establish s o m e y e a r s b e f o r e t h a t t r a c e a m o u n t s o f o p i a t e s r e m a i n e d stable i n h u m a n h a i r o v e r v e r y l o n g p e r i ods of time. In 1986, they had e x a m i n e d a lock of hair that had b e e n clipped from t h e head of English p o e t J o h n Keats foll o w i n g his d e a t h i n 1 8 2 1 , a n d h a d f o u n d t h a t i t still c o n t a i n e d s i g n i f i c a n t levels o f m o r p h i n e 1 6 5 y e a r s later, a f i n d i n g c o n s i s -


t e n t w i t h t h e k n o w l e d g e t h a t K e a t s , also a c h e m i s t a n d p h y s i cian, had self-prescribed l a u d a n u m , an o p i u m tincture t h e n w i d e l y used as an analgesic, w h i l e he was d y i n g of t u b e r c u l o sis. A s u b s e q u e n t P s y c h e m e d i c s analysis of h a i r

from

a five-

h u n d r e d - y e a r - o l d m u m m y unearthed in Peru had s h o w n that i t still c o n t a i n e d t r a c e a m o u n t s o f c o c a i n e , a l t h o u g h m o s t o f t h e d r u g t h a t w a s p r e s e n t b y n o w h a d b r o k e n d o w n i n t o its byproduct benzoylergonine. If Beethoven had consumed opiates i n that

the

fact

last m o n t h s o f his

certainly

should

l^fe,

have

therefore,

been

revealed.

evidence But

of

what

Baumgartner found instead—or what he didn't find—seemed n o t h i n g less t h a n a r r e s t i n g ,

and he explained h o w he had

r e a c h e d his s u r p r i s i n g c o n c l u s i o n i n his r e p o r t t o D r . G u e v a r a a n d Ira B r i l l i a n t :

T h e analysis b e g a n w i t h t h e w a s h i n g o f t h e t w e n t y h a i r specimens in dry ethanol at 37 degrees centigrade with vigorous shaking at 120 cycles/minute. T h e p u r p o s e of the w a s h p r o c e d u r e was t o r e m o v e any possible m o r p h i n e c o n t a m i n a n t s f r o m t h e h a i r surface. A n y m o r p h i n e f o u n d in the ethanol solution w o u l d be interpreted as m o r p h i n e deposited on t h e hair n o t as a result of d r u g use b u t by m o r p h i n e that was present in

the environment while

B e e t h o v e n was alive o r d u r i n g t h e m a n y years o f storage of the hair sample. After

the

initial

decontamination

process,

the

hairs

w e r e d r i e d t o r e m o v e any residual ethanol. T h e subseq u e n t e x t r a c t i o n w a s p e r f o r m e d w i t h specially d e i o n i z e d

aoi


w a t e r w h i c h was received from Dr. William Walsh's l a b o r a t o r y . T h e u s e o f t h e specially p u r i f i e d w a t e r w a s d e s i r able in o r d e r to avoid i n t r o d u c i n g a n y metals (present as impurities in the water) i n t o t h e hair s p e c i m e n d u r i n g t h e extraction process.

Prior to extraction with water, the

hairs w e r e quickly rinsed w i t h 2 ml of w a t e r to r e m o v e any r e m a i n i n g ethanol, w h i c h could interfere w i t h the radioimmunoassay

(RIA)

procedure.

The

hair was s u b -

jected to 15 hours of extraction at 37 degrees centigrade w i t h a fresh 2 ml aliquot. T h e ethanol wash solutions w e r e evaporated to dryness and the residue taken up in w a t e r for R I A analysis. R I A w a s p e r f o r m e d i n d u p l i c a t e on

0.5

ml water aliquots.

The

results

of the

analysis

s h o w e d zero m o r p h i n e c o n t e n t i n t h e w a t e r e x t r a c t s , i n the water rinse, and in the ethanol wash solution.

Based on that finding—and assuming, of course, that the hair tested truly had b e e n B e e t h o v e n ' s — B a u m g a r t n e r was willing to claim w i t h o u t equivocation that the c o m p o s e r had not b e e n treated with m o r p h i n e or any other o p i u m derivative during t h e last m o n t h s o f h i s life, a n d t h i s n e w l y u n c o v e r e d i n f o r m a tion greatly intrigued him.

" D u r i n g m o s t o f his a d u l t life,

B e e t h o v e n was p l a g u e d b y v e r y painful b u t u n d i a g n o s e d m e d ical c o n d i t i o n s , a n d his d e a t h a p p e a r s t o h a v e b e e n p a r t i c u l a r l y p a i n f u l , " t h e s c i e n t i s t w r o t e . " N e v e r t h e l e s s , h e w a s still c r e atively active

on

his

deathbed.

In my opinion,

Beethoven

could n o t have r e m a i n e d creatively active if he h a d b e e n sed a t e d w i t h m o r p h i n e . N o t f i n d i n g m o r p h i n e i n his hair, I b e -


l i e v e , t h e r e f o r e s p e a k s v o l u m e s a b o u t his c h a r a c t e r , p a r t i c u l a r l y a b o u t his d i s p o s i t i o n t o w a r d s a d v e r s i t i e s . " T h o s e final w o r d s b e l o n g e d t o a l o n g - s t a n d i n g B e e t h o v e n a d m i r e r r a t h e r m o r e t h a n a n utterly objective scientist, yet they

nonetheless

illuminated

the

essential

significance

of

Baumgartner's finding: given the c o n t e m p o r a r y quality of the m e d i c a l a t t e n t i o n t h e c o m p o s e r r e c e i v e d d u r i n g his f i n a l d a y s , i t was logical t o assume that h e w o u l d h a v e b e e n offered m o r p h i n e a s a s u r e m e a n s o f m i t i g a t i n g his s u f f e r i n g , y e t n o w i t a p p e a r e d t h a t — i f offered, i n f a c t — h e h a d refused t h e d r u g . A n d i f h e had d e c l i n e d t o a c c e p t p a i n - r e l i e v i n g s e d a t i o n , w a s n ' t t h e s o l e p l a u s i b l e e x p l a n a t i o n for t h e refusal t h e l i k e l i h o o d t h a t h e p r e f e r r e d instead to k e e p his m i n d as clear as possible so he could c o n t i n u e to sketch music? In n o n e of the w r i t t e n a c c o u n t s b y B e e t h o v e n ' s last t w o p h y s i c i a n s , D r s . A n d r e a s W a w ruch

and

Giovanni

having prescribed an

Malfatti,

did

either

o p i a t e for t h e

man

acknowledge

dying man.

Wawruch

s p o k e o n l y o f a d m i n i s t e r i n g " a s e v e r e c o u n t e r - t r e a t m e n t for i n f l a m m a t i o n , " a s t h e c o m p o s e r ' s f i n a l illness c o m m e n c e d , a n d a l t h o u g h Malfatti later was asked to p r o v i d e additional therapy, t h e o n l y r e c o r d t h a t s u r v i v e s lists his

t r e a t m e n t — o n e that

b r i e f l y w a s efficacious, i n f a c t — a s n o t h i n g m o r e t h a n a n i c e d alcoholic p u n c h . I t i s t h e fact t h a t t h e g r e a d y i n f i r m c o m p o s e r c o n t i n u e d u n t i l t h e last w e e k o f his life t o s k e t c h m u s i c for w h a t m i g h t h a v e b e c o m e a n e w string quartet that surely shapes t h e strongest anecdotal evidence in support of Baumgartner's finding. T w o d e c a d e s earlier,

d u r i n g w h a t h a d b e e n his m o s t p r o d u c t i v e

compositional years, the m a n w h o s e greatest carnal pleasure


had been the consumption of champagne nonetheless seldom h a d a l l o w e d h i m s e l f t o c o n s u m e m o r e t h a n a little o n e v e n i n g s I

w h e n h e p l a n n e d t o w o r k t h e f o l l o w i n g day. T h a t w o n d r o u s b e v e r a g e sadly c l o u d e d his a b i l i t y t o c o n c e n t r a t e , h e h a d e x p l a i n e d , a n d its aftereffects s t r i p p e d h i m o f t h e v i t a l e n e r g y h e required as he composed, and so he very reluctantly had r e f u s e d t o a l l o w h i m s e l f its r e g u l a r p l e a s u r e . A t t h e e n d , p e r h a p s B e e t h o v e n simply n e v e r w a s offered t h e blessed, pain-free fog t h a t m o r p h i n e m i g h t h a v e i n d u c e d . Y e t i t w a s also p o s s i b l e — a s t h e Los A n g e l e s scientist n o w suggested, nearly t w o c e n t u r i e s after t h e f a c t — t h a t B e e t h o v e n p o i n t e d l y h a d d e c l i n e d it, m u c h a s h e h a d d o n e i n earlier years w h e n h e h a d d e n i e d h i m self c h a m p a g n e . P e r h a p s t h e s h a r p l y f o c u s e d w o r k o f s k e t c h i n g

I I

m u s i c , e v e n o n his d e a t h b e d , s e e m e d t o h i m t o b e t h e b e t t e r medicine.

IT

MIGHT

HAVE

B E E N A latter-day m e d i c i n e that Dr. Kay

F r e m m i n g h a d g i v e n t o a n ill r e f u g e e t h a t i n t u r n h a d e l i c i t e d t h e gift o f t h e l o c k o f hair, a l t h o u g h n o o n e c o u l d b e s u r e . T h e r e w a s v e r y little, i n fact, a b o u t t h e c i r c u m s t a n c e s o f t h e g i v i n g t h a t a n y o n e k n e w i n 1 9 9 5 o r s e e m e d likely t o b e a b l e t o d i s c o v e r , y e t for Ira B r i l l i a n t i t s i m p l y w a s u n a c c e p t a b l e n o t t o t r y . H e r e a d e v e r y t h i n g h e c o u l d find a b o u t t h e r e m a r k a b l e heroism of the Danish people, their deeds b e c o m i n g r e n o w n e d w o r l d w i d e i n t h e d e c a d e s after t h e w a r . I n b o o k s b y h i s t o r i ans Leni

Yahil a n d

Harold

Flender,

Danish Rabbi

Marcus

M e l c h i o r , a n d i n L e o G o l d b e r g e r ' s a n t h o l o g y o f essays, B r i l l i a n t

204


learned h o w at t h e e n d of S e p t e m b e r 1943 naval attache G e o r g D u c k w i t z had alerted Danish leaders to the i m p e n d i n g purge; h o w d o c t o r s a n d nurses had led the w a y in the D a n i s h citizens' b o l d a n d i m m e d i a t e r e s p o n s e t o t h e crisis; h o w f r i g h t e n e d J e w s — D a n e s a n d i m m i g r a n t s a l i k e — h a d b e e n e s c o r t e d t o fishi n g villages a l o n g t h e 0 r e s u n d c o a s t , w h e r e t h e y h a d b e e n h i d d e n u n t i l t h e y w e r e p u t a b o a r d b o a t s for t h e b r i e f b u t p e r i l o u s transport to S w e d e n ; and he discovered as well that it was in the little p o r t o f G i l l e l e j e w h e r e , o n tr^e n i g h t o f O c t o b e r 6 , t h e r e s c u e effort h a d g o n e t e r r i b l y a w r y , s o m e o n e b e t r a y i n g t o t h e G e s t a p o t h e fact t h a t a s m a n y a s 1 2 0 J e w s w e r e h i d d e n i n t h e h i g h loft o f t h e G i l l e l e j e C h u r c h . Jens N o e , pastor of the c h u r c h in 1995, had no k n o w l e d g e a b o u t a lock of Beethoven's hair w h e n Brilliant contacted h i m that a u t u m n , although he promised to query the old-timers w h o still r e m e m b e r e d v i v i d l y t h e t r a u m a t i c e v e n t s o f a n o t h e r fall

fifty-two

years

before.

Danish

playwright

Finn

Abra-

h a m o w i t z , w h o h a d w r i t t e n a play a b o u t t h e e v e n t s i n t h e c h u r c h , b a s e d l a r g e l y o n C h r i s t i a n T o r t z e n ' s b o o k , c o u l d offer Brilliant n o n e w information; n e i t h e r could Per J o r g e n s e n , a d ministrator

o f Gilleleje's

regional

government,

nor

Henrik

Lundbak at the Frihedsmuseet, the National Resistance M u s e u m i n C o p e n h a g e n ; a n d n o o n e w h o h a d read Brilliant's earlier p l e a for assistance i n t h e J e w i s h c o m m u n i t y ' s n e w s l e t t e r e v e r r e s p o n d e d w i t h a specific m e m o r y , a p r o m i s i n g l e a d , o r e v e n idle speculation a b o u t w h o m i g h t h a v e g i v e n t h e small a n d v e n e r a b l e l o c k e t away. Each

new

possibility

that

Ira

Brilliant

pursued,

in

fact,

p r o v e d fruitless d u r i n g t h e t h r e e y e a r s t h a t f o l l o w e d , a n d i t


wasn't until M i c h e l e Wassard Larsen a n d her son T h o m a s t o o k u p t h e s e a r c h t h e m s e l v e s i n 1 9 9 8 t h a t a t last a f e w l e a d s b e g a n t o e m e r g e , clues p o i n t i n g t o the m o m e n t w h e n s o m e o n e — filled

perhaps

Beethoven's

with

hair

to

both her

fear

and

father.

On

gratitude—had a

blustery

given

Sunday

in

O c t o b e r o f that year, M i c h e l e a n d T h o m a s a n d T h o m a s ' s p a r t ner, Lena,

s h a r e d coffee a n d p a s t r i e s w i t h r e t i r e d f i s h e r m a n

J u l i u s J o r g e n s e n a t his h o m e i n G i l l e l e j e a n d w e r e f a s c i n a t e d b y w h a t h e h a d t o tell t h e m . H e h a d b e e n s e v e n t e e n y e a r s o l d t h a t fateful O c t o b e r , a n d his f a t h e r A a g e h a d b e e n s e x t o n o f t h e church.

I t w a s h i s f a t h e r w h o h a d stalled for

time

as the

Gestapo d e m a n d e d that he surrender the key to the church's h e a v y d o o r , a n d i t w a s his f a t h e r t o o w h o h a d t o l d h i m s o o n thereafter that D r . F r e m m i n g h a d b e e n called t o t h e c h u r c h e a r l i e r i n t h e n i g h t t o a t t e n d t o a r e f u g e e w h o w a s ill. A a g e J o r g e n s e n h a d b e e n quite clear a b o u t that detail, a n d he had t o l d his s o n s o m e t h i n g else: t h e r e w a s a r u m o r , n o t h i n g m o r e than that perhaps, that the refugee had given s o m e t h i n g " p r e c i o u s " t o t h e p h y s i c i a n i n r e t u r n for h i s h e l p .

Indeed, the

rumor

days,

was

alive

in

town

in

the

following

Julius

J o r g e n s e n r e m e m b e r e d , b u t h e c a u t i o n e d his visitors that t h e y s h o u l d n o t m a k e t o o m u c h o f w h a t h e h a d t o tell t h e m . T h e F r e m m i n g s had h i d d e n refugees in their h o m e as well, and the gift c o u l d h a v e c o m e f r o m o n e o f t h o s e p e o p l e , o r t h e r u m o r m i g h t simply have b e e n o n e o f those stories that s o m e h o w s p r i n g s t o life o f its o w n a c c o r d , a b s e n t a n a n c h o r i n t r u t h . Y e t t h e o n e t h i n g o f w h i c h h e c o u l d assure t h e m absolutely w a s t h a t t h e d o c t o r d i d visit t h e c h u r c h loft a f e w h o u r s b e f o r e its inhabitants w e r e captured.


J u l i u s J o r g e n s e n ' s m e m o r i e s set i n m o t i o n a f l u r r y o f n e w c o n t a c t s a n d n a s c e n t p o s s i b i l i t i e s for t h e e v e n t u a l r e s o l u t i o n o f the riddle. O n c e i n f o r m e d that the lock of hair m i g h t have been given away at the church, O d e n s e University history professor

Therkel

Straede—who

was

on

sabbatical

at

G e o r g e t o w n U n i v e r s i t y i n W a s h i n g t o n , D . C . , i n t h e fall o f 1998 a n d w i t h w h o m Brilliant h a d b e e n i n c o m m u n i c a t i o n — suggested that because r o u g h l y half o f those w h o h a d b e e n c a p t u r e d i n t h e c h u r c h loft u l t i m a t e l y h a d b e e n d e p o r t e d t o Czechoslovakia,

it would be

Theriesenstadt-Foreningen,

wise

to

contact

members

of

a survivors' association that neither

B r i l l i a n t n o r t h e L a r s e n s t h e r e t o f o r e h a d k n o w n of, t o i n q u i r e w h e t h e r o n e o r m o r e o f t h e m m i g h t b e able t o s h e d s u b s t a n tially m o r e l i g h t o n D r . F r e m m i n g ' s visit. T h e o r g a n i z a t i o n ' s c h a i r w o m a n , B i r g i t K r a s n i k F i s c h e r m a n n , h a d b e e n a s m a l l girl o n t h e n i g h t she a n d h e r family w e r e c a p t u r e d , a n d she r e m e m b e r e d v e r y little a b o u t t h o s e frightful h o u r s i n t h e c h u r c h loft,

but

Paul

Rabinowitz—his

surname

now

changed

to

S a n d f o r t — a friend a n d fellow survivor a n d a retired m u s i c history professor, h a d b e e n sixteen at t h e t i m e . A s i t h a p p e n e d , P a u l S a n d f o r t ' s m e m o i r o f his family's flight from the Nazis, their capture, and eventual i m p r i s o n m e n t in Theriesenstadt—titled

Ben:

The Alien Bird

and

published

u n d e r the p s e u d o n y m Paul A r o n — w a s about to be rereleased i n Israel i n a n E n g l i s h - l a n g u a g e e d i t i o n , a n d t h e b o o k m a d e the h o r r o r of that night and the subsequent sixteen m o n t h s of incarceration dramatically manifest.

