BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Saturday, August 2, 1823

Before he leaves for the City, Beethoven writes a letter to Franz Brentano in Frankfurt. Beethoven apologizes for the delay in answering Brentano’s friendly letter, but for the last three and a half months he has been suffering with his eyes, which are still not completely healed. Beethoven would like to send a heavy packet of music to London via Frankfurt. [This is presumably the Missa Solemnis for Ferdinand Ries to find an English publisher.] Beethoven is unsure whether it is best to go from there by land or by water; he suspects water may be too slow. He hears that Brentano has a son in London [his eldest, Georg Franz Melchior (1801-1852)] and perhaps Franz can arrange something through him to act as a courier. “I will reimburse you all expenses, but I only ask that you reply as soon as possible.” Beethoven is glad to hear his youngest son is feeling better [Karl Josef Brentano suffered brain damage as a result of an illness at the age of four.] “I hope your wife is doing well also, and all of her children and siblings, because all of her family is eternally dear to me.” [Antonie Brentano is of course one of the leading candidates for Beethoven’s Immortal Beloved.] Beethoven repeats his thanks.

Brandenburg Letter 1722, Anderson Letter 1226. The original is in the Bonn Beethovenhaus, and can be seen here:

We know from tomorrow’s conversation book entries that Beethoven is in the City today. He finishes business early and goes to visit Nephew Karl at Blöchlinger’s, but Karl isn’t there. He heads back to Hetzendorf. There are no Conversation Book entries traceable to this visit, however, so Beethoven may have used whatever paper was handy to transact business.

While he is at his apartment in Vienna, Beethoven writes to Ernst Christian Schleiermacher in Darmstadt. The copy of the Missa Solemnis for the Grand Duke will be ready soon, and he acknowledges receipt of the 50 ducat fee, but complains that the copying costs were higher than expected, hinting that some additional payment would not be refused. “An abominable rumor started by my enemies suggests that the Mass is not finished. I can refute this with a testimonial from Archduke Rudolph that the Mass was already completed in 1822.”

Herr Schlösser in the Grand Duke’s service was most warmly welcomed by Beethoven. Unfortunately, Kapellmeister André was so obnoxious that Beethoven sent him a letter refusing to see him any more; had he known that André was in the Grand Duke’s service he would have tolerated him better, for the Grand Duke’s sake. Beethoven closes by giving thanks to the Grand Duke for subscribing, putting him in the elite company of the Russian Czar, the King of Prussia, and the King of France.

Brandenburg Letter 1723, Anderson Letter 1225. The letter is held in the Hesse State Archive in Darmstadt (Abt D 12 Nr. 3/19). A notation on the letter, dated August 17 1823, approves payment of the requested 50 ducats, so the score was likely received by then.