BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Wednesday, June 18, 1823

Beethoven writes a note to unpaid assistant Anton Schindler from Hetzendorf. He asks that the German and French solicitations for the Missa Solemnis be sent to him, because an error seems to have crept in somewhere, either in the copies or in their understanding of the same.

The letter was undated by Beethoven, and the date added by the always unreliable Schindler. If genuine, it may relate to preparations for the solicitation for the Mass being prepared for St. Petersburg, which is dated June 21, 1823. Exactly what the error Beethoven is concerned about is unclear.

Brandenburg Letter 1675, Anderson Letter 1081. The original is in the Berlin Staatsbibliothek (aut.36,9).

Beethoven writes an undated letter to Schindler during the summer in Hetzendorf. Schindler made a note that this letter was actually a postscript to the foregoing letter (Brandenburg 1675) dated June 18th, 1823, so this is as good a date as any to include it, despite Schindler unreliability on such matters. In the letter, Beethoven references an incident in which an admirer sent six bottles of Tokay wine to his apartment, where Schindler is staying. Beethoven says that wine of that kind is not meant for the summer, but the autumn, “namely for a fiddler who is able to return this noble fire and keep his foot in storms.”

Brandenburg Letter 1653a, Anderson Letter 1191. The original is held by the Berlin Staatsbibliothek (aut. 36,6). As Sieghard Brandenburg notes, Schindler’s story is not without its problems, since this supposed postscript and the letter that Schindler says it belongs to each have their own address written on them. It’s not even entirely clear that this letter was sent to Schindler at all, but perhaps another name was on the letter, now erased. Brandenburg suggests that it may be directed to Joseph Michael Böhm, whom Beethoven elsewhere refers to as a “Böhm the brave fiddler,” and who later gave Beethoven a gift of wine in April 1825. If Schindler is correct, this letter then is properly from the summer in Hetzendorf. But if Böhm is the addressee, this letter may well date from late April/early May 1825. The last line of the letter is cryptic in any event. Schindler was also a professional violinist.

Today’s Leipzig Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung of June 18, 1823, Nr.25, at col.408 reviews the recent publications of Beethoven’s Second and Third Symphonies by Nikolaus Simrock in Bonn. “Every friend of music must have the rapid continuation of the beautiful complete Beethoven’s symphonies in score (because it seems as if the first issue was released barely half a year ago. It is clear and conceded by all that Beethoven’s symphonies are the most brilliant, most original and most glorious things that the latest instrumental music has produced.”

“Here is proof of how these works have found great acceptance and are kept in a place of honor. There continues to be nothing to be said about them here, not only about these two mighty symphonies, but also this edition of the same. It would be useless to use words to talk about them, which were only lately spoken about in these pages.”

“The price, while certainly not small, is nevertheless, considering the length and completeness of the works, by no means high. The Second has 162 pages, and the Third 231 pages, and that is with conserving as much space as possible.”

The Second Symphony is here performed by the Frankfurt Radio Symphony, conducted by Andrés Orozco-Estrada:

Sauer & Leidesdorf repeats its advertisement of the French edition of Piano Sonata op.111 in today’s Wiener Zeitung at 562, as well as the recent publication of Schubert’s two songs on poems by Collin, op.22.