Beethoven 1823


In order to set the stage for our look at the creation, publication and dedication history as well as the musical content of this sonata, we might wish to recall the events in Beethoven's life, in the year 1821, from our Biographical Pages: 

At the beginning of 1821, Beethoven still lived in his aparment in the Landstraßen suburb and, as far as his health allowed, he worked on his compositions.  However, already on January 10, 1821, the Viennese Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung reported that Beethoven suffered from an infection.  This illness would last up to March (Thayer: 775-776). 

His friend Josephine von Stackelberg, nee von Brunsvik and widowed von Deym that, at least during the years 1804 - 1807, he appeared to have had a passion for, died on March 31, 1821.  

When Beethoven moved to Unterdöbling for the warm season, he became ill with jaundice.  In September, he went to Baden to recuperate.  

On July 18, 1821, he wrote to Archduke Rudolph and apologized that, due to health reasons, he was not yet able to complete the Missa solemnis.  

For the remainder of the year, Beethoven worked on the completion of his last Piano Sonatas, Op. 110 and Op. 111, which he was able to complete on January 13, 1822. 

From our creation history of Op. 110 we know that Beethoven had worked on this sonata from September 1821 until the end of 1821, until December 25, to be more precise.  What information do we have as to when Beethoven began to work on Op. 111? 



Op. 111, Manuscript Page

With respect to this, unfortunately, we do not have any precise biographical data.  What we can rely on is one or the other indication by serious Beethoven researchers and biographers. 

Thus, Barry Cooper (p. 288 ff.) reports that during the composition of his 31st Piano Sonata, Op. 110, which he began in September, 1821, Beethoven already thought of the composition of his next sonata.  One idea for it was that of a sonata in h minor, the main theme of which he later used in his String Quartet, Op. 130, in the same key.  A further idea, writes Cooper, was that of a c minor sonata that was to begin with a movement in 6/8 tempo, and he also refers to an idea for the third movement of such a sonata which then, however, was used as the main theme of the first movement, still in c minor.  In this context, he also refers to  a C-Major Adagio that was to consist of a theme and variations and which was intended to form the second and last movement.   

Cooper further reports that the main sketches to this sonata immediately follow those of Op. 110 and that the original manuscript bears the 13th of January, 1822, as completion date.  As Cooper writes, this points more towards when Beethoven began with this work than when he finished it, since Op. 110 had been completed only less than three weeks before. As the manuscript of Op. 110, also this manuscript had become so illegible that he had to write out a clean copy for both movements, and, after he had sent a version to Schlesinger in the middle of February, 1822, he found that he had to send him a revised copy of the last movement, with the request that the version he had sent him before should be destroyed.  However, as Cooper suspects, the printer might have used the first version.    

Also Thayer (p. 783, p. 816) lists the beginning of 1822 with January 13th as the date of the completion of Op. 111.  




Op.111 - Title Page

The publication history of this sonata provides again for some dramatic moments!  In this context, Thayer refers to the fact that here, we are not only dealing with the publication by Schlesinger, but also with new prints in Vienna by Diabelli and Leidesdorf, and ultimately also its English publication by Clementi.  Let us, however, first concentrate on 'continental' publishing endeavors, and that in chronological sequence: 

1.  As we know from Cooper's report (p. 288ff), the score of this sonata, in time, became so illegible that Beethoven had to write out a clean copy and that he sent this clean copy to Schlesinger, in the middle of February, 1822;

Beethoven prepared two copies of this sonata and it is also reported that Beethoven wanted to revise the finale, once more.  Cooper suspects, however, that the printer used the first revision; at this point, we should, perhaps, also insert the relevant text from Beethoven's letter to Schlesinger of April 9, 1822:

2.  Here Thayer's further reports (p. 858-861, which we concentrate on in the next few paragraphs): he writes that the sonata was published by both Schlesinger firms at about the same time, and that, very likely, in the beginning of 1823; Thayer refers to Kinsky-Halm who, on p. 319, describes the work as having been published in 1822, and on p. 761 as in April, 1823.  (Cooper [p. 288ff.] points out that the sonata was printed by Moritz Schlesinger in Paris);

3.  However, Count (Moritz) Lichnowsky is reported as having left a note with respect to "two Paris Sonatas" in a conversation book, in February, 1823, and in the event that this would refer to Op. 110 and Op. 111, Kinsky-Halm's second date would be too late; 

4.  On May 6th, Beethoven, at the time of his moving from Vienna to the countryside, is reported as having written to Schlösser, "Likewise as Schlesinger . . . what the reason is that I have still received no copies of the Sonata in C minor";  

5. According to Thayer, Schindler reports that the Paris editions had to be sent to Vienna, twice and that, due to the extraordinary amount of mistakes in the second version, Beethoven requested that Op. 111 should be sent again, which the firm did not respond to; Beethoven is reported as having been angry about that; 

6.  Die Wiener Zeitung announced the sonata on May 27, 1823 as "newly arrived".  Diabelli is reported as having quickly obtained a copy of the sonata with the intent, as Sauer and Leidesdorf are reported as having done, engrave a copy for the local Viennese customers; 

Thayer also quotes a section from a letter of Beethoven to Schindler, which Beethoven, humorously, is reported as having split in three sections, with the titles "beginning", "continuation" and "end", and this section deals with this problem.  Here Thayer's quote:  


Inquire from the arch-scoundrel Diabelli if the French copy of the Sonata in C minor has been printed so that I may receive it for corrections.  At the same time I have reserved four copies of it for myself, of which one is to be on fine paper for the Cardinal.  If now he is his usual scoundrelly self, I will personally sing a bass aria to him in his store, so that it will resound in the store and from there to the Graben.(82 According to Miss Anderson, p. 1037, n. 1, there is a notation by Schindler on the autograph of this letter saying that Diabelli wrote to Beethoven and said that he would take down this bass aria, publish it and even pay him for it, whereupon Beethoven became more patient with him!; --"

7. In his letter of June 3, 1823 to Moritz Schlesinger, Beethoven is reported as having set out a list of the errors contained in the French edition and then as having referred to the pirated copy editions, as follows:  

"By a remarkable accident someone sent to me here two copies as a curiosity to show how far one can go in the art of forgery; the one printed in Paris by you and the other here by Leidesdorf are so alike that one cannot tell the difference.  Even the price is the same. It appears that you have played into the hands of your friends.  Diabelli is now engraving it too, so I hear--therefore--although I have received no copy from you, I believe, nevertheless, that it is my duty to acquaint you with the new mistakes along with the old ones, and ask you please to have them corrected carefully").

8.  As Thayer further reports, also Sonneck (81 O.G. Sonneck, Beethoven Letters in America, S. 25-6) points out that Beethoven had to already have prepared a list of errors before he had received a printed copy (thus with the old errors), and then he might have received a copy from someone in Vienna (but not from Schlesinger), on the basis of which he listed the new errors.  

9. Thayer then refers to Moritz Schlesingers letter to Beethoven, of July 3, 1823, in which he asked if not perhaps the third movement of the Piano Sonata, Op. 111, might have been forgotten at the copyists and that both he and his father suspected that they had not received as much music as they had paid for, as they were missing a Rondo Finale.  Thayer assumes that Beethoven was not amused by these questions but rather became very angry; 


Archduke Rudolph

10. Beethoven's reports of this time to Schindler, Diabelli and Archduke Rudolph, as Thayer states, reveal what Beethoven thought of the Schlesinger edition.  See also his long letter of July 1, 1823 to the Archduke that Thayer mentions (p. 823), in which he also pointed out that the Sonata in c minor was printed very badly in Paris and that he, due to the fact that it has been re-printed in Vienna, he had taken great care with respect to its correction.  Thayer points out that Beethoven had an opportunity here, in helping with the corrections, to ensure that the Diabelli edition would be more correct.  To Schlesinger however, he is reported as having written,  "As I hear, Diabelli is engraving the sonata too, now", which, to Thayer, would point to the possibility that towards Schlesinger, Beethoven did not admit that he was helping Diabelli with the corrections.  

With respect to this, Thayer also mentions that in a letter to Diabelli, Beethoven is supposed to have advised him to take the Paris edition as a sample for his own edition, since the other editions (by Sauer and Leidesdorf) contained additional errors.  In this letter, Beethoven is reported as also having pointed out errors, in general.  He is reported as having asked Diabelli to send him copies so that he could correct it himself, right away.  He is also reported as having expressed that he finds his way of proceeding justified with respect to the other two publishers, although he usually would not do that.  His order of four copies, of which one was to be printed on particularly good paper [for the Archduke], he is reported as having repeated;  

11.  The new edition of the sonata followed shortly after that, as Thayer reports, and in this context, he also refers to the already mentioned July 1 letter of Beethoven to the Archduke.   In this letter, Beethoven is reported as also having announced to the Archduke the dedication of the new edition, that he had revised on the basis of the French edition.  With respect to the "ethics" of Beethoven's conduct Thayer refers to Sonneck's argument that neither Schlesinger nor Beethoven could keep Diabelli from printing a new edition of the work, and since Diabelli was proceeding in this manner against Schlesinger, the composer in Beethoven probably wanted to ensure that he could protect himself as much as possible and minimize the damage that Schlesinger had already done to the work.

With respect to original letters in this matter, we found it more advisable to add them after our summary of Thayer's comments so as to avoid confusion and in order to allow the reader to follow each 'narrative' in separate sequences.  For those of you who would like to 'compare notes' in this matter, we now feature the sequence of relevant letters in this matter:


                                                           "Vien den 20ten[1] Februar 1822

Euer wohlgebohren!

. . . -- Sie werden nun schon die 2te Sonate[3] erhalten haben, vor einigen Tägen wurde auch die 3te[4] abgegeben an t. u M.[5] 

. . . -- in so vielen zerstreuten Beschäftigungen geschah es, daß ich dem Copist mein bloßes erstes Koncept[7] übergeben, wodurch wie es manchmal zu geschen pflegt manches noch unvollkommen u nicht richtig angezeigt war, sie dörfen also gar keinen Gebrauch davon machen auch mitte ich sie es niemanden andern zu zeigen, so bald sie die andere Abschrift erhalten haben vernichten sie es zugleich,[8]"

                                                   "Vienna the 20th[1] of February, 1822

Well-born Sir!

. . . --By now, you will already have received the 2nd sonata[3], a couple of days ago, the 3rd [4] was also submitted to t. a M.[5]

. . . --in all that confusion it happened that I gave to the copyist only my first concept[7], so that, was it happens sometimes, some details have not been set out completely and correctly, you may, thus, not make any use of it and I also ask you not to show it to anyone, as soon as you will receive another copy, destroy this one, right away,[8]"

[Quoted and translated from: Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Volume 4, Letter No. 1458, p. 474-475]

[Original: in private hands; to [3]: refers to Op. 110; to [4]: refers to Op. 111, as Beethoven sent Schlesinger a copy; to [5]: refers to the bookstore Tendler & Manstein in Vienna; to [6]: refers to the fact that, as the 'Gesamtausgabe' states, Beethoven sent the copy only on April 10, 1822, see letter No. 1460]; to [7]: refers to the fact that of this sonata, Beethoven made to complete copies, and of the first that he describes here as "concept", only the the first movement has been preserved [Bonn, Beethoven-Haus VH 71], the second movement of this copy has not been preserved, and today, Beethoven's second copy is located at the Staadtbibliothek in Berlin (Artaria 198]; to [8]: refers to the fact that the original edition of Op. 111 was prepared by Maurice Schlesinger in Paris, see Letter No. 1474 of July 2, 1822, and the original that was used as a sample for the etching [today: Bonn, Beethoven-Haus, Bodmer Collection Mh 54) is reported as having a unified look from which one can not recognize that the second movement has been exchanged.  It is also noted that both copies have been written by the copyist Wenzel Rampl; details taken from p. 475].

                                                                             "Vien am 9-ten apr. 1822

Eurer wohlgebohrn!

   Ich glaube ihnen schon geschrieben zu haben, daß die Korrektur der Lieder von hier abgeschikt worden,[1] jedoch geht erst durch Verhindrung mit dem morgigen Postwagen die Neue Abschrift des lezten Sazes der 3ten Sonate[2], ich bitte sie gleich beym Empfang den selbigen mit einem Zeichen zu bezeichnen, damit diese Abschrift mit der, die sie schon haben nicht verwechselt werde, u. leztere vernichten Sie sogleich. . .  . "

                                                              "Vienna on the 9th of apr. 1822

Well-born Sir!

  I believe that I have already written to you that the correction of the songs has been sent off from here,[1] but only now, due to hindering circumstances, the new copy of the last movement of the 3rd sonata[2] is leaving here with tomorrow's mail coach; I ask you to mark it upon receipt with a mark, so that this copy will not be confused with the one that you already have, and the latter, you should destroy right away. . .  . "

[Quoted and translated from:  Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Volume 4, Letter No. 1460, p. 476 - 477]

[Original:  London, British Library; to [1]: refers to Letter no. 1459 of March 29, 1822, which has been lost; to [2]: refers to Op. 111; details taken from p. 477].

                                                              "Vien am 1. May 1822[1]

Euer Wohlgeboren!

  Sie werden nun wohl die Schotti[schen] Lieder[2] längst haben, welche hier bey Cappi u.[3] Diabelli abgegeben wurden -- was den letzten Satz der 3ten Sonate[4] anbelangt, so folgt hiebey der Schein[5] ich hoffe Sie werden Selb[en] schon haben, ich bitte noch einmal selben sogleich zu bezeichnen u. die zuerst erhaltene Abschrift sogleich zu vernichten.[6]  Was die 2te Sonate in As[7] betrifft, so habe ich die Z u e i g n u n g   a n  j e m a n d e n bestimmt, welche ich ihnen bey nächsten zusenden  werde[8] -- die 3-te steht ihnen frei, jemandem, wenn sie wollen zu widmen.[9] -- . . . "

                                                         "Vienna on the 1st of May 1822[1]

Well-born Sir!

  By now, you will certainly have the Scott[ish] songs[2], which have been deposited here with Cappi and[3] Diabelli -- as far as the last movement of the 3rd Sonata[4] is concerned, herewith follows the form[5] I hope you will have the sam[e] already, I ask you to mark the same right away and to destroy the copy that you have received before, right away.[6] As far as the 2nd Sonata in A-flat[7] is concerned, I have reserved the  d e d i c a t i o n for someone, which I will send you at the next opportunity[8] -- with respect to the 3rd you are at liberty to dedicate it to someone, if you wish.[9] -- . . . "

[Quoted and translated from:  Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Volume 4, Letter No. 1462, p. 479-480]

[Original: not known, Text according to Max Unger, Ludwig  van Beethoven und seine Verleger S.A. Steiner und Tobias Haslinger in Wien, Ad. Mart. Schlesinger in Berlin, Berlin-Wien 1921, p. 86f. [No. 110] and p. 107; to [1]: refers to date in Kalischer as "1.3.1822"; to [2]: refers to a copy for revision of Op. 108; to [3]: refers to "Cappi u." missing in Kalischer; to [4]:  refers to Op. 111; to [5]: the "form" might refer to proof of ownership, a delivery form, or a receipt for fees, but it has not been preserved; to [6]: refers to Letters 1458 and 1460; to [7]: refers to Op. 110; to [8]: refers to the fact that this was not carried out as both editions of Op. 110 were printed without a dedication; to [9]: refers to the fact that later, on Aug. 31, 1822, Beethoven decided that this sonata was to be dedicated to Archduke Rudolph, and on Feb. 18, 1832, Antonie Brentano; details taken from p. 480].

Adolph Martin Schlesinger an Beethoven:

                                                  "Berlin, d[en] 2 July 1822

Sehr geehrter Herr van Beethoven!

