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Anton Schindler

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Anton Felix Schindler (13 June 1795 – 16 January 1864) was an Austrian law clerk and associate, secretary, and early biographer of Ludwig van Beethoven. He was born in Meedel, Moravia, and died in Bockenheim (Frankfurt am Main).
Schindler moved to Vienna in 1813 to study law, and from 1817 to 1822 was a clerk in a law office there. He was a competent, though not an exceptional violinist, and played in various musical ensembles, first meeting Beethoven in 1814. He gave up his law career, becoming in 1822 first violinist at the Theater in der Josefstadt, and from 1825 first violinist at the Theater am Kärntnertor. His acquaintance with Beethoven continued, and from 1822, he lived in the composer's house, as his unpaid secretary.
There was a break in the relationship in March 1825, and Karl Holz, a young violinist in the Schuppanzigh Quartet and friend of Beethoven, became Beethoven's secretary; though Schindler and Beethoven reconciled in August 1826, Holz continued as Beethoven's secretary with Schindler also tending to the composers' needs.
After Beethoven's death in 1827, Schindler moved to Budapest where he was a music teacher, returning to Vienna in 1829. In 1831, he moved to Münster where he was a musical director; from 1835 he lived in Aachen, where he was municipal music director until 1840. In 1840, his biography of Beethoven was published in Münster. Later editions appeared in 1845, 1860 and 1871.
In 1841–42 he visited Paris, and met famous musicians of the day.
He possessed a great part of Beethoven's estate, in particular around 400 conversation books that people used to converse with Beethoven in his later years. Beethoven's estate, purchased by the Royal Prussian Library in Berlin in 1845, included 136 conversation books. Schindler retained the remainder, which were likely destroyed.
Although the inconsistencies of Schindler's account of Beethoven's life were clear as early as the 1850s to lead Alexander Wheelock Thayer to commence research for his own pioneering Beethoven biography, it was a series of musicological articles published beginning in the 1970s that essentially destroyed Schindler's reputation of reliability. It was demonstrated that Schindler had falsified entries in Beethoven's Conversation Books (into which he inserted many spurious entries after the composer's death in 1827), and that he had exaggerated his period of close association with Beethoven (his claimed '11 or 12 years' was probably no more than five or six). It is also believed that Schindler burned more than half of Beethoven's conversation books and removed countless pages from those that survived. The Beethoven Compendium (Cooper 1991, p. 52) goes so far as to say that Schindler's propensity for inaccuracy and fabrication was so great, virtually nothing he has written about Beethoven can be relied on unless it is supported by other evidence. More recently, Theodore Albrecht has re-examined the question of Schindler's reliability, and as to his presumed destruction of a huge number of conversation books, concludes that this widespread belief could possibly have been exaggerated.
Although Anton Schindler forged documents and otherwise became notorious as an unreliable biographer and music historian, his accounts on Beethoven's style of performing his own piano works are indispensable sources. Dr. George Barth, in his book The Pianist as Orator (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1992) brings to light an approach to bringing the Beethoven keyboard literature to life, based on Schindler and his testimonies, quite different from the Carl Czerny accounts on Beethoven the world has accepted since Schindler's forgeries compromised the latter's credibility. Discrepancies in metronome markings by Czerny as well as accounts of Beethoven's own rhythm and tempo choices create a worthier image of Schindler's credibility in that regard, and his valuable perspective on interpretation of Beethoven's piano music.
Anton Schindler plays a central role in the highly fictionalized Beethoven film Immortal Beloved, in which Schindler attempts to discover the identity of the mysterious addressee of Beethoven's most famous love letter. In the film Schindler is portrayed by Dutch actor Jeroen Krabbé.