BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Monday, March 10, 1823

Beethoven writes several letters today. The first is to Nikolaus Simrock, the Bonn publisher to whom Beethoven had first sold the Missa Solemnis. He promises that Simrock will still receive a Mass from Beethoven, but lies that he has written a second one and is still deciding which should go to Simrock. He asks that Simrock be patient a little longer, until after Easter [March 30, 1823.] He will be composing a third Mass for the emperor very soon. So he can’t send any new works, but perhaps he can send The Consecration of the House Overture, op.124, and asks for 50 ducats. Beethoven asks whether Simrock could use some other miscellaneous works, such as The Ruins of Athens with choruses, aria and duet, op.113, and the Overture to King Stephan, along with choruses. But in any event Simrock shall certainly get one of the two grand Masses that have already been composed. Perhaps Simrock laughs at his haphazard way of doing business, but Beethoven has only recently recovered his health and is pressed on all sides. He adds in a PS that there are also lieder and bagatelles for piano available. [Disregarding the fact that so far as he knows, Peters has already bought and paid for those latter pieces.]

Brandenburg Letter 1607, Anderson Letter 1153. The original is in the H.C. Bodmer Collection, Br 236, at the Bonn Beethovenhaus and can be seen here:

Beethoven also writes to his friend and agent Franz Brentano in Frankfurt. He hopes to return the 300 florins that Beethoven borrowed from him back in 1821 as an advance against the payment from Simrock for the Missa Solemnis. He asks that Brentano forward the letter to Simrock, which will explain the situation regarding the delays with the Masses. Beethoven’s health is better, but it will not be secure until he spends time at the baths this summer.

Beethoven does not mail this letter until Wednesday, March 12, as noted in his calendar. Brentano writes on the first page that it took over a month to make its way to him in Frankfurt, and was only received on April 14th, 1823.

Brandenburg Letter 1608, Anderson Letter 1152. This original was as of Brandenburg’s edition of Beethoven’s letter in the collection of F.H. Franken, M.D. in Freiburg.

Meanwhile, Count Moritz von Dietrichstein today writes to Beethoven, forwarding the texts to three Graduales and three Offertories, which Beethoven may use as he sees fit in the Masses that he is writing. Dietrichstein is sorry that he missed Beethoven and Lichnowsky when they were so kind as to pay a call upon him. Dietrichstein will visit Beethoven soon as possible.

This letter is in the Berlin Staatsbibliothek, aut. 35,45b. Beethoven writes a note at the bottom of the letter, wondering whether he should “treat the Graduale as a symphony in song after the Gloria?” It is unclear whether this is intended for one of the other projected Masses that never amounted to anything, or whether Beethoven is at this late stage still contemplating a major change to the structure of the Missa Solemnis itself.

Today’s Wiener Zeitung at 227 includes an advertisement for a newly-published Fantasie et Pot-pourri for violin and piano, on motifs by Mozart and Beethoven, composed by J.P. Pixis (1788-1874) as his opus 49. Pixis was friendly with Beethoven. We have been unable to find a copy of this work to determine what melodies by Beethoven may have been borrowed by Pixis here.

On the same page, the Artaria & Co. firm advertises amongst a long list of Rossini works a piano/vocal score of Beethoven’s opera Fidelio for the price of 25 florins, while a version for piano solo is offered at only 8 florins.