   Drey Ihrer, mir stets geehrten Zuschriften vom 9. Ap.[ril] 29 Marz, <29-1 <März> May[1] hatte ich das Vergnügen nach einander richtig zu erhalten.  In deren Erwiederung muß ich Sie, geehrter Herr, tausendmal um Entschuldigung bitten, daß meine Antwort nicht früher erfolgt ist.  Ich war nehmlich in Leipzig zur Messe, wo ich unwohl wurde, und nach meiner Rückkehr einige Wochen sehr unpäßlich mich befunden habe.

   Während dieser Zeit hatten sich mehrere Geschäfte aufgehäuft, dergestalt, daß ich nicht früher als heut mein Schreiben senden kann.  . . .

. . .

  Ihrem Wunsche zufolge sende ich durch Einschluß, ein Ex.[emplar] Ihrer Sonate op. 109 an Herrn Dr Wilh Chr. Müller in Bremen, mit der Bemerkung, daß solches als Geschenk von Ihnen sey.[5] Die folgende[n] Sonaten[6] werden in Paris gestochen, damit solche recht brilliant erscheinen, die eine ist von Herrn Moscheles corrigirt. -- Zeigen Sie mir daher gefälligst bald an, wem sie die 2te Sonate[7] zueignen wollen. -- Für Ueberlassung der 3. Sonate[8] danke ich bestens. . . . "

                                                     "Berlin, th[e] 2nd of July 1822

Dear Herr van Beethoven!

   Three of your letters  of 9. Ap.[ril] 29 March <29-] <March> May[1] that I am always honored to receive, I had the pleasure of receiving in good order.  In their reply I have to ask you, dear Sir, for your forgiveness, a thousand times, that my reply has not been given sooner.  I was at the fair in Leipzig, where I became unwell, and after my return I have not felt well for several weeks. 

   During this time, several business matters have accumulated to such a degree that I could not send my letter earlier than today.  . . .

. . .

  Following your wishes I send, as an attachment, one copy of your Sonata Op. 109 to Herr Dr Wilh Chr. Müller in Bremen, with the note that it is a present from you.[5]  The following sonatas[6] will be printed in Paris, so that they will look very brilliant, the one has been corrected by Herr Moscheles. -- Therefore, tell me, please, whom you want to dedicate the 2nd Sonata[7] to.--For your letting me hav the 3rd Sonata[8], I extend my best thanks. . . . "

[Quoted and translated from: Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Volume 4, Letter No. 1474, p. 502 - 503]

[Original:  Wien, Stadt- und Landesbibliothek; to [1]: refers to Beethoven's Letters Nr. 1460, 1459 and 1462; to [5]: refers to Letter No. 1458 of Feb. 20, 1822; to [6]: refers to Op. 110 and Op. 111; to [7]: refers to the fact that Op. 110 did not receive a dedication; to [8]: refers to Letter 1462 of May 1, 1822].

Maurice Schlesinger an Beethoven:

                                                           "Paris den 3ten July 1822

Herrn v. Beethoven:  Wien

    Unendlich erfreut war ich bey meiner Jüngsten Anwesenheit in Berlin u sehen, daß Ew. Hochwohlgeb. in lebhafter Verbindung mit meinem Vater sind, und daß mehrere Ihrer Meisterwerke in seinem Verlage erscheinen.  Wie Sie bereits erfahren habe ich mich jetzt hier etablirt,[1] und werde zur besseren Verbreitung, und damit Ihre Werke auch dem Inneren werth äußerlich ausgestattet werden, dieselben hier stechen lassen.  Bereits ist die 2te Sonate vollendet, und wird nächstens dem Publico überliefert werden.[2]  Da ich das Vergnügen gehabt vor einigen Tagen Ihre 3te Sonate[3] zu erhalten, die so viele Schönheiten enthält, daß der große Meister nur im Stande war sie zu schaffen, nehme ich mir die Freiheit, ehe ich solche stechen lasse, bey Ihnen gehorsamst anzufragen, ob Sie für dieses Werk nur 1. Maestoso und 1. Andante, geschrieben oder ob vielleicht das Alegro zufällig beym Notenschreiber vergessen worden.[4]  Ich halte es für Schuldigkeit Ihnen diese Anfrage zu machen, da jedes Meisterwerk streng nach dem Willen des Schöpfers, gedruckt werden muß, es wäre daher ein Unrecht ohne bei Ihnen vorher anzufragen, dies Werk zu drucken.  . . . Nun noch eine Bitte, würden Sie wohl die Güte haben, mir in Ihrer Antwort die Metronom Bezeichnungen die bey allen 3 Sonaten vergessen worden anzugeben.[8]  Die Liebhaber haben sich dermaßen an diese Weise gewöhnt die Stücke nach dem Wunsch der Meister auszuführen, daß alle Welt danach frägt.  Stets werde ich mich der Stunden erinnern die ich das Glück hatte bey Ihnen zuzubringen, den mir damals gegebenen Anfang eines Canons,[9] ehre ich wie ein Heiligthum, und bewahre solchen mit der höchsten Sorgfalt, zur Freude aller derer die nie das Glück hatten etwas von Ihrer Hand geschriebenes zu sehen, wie glücklich würde ich mich schätzen, wenn durch irgend einen Zufall, eine kleine Romanze oder irgend ein kleines Musikstück Ihrer Composition in meine Hande geriethe, um nur für mich und meine Freunde bewahrt zu werden.  Indem ich mich freuen würde eine Gelegenheit zu finden Ihnen hier nützlich oder angenehm zu sein, erwarte ich Ihre Befehle und bin Ihr Ergebener

                                                                 Maurice Schlesinger

                                                         Rue de richelieu No. 107.

   Einliegender Brief[10] lag für Sie auf der Post und konnte da er nicht frankirt war keinen Cours erhalten.

Monsieur L. de Beethoven clebre compositeur par Adr. Mrs. Steiner & Co. marchand de musique Vienne am Graben Paternostergässchen Autriche."

Maurice Schlesinger to Beethoven:

                                                           "Paris the 3rd of July 1822

Herr v. Beethoven:  Vienna

    During my latest presence in Berlin, I was infinitely delighted to see that Yours Highly and Wellborn is in lively contact with my father, and that several of your masterworks are being published by his publishing house.  As you have already learned, I have established myself here[1] and, in order that your works will find a broader distribution and in order that they their outer appearance is worthy of their inner meaning, they will be engraved here.  Already, the 2nd Sonata has been completed and will be delivered to the public, shortly.[2]  Since, a few days ago, I have had the pleasure to receive your 3rd Sonata [3] that contains so many beautiful things that only the great master was able to create it, I take the liberty, before I have it engraved, to most obediently enquire with you as to whether, for this work, you have only written 1. Maestoso and 1.  Andante or as to whether, perhaps, the Alegro has accidently been forgotten at the copyist's.[4]   I consider it my duty to make this enquiry since every masterwork must be printed strictly according to the wishes of the creator. . . . Now, one more request, would you have the kindness to send me metronome markings for all 3 Sonatas with your reply, since they have been forgotten for all 3 of them.[8]   Music lovers have grown so used to execute the pieces according to the wishes of their masters that the entire world is asking for them.    I shall always remember the hours that I had the fortune of spending with you, the beginning of a Canon that was given to me then,[9] I honor like a sacred heirloom and preserve it with the greatest care, to the joy of all those who never had the fortune of seeing something that you have written, how fortunate would I consider myself if, by some coincidence, a little romance or an other small piece of music of your composition would come into my hands, in order to be preserved only for me and my friends.  Looking forward to finding an opportunity of being of use or of service to you, I await your instructions and am your devoted                                                                   Maurice Schlesinger

                                                         Rue de richelieu No. 107.

   The enclosed letter[10] was sitting at the post office for you, however, since no postage had been applied to it, it had not been transported.  

Monsieur L. de Beethoven clebre compositeur par Adr. Mrs. Steiner & Co. marchand de musique Vienne am Graben Paternostergässchen Autriche"

[Quoted and translated from: Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Volume 4, Letter No. 1476, p. 506-507].

