BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Saturday, October 13, 1821

Publisher Adolph Martin Schlesinger writes to Beethoven from Berlin today, telling the composer that the publication of the piano sonata op.109 has been finished and that he will be sending it out to music stores for delivery to the public. Schlesinger mentions that he did not receive the list of errors that Beethoven had promised in his letter of July 6 [Brandenburg 1434. This failure in communication will cause some trouble, since in that letter Beethoven had asked specifically that Schlesinger not publish the sonata until the many serious errors had been corrected].

Schlesinger also inquires about the other two promised sonatas. He asks that Beethoven send the autographs for the sonatas together with a clean copy. Schlesinger says that the sonatas may be handed over to the Tendler & Manstein trading house, and they will provide Beethoven his fee.

[This letter is lost, but its existence and contents are known from a registration note on letter 1433 from Beethoven dated July 3, 1821, and the subsequent Brandenburg letter 1446 from Beethoven, dated November 13, 1821.]

Today’s Wiener Zeitung at 717 (page 11 of today’s edition) contains an interesting tidbit placed by Johann Bayer, Beethoven’s landlord in Baden bei Wien, as he tries to make some additional money from Beethoven’s fame.

Clavier Instrument Display.
“Those ladies and piano lovers who love this instrument, and who want to look at the one which Louis van Beethoven uses during his time at the baths, can do the same in Baden near Vienna, at the residence of the master coppersmith Bayer, in the Rathhausgasse. It contains 6 octaves, 6 pedals, and is decorated with all diligence completely in accordance with the graphic style.”

Photo of piano at the Kupferschmiedhaus, by Stadtgemeinde Baden, CC BY-SA 3.0 de,

The fact that the landlord feels free to offer these tours strongly suggests that Beethoven has already moved back to Vienna; were Beethoven still in the Kupferschmiedhaus, he would almost certainly box the landlord’s ears for his impertinence in bringing paid tours into his apartment. The composer does complain elsewhere, as we noted a few days ago, that he “had to rush back to Vienna,” apparently leaving behind a piano. Who actually owns the piano in question is unclear. It’s definitely not Beethoven’s Broadwood, since that had only two pedals, not six.

This same ad recurs in the Wiener Zeitung on Tuesday, October 16 and Wednesday, October 17. Given Beethoven’s sudden departure, plus the time to formulate the plan and get the advertisements placed in Vienna, a departure date from Baden bei Wein around October 10 or perhaps a couple days earlier seems most probable. One can surmise that Beethoven was extremely unhappy about his landlord offering strangers tours to see his piano, even if he was no longer there. Although no such letters survive, one can imagine Beethoven writing a furious letter to Bayer, if he saw these advertisements.

Although Beethoven nevertheless returned to this house the next two summers, it would not be the last time Bayer attempted to earn supplemental profits from Beethoven being his guest. Lacking paper, Beethoven sometimes would sketch on the window shutters, which Bayer sold as souvenirs. Bayer then had the nerve to demand Beethoven replace the shutters at his own expense.