But Paul

Sandfort—like

those w h o had b e e n queried before h i m — k n e w n o t h i n g about s o m e o n e h i d d e n w i t h h i m a n d his f a m i l y i n t h e c h u r c h w h o


m i g h t h a v e c a r r i e d a l o c k o f B e e t h o v e n ' s hair, t h e n g i v e n i t away in the hours before the capture. Neither could he c o n firm Julius Jorgensen's claim that Kay F r e m m i n g had c o m e to t h e loft t o offer m e d i c a l assistance, y e t h e did r e m e m b e r a small g r o u p o f visitors w h o m h e always h a d p r e s u m e d w e r e R e d C r o s s r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s . F r e m m i n g ' s w i f e , M a r t a , h a d w o r k e d for t h e R e d C r o s s , i n fact, a n d n o w M i c h e l e W a s s a r d L a r s e n w o n d e r e d w h e t h e r h e r m o t h e r and her father had g o n e t o the c h u r c h u n d e r the p r o t e c t i o n of the b o l d red insignia in o r d e r t o g i v e s o m e o n e specific aid, b u t P a u l S a n d f o r t c o u l d p r o v i d e nothing m o r e concrete than that—there had been so many p e o p l e p a c k e d i n t o t h e small s p a c e , h e e x p l a i n e d , a n d i t h a d b e e n so ffighteningly dark. Y e s , o f c o u r s e , h e k n e w w h o H e n r y Skjaer h a d b e e n , P a u l Sandfort subsequently w r o t e in

English

in response to the

questions n o w pressed u p o n h i m from America. Sandfort was a m u s i c o l o g i s t after all, a n d h a d s u n g w i t h t h e r e n o w n e d o p e r a baritone in a Danish student p e r f o r m a n c e following the war. " I c o u l d easily h a v e a s k e d h i m [ a b o u t t h e l o c k o f h a i r ] . I w a s s e n t t o G i l l e l e j e b y D r . N . R . B l e g v a d , w h o w a s t h e d o c t o r for t h e singers at the R o y a l T h e a t r e , so he probably did that in c o l l a b o r a t i o n w i t h H e n r y Skjaer, w h o w a s o f t e n a soloist w i t h the University C h o i r of C o p e n h a g e n w h e r e I was a first tenor. H e n r y Skjaer s u r e l y k n e w t h a t I w a s i n t h e loft, b u t w e n e v e r t a l k e d a b o u t it. M a y b e h e w a s e m b a r r a s s e d o f t h e fact t h a t I was taken by G e r m a n s ? " Christian Tortzen's book,

Gilleleje, Oktober 1943,

plainly h a d

d e s c r i b e d H e n r y Skjaer's a c t i v e r o l e i n t h e r e s c u e effort i n t h e seaside t o w n . T o r t z e n h a d b e e n t o l d b y a t least o n e f o r m e r


r e f u g e e t h a t i t w a s Skjaer w h o h a d d i r e c t e d h e r a n d h e r family t o t h e Gilleleje C h u r c h , a n d — t o g e t h e r w i t h t h e n e w s that t h e R o y a l Theatre's physician directed J e w s to Gilleleje—a very t e n u o u s k i n d o f c o n n e c t i o n a t last b e g a n t o e m e r g e b e t w e e n t h e m u s i c a l m i l i e u i n w h i c h P a u l H i l l e r ' s family h a d b e e n a t h o m e in C o l o g n e and the appearance of a lock of Beethoven's h a i r in a far d i s t a n t D a n i s h f i s h i n g v i l l a g e . Skjaer, in fact, h a d b e e n a k e y f i g u r e i n t h e small w o r l d o f D a n i s h v o c a l m u s i c ; i n 1 9 2 5 , h e h a d m a d e his f i r s t a p p e a r a n c e a t t h e R o y a l O p e r a i n C o p e n h a g e n — s i n g i n g , as it happened, the role of D o n Pizarro i n Fidelio, B e e t h o v e n ' s r e n o w n e d o p e r a o f l o v e a n d f r e e d o m f r o m i m p r i s o n m e n t ; a n d t w o years p r i o r t o that p r e m i e r e , h e h a d m a r r i e d C o p e n h a g e n resident Ida Levy, a D a n i s h J e w . T o r t z e n explained w h e n he was q u e r i e d again that in the a u t u m n of 1943,

" H e n r y Skjaer h a d a h o u s e i n S n e k k e r s t e n ,

s o u t h o f H e l s i n g o r [ a n d n o t far f r o m G i l l e l e j e ] . I n t h i s h o u s e w e r e g a t h e r e d 3 0 - 4 0 p e r s o n s i n t h e f i r s t d a y s o f O c t o b e r , Ida's r e l a t i v e s a n d J e w i s h f r i e n d s . Skjaer's s o n w a s a p u p i l o f M o g e n s Schmidt, w h o went to the house and together with

Skjaer

p l a n n e d t h e e s c a p e o f t h e J e w s . Skjser w a s i n G i l l e l e j e f r o m Tuesday the 5th to T h u r s d a y the 7th and in the middle of the e v e n t s . H i s wife's sister w a s a r r e s t e d b y t h e G e s t a p o , b u t Skjaer h a d her freed because she was a 'half-Jew.'" Christian

Tortzen

did n o t

k n o w w h e t h e r o t h e r refugees

w h o m Skjaer h a d h i d d e n s u b s e q u e n t l y h a d b e e n c a p t u r e d , a n d neither could he know, of course, w h e t h e r o n e of those p e o ple had b e e n a G e r m a n w h o s e s u r n a m e was Hiller. Yet c o u l d it simply have b e e n an extraordinary kind of coincidence that a lock of hair that o n c e had b e l o n g e d to f o r m e r opera singer


Paul Hiller in C o l o g n e — a n d w h o s e son Edgar had been an opera singer w h e n he disappeared in 1 9 3 5 — w a s given to Kay F r e m m i n g s o m e t i m e d u r i n g t h e days i n w h i c h a w e l l - k n o w n D a n i s h b a r i t o n e w a s clandestinely at w o r k h i d i n g friends a n d family m e m b e r s a n d h e l p i n g t o s e c u r e t h e i r e s c a p e ? M o r e t h a n t h i r t y J e w s h a d b e e n h i d d e n i n H e n r y Skjaer's S n e k k e r s t e n h o u s e ; surely it m a d e sense, did it n o t , to suspect that E d g a r Hiller had b e e n o n e of them? It s e e m e d to M i c h e l e Wassard Larsen as well as to

Ira

B r i l l i a n t far a w a y i n P h o e n i x t h a t a t last t h e l o n g - e l u s i v e p i e c e s o f t h e p u z z l e w e r e falling i n t o p l a c e . S u r e l y E d g a r H i l l e r h a d fled t o D e n m a r k w i t h t h e l o c k o f B e e t h o v e n ' s h a i r a m o n g h i s f e w p o s s e s s i o n s ; s u r e l y h e h a d b e e n b e f r i e n d e d b y his m u s i c a l c o l l e a g u e H e n r y Skjaer; s u r e l y h e h a d g i v e n t h e h a i r t o D r . F r e m m i n g a s h e s t r u g g l e d t o flee t o S w e d e n . I t all fit p e r f e c t l y e x c e p t for a s i n g l e a n d v e r y t r o u b l e s o m e fact: a t t h e m a s s i v e Danish

national

archives

in

Copenhagen

known

as

the

Rigsarkivet, there was no evidence that Edgar Hiller or anyo n e i n his family e v e r h a d b e e n i n t h e c o u n t r y . T h e n a m e s o f thousands of Germans w h o had entered Denmark—legally and illegally a s w e l l — d u r i n g t h e 1 9 3 0 s a n d 1 9 4 0 s , i n c l u d i n g t w o d o z e n or so n a m e d Hiller, h a d b e e n carefully cataloged, as w a s each individual's date o f b i r t h a n d t h e city f r o m w h e n c e h e o r s h e h a d fled. B u t m a d d e n i n g l y , t h e b i r t h d a t e s a n d h o m e cities of n o n e of the immigrants n a m e d Hiller approximated those of Paul Hiller's wife or sons, a n d t h e n a m e s S o p h i e , Edgar, a n d E r w i n simply did n o t appear in the archive.


A N A R C H I V I S T A T T H E Y A D V a s h e m i n Israel r e p o r t e d i n O c t o b e r 1998 that t h e m u s e u m ' s extensive database s h o w e d no evidence that either Sophie

Hiller,

E d g a r Hiller,

or Erwin

Hiller had died at the hands of the Nazis b e t w e e n the years 1935 a n d 1945. T h e search did confirm, h o w e v e r , that Selma H i l l e r , t h e f i r s t w i f e o f Felix H i l l e r , P a u l H i l l e r ' s e l d e s t a n d i l legitimate s o n , h a d d i e d a t T h e r i e s e n s t a d t . T h e Yad V a s h e m h a d c o l l e c t e d n o details a b o u t h e r c a p t u r e o r t h e c i r c u m s t a n c e s of her death, yet it appeared c y t a i n

that she had died on

S e p t e m b e r 10, 1942, and therefore it w o u l d have b e e n i m p o s sible for h e r t o h a v e b e e n s e n t t o t h e c a m p f r o m D e n m a r k . T h e sole sign o f t h e o t h e r H i l l e r family m e m b e r s that archivist O x a n a K o r o l was able t o u n c o v e r was a R e d C r o s s T r a c i n g Service

document

that m a d e

it appear quite

G e r m a n J e w n a m e d E r w i n Hiller, b o r n i n

likely

that

a

1 9 0 8 , h a d sailed

f r o m B r e m e r h a v e n t o N e w Y o r k o n J u n e 16, 1 9 4 8 , a n d this small bit o f i n f o r m a t i o n s u d d e n l y a p p e a r e d t o b e a n o t h e r p o tential

breakthrough:

if

Erwin

Hiller

had

emigrated

to

A m e r i c a , t h e n s u r e l y h e o r his d e s c e n d a n t s c o u l d b e l o c a t e d . He w o u l d be ninety by now, and although perhaps it was u n likely, h e might still b e a l i v e ; s u r e l y his c h i l d r e n w o u l d b e in a n y case. But

when

Stan

Lindaas

at

Salt

Lake

City's

Heritage

C o n s u l t i n g , a g e n e a l o g i c a l r e s e a r c h f i r m , b e g a n t o s e a r c h for h i m a s p a r t o f t h e b u r g e o n i n g , m u l t i n a t i o n a l effort t o s o l v e t h e mystery of h o w the

lock

o f h a i r h a d m a d e its w a y o u t o f

Germany, it soon seemed as if E r w i n Hiller simply had v a n i s h e d t h e m o m e n t h e s t e p p e d off t h e S S

Marine Flasher

and


o n t o a M a n h a t t a n pier. T h e R e d Cross tracing d o c u m e n t h a d listed t h e H e b r e w I m m i g r a n t A i d S o c i e t y a s t h e f o r t y - y e a r - o l d Hiller's N e w York address, b u t Lindaas was i n f o r m e d b y H I A S officials t h a t t h e y h a d n o r e c o r d o f a n E r w i n H i l l e r i m m i g r a t i n g t o t h e U n i t e d States i n 1 9 4 8 , o r i n any o t h e r year. N e i t h e r did t w o o t h e r N e w York-based Jewish history associations— t h e Y I V O I n s t i t u t e for J e w i s h R e s e a r c h a n d t h e L e o B a e c k Institute—have records pertaining to h i m , and searches of the federal g o v e r n m e n t ' s S o c i a l S e c u r i t y , I m m i g r a t i o n a n d N a t u r a l i z a t i o n , a n d c e n s u s r e c o r d s also p r o v e d e n t i r e l y futile, a s d i d i n quiries aimed at dozens of Americans n a m e d Hiller w h o had posted Internet and other kinds of queries about their o w n g e nealogical b a c k g r o u n d s . Paul Hiller's son E r w i n , an actor in C o l o g n e w h e n his w h e r e a b o u t s b e c a m e u n k n o w n f o l l o w i n g his father's d e a t h , h a d c o m e t o A m e r i c a , i t a p p e a r e d , b u t t h e n had disappeared a second time. I t w a s n ' t u n t i l A l e x a n d e r F u l l i n g , a p a r t n e r i n t h e small r e search

firm

of Schroder &

Fulling,

GbR

in

the

town

of

G u m m e r s b a c h , n e a r C o l o g n e , initiated his o w n m e t h o d i c a l s e a r c h for e v i d e n c e o f P a u l H i l l e r a n d his h e i r s t h a t a s k e t c h y p i c t u r e o f w h a t h a d b e c o m e o f t h e f a m i l y a t last b e g a n t o emerge.

A l t h o u g h t h e vital-statistics r e g i s t e r for t h e c i t y o f

C o l o g n e had b e e n destroyed by Allied b o m b i n g at the e n d of W o r l d W a r II, Fulling was able to locate Paul Hiller's obituary, b u t h e f o u n d it, t o his s u b s t a n t i a l s u r p r i s e , i n t h e

Westdeutscher

Beobachter, w h i c h w a s t h e R h i n e l a n d ' s l e a d i n g p r o - N a z i n e w s p a p e r early in 1934. Equally surprising w e r e t h e b o l d cross p l a c e d a t t h e t o p o f t h e b o x e d o b i t u a r y — a t y p e t h a t clearly h a d b e e n p u r c h a s e d b y family m e m b e r s o r f r i e n d s — a s w e l l a s its


.repeated

statements

about

the

deceased

man's

devout

Christianity. Hiller m i g h t have b e c o m e a Christian, of course, b u t it s e e m e d virtually u n i m a g i n a b l e that he w o u l d have e m braced N a z i politics in addition. Fulling c o u l d n o t be positive, b u t he strongly suspected that the o b i t u a r y h a d b e e n expressly d e s i g n e d t o h e l p h i d e his s u r v i v o r s ' J e w i s h i d e n t i t i e s . Slowly,

incrementally,

and occasionally only because of a

g o o d bit o f luck, Fulling discovered m o r e shards o f i n f o r m a t i o n d u r i n g t h e c o u r s e o f t h e f i r s t Half o f 1 9 9 9 : P a u l H i l l e r h a d b e q u e a t h e d his father's l e t t e r s a n d d i a r i e s t o t h e C o l o g n e c i t y a r c h i v e , b u t his musical l e g a c y — h a n d w r i t t e n scores, sketches, a n d m e m o r a b i l i a — h a d b e e n g i v e n t o t h e c o m b i n e d city a n d university library in F e r d i n a n d Hiller's h o m e city of Frankfurt b y his d a u g h t e r T o n y . F e l i x H i l l e r , P a u l H i l l e r ' s e l d e s t s o n — w h o had died in Berlin in 1963, Fulling discovered—had m a r ried Selma Hiller in 1916, then had m a r r i e d a w o m a n n a m e d J o h a n n a F u c h s i n 1 9 3 6 , six y e a r s p r i o r t o his f i r s t wife's d e a t h , m e a n i n g that Felix a n d S e l m a certainly h a d d i v o r c e d , a l t h o u g h Fulling c o u l d find no r e c o r d of that dissolution. Five years b e fore

Felix

Hiller remarried,

he

had m o v e d to

Berlin from

C h e m n i t z , a n d a l t h o u g h Fulling was able to locate h i m in t h e city's 1 9 3 1

Adressbuch—where, p e r h a p s i t s h o u l d n ' t h a v e b e e n

surprising, he was identified as a c o m p o s e r — h e c o u l d find n e i ther an obituary identified

Felix's

nor probate descendants.

information that might have Next,

Fulling contacted t w o

G e r m a n musicians' societies h e a d q u a r t e r e d in Berlin a n d was i n f o r m e d that a l t h o u g h their r e c o r d s s h o w e d no sign of a Felix Hiller, an E d g a r Hiller, b o r n in C o l o g n e in longed to

1906, had b e -

a sister o r g a n i z a t i o n i n S w i t z e r l a n d .

That Edgar


Hiller was Felix Hiller's half b r o t h e r , it n o w s e e m e d certain, a n d p e o p l e at t h e Swiss o r g a n i z a t i o n w e r e able to c o n f i r m that he had b e e n a m e m b e r d u r i n g t h e years he lived in Z u r i c h . T h e o r g a n i z a t i o n h a d lost t o u c h w i t h h i m after 1 9 5 3 , h o w e v e r , the

Swiss contacts

reported to

Fulling,

at which time

he

r e s i d e d i n G e r m a n y a g a i n , this t i m e i n t h e c i t y o f H a m b u r g . G e r m a n privacy laws m a k e t h e k i n d o f o p e n - e n d e d research t h a t A l e x a n d e r F u l l i n g w a s u n d e r t a k i n g a difficult p r o c e s s i n the best o f circumstances, and bureaucrats i n H a m b u r g are n o t o r i o u s l y far m o r e r e s t r i c t i v e t h a n m o s t , b u t F u l l i n g ' s r e p e a t e d p l e a s for assistance n o n e t h e l e s s p r o v e d successful a t last, a n d i n J u n e 1 9 9 9 h e q u i t e r e m a r k a b l y w a s able t o a s c e r t a i n — w i t h t h e vital h e l p of a y o u n g , u n d e r s t a n d i n g , a n d r u l e - b e n d i n g c o u r t clerk—that Edgar Hiller had died in H a m b u r g on N o v e m b e r 20, 1959, that he had never m a r r i e d and had had no children, a n d t h a t his s m a l l e s t a t e h a d b e e n w i l l e d t o his b r o t h e r , w h o lived in Los Angeles, California, a n d w h o s e n a m e was M a r c e l Hillaire. I t w a s e x t r a o r d i n a r y n e w s — a t least i t w a s t o t h e k n o t o f p e o p l e o n t w o c o n t i n e n t s w h o h a d b e e n s e a r c h i n g for P a u l H i l l e r ' s s o n s , o r his s o n s ' d e s c e n d a n t s , for n e a r l y f o u r y e a r s b y n o w — a n d a t last r e s e a r c h e r S t a n L i n d a a s i n Salt L a k e C i t y c o u l d b e g i n to m a k e substantial progress, a n d he did so almost i m m e d i a t e l y : A m e r i c a n Marcel Hillaire had b e e n b o r n in C o l o g n e on April 23,

1908, just as E r w i n Hiller had; he had emigrated from

Germany on June

15,

1948, a n d that date m a t c h e d E r w i n

Hiller's e m i g r a t i o n r e c o r d a s well; h e h a d lived i n N e w Y o r k City, w o r k i n g as a B r o a d w a y and television actor until 1954, w h e n h e h a d m o v e d t o L o s A n g e l e s t o establish h i s film c a r e e r .


H e h a d lived i n California until his d e a t h o n J a n u a r y 1 , 1 9 8 8 , w h e n he h a d died from complications following surgery. Like his b r o t h e r E d g a r , h e n e v e r h a d m a r r i e d a n d n e i t h e r d i d h e h a v e c h i l d r e n , b u t Lindaas found that his d e a t h certificate h a d b e e n s i g n e d b y a w o m a n n a m e d E s t h e r T a y l o r , w h o h a d listed her relationship to the decedent as "friend," and w h o continued to five at the same B u r b a n k address w h e r e she had lived eleven years before. Since

he

first

had

heard

t h e ^distressingly

sketchy

but

nonetheless fascinating story that t h e lock of B e e t h o v e n ' s hair s o m e h o w h a d left t h e H i l l e r family i n t h e m i d s t o f t h e S e c o n d W o r l d W a r a n d h a d c o m e i n t o the possession of a kindly D a n i s h p h y s i c i a n , Ira B r i l l i a n t h a d l o n g e d o n e d a y t o s p e a k w i t h and p e r h a p s e v e n m e e t face-to-face o n e o f Paul Hiller's descendants. A n d although Esther Taylor was not a blood r e lation of the m a n w h o s e n a m e had b e c o m e Marcel Hillaire, B r i l l i a n t s o o n l e a r n e d t h a t s h e h a d b e c o m e his h e i r , i n fact. A n d the kind and engaging wife and m o t h e r o f t w o y o u n g s o n s w a s n o t h i n g less t h a n a s t o n i s h e d w h e n h e r t e l e p h o n e r a n g i n early J u l y a n d s h e b e g a n t o r e p l y i n t h e a f f i r m a t i v e t o a s e r i e s of exceedingly unanticipated questions: Yes, M a r c e l Hillaire h a d b e e n h e r d e a r f r i e n d u n t i l his d e a t h . Y e s , t h e a c t o r h a d b e e n b o r n E r w i n Hiller and h a d b e e n raised i n C o l o g n e . Yes, his f a t h e r h a d b e e n P a u l H i l l e r , t h e m u s i c j o u r n a l i s t , a n d y e s , of course, she affirmed, M a r c e l had told h e r m a n y times a b o u t t h e l o c k o f h a i r his f a t h e r p o s s e s s e d , o n e t h a t his f a m e d g r a n d father

had

cut

from

the

Europe ever had k n o w n .

corpse

of the

greatest

composer


T H E T W E N T Y H A I R S F R O M B E E T H O V E N ' S head that had b e e n in Dr. W e r n e r Baumgartner's care arrived at the Health R e s e a r c h Institute i n N a p e r v i l l e , Illinois, a t t h e e n d o f M a y 1996, together w i t h a detailed description of each p e r e g r i n a t i n g hair. B a u m g a r t n e r n o t e d t h a t t h e s a m p l e h e h a d e x a m i n e d a n d n o w w a s passing along c o n t a i n e d lations"—ten

hairs

were

5—7

two

centimeters

distinct in

"popu-

length,

and

t e n m o r e w e r e 10—12 c e n t i m e t e r s l o n g . P o s i t i n g a n a v e r a g e g r o w t h r a t e o f 1.3 c e n t i m e t e r s p e r m o n t h , t h e L o s A n g e l e s s c i entist estimated that because of t h e v a r y i n g lengths, t h e hairs h a d g r o w n b e t w e e n four a n d a half a n d n i n e m o n t h s p r i o r to the composer's death.

