BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Sunday, November 12, 1820

Publisher Nikolaus Simrock in Bonn receives Franz Brentano’s letter telling him Beethoven has accepted his terms for publication of the Missa Solemnis. This is very embarrassing for Simrock, because he now no longer has the money that he promised Beethoven for the Mass.

Simrock writes to Brentano in Frankfurt today, explaining the situation. To summarize: Beethoven wanted to sell Simrock the Missa Solemnis for 100 louis d’or. Simrock agreed, but with the understanding that a louis d’or was the same as a friedrich d’or, or a pistole. He wrote to Beethoven on September 23 that he could not pay more than that, and he said he would put the sum on deposit, ready for exchange for the score of the Mass. He expected the decision from Beethoven promptly, because he could not leave his money sitting unused in Frankfurt indefinitely.

When Simrock received no answer after four weeks, he did not think he would be receiving the Mass, and withdrew the money and disposed of it. Now he gets Brentano’s letter of the 8th, where Beethoven agrees to transfer the Mass to him. This puts Simrock in an awkward position, since he does not have the gold. But since Brentano did not say that he already had the score in hand, Simrock says he will assemble the funds in the meantime.

Simrock closes by begging Brentano to notify him as soon as the score arrives, and they can arrange the exchange of the music for the designated fee.

The original letter is apparently lost, but Beethoven biographer Alexander Wheelock Thayer copied it in the 19th century (see Thayer/Forbes p.769). Brandenburg letter 1417; Albrecht Letters to Beethoven letter 277.