This page contains affiliate links. As Amazon Associates we earn from qualifying purchases.
Buy it on Amazon FREE Audible 30 days

I have lost 600 florins of my yearly salary; at the time of the _bank-notes_ there was no loss, but then came the _Einloesungsscheine_ [reduced paper-money], which deprives me of these 600 florins, after entailing on me several years of annoyance, and now the total loss of my salary. We are at present arrived at a point when the _Einloesungsscheine_ are even lower than the _bank-notes_ ever were. I pay 1000 florins for house-rent: you may thus conceive all the misery caused by paper-money.

My poor unhappy brother [Carl v. Beethoven, a cashier in Vienna] is just dead [Nov. 15th, 1815]; he had a bad wife. For some years past he has been suffering from consumption, and from my wish to make his life less irksome I may compute what I gave him at 10,000 florins (_Wiener Waehrung_). This indeed does not seem much to an Englishman, but it is a great deal for a poor German, or rather Austrian. The unhappy man was latterly much changed, and I must say I lament him from my heart, though I rejoice to think I left nothing undone that could contribute to his comfort.

Tell Mr. Birchall that he is to repay the postage of my letters to you and Mr. Salomon, and also yours to me; he may deduct this from the sum he owes me; I am anxious that those who work for me should lose as little as possible by it. “Wellington’s Victory at Vittoria”[1] must have arrived long ago through the Messrs. Coutts. Mr. Birchall need not send payment till he is in possession of all the works; only do not delay letting me know when the day is fixed for the publication of the pianoforte arrangement. For to-day, I only further earnestly recommend my affairs to your care; I shall be equally at your service at any time. Farewell, dear Ries.

Your friend,


[Footnote 1: “This is also to be the title of the pianoforte arrangement.” (Note by Beethoven.)]



Jan. 1816.


I was shocked to discover to-day that I had omitted replying to a proposal from the “Society of Friends to Music in the Austrian States” to write an Oratorio for them.

The death of my brother two months ago, which, owing to the guardianship of my nephew having devolved on me, has involved me in all sorts of annoyances and perplexities, has caused this delay in my answer. In the mean time, the poem of Herr van Seyfried is already begun, and I purpose shortly to set it to music. I need not tell you how very flattering I consider such a commission, for how could I think otherwise? and I shall endeavor to acquit myself as honorably as my poor talents will admit of.

_With regard to our artistic resources_, when the time for the performance arrives I shall certainly take into consideration those usually at our disposal, without, however, strictly limiting myself to them. I hope I have made myself clearly understood on this point. As I am urged to say what gratuity I require in return, I beg to know whether the Society will consider 400 gold ducats a proper remuneration for such a work? I once more entreat the forgiveness of the Society for the delay in my answer, but I am in some degree relieved by knowing that, at all events, you, my dear friend, have already verbally apprised the Society of my readiness to write a work of the kind.[1]

Ever, my worthy Z., your


[Footnote 1: In the _Fischof’sche Handschrift_ we are told:–“The allusion to ‘our artistic resources’ requires some explanation. Herr v. Zmeskall had at that time received instructions to give a hint to the great composer (who paid little regard to the difficulty of executing his works) that he must absolutely take into consideration the size of the orchestra, which at grand concerts amounted to 700 performers. The Society only stipulated for the exclusive right to the work for one year, and did not purchase the copyright; they undertook the gratuity for the poem also, so they were obliged to consult their pecuniary resources, and informed the composer that they were prepared to give him 200 gold ducats for the use of the work for a year, as they had proposed. Beethoven was quite satisfied, and made no objection whatever; he received an advance on this sum according to his own wish, the receipt of which he acknowledged in 1819. Beethoven rejected the first poem selected, and desired to have another. The Society left his choice quite free. Herr Bernhard undertook to supply a new one. Beethoven and he consulted together in choosing the subject, but Herr Bernhard, overburdened by other business, could only send the poem bit by bit. Beethoven, however, would not begin till the whole was in his hands.”]



Vienna, Jan. 6, 1816.


I have too long delayed writing to you. How gladly would I personally participate in the enthusiasm you excite at Berlin in “Fidelio!” A thousand thanks on my part for having so faithfully adhered to _my_ “Fidelio.” If you will ask Baron de la Motte-Fouque, in my name, to discover a good subject for an opera, and one suitable likewise to yourself, you will do a real service both to me and to the German stage; it is also my wish to write it expressly for the _Berlin Theatre_, as no new opera can ever succeed in being properly given here under this very penurious direction. Answer me soon, very soon–quickly, very quickly–as quickly as possible–as quick as lightning–and say whether such a thing is practicable. Herr Kapellmeister B. praised you up to the skies to me, and he is right; well may he esteem himself happy who has the privilege of enjoying your muse, your genius, and all your splendid endowments and talents;–it is thus I feel. Be this as it may, those around can only call themselves your fellow-creatures [Nebenmann], whereas I alone have a right to claim the honored name of captain [_Hauptmann_].

In my secret heart, your true friend and admirer,


My poor unfortunate brother is dead, which has been the cause of my long silence. As soon as you have replied to this letter, I will write myself to Baron de la Motte-Fouque. No doubt your influence in Berlin will easily obtain for me a commission to write a grand opera (in which you shall be especially studied) on favorable terms; but do answer me soon, that I may arrange my other occupations accordingly.

[Music: Tenor clef, C Major, 4/4 time. Ich kues-se Sie, drue-cke Sie an’s Herz! Ich der Haupt-mann, der Haupt-mann.]

Away with all other false _Hauptmaenner_! [captains.]

[Footnote 1: Mdlle. Milder married Hauptmann, a jeweller in Munich, in 1810, travelled in 1812, and was engaged at Berlin in 1816.]



Vienna, Jan. 20, 1816.


The Symphony is to be dedicated to the Empress of Russia. The pianoforte score of the Symphony in A must not, however, appear before June, for the publisher here cannot be ready sooner. Pray, dear Ries, inform Mr. Birchall of this at once. The Sonata with violin accompaniment, which will be sent from here by the next post, can likewise be published in London in May, but the Trio at a later date (it follows by the next post); I will myself name the time for its publication. And now, dear Ries, pray receive my heartfelt thanks for your kindness, and especially for the corrections of the proofs. May Heaven bless you more and more, and promote your progress, in which I take the most sincere interest. My kind regards to your wife. Now as ever,

Your sincere friend,




Vienne, le 3. Febr. den 1816


Le grand Trio p. Pf. V. et Vllo. Sonata pour Pf. et Violin–qui form le reste de ce qu’il vous a plus a me comettre. Je vous prie de vouloir payer la some de 130 Ducats d’Holland come le poste lettre a Mr. Th. Cutts et Co. de votre ville e de me croire avec toute l’estime et consideration

Votre tres humble Serviteur,





Pray give the enclosed to your parents for the dinners the boy had recently at your house; I positively will not accept these _gratis_. Moreover, I am very far from wishing that your lessons should remain without remuneration,–even those already given must be reckoned up and paid for; only I beg you to have a little patience for a time, as nothing can be _demanded_ from the widow, and I had and still have heavy expenses to defray;–but I _borrow_ from you for the moment only. The boy is to be with you to-day, and I shall come later.

Your friend,


[Footnote 1: Carl Czerny, the celebrated pianist and composer, for whom Beethoven wrote a testimonial in 1805 (see No. 42). He gave lessons to Beethoven’s nephew in 1815, and naturally protested against any payment, which gave rise to the expressions on the subject in many of his notes to Czerny, of which there appear to be a great number.]



Vienna, Feb. 12, 1816.


I cannot see you to-day, but I will call to-morrow being desirous to talk to you. I spoke out so bluntly yesterday that I much regretted it afterwards. But you must forgive this on the part of an author, who would have preferred hearing his work as he wrote it, however charmingly you played it. I will, however, _amply_ atone for this by the violoncello Sonata.[2]

Rest assured that I cherish the greatest regard for you as an artist, and I shall always endeavor to prove this.

Your true friend,


[Footnote 1: Czerny, in the _A.M. Zeitung_, 1845, relates:–“On one occasion (in 1812), at Schuppanzigh’s concert, when playing Beethoven’s quintet with wind-instruments, I took the liberty, in my youthful levity, to make many alterations,–such as introducing difficulties into the passages, making use of the upper octaves, &c., &c. Beethoven sternly and deservedly reproached me for this, in the presence of Schuppanzigh, Linke, and the other performers.”]

[Footnote 2: Opera 69, which Czerny (see _A.M. Zeitung_) was to perform with Linke the following week.]



Vienna, Feb. 28, 1816.

… For some time past I have been far from well; the loss of my brother affected both my spirits and my works. Salomon’s death grieves me much, as he was an excellent man whom I have known from my childhood. You are his executor by will, while I am the guardian of my late poor brother’s child. You can scarcely have had as much vexation from Salomon’s death as I have had from that of my brother!–but I have the sweet consolation of having rescued a poor innocent child from the hands of an unworthy mother. Farewell, dear Ries; if I can in any way serve you, look on me as

Your true friend,




Feb. 1816.


I have great pleasure in saying that at last I intend to-morrow to place under your care the dear pledge intrusted to me. But I must impress on you not to permit any influence on the mother’s part to decide when and where she is to see her son. We can, however, discuss all this more minutely to-morrow…. You must keep a watchful eye on your servant, for mine was _bribed by her_ on one occasion. More as to this verbally, though it is a subject on which I would fain be silent; but the future welfare of the youth you are to train renders this unpleasant communication necessary. I remain, with esteem,

Your faithful servant and friend,





Your estimable lady, Mdme. A.G. [Giannatasio] is politely requested to let the undersigned know as soon as possible (that I may not be obliged to keep it all in my head) how many pairs of stockings, trousers, shoes, and drawers are required, and how many yards of kerseymere to make a pair of black trousers for my tall nephew; and for the sake of the “Castalian Spring” I beg, without any further reminders on my part, that I may receive an answer to this.

As for the Lady Abbess [a nickname for their only daughter], there shall be a conference held on Carl’s affair to-night, viz., if things are to continue as they are.

Your well (and ill) born





I heard yesterday evening, unluckily at too late an hour, that you had something to give me; had it not been for this, I would have called on you. I beg, however, that you will send it, as I have no doubt it is a letter for me from the “Queen of the Night.”[1] Although you gave me permission to fetch Carl twice already, I must ask you to let him come to me when I send for him at eleven o’clock to-morrow, as I wish to take him with me to hear some interesting music. It is also my intention to make him play to me to-morrow, as it is now some time since I heard him. I hope you will urge him to study more closely than usual to-day, that he may in some degree make up for his holiday. I embrace you cordially, and remain,

Yours truly,


[Footnote 1: The “Queen of the Night” was the name given to Carl’s mother by Beethoven. She was a person of great levity of conduct and bad reputation, and every effort was made by Beethoven to withdraw her son from her influence, on which account he at once removed him from her care, and placed him in this institution. She consequently appealed to the law against him,–the first step in a long course of legal proceedings of the most painful nature.]




I send you, dear sir, the cloak, and also a school-book of my Carl’s, and request you will make out a list of his clothes and effects, that I may have it copied for myself, being obliged, as his guardian, to look carefully after his property. I intend to call for Carl to-morrow about half-past twelve o’clock, to take him to a little concert, and wish him to dine with me afterwards, and shall bring him back myself. With respect to his mother, I desire that _under the pretext_ of the boy being _so busy_, you will not let her see him; no man on earth can know or judge of this matter better than myself, and by any other line of conduct all my well-matured plans for the welfare of the child might be materially injured. I will myself discuss with you when the mother is henceforth to have access to Carl, for I am anxious on every account to prevent the occurrence of yesterday ever being repeated. I take all the responsibility on myself; indeed, so far as I am concerned, the Court conferred on me full powers, and the authority at once to counteract anything adverse to the welfare of the boy. If they could have looked on her in the light of an estimable mother, they assuredly would not have excluded her from the guardianship of her child. Whatever she may think fit to assert, nothing has been done in a clandestine manner against her. There was but one voice in the whole council on the subject. I hope to have no further trouble in this matter, for the burden is already heavy enough.

From a conversation I had yesterday with Adlersburg [his lawyer], it would appear that a long time must yet elapse before the Court can decide what really belongs to the child. In addition to all these anxieties am I also to endure a persecution such as I have recently experienced, and from which I thought I _was entirely rescued by your Institution_? Farewell!

I am, with esteem, your obedient


[Footnote 1: Beethoven’s arbitrary authority had been previously sanctioned by a decree of the Court, and the mother deprived of all power over her son.]



