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Immortal Beloved (film)

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Title: Immortal Beloved (film)  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Ludwig van Beethoven, Bernard Rose (director), Isabella Rossellini, Gary Oldman, Immortal beloved film.jpg
Collection: 1990S Drama Films, 1994 Films, American Biographical Films, American Drama Films, American Films, Biographical Films About Musicians, British Biographical Films, British Drama Films, British Films, Columbia Pictures Films, Films About Classical Music and Musicians, Films About Composers, Films Directed by Bernard Rose (Director), Films Set in Austria, Films Set in Germany, Films Set in the 19Th Century, Films Shot in the Czech Republic, Icon Productions Films, Ludwig Van Beethoven in Popular Culture, Musical Films Based on Actual Events
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Immortal Beloved (film)

Immortal Beloved
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Bernard Rose
Produced by Stephen McEveety
Bruce Davey
Written by Bernard Rose
Starring Gary Oldman
Jeroen Krabbé
Music by George Fenton
Ludwig van Beethoven
Gioacchino Rossini
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
  • December 16, 1994 (1994-12-16)
Running time
121 minutes
Country United Kingdom
United States
Language English
Box office $9,914,409[1]

Immortal Beloved is a 1994 film about the life of composer Ludwig van Beethoven (played by Gary Oldman). The story follows Beethoven's secretary and first biographer Anton Schindler (Jeroen Krabbé) as he attempts to ascertain the true identity of the Unsterbliche Geliebte (Immortal Beloved) addressed in three letters found in the late composer's private papers. Schindler journeys throughout the Austrian Empire interviewing women who might be potential candidates as well as through Beethoven's own tumultuous life.


  • Plot 1
  • Cast 2
  • Production 3
  • Historical background 4
  • Music 5
  • Reception 6
    • Critical reaction 6.1
    • Box Office 6.2
  • References 7
  • External links 8


When Ludwig van Beethoven dies, his assistant and close friend Schindler deals with his last will and testament. There remains a question as to who Beethoven's "immortal beloved", an unnamed woman mentioned in one of his letters, may be. Schindler embarks on a quest to find out who this woman is. Retrospective footage of Beethoven from his younger years until his death is featured as the film progresses. The conclusion ultimately is that the individual is Johanna Reiss, the daughter of Anton Van Reiss, a prosperous Viennese upholsterer. In the film, she becomes pregnant by Beethoven; when by an accidental turn of events he does not marry her in time, she marries his brother, Kaspar. Their son, Karl van Beethoven, is raised by Ludwig in the vain hope of making him an important musician in his own right.



Filming took place in the Czech cities of Prague, Kroměříž on the Milotice chateau and Buchlovice chateau, and the Zentralfriedhof in Vienna, Austria between May 23 and July 29, 1994.

While the soundtrack utilizes modern instruments, the pianos that appear in the film actually date back to Beethoven's time.

Historical background

After Beethoven's death in 1827, a three-part letter was found among his private papers addressed to a woman whom he called "immortal beloved". Written in the summer of 1812 from the spa town of Teplice, the letter has generated a great deal of speculation and debate amongst scholars and writers as to her identity. Among the candidates are (or were) Giulietta Guicciardi, Thérèse von Brunswick, Josephine Brunsvik, Antonie Brentano, and Anna-Marie Erdödy (some of whom appear in the film).

The film's writer and director, Bernard Rose, claimed that he had successfully identified the addressed woman as Johanna, a claim no scholar on Beethoven has endorsed. (The film also implies that Karl, Beethoven's nephew, was in reality his illegitimate son.) Biographer Gail S Altman disputed Rose's claim in a book[2] devoted specifically to the question of the woman's identity and Beethoven's relationships in general. See also Lewis Lockwood: "Film Biography as Travesty: Immortal Beloved and Beethoven." The Musical Quarterly 81/2, 1997, pp. 190–198.


