BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Friday, December 21, 1821 (very approximately)

At some time in late 1821 or the first part of 1822, composer Carl Schwencke (1797-1870) writes to Beethoven. Schwenke had become a traveling musician at age nineteen. He writes that when he started studying music a few years ago, he lamented how commonplace and indistinguishable most composers are. But then he studied Beethoven’s compositions, which he considers one in a thousand. He begs that he be given something in Beethoven’s handwriting, and asks that it be sent care of his father in Hamburg. [The date of the letter therefore must be before October 1822, when Schwenke’s father died.] Schwenke encloses a six-page piano composition in A minor and major, “as proof that I know music.” Albrecht, Letters to Beethoven No. 281. The autograph is held by the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Mus. ms. autogr. Beethoven 35, 66.

Beethoven will meet Schwenke in person in 1824, and Beethoven at that time will not only give him an autograph, but will compose for him the punning canon Schwenke dich ohne Schwänke (Swing around without swaying), WoO 187.