No matter how much we long to thoroughly get a sense of what a certain person really was like, we have to accept the fact that even the most well documented biographies are highly subjective. Indeed, we learn all about the individual’s actions, yet we can solely take a guess at the reasons underlying them, for they were extinguished with the person’s last breath. Fortunately, in certain cases we have some documents which if correctly perused could lead us far closer to a person’s real self than any fact-based biography.
Such is the case with Beethoven’s letters and conversation books, that can in no way be compared to Schindler’s accurate yet idealized description of the composer. Anton Schindler, possibly Beethoven’s greatest admirer, did a marvelous job in gathering all details concerning the controversial life, yet he slipped in a bit too much of his infinite prize for the artist. Now I also most tremendously esteem Ludwig, but I resolved to form an opinion of my own. Therefore, after reading through his stirring and fascinating letters, I wondered which one would I choose out of the whole book (and he has written plenty of letters) to best represent his personality.
I hastily chose the first one that came to my mind, for in such matters the one that arouses your feelings is more relevant than the ones that simply give you information. The letter, addressed to his brothers, is also known as the Heiligenstadt Testament, for it was written there. Here you can find the context as well as its most touching content, which in my opinion best represents the artist.