Beethoven's funeral as depicted by Franz Stöber (1795–1858)
Beethoven's funeral as depicted by Franz Stöber (1795–1858)
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Beethoven Dies From Illness

The Death of Ludwig van Beethoven on 26 March 1827 followed a prolonged illness. It was witnessed by his sister-in-law and by his close friend Anselm Hüttenbrenner, who provided a vivid description of the event. Beethoven's funeral was held three days later, and the procession was witnessed by a large crowd. He was buried in the cemetery at Währing, although his remains were moved in 1888 to Vienna's Zentralfriedhof.

Hüttenbrenner's account has been used to ascribe motivations of resistance and anger to Beethoven in his final moments. Beethoven's last words, and the exact cause of Beethoven's death have also been the subject of some disagreement.

Beethoven's last recorded words were "Pity, pity—too late!", as the dying composer was told of a gift of twelve bottles of wine. One common belief was that his last words were "Plaudite, amici, comedia finita est" ("Applaud, my friends, the comedy is over"), the typical conclusion to performances of Italian Commedia dell'arte; this was specifically denied by Hüttenbrenner in 1860. Some sources have listed his last words as, "I shall hear in heaven", but this is also almost certainly apocryphal.

Beethoven biographer A. W. Thayer, in his notebook, recorded Hüttenbrenner's account of Beethoven's death. Hüttenbrenner's eye-witness report is sometimes recast to imply that Beethoven "shook his fist at the heavens" in the moment before death. Since any imputations as to the dying man's emotional state are impossible to verify, they tend to be glossed over or ignored as irrelevant by modern-day Beethoven scholars.