BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Saturday, August 31, 1822

Beethoven writes several letters from Vienna today. The first letter is to brother Johann at his estate in Gneixendorf. Dr. Staudenheim “absolutely wants me to go to Baden, so I’m going tomorrow or the day after tomorrow at the latest.” Ludwig would like Johann to come to Vienna so they can discuss several business matters and complete arrangements with Steiner for the engraving of The Ruins of Athens by the end of September [Beethoven writes 8 for August, but he must mean September], before the [Josephstadt] theater is reopened [on October 3. As it happened, Steiner did not publish the Overture to the work until February, 1823 and the full score did not appear until 1846, long after Beethoven’s death.]

“By the way, you could stay with me in Baden for a while, which would suit you well. I’m going straight to Baden and will spend a day at the inn, while I find an apartment to rent. Farewell, I hug you from the bottom of my heart. I am very sorry that I couldn’t have gone to you sooner. [Beethoven repeats for emphasis:] Farewell, I hug you from the bottom of my heart. Your faithful brother.”

Brandenburg letter 1490; Anderson letter 1090. This letter to Johann is held by the Bonn Beethovenhaus, H.C. Bodmer collection Br 9. The original can be seen here:

Ludwig also writes today to Moritz (Maurice) Schlesinger in Paris about piano sonatas #31 and 32, opp. 110 and 111. Copies of op.110 have been received at Steiner’s house, and they are still full of errors that Beethoven had previously asked be corrected. “I am very uncomfortable when my works appear so full of errors. It will be corrected here immediately and sent back to you so you may then send forth the work into the world. I must insist that this be done, or it is your own fault if the work is pirated. The dedication of the Sonata in C minor [op.111] should be to his imperial highness the Cardinal, who has already been informed about it. I have written the text down for you and as soon as the proof copy arrives I will send you the dedication with the corrected copy, or perhaps earlier by letter post.”

“Although I have written to you that the Sonata in A-flat [op.110] was to be dedicated to one of my connections [Antonie Brentano], that is not what has happened. It seems as if some unpleasant things must happen between me and you and your father, for when I received my fee for the two sonatas, I lost no less than 12 or 13 florins on the transaction [the commission deducted by the bankers.] I happened to be ill and was unable to go there myself. I would have refused to accept it at all rather than have to endure such a disgraceful quibble, the like of which I have never encountered.”

Beethoven also asks, in pencil scrawled on the top of the first page, for six copies of the sonatas that he may give to poor musician friends, “who are as dear to me as millionaires.”

Brandenburg Letter 1491, Anderson Letter 1095. The original is held by the Bonn Beethovenhaus as part of the H.C. Bodmer collection Br 13, and is available here:

Today’s Leipzig Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung at col. 565 reports on a series of twelve subscription concerts that were held in Strasbourg by a dilettantes club in the Gasthof zum Geist between October 28, 1821 and March 24, 1822 on Sunday mornings from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Among the many works performed over this series are an unidentified symphony by Beethoven and his Choral Fantasy op.80.

Attached is a 19th century engraving of the hotel Gasthof zum Geist in Strasbourg.