BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Thursday, June 7, 1821

Beethoven writes today from Döbling to publisher Adolph Martin Schlesinger in Berlin, regarding the proofs for the piano sonata #30, op.109. Brandenburg Letter 1431, Anderson Letter 1052. Beethoven makes many false starts and corrections throughout the letter, suggesting that his health is still poor, and that he is having significant difficulty arranging his thoughts clearly. The serious impact of Beethoven losing Franz Oliva to Russia is quite obvious.

Beethoven explains that since he was away from Vienna, he just recently received the package with the proofs. Beethoven notes that he was in a hurry to get the autograph off to Schlesinger. Franz Lauska has visited Beethoven in Döbling, and assisted in the proofreading. He appreciates the efforts of Lauska, but the sonata proof contains a great many serious mistakes. Beethoven promises to send the corrections off within eight days. The other two sonatas will be sent soon. [Neither of them likely has progressed beyond a handful of sketches at this point, though serious work may have begun on the sonata #31, op.110.]

Beethoven notes that his health is still shaky, and probably will remain so until he is able to visit the baths, as his doctors have prescribed. [That will not occur occur until September.]

Returning to the 25 Scottish Songs, op.108, Beethoven promises that he will send the list of the authors of the songs along with the corrections to the piano sonata. These authors should be credited in the published songs.

In a series of three postscripts, Beethoven again hopes he has not offended Lauska by his corrections, and suggests that Lauska should look over the proofs of the 25 Scottish Songs as well. [Lauska had apparently prepared the fair copy Schlesinger used for engraving, so Beethoven’s reaction to the errors certainly could be taken as a criticism.] Beethoven says he is “extremely sorry” that his manuscript has caused such problems. He apologetically says he has learned a hard lesson. He will have everything properly copied in the future, and look through it carefully before sending it off. With a note of pride, he adds that the only address needed is “Ludwig van Beethoven in Vien” and any correspondence will get to him. Beethoven closes in begging that the sonata not be published until the corrections arrive, since “there are really too many errors in it.”

[Beethoven does not send the corrections to Schlesinger until July 6, 1821. The list of the authors of the poems in op.108 was sent on July 3, 1821.]

[Anderson in her edition of Beethoven’s letters describes Lauska as being on his way to Italy, but Lauska does not merit a report in the Wiener Zeitung either for his arrival or departure.]

The original letter is held by the Bonn Beethovenhaus, NE 88, and can be seen here:

Our next update is June 21.

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