[Original: Bonn, Beethoven-Haus; to [1]: refers to Maurice Schlesinger who, since 1821, was operating a music business in Paris; to [2]: refers to Op. 110; to [3]: refers to Op. 111; to [4]: refers to the fact that the Sonata, as is known, has two movements and to the fact that the names for the movements Schlesinger listed, are incomplete; to [8]: refers to the fact that this did not occur; to [9]: refers to WoO 174; details taken from p. 507].

Adolph Martin Schlesinger an Beethoven:

                                                        "Berlin, den 13 July 22

Sehr geehrter Herr!

   Mein jüngstes Schreiben,[1] wird wohl in Ihren Händen sein, und sehe ich dessen Beantwortung entgegen, ebenso die werden[2] Sie die erschienene Lieder[3] erhalten haben. --

   Mit gegenwärtigem wollte ich nur anfragen, ob Ihre mir gesendete zweite Sonate, wo das zweite Stück die Überschrift hat, >>Arietta. adagio molto semplice e molto cantabile<< nicht ein drittes Stück bekömmt, und mit diesem beendet ist,[2] und an wem Sie Ihre Zueignungen machen wollen.[3]

   Ich bitte Sie sehr, dies an meinen Sohn nach Paris, unter Adr. Mr. Maurice Schlesinger, libraire & Marchand de Musique Quai Malaquai N. 13, ou Rue de Richelieu pres des Boulevards senden oder anzeigen zu wollen. --

   In dieser Erwartung zeichnet mit aller Hochachtung Herrn v. Beethoven ganz Ergebener

                                                              Ad.Mr. Schlesinger

Sr. Hochwohlgeborn Herrn Ludw. v. Beethoven Wien"

Adolph Martin Schlesinger to Beethoven:

                                                        "Berlin, the 13th of July 22

Very esteemed Sir!

   My latest letter,[1] is very likely in your hands, and I look forward to its reply, likewise, you will have [2] received the published songs[3]. -- 

   With the present I only wanted to enquire as to whether the second sonata that you have sent to me, in which the second piece has the title, >>Arietta. adagio molto sempice e molto cnatabile<< does not receive a third piece, and is ended with this,[4] and to whom you want to dedicate it.[5] 

   I ask you very kindly to send this to or advise my son in Paris, at the  Adr. Mr. Maruice Schlesinger, libraire & Marchand de Muaique Quai Malaquai N. 13, ou Rue de Richelieu pres des Boulevards. --

   In this expectation the undersigned remains with all respect Herr v. Beethoven's entirely devoted 

                                                              Ad.Mr. Schlesinger

His Highly-Well-born Herr Ludw. v. Beethoven Vienna"

[Quoted and translated from: Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Volume 4, Letter No. 1481, p. 513-514]

[Original:  Vienna, Stadt- und Landesbibliothek; to [1]: refers to Letter no. 1474 of July 2, 1822;  to [2]: refers to this sentence being constructed with the grammatical error of initially using "wurden" instead of "werden"; to [3]: refers to  Op. 108; to [4]: refers to Letter No. 1746 by Maurice Schlesinger to Beethoven; to [5]: refers to the possible dedication of Op. 110; details taken from p. 514].

Beethoven an Maurice Schlesinger in Paris:

                                                           "Vien am 31ten aug. 1822

Euer wohlgebohrn!

   In der hieher an Steiner geschickten Sonate[1] haben soch noch Fehler gefunden welche man ihnen mittheilt, damit se[l]be corrigirt werden, ich bitte sie ebenfalls mit <di>von der Sonate in c[2] vorher ein probe Exemplar ehe sie selbe versenden zu schicken, denn es ist mir sehr unangenehm, wenn meine werke so Fehlervoll erscheinen, Es wird sogleich hier corrigirt u. ihnen wieder zurückgesendet werden wo sie <solches>das Werk hernach in die welt befördern werden, ich Ich[3] muß mir ausbitten, daß dies geschehe, sonst sind sie selbst schuld, daß man ihnen nachsticht -- ebenfalls muß die Dedication +der Sonate  in c.+ an seine kaiserl. Hoheit den Cardinal gemacht werden,[4] welches selbem schon anGezeigt ist,[5] u. welche ich ihnen aufgeschrieben,[6] sobald das probexemplar hier angelangt sit, mit selbem oder auch auf der Briefpost früher absenden werde --<wie es scheint obschin ich ihrem vater u. ihnen geschrieben habe, daß die Sonate in As jemand, von meinen vebindungen sollte zugeeignet werden,[7[ so ist dies doch nicht geschen -- wie es scheint, muß sich mir schon manes unangenehme mit ihrem vater u ihnen ereignen, denn an meinem Honorar von den 2 Sonaten verlohr ich hier nicht weniger als 12 bis 13 fl. in c.m. bey der Auszahlung,[8] indem ich mich krank befand, u. nicht selbst hingehn konnte, wo ich es gar nicht lieber angenommen hätte, als eine solche schimpfliche Knickerey, <welche> dergleiche[n] mir nie begegnet, zu bestehn ich hoffe, daß mir unverzüglich das probeExemplar der Sonate in c, damit sie sogleich hier korrigiert werde, hieher senden, ehe sie solche heraus geben, wo nicht, so kann ich ihnen für unangenehme Folgen nicht gut stehn --

Eiligst ihr Ergebener


Nb. Ich ersuche um 6 Exemplare von der erschienen[en] u. erscheinenden Sonate, sie werden nicht verkauft, sondern jene Künstler welche nicht bezahlen können, u. mir so lib als millionaire sind erhalten solche von mir --

a Monsieur monsieur Maurice Slesinger Editeur de Musique.

a Paris Quai Malaquai No. 13"

Beethoven to Maurice Schlesinger in Paris:

                                                           "Vienna the 31st of aug. 1822

Your Well-born!

   In the sonata that had been sent here to Steiner[1[ I have still found errors that one will indicate to you, so that the same will be corrected, I also ask you to send me a proof sample of the Sonata in c[2] before you distribute it, since it is very unpleasant for me if my works are published with so many errors in them, it will be corrected here, right away and sent back to you after which you will distribute the work to the world, I must[3[ ask that this is done, otherwise, it is your own fault if one engraves this work after you -- also, the dedication  of +the Sonata in c.+ has to be issued to his Imperial Highness the Cardinal,[4] which I have already advised him of,[5} and which I have written down for you,[6] as soon as the proof sample will have arrived here, with the same mail or even earlier, it will be sent -- as it appears, although I had written to your father and to you, that the Sonata in A-flat should be dedicated to someone of my connections,[7] this has not happened -- as it appears, already some unpleasant incidences had to occur with your father and you, since of my fee for the two sonatas, here, I lost not less than 12 to 13 fl. in c.m. at its payout,[8] since I was ill and could not go there, myself, where I would rather not have accepted it, since such an ignonimous niggardliness, I have never encountered before,  I hope that you will send me the proof sample of the Sonata in c, right away, so that it will be corrected immediately before it will be published, otherwise, I can not be held responsible for unpleasant consequences -- 

In greatest hurry your devoted


Nb. I ask for 6 copies of the already published sonata and of the sonata that is about to be published, they will not be sold, but rather those artists who can not pay for them will receive them from me, they are as dear to me as millionnaires -- 

a Monsieur monsieur Maurice Slesinger Editeur de Musique.

a Paris Quai Malaquai No. 13"

[Quoted and translated from: Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Volume 4, Letter No. 1491, p. 525 - 527]

[Original:  Bonn, Beethoven-Haus, Bodmer Collection; to [1]:  refers to Schlesinger's edition of Op. 110; to [2]: refers to Op. 111; to [3]: refers to a repetition of the word at the change from one page of the letter to the next; to [4]: refers to Letter No. 1462 in which Beethoven had left the dedication of Op. 110 up to Schlesinger's father; to [5]: refers to Letter No. 1685 of July 1, 182, to the Archduke Rudolph, in which Beethoven describes the dedication as a surprise; to [6]: such a reference is not known; to [7]: refers to Letter No. 1442 to A.M. Schlesinger of May 1, 1822; to [8]: refers to a similar complaint which Beethoven had already raised in Letter no. 1458 of February 20, 1822; details taken from p. 426].

