BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Friday, December 27, 1822

Portrait of Antonio Pacini by Xavier Sigalon (1823), held by the Louvre. Sigalon, XavierFrance, Musée du Louvre, Département des Peintures, RF 2401 – –

Brother Johann van Beethoven today writes on behalf of Ludwig, in French, to Antonio Pacini (1778-1866) in Paris. Pacini was a composer and music publisher, who had lived in Paris since 1804. Johann apologizes for the delay in responding to Pacini’s (now lost) letter of June 22, but notes that Ludwig appreciates the praise given to him. “He is very charmed to have made the acquaintance of a man who loves so much, and knows how to appreciate, the arts.”

In response to Pacini’s requests for some quartets or quintets, that is impossible right now, since Ludwig is occupied with larger works, namely a new symphony [the 9th], an opera [discussed further below] and a great Mass [the still-being copied and proofread Missa solemnis]. Ludwig is interested in presenting manuscripts of this mass to several royal courts for a reasonable fee, promising it will not be engraved for a few years and thus giving them exclusive use during that period of time. Perhaps Pacini can advise him as to how best to approach the royal intendant of the court about such a subscription.

Six months hence, Ludwig could turn to the quartets and quintets, but in the meantime he has available a new trio for two violins and one viola [probably the string version of the variations on “Là ci darem la mano,” WoO 28, originally written for two oboes and an English horn. Calling it “new” was quite a stretch, though, since it had been composed in 1795. Beethoven had just offered the trio a second time to Peters on December 20th] and the Consecration of the House overture, op.124. The first is available for 20 louis and the second for 30 louis. Otherwise, Pacini can offer them to a good music publisher in Paris and let Beethoven know the fairest price he can obtain. In a postscript, Johann mentions also six bagatelles for clavecin [op.119/1-6] for a price of 15 louis are available. [These would be the same bagatelles that Ludwig had unsuccessfully tried to sell to publishers Anton Diabelli and Carl Friedrich Peters earlier this month.]

Brandenburg Letter 1518, Albrecht Letters to Beethoven 300. The original is held by the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris.

The opera mentioned by Johann was a two act opera, The Apotheosis in the Temple of Jupiter Ammon, the libretto for which was written by journalist Johann Chrysostomus Sporschil (1800-1863). This was not exactly a new opera, since the plan was to recycle the music from Consecration of the House (which was in turn a revision of The Ruins of Athens incidental music). According to Sieghard Brandenburg, Beethoven did sketch a short draft of new music for the role of Roxane in sketchbook Artaria 201. This material (labeled ‘Roxane’) is seen here, lightly penciled on staves 6-8 of page 111 of Artaria 201 (courtesy Berlin Staatsbibliothek).

Desk Sketchbook Artaria 201, page 111 (Berlin Staatsbibliothek)