BEETHOVEN AND
CHRISTIAN GOTTLOB NEEFE


 




Christian Gottlob Neefe

 

To start this new section on Beethoven's most important Bonn teacher, we can offer you our own translation of Neefe's own mini-biography and his widow's addition to it that appeared in the Leipzig "Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung":

"The 3rd of January                                                             No. 16.                                                           1799.

                                                                                        BIOGRAPHY

As is known, in the first half of last year,  C. G.  N e e f e , who was valuable both as a man and as a composer, passed away.  His compositions, even if they do not reflect the brilliance and power of the highest genius and therefore did not bring with them a revolution in art and in taste--undisputedly still show talent, knowledge, feeling and taste.  His basic character traits were honesty, pleasantness, openness and friendliness; none of his closer acquaintances have forgotten these and him. Therefore, we wanted to convey to our readers more detailed news of his life circumstances and particularly of his musical training--partly to satisfy the friends of the departed, partly to pay homage to him.  Then we learned that   N e e f e himself has written his own biography, with all the sincerity and unselfconsciousness that graced him; it goes to the year 1782, and he left it to his wife.  We received it for our use.  In any event, we believe that we can do better by letting the deceased speak for himself.--Hopefully, we do not have to stress the point that we have suppressed everything that could be to the least disadvantage of the deceased or to anyone with whom he was connected.  However, with respect to that which has been suppressed, we have to admit that in the case of this good man it is so little! so very little! -- 
                                                                                                                                                                                   The Editor.

Christian Gottlob Neefe's Life described by himself.

    I was born in the year 1748, on February 5th, in Chemnitz, in Saxony's Erzgebirge.  Despite the fact that my parents are poor, they had me attend the city's public school, early on.   An incredibly good discant voice soon opened the path to the large vocal choir, where I learned the rudiments of the art of singing, through which it became easier for my parents to pay for my schooling.  I owe a large debt of gratitude to my former teachers for their faithful instructions, particularly to the deceased, good Cantor H o f f m a n n , the deceased Principal H a g e r and Principal J ü n g e r of Freyberg who is still alive and who, back then, was Vice Principal at Chemnitz.  It have often challenged them with my youthful liveliness that, not infrequently, turned into mischief, which, in my more mature years, I often regretted.  I quickly and easily grasped that which was taught in various subjects.  Due to this, I was not exactly the most diligent pupil.  I was satisfied with being ready with my work, on time, so that I shared the praise that was heaped on the most diligent pupils.  Very often, I was tickled by a certain witty mood that prompted me to immediately and freely share all of my ideas, which got me into a great deal of trouble. Once, I was even tempted into becoming a mocker of religion.  Many physical difficulties that, in my youth, were connected to my attending Sunday service, wretched sermons by some pastors, their pride, their intolerance, and, in general, their lifestyle that so often contradicted what they taught, but mainly my association with an infamous, brutal mocker of religion led me to that.  This careless man, a lawyer, gave to me, in my inexperienced youth, almost all derogatory pamphlets, which I devoured eagerly, and on occasion, quoted. 

    I had my first piano lessons with the city organist  W i l h e l m i , and after that with a common Prussian soldier who, during the Seven-Year-War, was stationed with us during winter. I could not have or pay better teachers.  While, at Hohenstein, a   Schönburgischen town that was only three hours away from Chemnitz, there lived a fiery and talented musician, Cantor  T a g , who now is one of my dearest friends, but even this small distance was too far for my circumstances in order for me to be able to enjoy his lessons.  Only rarely was I able to visit him and never left him without having been encouraged by him.  Subsequently, I learned most from M a r b u r g ' s instructions and from  C.P.E. B a c h ' s "Versuch."

    In my twelfth year, I became inclined to try my hand at composition.  I wrote many smaller pieces under borrowed or invented names, heard the opinions of my listeners, and my work, or, to describe it better, my rubbish, received applause by people who knew as little of music as I or even less.  For some time, this applause excited me, I still moved in darkness, used up many a pen and wasted many a beautiful sheet of paper, until I came to my senses and, still as a student at Chemnitz, turned to my afterwards so revered friend  H i l l e r in Leipzig.

