BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Friday, July 6, 1821

Beethoven today writes another letter from Unterdöbling to Berlin publisher Adolph Martin Schlesinger. With this letter, he forwards the corrected proofs of the piano sonata #30, op.109. “I have never had a more difficult and tiresome task to cope with — The chief mistake we made was not to have the first proof corrected in Berlin, the result being that it was hardly possible to deal with the mass of mistakes here and there in the engraved copy.” Beethoven insists that this copy “must be followed in every detail.” He tells Schlesinger that all of the corrections are incorporated into it, and it renders the original manuscript (which is also corrected) superfluous. Beethoven says that “at least two or three proofs will be required before the engraved copy is absolutely identical with the manuscript copy.” He asks that Franz Lauska, who apparently has returned to Berlin, check these proofs over carefully. [It is possible that Lauska personally carried this letter and the corrected proofs to Schlesinger on his return to Berlin.]

[Translations by Emily Anderson. The corrected proofs are not known to survive. Probably because of his poor health, and despite his best intentions, Beethoven nonetheless misses many errors in the sonata and they will need to be dealt with later this year.]

[Beethoven had promised these corrections would be sent by June 15, and here they are going out three weeks after that. Some of this may be put down to Beethoven’s typical habit of over-promising, especially with publishers, but considering the time-sensitive nature of the corrections, the delay may also point to his illness flaring up again in mid-June, as suggested by his last letter to the Archduke.]

Brandenburg letter 1435, Anderson letter 1053. The original is held by the Bonn Beethovenhaus, H.C. Bodmer collection, Br 211.