[Ads-l] Beethoven "Last Words"

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Sun Feb 19 23:33:06 EST 2017

Dan Goncharoff  wrote:
> Whatever happened to "Schade, Schade, zu spaet", witnessed as Beethoven's
> last words?

Thanks, Dan. That uninspiring statement is listed on the German
Wikiquote webpage, and there is an 1827 document supporting it here:


[Begin raw OCR]
In diesem Augenblicke trat der Kanzleidiener des Herrn Hofrat von
Breuning mit dem Kistchen Wein und dem Tranke von Ihnen geschickt ins
Zimmer Dies war gegen auf 1 Uhr Ich stellte ihm die zwei Bouteillen
Rüdesheimer und die andern zwei Bouteillen mit dem Tranke auf den
Tisch zu seinem Bette Er sah sie an und sagte Schade Schade zu spät
Dies waren seine allerletzten Worte Gleich darauf verfiel er in solche
Agonie daß er keinen Laut mehr hervorbringen konnte
[End raw OCR]

[Begin Google translate]
At this moment the Chancellor of the Court of Breuning, with the box
of wine, and the drink from you, came into the room. This was at about
one o'clock. I placed the two bouquets of Rüdesheimer and the other
two bouquets with him on the table at his bed He looked at them and
said, "Too late to shame." These were his very last words. Soon
afterwards he fell into such agony that he could no longer produce a
[End Google translate]

> On Feb 19, 2017 9:54 PM, "ADSGarson O'Toole" <adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com>
> wrote:
>> Below is a deathbed saying in Latin ascribed to Beethoven in 1840. He
>> died in 1827. This Latin statement seems to be truncated. A longer
>> version was published a little later.
>> Date: January 11, 1840
>> Periodical: The Penny Magazine of the Society for the Diffusion of
>> Useful Knowledge
>> Article: Beethoven
>> Start Page 14, Quote Page 15, Column 1
>> Publisher: Charles Knight, London
>> https://hdl.handle.net/2027/inu.30000093219438
>> https://hdl.handle.net/2027/inu.30000093219438?urlappend=%3Bseq=25
>> [Begin excerpt – please double-check]
>> A singular anecdote is told of his death-bed. On his medical
>> attendants informing him of his approaching end, he immediately cried
>> out to those around him, "Plaudite, amici! comedia finita è" (clap
>> your hands, my friends! the play is over).
>> [End excerpt]
>> The 1842 review below is provides a good lead because it points to a
>> book containing a pertinent letter.
>> Year: 1842
>> Periodical: The Christian Remembrancer: Monthly Magazine and Review
>> Article: Book Review of: "The Life of Beethoven, including his
>> Correspondence with his Friends, and numerous characteristic Traits
>> and Remarks on his Musical Works" Edited by Ignace Moscheles, Esq.
>> Pianist 'to H.R.H. Prince Albert. In two vols, 8vo Pp. 674. London:
>> Colburn. 1841.
>> Start Page 128, Quote Page 130
>> Publisher: James Burns, London
>> [Begin footnote]
>> It will appear surprising, to those who have heard the sacred
>> compositions of Beethoven, that he should have been an unbeliever. "If
>> my observation," says M. Schindler, "entitles me to form an opinion on
>> the subject, I should say he inclined to Deism; in so far as that term
>> may be understood to imply natural religion." (Vol. ii p. 163.) And in
>> another passage, (vol. ii. p. 72,) M. Schindler, in a letter written
>> to Moscheles, while Beethoven was dying, says, "He is conscious of his
>> approaching end for yesterday he said to me and Brewning, 'Plaudite
>> amici, comoedia finita est.' He sees the approach of death with the
>> most perfect tranquility of soul, and real Socratic wisdom."
>> [End footnote]
>> There is also a match in "Revue Britannique", a non-English periodical.
>> Nigel Rees covered the topic of Beethoven's deathbed remark in
>> "Brewer's Famous Quotations" (2006). He gave two versions with
>> citations in 1930 and 1961. He also mentioned a connection to the
>> supposed dying words of Rabelais.
>> [Begin excerpt – please double-check]
>> Ludwig van BEETHOVEN German composer (1770-1827)
>> Plaudite, amici, comedia finita est [Applaud, my friends, the comedy is
>> over].
>> Words on his deathbed, quoted in 'Bega', Last Words of Famous Men
>> (1930). Compare RABELAIS 375:4. However, 'I shall hear in heaven' are
>> the last words as attributed in Barnaby Conrad, Famous Last Words
>> (1961).
>> [End excerpt]
>> [Begin excerpt – please double-check raw OCR]
>> Francois RABELAIS French writer (1494—?1553)
>> The comedy is ended.
>> The dying words of Rabelais are supposed to have been: 'Je m'en vais
>> chercher un grand peut-etre; tirez le rideau, la farce est jouee [I am
>> going to seek a grand perhaps; bring down the curtain, the farce is
>> played out]: The attribution is made, hedged about with disclaimers,
>> in Jean Fleury's Rabelais et ses oeuvres (1877) . . .
>> [End excerpt]
>> Garson
>> On Sun, Feb 19, 2017 at 8:46 PM, Shapiro, Fred <fred.shapiro at yale.edu>
>> wrote:
>> > Beethoven's "last words" are often said to be "I shall hear" or "I shall
>> hear in heaven" (in German, of course).  I realize that most "last words"
>> are apocryphal and this one is undoubtedly apocryphal, but I would welcome
>> any information helping me to determine what is the earliest occurrence in
>> print of this attributed quotation.
>> >
>> >
>> > Fred Shapiro
>> >
>> >
>> > ------------------------------------------------------------
>> > The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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