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Immortal

By Jessica Duchen

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The mystery of Beethoven's lost love – Immortal Beloved.

Publication date: October 2020
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About the book

After Ludwig van Beethoven’s death, his secretary discovered in his apartment a portrait of an unknown woman and an impassioned love letter – returned or unsent – to an individual addressed only as ‘Immortal Beloved’. The mysterious woman’s identity has never been definitively established.

Perhaps only one person knew the whole truth...

Aged 84, Countess Therese von Brunsvík, a pioneer of Kindergarten education in Hungary, faces a dilemma. She and her sister Josephine became piano pupils of Beethoven in 1799 and grew close to him, along with their brother, Franz. Now Therese, who never married, tells a young writer that she herself was Beethoven’s lost love. But is she protecting somebody, perhaps concealing a terrible and tragic secret? Who, really, is her “niece”? Above all, how can she ever be certain?

Set in Vienna and Hungary against the turbulent background of the Napoleonic wars, in an era when ideals of equality and liberty were being asserted over entrenched aristocratic privilege, this novel is an emotional roller-coaster inspired by detailed research into a true story.

It is radically different from any Beethoven novel yet created and aims to combine the qualities of a “page-turner” with musicological accuracy and musical considerations, offering fresh light on Beethoven’s works. It casts perspective, too, on the position of women and the destructive divisions placed on relationships according to class.

Its release is timed to coincide with the Beethoven 250th Anniversary Year of 2020, for which it offers the potential to open up the composer’s world to a wide audience.

Immortal brings to life in a fresh, startling way a story that has intrigued generation after generation of music lovers. Following wide acclaim for Jessica Duchen’s musical historical novel Ghost Variations, Immortal is in a similar vein – and tackles one of music’s most famous mysteries.

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