Canon in G, Hess 274 (mp3)
This two-part canon was composed by Johann Mattheson (1681-1764). Beethoven must have copied it for study purposes or because he liked it very much. But when Beethoven´s autograph was discovered, the canon was wrongly thought to have been composed by him. It was published in the Hess Supplement, vol.9, as his work. (See Richard Kramer's "Notes to Beethoven's Education", Journal of the American Musicological Society, No.28, 1975 pp.72-101. See also James Green's New Hess Catalog, p.157.)
Mattheson was a composer, music theoretician, and friend of Georg Friedrich Handel. He is most famous for having nearly killed Handel in a duel (perhaps because he had found a concealed fifth in one of his works). As theoretician he advocated the view that composers should first learn to write good melody, before embarking on writing complex contrapuntal textures, with many independent voices. This canon is a good example of what he meant : it is a beautiful melody, which is imitated at the distance of half a bar in the lower octave. As such it is a rare marriage between elegance and the intellect.