BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Thursday, August 22, 1822

Beethoven writes to Artaria & Co. today from Döbling. Beethoven makes a fourth attempt to sell the Missa Solemnis, this time to Artaria. But that publisher seems to have counteroffered a lower price to him. Beethoven says that he has been offered 1000 gulden for it [which is true, Peters did offer that price, and Beethoven accepted it]. “My circumstances do not permit me to take a lesser fee from you; all I can do is give you the preference. Rest assured that I shall not take a penny more from you than has been offered by others. I could prove this to you in writing. You may consider this, but I must ask you to send me an answer about this by noon tomorrow, since tomorrow is post day and my decision is expected elsewhere.”

Beethoven acknowledges that he still owes Artaria 150 florins [borrowed in December of 1820 or January of 1821, to redeem one of the precious bank shares that Beethoven had used as collateral for another loan. Beethoven had promised then to repay Artaria in three months; obviously a year and a half later he has not done so.] Those 150 florins should not, however, be deducted from the 1000 fl. fee for the Mass, “since I need the 1000 fl. very badly. By the way, I ask you to keep everything secret so far as the Mass is concerned.”

Artaria’s response, if there was one, is lost. However, Beethoven’s proposal does not appear to have been accepted since there is no further surviving discussion of the issue with that company. It’s entirely possible that Artaria did not even receive the letter until after the deadline had passed, since the receipt date marked on the letter is tomorrow, August 23.

The original of this letter is held by the Bonn Beethovenhaus as H.C. Bodmer Collection Br 9, and can be seen here:

By coincidence, on this same date publisher Nikolaus Simrock in Bonn writes to Beethoven pressing for the score of the Missa Solemnis, which had been promised to him close to two years ago now, and the payment for which continues to be sitting on deposit. The letter is today lost, but its contents and the date are known from Beethoven’s response dated September 13, 1822.