Beethoven an Maurice Schlesinger in Paris

                                                     "[Wien,  11. Februar 1823]

[Beethoven schickt einen korrigierten Probeabzug der Sonate op. 111 zurück und bietet Schlesinger die Ouvertüre op. 124 und verschiedene andere Werke zum Verlag an.]"

[Beethoven to Maurice Schlesinger in Paris:

In this letter of February 11, 1823, Beethoven is reported as having sent a corrected proof sample of the Sonata, Op. 111 back to Schlesinger and as having offered him the Overture, Op. 124 and various other works for publication.]

[Quoted from and English-language description of letter provided on the basis of: Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Volume 5, Letter No. 1568, p. 43]

[Original: not known, letter derived from Letter No. 1572; detail taken from p. 43].

Beethoven an Maurice Schlesinger in Paris

                                                     "Wien den  18. Februar 1823

Mein werther Schlesinger!

   ich glaube, Was hier beygefügt noch gefehlt ist oder nicht angezeigt worden suchen sie doch.[1] --

   von den werken die ich ihnen neulich angebothen[2] ist die ouverture für großes Orchester,[3] es wurde am 3ten October[4] zum erstenmah[l] bey Eröfnung des neuen Jos[e]phstädter Theaters gegeben --

   das[5] von Mehul sich[6] mir angezeigt haben,[7] bitte ich sie mir zuschiken, auch von den Schottischen Liedern von ihrem Herrn Papa in Berlin brauche ich einige Exemplar [u.?]* zwar mit vergold[e]t[e]m Einband.[8]

   auf meine Anträge antworten sie geschwinde, geschwinde, geschwinde --

ihr Freund 


Die Dedikation [der]* Sonate in cmoll ist "Gewidmet der Fr. Antonie v. Brentanto Gebohrne Edle von Birkenstock.[9]

de Vienne

A Monsieur Maurice Schlesinger rue de Richelieu No. 107 a Paris."

Beethoven to Maurice Schlesinger in Paris:

                                                         "Vienna, the 18th of February, 1823

My worthy Schlesinger!

   I believe what has been attached here still contains errors why don't you look for them.[1] --

   of those works that I have recently offered to you [2] the Overture is for great orchestra,[3] on October 3[4] it was given for the first time on the opening of the new Josepstadt Theatre -- 

   that[5] of Mehul which[6] has been noted for me,[7] I ask you to send to me, also of the Scottish songs from your Herr Papa in Berlin, I need a few samples [a.?]* namely with golden cover.[8]

   to my offers reply quickly, quickly, quickly  --

your friend 


The dedication of [the]* Sonata in c minor is "Dedicated to Mme. Antonie v. Brentano nee Edle von Birkenstock.[9]

de Vienne

A Monsieur Maurice Schlesinger rue de Richelieu No. 107 a Paris."

[Quoted and translated from:  Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Letter No. 1572, p. 48-49]

[Original: London, Royal Academy of Music; to [1]: the attachment has not been preserved; to [2]: refers to letter no. 1568; to [3]: refers to Op. 124; to [4]: refers to the fact that Schindler corrected it to "Oktober"; to [5]: what is meant here is "was"; to [6]: what is meant here is "Sie"; to [7]: refers very likely to the opera, Valentine de Milan" by Mehul; to [8]: refers to Op. 108; to [9]: refers to the fact that this sentence has been added at the top of the third page]; details taken from p. 48-49]

Beethoven an Maurice Schlesinger in Paris

                                                     "{Wien,  7. Mai 1823]

[Beethoven empfiehlt den jungen Darmstädter Musiker Louis Schlösser, der in Paris seine Ausbildung fortsetzen will.  Er erkundigt sich, ob Schlesingers Ausgabe von op. 111 schon erschienen ist.]"

 Beethoven to Maurice Schlesinger in Paris:

[In this May 7, 1823 letter, Beethoven reportedly recommended the young Darmstadt musician Louis Schlösser who wanted to continue his musical training in Paris and he reportedly enquired with Schlesinger if his edition of Op. 111 has already been published.]

[Quoted from and English description provided on the basis of: Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Volume 5, Letter No. 1648, p. 124]

[Original: not known; letter derived from the record of the registration of letter no. 1572 of February 18, 1823, and from letter no. 1645; detail taken from p. 124].

Beethoven an Maurice Schlesinger in Paris (Fragment]:

                                                       "Vien am 3-ten Jun. 1823

   Errata, welche ich ergebenst bitte sowohl wegen ihnen als wegen mir sogleich zu beßern zu laßen --

Seite 2 Takt 2 u. 3 start (Notenbeispiel] muß der untere Bogen weg u. oben über die 5 Achtel noten [Notenbeispiel] so bezeichnet werden [op. 111 1 T. 23]

Seite 5 Takt 22 <statt> [Notenbeispiel] statt [Notenbeispiel] muß es heißen [Notenbeispiel] [op. 111 1 T. 90]

Seite 5 Takt 9 [Notenbeispiel] statt F muß D stehen nemlich [Notenbeispiel] [op. 111 1 T. 127]


die Exemplare wieder geben, u. schrieb in der eile nur das wahre, wie es hier ist, 2-mal, allein es ist unbergreiflich [sic] wie die 6 ersten Noten ganz falsch sind, da sie doch in dem ersten mir geschikten Exemplar[2] richtig sind, nur war hier die Siebente Note [Beispiel] nicht richtig.[3] --

Seite 22 Takt 6 im Basse statt b [Notenbeispiel] muß es seyn [Notenbeispiel] [op. 111 II T. 149] im selben Takt Diskant statt [Notenbeispiel] einer Note [Beispiel] muß nur ein Punkt hinter der F Note stehen

   als ein sonderbares auffallendes Ereignis schickte mir hier jemand 2 Exemplare der Sonderbarkeit wegen, wie weit man es <bei>in der Nachahmung bringen könne, das eine von ihnen in paris gestochen,[4] u. das andere hier von Leidesdorf[5] so täuschend <nach>nachgestochen, daß keins vom anderen zu Unterscheiden ist, + auch denselbigen Preisß. -- + Es scheint, sie verstehn sich auf ihre Freunde, Diabelli sticht sie auch schon wie ich höre, nach[6] -- obschon ich kein Exemplar[7] <[ein unlesbar gestrichenes Wort]> erhalten von ihnen, so hielt ich es doch für meine Pflicht, sie mit den neuen und noch alten Fehlern bekannt zu machen, u. bitte selbe sorgsam verbeßern zu laßen. --


start -- eusment auf dem Titel -- gemeint in paris!!! -- ich bitte ebenfalls kein De sondern Van Beethoven[8]

A Monsieur Maurice Schlesinger Editeur Rue de Richelieu No. 107 a Paris"

Beethoven to Maurice Schlesinger in Paris (Fragment]:

                                                       "Vienna on the  3rd of Jun. 1823

   Errata, which I humbly ask to have corrected both for your and for my sake -- 

Page 2 Bar 2 and 3 instead (note samplen] the lower arc has to come off and on top above the 5 eighth notes [note sample] has to be noted thus [op. 111 1 B. 23]

Page 5 Bar 22 <instead> [note sample] instead [note sample] it should read  [note sample] [op. 111 1 B. 90]

Page 5 Bar 9 [note sample] instead of  F it must read D namely  [note sample] [op. 111 1 B. 127]


the samples returned, and in the hurry only wrote the truth, as it is here, twice, alone it is incomprehensible to me how the first 6 notes are entirely wrong, since in the first sample sent to me[2] they are correct, only the seventh note was not correct here [sample].[3] --