Vienna, March 8, 1816.

My answer has been too long delayed; but I was ill, and had a great press of business. Not a single farthing is yet come of the ten gold ducats, and I now almost begin to think that the English are only liberal when in foreign countries. It is the same with the Prince Regent, who has not even sent me the cost of copying my “Battle Symphony,” nor one verbal or written expression of thanks. My whole income consists of 3400 florins in paper-money. I pay 1100 for house-rent, and 900 to my servant and his wife; so you may reckon for yourself what remains. Besides this, the entire maintenance of my young nephew devolves on me. At present he is at school, which costs 1100 florins, and is by no means a good one; so that I must arrange a proper household and have him with me. How much money must be made to live at all here! and yet there seems no end to it–because!–because!–because!–but you know well what I mean.

Some commissions from the Philharmonic would be very acceptable to me, besides, the concert. Now let me say that my dear scholar Ries must set to work and dedicate something valuable to me, to which his master may respond, and repay him in his own coin. How can I send you my portrait? My kind regards to your wife. I, alas! have none. One alone I wished to possess, but never shall I call her mine![1] This, however, has not made me a woman-hater.

Your true friend,


[Footnote 1: See the statement of Fraeulein del Rio in the _Grenzboten_. We read:–“My father’s idea was that marriage alone could remedy the sad condition of Beethoven’s household matters; so he asked him whether he knew any one, &c., &c. Our long-existing presentiment was then realized.” His love was unfortunate. Five years ago he had become acquainted with a person with whom he would have esteemed it the highest felicity of his life to have entered into closer ties; but it was vain to think of it, being almost an impossibility! a chimera! and yet his feelings remained the same as the very first day he had seen her! He added, “that never before had he found such harmony! but no declaration had ever been made, not being able to prevail on himself to do so.” This conversation took place in Sept. 1816, at Helenenthal, in Baden, and the person to whom he alluded was undoubtedly Marie L. Pachler-Koschak in Gratz. (See No. 80.)]



Vienna, April 3, 1816.

Neate[1] is no doubt in London by this time. He took several of my works with him, and promised to do the best he could for me.

The Archduke Rudolph [Beethoven’s pupil, see No. 70] also plays your works with me, my dear Ries; of these “Il Sogno” especially pleased us. Farewell! Remember me to your charming wife, and to any fair English ladies who care to receive my greetings.

Your true friend,


[Footnote 1: Charles Neate, a London artist, as Schindler styles him in his _Biography_ (II. 254), was on several different occasions for some time resident in Vienna, and very intimate with Beethoven, whom he tried to persuade to come to London. He also was of great service in promoting the sale of his works. A number of Neate’s letters, preserved in the Berlin State Library, testify his faithful and active devotion and attachment to the master.]



Vienna, May 2, 1816.

I authorize Herr v. Kauka, Doctor of Laws in the kingdom of Bohemia, relying on his friendship, to obtain for me the receipt of 600 florins W.W., payable at the treasury of Prince Kinsky, from the house of Ballabene in Prague, and after having drawn the money to transmit the same to me as soon as possible.

Witness my hand and seal.




Vienna, June 11, 1816.


I regret much to put you to the expense of postage on my account; gladly as I assist and serve every one, I am always unwilling myself to have recourse to others. I have as yet seen nothing of the ten ducats, whence I draw the inference that in England, just as with us, there are idle talkers who prove false to their word. I do not at all blame you in this matter. I have not heard a syllable from Neate; so I do wish you would ask him whether he has disposed of the F minor Concerto. I am almost ashamed to allude to the other works I intrusted to him, and equally so of myself, for having given them to him so confidingly, devoid of all conditions save those suggested by his own friendship and zeal for my interests.

A translation has been sent to me of an article in the “Morning Chronicle” on the performance of the Symphony. Probably it will be the same as to this and all the other works Neate took with him as with the “Battle Symphony;” the only profit I shall derive will be reading a notice of their performance in the newspapers.





I beg you will send Carl to me with the bearer of this letter; otherwise I shall not be able to see him all day, which would be contrary to his own interest, as my influence seems to be required; in the same view, I beg you will give him a few lines with a report of his conduct, so that I may enter at once on any point where improvement is necessary.

I am going to the country to-day, and shall not return till rather late at night; being always unwilling to infringe your rules, I beg you will send some night-things with Carl, so that if we return too late to bring him to you to-day, I can keep him all night, and take him back to you myself early next morning.

In haste, always yours,





I must apologize to you, my good friend, for Carl having come home at so late an hour. We were obliged to wait for a person who arrived so late that it detained us, but I will not soon repeat this breach of your rules. As to Carl’s mother, I have now decided that your wish not to see her again in your house shall be acceded to. This course is far more safe and judicious for our dear Carl, experience having taught me that every visit from his mother leaves a root of bitterness in the boy’s heart, which may injure, but never can benefit him. I shall strive to arrange occasional meetings at my house, which is likely to result in everything being entirely broken off with her. As we thoroughly agree on the subject of Carl’s mother, we can mutually decide on the mode of his education.

Your true friend,




Vienna, July 11, 1816.

Your kindness towards me induces me to hope that you will not attribute to any _selfish_ design on my part the somewhat audacious (though only as to the surprise) dedication annexed. The work[1] was written for Y.R.H., or rather, it owes its existence to you, and this the world (the musical world) ought to know. I shall soon have the honor of waiting on Y.R.H. in Baden. Notwithstanding all the efforts of my physician, who will not allow me to leave this, the weakness in my chest is no better, though my general health is improved. I hope to hear all that is cheering of your own health, about which I am always so much interested.


[Footnote 1: Does Beethoven here allude to the dedication of the Sonata for pianoforte and violin in G major, Op. 96, which, though sold to a publisher in April, 1815, was designated as quite new in the _Allgemeine Zeitung_ on July, 29, 1816?]




Received, March, 1816, of Mr. Robert Birchall, music-seller, 133 New Bond Street, London, the sum of one hundred and thirty gold Dutch ducats, value in English currency sixty-five pounds, for all my copyright and interest, present and future, vested or contingent, or otherwise within the United kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in the four following compositions or pieces of music composed or arranged by me, viz.:–

1st. A Grand Battle Sinfonia, descriptive of the battle and victory at Vittoria, adapted for the pianoforte and dedicated to his Royal Highness the Prince Regent–40 ducats.