T h e short g r o u p contained t w o gray

h a i r s , t h e l o n g e r g r o u p five, a n d t h e r e m a i n i n g t h i r t e e n h a i r s w e r e dark b r o w n . T h e y arrived at D r . William Walsh's research facility—enc a s e d i n a plastic vial t h a t w a s p r o t e c t e d b y a n o u t e r vial a s w e l l — - j u s t a s A m y S t e v e n s ' s a r t i c l e a t last a p p e a r e d o n t h e f r o n t page of the

Wall Street Journal

of

interest

media

in

the

and immediately elicited a flood scientists'

pursuits.

Although

B a u m g a r t n e r spoke by telephone w i t h a few reporters in Los Angeles, it was Walsh w h o m e t w i t h t h e m en masse in t h e C h i c a g o s u b u r b , b o t h scientists a n d t h e i r colleagues i n A r i z o n a h o p i n g c o l l e c t i v e l y t h a t t h e y c o u l d offer t h e m e d i a a b o n e o f s o r t s for a day, o r t w o a t m o s t , t h e n b e left a l o n e a g a i n for t h e l o n g s t r e t c h o f t i m e t h a t t h e n e w tests w o u l d r e q u i r e . "I

was

astonished

at

the

result,"

Baumgartner

told

the

A s s o c i a t e d P r e s s o f t h e m o r p h i n e tests. " I t ' s e x t r e m e l y s t r a n g e t h a t B e e t h o v e n , w h o s u f f e r e d all h i s life, d i d n ' t t a k e o p i a t e s . . . . A m o n g B e e t h o v e n scholars, t h e r e is a major mystery h o w p e o -


pie can transcend great pain and create p r o f o u n d music. T h e a n s w e r is, it takes a p r o f o u n d p e r s o n . . . . B e e t h o v e n d i d n o t choose to take s o m e t h i n g that w o u l d d e h u m a n i z e h i m , because m o r p h i n e is, after all, a loss o f h u m a n

freedom

and h u m a n

will." B u t B e e t h o v e n scholar William M e r e d i t h , d i r e c t o r o f t h e B e e t h o v e n C e n t e r , i n t e r p r e t e d t h e c h e m i s t ' s f i n d i n g r a t h e r differently. H e t o o h a d b e e n g r e a t l y s u r p r i s e d b y t h e r e s u l t , y e t w h a t it foremost signaled to h i m was the n e w k n o w l e d g e that B e e t h o v e n " s u f f e r e d n e e d l e s s l y " a t ^ i e e n d o f his life, e s p e c i a l l y c o n s i d e r i n g t h a t his a b d o m e n h a d b e e n o p e n e d r e p e a t e d l y t o d r a i n e x c e s s fluid. " I t u n d e r s c o r e s t h e fact t h a t B e e t h o v e n r e c e i v e d b a r b a r i c t r e a t m e n t , e v e n b y t h e s t a n d a r d s o f t h e day," M e r e d i t h told the San Jose

Mercury News.

T h e m a n w h o stepped i n front o f the rack o f m i c r o p h o n e s i n N a p e r v i l l e offered n o t h i n g i n t h e w a y o f i n t e r p r e t i v e c o m m e n t b e c a u s e his w o r k h a d y e t t o b e g i n , o f c o u r s e . B u t Bill Walsh did a n n o u n c e that in the c o m i n g m o n t h s he w o u l d r e c o m m e n d to

G u e v a r a a n d B r i l l i a n t w h a t f u r t h e r tests w e r e

likely t o y i e l d t h e m o s t n e w i n f o r m a t i o n , a n d w h o w o u l d b e the best p e o p l e t o p e r f o r m t h e m . H e c o u l d n o t b e sure yet h o w m a n y examinations ultimately w o u l d be undertaken, but h e w o u l d f o c u s his i n v e s t i g a t i o n s i n t h r e e a r e n a s : m i c r o s c o p i c analysis m i g h t b e e m p l o y e d i n h o p e s o f r e a c h i n g a s u b s t a n t i v e conclusion

about

the

hair's a g e

and condition;

trace-metal

analysis, d o n e w i t h v e r y m o d e r n m i c r o s c o p e s , c o u l d s e a r c h for a b n o r m a l concentrations of an array of metals;

and genetic

testing, if c o n d u c t e d , m i g h t p r o v i d e insights into genetic diso r d e r s a s w e l l a s establish a b a s e l i n e for c o m p a r i s o n w i t h o t h e r Beethoven remains.


In t h e days following t h e press c o n f e r e n c e s , B e e t h o v e n ' s hair did i n d e e d briefly e n t e r t h e A m e r i c a n m e d i a spotlight. T h e Chicago

Tribune,

Los

Angeles

Times,

and

San

Francisco

Chronicle all t o o k r a t h e r s o b e r a p p r o a c h e s t o t h e n e w s t h e s c i entists h a d g e n e r a t e d , w h i l e t h e o f t e n - o u d a n d i s h N e w Y o r k

Post

s e i z e d t h e o p p o r t u n i t y t o p o k e s o m e fun: " H i l l e r h e l d

o n t o t h e h a i r for y e a r s , finally g i v i n g i t t o h i s s o n P a u l a s a 3 0 t h b i r t h d a y gift. ( ' G e e , t h a n k s , D a d , b u t I w a s r e a l l y h o p i n g f o r a piece of Mozart's sports-jacket.')" T h e television n e w s departments a t A B C , C B S , and N B C aired segments about the i m p e n d i n g t e s t i n g a n d t h e A r i z o n a m e n w h o h a d set i t i n m o t i o n , a n d i n t h e s u c c e e d i n g d a y s , Ira B r i l l i a n t l o g g e d n i n e t e e n calls f r o m still m o r e n e w s o r g a n i z a t i o n s i n t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s , G r e a t B r i t a i n , Italy, a n d J a p a n . B e e t h o v e n ' s h a i r a n d its e n d - o f t h e c e n t u r y s c r u t i n y w e r e b i g n e w s , b u t o n l y for a m o m e n t , b e f o r e o t h e r e v e n t s cast t h e m i n s h a d o w a g a i n , b e f o r e Bill W a l s h p r o c e e d e d w i t h t h e s l o w a n d o r d e r l y analyses t h a t w o u l d o c c u p y s o m e o f his t i m e a n d m u c h o f his f a s c i n a t i o n for f o u r m o r e years t o c o m e . A chemical engineer by training, William Walsh had b e c o m e t h e l e a d i n g e x p e r t o n h a i r analysis i n t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s a l m o s t by

accident.

While

completing

his

Ph.D.

at

Iowa

State

U n i v e r s i t y in t h e early 1960s, he h a d designed a n d built a h i g h - v a c u u m X - r a y s p e c t r o m e t e r for t r a c e - m e t a l analysis for t h e I n s t i t u t e for A t o m i c R e s e a r c h i n A m e s . A l r e a d y , h e h a d b e e n e m p l o y e d at t h e Los A l a m o s Scientific L a b o r a t o r y in New

Mexico

and

the

University

of Michigan

Research

Institute, designing a n d operating an array of nuclear-fuels e x p e r i m e n t s , a n d , o n c e his d o c t o r a l w o r k w a s d o n e , h e h a d a c -


cepted

a

position

at

Argonne

National

Laboratory

near

C h i c a g o , w h e r e h e d i r e c t e d a t e a m o f scientists w h o s e projects focused on nuclear-fuels processing and the d e v e l o p m e n t of small a n d sophisticated batteries. It was d u r i n g t h e t w o decades that Walsh had spent at A r g o n n e that v o l u n t e e r w o r k he had undertaken

in

the

Prisoner

Assistance

Program

at

nearby

Stateville P r i s o n h a d led to an obsession w i t h t h e q u e s t i o n of w h e t h e r there might be a direct relationship b e t w e e n h u m a n chemical imbalances a n d antisocial behavior, a personal i n q u i r y t h a t s o o n w o u l d c h a n g e his life. I n w o r k i n g w i t h m e n w h o w e r e about t o b e paroled, Walsh h a d h e a r d r e p e a t e d l y f r o m p a r e n t s a n d family m e m b e r s that the particular inmate t o w h o m they w e r e related had b e e n " d i f f e r e n t " f r o m b i r t h , a n d his siblings o f t e n h a d b e e n r e p o r t e d t o b e w e l l a d j u s t e d a n d successful i n c o m p a r i s o n . P e r s o n a l o b servation similarly h a d led Walsh t o suspect that m a n y c r i m i nals w e r e d i s s i m i l a r f r o m t h e g e n e r a l p o p u l a t i o n n o t s o m u c h morally or psychologically but

physiologically,

and in 1975 h e

a n d a g r o u p o f v o l u n t e e r s h e e n l i s t e d f r o m a m o n g his c o l leagues at A r g o n n e had b e g u n to study the b i o c h e m i s t r y of S t a t e v i l l e i n m a t e s i n a n effort t o e x p l o r e t h e q u e s t i o n . T a k i n g b l o o d a n d u r i n e samples from a large p r i s o n p o p u l a t i o n , t h e n r e m o v i n g t h e m t o l a b o r a t o r i e s for analysis, w o u l d h a v e b e e n difficult for m a n y r e a s o n s , b u t s a m p l e s o f i n m a t e s ' hair, o n t h e o t h e r h a n d , h a d b e e n r e l a t i v e l y easy t o o b t a i n a n d t r a n s p o r t , a n d , a s W a l s h a n d his c o l l e a g u e s s o o n h a d d i s c o v e r e d , scalp h a i r also p r o v e d t o b e a n e x c e l l e n t i n d i c a t o r o f c h e m i c a l levels r e tained in tissue t h r o u g h o u t t h e body. By 1980, t w o separate Walsh-led

studies—one

involving

ninety-six

violent

prison


inmates and parolees and an equal n u m b e r of nonviolent " c o n t r o l " subjects; the o t h e r a c o m p a r i s o n of t w e n t y - f o u r pairs of b r o t h e r s , o n e a v i o l e n t " d e l i n q u e n t , " his sibling a verifiable " a l l - A m e r i c a n b o y " — h a d s h o w n similar a n d r e m a r k a b l e r e sults. N o t o n l y h a d t h e h a i r o f v i r t u a l l y all t h e c r i m i n a l s u b j e c t s e v i d e n c e d a b n o r m a l levels o f s e v e r a l essential t r a c e m e t a l s , those elements had been present in high and low concentrations i n t w o readily identifiable p a t t e r n s — t h o s e w h o e x h i b i t e d o n l y p e r i o d i c u n e x p l a i n e d rages, and those w h o had b e c o m e c h r o n i c a l l y s o c i o p a t h i c . T h e r e clearly was a l i n k b e t w e e n a n t i social b e h a v i o r a n d b o d y c h e m i s t r y , t h e s c i e n t i s t n o w w a s c o n vinced. I n t h e s u c c e e d i n g y e a r s , W a l s h h a d b e e n a b l e t o establish t h e w o r l d ' s f i r s t s t a n d a r d s for t r a c e - m e t a l c o n c e n t r a t i o n i n h u m a n hair, as well as r e f e r e n c e n o r m a l s based on a 1 0 0 , 0 0 0 - s a m p l e d a t a b a s e . I n a c o l l a b o r a t i o n b e g u n i n 1 9 8 2 w i t h C a r l Pfeiffer, a physician

and widely

acknowledged

expert on biochemical

imbalances w h o was based i n P r i n c e t o n , N e w Jersey, Walsh h a d b e c o m e i n c r e a s i n g l y c o n v i n c e d t h a t s u c h deficits a n d o v e r l o a d s c o u l d b e successfully t r e a t e d w i t h m i n e r a l s , v i t a m i n s , a n d a m i n o a c i d s . I n 1 9 8 6 , h e h a d left his l o n g - h e l d p o s i t i o n a t A r g o n n e t o establish t h e H e a l t h R e s e a r c h I n s t i t u t e , h e n c e f o r t h d e v o t i n g his efforts f u l l - t i m e t o t h e d e v e l o p m e n t o f h i g h l y a c c u r a t e m e t h o d s for c h e m i c a l s c r e e n i n g o f h a i r a s w e l l a s allied k i n d s o f a p p l i e d r e s e a r c h , a n d t h r e e y e a r s later h e h a d f o u n d e d t h e Pfeiffer T r e a t m e n t C e n t e r — n a m e d i n h o n o r o f his b y - t h e n d e c e a s e d c o l l e a g u e — i t s p r o g r a m s t a r g e t e d specifically a t t h e evaluation and t r e a t m e n t of patients w i t h an array of b e h a v -


i o r a l d y s f u n c t i o n s w h o s e c a u s e likely w a s o n e o r m o r e n e u r o chemical imbalance. By the

time

he was

approached by

Dr.

Guevara

about

w h e t h e r he w o u l d be interested in coordinating the testing of t h e hair f r o m B e e t h o v e n ' s head, Walsh's b u r g e o n i n g r e n o w n — coupled w i t h the generally l o w esteem in w h i c h the field of h a i r analysis l o n g h a d b e e n h e l d — h a d m a d e h i m t h e s c i e n t i s t o f c h o i c e , a n d b y n o w h e h a d p a r t i c i p a t e d i n f o r e n s i c analyses o f the hair b i o c h e m i s t r y o f C h a r l ^ M a n s o n a n d t h r e e d o z e n m o r e n o t o r i o u s A m e r i c a n criminals. L u d w i g van B e e t h o v e n w o u l d b e Walsh's f i r s t f a m o u s — r a t h e r t h a n infamous—subject, a n d t h a t h a d b e e n a k e y r e a s o n for h i s p o s i t i v e r e s p o n s e t o Guevara's o v e r t u r e . So, t o o , h a d b e e n his e n d u r i n g m e m o r y o f t h e h e i r l o o m bust of t h e g r e a t c o m p o s e r his m o t h e r , a p i a n o instructor, long had kept positioned on the baby grand piano in their Bay City, M i c h i g a n , h o m e back w h e n he w a s a boy. W i t h t h e c o n s e n t o f D r . G u e v a r a a n d Ira B r i l l i a n t , W a l s h n o w p l a n n e d t o p r o c e e d v e r y cautiously. H e w o u l d p e r f o r m n o n e o f t h e t e s t i n g himself, b u t i n s t e a d w o u l d s e l e c t a g r o u p o f t w o o r t h r e e scientists w h o m h e b e l i e v e d w e r e t h e b e s t o f t h e best i n t h e i r a r c a n e areas o f e x p e r t i s e ; e a c h s c i e n t i s t w o u l d be i n f o r m e d only that he was e x a m i n i n g t h e hair of a " f a m o u s p e r s o n , " a n d W a l s h w o u l d a l l o w e a c h o n e t o p r o c e e d w i t h his e x p e r i m e n t o n l y after h e w a s c o n v i n c e d o f t h e s o u n d n e s s o f t h e scientist's m e t h o d o l o g y a n d his u t t e r c o m m i t m e n t t o a c c u racy. All w o r k w o u l d b e p e r f o r m e d f r e e o f c h a r g e , a n d W a l s h t h e r e f o r e w o u l d a g r e e t o b e v e r y p a t i e n t w h i l e e a c h test w a s u n d e r t a k e n . T h e o w n e r s o f t h e hair, i n t u r n , h a d t o b e glacially


p a t i e n t a s w e l l , a n d t w o a n d a h a l f y e a r s p a s s e d , i n fact, b e f o r e a t last W a l s h

flew

to P h o e n i x and presented Guevara and

Brilliant w i t h a preliminary r e p o r t of the findings he had o b tained, o n e o f w h i c h , i n particular, staggered the t w o m e n w h o so long had held the figure of the immortal Beethoven in such exalted regard.

T H R O U G H O U T T H E C E N T U R Y T H A T WAS about t o come t o a c l o s e , B e e t h o v e n s c h o l a r s w i t h a focal i n t e r e s t i n t h e c o m poser's c h r o n i c ill-health—as well as physicians w i t h particular p a s s i o n s for B e e t h o v e n ' s m u s i c — h a d s t u d i e d his m e d i c a l h i s t o r y a n d s p e c u l a t e d a b o u t t h e c a u s e s o f his m a n y diseases a n d t h e i m p a c t t h e y m a d e o n his m u s i c . A m e r i c a n m u s i c o l o g i s t C l a r e n c e J . B l a k e , w r i t i n g i n 1 9 0 1 a b o u t t h e c o m p o s e r ' s loss o f h e a r i n g , h a d insisted that " t h e r e is no m o r e pathetic p i c t u r e t h a n t h a t o f B e e t h o v e n i n his l a t e r y e a r s , a t a n a g e w h e n h e s h o u l d h a v e b e e n i n t h e p e r f e c t i o n o f his p h y s i c a l m a n h o o d , deaf to o v e r w h e l m i n g applause or striking in t u m u l t u o u s discord the piano w h i c h to h i m was d u m b . " Yet despite that e x pression of empathy, it had appeared to Blake that Beethoven's h e a r i n g d e f i c i t h a d n o t , i n fact, i n f l u e n c e d his c o m p o s i t i o n s i n a significant way. " I n d e e d it m a y be q u e s t i o n e d , " Blake h a d c o n c l u d e d h i s s h o r t essay, " i f his m u s i c a l n a t u r e w e r e affected a t all o t h e r t h a n f a v o r a b l y b y his i n f i r m i t y . H i s a r t w a s g r e a t e r t h a n t h e m a n , o r r a t h e r t h e m a n i n his art was g r e a t e r t h a n himself." By m i d c e n t u r y , scholars such as W a l d e m a r S c h w e i s h e i m e r


h a d g r o w n w i l l i n g t o a r g u e t h a t t h e c o m p o s e r ' s deafness h a d i n f l u e n c e d his m u s i c p r o f o u n d l y , i n fact, a n d e v e n t o p o s i t its c a u s e . " B e e t h o v e n ' s t r a g i c deafness w a s t h e c o n s e q u e n c e o f a disease o f t h e i n n e r ear, a

neuritis acoustica.

T h e most probable

c a u s e o f this n e u r i t i s w a s a s e v e r e early a t t a c k o f t y p h o i d fever," S c h w e i s h e i m e r had w r i t t e n in t h e

Musical Quarterly

in 1945.

