Angels Making Music.  Around 1510
Matthias Grünewald
from the Isenheim Altar
(Colmar, Alsace, France, Unterlinden-Museum)



While our previous page already led us into the final stages of Beethoven's correspondence with B. Schott's Sons, here, we should try to trace in chronological the negotiations for the publication of the Missa solemnis that were discussed in it. 


The introductory report that Thayer (p. 915-917) provides to this topic, leads us back into the year 1824.  In it, he first reports that Gottfried Weber, the editor of the musical periodical of B. Schott's Sons, the Cäciclia, must have written to Beethoven before March 10, 1824 and must have asked him for assistance with the search for a suitable Viennese correspondent for the periodical.   In his letter of March 10, 1824, Beethoven reportedly replied that he would not see himself in a position to do this, but that he had initiated a search for a suitable person.  From the further content of this letter we learn that Weber had also asked him for works.  Let us quote this part from the original text of the letter and provide you with our translation into English:   

Beethoven an B. Schott's Söhne in Mainz

                                                                                 Vien am 10ten März 1824

Euer wohlgebohrn!

    . . .

    in ansehung von neuen Werken, welche sie von mir zu haben wünschten, trage ich ihnen folgende an, nur müßte die Entschließung nicht lange ausbleiben -- eine neue große solenne* Meße mit Solo u. chorstimme[n samt]* ganzen orchester[3] an, so schwer e[s]* mir wird über mich selbst zu reden, so halte ich sie doch für mein gröstes werk, das Honorar wär 1000 fl. in C.M.,  . . .

    dies geschieht nur um ihnen zu willen zu seyn, diese Anzeige Betreffend, beurtheilen sie mich nicht kaufmännisch, allein die Konkurrenz darf ich auch als ächter Künstler nicht verachten, bin ich doch dadurch in stand gesezt, meinen Musen treu zu wirken, u. für so manche andere Menschen auf eine edle Art sorgen zu können -- die angezeigten werk[e]* betreffend müßte die Antwort sehr bald erfolgen. --

Euer wohlgebohrn Ergebenster


An die Verlags Handlung der Caecilia in Maynz abzugeben Im Verlage der Hof-Musik-Handlung B. Schott Söhne.

Beethoven to B. Schott's Sons in Mainz

                                                                                 Vienna the 10th of March, 1824

Esteemed Sir!

    . . .

    as for new works of mine which you wanted to have from me, I offer you the following, but your decision must not e long in the making--a new grand solemn mass with solo voices and chorus parts and full orchestra[3], difficult as it is to speak of myself, still I consider it my greatest work; the honorarium would be 1000 fl. in  C.M.,  . . .

    these matters are presented in accordance with your wishes.  As the result of this report, do not judge me as commercially-minded; but as a true artist I cannot disdain compoetition, through it rather I am in a firm position to work faithfully for my muse and am able to provide in a noble way for many other people.--Your answer concerning the works indicated would have to be made very soon.--

Yours devotedly,


To the Publisher of the Caecilia in Mayn, to be delivered to the publishing house of the Court Music dealer B. Schott Sons.

[Source:  Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Vol. 5, Letter No.  1787, p. 278-281]

[Original:  Mainz, Archive of the Publishers B. Schott's Sons; to [3]: refers to op. 123; details taken from p. 281.]


From this we can see that with this letter, Beethoven again tried to find a publisher for his Missa solemnis.   Thayer reports that, in their letter of March 24, 1824, with respect to the Mass, the publishers asked for a reduction of the price or for the possibility of paying the fee in installments that would be six months apart, and in their next letter of April 10th, they offered the composer a guarantee for the instaltment payments and free choice with respect to his further conditions.  Since, initially, these letters remained unanswered, the publishers, in two further letters of April 19th and April 27th, 1824, enquired further with Beethoven.   

Only on May 20th, in the midst of his preparations for the second concert of May 23, 1824, Beethoven found time to answer these letters.  In his reply, he again offered to the publishers the Mass and the Ninth Symphony and asked for payment of 600 florins in one months, 500 florins in two months and 500 florins in four months.  

From the Gesamtausgabe of Beethoven's letters we can learn that the publishers, with their letter to Beethoven of May 27th, 1824, and that Beethoven confirmed the accepted conditions with his letter of July 3, 1824.  

As Thayer writes, Schott replied to Beethoven on July 19th, 1824.  From the text of Schott's letters of this date in the  Gesamtausgabe we first learn that the on July 19th, 1824, the publishers pointed out to Beethoven that payment would be sent to the Viennese banker Fries & Co..  On the same day, the publishers advised the banker with respect to these payments and instructed that these should commence immediately upon receipt of the works, thus also of the Missa solemnis.   Thayer describes the method of negotiation of these publishers as "extremely satisfactory" to Beethoven.  



As Thayer further reports, the rest of this year passed by without any manuscript having reached the publishers, while Beethoven, in reply to subsequent enquiries and reminders on the part of the publishers had to provide explanations with respect to the delay.  

