[Ads-l] Beethoven "Last Words"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Feb 20 10:28:59 EST 2017

Right, whence a better translation than Google's “Too late to shame” below, which I can’t make sense of anyway, is “Pity, too late” or “What a shame, too late” (about the wine).  _The Bedside Book of Final Words_ offers both “Schade, Schade, zu spät” and “Ich werde im Himmel hören!” as possible last words.  No tape-recorded evidence, apparently.


> On Feb 20, 2017, at 12:06 AM, Peter Reitan <pjreitan at HOTMAIL.COM> wrote:
> ". . . two bottles of Rüdesheimer [wine] . . ." not bouquets of wine.  The suggestion is that his last words expressed disappointment over not being able to enjoy the recently delivered wine.
> ________________________________
> From: ADSGarson O'Toole<mailto:adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM>
> Sent: ‎2/‎19/‎2017 20:33
> Subject: Re: Beethoven "Last Words"
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: Beethoven "Last Words"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> 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:
> https://books.google.com/books?id=3DUPcuAAAAIAAJ&q=3D%22Schade%2C+schade%22=
> #v=3Dsnippet&
> [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
> R=C3=BCdesheimer und die andern zwei Bouteillen mit dem Tranke auf den
> Tisch zu seinem Bette Er sah sie an und sagte Schade Schade zu sp=C3=A4t
> Dies waren seine allerletzten Worte Gleich darauf verfiel er in solche
> Agonie da=C3=9F 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 R=C3=BCdesheimer 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
> sound
> [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=3D%3Bseq=3D25
>>> [Begin excerpt =E2=80=93 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 =C3=A8" (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 =E2=80=93 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 =E2=80=93 please double-check raw OCR]
>>> Francois RABELAIS French writer (1494=E2=80=94?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 sha=
> ll
>>> hear in heaven" (in German, of course).  I realize that most "last words=
> "
>>> are apocryphal and this one is undoubtedly apocryphal, but I would welco=
> me
>>> any information helping me to determine what is the earliest occurrence =
> in
>>> print of this attributed quotation.
>>>> Fred Shapiro
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