„In a Sea of Harmony“

Bettina von Arnim and Ludwig van Beethoven


Piano and Concept : Sebastian Knauer

Compilation of Text: Wolfgang Knauer


The encounter between the writer and poet Bettina von Arnim (1785 – 1859) and the “Titan” Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 – 1827) in Vienna in 1810 forms the centre of the programme “In a Sea of Harmony”.


Bettina von Arnim, sister of Clemens von Brentano, was one of the most amazing figures of the 19th century. She was a woman full of secrets who enchanted many people and was loved and admired.


Their encounter was one of deep intensity. In her writings, Bettina von Arnim would later describe their meeting with words of passion and deep admiration for the famous musician. It is unlikely that any of her contemporaries could have described and judged Beethoven, both as a person and as an artist, in a truer manner than she has done.Through her sensitivity, open-mindedness and artistic sense she understood and recognized Beethoven and his music better than many another.


Her youthful charm immediately appealed to Beethoven . Bettina von Arnim brought out emotional qualities in Beethoven that were neither cold nor brusque but charming, attentive and warm.


Long after their meeting, Beethoven would write to Bettina von Arnim:


“Even if you see nothing of me, in my mind I write to you a thousand letters a thousand times over...”


And, in 1811, on the occasion of Bettina von Arnim’s marriage, the composer wished her “every happiness” and ended with the words:


“Farewell now, dear, dear friend! In great pain I kiss your forehead, thereby impressing all my thoughts for you on you like a seal.”


Wolfgang Knauer compiled a moving text from quotations from the following of Bettina von Arnim’s works: “Goethes Briefwechsel mit einem Kinde” (“Goethe’s Correspondence with a Child”), “Clemens Brentanos Frühlingskranz” (“Clemens von Brentano’s Spring Garland”, “Die Günderode” (“Günderode”, Caroline von G, a poet), “Bettine und Arnim – Briefe der Freundschaft und Liebe” (Bettine and Arnim – Letters of Friendship and Love”), “Briefwechsel mit Philipp Hössli” (“Correspondence with Philipp Hössli”) and “Politische Schriften” (“Political Writings”).


Alternating with the readings, three of Beethoven’s most famous piano sonatas will be performed:


Sonata in C minor, Op. 10, No. 1


Sonata in D minor, Op. 31 No. 2 “The Tempest”


Sonata in C sharp minor, Op. 27, No. 2 “Moonlight”