With respect to this, we can provide you with a brief listing of the further correspondence in this respect, in the year 1824: 

1.    On August 12th, Schott sent a draft for 500 florins to Fries & Co.;
2.    In their letter of August 19th, Schott & Sons asked Beethoven for the Mass and
       advised him that a draft went to Fries & Co.;
3.    On September 17th, Beethoven wrote to the publishers, from the country-side, that
       he had not received their letter of August 19th, but that we would send the copies of the Mass
       immediately after his return to Vienna;
4.    On November 16th, in a further letter to the publishers, Beethoven had to
      apologize to them, since he fell ill in the countryside and since he had
      only now returned to Vienna; he wrote that he would deliver the Mass to Fries
      in two days;
5.   On November 23rd, Beethoven apologized to the publishers that
      the copies would take some more time, after all;
6.   On November 27th,  Fries & Co. wrote to Schott & Sons, that he had not yet
      received anything from Beethoven;
7.   In his letter of November 30th, Schott & Sons urged Beethoven to
      deliver the Mass;
8.   On December 5th, Beethoven promised the publishers to deliver the works
      to Fries "this weeks";
9.   On December 17th, Beethoven promised Schott & Sons to deliver the works
      "in eight days";
10. On December 29th, Beethoven promised the works for "next week".

One reason for the delay might have been the fact that, after Schlemmer's death in 1823, Beethoven had to get used to new copyists, or rather, they to him.  Hurrying somewhat ahead of ourselves, with respect to this, we can quote two "rather juicy" comments by Beethoven from his letter to the publishers dated January 26, 1825:   " . . die alte partitur war zu beschmiert um ihnen zu schicken, die neue ist auf's sorgfältigste durchgesehn worden, wahrlich keine kleine Mühe bey einem Kopisten, der kaum versteht, was er schreibt[4] --  . . . " ["the old score was too dirty in order to send it to you, the new one has been reviewed most thoroughly and that is truly not a small feat with a copyist who hardly understands what he is writing"] and " . . . hieraus können sie ersehen welche Kopisten ich jezt noch habe, der Kerl ist ein stockBöhme ein Pandur, versteht einem nicht . . . "{"from this you can see what copyist I have, now, the guy is a wretched Bohemian, a Pandur, does not understand me ..."  [Source:  Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Vol. 6, Letter No. 1927, p. 16-17;  to [4]: probably refers to Ferdinand Wolanek;  taken from p. 16-17.]

As Thayer (p. 934) further reports, Beethoven delivered the Mass on January 16, 1825, to Fries and advised Schott & Sons about it with his letter of January 22, 1825, in which he expressly confirms the publishers' right of ownership.  



Already on January 26, 1825, Beethoven sent a letter to the publishers with first comments with respect to the printing of the Mass, while his brother Johann wrote to them on February 4th and recommended to them to turn to Gottfried Weber with respect to further required corrections, rather than to his brother.  

As can be seen from the letters featured in the Gesamtausgabe, the publishers wrote to Beethoven on January 7th and, with some concern, enquired about a "Paris" edition of the Mass and voiced the opinion that this might refer to the Mass in D-Major.  It must have been for this reason that Beethoven, in his above-noted January 22nd letter, expressly referred to the publisher's ownership rights to this work.  With respect to Beethoven's hunches in this matter, we gladly refer you to our second page of our chronological presentation of his correspondence with Schott.   

With respect to further correspondence of this year between Beethoven and B. Schott's Sons, we offer you a brief listing of all relevant letters that are featured in the Gesamtausgabe, before November 25, 1825:

1.   On March 19th, Beethoven advised the publishers of the opus number of the Mass;
2.   In his letter of May 7th to the publishers, Beethoven mentioned the German
      text to his Mass in C Major;
3.   Unfortunately, with respect to three further letters, their content is not known: 
      (a)   Beethoven's letter to Schott & Sons of May 21st;
      (b)   Schott & Sons' letter to Beethoven of June 8th; 
      (c)   Schott & Sons' letter to Beethoven of July 19th; 
4.  Beethoven's letter to the publishers of August 2nd contained further
     references to corrections.

As Thayer (p. 969) further reports, on November 25th, Beethoven wrote to Schott & Sons and promised them to send the metronome markings to the Mass, soon, as asked that the list of subscribers should be printed before the dedication and also that the work should only be published after three months.  

From our Biographical Pages we know what Beethoven was occupied with, in general, in the year 1826.  During this year, another five relevant letters were exchanged between him and the publishers, and they discuss the following: 

1.   On January 28th, Beethoven promised to send the metronome markings, soon and
      repeated his instructions with respect to the printing sequence of the 
      subscribers and the dedication on the title page; 
2.   On October 13th, Beethoven again promised to send the metronome markings, soon; 
3.   In his letter to the publishers of December 9th, Beethoven discussed 
      the Emblem of Archduke Rudolph, in addition to renewed promises 
      to send the metronome markings;
4.   On December 18th, the publishers asked Beethoven to send the emblem right away,
      since the printing of the Mass was already underway;
5.   In the second half of December, 1826, Beethoven sent the emblem to the publisher 
      and also did not forget to reiterate his promise of sending the metronome markings, soon.  