T h e p o s s i b i l i t y t h a t t h e h e a r i n g loss h a d b e e n c a u s e d i n s t e a d by syphilis—a theory that had g r o w n popular in s o m e circles—simply could not be supported by Beethoven's medical history, a c c o r d i n g t o S c h w e i s h e i m e r , w h o described t h e claim t h a t h e h a d syphilis a s " p u r e i n v e n t i o n , " a n d i t h a d b e e n u t t e r l y discredited m o r e than a century before, he believed, w h e n n o n e o f s e v e r a l v i v i d a n d telltale signs o f t h e d i s e a s e h a d b e e n o b s e r v e d a t a u t o p s y . A q u a r t e r c e n t u r y later, h o w e v e r , t h e n o t i o n t h a t syphilis h a d b e e n t h e c o m p o s e r ' s c h i e f m e d i c a l c u l p r i t nonetheless

had

grown

commonplace

enough

that

British

scholar E d w a r d Larkin h a d d e v o t e d a n e n t i r e section o f his l o n g essay, " B e e t h o v e n ' s M e d i c a l H i s t o r y , " t o its r e f u t a t i o n . Like

Schweisheimer,

Larkin

had

not

intended

to

protect

Beethoven's magisterial reputation by refusing to a c k n o w l e d g e t h e p o s s i b i l i t y o f his h a v i n g c o n t r a c t e d a v e n e r e a l disease; i n fact, h e b e l i e v e d i t w a s p r o b a b l e t h a t h e h a d : " I t i s l i k e l y t h a t B e e t h o v e n , like e v e r y b o d y else, c a u g h t g o n o r r h e a , " L a r k i n h a d written,

his

essay

published

Beethoven: The Last Decade,

in

1970

as

an

appendix

to

b y M a r t i n C o o p e r , " b u t t h e r e is n o

e v i d e n c e t h a t e i t h e r his l i f e l o n g illnesses o r his deafness w e r e syphilitic, a n d t h e substantial m e d i c a l w r i t e r s m a k e o t h e r d i a g noses." F o r his p a r t , L a r k i n s u s p e c t e d t h a t B e e t h o v e n ' s deafness m o s t


probably was caused by otosclerosis, the h a r d e n i n g of the cart i l a g i n o u s o p e n i n g t o t h e i n n e r ear. T h e c o m p o s e r ' s l i f e l o n g litany o f o t h e r d i s o r d e r s — " h e p a t i t i s , colitis, r h e u m a t i s m , r e p e a t e d c a t a r r h s , abscesses, c r y o p a t h y ( a t t a c k s p r e c i p i t a t e d b y chilling), t h e o p t h a l m i a and t h e skin d i s o r d e r s " — L a r k i n b e lieved could be seen as s y m p t o m a t i c and " e x t r e m e l y suggestive of connective

tissue

immunopathy,"

a

disorder

in

which

disease-fighting antibodies strangely and selectively a t t e m p t to destroy t h e body's o w n b o n e , cartilage, ligaments, t e n d o n s , o r soft tissue. W h e n B r i t i s h r h e u m a t o l o g i s t a n d B e e t h o v e n d e v o tee T h o m a s Palferman

had weighed in

on the

etiology of

B e e t h o v e n ' s diseases i n a c o m p r e h e n s i v e a r t i c l e p u b l i s h e d i n the Beethoven Center's

Beethoven Journal

n o t e d t h e several p r e v i o u s diagnoses,

in

1992, he had

and had agreed with

Larkin that an " a u t o i m m u n e " disorder m i g h t have b e e n at the r o o t of m o s t of B e e t h o v e n ' s maladies. Y e t it wasn't likely that i t h a d c a u s e d his h e a r i n g loss a s w e l l , a n d P a l f e r m a n t h e r e f o r e h a d s u g g e s t e d his o w n u n p r e c e d e n t e d d i a g n o s i s . S a r c o i d o s i s , a disease c l o s e l y r e l a t e d t o t u b e r c u l o s i s a n d c h a r acterized

by

the

appearance

of noncancerous,

tumorlike

g r o w t h s o n organs t h r o u g h o u t t h e b o d y — n e o p l a s m s capable o f i n f l i c t i n g s e v e r e d a m a g e a n d its a t t e n d a n t p a i n — w a s t h e o n e disease P a l f e r m a n b e l i e v e d c o u l d e n c o m p a s s e v e r y a s p e c t o f Beethoven's medical misfortune. A l t h o u g h often self-limiting a n d r a t h e r b e n i g n i n its effects, a s e v e r e case o f s a r c o i d o s i s , Palferman had contended,

c o u l d a c c o u n t for t h e d e s t r o y e d

l i v e r t h a t e n d e d B e e t h o v e n ' s life, for h i s e y e c o m p l a i n t s , h i s frequent respiratory attacks; a n d t h e k i d n e y stones discovered a t a u t o p s y also c o u l d e x p l a i n his c h r o n i c a n d o f t e n c r i p p l i n g


abdominal pain. A n d although it was reported in the medical l i t e r a t u r e o n l y e x t r e m e l y rarely, t h e B r i t i s h p h y s i c i a n h a d a d m i t t e d , s a r c o i d o s i s c o u l d also l e a d t o d e a f n e s s . I t w a s t h e s o l e diagnosis that c o u l d provide a unified explanation of the great man's extensive suffering, and c o u n t e r i n g w h a t C l a r e n c e Blake had w r i t t e n nearly a c e n t u r y before, Palferman had c o n c l u d e d his a r g u m e n t b y s u g g e s t i n g t h a t b e c a u s e

"pain and despair

c a n a m p l i f y artistic o r i g i n a l i t y , i t i s p e r h a p s a x i o m a t i c t h a t B e e t h o v e n ' s m a n y adversities allowed h i m t o p l u m b e m o t i o n a l d e p t h s t h a t a m o r e t r a n q u i l life w o u l d h a v e d e n i e d h i m . " P u t simply, B e e t h o v e n ' s diseases t h e r e f o r e h a d p l a y e d a n i n s p i r i t i n g r o l e i n t h e c r e a t i o n o f his p r o f o u n d l y e m o t i v e m u s i c . I t a p p e a r s t h a t P h i l i p W e i s s , a c o n t r i b u t i n g w r i t e r for t h e

New York Times Magazine

did n o t read Palferman's c o m m e n -

tary or any of those that had preceded it w h e n he took up the subject

of Beethoven's

health

and

the

ongoing

study

of

B e e t h o v e n ' s hair i n O c t o b e r 1998. T h e r e p o r t e r had seized u p o n Ira B r i l l i a n t a n d C h e G u e v a r a a s e x a m p l e s o f a m a t e u r s o u t of their depths in the b u r g e o n i n g arena of forensic history in an article published in t h e

New York Times Magazine

on

N o v e m b e r 30, and Weiss was sure as well that he had ferreted o u t t h e r e a s o n w h y t h e t w o m e n h a d b o u g h t t h e l o c k o f hair, t h e n g o n e to great lengths to have it tested: they w e r e out to p r o v e that B e e t h o v e n h a d c o n t r a c t e d syphilis. A l t h o u g h each m a n h a d i n s i s t e d t o W e i s s t h a t t h e o n g o i n g h a i r analysis w a s a i m e d a t n o p r e d e t e r m i n e d goal w h e n h e h a d visited Brilliant at the B e e t h o v e n C e n t e r in San Jose and Guevara in Nogales, t h e w r i t e r w o u l d n o t be d e t e r r e d , and t h e result was a story entitled

"Beethoven's

Hair

Tells

All!,"

the

cover

of the


m a g a z i n e illustrated w i t h an i m a g e of t h e c o m p o s e r seated at his p i a n o a n d g l a r i n g at t h e t a b l o i d

"Vienna Confidential,"

w h o s e h e a d l i n e b l a r e d , " C l a p for B e e t h o v e n ? H i s h a i r says i t all: H e ' s g o t Y D . " A l t h o u g h Weiss c o n c e d e d that Brilliant was a " c h a r m i n g 7 6 y e a r - o l d , " h e also d e p i c t e d h i m a s a m a n b l i n d l y d e t e r m i n e d t o h a v e his way. G u e v a r a , i n t u r n , was s o m e o n e o f w h o m t h e w r i t e r c o u l d c r o w , " I r e c o g n i z e d his t y p e . H e w a s t h e w e l l r e a d p r o v i n c i a l d o c t o r . . . . H i s t h e o r i e s of h i s t o r y o w e d a l o t to G o r e Vidal novels and c o r r e s p o n d e n c e videos." A n d the tests t h e t w o m e n h a d a u t h o r i z e d W i l l i a m W a l s h t o u n d e r t a k e — e x a m i n a t i o n s Weiss was certain w e r e aimed at shouting t o t h e w o r l d that B e e t h o v e n h a d b e e n sexually i n d i s c r e e t — struck h i m "as rather g e e - w h i z a n d trivial." N e i t h e r G u e v a r a n o r Brilliant t o o k pleasure in b e i n g p o r trayed in the nation's leading n e w s p a p e r as s o m e t h i n g of a s y p h i l i s - o b s e s s e d b u m p k i n , a n d , w h a t w a s w o r s e w a s t h e fact that the B e e t h o v e n cognoscenti a r o u n d the w o r l d n o w m i g h t p r e s u m e that they w e r e bent on buttressing a medical diagnosis t h a t h a d b e e n s o u n d l y d i s c r e d i t e d for n e a r l y t h r e e d e c a d e s . T h e magazine writer wrongly had presumed—then had presented it as cleverly u n c o v e r e d inside i n f o r m a t i o n — t h a t the o w n e r s o f t h e G u e v a r a l o c k h a d t h e i r s i g h t s set o n syphilis y e t w e r e t o o c o y t o a d m i t it p u b l i c l y . T h e d o c t o r w a s a after all, W e i s s r e m i n d e d t h e

Times's

urologist,

readers.

Y e t a s t h e r i m i n g b y c h a n c e w o u l d h a v e it, Ira B r i l l i a n t a n d Dr. Guevara had m e t w i t h testing coordinator William Walsh i n A r i z o n a d u r i n g t h e five w e e k s b e t w e e n t h e i r c o n v e r s a t i o n s w i t h W e i s s a n d t h e article's a p p e a r a n c e , a n d t h e y n o w w e r e


privy to information

that only Walsh

h i t h e r t o had k n o w n :

B e e t h o v e n ' s h a i r h a d e v i d e n c e d levels o f m e r c u r y s o l o w t h e y were undetectable. M e r c u r y had been a ubiquitous treatment for s y p h i l i s a n d d o z e n s o f o t h e r i n f e c t i o n s e a r l y i n t h e n i n e teenth century, o n e the c o m p o s e r certainly w o u l d have c o n s u m e d regularly i f h e k n o w i n g l y h a d b e e n battling t h e disease. Syphilis n o w clearly c o u l d n o t explain B e e t h o v e n ' s c r u e l c o n c e r t o f d i s e a s e s . B u t Bill W a l s h a n d t h e m e n h e h a d e m p l o y e d t o test t h e h a i r h a d f o u n d s o m e t h i n g else t h a t m i g h t .

ESTHER TAYLOR

K N E W T H A T A lock o f Beethoven's hair

h a d b e e n i n h e r d e a r f r i e n d ' s f a m i l y for t w o g e n e r a t i o n s , b u t she could n o t explain h o w it had reached D e n m a r k , n o r could she n a m e t h e p e r s o n w h o had g i v e n i t away. A t w e n t y - y e a r - o l d p u l m o n a r y therapist w o r k i n g at B r o t m a n M e m o r i a l Hospital in C u l v e r City, California, she had m e t M a r c e l H i l l a i r e i n t h e s p r i n g o f 1 9 7 4 , j u s t d a y s after h e h a d b e e n t h r o w n h i g h i n t h e air b y a s p e e d i n g a u t o m o b i l e a s h e was

attempting

to

cross

La

Brea

Avenue

at

Hollywood

B o u l e v a r d . Hillaire's injuries w e r e extensive; h e h a d b e e n h o s p i t a l i z e d for f o u r m o n t h s , a n d d u r i n g t h a t t i m e E s t h e r T a y l o r had g r o w n enchanted by the debonair European man, and he, in turn, by her. Despite the four decades that separated their a g e s , t h e t w o g r e w v e r y c l o s e , a n d w h e n a t last h e w a s r e l e a s e d from the hospital, Esther Taylor a n d M a r c e l Hillaire found an a p a r t m e n t o n B u r n s i d e A v e n u e i n Los Angeles that they w e r e s u r e w o u l d s u i t t h e m b o t h , o n e w h i c h t h e y s h a r e d for t h e


following eight years. M a r c e l Hillaire h a d led a r i c h yet often c h a o t i c life, E s t h e r l e a r n e d e a r l y o n , a n d s h e l o v e d t o h e a r h i s m a g i c a l s t o r i e s a b o u t his y o u t h .

He had been born Erwin

O t t m a r Hiller in C o l o g n e on April 23, 1908. His m o t h e r was S o p h i e L i o n , a l i e d e r s i n g e r w h o a l w a y s l a m e n t e d t h e fact t h a t the Lion b r a n c h of her ancient tribe s o m e h o w h a d settled in G e r m a n y . His father w a s a p r o u d patriot w h o w o r e a Kaiser W i l h e l m m u s t a c h e , b u t h e w a s a p a s s i o n a t e socialist a s w e l l , a n d a l t h o u g h h e o n c e h a d d i r e c t e d t h e city's o p e r a , P a u l H i l l e r h a d w o r k e d as a n e w s p a p e r ' s m u s i c critic by t h e t i m e E r w i n a n d his elder b r o t h e r Edgar c a m e along. His paternal grandfather, w h o had

died

long

Kapellmeister f o r cious

before

he

was

born,

had

been

Cologne's

m a n y y e a r s ; h i s f a t h e r still p o s s e s s e d a f e w p r e -

mementos

that

once

had

belonged

to

the

famed

Ferdinand: there was a copy of the death mask that had b e e n shaped

from

clay

pressed

onto

the

deceased

Ludwig van

B e e t h o v e n ' s face; t h e r e w a s a w e a t h e r e d c o n d u c t o r ' s b a t o n t h a t h a d b e l o n g e d t o B e e t h o v e n — o r h a d i t b e e n his g r a n d f a t h e r ' s f r i e n d Felix M e n d e l s s o h n ' s b a t o n ? O r w a s i t m e r e l y his g r a n d father's o w n ? H e c o u l d n ' t b e s u r e — a n d s e c u r e u n d e r t h e glass o f a small b l a c k l o c k e t w a s a b i t o f h a i r his g r a n d f a t h e r h a d clipped from Beethoven's head. Esther Taylor was sure Marcel w o u l d have been hugely helpful i n e x p l a i n i n g h o w t h e l o c k o f h a i r h a d left his family a n d h a d traveled to Denmark—sadly,

she n e v e r h a d d r e a m e d that a

d e c a d e after his d e a t h p e o p l e w o u l d s e e k h e r o u t i n h o p e s t h a t s h e h a d i n f o r m a t i o n a b o u t M a r c e l ' s d i s t a n t past, a n d a b o u t t h a t l o c k o f hair. A n d s h e w a s c e r t a i n o f s o m e t h i n g m o r e : M a r c e l h a d


b e e n u n h a p p y that the lock of hair w e n t to a m u s e u m — a s he h a d b e e n t o l d i t h a d — r a t h e r t h a n t o h i m o r his b r o t h e r E d g a r . In a r e n e w e d attempt to ascertain w h e r e the hair had g o n e w h e n i t left t h e H i l l e r ' s h o m e a t 3 1 Eifelstrasse i n C o l o g n e — and

armed

now

with

Esther

Taylor's

vital

information—

G e r m a n researcher A l e x a n d e r Fulling b e g a n again t o search, t h i s t i m e for e v i d e n c e o f t h e l o c k o f h a i r itself r a t h e r t h a n for F e l i x H i l l e r , d e a d s i n c e 1 9 6 3 , o r his h a l f b r o t h e r E d g a r , w h o h a d d i e d i n H a m b u r g i n 1 9 5 9 , o r f^r E r w i n , w h o h a d b e c o m e M a r c e l Hillaire. were

more

dead

But what ends:

the

Fulling ultimately found merely Cologne

music

academy

that

F e r d i n a n d H i l l e r h a d d i r e c t e d for d e c a d e s h a d n o r e c o r d o f a gift f r o m his s o n o f a l o c k o f B e e t h o v e n ' s h a i r ; n e i t h e r d i d t h e c i t y a r c h i v e , n o r t h e p u b l i c library, n o r t h e l i b r a r y o f t h e u n i versity, a n d a l t h o u g h t h e c o l l e c t i o n o f t h e B e e t h o v e n - A r c h i v i n B o n n i n c l u d e d several locks o f t h e master's hair, n o n e h a d b e e n t h e gift o f P a u l H i l l e r , a n d n o n e h a d b e e n s p i r i t e d t o D e n m a r k d u r i n g the war. F e r d i n a n d H i l l e r ' s d i a r i e s a n d l e t t e r s , h o w e v e r , had b e e n b e queathed to the music academy,

and

from

archivists t h e r e

F u l l i n g l e a r n e d t h a t P a u l H i l l e r ' s sister T o n y also h a d g i v e n m u c h o f h e r father's m u s i c a l l e g a c y — s k e t c h e s ,

manuscripts,

and scores—to the m u s e u m of the c o m b i n e d public and u n i versity library in Frankfurt.

Surely it was w o r t h

inquiring

w h e t h e r the lock of hair had b e e n sequestered there, Fulling d e c i d e d , a n d h e b r i e f l y w a s s t u n n e d i n t h e fall o f 1 9 9 9 w h e n h e was i n f o r m e d b y archivist A n n K e r s t i n g - M e u l e m a n that the m u s e u m o n c e h a d p o s s e s s e d a l o c k o f B e e t h o v e n ' s hair, w h i c h


s h e b e l i e v e d h a d b e e n u n a c c o u n t e d f o r after t h e w a r . T h e f o l lowing

morning,

however,

the

telephone

was

ringing

as

F u l l i n g o p e n e d his office d o o r ; i t w a s K e r s t i n g - M e u l e m a n , calling from Frankfurt, w i t h an apology. T h e lock of hair in q u e s t i o n still w a s i n t h e m u s e u m ' s p o s s e s s i o n — s h e w a s l o o k i n g at it as she spoke, in fact—and it had b e e n a m o n g t h e m a n y n o table items that h a d b e e n a c q u i r e d w h e n F r a n k f u r t e r F r i e d r i c h N i c h o l a s M a n s k o p f w i l l e d t h e c o l l e c t i o n o f his p r i v a t e m u s i c history m u s e u m t o t h e city i n 1 9 2 9 . So there it was: Marcel Hillaire had told Esther Taylor r e p e a t e d l y d u r i n g t h e y e a r s s h e l i v e d w i t h h i m t h a t his f a t h e r h a d given the venerable hair that o n c e h a d b e e n B e e t h o v e n ' s to an institution of s o m e sort, w h e r e Paul Hiller had e x p e c t e d it to b e c a r e d for i n p e r p e t u i t y . Y e t w h y c o u l d F u l l i n g find n o e v i d e n c e o f t h e g e n e r o u s gift d e s p i t e e x t e n s i v e s e a r c h i n g ? T h a t q u e s t i o n s e e m e d to s p a w n a n u m b e r of plausible answers: p e r haps Marcel Hillaire chose to claim that the lock of hair had b e e n g i v e n a w a y b e c a u s e his k n o w l e d g e o f w h a t a c t u a l l y h a d b e c o m e of it was e n d u r i n g l y painful. It is i m a g i n a b l e as well that Paul H i l l e r told his son that he h a d g i v e n t h e lock of hair t o a m u s e u m w h e n , i n fact, h e h a d g i v e n i t t o his b r o t h e r E d g a r o r t o s o m e o n e o u t s i d e t h e i r i m m e d i a t e family. P e r h a p s , on the other hand, Fulling simply had yet to make an inquiry at t h e p r o p e r m u s e u m , a possibility that s e e m e d increasingly u n l i k e l y ; P a u l H i l l e r h a d l i v e d i n C o l o g n e t h r o u g h o u t his life, a n d his f a t h e r h a d b e e n m u c h b e l o v e d i n t h a t c i t y for m o r e than thirty years; surely it was there beside the R h i n e , or in nearby B o n n , that Paul Hiller w o u l d have w a n t e d the lock of


h a i r t o r e m a i n . W a s a w r i t t e n r e c o r d o f t h e gift d e s t r o y e d i n t h e massive Allied b o m b i n g at t h e e n d of the S e c o n d W o r l d War? M u c h of C o l o g n e had b e e n leveled in 1945; w h o l e lib r a r i e s h a d b e e n d e c i m a t e d a n d s c o r e s o f m a t e r i a l s i n t h e city's c e n t r a l a r c h i v e s i m p l y h a d c e a s e d t o exist; p e r h a p s a d o c u m e n t p e r t a i n i n g t o Paul Hiller's b e q u e s t had b e e n d e s t r o y e d i n t h e conflagration. Or, did s o m e o n e — a m u s e u m employee, a m u s e u m t r u s t e e p e r h a p s — w h o h a d access t o t h e l o c k o f h a i r a n d w h o had taken it as he or she fleo^ G e r m a n y , take as well t h e p r i n t e d e v i d e n c e that p r o v e d the hair h a d b e e n in t h e institution's possession in t h e first place? If t h e l o c k of hair had b e e n s t o l e n — e i t h e r b y s o m e o n e w h o w a n t e d i t s o l e l y for its m o n e t a r y v a l u e , o r b y s o m e o n e w h o r e f u s e d t o l e a v e i t b e h i n d for the

hated

Nazis—surely

that

person

might

have

destroyed

w h a t e v e r r e c o r d s o n c e h a d s i g n a l e d its e x i s t e n c e . W a s i t s o m e o n e w h o h a d k n o w n P a u l H i l l e r o r his f a m i l y w h o a b s c o n d e d f r o m C o l o g n e w i t h a h i d d e n l o c k o f hair? D i d t h e p e r s o n w h o ultimately gave the

hair to

Dr.