    In my 14th year (through which indicent? I do not know), I lost my straight body.  However, it was also my father who passed on to me my susceptibility to hypochondria.  During various periods, he was very inflicted by it.  And already in my childhood, I was inflicted by the so-called "English" disease (rachitis), from which, according to my parents, nothing but Halle's Gold Tincture is supposed to have cured me.   

   In my 16th year, my father, on account of my weak body and also due to the fact that he lacked the means [for my further education], wanted me to dedicate myself to his occupation, that of a tailor. I resisted that and frankly told him that nothing could keep me from my studies, and I called upon divine providence that had already supported many poor under the same circumstances; I reminded him of practical examples and of the assistance that I had already received from some supporters.  At this, he calmed down, and I continued along my path.  In 1767 I went to Leipzig and became a resident of the Academy with the well-known Dr. C r u s i u s  as its principal.

    After my return, as before, I gave music lessons and other lessons, in part so that I, myself, would still learn more and in part to earn the means to acquire useful and pleasant books.  Among the latter, particularly those of G e l l e r t , R a b n e r s and Ge ß n e r s found my favor, but those of G e ß n e r  I liked the most.

    At Easter, 1769, after I had my moving farewells from my relatives and after, with tears in his eyes, my father assured me that he would never entirely refuse me help, even if he would have to sell his small house that he had acquired through hard work--in weak health and with an even weaker wallet, I enrolled at the University of Leipzig.  My entire wealth consisted of 20 thalers that I had collected and of a scholarship of 30 florins from the Magistrate of my native city, with which I was supposed to finance my studies and my living.  The utmost  parsimony on my part, the support of kind people, and the generosity of some professors helped me.  The most prominent among my teachers were  G e l l e r t , S e y d l i t z , S a m m e t , B r e u n i n g , T o b i a s R i c h t e r , and K l e e m a n n . My heart will eternally bless the memory of the first, in particular. 

    The study of logic, moral philosophy and that of natural and human law provided pleasant nourishment to my intellect.  In the beginning, I was also very much inclined towards civil law, until I arrived at legal norms rules of procedure, where I, on account of the exceptions to the rules that had arisen out of the inexhaustible meanness of men, had to realize what the old proverb means:  "justice has a nose of wax." Here, I lost all inclination to become a lawyer.  This, my faulty memory that was unsuitable to the practice of law and my insurmountable inclination towards music, my feeling of having excellent talents for it, the encouragement that I received from my artist friends such as   H i l l e r , E n g e l s , and others, also my hypochondria with which I had to struggle a great deal at the beginning of my studies and which I, through the pleasant study of music, hoped to chase away, moved me to leave law behind and to dedicate myself entirely to Euterpe, the Goddess of music. However, in order to prove to certain people that I had not spent my study years in vain and that the scholarship I had enjoyed had not been wasted, I completed my legal studies before doing so and publicly argued the question:  Whether a father has the right to disown his son since the latter had dedicated himself to theatre?  and I answered this with: No! -- (To be continued)." 

"The 23rd of January                                                              No. 17.                                                    1799.

(Continuance.)

Hypochondria has brought me a great deal of suffering. On account of it, between 1770 and 1771, my body was so weak that I could barely walk from one house to the next; my mind was so crushed and so filled with imagined ailments that I could seldom work, that I often forgot what time of the year or what year it was, that even at the sight of blue skies I only saw rain, and that I was often afraid of this or that form of death.  Often, I was plagued by thoughts of suicide; the most terrible fear went with me, everywhere, and in my mind, even the smallest sand hill turned into an insurmountable mountain.  Reasonable doctors, diet and moderate distractions finally chased these monsters away.  However, I have to be grateful to this illness, for many reasons:  

1) It led me back to religion. The hypochondriac always imagines imminent death.  Therefore, I strived for better and more profound religious insight; I sought to awaken a feeling for it in my heart so that I would be able to die with joy and hope.  I gained this through the writings of  B o n n e t , M o s e s M e n d e l s s o h n , S p a l d i n g , J e r u s a l e m and N ö s s e l t . I came to revere religion and I felt its wonderful fruits in my heart and in my life. 

