BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Saturday, October 21, 1820

Nikolaus Simrock, Beethoven’s publisher friend in Bonn, has been waiting patiently for nearly a month for the score of the Missa Solemnis, which Beethoven has repeatedly promised to him, saying it was complete or nearly so. It was of course nowhere near finished. Simrock had deposited the payment in the form of 100 gold friedrichs d’or as he outlined in his letter to Beethoven of September 23 (disregarding Beethoven’s demand of August 29 that the fee be computed as 900 gulden under the current exchange rates). Simrock had warned in that letter that he needed confirmation soon that they had a deal, because he could not afford to tie up that much money for very long.

Having heard nothing from Beethoven for four weeks, Simrock gives up and reclaims the funds. [Described in Simrock’s letter to Franz Brentano of November 12, 1820 (Brandenburg letter 1417).]

Beethoven is probably in Vienna giving the Archduke a composition lesson today, hastily returning to Mödling to continue packing his belongings for the move back to the City.

Under the time frame we outlined on the first of the month, this is probably the earliest time in October that Oliva could reasonably be back from Leipzig and Beethoven could see him. Another possibility, depending on the date of Oliva’s departure for Leipzig, and how long his business there on behalf of his employer Joseph Biedermann occupies him, is Tuesday, October 24. The earliest date in October that we know for certain that Oliva is in Vienna is October 26th. Whenever Oliva returns, he will provide Thomson’s edition of the Scottish Songs to Beethoven as requested by note during Oliva’s absence (discussed on October 10). The complete package with the manuscript and the Thomson book can now be forwarded to publisher Adolf Martin Schlesinger in Berlin.

That should more or less conclude matters regarding this set of folk song arrangements, at least until Beethoven gets to see the proofs. Schlesinger will take his sweet time about printing the pieces, however, and will not publish them until July, 1822. One of the delays will result from the need for suitable German translations of the songs. Instead of getting a proper poet as Beethoven suggested, Schlesinger engages librarian Samuel Heinrich Spiker to do the translations. Spiker ends up being completely insensitive to the rhythms and accents of the English lyrics, as well as the music. Consequently, Beethoven will be quite upset when he finally sees the proofs with the German texts. But the songs are published with Spiker’s inadequate German texts nonetheless.