BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Wednesday, May 29, 1822

Nikolaus Simrock, having received from Franz Brentano a copy of Beethoven’s letter of May 19th (the original remained in Brentano’s possession), responds cordially, thanking him for communicating that letter. He regrets that Beethoven’s illness contributes to the delay in Simrock receiving the Missa Solemnis. He reminds Brentano that the agreed-upon fee of 100 friedrichs d’or has been on deposit with Heinrich Verhuven for over a year. He has kept the funds on deposit since he expected the Mass every day, and didn’t want to keep the good Beethoven waiting a day for payment.

He asks that Brentano advise Herr Verhuven when the Mass arrives; upon receipt of it he will pay over the 100 friedrichs d’or.

The original of this letter is held by the Bonn City Archives, Simrock Music Publishing House 192.

Beethoven, reading the Wiener Zeitung in a coffeehouse this afternoon or possibly tomorrow, makes note that the composer Courtin (who visited Beethoven over the last few months), has returned to Paris. Conversation Book 17, f. 2r

Coincidentally, the Leipzig Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung of today passes on word at column 362 in its Miscellany section gossip about the forthcoming Missa Solemnis. “Miscellany. Beethoven has finally completed his new Mass. It is said to be of an unusual size, and to last two whole hours for a performance. One hopes it will be heard at a concert for this purpose, which the author intends to organize in the late autumn of next year.” The mention of the intent to hold a special concert for the premiere suggests that Beethoven himself was the principal source for this item, though precisely how the story made its way to Leipzig is unclear.

The Mass is of course not yet finished, but the chances of it being at last completed by next fall are in fact pretty good. The matter of who will actually publish it when it is completed, on the other hand, is still being sorted out. The claimed duration of two hours seems like an exaggeration; most performances today are under 90 minutes in length. The intended concert will eventually happen, but not until May of 1824. The wait will be worth it, though, since that concert just under two years from now will also include the premiere of the Ninth Symphony.