2) It prevented me from following the path of the usual distractions of university students.  Once, I was persuaded to run along to a village near Leipzig where, at that time, there was still tolerated a temple of immorality.  What I saw in it of immoral demeanor and dress chased me away, soon, and left within me an insurmountable disgust for all such establishments, for its animal-like inhabitants, and against unchastity, in general.  However, a pure feeling for the beautiful sex is what I have always held in my bosom.  

3) Through it, I was able to provide comfort and advice to my father, who was inflicted by it to such a great degree that he fell into despair and melancholy. He had no idea of this illness and therefore looked for its source in the wrong places.   From my own experience I taught him to recognize its true nature and showed him that the source of his pain was in his body and not in his soul, that no-one was less to blame than the devil and therefore, I recommended a physician to him instead of a clergy.   I told him the means that I had used.  He trusted me and listened to me, took a skilled doctor, used the prescribed medication and thus recovered in body and soul.  

4) It led to a closer friendship with H i l l e r.  He had suffered from it a great deal, himself.  And a similar fate usually brings people closer together.  

    Thus, I have returned to H i l l e r, and I have the duty to discuss him in more detail.   What music friend does not love this insightful, tasteful and sensitive composer, this musical  G e l l e r t ! and what uninhibited musician does not treasure him!  Such an active striving for his art without looking for his financial advantage, such a fiery enthusiasm in his support of every young talent, I have never found, again.  

It is this man who, above all, deserves my gratitude. He is the source from which I took my better musical knowledge and skills.  While I can not say that I actually took lessons from him, his conversations about musical topics, his comments to my work, his readiness to give me the best samples to follow and to point out their most prominent beauties, his encouragement to develop the same, his suggestion of such books in which art is based on psychological reason, such as in  H o m e ' s 
Grundsätze der Kritik," S u l z e r ' s "Theorie" and many others more--did me more good than formal lessons.  As often as I visited him, I welcomed me with his friendly eyes.  This took my fear away that I would become too much of a burden to him with my  many questions and visits.  For a very long time, for little money, I was also living in his house.  (At that time, the present Royal Prussian Kapellmeister R e i c h a r d t was frequenting it a great deal and seeking his advice on musical topics.)  Due to this, I had the opportunity to become acquainted with many good native and foreign musicians.  He also introduced me to other scientists, artists and friends of the same.  The company of a  W e i ß e , G a r v e , E n g e l , O e s e r , B a u s e etc.--their works, their impartial recommendation of other products, their conversations and judgment, cleared my mind more and more and formed my taste and my disposition.  

I strived to become worthier and worthier of the company of such men.  I believed that they were able to read every indecent thought, every ignoble sentiment, in me.  And thus I was strengthened more and more for the good by example and by my own striving.  

H i l l e r also helped in improving my lot in life.  To several good houses, he recommended me as music teacher, took me on as collaborator and assistance with his operetta:  der Dorfbarbier, and he also had me participate in his weekly musical news and notations, whereby he officially introduced me to the musical world.  He prepared some of my subsequent works for print and thus increased my income.  Some songs to the "Dorfbarbier", various small pieces in his weekly news, among them three operettas,  "Die Apotheke," "Amors Guckkasten" and "die Einsprüche," the piano sonatas that have been dedicated to C.P.E. Bach have been composed and published entirely under his supervision.  My other works are as follows:   

