BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Saturday, May 12, 1821

Berlin publisher Adolph Martin Schlesinger today writes to Beethoven to let him know that he is sending under separate cover the proofs for the piano sonata #30, op.109, as well as the engraving copy for the piece, to Beethoven. This letter is catalogued as Brandenburg Letter 1430. The letter is today lost, but its existence and date are known from a notation on Letter 1428 (Beethoven’s letter to Schlesinger, dated March 7, 1821), and the contents from Letter 1431 (Beethoven’s response to Schlesinger, dated June 7, 1821). Beethoven had offered to proofread the sonata in his letter of March 7, 1821.

You may recall that when Beethoven sent the sonata to Schlesinger some months ago, he sent the autograph. He did not have a fair copy made by one of his usual copyists, for whatever reason. Based on some remarks in Beethoven’s response, it appears that Schlesinger, unable to read Beethoven’s autograph with its many corrections and hasty writing, had commissioned Franz Seraph Lauska (1765-1825), a pianist, composer and music teacher who had lived in Berlin since 1798, to produce a fair copy that was used for engraving. This seems to be the document that Schlesinger sent with the proof; he may have returned Beethoven’s autograph manuscript as well. Lauska, like Beethoven, had taken counterpoint lessons from Johann Georg Albrechtsberger in Vienna.

It is also possible that Schlesinger asked Lauska to hand-carry these materials to Beethoven, since he would be passing through Vienna later this month.

Our next update will be May 21.