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Beethoven Demeanor


Caricature of Beethoven.

The mature Beethoven was a short, well build man. His dark grey hair, then white, but was always thick and unruly. Reports differ as to the color of this eyes. His skin was pock-marked and his mouth, which had been a little petulant in youth, later became fixed in a grim, down-curving line, as if in a permanent expression of truculent determination. He seldom took care of his appearance, and, as he strode through the streets of Vienna with hair escaping from beneath his top hat, his hands clasped behind his back and his coat cross-buttoned he was the picture of eccentricity. His moods changed constantly, keeping his acquaintances guessing. They could never be sure that a chance remark might be misconstrued or displease the master in some way, for his powerful will would admit of no alternative view once he had made a judgement.


The above sketch by Lyser shows Beethoven as he
strode through the streets of Vienna, deep in though

By nature, Beethoven was impatient, impulsive, unreasonable and intolerant; deafness added suspicion and paranoia to these attributes. He would often misunderstand the meaning of a facial expression and accuse faithful friends of disloyalty or conspiracy. He would fly into a rage at the slightest provocation, and he would turn on friends, dismissing them curtly as being unworthy of his friendship. But, likely as not, he would write a letter the next day or so, telling them how noble and good they were and how he had misjudged them.
 
 
 
  Copyright (C) 2005 William Lane