Franz Grillparzer (1791-1872) and Beethoven: playwright and composer

Grillparzer was 17 years of age when he first met Beethoven in Heiligenstadt, where he was staying with his mother in the same house as Beethoven.

Franz Grillparzer

He has left an account of how his mother would sit on the landing listening to Beethoven playing the piano. But one day Beethoven discovered this, flew into a rage and refused to play another note until the Grillparzers had returned to Vienna.

In 1823 Grillparzer was establishing a reputation as a playwright, and he and Beethoven discussed collaborating on an opera. The plans came to nothing.

By the time of Beethoven's death, Grillparzer was Austria's leading playwright. For Beethoven's funeral he wrote the eulogy to be declaimed as Beethoven's coffin was lowered into its grave. But because strict religious law forbade the declamation of any text that was not sacred on consecrated ground, the actor Heinrich Anschütz read the oration as Beethoven's coffin was drawn through the gates of the Währing cemetery.

At the heart of a long and flowery oration, Grillparzer wrote this about Beethoven:

"The Last Master of resounding song, the tuneful heir of Bach and Handel, Mozart & Haydn's immortal fame is now no more. The harp is hushed. He was an artist - and who shall arise to stand beside him? He was an artist - thus he was, thus he died, and thus he will live to the end of time."