2d. A Grand Symphony in the key of A, adapted to the pianoforte and dedicated to–

3d. A Grand Trio for the pianoforte, violin, and violoncello in the key of B.

4th. A Sonata for the pianoforte, with an accompaniment for the violin in the key of G, dedicated to–

And, in consideration of such payment I hereby, for myself, my executors, and administrators, promise and engage to execute a proper anignment thereof to him, his executors and administrators or anignees, at his or their request and costs, as he or they shall direct. And I likewise promise and engage as above, that none of the above shall be published in any foreign country, before the time and day fixed and agreed on for such publication between R. Birchall and myself shall arrive.




Vienne 22. Juilliet, 1816.


J’ai recu la declaration de propriete de mes Oeuvres entierement cede a Vous pour y adjoindre ma Signature. Je suis tout a fait disposer a seconder vos voeux si tot, que cette affaire sera entierement en ordre, en egard de la petite somme de 10 # d’or la quelle me vient encore pour le fieux de la Copieture de poste de lettre etc. comme j’avois l’honneur de vous expliquier dans une note detaille sur ses objectes. Je vous invite donc Monsieur de bien vouloir me remettre ces petits objects, pour me mettre dans l’etat de pouvoir vous envoyer le Document susdit. Agrees Monsieur l’assurance de l’estime la plus parfait avec la quelle j’ai l’honneur de me dire


Copying . . . . 1. 10. 0.
Postage to Amsterdam 1. 0. 0.
—- Trio . . . 2. 10. —
L5. 0. 0.



July 28, 1816.


Various circumstances compel me to take charge of Carl myself; with this view permit me to enclose you the amount due at the approaching quarter, at the expiry of which Carl is to leave you. Do not, I beg, ascribe this to anything derogatory either to yourself or to your respected institution, but to other pressing motives connected with Carl’s welfare. It is only an experiment, and when it is actually carried out I shall beg you to fortify me by your advice, and also to permit Carl sometimes to visit your institution. I shall always feel the most sincere gratitude to you, and never can forget your solicitude, and the kind care of your excellent wife, which has fully equalled that of the best of mothers. I would send you at least four times the sum I now do, if my position admitted of it; but at all events I shall avail myself at a future and, I hope, a brighter day, of every opportunity to acknowledge and to do justice to the foundation _you_ have laid for the moral and physical good of my Carl. With regard to the “Queen of the Night,” our system must continue the same; and as Carl is about to undergo an operation in your house which will cause him to feel indisposed, and consequently make him irritable and susceptible, you must be more careful than ever to prevent her having access to him; otherwise she might easily contrive to revive all those impressions in his mind which we are so anxious to avoid. What confidence can be placed in any promise to reform on her part, the impertinent scrawl I enclose will best prove [in reference, no doubt, to an enclosed note]. I send it merely to show you how fully I am justified in the precautions I have already adopted with regard to her. On this occasion, however, I did not answer like a Sarastro, but like a Sultan. I would gladly spare you the anxiety of the operation on Carl, but as it must take place in your house, I beg you will inform me of the outlay caused by the affair, and the expenses consequent on it, which I will thankfully repay. Now farewell! Say all that is kind from me to your dear children and your excellent wife, to whose continued care I commend my Carl. I leave Vienna to-morrow at five o’clock A.M., but shall frequently come in from Baden.

Ever, with sincere esteem, your




Mdme. A.G. is requested to order several pairs of good linen drawers for Carl. I intrust Carl to her kindness, and entirely rely on her motherly care.



Baden, September 5, 1816.


I don’t know whether you received a note that I recently left on the threshold of your door, for the time was too short to enable me to see you. I must therefore repeat my request about another servant, as the conduct of my present one is such that I cannot possibly keep him.[1] He was engaged on the 25th of April, so on the 25th of September he will have been five months with me, and he received 50 florins on account. The money for his boots will be reckoned from the third month (in my service), and from that time at the rate of 40 florins per annum; his livery also from the third month. From the very first I resolved not to keep him, but delayed discharging him, as I wished to get back the value of my florins. In the mean time if I can procure another, I will let this one leave my service on the 15th of the month, and also give him 20 florins for boot money, and 5 florins a month for livery (both reckoned from the third month), making altogether 35 florins. I ought therefore still to receive 15 florins, but these I am willing to give up; in this way I shall at all events receive some equivalent for my 50 florins. If you can find a suitable person, I will give him 2 florins a day while I am in Baden, and if he knows how to cook he can use my firewood in the kitchen. (I have a kitchen, though I do not cook in it.) If not, I will add a few kreutzers to his wages. As soon as I am settled in Vienna, he shall have 40 florins a month, and board and livery as usual, reckoned from the third month in my service, like other servants. It would be a good thing if he understood a little tailoring. So now you have my proposals, and I beg for an answer by the 10th of this month at the latest, that I may discharge my present servant on the 2d, with the usual fortnight’s warning; otherwise I shall be obliged to keep him for another month, and every moment I wish to get rid of him. As for the new one, you know pretty well what I require,–_good, steady conduct_, a _good character_, and _not to be of a bloodthirsty nature_, that I may feel my life to be safe, as, for the sake of various scamps in this world, I should like to live a little longer. By the 10th, therefore, I shall expect to hear from you on this affair. If you don’t run restive, I will soon send you my treatise on the four violoncello strings, very profoundly handled; the first chapter devoted exclusively to entrails in general, the second to catgut in particular. I need scarcely give you any further warnings, as you seem to be quite on your guard against wounds inflicted before certain fortresses. The most _profound peace_ everywhere prevails!!! Farewell, my good _Zmeskaellchen_! I am, as ever, _un povero musico_ and your friend,


N.B. I shall probably only require my new servant for some months, as, for the sake of my Carl, I must shortly engage a housekeeper.

[Footnote 1: During a quarrel, the servant scratched Beethoven’s face.]



Baden, Sept. 6, 1816.