  • The Orchestra: Georg Solti

(in order of appearance)

  • Symphony No 5, Op. 67.
  • Für Elise (complete).
  • Symphony No 3 In E-Flat Major Op.55 Eroica.
  • Piano Sonata No 14, Moonlight: Adagio Sostenuto.
  • Symphony No 6, Op. 68, Pastoral: Storm.
  • Piano Trio No 5 In D Major, Op. 70, No 1 Ghost.
  • Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61.
  • Piano Sonata No 8, Pathetique.
  • Piano Concerto No 5, Emperor (love theme, ending credits).
  • Missa Solemnis: Kyrie.
  • Symphony No 7, Op. 92: Allegretto (Karl's theme)
  • Violin Sonata In A Major, Op. 47, Kreutzer: Adagio sostenuto- Presto.
  • Symphony No 9, Op 125: Ode to Joy.


Critical reaction

Reviews for Immortal Beloved were mixed. From the 31 reviews collected from notable publications by review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, reviews tended towards the positive, with an overall approval rating of 58%.[3] Emanuel Levy gave the film a "C" rating, calling it a "speculative chronicle" that lacks the "vibrant energy and charm" of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart biopic Amadeus (1984). He did, however, praise the "wonderfully recorded and inventively used" Beethoven compositions as well as the casting of Oldman, who he felt was "the perfect actor to portray the arrogant, irascible musician".[4] Of Rotten Tomatoes' "top critics", Roger Ebert was highly complimentary of the film. He gave it 3½ stars out of four, stating in his review: "Immortal Beloved has clearly been made by people who feel Beethoven directly in their hearts". He asserted that Oldman "at first seems an unlikely choice...then we see that he is right".[5] Janet Maslin also offered a positive review, stating: "thanks to its hugely effective use of Beethoven's most thrilling, tumultuous music, this film exerts much the same hypnotic power". She praised the performance of Oldman, writing that "he captures Beethoven as a believably brilliant figure struggling with his deafness and other demons".[6]

MSN Movies, in a 2011 publication, wrote: "Oldman's performance is unimpeachable. He dives deep into the role with powerful passion and makes the audience feel the pain of the genius as he loses his hearing and fails to shape his nephew into a similarly talented musician. In the year of 'Gump', Oldman was overlooked for a well-deserved Oscar nomination."[7] Also that year Josh Winning of Total Film named Oldman's portrayal of Beethoven as one of the five best performances of his career, saying: "If ever there was a better filmic chameleon than Oldman, we've yet to find one. Immersing himself fully into the role of the German composer, Oldman is here damn near unrecognisable."[8]

Box Office

The movie debuted strongly[9] and was a modest success, generating $9,914,409 in a domestic-only release.[1]


  1. ^ a b "Immortal Beloved (1994)".  
  2. ^ Altman, Gail S. Beethoven: A Man of His Word – Undisclosed Evidence for his Immortal Beloved, Anubian Press 1996; ISBN 1-888071-01-X
  3. ^ "Immortal Beloved Movie Reviews, Pictures – Rotten Tomatoes". Retrieved 2012-04-03. 
  4. ^ Levy, Emanuel. Immortal Beloved. Wayback Machine. 2006. Retrieved 11 August 2014.
  5. ^ "Immortal Beloved :: :: Reviews". January 6, 1995. Retrieved 2012-04-03. 
  6. ^ Maslin, Janet (1994-12-16). "Movie Review: Immortal Beloved (by Janet Maslin)". Retrieved 2012-04-03. 
  7. ^ Immortal Beloved (1994) - Ludwig van Beethoven. MSN Movies. 2011. Retrieved December 17, 2012.
  8. ^ Winning, Josh. Best Movies: The film chameleon’s greatest moments. Total Film. 11 April 2011. Retrieved 11 August 2014.
  9. ^ Natale, Richard (January 17, 1995). "Holiday Spurs Record-Setting Movie Weekend".  

External links

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