BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Wednesday, May 1, 1822

Beethoven writes today to Berlin publisher Adolph Martin Schlesinger. Brandenburg Letter 1462, Anderson Letter 1075. He asks that they confirm the receipt of the corrected proofs to the 25 Scottish Songs, op.108, as well as the revised version of the last movement of the sonata op.111. He reminds Schlesinger to destroy the first version of that movement, and Schlesinger apparently complies because only the first movement of the earlier manuscript of the sonata is known to survive. Beethoven makes coy hints about wanting to dedicate the sonata in A-flat, op.110 to “Someone,” which he will send next time. [As will be seen, Beethoven has in mind dedicating the sonata to Antonie Brentano, apparently having learned nothing from the blowup over dedicating the sonata op.109 to her daughter, Maximiliane Brentano]

Beethoven confirms that he is now in better health. As to the Missa Solemnis, he asks that Schlesinger settle up very soon, because other publishers have expressed a desire to print it. However, Beethoven says he had long ago decided not to let the Vienna publishers have it because it is of great importance to him. He would not like the fee to be deferred longer than four weeks. “On this I must insist.” [Recall that the Mass is still not finished, and Beethoven has not yet sent Schlesinger anything.] Beethoven would like confirmation of the proposal he made in the letter of April 9 to add on two songs, for which he wants 45 gulden. [Exactly which songs he was offering is unclear, but most likely he was thinking of finishing up a group of songs he had sketched out in the mid-1790s.] He ends with a small threat, “I would be very sorry if I were not able to turn this work over to you.”

The original of this letter is lost. It apparently was last known in Otto Jahn’s estate. Max Unger and Alfred Christlieb Kalischer had both transcribed it somewhat differently, but Kalischer’s version appears to contain a number of errors and thus Brandenburg and Anderson both prefer Unger’s reading of the letter.

A concert is held in Vienna today for the benefit of Franz Clement (1780-1842). Clement was a violinist and the conductor of the Theater an der Wien, and a close friend of Beethoven. He had been a child prodigy, known for his ability to play complex pieces from memory after only briefly seeing them; he also engaged in show-stopping antics like playing a sonata on one string with the violin upside down. Beethoven had known him since 1794. At the April 7, 1805 concert where Beethoven first conducted the Eroica symphony, Clement premiered his own violin concerto in D. Clement went on to commission the violin concerto in D op.61 from Beethoven, and Clement performed that piece at its 1806 premiere at sight, without rehearsing it. Tickets for today’s concert were available from the Artaria & Co. music shop at 3 fl. W.W. each.

Clement’s violin concerto in D is performed here in its world premiere recording by friend of The Unheard Beethoven Rachel Barton Pine, with Jose Serebrier conducting the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra:

Announced in the Wiener Zeitung of April 30th