Beethoven as a Person
The following are impressions of Beethoven as a Person:
"Beethoven was short, but broad-framed. Until his early thirties he was slim... [he had] penetrating brown eyes beneath a broad forehead and thick eyebrows. His ruddy complexion bears the scars of childhood smallpox, his mouth is shapely, and his chin has a cleft which became more marked in later years. ...
In his late thirties Beethoven became stockier." Grillparzer writes in 1823: "I first saw Beethoven in my boyhood years - which may have been 1804 or 5.... Beethoven in those days was still lean, dark, and contrary to the habit in later years, very elegantly dressed... One or two years later I was living with my parents in Heiligenstadt, near Vienna. Our dwelling fronted on the garden, and Beethoven had rented the rooms facing the street... My brothers and I took little heed of the odd man who in the meanwhile had grown more robust, and went about dressed in a most negligent, indeed even slovenly way."
Rockel, a singer, wrote of a visit to Beethoven in 1806:
"[In his room] was placed the mighty bathing apparatus in which the Master was laving his powerful chest... and I had the opportunity of admiring his muscular system and sturdy bodily construction. To judge by the latter the composer might look forward to growing as old as Methuselah, and it must have taken a most powerful inimical influence to bring the strong column to so untimely a fall."
Beethoven was clumsy. Ries wrote:
"Beethoven was most awkward and bungling in his behaviour; his clumsy movements lacked all grace. He rarely picked up anything without dropping or breaking it... Everything was knocked over, soiled, or destroyed. How he ever managed to shave himself at all remains difficult to understand, even considering the frequent cuts on his cheeks. - He never learned to dance in time with the music."
Beethoven's personality was also challenging:
"As a young man Beethoven was frank to the point of rudeness. Headstrong and proud, he was never willing to conform in his behaviour... As he grew older and deafness overrtook him, the negative aspects of Beethoven's personality came to the fore. He was increasingly given to bouts of despair, the difficulties of communication made him more reserved, and he became more suspicious and distrustful of others."
"Beethoven's behaviour was as erratic as his complex personality might lead one to expect. He rarely stayed in one abode for long; domestic comforts were apparenly unimportant to him and he lived in a state of disorderliness which shocked many observers; he was unable to excercise control over his household affairs; and he became increasingly negligent over his dress."
Baron de Tremont writes of a visit to Beethoven in 1809:
"Picture to yourself the dirtiest, most disorderly place imaginable - blotches of moisture covered the ceiling, an oldish grand piano, on which dust disputed the place with various pieces of engraved and manuscript music; under the piano (I do not exaggerate) an unemptied pot de nuit; ... the chairs, mostly cane-seated, were covered with plates bearing the remains of last night's supper and with wearing apparel etc."
Count von Keglevics, nephew of one of Beethoven's students, wrote:
"he had a whim, one of many, since he lived across from her [his student], of coming to give her lessons clad in a dressing gown, slippers and a peaked nightcap."