a)  Six Piano Sonatas, dedicated to the deceased Royal Prussian Chamber Composer, Herr A g r i k o l a .
b)  Freimäurer Lieder, under the name F e n e e .
c)  Lieder with Piano Melodies.
d)  Heinrich und Lyda, an Operetta.
e)  Twelve K l o p s t o k Odes.
f)   Six Piano Sonatas for Voice and Piano.
g)  Six Piano Sonatas with Violin accompaniment.
h)  Vademecum for lovers of song and piano.
i)   Sophonisbe, a Monodram by M e i ß n e r , dedicated to Her Serene Highness, the Hereditary Princess of Hesse-Darmstadt.
k)  A Piano Concerto with complete Orchestra accompaniment, dedicated to the Elector of Saxony. The latter has been published
      by G ö t z in Mannheim, alle others have been published by B r e i t k o p f in Leipzig.
l)   Contributions to various periodicals.

Manuscripts are:

1)  A score of the opera: Zemire and Azor, pursuant to the free translation by Hr. v. T h ü m e l .

2)  A score of the opera: A d e l h e i d  by Veldtheim.

3)  A score of the Lord's Prayer, in Latin.

4)  Six Piano Sonatas with obligato Violin accompaniment.

5)  Some parts for a complete orchestra.

6)  A score of in-between pieces to pieces to be played. 

7)  Various Lieder.

8)  Smaller works for theatre and other incomplete works.

(To be continued.)"

"The 30th of January                                                                 No. 18                                                         1799.

(Completion.)

I was very eager to be able to show my gratitude to a man like H i l l e r , who had done so much good to me.  For that I dedicated my first operetta, Die Apotheke, to him, does not deserve to be considered further.  For a long time, I could not find any opportunity, which made me very sad.   Finally, I found one:  Having been persuaded by theatre director  S e i l e r , he had taken on the position of music director of his theatre.  However, since he, due to many other commitments, could not properly fill this position and since he lost more than he gained by it, he asked me if I, as a free man, would not want to take it in his stead?  He added that this position would be more suitable for my situation than for his.  Although I had to remove myself from many pleasant situations, I joyfully took the opportunity of being able to do my honored friend a favor and to fee him from a burden.  I soon agreed with  S e i l e r  as to the conditions, and in the year 1776, toward St. John's Day, I travelled to the  L i n k i s c h e Bad near Dresden, where  S e i l e r ' s  company stayed at that time and took over the post of my dear H i l l e r s , who returned to Leipzig.  I had made a verbal contract  for one year with   S e i l e r .  Before this year had passed,   S e i l e r ' s contract with the Electoral Court had ended and since there emerged difficulties with respect to several points of a new contract, Seiler saw himself forced to exchange Saxony with the Rhineland.  I felt little inclination in me to accompany him there, since I was close to my fatherland, to my relatives and friends and since a dear, good girl tied me to my native city.  Therefore, I asked   S e i l e r  to waive the six weeks that I would still have to fulfill of my contract.  Alone, he described the Rhenish areas to me so beautifully, pointed out the beneficial influence of such a journey to my health (which I, subsequently, also experienced), told me that I would find the most healing baths and mineral springs, that I would be able to strengthen myself with the strong, natural Rhine wine, and that all of this would play such a trick on my hypochondria, that perhaps, it would plague me, never again.  I finally allowed myself to be persuaded and thus, in the year 1777, I travelled with his company to Frankfurt/Mayn.  The distance from my fatherland and all the dear ones hurt me very much.  However, in time, the magic beauties of the Main and Rhine areas attracted me and they, next to many other things, lessened the pain of separation.   For another two and a half years, I conducted the operas of   S e i l e r ' s  company, which played alternately in Frankfurt, Mainz,   Kölln, Hanau, Mannheim and Heidelberg, until finally this formerly so splendid theatre company disbanded in 1779 after the fall fair in Frankfurt.  

Already for several years, a good, dear girl interested me more than was good for my calm state.  Demoiselle Z i n k , born at Warza near Gotha, formerly in the services of the Duke of Gotha as a court singer, and who then, at the advice of Kapellmeister   G e o r g   B e n d a , in whose house she had been brought up, became an actress and singer with   S e i l e r ' s  company, secretly became my sweetheart.  I also succeeded in making myself dear and worthy to her. However, already for a long time, I had valued her for her soft heart, steady character and good manners.  