Page 22 Bar 6 in the bass instead of b [note sample] it should read [note sample] [op. 111 II T. 149] in the same bar Diskant instead of [note sample] a note [sample] there only has to be a dot after the note  

   as a particularly peculiar event, someone sent me here 2 samples on account of the peculiarity, as to how far one could get with copying, the one engraved by you in Paris,[4] and the other one here by Leidesdorf[5] so deceptively copied that one can not be distribuguished from the other, + also the same price. -- + It appears that you know friends, Diabelli is also engraving one, as I hear,[6] -- although I have not received a sample [7] from you <[an word has been crossed out so that it is illegible]>, I still considered it my duty to make you acquainted with the new and the old errors and ask you to have them carefully corrected. -- 


start -- eusment on the title -- meant is Paris!!! -- I also ask: no De but Van Beethoven[8]

A Monsieur Maurice Schlesinger Editeur Rue de Richelieu No. 107 a Paris"

[Quoted and translated from:  Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Volume 4, Letter No. 1667, p. 144 - 147]

[Original:  Bonn, Beethoven-Haus, Bodmer Collection; to [1]: refers to the fact that very likely, one page with corrections to Op. 111 is missing; to [2]: refers to Beethoven's having urgently requested the sending of a proof sample of the sonata, in August, 1822; to [3]: refers to Op. 111 II T. 46, left hand; to [4]: refers to the fact that from the above-noted corrections, one could conclude that Beethoven refers to the first Paris edition, the engraving plates of which Schlesinger later sent to Berlin; to [5]: might refer to a copy from the plates of the first Paris edition; to [6]: refers to the fact that Diabelli's edition was supported by Beethoven; to [7]: refers to the fact that already in Letter No. 1645 of May 6, 1823, Beethoven had requested proof samples; to [8]: refers to the Title Page of the first and second Paris edition of Op. 111 on which Beethoven's name was printed as "LOUIS DE BEETHOVEN"; details taken from p. 145-147].

  Beethoven an Anton Diabelli

                          [Hetzendorf, zwischen dem 3. und 27. Juni 1823][1]

   sobald die Correctur von der sonate vollendet, senden sie mir selbst samt Französischen E[xemplar][2] wieder zu -- wegen dem Metronom nächstens[3] -- sehen sie gefälligst selbst etwas nach, denn meine Augen können es kaum noch ertragen ohne schaden etwas nachzusehen. --

ihr Freund          


die noch die Variationen betreffende Correctur ersuche mit zu schicken[4[

Für H. V. diabelli"

  Beethoven to Anton Diabelli

                          [Hetzendorf, between June 3 and 27, 1823][1]

   as soon as the correction of the sonata is completed, return it to me including the French sample[2] -- with respect to the metronome, at the next opportunity[3] -- kindly look it up yourself since my eyes can hardly stand this without suffering damage from it. -- 

your friend          


the correction regarding the variation I ask you to send along[4]

For H.V. diabelli"

[Quoted and translated from: Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Volume 5, Letter No. 1668, p. 147 - 148]

[Original: in private hands; to [1]: refers to the proofreading of the Diabelli copy of Sonata Op. 111 that was begun on June 3, 1823; to [2]: refers to a sample of the first Schlesinger Paris edition of Op. 111; to [3]: refers to the fact that Beethoven did not supply metronome markings to Op. 111; to [4]: refers to Op. 120; details taken from p. 148].

Beethoven an Anton Diabelli

                           "[Hetzendorf, zwischen dem 3. und 27. Juni 1823][1]

Ich habe gestern statt <die>der Französischen auflage der Sonate in c moll[2] mein Manuscript in Zerstereuung geschikt, u. bitte mir selbes zurück zu stellen, wenn sie das Französaische zurück verlangen, so werde ich es ihnen gleich zustellen, obschon es mir lieb wär, Es behalten zu können -- der rest der correctur der Variat.[3] wird wohl vollendet seyn, nur bitte ich sie mir selben zur meiner überzeugung gefälligst <bey> mit zu senden, -- was die versprochenen 8 Exempl. anbetrift, so have ich überlegt, daß mir ihr erster Antrag alle 8 auf schönes Papier doch sehr willkommen wäre, in der Ausführung, da ich mir damit einige meiner Freunde verbinden könnte --

   der Montronomm soll beachtet werden,[4] wenn gleich etwas später, da ich zu sehr gedrängt jezt bin. --

ihr Freund


Für Seine wohlgeborn H.[errn] v. Diabelli auf'm Graben"

Beethoven to Anton Diabelli

                           "[Hetzendorf, between June 3 and 27, 1823][1]

Yesterday, insteady of the French edition of the Sonata in c minor[2] I have, in my absentmindedness, sent my manuscript and ask to return it to me, if you want the French edition back, I will send it to you immediately, although I would appreciate it if I could keep it -- the remainder of the correction of the Var.[3] will very likely be completed, only I ask you, for my reassurance, to send it to me, -- as far as the promised 8 samples are concerned, I have thought about it and think that your first offer of all 8 on beautiful paper would be very welcome to me, in that edition, since with them, I could make some of my friends beholden to me --

   the metronome should be observed,[4] although a bit later, since right now, I am in a hurry. -- 

your friend


For His Well-born H.[err] v. Diabelli in the Graben"

[Quoted and translated from: Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Volume 5, Letter No. 1669, p. 148 - 149]

[Original:  Bonn, Beethoven-Haus; to [1]:  refers to the fact that this letter was written one day after Letter No. 1668; to [2]: refers to Op. 111; to [3]: refers to Op. 120; to [4]: refers to Letter No. 1668; details taken from p. 148-149].

 Beethoven an Anton Diabelli

                                                              "[Hetzendorf, Ende Juni 1823][1]  

   Ich rathe ihnen die Sonate in  c moll no[c]h einmal selbst anzusehen, denn der Stech[er] ist nicht Musikal. genug: die Geschwindigkeit entschuldigt zwar auch -- zu dem Ende erhalten sie noch einmal mein Manuscript[2] -- meine Augen verlangen noch immer Schonung --

ihr Freund


   Wenn ich die anderen exempl.[are] von der Sonate Montags nachmittags habe, ist es früh genug, ich danke für die 6 Exempl. u. werde eben so gern für andere 6 meinen dank wiederhohlen

Für Seine Wohlgebohrn H.[errn] v. Diabelli"

 Beethoven to Anton Diabelli

                                              "[Hetzendorf, at the end of June 1823][1]  

   I advise you to look at the Sonata in  c minor once more, yourself, since the engraver is not musical enough:  the hurry is an excuse to some extent -- to this ende, you receive my manuscript[2] once more -- my eyes still require rest -- 

your friend


   If I receive the other samples of the Sonata on Monday, that is early enough, I thank you for the 6 samples and will, equally gladly, repeat my thanks for another 6 

For His Well-Born H.[err] v. Diabelli"

[Quoted and translated from: Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Volume 5, Letter No. 1683, p. 159]

[Original: Bukarest, Rumanian Museum for Music Culture; to [1]: refers to the fact that this letter was written immediately after the printing and publishing of Op. 111 by Cappy & Diabelli; to [2]: refers to Letters 1668 and 1669; details taken from p. 159].

 Beethoven an Anton Felix Schindler

                                      "[Hetzendorf, kurz nach dem 3. Juni 1823][1]

. . . 

  Die Fehler in der Sonate, da müssten sie nach dem gestochenen Examplar die örter sehn, wo sie hier verkauft werden,[3] ich glaube, Es kann nur wenig kosten wenn man sie stechen oder druken läßt, aber alles gleich, u. alsdenn den Verlegern mittheilt, so viel sie nemlich Exempl. haben, alles eilig eiligst, Es ist die rede von den aufgezeigten Fehlern, welche schlemmer abgeschrieb[en][4] wenn schlemmer mit 5 fl. zufrieden ist, so könnte er es auch verdienen jedoch so viel Blätter, als Exemplare, sie müßen aber hier mit zusehen -- alles schnell auf's Schnellste

Für Hr. Schindler"

Beethoven to Anton Felix Schindler

                                         "[Hetzendorf, shortly after June 3, 1823][1]

. . .

