Beethoven’s music has often been framed in terms of art religion, immortality, and secular humanism. Building on these studies, this article proposes that certain works by Beethoven enact a fantasy of infinitely postponing death and living forever on earth, something that I call temporal eternity. To develop this concept, it draws on the concept of chronolibido developed by the contemporary philosopher Martin Hägglund, as well as writings by Novalis and Friedrich Schlegel. The article’s case studies are Beethoven’s Piano Sonata in A♭ Major, op. 110 (1821), and String Quartet in A Minor, op. 132 (1825). In both works, the score refers to an increase in strength. Opus 110 concludes with a return of a previously heard fugue, marked “again reviving, gradually returning to life.” Similarly, the third movement of op. 132, “Holy Song of Thanks from a Convalescent to the Godhead,” revolves around a continually returning B section, titled “feeling new strength.” In both ops. 110 and 132, then, the textual references to strength occur in the context of a double variation form that supports cyclic processes of return. Their structural designs allow for the continual regeneration of each section, as though the evocation of new strength could recur eternally. Such formal processes depict strength as a renewable resource capable of sustaining temporal eternity.

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