I send you herewith the receipt, according to your request, and beg that you will kindly arrange that I should have the money by the 1st October, and without any deduction, which has hitherto been the case; I also particularly beg _you will not assign the money to Baron P._ (I will tell you why when we meet; for the present let this remain between ourselves.) Send it either direct to myself, or, if it must come through another person, do not let it be Baron P. It would be best for the future, as the house-rent is paid here for the great house belonging to Kinsky, that my money should be paid at the same time. This is only my own idea. The Terzet you heard of will soon be engraved, which is infinitely preferable to all written music; you shall therefore receive an engraved copy, and likewise some more of my unruly offspring. In the mean time I beg that you will see only what is truly good in them, and look with an indulgent eye on the human frailties of these poor innocents. Besides, I am full of cares, being in reality father to my late brother’s child; indeed I might have ushered into the world a second part of the “Flauto Magico,” having also been brought into contact with a “Queen of the Night.” I embrace you from my heart, and hope soon in so far to succeed that you may owe some thanks to my Muse. My dear, worthy Kauka, I ever am your truly attached friend,




What would be the result were I to leave this, and indeed the kingdom of Austria altogether? Would the life-certificate, if signed by the authorities of a non-Austrian place, still be valid?

_A tergo._

I beg you will let me know the postage all my letters have cost you.



Sunday, September 22, 1816.

Certain things can never be fully expressed. Of this nature are my feelings, and especially my gratitude, on hearing the details of the operation on Carl from you. You will excuse my attempting even remotely to shape these into words. I feel certain, however, that you will not decline the tribute I gladly pay you; but I say no more. You can easily imagine my anxiety to hear how my dear son is going on; do not omit to give me your exact address, that I may write to you direct. After you left this I wrote to Bernhard [Bernard], to make inquiries at your house, but have not yet got an answer; so possibly you may have thought me a kind of half-reckless barbarian, as no doubt Herr B. has neglected to call on you, as well as to write to me. I can have no uneasiness about Carl when your admirable wife is with him: that is quite out of the question. You can well understand how much it grieves me not to be able to take part in the sufferings of my Carl, and that I at least wish to hear frequently of his progress. As I have renounced such an unfeeling, unsympathizing friend as Herr B. [Bernard], I must have recourse to your friendship and complaisance on this point also, and shall hope soon to receive a few lines from you. I beg to send my best regards and a thousand thanks to your admirable wife.

In haste, your


I wish you to express to Smetana [the surgeon] my esteem and high consideration.



If you do not object, I beg you will allow Carl to come to me with the bearer of this. I forgot, in my haste, to say that all the love and goodness which Mdme. A.G. [Giannatasio] showed my Carl during his illness are inscribed in the list of my obligations, and I hope one day to show that they are ever present in my mind. Perhaps I may see you to-day with Carl.

In haste, your sincere friend,




I take the opportunity through J. Simrock to remind you of myself. I hope you received the engraving of me [by Letronne], and likewise the Bohemian glass. When I next make a pilgrimage through Bohemia you shall have something more of the same kind. Farewell! You are a husband and a father; so am I, but without a wife. My love to your dear ones–to _our_ dear ones.

Your friend,




Vienna, 1. Oct. 1816.


I have duly received the L5 and thought previously you would non increase the number of Englishmen neglecting their word and honor, as I had the misfortune of meeting with two of this sort. In replic to the other topics of your favor, I have no objection to write variations according to your plan, and I hope you will not find L30 too much, the Accompaniment will be a Flute or Violin or a Violoncello; you’ll either decide it when you send me the approbation of the price, or you’ll leave it to me. I expect to receive the songs or poetry–the sooner the better, and you’ll favor me also with the probable number of Works of Variations you are inclined to receive of me. The Sonata in G with the accompan’t of a Violin to his Imperial Highnesse Archduke Rodolph of Austria–it is Op’a 96. The Trio in Bb is dedicated to the same and is Op. 97. The Piano arrangement of the Symphony in A is dedicated to the Empress of the Russians–meaning the Wife of the Emp’r Alexander–Op. 98.

Concerning the expences of copying and packing it is not possible to fix him before hand, they are at any rate not considerable, and you’ll please to consider that you have to deal with a man of honor, who will not charge one 6p. more than he is charged for himself. Messrs. Fries & Co. will account with Messrs. Coutts & Co.–The postage may be lessened as I have been told. I offer you of my Works the following new ones. A Grand Sonata for the Pianoforte alone L40. A Trio for the Piano with accomp’t of Violin and Violoncello for L50. It is possible that somebody will offer you other works of mine to purchase, for ex. the score of the Grand Symphony in A.–With regard to the arrangement of this Symphony for the Piano I beg you not to forget that you are not to publish it until I have appointed the day of its publication here in Vienna. This cannot be otherwise without making myself guilty of a dishonorable act–but the Sonata with the Violin and the Trio in B fl. may be published without any delay.

With all the _new works_, which you will have of me or which I offer you, it rests with you to name the day of their publication at your own choice: I entreat you to honor me as soon as possible with an answer having many ordres for compositions and that you may not be delayed. My address or direction is

Monsieur Louis van Beethoven

No. 1055 & 1056 Sailerstette 3d. Stock. Vienna.

You may send your letter, if you please, direct to your most humble servant




Oct. 24, 1816.


We are in Baden to-day, and intend to bring the celebrated naturalist Ribini a collection of dead leaves. To-morrow we purpose paying you not only a _visit_ but a _visitation_.

Your devoted




November, 1816.[1]

I have been again much worse, so that I can only venture to go out a little in the daytime; I am, however, getting better, and hope now to have the honor of waiting on Y.R.H. three times a week. Meanwhile, I have many and great cares in these terrible times (which surpass anything we have ever experienced), and which are further augmented by having become the father since last November of a poor orphan. All this tends to retard my entire restoration to health. I wish Y.R.H. all imaginable good and happiness, and beg you will graciously receive and not misinterpret

Your, &c., &c.


[Footnote 1: A year after Carl von Beethoven’s death (Nov. 15, 1815).]






The bearer of this is a poor devil! (like many another!!!) You could assist him by asking your gracious master whether he is disposed to purchase one of his small but neat pianos. I also beg you will recommend him to any of the Chamberlains or Adjutants of the Archduke Carl, to see whether it is possible that H.R.H. would buy one of these instruments for his Duchess. We therefore request an introduction from the illustrious _Turner Meister_ for this poor devil[1] to the Chamberlains and Adjutants of the household.



poor devil,


[Footnote 1: A name cannot now be found for the “poor devil.”]



Nov. 16, 1816.


