BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Tuesday, December 10, 1822 (very approximately)

In an undated letter to publisher Anton Diabelli, Beethoven notes that he has six piano bagatelles (the ones that will become op.119/1-6) available for sale. He would like 50 ducats for the group. He claims that is the same price he has offered them to others. If Diabelli agrees, he can have them all today. Beethoven signs himself, “Yours in a hurry.”

Diabelli did not accept the offer. Beethoven had agreed to sell piano bagatelles to Leipzig publisher Carl Friedrich Peters at the rate of 8 ducats each. Six bagatelles at that rate would be 48 ducats, so he is trying to squeeze a couple more ducats out of Diabelli for these little pieces. The first five of these six pieces had been written many years earlier and were compiled in November, 1822; the sixth appears to have been newly composed.

Apparently Peters will hear about this offer (probably from Diabelli, with whom he was in correspondence on other matters) and will be quite unhappy to learn that he is being used to extort a higher price from Vienna publishers. This matter will be addressed in a letter to Beethoven of December 16th.

Brandenburg Letter 1519, Anderson Letter 1091. The original is held by the Bonn Beethovenhaus, H.C. Bodmer Collection BBr 13, and can be seen here: