Goethe versus Beethoven on deference to aristocrats

From an account of the famous meeting of the two giants in 1812:

Beethoven’s manners were described as rough, like “an unlicked bear,” while “Goethe’s social attitudes were shaped in a more formal age. For Beethoven, 21 years his junior, the only true aristocrats were artists. In the mythology, his disillusionment was clinched by Goethe’s behaviour when they encountered royalty in the street”:

“Beethoven said to Goethe: keep walking as you have until now, holding my arm, they must make way for us, not the other way around. Goethe thought differently; he drew his hand, took off his hat and stepped aside, while Beethoven, hands in pockets, went right through the dukes and their cortege … They drew aside to make way for him, saluting him in friendly fashion. Waiting for Goethe who had let the dukes pass, Beethoven told him: ‘I have waited for you because I respect you and I admire your work, but you have shown too much esteem to those people.’”

The image above is Carl Rohling’s The Incident in Teplitz (1887).

My other posts on Ludwig van Beethoven.

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