Schindler, Anton Felix

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Schindler, Anton Felix

Schindler, Anton Felix, Moravian violinist, conductor, and writer on music; b. Meedl, Moravia, June 13, 1795; d. Bockenheim, near Frankfurt am Main, Jan. 16, 1864. He studied violin with his father, then went to Vienna in 1813 to study law. In 1814 he met Beethoven, soon becoming his secretary, his social mediator, and, to some extent, his business manager; for some years he held the position of concertmaster of the orch. of the Josephstadttheater. Beethoven’s stormy temper created inevitable difficulties; during one such outburst, Beethoven even accused his faithful helper of mishandling the financial receipts from the ticket sales for the premiere of the 9th Sym. However, Schindler had enough modesty and intelligence to disregard such personal misunderstandings, and continued to serve Beethoven. After Beethoven’s death, Schindler obtained possession of valuable MSS, documents, papers, and about 400 of the biographically important conversation books, which recorded Beethoven’s dialogues with friends and visitors. In a misguided attempt to protect Beethoven’s reputation, Schindler apparently destroyed some of these materials, at least the parts that reflected Beethoven’s pettiness and complaints. More reprehensible is the indication that some of Beethoven’s conversation books, invaluable in their biographical content, were altered by Schindler, as appears from the painstaking handwriting analysis conducted on these books in 1977 by D. Beck and G. Herre. In 1846 Schindler sold most of his Beethoven collection to the Royal Library in Berlin. He served as music director in Münster (1831–35) and Aachen (1835–37). In 1848 he moved to Frankfurt am Main and supported himself mainly by teaching. In 1856 he settled in Bockenheim, where he remained until his death. No matter what criticism can be raised against Schindler as a man of limited endowments unable to grasp the dimension of Beethoven’s genius, the fact remains that it was Schindler who became the prime source of information about Beethoven’s life, a witness to the musical greatness that Beethoven embodied. His fundamental book, Biographie von Ludwig van Beethoven, was publ. in Münster in 1840; the second ed., containing the valuable supplement Auszuge aus Beethovens Konversationsheften, appeared in 1845; the English tr. of the original ed., made by Moscheles, was publ. in London in 1841. The third ed. of Schindler’s biography appeared in 1860 and was tr. into Eng. by D. MacArdle under the title Beethoven as I Knew Hint (London, 1966). Of interest are also Schindler’s diaries (1841–43), which were ed. by M. Becker (Frankfurt am Main, 1939).


E. Hiiffer, A.F. S., Der Biograph Beethovens (diss., Univ. of Münster, 1909).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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Schindler, Anton Felix

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