I saw now hope to ever be united with her in Saxony.  The grief of unhappy love bowed me down too much, I began to become slack in the fulfillment of my duties; even my talent suffered; the inclination to walk along the path of life with a virtuous friend became stronger and stronger in me--I married her in Frankfurt, in the year 1778, and have found in her a good, tender wife who gave me two daughters and one son, of which the latter, however, died.  

I made many important and pleasant acquaintances in the Main and Rhine areas and have won for my heart several dear friends.  At the theatre, I found wretched people, few who did their occupation honor.  

In October 1779, after   S e i l e r ' s   company had disbanded, with my family, I joined the  stage of G r o ß m a n n - H e l l m u t   in Bonn. However, before that, I had already formed a contact with  B o n d i n i , the impressario of the Electoral Saxon theatres; however, since he procrastinated too much with his final decision, in the meantime, under friendly conditions, without a formal contract, I took the position of a music director, and my wife took that of an actress, at the Bonn theatre company.  Some time after, letters to me arrived from  B o n d i n i ,  in which he agreed to my demands.  I advised the theatre management of it, and of my connection with   B o n d i n i , that had existed for already half a year.  Without a contract, as a friend among friends who knew of my love for my fatherland, I was allowed to expect that they would let me go without hindrances.  However, they would not alone do everything for me.  I suggested that I would ask  B o n d i n i  to postpone the start of my contract to next Easter.  In the meantime, I would be able to put their opera on a better footing, and they would have enough time to fill our positions.  This was accepted.  Thus I wrote to  B o n d i n i .   He replied soon, did not want to hear anything of a postponement, sent my contract, draft and travel expenses and insisted that I should arrive with my wife in Leipzig in mid-January.  I immediately reported this to the theatre management and asked them not to hold me up any longer.  They used several means to persuade me to give up my contract with   B o n d i n i .  Cajoling, promises of   f u t u r e   advantages, appeals to my heart, warnings, etc. were tried.  Alone I, who had not tied myself to Bonn for a fixed time, neither in writing nor by verbal contract, which can still be seen from the original papers in my hands (that I had sent to Dresden for my justification), as an honest man, I could not sever my legal ties with  B o n d i n i , even if I would have conquered my homesickness for my fatherland, and if the Bonn management would have offered me whatever compensation they could, which they did not do.  Finally, since all attempts had failed, my possessions were seized.  I sued.  However, the decision on the matter was postponed time and again.  This was the only way in which they could achieve their end.  In short, it was impossible for me to appear in Leipzig at the appropriate time.  B o n d i n i  was forced to hire other people in our stead and I  h a d  to enter into a contract and stay in Bonn.  I am not complaining about my judges.  In that light, in which my matter was presented to them, and according to certain other circumstances that I, out of modesty, am not mentioning, they could almost not judge otherwise.  I am only complaining about mistreatment by friends that, on an honest man who is not used to such actions, can have a devastating effect.  May this matter be erased from my memory, forever.  It has wounded my heart deeply and has influenced my character and my health to no small extent and has awakened in me feelings and passions that I would never have thought myself capable of.  It took a long time and much trouble until I was calmer, again and until my character returned to its previous disposition.   Notions of friendship and trust for certain persons is what I could never find in myself, again.  Now, this event tainted their action in quite a different light.  However, I have fulfilled my duties with the previously displayed faithfulness and eagerness, as I am still doing.