F r e m m i n g k n o w precisely

w h e r e it had c o m e from, or had the black locket w i t h the bit of B e e t h o v e n inside b e e n used as barter and b e e n passed from h a n d to hand a dozen times before it reached the t o w n of Gilleleje? C o u l d a n s w e r s t o t h o s e q u e s t i o n s e v e r b e a s c e r tained? C o u l d they ultimately b e m i n e d i n m u c h the same w a y t h a t a small t e a m o f A m e r i c a n scientists r e c e n d y h a d g l e a n e d s e c r e t s a b o u t B e e t h o v e n ' s h e a l t h f r o m his 1 7 0 - y e a r - o l d h a i r ? O r w o u l d t h e passage o f B e e t h o v e n ' s h a i r t o D e n m a r k a l w a y s remain a perplexing mystery?


WILLIAM

WALSH,

LIKE

WERNER

BAUMGARTNER

be-

fore h i m , w a n t e d the m e n w i t h w h o m h e m e t privately i n A r i z o n a t o k n o w t h a t i t h a d b e e n his h o n o r t o c o o r d i n a t e t h e several e x a m i n a t i o n s of B e e t h o v e n ' s hair. Y e t it w a s i m p o r t a n t to h i m that he m a d e it clear as w e l l that his f o r e m o s t interest along the w a y had b e e n in e n s u r i n g that g o o d science had b e e n performed during the preceding twenty-nine months. Neither his n o r h i s c o l l e a g u e s ' c a r e e r s c o u l d b e a d v a n c e d i n a n y w a y b y s h o d d y m e t h o d o l o g y o r s l o p p y lab p r o c e d u r e s .

He

had

w o r k e d t o o h a r d for t o o m a n y y e a r s i n l e g i t i m i z i n g h a i r a n a l y sis a n d p r o v i n g its i m p o r t a n t a p p l i c a t i o n s t o r i s k f u t u r e a c c u s a t i o n s t h a t h e h a d b e e n s e a r c h i n g for n o t o r i e t y ,

rather than

w h a t e v e r t r u t h lay t r a p p e d i n t h e t w e n t y s t r a n d s o f hair. B u t o n c e h e h a d m a d e t h o s e p e r s p e c t i v e s clear, h o w e v e r , W a l s h next w a n t e d the o w n e r s of Beethoven's hair to k n o w that he h a d r i v e t i n g i n f o r m a t i o n for t h e m , w h i c h h e h a d s u m m a r i z e d in a s e v e n - p a g e r e p o r t . Following their arrival

from

Los Angeles in M a y

1996,

Walsh had dried t h e hairs—still w e t from Baumgartner's rad i o i m m u n o a s s a y p r o c e d u r e — i n his lab a t t h e H e a l t h R e s e a r c h I n s t i t u t e , t h e n h a d f o r w a r d e d t w o h a i r s , o n e b r o w n , o n e gray, t o M a x A d a m s , a n e x p e r t i n h i g h - m a g n i f i c a t i o n forensics a n d photomicrography

who

lives

on

a

yacht

that

sails

the

C a r i b b e a n . A d a m s h a d studied t h e hairs a t magnifications o f 1 0 0 X , 4 0 0 X , a n d l.OOOX, a n d h a d f o u n d , n o t s u r p r i s i n g l y , t h a t t h e hair h a d b e g u n t o d e t e r i o r a t e . "Several areas h a d e x p e r i e n c e d e r o s i o n o f t h e o u t e r keratin layer a n d n u m e r o u s tiny hair fragments w e r e observed," Walsh w r o t e in the confidential report. B u t the hair had n o t disintegrated, as it certainly


m i g h t h a v e b y n o w , a n d its o v e r a l l c o n d i t i o n s u r e l y o w e d m u c h t o its l o n g - t e r m s t o r a g e b e t w e e n t h e s e a l e d p i e c e s o f glass.

Although

Adams

had

been

able

to

determine

" g a s e o u s e l e m e n t s w i t h h i g h diffusion c o e f f i c i e n t s ,

that

such as

o x y g e n " h a d p e r m e a t e d t h e hair, h e was certain that t h e k e r a t i n l a y e r o n t h e o u t s i d e o f e a c h h a i r shaft r e m a i n e d i n t a c t enough to have prohibited the penetration of heavy metal atoms. In o t h e r w o r d s , it had b e e n Adams's o p i n i o n that w h a t e v e r metals m i g h t later b e f o u n d i \ t h e sampled hair h a d n o t e n t e r e d i t after B e e t h o v e n ' s d e a t h . F o u r t e e n m o n t h s h a d passed following Adams's e x a m i n a t i o n b e f o r e W a l s h a t last d e t e r m i n e d w h a t h e b e l i e v e d w o u l d b e t h e b e s t m e t h o d a n d t h e b e s t p e r s o n for t r a c e - m e t a l analysis, a n d Walter

McCrone,

the

indefatigable

eighty-three-year-old

founder of the M c C r o n e R e s e a r c h Institute in Chicago, was t h a t m a n . L i k e l y still t h e n a t i o n ' s f o r e m o s t c h e m i c a l m i c r o s c o p i s t d e s p i t e his a g g r e g a t e y e a r s , i t w a s M c C r o n e w h o h a d demonstrated conclusively in the

1980s that the S h r o u d of

T u r i n had been painted in the fourteenth century and was not, therefore, the burial cloth of Jesus; and prior to that d e t e r m i n a t i o n , M c C r o n e also h a d p r o v e n — b y e x a m i n i n g a s a m p l e o f his h a i r — t h a t N a p o l e o n h a d n o t d i e d f r o m a r s e n i c p o i s o n i n g , as long had b e e n suspected. I n his e x a m i n a t i o n o f t h e t w o B e e t h o v e n h a i r s , M c C r o n e first had incinerated each one, as well as three m o r e control hairs taken from living persons, in a l o w - t e m p e r a t u r e nascent o x y g e n a s h e r . T h e ash f r o m e a c h o f t h e f i v e h a i r s s u b s e q u e n t l y had been analyzed using b o t h scanning electron microscope energy dispersion spectrometry,

k n o w n as

SEM/EDS,

and


scanning

ion

microscope

mass

spectrometry,

SIMS—each

t e c h n i q u e e m p l o y i n g a t o m i c interactions a n d q u a n t u m physics r a t h e r t h a n l i g h t a n d m a g n i f i c a t i o n t o " p e e r i n s i d e " a test m a terial. N o t l o n g after h e h a d r e c e i v e d t h e h a i r s , M c C r o n e h a d r e t u r n e d t o W a l s h c h e m i c a l d a t a p e r t a i n i n g t o a t o t a l o f fiftythree separate elements, although not every o n e of those had b e e n f o u n d i n m e a s u r a b l e q u a n t i t i e s i n e a c h o f t h e five s a m ples. Walsh, i n t u r n , h a d analyzed i n d e p e n d e n t l y t h e r a w r e sults, e x p l a i n i n g i n his r e p o r t t h a t " e v a l u a t i o n o f t r a c e e l e m e n t s in hair can be quite c o m p l e x , and requires k n o w l e d g e of metal m e t a b o l i s m , n u t r i e n t transport, e x c r e t i o n kinetics, bile s h u n t ing, a n d m a n y o t h e r b i o c h e m i c a l processes a n d factors." T h e examinations by electron microscopy ultimately had been u n able t o e n c o u n t e r a n y e v i d e n c e i n e i t h e r t h e B e e t h o v e n s a m ples o r t h e c o n t r o l s o f t h e e l e v a t e d c o p p e r / z i n c r a t i o , t o g e t h e r w i t h v e r y h i g h levels o f s o d i u m a n d p o t a s s i u m , t h a t r e p e a t e d l y Walsh h a d f o u n d in t h e hair of p e o p l e of e x t r e m e intelligence; neither B e e t h o v e n n o r any of the three controls had exhibited t h a t " g e n i u s p a t t e r n , " h e h a d d e t e r m i n e d . All five s a m p l e s , i n fact, h a d s h o w n n o r m a l c o n c e n t r a t i o n s o f a t o t a l o f f o r t y - t h r e e e l e m e n t s . T h e t h r e e c o n t r o l samples h a d e x h i b i t e d n o r m a l lead concentrations as well, but the t w o B e e t h o v e n samples dramatically h a d n o t — a n d that was the information that Walsh n o w was eager to share: the t h r e e controls had s h o w n relative l e a d c o n c e n t r a t i o n s o f 0 . 9 5 , 1.4, a n d 9 . 8 , w h e r e a s t h e r e l a t i v e concentrations in the B e e t h o v e n samples, in comparison, had b e e n as high as 90 and 250. It was an absolutely arresting finding, o n e that m e a n t that the


average a m o u n t o f lead in t h e B e e t h o v e n hair h a d b e e n

forty-

two times t h e l e a d a v e r a g e c o n t a i n e d i n t h e c o n t r o l s . L u d w i g van Beethoven,

Walsh believed the

evidence n o w strongly

suggested, h a d b e e n massively toxic w i t h lead a t t h e t i m e o f his d e a t h a n d m a y h a v e b e e n for d o z e n s o f y e a r s b e f o r e .

NEITHER

CHE

GUEVARA

NCJJR

I R A Brilliant ever h a d

d a r e d t o p r e s u m e t h a t t h e analysis t h e y h a d set i n m o t i o n t h r e e years before ultimately w o u l d lead to c o m p e l l i n g n e w inform a t i o n a b o u t B e e t h o v e n ' s h e a l t h , let a l o n e a c o m p r e h e n s i v e e x p l a n a t i o n o f w h y his b o d y s o l o n g h a d b e e n s o b u r d e n e d . Yet s u d d e n l y that o u t c o m e a p p e a r e d possible. Lead n o l o n g e r p o i s o n e d children a n d adults as c o m m o n l y as it o n c e had, b u t i n t h e y e a r s b e f o r e its v e r y d e l e t e r i o u s effects o n t h e h u m a n b o d y h a d b e c o m e intimately u n d e r s t o o d , lead i n c o o k w a r e , tableware, and water p i p e s — a m o n g myriad sources—had p o i soned millions of people a r o u n d the world, sometimes only subtly, b u t o f t e n w i t h d i s a s t r o u s r e s u l t s . T h e p h y s i o l o g i c a l effects o f l e a d p o i s o n i n g i n c h i l d r e n h a v e b e e n w i d e l y u n d e r s t o o d a n d discussed t h r o u g h o u t m o s t o f t h e t w e n t i e t h century, b u t t h e metal is capable of devastating adults a s w e l l , a n d a c a t a l o g o f its c o m m o n c l i n i c a l m a n i f e s t a t i o n s — a c o n d i t i o n called p l u m b i s m — d o e s , v e r y intriguingly, read like a s o m b e r list o f B e e t h o v e n ' s l i f e l o n g ills. C h r o n i c t o x i c e x p o sure to lead almost invariably causes i n t e r m i t t e n t y e t l o n g - t e r m gastrointestinal cramping,

distress

vomiting,

characterized

constipation

by

and/or

severe

abdominal

diarrhea;

gout

is


c o m m o n , as are a variety of rheumatic complaints, and so t o o a r e s k i n p a l l o r a n d j a u n d i c e . R e c u r r e n t h e a d a c h e s , loss o f a p p e t i t e , irritability, f o r g e t f u l n e s s , a n d e r r a t i c b e h a v i o r o f t e n a r e r e p o r t e d in adults w i t h p l u m b i s m , as is a generalized k i n d of c l u m s i n e s s c a u s e d b y t h e p a r t i a l paralysis o f e x t e n s o r m u s c l e s o f the

arms

a n d legs.

O t h e r neurological

symptoms

that are

widely acknowledged in the medical literature—but which c e r t a i n l y a r e n o t c o m m o n t o e v e r y c a s e — a r e v i s u a l deficits a n d a p r o g r e s s i v e loss o f h e a r i n g c a u s e d b y p e r m a n e n t d a m a g e to the optic and auditory nerves. C o m p a r e those dramatically debilitating s y m p t o m s w i t h a s y n o p s i s o f t h e c o m p o s e r ' s a i l m e n t s o v e r t h e c o u r s e o f his lifetime, o n e that was compiled by Drs.

Hans Bankl and Hans

J e s s e r e r o f t h e U n i v e r s i t y o f V i e n n a ' s I n s t i t u t e for t h e H i s t o r y o f M e d i c i n e in their 1986 b o o k

Beethovens

Die Krankheiten Ludwig van

( T h e Illnesses o f L u d w i g v a n B e e t h o v e n ) . In 1 7 9 5 ,

the twenty-four-year-old composer began to experience freq u e n t and often intense a b d o m i n a l pains; in 1798, he first b e c a m e a w a r e of a t r o u b l e s o m e inability to hear w h a t p e o p l e said, a n d s o o n h e also b e g a n t o e x p e r i e n c e b u z z i n g a n d r i n g i n g i n his e a r s . I n 1 8 0 1 , B e e t h o v e n c o n s t a n t l y w a s p l a g u e d w i t h d i a r r h e a , fever, a n d a b d o m i n a l c r a m p i n g , a n d t h o s e c o m p l a i n t s c o n t i n u e d for t h e s u c c e e d i n g d e c a d e ; h e h a d s e v e r a l teeth pulled in 1807 in the h o p e that the extractions w o u l d r e l i e v e h i s r e c u r r e n t " g o u t y h e a d a c h e s " ; his h e a r i n g c o n t i n u e d t o d i m i n i s h , a n d h e o f t e n w a s f o r c e d t o k e e p c o t t o n i n his e a r s in order to reduce "unpleasant rustling" sounds, or tinnitus. A l t h o u g h his i n t e s t i n a l a i l m e n t s l e s s e n e d b e t w e e n t h e y e a r s o f 1811 and 1816, they then returned w i t h a vengeance, as did


"frightful attacks of r h e u m a t i s m " that c u l m i n a t e d in a serious r h e u m a t i c f e v e r i n 1 8 2 0 t h a t s e n t h i m t o b e d f o r six w e e k s . B e e t h o v e n e x p e r i e n c e d an attack of j a u n d i c e a n d m o r e acute diarrhea and constipation in

1821, a "gout of my chest" in

1 8 2 2 , p e r s i s t e n t e y e p a i n a n d still m o r e " w r e t c h e d " c r a m p i n g i n 1 8 2 3 — h i s h e a r i n g a l r e a d y s o p o o r for t h e p r e c e d i n g five years that people w i t h w h o m he was in contact had b e g u n to write d o w n whatever they wanted him to know. He was freq u e n t l y b e d r i d d e n i n 1 8 2 4 , a n d in^l 8 2 5 his b o w e l s b e c a m e i n f l a m e d , his n o s e b l e d o f t e n , a n d h e v o m i t e d r e g u l a r l y a s w e l l . H i s a b d o m e n b e g a n to swell a year later; he h a d severe b a c k p a i n , g r e w t e r r i b l y j a u n d i c e d , suffered a b o u t o f p n e u m o n i a , a n d a t t h e e n d o f t h a t y e a r , h e slid i n t o a final illness t h a t c u l m i n a t e d t h r e e m o n t h s later in a " c o m a h e p a t i c u m , " his d e a t h d i r e c t l y i n d u c e d b y t h e failure o f his liver. I n a d d i t i o n t o t h o s e a g g r e g a t e illnesses, t h e c o m p o s e r i n d e e d o f t e n w a s i r r i t a b l e a n d e r r a t i c i n his b e h a v i o r ; b e g i n n i n g i n 1 8 0 0 , h e t o l d f r i e n d s t h a t he had b e g u n to c o n s u m e a substantial a m o u n t of w i n e w i t h meals in t h e h o p e that it w o u l d stimulate his increasingly p o o r a p p e t i t e , a s w e l l a s ease his p a i n . E v e n t h e n o t o r i o u s l y u n u s u a l w a y i n w h i c h h e w a l k e d also i s s u g g e s t i v e o f t h e effects o f c h r o n i c lead toxicity. T h e v e r y h i g h l e a d levels t h a t W a l t e r M c C r o n e d e t e c t e d i n B e e t h o v e n ' s h a i r a r e s t r i c t l y i n d i c a t i v e o n l y o f t h e fact t h a t B e e t h o v e n w a s m a s s i v e l y l e a d t o x i c i n t h e last m o n t h s o f his life, o f c o u r s e , y e t g i v e n his t h i r t y y e a r s o f m o u n t i n g illnesses, his testy b e h a v i o r a n d c h r o n i c c l u m s i n e s s , i t n o w a p p e a r s v e r y p r o b a b l e that h e h a d c o n s u m e d large a m o u n t s o f lead l o n g b e fore. It is possible that in

1795 or thereabouts, B e e t h o v e n


s o m e h o w ingested a massive

quantity of lead o n l y a single

rime; lead is q u i c k l y d e p o s i t e d in b o n e , w h e r e it readily resides for m a n y y e a r s ,

and from which

source

it subsequendy is

slowly released back i n t o the b o d y O n t h e o t h e r hand, h e m a y have b e e n insidiously p o i s o n e d by the same source of lead t h r o u g h o u t t h e c o u r s e o f t h e last h a l f o f h i s life. A l t h o u g h t h e restless

Beethoven

moved

constantly

during

those

years,

a m o n g t h e p o s s e s s i o n s t h a t w e r e a u c t i o n e d f o l l o w i n g his d e a t h w e r e " 1 4 c h i n a plates, s o m e e a r t h e n w a r e , 1 tin c u p , several glasses, b o t d e s a n d b o w l s , 4 brass c a n d l e h o l d e r s , 1 brass m o r tar, 1 c o p p e r t u b , 1 r o t i s s e r i e , a s s o r t e d i r o n p o t s a n d p a n s , a n d the usual k i t c h e n furnishings." T h a t e a r t h e n w a r e certainly can be s u s p e c t e d of c o n t a i n i n g a l e a d e n glaze; t h e c h i n a m i g h t h a v e a s w e l l , a n d t h e " t i n " c u p a n d " i r o n " p o t s also c o u l d h a v e b e e n t h e c a u s e . I t s e e m s u n l i k e l y , g i v e n his m a n y r e s i d e n c e s , t h a t lead-soldered

water pipes

poisoned

Beethoven

severely yet

s o m e h o w s p a r e d t h e r e m a i n i n g c i t i z e n s o f V i e n n a , b u t t h e fact that he c o n s u m e d considerable a m o u n t s of w i n e , w h i c h in that e r a o f t e n w a s " p l u m b e d " w i t h l e a d t o l e s s e n its b i t t e r n e s s — a practice that even then was strongly discouraged because the c o n s u m p t i o n o f p l u m b e d w i n e s o clearly led t o " t h e c o l i c " — also m e a n s t h a t w i n e c a n n o t b e r u l e d o u t a s a p o s s i b l e s o u r c e of the poison.