  The errors in the sonata, after the engraved example you would have to see the places where they are sold here,[3] I believe, It can only cost little when one has them engraved or printed, but everything right away and then reported to the publishers, as many samples as they namely have, everything speediest speediest, What this refers to is the pointed-out errors that schlemmer has copied[4] if schlemmer is satisfied with 5 fl. then he could earn it right away as many sheets as samples, however, you have to oversee it -- everything speedy the speediest

For Hr. Schindler"

[Quoted and translated from: Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Vol. 5, Letter No. 1670a, p. 149-150]

[Original: Berlin, Staatsbibliothek; to [1]: refers to Beethoven's List of the errors in Op. 111; to [3]: refers to the first Schlesinger edition of Op. 111, to [4]: refers to the fact that a List of errors in O. 111 by Schlemmer has not been preserved; details taken from p. 150].

 Beethoven an Anton Felix Schindler

                                                                          "[Hetzendorf, Juni 1823][1]

 . . . 


   Erkundigen sie sich bey dem Erzflegel Diabelli, wann das französische Exemplar der Sonate in c moll abgedruckt, damit ich es zur Korrektur erhalte,[8] zugleich habe ich mir 4 Exemplare für mich ausgedungen davon, wovon eins auf schönem Papier für den Cardinal,[9] sollte er hier seinen Gewöhnlichen Flegel machen, so werde ich ihm persönlich Bassarie in seinem gewölbe vorsingen, daß das Gewölbe, wie der graben davon erschallen soll --

ihr Unterthänigster Diener


an Hr. v. Schindler"

Beethoven to Anton Felix Schindler

                                                          "[Hetzendorf, June 1823][1]

 . . . 


   Enquire with the archscoundrel Diabelli, when the French copy of the Sonata in c minor will be printed, so that I receive it for correction, [8] at the same time I have asked for 4 copies for myself, of which one on good paper for the Cardinal,[9] should he, here, behave at his usual worst, then I will personally sing him a bass aria in his dungeon that the Graben will resound with it -- 

your most obedient servant


to Hr. v. Schindler"

[Quoted and translated from: Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Vol. 5, Letter No. 1665, p. 162-163]

[Original: Berlin, Staatsbibliothek; to [1]: refers to the fast that on the basis of the mentioning of Diabelli's copy of Op. 111, the letter must have been written between June 3 and June 27, 1823;  to [8]: refers to the Diabello copy of Op. 111; to [9]: refers to Letter no. 1661; details taken from p. 162-163].

Beethoven an Erzherzog Rudolph in Olmütz:

                                                                        "[Hetzendorf, 1 Juli 1823][1]

Eure Kaiserliche Hoheit!

   Seit der Abreise E.K.H.[2] war ich meistens kränklich, ja zuletzt von einem starken Augenwehe befallen,w elches nur insoweit sich gebeßert hat, daß ich seit 8 tägen wieder meine Augen jedoch mit schonung noch brauchen kann. E.K.H. ersehen aus dem Beyfoldengen Recipisse vom 27ten Jun.[i][3] die übersendung einiger Musikal.[ien], die E.K.[H.] schienen vergnügen zu finden an der Sonate in c moll,[4] so glaube ich mir nicht zuviel herauszunehmen, wenn ich Sie mit der Dedication an Höchstdieselben überraschte . . . "

Beethoven to Archduke Rudolph in Olmütz:

                                                       "[Hetzendorf, 1st of July, 1823][1]

Your Imperial Highness!Kaiserliche Hoheit!

   Since the departure of Y.I.H.[2] I have mostly been ailing, nay, lately even been plagued by  a strong pain in my eyes which has only improved insofar as, since 8 days, I can use my eyes again with caution. Y.I.H. see from the attached Recipisse of June 27th[3] the sending of a few musical [items] Y.I.H. appeared to find some pleasure in the Sonata in c minor,[4] so I believe not to be too daring in surprising You with the dedication of the same . . .  "

[Quoted and translated from: Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Vol. 5, Letter No. 1686, p. 163-167]

[Original: Vienna, Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde; to [1]: refers to the fact that in Beethoven's letter, the date is written at the end of the letter; to [2]: refers to the fact that the Archduke visited Vienna from 25th of February 1823 to about after Easter and then left for Olmütz; to [3]: refers to Letter No. 1682 which has not been preserved; to [4]: refers to Op. 111; details taken from p. 166]. 


Antonie Brentano

Let us now turn to Beethoven's plans of publishing this work in England.  With respect to this, we mainly have to rely on Thayer (p. 858-865) and present facts, as usual, in chronological order. This will be followed by a listing of original texts and our own translations of relevant Beethoven correspondence:  

1.  Thayer first refers to Beethoven's agreement with Schlesinger for the publication of three piano sonatas (Op. 109-111) for which Schlesinger, to all appearances, was also to received the rights for England;

2.  In his letter of February 25, 1823, Beethoven is reported as mainly having expressed to his former pupil Ferdinand Ries in London that the latter had already received both sonatas, and on April 25th, he is reported as having written to him: 

" . . . Take care only that the C minor sonata is engraved immediately; I guarantee to the publisher that it will not be published anywhere beforehand, also will I grant him property rights for England if need be, but it must be printed immediately.  . . .  " (Thayer: 8610; 

Thayer argues here, that Beethoven very likely wanted to send to Ries the two Sonatas, Op. 110 and Op. 111.  While Ries had waited for their arrival, he had come to an agreement with Clementi, with respect to the fee; 

3.  However, Schindler is reported by Thayer as having written in a conversation book entry, "I am surprised that Ries has not mentioned anything abut the sonatas.  Wocher believes that he must have received them";

4.  In his Notizen, reports Thayer, Ries (p. 123) pointed out that the sonatas arrived together with the variations.  Thayer assumes that this only happened in July, 1823.  At this time, as Thayer puts it, Ries, to his embarrassment, had to realize that Op. 111 had already been printed in Paris;  

5.  Barry Cooper (p. 288 ff.) points out that " . . .  Beethoven also later sent manuscripts of both sonatas to Ries in London, where they were published in 1823 by Clementi".

For comparison's sake, we might also wish to take a look at Beethoven's letters to Ries of this year, as far as they deal with the publication of Op. 110 and Op. 111:


Beethoven an Ferdinand Ries in London:

                                                                        "Vien am 25ten Febr. 1823

Mein lieber werther Ries!

. . . ich hoffe, sie habe[n]* die Beyden Sonaten erhalten, u. bitte ebenfalls das Schachterthum da <bey> mit auszuüben[7] denn i[ch]* brauche es, der winter u. Mehrere Umstände haben mich wieder zurückgesezt, u. beynahe immer von derFeder leben zu müßen, ist keine Kleinigkeit,  . . . 

-- nun leben sie wohl mein lieber Freund, eilen sie wegen der Sinfonie, u. was sie für die Sonaten u. bagatellen erhalten, überhaupt an Geld übermachen sie bald hieher.  Es ist willkommen -- der Himmel segne Sie, <so> u. laße mich nur auch dazukommen, irgend ihnen eine Gefälligkeit zu erweisen. --

mit den Freundschaftlichsten Gesinnungen ihr


de Vienne.

A Monsieur Ferdinand Ries chez B.A. Goldshmidt et Comp a Londes en Angleterre."

Beethoven to Ferdinand Ries in London:

                                                                        "Vienna the 25th of Febr. 1823

My dear worthy Ries!

. . . I hope you have received both of the sonatas and also ask you to exercise your negotiation skills with it[7] since I need it, the winter and various circumstances have set me back, again, and to almost only live off one's pen is not a small matter, . . . 

-- farewell now, my dear friend, hurry with the Symphony, and what you receive for the sonatas and bagatelles, or in money, at all, send it here, soon.  It is welcome -- heaven bless you and also let me have an opportunity of doing you a favor. -- 

with the friendliest considerations your 


de Vienne.