In the year 1781, on the 15th of February, on the recommendation of the governing minister, Count  von B e l d e r b u s c h , and of Countess H a t z f e l d , I received from His Electoral Grace of Cologne, M a x i m i l i a n F r i e d r i c h ,  the decree for my eligibility for the post of Court Organist at the Bonn Court, without negative consideration of my protestant religion.  In June of that year, in the company of the court theatre and musicians, I travelled to Pyrmont, where  G r o s s m a n n  took on the direction, along, and where we stayed for two months, from there to Cassel, where we stayed almost as long and where I was deigned worthy and accepted into a Society of the wisest and most just men that, pursuant to a great plan, worked for the happiness of mankind.  From Cassel we returned to Bonn.  There we stayed until June 20th, 1782.  On this day, we began our journey to  Münster, where the Elector also went.  The day before, my predecessor, Court Organist V a n d e n E d e n , had been buried.  However, I received permission to have my post looked after by a vicar and to go to Westphalia and from there to Frankfurt for St. Michael's Fair, where we inaugurated the new Comödienhaus that had been built by the magistrate.

Thus far went my unimportant, simple life.  May I be able to apply the few years that I still have to live, considering my weak body, in a calmer manner and more to the advantage of my mind, my family and my fellow human beings, so that I will then, ultimately be able to embrace brother death with a joyful heart!  

Frankfurt, the 30th of September, 1782."

"1799. March.

Neefe's Biography, continued by his Widow.

(See the 17th issue of this periodical.)

In the year 1784, my dearly departed husband was entrusted with the interim management of the church and other music at the court, since the Electoral Kapellmeister L. went on a journey for several months. During this time we had the misfortune to lose our truly good old Elector.

As much as this good Elector was bemoaned by everyone, few of his subjects felt his loss as much as we did:   for, at the same time, we lost 1000 florins of our salary, since the theatre, that he had operated at his own expense, was discontinued.  Thus there remained only the fixed salary which my husband had as Court Organist.  Alone, from it we could not live, so that lessons had to be given in order to make up for the loss.  It did not take long until he gave lessons to many of the first houses in Bonn.  For his pleasure, he bought a small garden before the city gates, where he spent the few hours of leisure that he had. However, also here, he did not rest for a moment.  He sowed and planted his garden, himself, maintained and groomed his young trees and plants with such care that everyone who walked by stopped and rejoiced in the neat and industrious gardener.  How sweet the first self-grown vegetables and fruits of the self-planted trees tasted!  Thus we lived quietly for some time until, after a few years, the present Elector of Cologne established a Court Theatre, again, in which my husband took up the position of music director again and I that of a Court actress.  Of course, thereby, our income, but also my husband's work increased so much that he was forced to give up his lessons and to dedicate himself entirely to the theatre.   In this, nothing enlivened him more than the hope that here, we would be able to save up for our olden days!  Poor man, how sadly were you disappointed!-- 

The French war broke out.  The French came closer and closer, the theatre was closed, the wages dropped, and the lessons had been given up.  Our oldest son who justified our greatest hopes and who was supposed to be our support in our old age--also died!--Now, my husband received letters from Amsterdam, from Herr Schauspieldirektor [theatre director] H., who wanted our older daughter of 15 years, who had been trained in music for some years and who had given proof of her talents in public, for his company, as a singer.  Since there were not prospects for her in Bonn and not even an opportunity to fully develop her talents, my husband and Herr Direktor H. soon arrived at an agreement under what conditions she should be employed by him.   In order for her to arrive safely at her destination, her tender father took it upon himself, in spite of his weak body, to accompany her there, himself, and, in the year 1794, departed with our daughter, who, 2 days after her arrival in Amsterdam, performed in public, to the satisfaction of the director and the public.   After four weeks, my good husband returned to us.  Now, there would have been enough time to give lessons, but everyone was in fear of the approaching French Army.  Since it, at the same time, also marched towards Holland, Herr Direktor H. with his company, went to Düsseldorf. He visited us and since he found that my husband was not busy, other than playing the organ twice at the court chapel, he offered him a good wage if he would join him and conduct his operas.  My husband, whose musical intellect had too little nourishment at that time, anyway, went to the Elector and asked for a leave of absence and had already arranged with a friend to take over his duties as organist. The Elector refused his request and demanded that he should fulfill his post as long as the French would not disturb the Chapel.  Barely 14 days went by when the Elector himself left Bonn and all the nobility followed him, the French moved in, the Rhine and all ways to and from it were blocked and we had to stay.   