WHILE

THEY

REMAINED

TOGETHER

IN

Tucson i n

the

a u t u m n o f 1 9 9 8 , Bill W a l s h , Ira B r i l l i a n t , a n d C h e G u e v a r a c o l l e c t i v e l y a g r e e d a s t h e y b e g a n t o discuss h o w b e s t t o m a k e


their findings public that it w o u l d be virtually impossible ever to

positively

Beethoven's

identify hair

to

what exceed

had forty

caused times

the the

lead

levels

in

contemporary

n o r m . A n d neither did the three m e n believe they should ann o u n c e that they plainly had solved a c e n t u r i e s - o l d m y s t e r y a b o u t t h e c a u s e o f t h e c o m p o s e r ' s deafness a n d t h e s o u r c e o f his c h r o n i c ill h e a l t h a s w e l l . Y e t t h e y h a d set i n m o t i o n t h e t e s t i n g o f t h e h a i r t h r e e y e a r s b e f o r e specifically i n h o p e s t h a t n e w information about the

composer's

d e a t h a n d t r o u b l e d life

could be ascertained, and n o w it appeared, rather remarkably, that their simple goal had b e e n achieved. A l t h o u g h o n e reporter had charged that they w e r e bent on t a b l o i d salacity, i n s t e a d i t h a d b e e n c a u t i o u s a n d o p e n - e n d e d s c i e n c e t h a t h a d s h a p e d t h e t e s t i n g ' s c o u r s e . G u e v a r a , a clinical p h y s i c i a n w h o h a d s t u d i e d h i s craft for f o u r t e e n y e a r s a n d n o w h a d p r a c t i c e d i t for a n e q u a l l e n g t h o f t i m e , a n d W a l s h , w h o h a d h a d t o s t r u g g l e h a r d t o a c h i e v e his o w n a c c l a i m , n o w f o r e m o s t believed that the a n n o u n c e m e n t of their findings had to be cradled in circumspection, and Brilliant agreed w i t h t h e m . Guevara and Walsh w o u l d c o a u t h o r a paper and s u b m i t it to a scientific j o u r n a l

for

publication,

they

ultimately

decided.

T h e i r article w o u l d detail t h e analytical m e t h o d o l o g i e s a n d laboratory p r o c e d u r e s that they had e m p l o y e d ; it w o u l d r e c o u n t Walter M c C r o n e ' s arresting finding; it w o u l d cite studies t h a t h a d b e e n p r e s e n t e d i n s i m i l a r s o r t s o f articles d u r i n g t h e p r e c e d i n g q u a r t e r o f t h e c e n t u r y d e m o n s t r a t i n g lead's ability t o c a u s e d e b i l i t a t i n g h e a r i n g deficits; a n d t h e y w o u l d , o f c o u r s e , compare Beethoven's medical history to the concert of s y m p t o m s that p l u m b i s m c o m m o n l y induces. B u t just as British


rheumatologist T h o m a s Palferman had d o n e w h e n he p r o posed sarcoidosis as a unified diagnosis of the composer's m a n y maladies in t h e

Beethoven Journal

i n 1 9 9 2 , t h e y also w o u l d a c -

k n o w l e d g e that B e e t h o v e n could have b e e n p o i s o n e d by lead a n d still h a v e s u f f e r e d u n r e l a t e d diseases a s w e l l . Y e t P a l f e r m a n h i m s e l f h a d e x p l a i n e d t h a t t h e s e a r c h for a s i n g l e c a u s e o f diffuse c o m p l a i n t s i s a n h o n o r e d m e d i c a l t r a d i tion. " T h e Franciscan p h i l o s o p h e r William of O c c a m . . . has been credited with the dictum

praeter necessitatem

(Entities

Entia non sunt multiplicanda

should not be

multiplied

ex-

cept w h e n necessary). Applied to medicine, the principle of Q c c a m ' s R a z o r encourages t h e intellectual discipline of seeking relentlessly a unifying diagnosis, no m a t t e r h o w o b s c u r e or u n r e l a t e d t h e m a n y a s p e c t s o f a clinical p r o b l e m m i g h t a p p e a r . " G i v e n P a l f e r m a n ' s o w n areas o f e x p e r t i s e a n d t h e i n f o r m a t i o n a v a i l a b l e a t t h e t i m e , i t w a s s a r c o i d o s i s t h a t for h i m c a m e c l o s est t o p r o v i d i n g t h a t u n i f y i n g e x p l a n a t i o n o f t h e g r e a t c o m p o s e r ' s c o m p l a i n t s . B u t i t w a s B e e t h o v e n ' s deafness t h a t h a d b e e n hardest to explain in that context, a p o i n t u n d e r s c o r e d by Scottish gastroenterologist A d a m K u b b a and music historian Madeleine Y o u n g in their "medical biography" of Beethoven published in

The Lancet

i n J a n u a r y 1 9 9 6 , j u s t as t h e t e s t i n g o f

hair from the G u e v a r a lock had c o m m e n c e d . " T h o u g h a g o o d e x p l a n a t i o n for his e y e c o n d i t i o n s , s a r c o i d o s i s c o u l d n o t a c c o u n t for B e e t h o v e n ' s d e a f n e s s , " t h e y h a d w r i t t e n . " H e w o u l d h a v e h a d t o h a v e d e v e l o p e d n e u r o s a r c o i d o s i s w i t h all its a s s o c i a t e d n e u r o l o g i c a l deficits for i t t o h a v e c a u s e d loss o f h e a r ing. K u b b a a n d Y o u n g similarly h a d d i s c o u n t e d E d w a r d Larkin's


1 9 7 0 s u g g e s t i o n t h a t a c o n n e c t i v e tissue disease a c c o u n t e d for all o f B e e t h o v e n ' s d i s o r d e r s s a v e t h e d e a f n e s s ; a n d n e i t h e r w e r e t h e y c o n v i n c e d t h a t P a g e t ' s disease o f b o n e , t u b e r c u l o s i s , i n f l a m m a t o r y b o w e l disease,

or Whipple's disease—each sug-

gested as a unifying cause at s o m e p o i n t d u r i n g the c e n t u r y t h a t w a s d r a w i n g t o a r a p i d c l o s e — w e r e , i n fact, t h e c o l l e c t i v e c a u s e . T h e t w o S c o t s h a d c o n c l u d e d t h e i r analysis b y e x p r e s s i n g t h e i r p e r s o n a l beliefs t h a t B e e t h o v e n ' s a g o n i z i n g l y p o o r h e a l t h s u r e l y w a s r o o t e d i n m u l t i p l e disease p r o c e s s e s , b u t t h e t h r e e A m e r i c a n s w h o n o w p o s s e s s e d vital n e w i n f o r m a t i o n — t h e n e w s t h a t B e e t h o v e n ' s h a i r h a d e x h i b i t e d l e a d levels t h a t w e r e startlingly h i g h — w e r e eager t o learn w h a t c o m m e n t a t o r s like K u b b a a n d Y o u n g , P a l f e r m a n , a n d a score of o t h e r s w o u l d make of the proposition

that plumbism,

i n fact,

explained

B e e t h o v e n ' s life o f t r o u b l e b e s t o f all. Walsh w a n t e d t o g o o n e step further. He k n e w that i f b o n e remains of B e e t h o v e n existed, by s o m e r e m o t e chance, testing p e r f o r m e d o n t h e m w o u l d b u t t r e s s e n o r m o u s l y t h e results o f t h e h a i r analysis; a n d m o r e o v e r , i f h a i r a n d b o n e t h e n w e r e compared

by

DNA

sequencing

and

were

determined

ir-

refutably t o have c o m e f r o m the same h u m a n b e i n g , t h e n t h e case t h e y c o u l d m a k e for t h e a c c u r a c y o f t h e i r w o r k a n d t h e likelihood

that

chronic

plumbism

explained very

much

of

the composer's medical history w o u l d b e c o m e a compelling o n e indeed. As it happened, Drs. Bankl and Jesserer in Vienna h a d e x a m i n e d small f r a g m e n t s o f B e e t h o v e n ' s skull i n t h e m i d 1 9 8 0 s i n t h e c o u r s e o f t h e r e s e a r c h for t h e i r b o o k . M o r e t h a n a century before, the bones had been sequestered by an a n thropologist

who

had

examined

the

composer's

skeletal


r e m a i n s after his c o r p s e h a d b e e n e x h u m e d ; t h e y h a d b e e n l o a n e d for t h e l a t t e r - d a y s t u d y b y a n a g i n g F r e n c h m a n , w h o h a d i n h e r i t e d t h e m f r o m his g r e a t - u n c l e , t h a t s a m e a n t h r o p o l ogist. Perhaps, just perhaps, Brilliant suggested, the F r e n c h m a n c o u l d b e p e r s u a d e d t o have t h e m e x a m i n e d again.

IT

HAD

BEEN

F O U R Y E A R S since t h e t w o B e e t h o v e n e n -

thusiasts from A r i z o n a h a d a c q u i r e d a lock of t h e g r e a t m a n s h a i r , t h e n h a d b e g u n t o c o n t e m p l a t e w h e t h e r t h e y m i g h t ask scientists to see w h a t secrets it w o u l d s h e d . It h a d b e e n four years as well since they first h a d h e a r d the sketchy a n d m y s t e rious

story

of h o w

the

lock

of hair

had

been

passed f r o m

F e r d i n a n d Hiller t o his son, t h e n s o m e h o w h a d traveled t o D e n m a r k , w h e r e i t w a s m a d e a gift i n t h e t o w n o f G i l l e l e j e . A l t h o u g h t h e hair in r e c e n t days h a d led t h e m t o w a r d a satisfying n e w c o n c l u s i o n a b o u t w h y B e e t h o v e n h a d suffered s o l o n g , t h e t w o m e n a n d t h e i r c o l l e a g u e s still w e r e f r u s t r a t e d b y t h e w a y i n w h i c h t h e hair's w h e r e a b o u t s i n t h e m o n t h s t h a t h a d led t o O c t o b e r 1 9 4 3 r e m a i n e d a c o n u n d r u m . Yes, researchers ultimately had discovered that E r w i n Hiller had emigrated to America, assumed a n e w name, then continu e d his a c t i n g c a r e e r ; a n d t h e s e a r c h i n g ' s g r e a t e s t s u c c e s s s u r e l y h a d b e e n t h e d i s c o v e r y o f E s t h e r T a y l o r , his h e i r . S h e h a d c o n firmed that t h e l o c k of hair h a d b e e n a family h e i r l o o m , a n d Paul Hiller's inscription on the back of a p h o t o g r a p h of h i m self t h a t h e h a d g i v e n t o his s o n — a p h o t o g r a p h E s t h e r T a y l o r n o w c h e r i s h e d — h a d proved b e y o n d any d o u b t that it was Paul


Hiller's h a n d as well that h a d w r i t t e n t h e e x p l a n a t o r y n o t e on t h e b a c k o f t h e black locket. Esther T a y l o r t o o h a d b e e n able to

explain

that

Erwin—her

Marcel—had

remained

in

G e r m a n y and France d u r i n g the war, and had n o t traveled to D e n m a r k ; a n d it was she as well w h o h a d offered t h e fresh i n sight that M a r c e l b e l i e v e d his father h a d g i v e n t h e lock of hair to a m u s e u m s o m e t i m e before his d e a t h . Sophie Hiller died in C o l o g n e in 1942, researcher Alexander F u l l i n g h a d d i s c o v e r e d , a n d t h e r e ^ p r e i t a p p e a r e d t h a t s h e , like Erwin, had remained in G e r m a n y rather than flee to Denmark. H e r son Edgar, the opera singer w h o s e p r o m i s i n g career had b e e n shattered by the war, had lived in Z u r i c h from 1939 until 1 9 4 8 , w h e n h e briefly h a d followed his b r o t h e r t o t h e U n i t e d States b e f o r e eventually settling again in H a m b u r g . A l t h o u g h it was conceivable that he had traveled to D e n m a r k d u r i n g those years, it n o w s e e m e d unlikely, particularly c o n s i d e r i n g that t h e Nazis had o c c u p i e d the c o u n t r y d u r i n g m o s t of those years a n d that he had been a Jew. If Marcel's information was correct, s o m e o n e else h a d s t o l e n t h e l o c k e t f r o m a n u n k n o w n G e r m a n institution, then had spirited it to D e n m a r k — t a k i n g it because i t w a s a vital r e l i c t h a t s o m e h o w h a d t o b e p r e s e r v e d , o r p e r haps merely pilfering it as a k i n d of b o o t y that o n e day m i g h t be quite convenient. In D e n m a r k , a d o z e n p e o p l e h a d a t t e m p t e d to solve the e n d u r i n g e n i g m a b y n o w . A u t h o r C h r i s t i a n T o r t z e n , r e t i r e d fishe r m a n J u l i u s J o r g e n s e n , h i s t o r i a n T h e r k e l Straede, a n d m u s i cologist

and

Theriesenstadt

survivor

Paul

Sandfort,

in

particular, had helped M i c h e l e Wassard Larsen piece t o g e t h e r the

events

o f t h e first d a y s o f O c t o b e r

1943.

F r o m their


c o l l e c t i v e efforts, i t n o w s e e m e d c e r t a i n t h a t K a y a n d M a r t a F r e m m i n g h a d sheltered refugees i n their h o m e o n those days, that Marta had b e e n active in helping escaping J e w s hide in the Gilleleje C h u r c h , a n d that h e r h u s b a n d h a d a t t e n d e d t o o n e o r m o r e o f t h e m o n t h e n i g h t t h e y w e r e c a p t u r e d . I t w a s far less certain, yet t h e available e v i d e n c e n o n e t h e l e s s suggested, that the r e n o w n e d opera baritone H e n r y Skjaer—who had helped refugees reach the c h u r c h as w e l l — h a d b e e n a key i n t e r m e d i ary, o n e w h o s o m e h o w l i n k e d a G e r m a n J e w w i t h a p r e c i o u s l o c k e t i n his p o c k e t t o t h e k i n d h e a r t e d p h y s i c i a n t o w h o m t h e locket subsequently had been given. A s M i c h e l e W a s s a r d L a r s e n c o n t i n u e d t o s e a r c h for i n f o r m a t i o n late i n 1 9 9 9 , t h e r e r e m a i n e d a f e w s t o n e s for h e r still t o o v e r t u r n , a l t h o u g h t h e p o s s i b i l i t y o f e n c o u n t e r i n g a satisfying explanation b e n e a t h o n e o f t h e m appeared increasingly u n likely. P a u l S a n d f o r t h a d e x p l a i n e d s o m e m o n t h s b e f o r e t h a t h e a n d his f a m i l y h a d fled t o G i l l e l e j e o n i n s t r u c t i o n s f r o m D r . N . R . B l e g v a d , t h e R o y a l T h e a t r e p h y s i c i a n , a n d M i c h e l e still h o p e d t o find a s o n o r d a u g h t e r o f t h e d o c t o r w h o m i g h t , b y c h a n c e , r e m e m b e r h e a r i n g t h a t his f a t h e r h a d h e l p e d a n i m m i g r a n t f r o m G e r m a n y e s c a p e a s w e l l . A n d t h e r e also w a s this: T i n a Sanden, an archivist in t h e city of L u n d in S w e d e n , had r e p o r t e d that her search of the police registers that r e c o r d e d t h e n a m e s o f e v e r y o n e w h o h a d r e a c h e d S w e d e n safely i n 1 9 4 3 h a d t u r n e d u p a y o u n g G e r m a n w h o h a d g i v e n his n a m e a s M . T . T e o d r a H i l l e r . H i s b i r t h d a t e w a s listed a s O c t o b e r 1 0 , 1915, and he had identified himself—quite curiously—as an actor. H e h a d arrived i n S w e d e n o n O c t o b e r 7 , 1 9 4 3 , t h e v e r y day o f t h e e a r l y - m o r n i n g raid o n t h e Gilleleje C h u r c h .


O n c e m o r e Michele had e n c o u n t e r e d s o m e t h i n g n e w that led intriguingly to further questions. If t h e m a n s date of birth had been correct,

this

Hiller w o u l d have b e e n n i n e years

y o u n g e r than Edgar Hiller, seven years Erwin's j u n i o r , a n d the t w o had had n o cousins o r o t h e r relatives w h o s e b i r t h dates w o u l d h a v e b e e n a p p r o x i m a t e . Y e t c o u l d this b e simply a n o t h e r e x t r a o r d i n a r y coincidence? Was it possible that a J e w i s h a c t o r n a m e d H i l l e r — a l a r g e l y " C h r i s t i a n " s u r n a m e — h a d fled to D e n m a r k , then escaped to S w e d e n on a day w h e n dozens of refugees h a d b o a r d e d boats in Gilleleje, yet n o n e t h e l e s s h a d had nothing whatsoever to do with the now-legendary lock o f hair? I t was p o s s i b l e , o f c o u r s e , y e t t h e s e v e r a l s y n c h r o n i c i t i e s w e r e h a u n t i n g . E r w i n Hiller, t h e actor, had called himself H a r r y F u r s t e r for a t i m e e a r l y i n t h e w a r . D e s p i t e w h a t s e e m e d t o b e strong evidence that he had r e m a i n e d in Germany, did he, in fact, f i n d his w a y f i r s t t o D e n m a r k , t h e n t o S w e d e n , w h e r e i t s e e m e d o n l y p r u d e n t for h i m t o c o n t i n u e t o s h i e l d h i s i d e n tity? D i d h i s b r o t h e r E d g a r , p r e s u m e d t o b e i n Z u r i c h a t t h e rime, m a k e a similar j o u r n e y a n d similarly misidentify himself? Did

someone

else—who

possibly

would

have

known

the

p r o v e n a n c e o f t h e h a i r h e h a d left b e h i n d i n G i l l e l e j e — f i n d i t f i t t i n g s o m e h o w t o tell a s y m p a t h e t i c S w e d i s h p o l i c e m a n t h a t H i l l e r w a s his n a m e ? F o r M i c h e l e W a s s a r d L a r s e n a n d T h o m a s h e r s o n , for Ira B r i l l i a n t a n d C h e G u e v a r a , for Bill M e r e d i t h , P a t r i c i a S t r o h a n d t h e B e e t h o v e n C e n t e r staff, a n d a w h o l e c o t e r i e o f p e o p l e o n t w o c o n t i n e n t s w h o h a d b e c o m e captivated b y this m o s t i m p r o b a b l e of stories,

these and the larger and e n v e l o p i n g


questions of h o w and w h e r e and w h y the venerable locket had b e e n passed t o Dr.

F r e m m i n g w e r e powerfully compelling,

even if they w e r e forever unlikely to be answered. T h e y w e r e questions that c o n t i n u e d to illuminate the quiet h e r o i s m that h a d o c c u r r e d on t h e coast of D e n m a r k ; t h e y d r e w a resonant reference to the belief in freedom that B e e t h o v e n himself had held so dear; like t h e u r g e to discover that h a d s p a w n e d t h e f o r e n s i c s t u d y o f his hair, t h e y w e r e q u e s t i o n s t h a t w e r e w o n derfully w o r t h t h e a s k i n g , a n d l i k e his s p l e n d i d m u s i c , t h e y s e e m e d c e r t a i n t o e n d u r e for m u c h t i m e t o c o m e .


BY

1826, BEETHOVEN'S HAIR

H A D G O N E q u i t e gray. H i s

physical s t r e n g t h a n d t h e vitality that l o n g h a d h e l p e d h i m p e r s e v e r e w e r e g o n e ; his e y e s c o n t i n u e d t o a c h e ; h e c o u l d h e a r n o t h i n g ; his g u t still r o i l e d t u m u l t u o u s l y , t h e p a i n a n d i n s i d i o u s d i a r r h e a s u r e l y e x a c e r b a t e d b y t h e fact t h a t h e h a d b e g u n t o d r i n k m o r e w i n e t h a n e v e r b e f o r e — a s m u c h a s a full b o t t l e with

each

meal,

according to

dining companions

and

the

tavern-keepers w h o regularly served him. I n t h e h o p e o f d e f e a t i n g his diseases, o v e r t h e y e a r s B e e t h o v e n h a d s o u g h t t h e a d v i c e a n d a m e l i o r a t i n g assistance o f fifteen different physicians in B o n n and Vienna. M o s t of t h e m had b e e n


" m e d i c a l asses," h e insisted, b u t i t w a s far n e a r e r t h e t r u t h t h a t c u r a t i v e m e d i c i n e w a s m e r e l y i n its i n f a n c y i n t h o s e d a y s . E a r l y i n t h e n i n e t e e n t h c e n t u r y , b l e e d i n g a n d l e e c h i n g still w e r e c o m monplace, and poisonous m e r c u r y mistakenly was believed to b e a p a n a c e a for d o z e n s o f d i s o r d e r s . D o c t o r s a t t e m p t e d t o m a k e t h e i r c h a r g e s c o m f o r t a b l e a n d t o ease t h e i r p a i n w i t h m o r p h i n e w h e n t h e y c o u l d — a n d t h e latest c h a l l e n g e o f m e d i c i n e w a s t h e s i m p l e a t t e m p t t o e x p l a i n t h e cause o f a n i l l n e s s — b u t t r u e c u r e s r e m a i n e d l a r g e l y e l u s i v e . A s his several p h y s i c i a n s h a d s t r u g g l e d t o f i n d a u n i f i e d e x p l a n a t i o n for B e e t h o v e n ' s l i f e l o n g ills, t h e y h a d q u e r i e d their patient repeatedly a b o u t the years of the 1790s.

