BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Tuesday, February 25, 1823

Beethoven, believing that Caspar Bauer, the go-between for the Esterházys with England, is coming to dinner tomorrow, writes two letters for friends in London: Ferdinand Ries and Charles Neate.

The letter to Ries forwards the score to the Consecration of the House Overture, which the Philharmonic Society can have for 18 months, but he needs confirmation that they want it. [Beethoven clearly has not yet received the letter from Ries stating that the Society has agreed to take it for 25 ducats.] “If the Philharmonic Society is as poor as I am, then it need not give me anything. But if it is better off, as I have good reason to believe, and hope with the best wishes that it is, then I leave it up to the Society as to how they would like to treat me. Dispose of it as favorably as you can.”

The scores for the two sonatas, op.110 and 111, should have been received by Ries by now. “I beg you once more to drive a hard bargain for these, for I need the money. The winter and several circumstances have set me back again, and almost always having to make a living off my pen is no small thing. I will be in London in the spring of 1824 to kiss your wife. We will have time enough to write about that trip.” Beethoven closes by urging Ries to quickly make arrangements about the Ninth Symphony and get whatever he can for the sonatas and bagatelles, and send the money to Vienna soon, since it will be most welcome.

Brandenburg Letter 1580, Anderson Letter 1143. The original is held by the Bonn Beethovenhaus, H.C. Bodmer Collection Br 200, and can be seen here, with the address later added by Schindler:

The letter to Charles Neate informs him that Ries has written saying Neate would like three quartets. The offered fee of 100 guineas is satisfactory. As soon as they are ready, he asks that a draft for the 100 guineas be sent to a Vienna banking house, where he will deposit the score. Beethoven notes that the Overture to Consecration of the House has just been sent to Ries for the Philharmonic Society, and is waiting for the arrival of payment for the Ninth Symphony to send that off as well. [In fact, the symphony had barely progressed past the sketch stage for the first movement and there were only vague conceptions for the remaining movements.] If his health, which has been very poor for the last three years, improves, he hopes to go to London in 1824. He would be happy to compose any other compositions for the Philharmonic Society. Beethoven looks forward to meeting all the splendid artists in England. “It would also be advantageous for my circumstances, since I can never achieve anything in Germany.”

Brandenburg Letter 1581, Anderson Letter 1144. This letter is also in Bonn, H.C. Bodmer Collection Br 176, and can be seen here, also with the address in Schindler’s hand:

In the Conversation Book 25 at 18v-19r, Beethoven also drafts two letters. The first is to Bonn publisher Nikolaus Simrock [who paid for the Missa Solemnis two years ago now but has received nothing] with promises that he is writing three Masses in all; that is why Simrock needs to wait since he has not decided which one Simrock will receive. He thanks Simrock for the piano arrangement of the Symphony and asks that the scores be sent to him. But he should hold back the Symphony scores, due to the planned Collected Works. Beethoven promises it will not be long until he can send the Mass; as soon as the second Mass is completed, he will notify Simrock. Beethoven then tries out another tack in the draft, and now says that the second Mass is intended for the Emperor, and that is why the delay has been encountered in getting the Mass for Simrock. This letter will continue to percolate for several weeks before being sent on March 10th. Beethoven of course had nothing done on these two additional Masses, which remained as nothing but promises.

The second draft letter is addressed to the publishing house of Breitkopf & Härtel in Leipzig, asking for a copy of the score to the Mass in C, which they had published in 1812 [probably to use as an exemplar for the Missa Solemnis if it were to be lithographed], as well as Masses by Haydn. He also asks for information about a proposal Breitkopf & Härtel has made for a portrait of Beethoven to be painted. That will eventually be done by Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller (1793-1865), but no contract with the painter will be entered into until April, at which point Waldmüller will contact Beethoven. So his sources of information were in this instance very good indeed. Whether Beethoven ever com0pleted or sent this letter is unknown; the Conversation Book is held by the Berlin Staatsbibliothek (aut. 51,24).

Possibly at about the same time, Beethoven writes to Tobias Haslinger at Steiner’s publishing firm in an undated letter, asking for a copy of the Archduke Trio op.97, the Violin Sonata op.96, and piano sonatas op.90 and 101, which had all been published by Steiner between 1815 and 1817, as well as a piano arrangement of the Sixth Symphony for piano four hands. He would also like the piano solo versions of the Seventh and Eighth Symphonies. In the letter he mentions he is writing to Breitkopf & Härtel today or Saturday. Brandenburg Letter 1593, Anderson Letter 1184. The original is held by the Bonn Beethovenhaus, H.C. Bodmer Collection Br 141, and can be seen here:

Archduke Rudolph arrives today in Vienna from Olmütz at about noon in good spirits, and moves into his apartments in the Hofburg. Wiener Zeitung 27 February, 1823, at 189. He will be interested in having composition lessons on a regular basis from Beethoven, and hearing about the symphony and piano variations that the composer is working on. The Archduke will remain in Vienna for four weeks, and Beethoven is soon enlisted to give three-hour lessons every day, which will cut into his time available to compose and to relax.

Although Schindler has an appointment with Caspar Bauer regarding the materials to be transported to London for Beethoven, Bauer is not there when he arrives at 10 a.m. Schindler waits until two o’clock without success. Since he has to get ready for work at the Theater in the Josephstadt, he leaves, planning to return tomorrow.

Meanwhile, in Munich Count von Rechberg, Royal Minister to the King of Bavaria, today writes to Ambassador Steinlein in Vienna. Since there are so many church works by the most famous masters that only a part of them can ever be performed, the King declines the acquisition of the newest solemn Mass by the famous composer Beethoven. Albrecht Letter 312. Whether accidentally or by intent, Rechberg neglects to include the directive from Intendant Rumling that, once the Mass is available in a less expensive published edition, a copy should be acquired.