Before his departure, the Elector had paid 3 months' wages in advance and had flattered himself and his subjects that he would be back before these would run out.  However, a month and a quarter of a year after another went by.--Day after day, we received soldiers to be housed, one delivery after another, the food prices rose every day, many necessities could not even be had for money, anymore, and not a penny of wages, at the same time!  With the establishment of a new municipal government, the French even thought of requesting my husband's services, in spite of his ill health and his lack of the necessary skills, and made a municipal clerk out of him.  For it, they paid him 200 Livres in paper money, for which no-one gave me bread.   All the more, he was burdened with work.  Every morning, he spent at the city hall, and the other hours were spent by reading piles of files. During this time, we had to sell one piece after another of our household, just so that we could live!  This lasted almost a year, when the administration required a second registrar.  Since that position was paid in coins and not in paper money, my husband preferred that job and became a registrar instead of a municipal clerk.  Here, new things had to be learned.  As much trouble as this was in the beginning, he overcame it, since he had always been used to industriousness and orderliness, and for several month, we were quite content. --Hardly had we begun to enjoy one or the other cheerful hour, when another shock set in:  then entire administration was dismissed, all of a sudden.  During this time, Herr Direktor H. and his company had been in Wetzlar and Mainz for nearly a year, where he dissolved it, and our daughter accepted an engagement by Herr B o s s a n g , the Director of the Court Theatre Company of Dessau.  In August 1796, the latter was looking for a music director and therefore he wrote to my husband and offered him this post.  We could no longer remain in Bonn if we were to act as decent people and were to pay the good people back who had helped us in our need.  We satisfied their demands with everything that we had and travelled from Bonn to Leipzig where we were to wait for  B o s s a n g ' s company. How happy we were when we entered this beautiful city!  We believed that now we had overcome all misery and also had the great hope to receive from our dear Elector whom we had the fortune to meet there, the remaining 7 quarter-years of salary, since my husband, at the explicit orders of the Elector, had fulfilled his duty as organist to the day of his departure.  An application was handed to the Elector and my husband went to see him, himself, was received with extreme grace, and we eagerly awaited his reply.  It came--with trembling hands, we opened it and found nothing but a  f o r m a l   d i s m i s s a l ! 

We stayed in Leipzig for two months and on December 1st, 1796, we travelled to Dessau.  The first winter, we spent pleasantly, there.  We felt the fortune of having escaped the misery of war and sincerely thanked providence for it.  However, also this situation should soon change.  I fell into a hot gall fever, had rages of insanity and caused my good husband new grief.  Against all hope I was completely restored with the help of Herr D. O l b e r g , and I take the opportunity of thanking this worthy man here most sincerely.  

After a few months, my husband was inflicted with an unusual cold.  He cuaghed day and night and his weak chest had to suffer a great deal of pain, and he could neither lie nor sit.  This unrest lasted for several days.  On January 26, 1798, his cough finally abated somewhat;  the patient was eager to sleep, asked for his medication and that he should not be disturbed in his sleep. Soon, he actually fell asleep and was calm, without, however, openening his eyes, every again.  His end was as calm and serene as his life had been filled with unrest and sorrow.  He reached the age of fifty years less nine days and left behinf dhree daughters and one son.  

S. M. Neefe. Widow."

After this look at Neefe's autobiography, complemented by his widow's description, we might wish to take at a few interesting links for more information.  

The Beethoven-Haus in Bonn has this to offer:

A description of Neefe's life in English

Search for documents related to Neefe
in the English section of the Digital Archives
[Document texts and descriptions in German]

Search for manuscripts related to Neefe
in the Beethoven-Haus Library Catalog

You can also search the Beethoven Bibliography Database at the Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies in San Jose, California:

Beethoven Bibliography Database