The

composer

himself suspected

that

"colic"

h a d b e e n t h e c a u s e o f his deafness,

his

incessant

and Dr.

Franz

W e g e l e r , his o l d f r i e n d a n d f r e q u e n t m e d i c a l adviser, also b e l i e v e d t h a t b o t h ears a n d b o w e l s h a d b e e n b e s e t b y t h e s a m e m y s t e r i o u s t r o u b l e . " T h e s e e d s o f his d i s o r d e r s , his h e a r i n g p r o b l e m , a n d t h e d r o p s y t h a t f i n a l l y k i l l e d h i m , a l r e a d y lay w i t h i n m y f r i e n d ' s ailing b o d y i n 1796," h e speculated years later, a l t h o u g h h e actually m a y h a v e b e e n r e m e m b e r i n g 1 7 9 7 , a y e a r t h a t for B e e t h o v e n w a s far m o r e e t c h e d b y illness t h a n t h e o n e b e f o r e it. Y e t i n a n y case, W e g e l e r h a d c o n t i n u e d t o s u s p e c t l o n g after B e e t h o v e n ' s d e a t h t h a t s o m e t h i n g i n s i d i o u s h a d b e fallen h i m i n t h o s e early y e a r s , s o m e t h i n g t h a t u l t i m a t e l y h a d b e e n t h e c u l p r i t for t h e a m a l g a m a t e d t r o u b l e s t h a t e n s u e d . I t w a s " d r o p s y " — t h e swelling caused b y the r e t e n t i o n o f fluids t h a t i s n o w k n o w n a s e d e m a — t h a t h a d b e g u n t o p l a g u e B e e t h o v e n w h i l e h e l i v e d w i t h his b r o t h e r i n t h e t o w n o f G n e i x e n d o r f i n t h e A u s t r i a n c o u n t r y s i d e late i n 1 8 2 6 . H i s feet w e r e f i r s t t o b a l l o o n , a n d t h e y d i d s o v e r y p a i n f u l l y ; t h e n his


b e l l y t o o g r e w fat w i t h f l u i d , a n d b y t h e t i m e h e a n d K a r l , his nephew, began their j o u r n e y back to Vienna on D e c e m b e r 1, h e already was nearly i m m o b i l i z e d b y these dire n e w s y m p toms. B e e t h o v e n and Karl w e r e forced to spend a night en route h o m e in an unheated r o o m above a tavern, and by the t i m e h e w a s d e l i v e r e d a t last t o h i s l o d g i n g s n e a r t h e u n i v e r s i t y , B e e t h o v e n h a d d e v e l o p e d a h i g h fever, a h a c k i n g c o u g h , a n d h a d a s h o o t i n g p a i n i n his side. D r . B r a u n h o f e r , n o m i n a l l y still his p h y s i c i a n , d e c l i n e d t o a t t e n d t o his p a t i e n t for r e a s o n s t h a t remain unclear; a second doctor premised to c o m e quickly but d i d n o t , a n d i t w a s n ' t u n t i l t h e i r t h i r d d a y b a c k i n t h e city t h a t Karl was able to secure the services of Dr. A n d r e a s W a w r u c h , a p r o f e s s o r o f p a t h o l o g y a n d clinical m e d i c i n e a t t h e V i e n n a Hospital. " O n e w h o holds y o u r n a m e i n h i g h h o n o r will d o e v e r y t h i n g p o s s i b l e t o b r i n g y o u s p e e d y relief," t h e p h y s i c i a n scribbled into the conversation b o o k as he was introduced at bedside t o t h e famous m a n w h o s e visage h a d t u r n e d yellowish a n d w h o b y n o w h a d b e c o m e t e r r i b l y i n f i r m , his b r e a t h i n g l a b o r e d , b l o o d d r i p p i n g f r o m his m o u t h . A l t h o u g h W a w r u c h w a s a b l e t o m a k e his p a t i e n t a b i t m o r e c o m f o r t a b l e t h a t d a y b y a d m i n i s t e r i n g " a s e v e r e c o u n t e r - t r e a t m e n t for i n f l a m m a t i o n , " w h e n h e a r r i v e d for his d a i l y visit f i v e days h e n c e h e d i s covered that B e e t h o v e n was near death

a n d n o w also w a s

raging at that realization:

I f o u n d h i m g r e a t l y d i s t u r b e d a n d j a u n d i c e d all o v e r his b o d y . A f r i g h t f u l c h o l e r i c a t t a c k h a d t h r e a t e n e d his f i f e i n the p r e c e d i n g night. A violent rage, a great grief because


of sustained ingratitude and u n d e s e r v e d humiliation, was t h e cause o f this m i g h t y explosion. T r e m b l i n g a n d shiveri n g , h e b e n t d o u b l e b e c a u s e o f t h e p a i n s t h a t r a g e d i n his l i v e r a n d i n t e s t i n e s , a n d his feet, h i t h e r t o m o d e r a t e l y i n flated, w e r e t r e m e n d o u s l y s w o l l e n . . . . G e n t l e e n t r e a t i e s f r o m his f r i e n d s q u i e t e d t h e t h r e a t e n i n g m e n t a l t e m p e s t , a n d t h e f o r g i v i n g m a n f o r g o t all t h e h u m i l i a t i o n t h a t h a d b e e n p u t u p o n h i m . B u t t h e disease m o v e d o n w a r d w i t h giant strides.

T h r e e w e e k s i n t o t h e crisis, B e e t h o v e n ' s a b d o m e n h a d b e c o m e s o swollen that W a w r u c h n o w believed there was n o c h o i c e b u t t o d r a i n its fluid surgically, a p r o c e d u r e t h a t w a s p e r f o r m e d o n D e c e m b e r 2 0 , a n d w h i c h p r o d u c e d literally g a l lons of septic, w a t e r y liquid. B e e t h o v e n was better, b u t only a little, w h e n h e said g o o d - b y e t o K a r l o n J a n u a r y 2 , 1 8 2 7 , a s t h e y o u n g m a n left t o b e g i n his m i l i t a r y p o s t i n g i n M o r a v i a , a n d t h e f o l l o w i n g d a y B e e t h o v e n c o m p o s e d a w i l l m a k i n g K a r l his sole h e i r . A s e c o n d t a p p i n g o n J a n u a r y 8 p r o d u c e d e v e n m o r e l i q u i d t h a n h a d b e e n d r a i n e d t h e first t i m e , a n d n o w h e w a s h o r r i b l y a w a s h i n his o w n fluid, h i s b e d c l o t h e s a n d m a t t r e s s soaked, a large w o o d e n b o w l o v e r f l o w i n g b e n e a t h his b e d , t h e straw that was m e a n t to p r o t e c t t h e floor fouled as well a n d filled w i t h c o c k r o a c h e s t h a t h a d b e e n a t t r a c t e d b y t h e s t e n c h . It was an ugly and u n s e e m l y a n d d e m e a n i n g w a y to die. B u t although the bugs disgusted him, otherwise B e e t h o v e n n o w began

to

grow

calm.

He

sketched music

and

revised

the


m e t r o n o m e m a r k i n g s o n a s c o r e o f t h e N i n t h S y m p h o n y for his b e n e f a c t o r s a t t h e L o n d o n P h i l h a r m o n i c S o c i e t y , w h o i n t u r n , a n d o n h e a r i n g o f his p l i g h t , m a d e h i m a l o a n o f a h u n d r e d p o u n d s t h a t t h e y h o p e d c o u l d b e a p p l i e d t o his m e d i c a l c a r e . F r o m his l o n g t i m e f r i e n d a n d f r e q u e n t l a n d l o r d J o h a n n Pasqualati, h e r e q u e s t e d sweets: "Please send m e s o m e m o r e s t e w e d c h e r r i e s t o d a y , b u t c o o k e d q u i t e simply, w i t h o u t a n y l e m o n . F u r t h e r , a l i g h t p u d d i n g , a l m o s t like g r u e l , w o u l d g i v e me great pleasure." In a letter to his G e r m a n m u s i c publisher, he b e g g e d wine—specifically the R n \ ne w i n e that always had b e e n his f a v o r i t e . A n d he b e g a n to receive a congress of visitors as well. In Karl Holz's absence, A n t o n Schindler willingly had r e t u r n e d to do

Beethoven's

daily

bidding,

and

during

the

succeeding

weeks Schindler greeted and escorted to the composer's bedside c u r r e n t f r i e n d s a n d b e n e f a c t o r s , f o r m e r f r i e n d s n o w d e t e r m i n e d t o set t h i n g s s t r a i g h t , f e l l o w m u s i c i a n s , h i s b r o t h e r J o h a n n , and a few strangers eager to m e e t the great m a n b e f o r e i t w a s t o o late. T h e r e c a m e a daily v i s i t o r t o o , t h i r t e e n year-old Gerhard von Breuning, the boy w h o m Beethoven nicknamed

"Trouser Button"

and whose

company

he

de-

lighted in. B r e u n i n g was d r a w n , i n t u r n , t o t h e grandfatherly d e m e a n o r o f h i s family's l o n g t i m e f r i e n d d e s p i t e t h e fact t h a t h e clearly w a s d y i n g . A u s t r i a n c o m p o s e r s A n t o n i o D i a b e l l i , Jan Dolezalek, them

often.

and A n s e l m H i i t t e n b r e n n e r visited, s o m e o f Composer Johann

Hummel—who

had

been

B e e t h o v e n ' s early friend a n d rival in V i e n n a — t r a v e l e d to the

Schwarzspanierhaus

f r o m as far a w a y as h i s h o m e i n W e i m a r ,


bringing with

h i m his w i f e a n d his

fifteen-year-old

pupil

F e r d i n a n d Hiller, i n t r o d u c i n g t h e b o y w h o m H u m m e l insisted held great musical promise to the dying master in a m a n n e r t h a t c o u l d n o t h e l p b u t r e m i n d B e e t h o v e n o f his o w n i n t r o d u c t i o n to M o z a r t forty years before. B u t a l t h o u g h his s p i r i t s o f t e n w e r e lifted h i g h b y t h e c o n c e r n p e o p l e e x p r e s s e d for h i m — a n d b y t h e s i m p l e p l e a s u r e s o f t h e i r company—Beethoven's

body

continued

to

collapse.

Two

m o r e a b d o m i n a l tappings w e r e r e q u i r e d i n February, a n d following the fourth, the long-suffering patient n o w recognized t h a t his t i m e w a s n e a r l y d o n e . est"

he

said w i t h

a

hint

"Plaudite, amid, comoedia finita

of smile

to

Schindler and y o u n g

B r e u n i n g o n a d a y w h e n D r . W a w r u c h a n d his c o n s u l t a n t s h a d departed with

grave

expressions on

t h e i r faces:

"Applaud,

Beethoven

reluctantly

friends, the c o m e d y is finished." At

his

brother's

encouragement,

a g r e e d t o r e c e i v e t h e last r i t e s o f t h e c h u r c h late i n M a r c h , a n d o n t h a t s a m e d a y t h e w i n e h e h a d r e q u e s t e d o f his p u b l i s h e r a r rived from Mainz.

"Pity,

p i t y — t o o late,"

he whispered to

S c h i n d l e r , w h o h e l d a b o t t l e for h i m t o s e e , b u t t h e n h e s p o k e n o m o r e . H e fell i n t o a c o m a t h a t e v e n i n g , a n d d i d n ' t stir f r o m i t for t w o d a y s , n o t u n t i l , i n t h e m i d s t o f a l a t e - a f t e r n o o n snowstorm on March 26, with only Hiittenbrenner and an u n k n o w n w o m a n — p e r h a p s his m a i d , p e r h a p s o n e o f t h e t w o sist e r s - i n - l a w h e s e l d o m h a d w a n t e d t o b e n e a r — a t his bedside, a b r i g h t flash of l i g h t n i n g followed by a h o u s e - r a t t l i n g clap of t h u n d e r r o u s e d h i m m o m e n t a r i l y . H e o p e n e d his e y e s , raised h i s r i g h t h a n d a n d c l e n c h e d i t i n t o a f i s t a s i f t o s p u r n t h e sky's


c o m m a n d , t h e n his h a n d fell b a c k t o t h e b e d . L u d w i g v a n Beethoven was dead.

BECAUSE

THE

GREAT

COMPOSER'S

PASSING

was

an

-

e v e n t o f s u c h m o m e n t i n t h e city t h a t h a d b e e n his h o m e for t h i r t y - f i v e y e a r s , artist J o s e f D a n h a u s e r h a d b e e n p e r m i t t e d t o c o m e t o B e e t h o v e n ' s b e d r o o m t o ma^ce a p l a s t e r d e a t h m a s k o f his face a n d t o e x e c u t e d r a w i n g s o f his b o d y i n r e p o s e i n a b r i g h t l y p o l i s h e d coffin t h a t s t o o d n e a r h i s b e d — B e e t h o v e n ' s l o n g h a i r falling a w a y f r o m his e m a c i a t e d face a n d s p r e a d i n g a c r o s s t h e p i l l o w t h a t h e l d his h e a d , his o n c e - b r i g h t e y e s n o w p r e s s e d c l o s e d , his b o d y s u r r o u n d e d b y f l o w e r s . B u t b e f o r e t h e y a p p l i e d t h e plaster, r e p o r t e d D a n h a u s e r ' s b r o t h e r C a r l , w h o had accompanied h i m on the errand, the t w o m e n cut t w o locks of hair from the composer's temples as "souvenirs of the illustrious head." In the decades before the invention of photography, it was m o r e c o m m o n t h a n n o w for p e o p l e t o k e e p l o c k s o f h a i r a s r e m e m b r a n c e s of children, parents, and lovers w h o had died, and to do the same w h e n circumstances occasionally p e r m i t t e d w i t h the hair of great a n d famous

figures—such

as the m a n

w h o s e l o n g - b a t t e r e d b o d y n o w lay o n v i e w . I n t h e t w o d a y s s i n c e B e e t h o v e n ' s d e a t h , H i i t t e n b r e n n e r also h a d t a k e n a k e e p sake

lock of hair;

Franz von

Hartmann

a n d his f r i e n d t h e

y o u n g c o m p o s e r " F r i t z " Schubert had cut two, and so did many

others—friends,

acquaintances,

and

strangers

alike—


during the quiet hours before Beethoven's b o d y was carried f r o m his h o u s e . I n m u c h t h e s a m e w a y t h a t t h e y h a d b e e n d r a w n for m a n y decades to the pageantry and high e m o t i o n of operas and c o n certs, t h e p e o p l e o f V i e n n a also w e r e r e n o w n e d for t h e i r l o v e o f a f i n e a n d m a u d l i n funeral, a n d a n e n o r m o u s c r o w d s — 2 0 , 0 0 0 people by some estimates—had surged into the Schwarzspanierstrasse b y t h r e e o ' c l o c k o n t h e a f t e r n o o n o f M a r c h 2 9 , a n d a s m a n y of t h e m as c o u l d m a n a g e it had pressed into the house's c o u r t y a r d , w h e r e B e e t h o v e n ' s b o d y n o w lay i n state o n a n o r n a t e bier. S o m a n y citizens o f V i e n n a w e r e e a g e r t o feel a p a r t o f t h e p r o c e e d i n g s t h a t i t t o o k n i n e t y m i n u t e s for t h e funeral c o r t e g e t o travel t h e f o u r b l o c k s t o t h e T r i n i t y C h u r c h o f t h e M i n o r i t e s i n the

Alsergasse.

Eight

Kapellmeisters,

among

them Johann

H u m m e l , s e r v e d a s pallbearers; t h e city's l e a d i n g m u s i c i a n s , m a n y o f w h o m h a d b e e n B e e t h o v e n ' s close associates, c a r r i e d t o r c h e s ; a choir m a d e u p o f m e m b e r s o f t h e R o y a l C o u r t O p e r a sang the composer's o w n

Miserere,

a d o p t e d for v o i c e s for t h e o c c a s i o n , a n d

b e h i n d t h e coffin w a l k e d G e r h a r d v o n B r e u n i n g ,

his father,

Stephan, J o h a n n van Beethoven, the brother w h o m Beethoven had poorly a t t e m p t e d to love, and J o h a n n a van B e e t h o v e n , the sister-in-law w h o m h e vainly h a d tried t o hate. A t t h e c l o s e o f t h e r e q u i e m m a s s i n s i d e t h e c h u r c h , t h e coffin w a s b o r n e by a hearse h i t c h e d to four black horses, a n d it was followed by as m a n y as t w o h u n d r e d horse-drawn coaches e n r o u t e t o t h e parish c e m e t e r y i n t h e W a h r i n g district, w h e r e actor H e i n r i c h Anschiitz read a florid a n d worshipful o r a t i o n c o m p o s e d for t h e

occasion by beloved Vienna poet

Franz

Grillparzer. " W e w h o stand here at the grave of the deceased


a r e in a s e n s e t h e r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s of an e n t i r e n a t i o n . . Anschiitz intoned,

c o m e t o m o u r n the passing o f o n e celebrated half o f that w h i c h r e m a i n e d to us from the vanished brilliance of the art of o u r h o m e l a n d . . . [Goethe,] the h e r o of p o e t r y in t h e G e r m a n l a n g u a g e a n d t o n g u e still l i v e s — a n d l o n g m a y h e live. B u t t h e last m a s t e r o ^ r e s o u n d i n g s o n g , t h e g r a c i o u s m o u t h b y w h i c h m u s i c s p o k e . . . has c e a s e d t o b e ; and w e stand w e e p i n g o v e r t h e b r o k e n strings o f a n i n s t r u m e n t n o w stilled. . . . B e c a u s e h e s h u t h i m s e l f off f r o m t h e w o r l d , t h e y c a l l e d h i m hostile;

a n d c a l l o u s , b e c a u s e h e s h u n n e d feelings.

[ B u t ] e x c e s s o f f e e l i n g a v o i d s feelings. H e f l e d t h e w o r l d b e c a u s e h e d i d n o t f i n d , i n t h e w h o l e c o m p a s s o f his l o v i n g n a t u r e , a w e a p o n w i t h w h i c h t o resist it. H e w i t h d r e w f r o m his f e l l o w m e n after h e h a d g i v e n t h e m e v e r y thing and had received nothing in return. He remained a l o n e b e c a u s e h e f o u n d n o s e c o n d self. B u t u n t i l his d e a t h h e p r e s e r v e d a h u m a n h e a r t for all m e n , a father's h e a r t for his o w n p e o p l e , t h e w h o l e w o r l d . T h u s h e w a s , t h u s h e d i e d , t h u s w i l l h e l i v e for all t i m e ! R e t u r n t o y o u r h o m e s , t h e n , distressed b u t c o m p o s e d . A n d w h e n e v e r , d u r i n g y o u r lives, t h e p o w e r o f his w o r k s o v e r w h e l m s y o u like c o m i n g s t o r m ; w h e n y o u r r a p t u r e pours out in the midst of a generation yet u n b o r n , then r e m e m b e r this h o u r a n d think: w e w e r e t h e r e w h e n t h e y buried him, and w h e n he died we wept!


