BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Friday, July 20, 1821

Today’s Wiener Zeitung includes a prominent advertisement by publisher Cappi & Diabelli for Franz Schubert’s new setting of Goethe’s poem, Rastlose Liebe, op.5/1 (now catalogued as D.138), as one of a set of five Goethe lieder. Schubert had written the song in 1815. Beethoven had also attempted setting this poem back in 1796, sketching three continuity drafts (Hess 149), which can be heard here:

In smaller print, Cappi & Diabelli also advertises Schubert’s setting of the poem Heidenröslein for voice and piano, also from 1815, and today catalogued as D.257. Heidenröslein was another Goethe poem Beethoven had attempted to set at about the same time as Rastlose Liebe, and the continuity drafts and sketches for it are catalogued as Hess 150. Beethoven returned to the song in 1822 and did additional work on a possible setting in sketchbook Artaria 201, found on pages 77 and 115. The sketches, as well as two completions of the continuity drafts, can be heard here:

Like the Erlkönig, WoO 131, these songs were omitted from Beethoven’s 1822 price list for publishers, even though several other incomplete song settings written in that period are included on that list. Schubert’s settings may have discouraged Beethoven from going forward with all three of these sketched songs. In fact, after this Beethoven will only compose two more lieder at all.