BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Thursday, May 29, 1823

Beethoven writes two letters. The first of these (actually written by Nephew Karl) is the subscription solicitation letter for Prince Nikolaus Esterházy to buy the Missa Solemnis. The letter is largely in the usual form, and Beethoven decides to expressly ask for the 50 ducats, rather than trust to the Prince’s generosity.

Ludwig himself writes to the Prince Paul Esterházy’s private secretary, Anton Wocher, forwarding the letter to Prince Nikolaus. Despite Wocher already having done Beethoven so many favors, he is asking for another: to give the Prince the enclosed letter, but to use his judgment as to how it will be received. [Wocher had suggested waiting until Prince Paul had returned from London in June before presenting the letter.] Beethoven would like very much to see Wocher and librarian Georg von Gaal (1783-1855) in the beautiful surroundings of Hetzendorf.

“Unfortunately, I am also suffering with an illness in my eyes. I can hardly read or write at all. For me it’s worse than exorcism or excommunication. There are no exorcists any more but the devils have definitely taken up residence in my eyes. I hope in the meanwhile to be soon freed of them by the clean air and to be able to look at everything with healthy eyes again.

The letter to the Prince is Brandenburg Letter 1660, which is held by the Budapest National Library (Acta musicalia 4218). The cover letter to Wocher is Brandenburg Letter 1659, Albrecht Letter 321, and is held by the Bonn Beethovenhaus as NE 122.

The Styria Musik-Verein today gives a concert for the benefit of the widows and orphans of country schoolteachers. Among the many works performed was Beethoven’s Choral Fantasia, op.80. According to the account in the Vienna Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung at 422, “Herr Jenger, who is the secretary of the association, clothed with excellent zeal, played at the pianoforte Beethoven’s fantasy with chorus and orchestral accompaniment. He solved all the difficulties that appeared in this marvelous work with the artistry known to him, and increased the pleasure of some passages due to his delicate and rounded presentation. Moreover, with his safe and fluent playing it is unnecessary to raise the mutes in chromatic runs; the instrument on which he played also has sufficient resonance and does not need this amplification.”