BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Friday, October 3, 1823

Prince Nikolai Galitzin writes several letters in French today from St. Petersburg related to Beethoven. The first is directed to Beethoven himself, and acknowledges receipt of Beethoven’s (now lost) letter of September 17. The second is his letter of instruction to the Heniksten firm to provide Beethoven with the 50 ducats promised for the Missa Solemnis, in exchange for the manuscript.

In the letter to Beethoven, Galitzin says he thought that had already been collected. [The funds had been sent back in February for the first of the three string quartets he commissioned from Beethoven. Beethoven’s letter of September 17 appears to have requested that the 50 ducats for the first quartet be applied against the fee for the Missa Solemnis; Galitzin believed that Beethoven had already received those funds but he prudently appears not to have been willing to take them (and get further in debt) until he delivered the quartet.]

Galitzin begs that the manuscript be sent promptly so that it can be performed before Christmas. [Galitzin is disappointed in this, as the Mass arrives too late for parts to be copied and for the complex piece to be learned. Galitzin’s performance will occur in St. Petersburg on April 7, 1824, and this will in fact be the premiere of the full Missa Solemnis.]

Galitzin adds, “I have just returned from a long journey I made in the southern provinces of Russia, to restore a little the health of my wife, who was greatly shaken by the loss of her child. Of all the losses that one can experience in this world, the loss of one’s child is certainly the most sensitive. But in the end, we are not here on earth for pleasures, and God takes nothing away from you but that he gives it back a hundredfold in this life or in the next.”

“I hope that the infirmities from which you suffer will receive considerable relief from the treatment at the baths of Baden, which are well known to me, having spent my childhood in Vienna between the years of 1804 through 1806.”

“I enclose a letter for Mr. Heniksten. Please let me know when you need the 150 ducats for the quartets and I will send [a similar draw letter] directly to you. Accept my assurances of the high esteem and my sentiments of perfect devotion.”

Brandenburg Letter 1746. The original is lost, but the letter was transcribed by Thayer and appears in TDR, V, p.555f. The letter to Henikstein is Brandenburg Letter 1747, which is similarly lost. Its contents are known only from Galitzin’s cover letter, and Heniksten’s response to Galitzin on October 25.