BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Friday, August 3, 1822

Beethoven writes today to Leipzig publisher Carl Friedrich Peters. He mentions that his health is not yet quite restored, though he is taking baths, drinking mineral water and consuming medicine. He is still unsure which songs, marches and bagatelles to send, but promises to deliver everything by the 15th of the month. For the time being, Beethoven will not draw on the funds Peters has sent, but he will give four of the bagatelles. Beethoven believes the total comes to 360 gulden. He assures Peters that he is not overpaying; the fees quoted are too low for the songs, given the precious time they consume. Beethoven again promises the Mass and other works by the 15th, assuming that the 1000 gulden fee is received. Beethoven adds as a postscript, “Don’t take anything from me amiss – I suffer – when I have to act, I do so.”

The letter is rather stream of consciousness, repetitive and disorganized, indicating that it was probably written from Döbling, without Johann’s assistance. It bears a Vienna postmark. The original is held in the Bonn Beethovenhaus as H.C. Bodmer collection BBr 38, and can be seen here:

We have very little clear record of Beethoven’s activities for about the next seven weeks. We can presume he is juggling a number of projects at once, in between receiving treatments: Finishing the Missa Solemnis, preparing the four marches WoO 18, 19, 20 and 24 as well as some bagatelles for Peters, finishing the songs for Peters that are only in sketch or continuity draft form, working on the overture of Consecration of the House op.124 and the new chorus Wo sich die Pulse WoO 98 for the reopening of the Theater in the Josephstadt in early October, and the first sketches for the Ninth Symphony probably date from around this time as well. Our next update will be August 7.