My household seems about to make shipwreck, or something very like it. You know that I was duped into taking this house on false pretexts; besides, my health does not seem likely to improve in a hurry. To engage a tutor under such circumstances, whose character and whose very exterior even are unknown to me, and thus to intrust my Carl’s education to hap-hazard, is quite out of the question, no matter how great the sacrifices which I shall be again called on to make. I beg you, therefore, to keep Carl for the ensuing quarter, commencing on the 9th. I will in so far comply with your proposal as to the cultivation of the science of music, that Carl may come to me two or three times a week, leaving you at six o’clock in the evening and staying with me till the following morning, when he can return to you by eight o’clock. It would be too fatiguing for Carl to come every day, and indeed too great an effort and tie for me likewise, as the lessons must be given at the same fixed hour.

During this quarter we can discuss more minutely the most suitable plan for Carl, taking into consideration both his interests and my own. I must, alas! mention my own also in these times, which are daily getting worse. If your garden residence had agreed with my health, everything might have been easily adjusted. With regard to my debt to you for the present quarter, I beg you will be so obliging as to call on me, that I may discharge it; the bearer of this has the good fortune to be endowed by Providence with a vast amount of stupidity, which I by no means grudge him the benefit of, provided others do not suffer by it. As to the remaining expenses incurred for Carl, either during his illness or connected with it, I must, for a few days only, request your indulgence, having great calls on me at present from all quarters. I wish also to know what fee I ought to give Smetana for the successful operation he performed; were I rich, or not in the same sad position in which all are who have linked their fate to this country (always excepting _Austrian usurers_), I would make no inquiries on the subject; and I only wish you to give me a rough estimate of the proper fee. Farewell! I cordially embrace you, and shall always look on you as a friend of mine and of Carl’s.

I am, with esteem, your




Though I would gladly spare you all needless disagreeable trouble, I cannot, unluckily, do so on this occasion. Yesterday, in searching for some papers, I found this pile, which has been sent to me respecting Carl. I do not quite understand them, and you would oblige me much by employing some one to make out a regular statement of all your outlay for Carl, so that I may send for it to-morrow. I hope you did not misunderstand me when I yesterday alluded to _magnanimity_, which certainly was not meant for you, but solely for the “Queen of the Night,” who is never weary of hoisting the sails of her vindictiveness against me; so on this account I require vouchers, more for the satisfaction of others than for her sake (as I never will submit to render her any account of my actions). No stamp is required, and the sum alone for each quarter need be specified, for I believe most of the accounts are forthcoming; so all you have to do is to append them to your _prospectus_ [the conclusion illegible].




Nov. 14, 1816.


I beg you will allow Carl to come to me to-morrow, as it is the anniversary of his father’s death [Nov. 15th], and we wish to visit his grave together. I shall probably come to fetch him between twelve and one o’clock. I wish to know the effect of my treatment of Carl, after your recent complaints. In the mean time, it touched me exceedingly to find him so susceptible as to his honor. Before we left your house I gave him some hints on his want of industry, and while walking together in a graver mood than usual, he pressed my hand vehemently, but met with no response from me. At dinner he scarcely eat anything, and said that he felt very melancholy, the cause of which I could not extract from him. At last, in the course of our walk, he owned that _he was vexed because he had not been so industrious as usual_. I said what I ought on the subject, but in a kinder manner than before. This, however, proves a certain delicacy of feeling, and such _traits_ lead me to augur all that is good. If I cannot come to you to-morrow, I hope you will let me know by a few lines the result of my conference with Carl.

I once more beg you to let me have the account due for the last quarter. I thought that you had misunderstood my letter, or even worse than that. I warmly commend my poor orphan to your good heart, and, with kind regards to all, I remain

Your friend,





Pray forgive me for having allowed the enclosed sum to be ready for you during the last twelve days or more, and not having sent it. I have been very much occupied, and am only beginning to recover, though indeed the word _recovery_ has not yet been pronounced.

In haste, with much esteem, ever yours,





It is certainly of some moment to me _not to appear in a false light_, which must account for the accompanying statement being so prolix. As to the future system of education, I can at all events congratulate myself on having done all that I could possibly effect at present _for the best_, and trust _that the future may be in accordance with it_. But if the welfare of my nephew demands a _change_, I shall be the first not only to propose such a step, but _to carry it out_. I am no self-interested guardian, but I wish to establish a new monument to my name through my nephew. I _have no need of my nephew_, but he has need of me. Idle talk and calumnies are beneath the dignity of a man with proper self-respect, and what can be said when these extend even to the subject of linen!!! This might cause me great annoyance, _but a just man ought to be able to bear injustice_ without in the _most remote degree_ deviating from the path of _right_. In this conviction I will stand fast, and nothing shall make me flinch. To deprive me of my nephew would indeed entail a heavy responsibility. As a matter of _policy_ as well as of morality, such a step would be productive of evil results to my nephew. _I urgently recommend his interests to you._ As for me, _my actions_ for _his_ benefit (not for my _own_) must speak for me.

I remain, with esteem,

Your obedient


Being very busy, and rather indisposed, I must claim your indulgence for the writing of the memorial.



Vienna 14. December 1816–1055 Sailerstette.


I give you my word of honor that I have signed and delivered the receipt to the home Fries and Co. some day last August, who as they say have transmitted it to Messrs. Coutts and Co. where you’ll have the goodness to apply. Some error might have taken place that instead of Messrs. C. sending it to you they have been directed to keep it till fetched. Excuse this irregularity, but it is not my fault, nor had I ever the idea of withholding it from the circumstance of the L5 not being included. Should the receipt not come forth as Messrs. C., I am ready to sign any other, and you shall have it directly with return of post.

If you find Variations–in my style–too dear at L30, I will abate for the sake of your friendship one third–and you have the offer of such Variations as fixed in our former lettres for L20 each Air.

Please to publish the Symphony in A immediately–as well as the Sonata–and the Trio–they being ready here. The Grand Opera Fidelio is my work. The arrangement for the Pianoforte has been published here under my care, but the score of the Opera itself is not yet published. I have given a copy of the score to Mr. Neate under the seal of friendship and whom I shall direct to treat for my account in case an offer should present.

I anxiously hope your health is improving, give me leave to subscrive myself

Dear Sir

Your very obedient Serv.




Dec. 16, 1816.

With this, dear Zmeskall, you will receive my friendly dedication [a stringed quartet, Op. 95], which may, I hope, serve as a pleasant memorial of our long-enduring friendship here; pray accept it as a proof of my esteem, and not merely as the extreme end of a thread long since spun out (for you are one of my earliest friends in Vienna).