Looking back at the events of 1826, it becomes clear to us that Beethoven wrote his October 13th letter from Gneizendorf and that all December letters were written from his bedside in the Schwarzspanierhaus.  

It is also clear that all further letters Beethoven wrote to the publishers were sent from his bedside.  Thus, on January 27th, 1827, he wrote to the publishers and asked them to send him a copy of the Cäcilia, for his distraction.  

When, in the second half of February 1827, his prospects for recupation became increasingly slim and since, on the basis of this state of his health--probably Dr. Malfatti--allowed him to drink wine, Beethoven wrote these lines to the publishers (see also Thayer: 10238), which we do not want to withhold from you, here:  


Beethoven an B. Schott's Söhne in Mainz

                                                                              Wien den 22. Feb. 1827.

Euer Wohlgebohrn!

    Ihren letzten Brief[1] habe ich durch den Kapellmeister Kreutzer[2] erhalten. . . .

    Nun komme ich aber mit einer sehr bedeutenden Bitte. -- Mein Artzt[5] verordnet mir sehr guten, alten Rheinwein zu trinken.  So etwas hier unverfälscht zu erhalten, ist um das theuerste Geld nicht möglich.  Wenn ich also eine kleine Anzahl Bouteillen erhielt, so würde ich Ihnen meine Dankbarkeit für die Caecilia bezeugen.  . . . -- Sobald es meine Kräfte nur erlauben, werden Sie auch die Messe metronomisirt erhalten, denn ich bin gerade in der Periode, wo die 4te Operation erfolgen wird,[6] --  Je geschwinder ich also diesen Rheinwein +oder Msoelwein+ erhalte, desto wohlthätiger kann er mir in diesem jetzigen Zustande dienen; -- und ich bitte Sie recht herzlich, um diese Gefälligkeit, wofür Sie mich Ihnen dankbar verpflichten werden.

Mit größter Hochachtung geharre ich Euer Wohlgeborn ergebenster


Wien.  An Die Gebrüder B. Schott berühmte Musikverleger in Mainz

L.v.Beethoven Alservorstadt No. 200.

Beethoven to B. Schott's Sons in Mainz

                                                                              Vienna, the 22nd of Feb. 1827.

Esteemed Sir!

    I received your last letter[1] through Kapellmeister Kreutzer[2]. . . .

    Now, however, I come with a very imporant request.--My doctor[5] has ordered me to drink very good old Rhine wine.  To get a thing of that kind unadultered is not possible at ancy price.  If, therefore, I were to receive a small number of bottles I would show my gratitude to you in the Caecilia.  . . .--As soon as my strenth allows you shall receive the metronome marks for the Mass, for I am now just in the period when the fourth operation is about to be performed.[6]--The sooner, therefore, that I receive the Rhine wine, or Moselle, the more beneficial it will be to me in my present condition, and I beg of you most haertily to do me this favor for thich I shall be under gratful obligation to you.    

With the greatest respect I remain your very devoted 


Vienna.  To the Brothers B. Schott famous music publishers in  Mainz

L.v.Beethoven Alservorstadt No. 200.

[Source:  Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe Vol. 6, Letter No.  2262, p. 357-358]

[Original:  Mainz, Stadtbibliothek; to [1]: refers to Letter No. 2254 of January 31, 1827, which has not been preserved; to [2]: refers to Konradin Kreutzer; to [5]: refers to the fact that Beethoven was treated by two doctors and that this probably refers to Dr. Malfatti; to  [6]:  refers to the fact that the fourth operation took place on February 27, 1827; details taken from p. 358.]


As Thayer further reports, Beethoven repeated his request on March 1st, 1827, while the publishers announced their dispatch of twelve bottles of Rüdesheimer Berg of the year 1806 in a case, on March 8th, 1827, as well as of four separate bottles in which two were pure wine and the two others were mixed with herbs that were especially collected for him.  However, before the wine reached Vienna, namely on March 10th, 1827, Beethoven repeated his request, once more.  This were the last lines Beethoven wrote to Schott & Sons.    

From the Gesamtausgabe we learn that Schott & Sons, with their letter to the composer of March 29th, thus two days after his death, enquired about his health and about his having received the wine, to which Schindler replied to the publishers with his April 12th, 1827, letter, advising them of Beethoven's death and describing his last days.  

The Missa solemnis was published in the same year, by B. Schott's Sons in Mainz.

With respect to Beethoven's negotiations with Schott, we can now refer you two two additional pages in which we feature all relevant correspondence.