BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Saturday, July 6, 1822

Beethoven is busy today writing letters, mailing at least two of them from Vienna and drafting a third, the last of which may or may not have been sent.

The first letter is to his former pupil, Ferdinand Ries, in London. Beethoven apologizes for never answering Ries’ last letter (which does not appear to survive, but may date from as long ago as the end of 1820), saying he has been sick half a year. Beethoven acknowledges the receipt of 26 pounds sterling from Ries, with his warmest thanks. [This payment was for the English publication rights to the Quintet op.104 and the Hammerklavier Sonata, op.106.] Ries had dedicated his second symphony, op.80, to his former teacher, but Beethoven, although very pleased at the gesture, says that thus far nothing related to the symphony has been received. Beethoven suggests that any such parcels of materials should be sent to him in care of Steiner & Co.’s art and music shop. Letters can come directly to him without any problem.

Beethoven suggests that if Ries can obtain the same 26 pounds sterling for the English publication rights to sonatas #31 and #32 (which Beethoven describes somewhat misleadingly as “not difficult at all”), he should do so. Though if he can get more, all the better. [Ries does, in fact, sell these two sonatas to the Clementi & Co. firm in London, which will publish them in 1823.]

Following up on brother Johann’s suggestion for a new symphony, Beethoven asks what fee the Philharmonic Society in London might be willing to offer for such a work. [Ries will obtain a response for Beethoven on this point in November.] He is toying with the idea of going to London next spring, if his health permits. Beethoven closes by giving his best to Ries’ two young daughters and his wife Harriet. “Kiss your beautiful wife for me until I can perform this solemn act in person.” Brandenburg Letter 1479, Anderson Letter 1804. The original is held at Cambridge, by the Fitzwilliam Museum.

Beethoven also writes a response to publisher Carl F. Peters in Leipzig. Having read Peters’ letter of June 5 more closely, he notices Peters would like to have some bagatelles for piano solo and a string quartet. The bagatelles would be 8 gold ducats each; some of them are rather long and they could be published separately or as a group, however Peters thinks best. [These would be at least some of the 11 bagatelles op.119, many of which are in fact quite brief. Nrs. 7-11 had been published the year before, and thus would be ready for immediate delivery to Peters.] Beethoven does not, however, feel like he can reduce the 50 ducat fee for the quartet, “which is not yet quite finished.” [Indeed, the quartet was not begun.] Having learned from his dealings with Simrock in Bonn, Beethoven specifies the exchange rate that he expects for each ducat. He will let Peters have the songs, marches and bagatelles immediately upon Peters’ confirmation. [This may be an indication that the additions of the Trios to the marches WoO 18 and 19 have been completed, though at this point none of the songs had progressed beyond continuity drafts in his sketchbooks.]

Insofar as Steiner is concerned, Beethoven dismisses the idea of letting him have any further works. But one must take people as they are, or else live in a perpetual state of warfare. Beethoven reminds him about the publication of the collected works once again, which he is certainly anxious to conclude, especially if he can get the 10,000 florins that he requested this in June. Brandenburg Letter 1478, Anderson Letter 1085. The original is held by the Bonn Beethovenhaus, H.C. Bodmer Collection BBr 36, and can be seen here:

Finally, Beethoven drafts a short note to Breitkopf & Härtel in Leipzig. The draft letter is fragmentary, but it appears to cover two principal topics. The first is a list of compositions that the Breitkopf firm needs to either publish or put back in print. Among these are the works of Bach and Albrechtsberger, Haydn’s The Seasons and Seven Last Words of Christ, and Mozart’s Abduction from the Seraglio [which at this point had still only been published in a piano reduction]. Second, Beethoven asks for a copy of one of several books on acoustics by Ernst Flores Friedrich Chladni (1756-1827), which Breitkopf had published some years earlier. This draft is written together with a draft for the above letter to Peters on the last page of Peters’ letter to Beethoven dated June 15, 1822, and thus presumably they were drafted at about the same time. Brandenburg Letter 1477. The original is held by the Bonn Beethovenhaus, H.C. Bodmer Collection Br 285, f.2v.

According to Kinsky-Halm 2d ed., today is the earliest known advertisement for the “just-released” 25 Scottish Songs, op.108, in the Zeitung für Theater, Musik und bildende Künste, p.108.