Farewell! Beware of mouldering fortresses! for an attack on them will be more trying than on those in a better state of preservation! As ever,

Your friend,


N.B. When you have a moment’s leisure, let me know the probable cost of a livery, without linen, but including hat and boots. Strange changes have come to pass in my house. The man is off to the devil, I am thankful to say, whereas his wife seems the more resolved to take root here.



Dec. 28, 1816.

N—- ought to have given you the New Year’s tickets yesterday, but it seems she did not do so. The day before I was occupied with Maelzel, whose business was pressing, as he leaves this so soon; otherwise you may be sure that I would have hurried up again to see you. Your dear kind daughter was with me yesterday, but I scarcely ever remember being so ill; my _precious servants_ were occupied from seven o’clock till ten at night in trying to heat the stove. The bitter cold, particularly in my room, caused me a chill, and the whole of yesterday I could scarcely move a limb. All day I was coughing, and had the most severe headache I ever had in my life; so by six o’clock in the evening I was obliged to go to bed, where I still am, though feeling somewhat better. Your brother dined with me yesterday, and has shown me great kindness. You are aware that on the same day, the 27th of December, I discharged B. [Baberl]. I cannot endure either of these vile creatures; I wonder if Nany will behave rather better from the departure of her colleague? I doubt it–but in that case I shall send her _packing_ without any ceremony. She is too uneducated for a housekeeper, indeed quite a _beast_; but the other, in spite of her pretty face, is even _lower than the beasts_. As the New Year draws near, I think five florins will be enough for Nany; I have not paid her the charge for _making her spencer_, on account of her _bad behavior to you_. The other certainly _deserves no New Year’s gift_; besides, she has nine florins of mine on hand, and when she leaves I don’t expect to receive more than four or five florins of that sum. I wish to have _your opinion about all this_. Pray accept my best wishes for your welfare, which are offered in all sincerity. I am your debtor in so many ways, that I really often feel quite ashamed. Farewell; I trust I may always retain your friendship.

Now, as ever, your friend,




I thank you for the interest you take in me. I am rather better, though to-day again I have been obliged to endure a great deal from Nany; but I shied half a dozen books at her head by way of a New Year’s gift. We have stripped off the leaves (by sending off Baberl) and lopped off the branches, but we must extirpate the _roots_, till nothing is left but the actual soil.



Nany is not strictly _honest_, and an odiously stupid _animal_ into the bargain. Such people must be managed not by _love_ but by _fear_. I now see this clearly. Her account-book alone cannot show you everything clearly; you must often drop in unexpectedly at dinner-time, like an avenging angel, to see with your own eyes _what_ we actually have. I never dine at home now, _unless_ I have some friend as my guest, for I have no wish to pay as much for one person as would serve for four. I shall _now soon_ have my dear son Carl with me, so economy is more necessary than ever. I cannot prevail on myself to go to you; I know you will forgive this. I am very sensitive, and not used to such things, so the less ought I to expose myself to them. In addition to twelve kreutzers for bread, Nany has a roll of white bread every morning. Is this usual?–and it is the same with the cook. A daily roll for breakfast comes to eighteen florins a year. _Farewell_, and _work well_ for me. Mdlle. Nany is wonderfully changed for the better since I sent the half-dozen books at her head. Probably they chanced to come in collision with her _dull brain_ or her _bad heart_; at all events, she now plays the part of a penitent swindler!!!

In haste, yours,




Nany yesterday took me to task in the vulgar manner usual with people of her _low class_, about my complaining to you; so she evidently knew that I had written to you on the subject. All the devilry began again yesterday morning, but I made short work of it by throwing the heavy arm-chair beside my bed at B.’s head, which procured me peace for the rest of the day. They always take their revenge on me when I write to you, or when they discover any communication between us.

I do thank Heaven that I everywhere find men who interest themselves in me; one of the _most distinguished Professors_ in this University has in the kindest manner undertaken _all that concerns Carl’s education_. If you happen to meet any of the Giannatasios at Czerny’s, you had better _know nothing of what is going on about Carl_, and say that it is _contrary_ to my _usual habit to disclose my plans, as when a project is told to others it is no longer exclusively your own_. They would like to interfere in the matter, and I do not choose that these _commonplace people should do so, both for_ my _own sake and Carl’s_. Over their portico is inscribed, in golden letters, “Educational Institution,” whereas “_Non_-Educational Institution” would be more appropriate.

As for the servants, there is only _one voice_ about their immorality, to which _all_ the other annoyances here may be ascribed.

Pray receive my benediction in place of that of the Klosterneuburgers.[1]

In haste, your friend,


[Footnote 1: Frau von Streicher was at that time in Klosterneuburg.]



Judgment was executed to-day on the notorious criminal! She bore it nearly in the same spirit as Caesar did Brutus’s dagger, except that in the former case truth formed the basis, while in hers only wicked malice. The kitchen-maid seems more handy than the former _ill-conducted beauty_; she no longer shows herself,–a sign that she does not expect a _good character_ from me, though I really had some thoughts of giving her one. The kitchen-maid at first made rather a wry face about carrying wood, &c.



Last day of December, 1816.

I have been again obliged to keep my room ever since the Burgher concert,[1] and some time must no doubt elapse before I shall be able to dismiss all precautions as to my health. The year is about to close; and with this new year my warmest wishes are renewed for the welfare of Y.R.H.; but indeed these have neither beginning nor end with me, for every day I cherish the same aspirations for Y.R.H. If I may venture to add a wish for myself to the foregoing, it is, that I may daily thrive and prosper more in Y.R.H.’s good graces. The master will always strive not to be unworthy of the favor of his illustrious master and pupil.


[Footnote 1: Beethoven directed his A major Symphony in the Burgher concert in the Royal Redoutensaal on the 25th December, 1816.]



… As to his mother, she urgently requested to see Carl in my house. You have sometimes seen me tempted to place more confidence in her, and my feelings would lead me to guard against harshness towards her, especially as it is not in her power to injure Carl. But you may well imagine that to one usually so independent of others, the annoyances to which I am exposed through Carl are often utterly insupportable, and above all with regard to his mother; I am only too glad to hear nothing of her, which is the cause of my avoiding her name. With respect to Carl, I beg you will enforce the strictest discipline on him, and if he refuses to obey your orders or to do his duty, I trust you will at once _punish_ him. Treat him as if he were your own child rather than a _mere pupil_, for I already told you that during his father’s lifetime he only submitted to the discipline of blows, which was a bad system; still, such was the fact, and we must not forget it.