T h e bright spring day had g o n e t o dusk w h e n Anschiitz's words w e r e finished and it was rime to h a m m e r Beethoven's coffin c l o s e d a n d l o w e r i t i n t o t h e e a r t h . H e l o o k e d v e r y diff e r e n t n o w , his v i s a g e a l t e r e d u t t e r l y b e c a u s e d e a t h h a d c l a i m e d h i m , b e c a u s e o f t h e c h a n g e s t h e a u t o p s y h a d w r o u g h t , b u t also b e c a u s e his h e a d a p p e a r e d a s t h o u g h i t h a d b e e n assailed b y scissors—because so m a n y a d o r i n g citizens had snipped k e e p sake l o c k s o f t h e g r e a t B e e t h o v e n ' s hair.


CODA

N E A R T H E E N D O F H I S s i x - m o n t h s o j o u r n i n t h e village o f Heiligenstadt in the a u t u m n of 1802, L u d w i g van Beethoven h a d b e c o m e s o d i s t r a u g h t o v e r his u n r e l e n t i n g deafness t h a t for a r i m e h e h a d c o n s i d e r e d s u m m a r i l y e n d i n g h i s life. B u t a s h e e x p l a i n e d t o his b r o t h e r s i n t h e i m p a s s i o n e d O c t o b e r letter h e c h o s e n e v e r t o m a i l , " o n l y m y art h e l d m e b a c k . A h , i t s e e m e d i m p o s s i b l e t o l e a v e t h e w o r l d u n t i l I h a d p r o d u c e d all t h a t I felt w a s w i t h i n m e , a n d s o I s p a r e d t h i s w r e t c h e d life." B y t h e t i m e his life d i d c o m e t o a c l o s e a q u a r t e r c e n t u r y later, h e h a d c r e ated 138 singular and extraordinary compositions to w h i c h he attached opus n u m b e r s , a n d t w o h u n d r e d m o r e songs, canons,


a n d d a n c e s t h a t h e c o n s i d e r e d lesser w o r k s . I n t h a t t i m e , t h e m a n w h o first a n d f o r e m o s t c o n s i d e r e d h i m s e l f a " t o n e p o e t " set classical m u s i c o n a b o l d a n d i m p a s s i o n e d a n d r e v o l u t i o n ary n e w course, o n e from w h i c h it never w o u l d t u r n back, and he did so despite heartbreaking disappointments, crippling and d e f e a t i n g illnesses, a n d t h e deafness t h a t u l t i m a t e l y r o b b e d h i m o f c o m m u n i t y a s w e l l a s t h e a u r a l p l e a s u r e s o f his m u s i c . H i s w a s a life s h a p e d b y t r e m e n d o u s p a s s i o n a n d e n d u r i n g p a i n , o n e s h a p e d a s w e l l b y his ability t o d r a w f r o m s o m e w h e r e d e e p w i t h i n h i m compositions that r e m a i n profoundly i m p o r t a n t to m i l l i o n s o f p e o p l e a r o u n d t h e w o r l d t w o c e n t u r i e s after t h e y w e r e w r i t t e n . O u t o f this p h y s i c a l l y f l a w e d a n d c o m p r o m i s e d m a n c a m e m u s i c t h a t b y l o n g - s t a n d i n g c o n s e n s u s has cast h i m a s t h e artistic p e e r o f M i c h e l a n g e l o B u o n a r r o t i , L e o n a r d o d a Vinci, and William Shakespeare, music that anchors h i m "at the center of h u m a n consciousness," in the v i e w of British m u sicologist B u r n e t t J a m e s . " T h r o u g h t h e b l e n d i n g o f t h e c o n s c i o u s a n d t h e u n c o n s c i o u s i n his e x t r a o r d i n a r i l y d e e p a n d comprehensive

experience

of the

farthest

mysteries

o f this

life," J a m e s w r o t e i n t h e i n t r o d u c t i o n t o h i s b o o k Beethoven

and Human Destiny, " a n d a b o v e all in his o v e r w h e l m i n g ability to e m b o d y in music t h e essence of that experience, B e e t h o v e n bears witness to the destiny of man." W r i t i n g t o his l i f e l o n g f r i e n d F r a n z W e g e l e r , B e e t h o v e n — w h o p r e v i o u s l y h a d c o n f e s s e d his h e a r i n g loss t o W e g e l e r — n o n e t h e l e s s h a d b e e n b r i e f l y b u o y a n t a b o u t his p r o s p e c t s . H e believed he was learning to c o p e w i t h a w o r l d that was i n c r e a s i n g l y silent; h e w a s n e w l y i n l o v e w i t h a w o m a n w h o fascinated h i m , and he was sure that s o o n he w o u l d travel the


w o r l d . " I w i l l t a k e fate b y t h e t h r o a t , i t shall n o t w h o l l y o v e r c o m e m e , " h e h a d w r i t t e n . " O h , i t w o u l d b e s o lovely t o live a t h o u s a n d lives."

K A R L B E E T H O V E N , T H E C O M P O S E R ' S N E P H E W a n d sole heir, had died n i n e years before F e r d i n a n d Hiller, in

1883,

passed t h e small treasure h e h a d clipped f r o m the master c o m p o s e r ' s h e a d t o his o n l y s o n . A t s e v e n t y - o n e , F e r d i n a n d H i l l e r ' s l o n g c a r e e r n o w w a s i n its d e n o u e m e n t ; h e still c o m p o s e d , m u c h like t h e a g i n g a n d i n f i r m B e e t h o v e n h a d d o n e , b u t — v e r y unlike t h e m a n w h o m h e briefly h a d m e t and t h e n c e f o r t h had hugely revered—already the public was losing interest in H i l l e r ' s c r e a t i o n s , a l r e a d y his i m p a c t o n t h e w o r l d o f m u s i c w a s w a n i n g dramatically. I n t h e d a y s b e f o r e his d e a t h , L u d w i g v a n B e e t h o v e n h a d urged

fifteen-year-old

F e r d i n a n d H i l l e r t o d e v o t e h i s life t o

a r t , a n d t o w o r k ceaselessly t o w a r d its p e r f e c t i o n . H i l l e r h a d t a k e n t h a t a d m o n i t i o n d e e p l y t o h e a r t , a n d b y all b u t t h e m o s t d e m a n d i n g m e a s u r e m e n t s , h e h a d s u c c e e d e d splendidly. W h i l e still a t e e n a g e r , his t a l e n t s h a d a s t o n i s h e d s o m e o f E u r o p e ' s f o r e m o s t m u s i c i a n s ; i n P a r i s i n his t w e n t i e s , h e h a d m o v e d t o the c e n t e r o f a circle o f s o o n - t o - b e r e n o w n e d y o u n g c o m p o s e r s w h o w e r e d e t e r m i n e d t o infuse t h e i r m u s i c w i t h t r a n scendent e m o t i o n in the w a y that the now-deified B e e t h o v e n had done; and in the succeeding decades, Hiller had continued t o b e vitally i m p o r t a n t t o b o t h t h e l e g i o n o f musicians w h o m he

befriended

and

supported

and

the

concertgoing

public


w h o s e a p p r e c i a t i o n o f m u s i c h e n u r t u r e d a t e v e r y t u r n . A s his health d e t e r i o r a t e d in t h e early 1880s a n d it b e c a m e clear that his d a y s t o o w o u l d s o o n b e d o n e , F e r d i n a n d H i l l e r c o n t i n u e d to c o m p o s e , n o t because he h o p e d that posterity s o m e h o w w o u l d c h a n g e its m i n d a n d o n e d a y d e m a n d his m u s i c , b u t simply because t h e j o y of shaping s o u n d into art r e m a i n e d syno n y m o u s w i t h l i v i n g for h i m .

BY T H E T I M E Beethoven's

HE

hair

to

H A D g i v e n his l o n g - c h e r i s h e d l o c k o f his

son,

Ferdinand

Hiller

had

grown

d e e p l y distressed a b o u t t h e rise of r a m p a n t a n t i - S e m i t i s m in E u r o p e , a n d h e c h i l l i n g l y h a d p r e d i c t e d t h a t b e c a u s e o f it, t h e t w e n t i e t h c e n t u r y w o u l d b e filled w i t h b l o o d a n d h o r r o r . P a u l H i l l e r a n d his f a m i l y h a d b e g u n t o e x p e r i e n c e p e r s o n a l l y t h e effects o f t h a t e t h n i c h a t r e d o n l y a s h o r t t i m e after his father's d e a t h , a n d a l t h o u g h h e , l i k e his f a t h e r , l o n g h a d d e v o t e d his life t o t h e b e s t o f T e u t o n i c c u l t u r e — t o its m u s i c a l a r t s — i t w a s t h e G e r m a n y characterized by Hitler rather than by Beethoven in w h i c h h e d i e d u n e x p e c t e d l y i n 1 9 3 4 , his w i f e a n d s o n s f o r c e d a s t h e y e u l o g i z e d h i m t o h i d e his J e w i s h h e r i t a g e i n t h e d e s perate h o p e of avoiding death themselves. "Lust-murderers

years

are

here,"

Marcel

Hillaire,

Paul

H i l l e r ' s s o n b o r n E r w i n r e m e m b e r e d his m o t h e r , S o p h i e , d e c l a r i n g t o h e r t w o s o n s s o o n after h e r h u s b a n d ' s d e a t h . " C h e a t c l e v e r l y n o w , o r r u n , o r y o u w i l l d i e . " I n L o s A n g e l e s late i n his life, M a r c e l H i l l a i r e w r o t e a l e n g t h y m a n u s c r i p t — t h e u n published b o o k dedicated to Esther Taylor—in w h i c h he d e -


s c r i b e d his h a p p y c h i l d h o o d i n C o l o g n e , t h e i n s i d i o u s rise o f t h e N a z i s , a n d his a n d his b r o t h e r E d g a r ' s s e p a r a t e d e c i s i o n s t o leave C o l o g n e w h e n i t b e c a m e clear that " a n i m m e n s e Satanic r e a l i t y h a d c o m e t o r e i g n i n o u r l a n d . " E d g a r H i l l e r first h a d fled t o H a m b u r g , w h e r e h e h a d b e e n e m p l o y e d b y a n o p e r a company,

a n d w h e r e h e h a d p r e s u m e d his A r y a n - s o u n d i n g

s u r n a m e w o u l d k e e p h i m safe f r o m s u s p i c i o n , y e t after o n l y a s h o r t t i m e i n t h e n o r t h h e literally h a d b e e n s h o u t e d f r o m t h e stage i n t h e m i d s t o f a p e r f o r m a n c e b e c a u s e , a g a g g l e o f o p eragoers bellowed, a J e w could not be permitted to perform t h e w o r k o f t h e g r e a t p a t r i o t W a g n e r . F o l l o w i n g his e x p u l s i o n f r o m t h e stage, E d g a r H i l l e r n e x t h a d t r a v e l e d u n c e r t a i n l y for a t i m e — a n d p e r h a p s w e n t t o D e n m a r k , o f c o u r s e , a l t h o u g h his b r o t h e r ' s m a n u s c r i p t m a k e s n o m e n t i o n o f his s e v e r a l d e s t i n a t i o n s — b e f o r e h e settled i n Z u r i c h i n 1939, w h e r e h e r e m a i n e d t h r o u g h o u t t h e w a r , his p r o m i s i n g s i n g i n g c a r e e r all b u t a b a n d o n e d before it truly began. F o r his p a r t , M a r c e l — E r w i n — a l r e a d y a n a c t o r , d e t e r m i n e d t h a t t h e b e s t p l a c e for h i m t o h i d e w a s a m o n g his f e l l o w p e r formers

in

a

traveling theater troupe.

He

dubbed

himself

H a r r y Fiirster, a n d h e p e r f o r m e d i t i n e r a n t r o l e s r a n g i n g f r o m H a m l e t t o c o u n t r y c l o w n s , y e t his h u g e a t t r a c t i o n t o f e m i n i n e c h a r m s a n d his h e a r t y c a r n a l a p p e t i t e s c o n t i n u a l l y g o t h i m i n t o t r o u b l e , a n d o c c a s i o n a l l y v e r y n e a r l y c o s t h i m his life. I t w a s his t r y s t w i t h t h e t r o u p e - m a n a g e r ' s w i f e t h a t l e d t o his d i s missal, a s w e l l a s t h e m a n a g e r ' s s u b s e q u e n t d e t e r m i n a t i o n t o r e v e a l t o G e r m a n a u t h o r i t i e s t h e fact t h a t y o u n g H e r r F i i r s t e r w a s , i n fact, a J e w . B u t a n o t h e r r o m a n c e s o o n l e d — m o s t i m p r o b a b l y b u t p r o p i t i o u s l y — t o his n e w lover's h e l p i n s e c u r i n g


h i m a p o s i t i o n a s a n office c l e r k i n t h e " O r g a n i s a t i o n T o d t , " the Nazi army's construction corps. Posted to Brittany, w h e r e T o d t w o r k e r s w e r e raising the line of defense k n o w n as the A t l a n t i c W a l l , a n d u s i n g his a c t u a l n a m e a g a i n , E r w i n H i l l e r r o s e far e n o u g h u p t h e c l e r i c a l l a d d e r t h a t e v e n t u a l l y h e a n swered

directly

to

Todt

chief Albert

Speer.

The

position

allowed h i m to stockpile surreptitiously an array of forged d o c uments, o n e of w h i c h he employed to m a k e it appear that the T h i r d R e i c h was in desperate n e e d in Brittany of t h e services o f F r a u S o p h i e H i l l e r . B u t a s his m o t h e r w a s a b o u t t o b o a r d a train in C o l o g n e in the a u t u m n of 1942 en r o u t e to j o i n her s o n — t h e t w o o f t h e m h o p i n g t h a t s h e c o u l d find a t least a m o d i c u m of security in F r a n c e — S o p h i e Hiller was stricken by a heart attack a n d died. Todt personnel France

had

begun

and to

the

whole

retreat

into

of the

German

army

G e r m a n y before

in

Erwin

H i l l e r ' s J e w i s h i d e n t i t y w a s d i s c o v e r e d a t last. H e w a s j a i l e d n e a r W e i m a r a n d w a s c o n d e m n e d t o d e a t h for his i n s i d i o u s d e c e i t a s m u c h a s his S e m i t i c a n c e s t r y , b u t b e f o r e his s e n t e n c e could be carried out, he was transferred to a prison in Berlin, w h e r e , i n t h e d a y s b e f o r e t h e w a r h a d c o m m e n c e d six y e a r s b e f o r e , t h e m o t h e r o f a t e e n a g e d girl w h o h a d a d o r e d H i l l e r h a d b r o u g h t s t a t u t o r y r a p e c h a r g e s against h i m . I t w a s w h i l e h e languished in Berlin, waiting to answer the accusation that he h a d h a d his w a y w i t h a n u n d e r a g e d g i r l , t h a t t h e R u s s i a n a r m y c l o s e d i n o n t h e city, l i b e r a t i n g i t a n d E r w i n H i l l e r a s w e l l i n April 1945. I t w a s n o t u n t i l t h r e e y e a r s later, h o w e v e r , t h a t E r w i n H i l l e r


e m i g r a t e d t o t h e U n i t e d States, a n d i n J u n e 1 9 4 8 h e n o w w a s M a r c e l Hillaire a s h e w a l k e d t h e streets o f N e w York, t h e nominally " F r e n c h " actor assuming that prospects in America w o u l d n o t b e b r i g h t for a G e r m a n , r e g a r d l e s s o f his e t h n i c i t y . M a r c e l r e m a i n e d i n N e w Y o r k for six y e a r s , w o r k i n g for a time as a l o w l y busboy, b u t e v e n t u a l l y s e c u r i n g a series of c h a r acter roles in theater a n d on television. E d g a r Hiller, w h o h a d s p e n t t h e p r e c e d i n g d e c a d e i n Z u r i c h , b r i e f l y h a d j o i n e d his b r o t h e r in the beginning, but s o m e h o w America simply was t o o foreign for h i m — i t s musical milieu impossible to b r e a k into, it a p p e a r e d — a n d so he r e t u r n e d to H a m b u r g , t h e city w h e r e h e h a d b e e n b o o e d off a stage a d e c a d e b e f o r e , a n d w h e r e h e w o u l d l i v e u n t i l his d e a t h o n N o v e m b e r 2 0 , 1 9 5 9 , his d e m i s e a t o n l y a g e f i f t y - t h r e e c a u s e d b y a c h r o n i c a n d d e e p d e p r e s s i o n a n d his d e t e r m i n a t i o n s i m p l y t o s t o p e a t i n g . M a r c e l H i l l a i r e h a d l i v e d i n L o s A n g e l e s for f i v e y e a r s w h e n h e l e a r n e d o f his b r o t h e r ' s d e a t h , o n e t h a t h e g u i l t i l y b e l i e v e d h e m i g h t h a v e p r e v e n t e d — h a d h e insisted that E d g a r r e m a i n i n t h e U n i t e d States w i t h h i m , h a d h e a t least r e m a i n e d i n m o r e c o n s t a n t t o u c h a n d s o m e h o w d o n e m o r e t o k e e p his brother's

spirits

bright.

Yet

beginning

in

the

mid-1950s,

M a r c e l H i l l a i r e , t h e d e b o n a i r " F r e n c h m a n , " a t last h a d b e g u n t o b e i n great d e m a n d . H e w o n s u p p o r t i n g roles i n t h e f i l m

Sabrina

in 1954 a n d in episodes o f television's

Twilight Zone

in

1959; a n d in t h e 1960s, he e m e r g e d as H o l l y w o o d ' s c o n s u m m a t e continental character actor, a p p e a r i n g in d o z e n s of films, a m o n g t h e m Seven Thieves, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Take Her, She's Mine, Murderers' Row, a n d W o o d y


Take the Money and Run, as w e l l as n u m e r o u s t e l e v i s i o n s e r i e s t h a t i n c l u d e d Adventures in Paradise, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., I Spy, a n d Mission Impossible. Allen's

H e w o r k e d far less i n t h e y e a r s t h a t f o l l o w e d his n e a r l y fatal injury in the spring of 1 9 7 4 — t h e eight years he spent in the constant c o m p a n y of Esther Taylor—a rime during w h i c h he p l a y e d h o s t w i t h easy b u t e n t h u s i a s t i c a p l o m b t o a l i v i n g r o o m c o n c e r t s e v e r a l e v e n i n g s a w e e k , e a c h p r o g r a m carefully c u l l e d f r o m his o p e r a t i c a n d o r c h e s t r a l r e c o r d c o l l e c t i o n , t h e a u d i e n c e o f t e n s o l e l y t h e t w o o f t h e m a n d t h e i r m e n a g e r i e o f cats and birds. Marcel's favorite composers w e r e the R o m a n t i c s — and R o m a n t i c i s m boldly began with Beethoven, he w o u l d insist t o his " E s t h e r c h e n " b e f o r e r e m i n d i n g h e r a s w e l l t h a t h e m i g h t have possessed to that v e r y day a lock of t h e great B e e t h o v e n ' s h a i r h a d n o t his d e a r b u t s u r e l y m i s g u i d e d f a t h e r chosen to give it to the collective populace of the w h o l e of the R h i n e l a n d instead. Marcel Hillaire developed bladder cancer in 1987 and chose to u n d e r g o e x p e r i m e n t a l surgery at t h e close of that year. W h i l e still h o s p i t a l i z e d t w o w e e k s f o l l o w i n g h i s o p e r a t i o n , a sudden pulmonary embolism

e n d e d his

life

on January

1,

1 9 8 8 . B e c a u s e t h e i r f r i e n d for s o l o n g h a d v e h e m e n t l y o p p o s e d religion of every k i n d — h a u n t e d as he was by the horrors he personally

had

witnessed

being

carried

out

in