Rare Stories about Ludwig van Beethoven

Beethoven was a German composer and virtuoso pianist who remains one of the most respected and influential composers of all time.

Beethoven Anecdotes
Beethoven Anecdotes
Beethoven's Food Fight

"One day we [Beethoven and Ferdinand Ries] were dining at the Swan; the waiter brought him the wrong dish. Beethoven had scarcely said a few choice words about it, which the waiter had answered perhaps not quite so politely as he should, when Beethoven laid hold of the dish (it was so-called 'Lugenbratel' [Roast beef] with lots of sauce) and flung it at the waiter's head. The poor fellow still had on his arms a large number of plates containing various dishes (a dexterity which Viennese waiters possess to a high degree) and could do nothing to help himself; the sauce ran down his face. He and Beethoven shouted and cursed at each other, while all the other guests laughed out loud. Finally Beethoven began laughing at the sight of the waiter, who lapped up with his tongue the sauce that was running down his face, tried to go on hurling insults, but had to go on lapping instead, pulling the most ludicrous faces the while, a picture worthy of Hogarth."
(Sources: kingsbarn.freeserve.co.uk/anecdotes.htm; I. Moscheles, The Life of Beethoven)

Was Beethoven Crazy?

One evening an unshaven man in a tattered coat was spotted peeking into the windows of various homes. The police soon received a complaint and promptly arrived to arrest the snooping bum. The man in turn complained that he was in fact the great composer Beethoven. When the police understandably refused to listen, the suspect threw a tantrum and demanded to have the musical director Herzog summoned to identify him. Eventually, the Police Commissar was roused and informed of the unfolding situation; he reluctantly got out of bed, dressed, and woke Herzog, who accompanied him to the watchhouse. Herzog set his sleepy eyes upon the suspect and promptly admitted: "That is Beethoven!"

(When Beethoven was spotted in the street, he was usually lost in thought and humming to himself, if not wildly gesticulating with his arms.)
(Sources: H. E. Krehbiel, Music and Manners in the Classical Period)

Moonlight Sonata Anecdote

"One evening as [young Beethoven] was out walking he passed a cobbler's house where he heard someone inside practicing one of his compositions. As he stopped to listen he overheard a girl say that she wished she could hear a real musician play it properly.
"Beethoven went into the house and, noticing the young lady at the piano was blind, offered to play the piece for her. He did so for more than an hour and while he did, darkness fell and the lone candle in the room went out.
"Outside in the night sky the moon shone brightly and sent its radiant beams glistening into the room where Beethoven sat playing beautiful music. He was so inspired by the appreciation of his music by the young lady and the beauty of the atmosphere in the room that he composed his famous 'Moonlight Sonata.'"
(Sources: Daily Encounter; pastor2youth.com)

Hopeless Future

As a child, Beethoven made such a poor impression on his music teachers that he was pronounced hopeless as a composer. Even Haydn, who taught Beethoven harmony for some time, failed to recognize his potential.
(Sources: Isaac Asimov's Book of Facts)

Everyone Crying

In whatever company he might chance to be, he knew how to produce such an effect upon every hearer that frequently not an eye remained dry, while many would break out into loud sobs; for there was something wonderful in his expression in addition to the beauty and originality of his ideas and his spirited style of rendering them. After ending an improvisation of this kind he would burst into loud laughter and banter his hearers on the emotion he had caused in them.
“You are fools!” he would say…. “Who can live among such spoiled children!” He would cry.
(Karl Czerny in Maynard Solomon: Beethoven. NY, 1978.)