BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Thursday November 29, 1821 (approximately)

According to William Kinderman, Beethoven stops using desk sketchbook Artaria 197 about now. It has served him well for a long time, having been used for much of the working out of the Missa Solemnis and piano sonatas op.109 and op.110, among other pieces. Beethoven now shifts to desk sketchbook Artaria 201, today held by the Berlin Staatsbibliothek. Artaria 201 is one of the very few of Beethoven’s desk sketchbooks to have survived intact; the number of leaves in the book today matches that recorded by Artaria when it was in his collection, after purchasing it from Beethoven’s estate.

Oddly, Beethoven seems to have started by using the last leaf of the sketchbook, for work on the Agnus Dei of the Missa Solemnis, which then continues on the first page of the sketchbook. No sketches for piano sonata op.110 appear in Artaria 201, which indicates that by now it was at least in continuity draft form. Almost all of the sketches for sonata op.111 are contained in this book, with only a few in the preceding book, Artaria 197. Of course, it’s possible that he used both books at once for a time, separating work on the two sonatas in different books, in which case work on op.111 may have begun somewhat earlier than we have suggested here.

Artaria 201 will continue to be Beethoven’s primary desk sketchbook for the next year or so, until about January or February of 1823. Not only will it contain more work on the Mass and op.111, but it will eventually include work on the Consecration of the House overture and early sketches for the Ninth Symphony.