BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Saturday, September 23, 1820

Brandenburg, Letter 1411

Continuing the confusion [intentional or otherwise] over the exchange rates for payment of the Missa Solemnis, publisher Nikolaus Simrock writes to Beethoven from Bonn today. The original of the letter is lost, but its contents can be surmised from later correspondence.

Simrock points out once more that the general usage in Germany equates a louis d’or with the Prussian friedrich d’or or pistole. He will pay the agreed fee for the Missa Solemnis at that rate only. A higher rate would be unacceptable, and he repeats his fear that he would not have significant sales of a Catholic Mass in non-Catholic Germany. However, he accepts Beethoven’s suggestion that a German text should be included as was done with the Mass in C, op.86. [So Simrock clearly received Beethoven’s letter of August 30, 1820, which contained the suggestion that a German text be included, but he disregards everything Beethoven has said multiple times about the exchange rates.]

Simrock says he will accordingly deposit the fee in gold friedrich d’or coins with his business partner, Heinrich Verhuven, in Frankfurt. When the Mass is delivered to Beethoven’s friend and agent Franz Brentano, Verhuven will pay the funds over to Brentano in exchange for the manuscript, in accordance with their prior arrangements. Simrock asks for a quick decision, because this is too much capital for him to leave unused for a long time. Simrock deposits the gold coins as promised, and he nervously awaits Beethoven’s response.

If Beethoven continues the pattern he has established of giving the Archduke a lesson in composition on Saturdays, he is in Vienna today.