BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Wednesday, December 12, 1821

Beethoven writes this afternoon to publisher Adolph Martin Schlesinger in Berlin, confirming that he is ready to correct the proofs for the 25 Scottish Songs, op.108. He says he has made arrangements with everyone for proofreading, and they will be done as soon as possible. He asks that a copy be sent with the manuscript to Carl Friedrich Hensler [director of the theatres of Pressburg and Baden, and holder of the privilege of the Josephstadt Theatre in Vienna; Beethoven would write Consecration of the House for him in 1822]. He also asks that a free copy be sent to the Royal Legation.

Beethoven then turns to the Missa Solemnis, which Schlesinger has agreed to buy for 200 ducats in his letter of December 1. “I find myself complaining that you want to have the 200 ducat price for the mass to also include a piano reduction, as well as the expense of copying of it. If you can add to the 200 ducats an additional 100 florins c.m. for the additional work, you will still find it to be cheap. If you agree to this revision of the fee, then there are no further issues. But I ask you for your quickest answer, because other parties are waiting on my decision.”

Beethoven continues, “As far as the revised fee is concerned, I would propose that you transfer it to Mr. Franz v. Brentano in Frankfurt am Main. As soon as he informs me that he has received the draft from you, I will send you the Mass either to Berlin, or to Frankfurt via Mr. Brentano; if you have suspicions, you may instruct Mr. v. Brentano not to pay me the fee until you have the Mass. I believe the former is the simplest and best, since there is no mistrust between us. The reason that I ask you to send the funds to Herr von B. is that I have expenses that need to be paid. Mr. v. B. is such a pleasant, dear and disinterested man that he would do this in the least expensive manner. You will probably receive a sonata from me very soon now, as well as the 3rd. [These will be sonatas #31 op.110 and #32, op.111]. We will speak another time about the quintets and quartets. Now I will quickly say good evening to you, because this letter must rush to the post. I ask again that you send me your answer about the Mass immediately, so I can make up my mind as quickly as possible.”

Beethoven’s dealings regarding the Mass, which he has already agreed to sell to Simrock in Bonn, continue to be less than scrupulous, as he now requests money up front before he sends the (still-unfinished) score. Another reason that he would want the payment to be sent to Brentano promptly is that Beethoven already took an advance from him a year or so ago on the sale of the Mass to Simrock, and the debt to Brentano is certainly part of the “expenses that need to be repaid.” Beethoven this time is actually telling the truth about piano sonata #31, since it is quite well along now. Beethoven will complete it in about two weeks, have it copied and send it off to Schlesinger. Sonata #32 has in all likelihood still only barely been started, though.

The original of the letter is held by the Bonn Beethovenhaus, catalogued as HC Bodmer Collection BBr 50. The letter may be seen at

Anderson Letter 1063, Brandenburg Letter 1450.

Today’s Wiener Zeitung includes a large advertisement for a new edition of Twelve Fugues for organ or piano by Johann Georg Albrechtsberger, Beethoven’s old counterpoint teacher, edited by Abbé Maximilian Stadler. Various instructional works by Albrechtsberger are also offered for sale, including the School of Generalbass [figured bass or basso continuo], which Beethoven studied closely.