Alexander Wheelock Thayer

Alexander Wheelock Thayer

Alexander Wheelock Thayer (b. South Natick, Massachusetts, U.S., 22 October 1817, d. Trieste, Italy, 15 July 1897), was a librarian and journalist who became the author of the first scholarly biography of Ludwig van Beethoven, still after many updatings regarded as a standard work of reference on the composer.


Originally a librarian at Harvard law school, Thayer became aware of many discrepancies in the biography of Beethoven by Anton Schindler, Beethoven's sometime amanuensis, which had first appeared in 1840. (The unreliability and invention of Schindler have since been extensively exposed by later scholars). In 1849 Thayer sailed for Europe to undertake his own researches, learning German and collecting information. Supporting himself by journalism and after many privations, he was eventually appointed US Consul in Trieste, where he was able to pursue his labours. The first edition of the biography, (in German), in three volumes, covering Beethoven's life to 1816, appeared between 1866 and 1879. The work was completed by Thayer's German colleague Hermann Deiters and, after Deiters's death, by Hugo Riemann, who created the posthumuosly published volumes #4 (1907) and #5 (1908) from Thayer's notes, covering the years 1817 to Beethoven's death in 1827.

Thayer's work on Beethoven set a benchmark for modern standards of accuracy, research and analysis in biography.

In 1865 Thayer wrote:

I fight for no theories and cherish no prejudices; my sole point of view is the truth.

Henry Krehbiel, who created the first English edition of the biography in 1921, wrote of Thayer in 1917:

His industry, zeal, keen power of analysis, candor and fair-mindedness won the confidence of all with whom he came into contact except the literary charlatans whose romances he was bent on destroying in the interest of the verities of history.
The most recent version of the biography is revised and edited by Elliot Forbes.


* Thayer, A. W., rev and ed. Elliot Forbes. "Thayer's Life of Beethoven." (2 vols.) Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-09103-X


*"Thayer's Life of Beethoven", rev. and ed. Elliot Forbes.
*"Thayer, Alexander Wheelock" in Grove's Dictionary
*cite web |url= |title=Vita: Alexander Wheelock Thayer. Brief life of Beethoven's biographer: 1817-1897 |accessdate=2007-12-24 |last=Claman |first=Henry N. |coauthors=Bellofatto, Luigi D. |date=2007 |work=Harvard Magazine January-February 2007 |publisher=Harvard Magazine Inc.

External links

* [,+Alexander+Wheelock/Ludwig+van+Beethovens+Leben Thayer's Beethoven biography]
*en icon [ Some interesting photos about Thayer ]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Alexander Wheelock Thayer — im Jahre 1890 Alexander Wheelock Thayer (* 22. Oktober 1817 in Natick (Massachusetts); † 15. Juli 1897 in Triest), war ein US amerikanischer Bibliothekar, Journalist, Musikschriftsteller und Diplomat. Er ist bekannt als Verfasser der maßgeblichen …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Alexander Thayer — Alexander Wheelock Thayer im Jahre 1890 Alexander Wheelock Thayer (* 22. Oktober 1817 in Natick (Massachusetts); † 15. Juli 1897 in Triest), war ein US amerikanischer Bibliothekar, Journalist, Musikschriftsteller und Diplomat. Er ist bekannt als… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Thayer — may refer to:Peopleurname* Abbott Handerson Thayer (1849 1921), American artist * Alexander Wheelock Thayer (1817 1897), author of The life of Ludwig van Beethoven , a standard biography, and other music biographies * Brynn Thayer (b. 1949),… …   Wikipedia

  • Thayer — ist der Familienname folgender Personen: Abbott Handerson Thayer (1849–1921), US amerikanischer Maler Alexander Wheelock Thayer (1817–1897), US amerikanischer Diplomat und Beethoven Biograf Andrew J. Thayer (1818–1873), US amerikanischer… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Thayer — (spr. thē r), Alexander Wheelock, amerikan. Schriftsteller, geb. 22. Okt. 1817 in South Natick (Massachusetts), gest. 15. Juli 1897 in Triest, studierte Rechtswissenschaft in Cambridge, war 1860–1864 bei der amerikanischen Gesandtschaft in Wien… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Ludwig van Beethoven — (1770–1827); Idealisiertes Gemälde von Joseph Karl Stieler von 1820 …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Liste der Biografien/Tha — Biografien: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Messe C-Dur (Beethoven) — Die Messe C Dur op. 86 wurde von Ludwig van Beethoven von März bis August 1807 im Auftrag von Fürst Nikolaus II. von Esterházy zum Namenstag von dessen Frau Maria Josepha Hermengilde von Liechtenstein geschrieben. Beethoven stand zur Zeit der… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Anton Salieri — Antonio Salieri Antonio Salieri, in Österreich zeitlebens auch Anton Salieri, (* 18. August 1750 in Legnago, Italien; † 7. Mai 1825 in Wien) war ein italienisch österreichischer Komponist der Klassik, Kapellmeister und Musikpä …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Antonio Salieri — (18 August 1750 ndash; 7 May 1825), was an Italian composer and conductor. As the Austrian imperial Kapellmeister from 1788 to 1824, he was one of the most important and famous musicians of his time. Biography Raised in a prosperous family of… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”