Immortal

By Jessica Duchen

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

Monday, 6 July 2020

On this day, 1812...

Dear friends and supporters,

Here is the 'Letter to the Immortal Beloved', scrawled in pencil by an impassioned Ludwig van Beethoven on 6 July in a year that careful research eventually - after a very long time - traced to 1812. I took this photo in Vienna during my research trip last October. You can see his increasing haste, the relatively sedate beginning, the whirl of the conclusion (written the next morning): Ewig mein, ewig dein, ewig UNS. Ever mine. Ever yours. Ever US. 

How I would love to get a professional graphologist onto Beethoven's handwriting. I was fascinated by this art/skill several decades ago when it was all the rage, and now, applying what I remember of that, I detect the following:

The base lines slope upward. He's optimistic.
The squiggles and loops are extravagant and original, yet not out of balance. He is idiosyncratic, but utterly sane.
The lower loops often form cradles, as if he is romantic, but cut off, as if that yearning is as yet unfulfilled.
He is in a hurry, especially on the last page, which was written the next morning.
Ever thine, ever mine, ever us: it is the US that gets the most emphasis!
The writing goes "whoosh" - he is in a ferment of passion.
The writing is large and spaced out - he takes up a lot of space of his own.
The lower loops sometimes tangle with the lines below - he is over-involved.
Look at the left margin. The beginnings of the lines start further and further left. This could indicate that he is drawn to the past (unless I've remembered all this wrongly). The lower loops also list left. That is interesting, because could it be bound up with the fact that he had known her a long time? Indeed, he first met Josephine in 1799.

I'm optimistic too: I am expecting the final copyedit back at any moment, and the book is due to go to print on 14 August. Release date has been moved from 1 October to 29 October, I'm afraid, but this is actually very good news even though it will keep the volume away from you for a few more weeks: it's because the "posh" list to which it has been moved requires advance copies further in advance of publication. 

I hope you're all keeping well and cheerful. The news of extra support for the arts world, as announced today, has certainly given me a bit of a boost in terms of mood and I hope it will be as positive as it sounds. I have been spending spare hours, when there are any, practising the piano, learning some Beethoven sonatas I've never tackled before because I thought they'd be too difficult, but it turns out they're not... but that deserves an update of its own.

A massive thank you for all your support, your pledges, your faith in me and in "Luigi" - onwards and upwards!

Love and best wishes,

Jessica x

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