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HEILIGENSTADT, Surrounding countryside. 1802
Not even 30 years old, I had to
realise that I was losing my hearing, which was disrupting my existence.
I was too proud to confide my torment to friends and patrons; I did not want to be laughed at. I moved to Heiligenstadt, not far from Vienna, and tried to improve my health with thermal baths. They made me try everything from bathing in the Danube to inserting brass trumpets in my ears to perceive sounds better.
Nothing worked. When I looked at the bell tower outside my house, and did not hear the sound, I knew that I would soon lose my hearing completely... The real, inexplicable miracle was that I possessed an impressive creative energy that kept me going, despite everything.
It was the following years that were the most fertile in terms of creativity. Deafness had led me to grasp destiny by the throat. My inner chaos spilled over into my furiously scribbled music. It was the time of several great symphonies, quartets and sonatas.
The music was always in my head. I couldn't hear a single note... Yet, I kept creating. By sheer force of will, I seemed to be reborn. I often took refuge in nature, in the countryside behind my house, to compose my music in peace and in complete solitude, far from the human beings I could hardly tolerate anymore...
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