If you do not see much of me, pray ascribe it solely to the little inclination I have for society, which is sometimes more developed and sometimes less; and this you might attribute to a change in my feelings, but it is not so. What is good alone lives in my memory, and not what is painful. Pray impute therefore solely to these hard times my not more practically showing my gratitude to you on account of Carl. God, however, directs all things; so my position may undergo a favorable change, when I shall hasten to show you how truly I am, with sincere esteem, your grateful friend,


I beg you will read this letter to Carl.



Carl must be at H.B.’s to-day before four o’clock; I must request you therefore to ask his professor to dismiss him at half-past three o’clock; if this cannot be managed he must not go into school at all. In the latter case, I will come myself and fetch him; in the former, I will meet him in the passage of the University. To avoid all confusion, I beg for an explicit answer as to what you settle. As you have been loudly accused of showing great party feeling, I will take Carl myself. If you do not see me, attribute it to my distress of mind, for I am now only beginning to feel the full force of this terrible incident.[1]

In haste, your


[Footnote 1: Probably the reversal of the first decree in the lawsuit with Carl’s mother, who in order to procure a verdict more favorable to her claims, pointed out to the Austrian “Landrecht,” where the lawsuit had been hitherto carried on, an error in their proceedings, the “Van,” prefixed to Beethoven’s name, having been considered by them a sign of nobility. Beethoven was cited to appear, and on the appointed day, pointing to his head and his heart, he said, “My nobility is here, and here.” The proceedings were then transferred to the “magistrate,” who was in universal bad odor from his mode of conducting his business.]



The assertions of this wicked woman have made such a painful impression on me, that I cannot possibly answer every point to-day; to-morrow you shall have a detailed account of it all; but on no pretext whatever allow her to have access to Carl, and adhere to your rule that she is only to see him once a month. As she has been once this month already, she cannot come again till the next.

In haste, your






I sincerely rejoice that we take the same view as to the terms in use to denote the proper time in music which have descended to us from barbarous times. For example, what can be more irrational than the general term _allegro_, which only means _lively_; and how far we often are from comprehending the real time, so that the piece itself _contradicts the designation_. As for the four chief movements,–which are, indeed, far from possessing the truth or accuracy of the four cardinal points,–we readily agree _to dispense with them_, but it is quite another matter as to the words that indicate the character of the music; these we cannot consent to do away with, for while the time is, as it were, part and parcel of the piece, the _words denote the spirit in which it is conceived_.

So far as I am myself concerned, I have long purposed giving up those inconsistent terms _allegro_, _andante_, _adagio_, and _presto_; and Maelzel’s metronome furnishes us with the best opportunity of doing so. I here _pledge_ myself _no longer_ to make use of them in any of my new compositions. It is another question whether we can by this means attain the necessary universal use of the metronome. I scarcely think we shall! I make no doubt that we shall be loudly proclaimed as _despots_; but if the cause itself were to derive benefit from this, it would at least be better than to incur the reproach of Feudalism! In our country, where music has become a national requirement, and where the use of the metronome must be enjoined on every village schoolmaster, the best plan would be for Maelzel to endeavor to sell a certain number of metronomes by subscription, at the present higher prices, and as soon as the number covers his expenses, he can sell the metronomes demanded by the national requirements at so cheap a rate, that we may certainly anticipate their _universal use_ and _circulation_. Of course some persons must take the lead in giving an impetus to the undertaking. You may safely rely on my doing what is in my power, and I shall be glad to hear what post you mean to assign to me in the affair.

I am, sir, with esteem, your obedient





We beg you to give us bank-notes for twenty-four gold ducats at yesterday’s rate of exchange, and to send them to us this evening or to-morrow, in order that we may forthwith _remit_ and _transmit_ them. I should be glad and happy if your trustworthy Adjutant were to bring me these, as I have something particular to say to him. He must forget all his resentment, like a good Christian; we acknowledge his merits and do not contest his demerits. In short, and once for all, we wish to see him. This evening would suit us best.

We have the honor to remain, most astounding Lieutenant-General! your devoted


[Footnote 1: Beethoven styled himself “Generalissimus,” Herr A. Steiner “Lieutenant-General,” and his partner, Tobias Haslinger, “Adjutant” and “Adjutant-General.”]




After due consideration, and by the advice of our Council, we have determined and decreed that henceforth on all our works published with German titles, the word _Pianoforte_ is to be replaced by that of _Hammer Clavier_, and our worthy Lieutenant-General, his Adjutant, and all whom it may concern, are charged with the execution of this order.

Instead of Pianoforte–_Hammer Clavier_.

Such is our will and pleasure.

Given on the 23d of January, 1817, by the _Generalissimus_.

_Manu propria._



The following dedication occurred to me of my new Sonata:–

“Sonata for the Pianoforte,
_Hammer Clavier_.
Composed and dedicated to Frau Baronin Dorothea Ertmann–nee Graumann,
Ludwig van Beethoven.”

If the title is already engraved, I have the two following proposals to make; viz., that I pay for one title–I mean that it should be at my expense, or reserved for another new sonata of mine, for which purpose the mines of the Lieutenant-General (or _pleno titulo_, Lieutenant-General and First Councillor of State) must be opened to usher it into the light of day; the title to be previously shown to a good linguist. _Hammer Clavier_ is certainly German, and so is the device. Honor to whom honor is due! How is it, then, that I have as yet received no reports of the carrying out of my orders, which, however, have no doubt been attended to?

Ever and always your attached

ad Amicum
de Amico._

[Music: Treble clef.
O Ad-ju-tant!]

N.B. I beg you will observe the most profound silence about the dedication, as I wish it to be a surprise!



Jan. 30, 1817.


You seem to place me on a level with Schuppanzigh, &c., and have distorted the plain and simple meaning of my words. You are not my debtor, but I am yours, and now you make me so more than ever. I cannot express to you the pain your gift has caused me, and I must candidly say that I cannot give you one friendly glance _in return_. Although you confine yourself to the practice of music, still you have often recourse to the power of imagination, and it seems to me that this not unfrequently leads to uncalled-for caprice on your part; at least, so it appeared to me from your letter after my dedication. Loving as my sentiments are towards you, and much as I prize all your goodness, still I feel provoked!–much provoked!–terribly provoked!

Your debtor afresh,

Who will, however, contrive to have his revenge,