BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Thursday, December 6, 1821

Beethoven writes today to Maximiliane Euphrosyne Kunigunde Brentano (1802-1861), the nineteen-year-old pianist daughter of Franz and Antonie Brentano, in Frankfurt. He notifies her that he has dedicated to her piano sonata #30 op.109. Beethoven had previously written for her the little piano trio WoO 39 in 1812. Most likely he included a corrected copy of the sonata with the letter. Beethoven notes that this is not a crude dedication for money, but one based on art.

Beethoven adds with great emotion: “It is the spirit that holds noble and better people together on this earth, and time cannot destroy it. That spirit speaks to me now, and it is like you are present to me in childhood, together with your beloved parents, your excellent, spirited mother, and your inspired father, motivated by truly good and noble qualities, always seeing to the well-being of his children. That is how I see you at this moment here in the Landstrasse [From 1810 to 1812, the Brentano family lived in Vienna at Landstrasse Nr. 98; Beethoven in December 1821 was living just a few blocks away at Landstrasse Nr. 244.]; I see you all before me. When I think of the excellent qualities of your parents, it leaves me in no doubt but that you should likewise be inspired and become like them daily. Never can the memory of a noble family be extinguished in me; I hope you remember me with goodness sometimes.

“Farewell heartily, Heaven bless you and all of you forever.

“Cordially and always your friend,


Anderson letter 1062, Brandenburg letter 1449. The original of this letter is held in private hands in Switzerland. Maxie would marry Baron von Blittersdorf (1792-1861) in 1824. According to Thayer, as of the writing of this letter, Beethoven planned to dedicate his next two sonatas to Maxie’s mother, Antonie Brentano, but for whatever reason those plans changed. As will be seen in a few weeks, Papa Brentano took this gesture amiss and did not appreciate the dedication being issued to his daughter without letting him know first.

The title page of the first edition, with Maxie’s dedication, is seen here at the Bonn Beethovenhaus:

In today’s Wiener Zeitung, there also appears the first advertisement for this sonata, sold by Cappi & Diabelli. The piece is advertised as “Newest Sonata for the pianoforte, by Ludwig van Beethoven. 109th Work, 3 fl. 30 fr. W.W.” This would of course be the error-filled edition. Beethoven should have been able to get the necessary corrections added into the score by now, as was planned in his letter of November 14 to Schlesinger.