Fretting about the future: in the fictional Letter of Lord Chandos to Francis Bacon by Hugo von Hofmannsthal (1902) a successful young author recounts the loss of his linguistic, and therefore poetic, abilities. He is plagued with doubt, also about language as a medium in general. The German composer Manfred Trojahn takes this text as the basis of a prologue to a stage production of Beethoven’s oratorio Christus am Ölberge. Hofmannsthal’s text deals with the artistic crisis and consequently the situation that Beethoven found himself in when writing the oratorio. He documents his personal crisis of increasing deafness which shut him out from society in his Heiligenstadt Testament (October 1802). Hofmannsthal’s text casts new light on the oratorio and the circumstances of Beethoven’s life when he wrote it.