A Monsieur Ferdinand Ries chez B.A. Goldshmidt et Comp a Londes en Angleterre."

[Quoted and translated from: Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Vol. 5, Letter No. 1580, p. 58 - 60]

[Original:  Bonn, Beethoven-Haus, Bodmer Collection; to [7]: refers to Op. 110 and Op. 111; detail taken from p. 60].

Beethoven an Ferdinand Ries in London:

                                                                               "Wien, den 25. April 1823.

Lieber Ries!

. . . 

nur sorgen sie, daß die in c moll sogleich gestochen,[6] daß selbe nirgens eher erscheint, dafür stehe ich dem verleger gut,[7] werde ihm auch das Eigenthum's recht für England nöthigenfalls zustellen, jedoch muß sie gleich gestochen werden -- . . . "

Beethoven to Ferdinand Ries in London:

                                                         "Vienna, the 25th of April 1823.

Dear Ries!

. . . 

only take care that that in c minor will be engraved immediately,[6] that the same does not appear earlier anywhere else, I guarantee to the publisher,[7] and will, if necessary, also provide him with the publication rights for England, but it has to be engraved, right away -- . . . "

[Quoted and translated from: Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Volume 5, Letter No. 1636, p. 111 - 113]

[Original:  Bonn, Universitätsbibliothek [autograph collection]; to [6]: refers to the English original edition of Op. 111 (Clementi & Co.) that was registered at Stationers Hall on April 25, 1823; to [7]: refers to the French and German original edition of Op. 111 (Maurice and Adolph Schlesinger] which was published in April/Mai 1823; details taken from p. 112-113].


In order to find a calm transitionafter all of this drama, let us note in conclusion that Grove lists Op. 111 as dedicated to Archduke Rudolph and as published in 1823 in Paris, Berlin and London, whereby the London edition was dedicated to Antonie Brentano). 




In our look at the musical content of this sonata we follow the pattern indicated in our introductory comments on music criticism offered here.  This pattern offers you comments in the following sequence: 




Each category can be directly accessed by clicking on the above links.  Therefore, if you prefer one kind of comment(s) over another, you can make your own selection. 


Here, we turn again to the Beethoven researchers Kinderman and Cooper:   

"Like op. 110 the design of Beethoven's final sonata op. 111 shows a powerful directional progression towards its finale, consisting, as in op. 109, of a weighty series of variations on a contemplative, hymn-like theme.  The variations on the Arietta in C major that form the second movement of op. 111 are more tightly integrated than those that close op. 109 and unfold according to the venerable device whereby each transformation of the theme brings increasing subdivisions in rhythm.  Beethoven carries this process so far in op. 111 that the series of rhythmic diminutions first transforms the original character without altering the basic tempo, and then re-approaches the sublime quality of the choral-like theme, as the most rapid rhythmic textures, culminating in sustained trills, are reached in the closing stages.  Something of the same plan underlies the final variation in the finale of op. 109, but in his final sonata Beethoven developed this procedure to serve as the structural basis for the entire closing movement.  The variations on the Arietta became a suitable culmination and resolution for the work, which dispenses with any further movements and leaves the tempestuous C minor idiom of the opening Allegro  far behind.  Moritz Schlesinger's naive query whether a concluding third movement had been omitted from the manuscript was received disdainfully by Beethoven, who is supposed to have responded to a similar question from Schindler with the ironic, and perhaps even contemptuous remark that he had 'no time to write a finale, and so had therefore somewhat extended the second movement'.(26 Thayer-Forbes, p. 786) devoted a chapter of his famous novel Doktor Faustus to the piece, and had the fictional character Wendell Kretzschmar describe the climactic and yet open quality of the end of the Arietta movement as an 'end without any return', comprising a farewell to the art form of the sonata in general.

The first movement of op. 111 represents the last example of Beethoven's celebrated 'C minor mood', evidenced in a long line of works from the String Trio op. 9 no. 3 and Pathethique Sonata to the Coriolan Overture and Fifth Symphony.  As in these works great stress is placed on diminished-seventh chords in a turbulent, dissonant idiom.  As in the Pathetique there is a slow introduction, but the greater musical tension of the later sonata is evident at once in the tonal ambiguity of the octaves outlining the diminished-seventh interval E-flat-E(subscript #), and in the use of the three possible diminished-seventh chords in the opening sequences, emphasized by majestic double-dotted rhythms and trills.  The closest relative to this passage is Beethoven's setting of the Crucifixus in the Missa solemnis, as Mellers has pointed out.(27 Beethoven and the Voice of God, p. 324) The tension of the slow introduction is systained in the pianissimo continuation, leading first to a convergence onto a dominant pedal expressed as a bass trill, and then to a transition to the new tempo, Allegro con brio ed appassionato, and the long-delayed resolution of the trill to C minor that marks the beginning of the sonata exposition.  The interval of the diminished seventh is incorporated promimently into the principal subject, which is first presented in unison octaves and is developed only gradually, after several hesitating closes on the tonic.  A major portion of the sonata exposition (bars 35-50) consists of a fugal exposition on a variant of this subject, combined with a countersubject in octaves.  This material is coordinated to create a large-scale ascending progression, beginning on C and rising through an octave, bevore the bass brings the music climactically to D-flat, D-? and finally E-flat (bars 48-50 . . . 0.  This extraordinary climax is underscored by the registral disparities of the sustained pitches played in the right hand, F-D-flat-D-?-C-?, which represent a variant, in rhythmic augmentation, of the principal fugal motif.  The shift from this low D to the high C-flat traverses an ascent of almost five octaves, so that the motif appears enlarged, or gapped, over an immense tonal space.  Then, suddenly, with the arrival of the bass at E-flat in bar 50, a lyrical voice is heard in the contrasting key of A-flat major.  A three-bar phrase with expressive appoggiaturas fills bars 50-2, a fleeting lyrical moment that is extended by a decorated restatement in the following bars and by a gradual slowing in tempo to Adagio

The formal isolation of this lyrical second subject is an example of Beethoven's important technique of parenthetical enclosure, a device that also surfaces prominently in two of his immediately preceding works--the first movement of op. 109 (as we have seen) and the Credo of the Missa solemnis.  In op. 111 this technique assumes special significance as a means of linking the two movements, which are so antithetical in character.  An effect of parenthetical enclosure is created not only through the sudden thematic and tonal contrast and slowing in tempo but also through the sudden return of the original tempo and agitated musical character at the upbeat to bar 56, where Beethoven brings back the same diminished-seventh sonority heard earlier, when the climactic progression had been broken off . . .  Here the high C-flat is stressed as the clear link back to the earlier passage, and the diminished seventh is elaborated by descending sequences through those pitch registers that had been spanned in the earlier gesture.  Consequently, the intervening lyrical utterance in A-flat major is isolated, like 'a soft glimpse of sunlight illuminating the dark, stormy heavens', in the imagery of Mann's character Kretzschmar in Doktor Faustus.

In the recapitulation this lyrical material is not so easily swept aside; rather, Beethoven extends the passage and, beginning in bar 128, reshapes it to lead us back into the tempest.  The lyrical passage has now reached C major, the key of the second movement; when it slows to adagio in bars 120-1, it seems to foreshadow the sublime atmosphere of the Arietta finale.  A direct transition to the ensuring Arietta is built into the coda, when threefold phrases resolving plagally to the tonic major seem to resolve the tension and strife of those threefold phrases that had opened the slow introduction.  The rhythm and register of the last bars of the coda allude unmistakably to the forceful diminished-seventh chords that interrupted the lyrical episode in the exposition (bars 55-6).  Here, however, the diminished seventh is resolved, once and for all, into the C major triad, whose high register and wide spacing foreshadow aspects of the Arietta and variations, marked Adagio molto semplice e cantabile.

The Arietta movement is perhaps the most extraordinary example of a new type of variation set characteristic of Beethoven's later years.  Formerly, variations were most often used in inner movements of the sonata cycle; but here, and in op. 109, they assume such weight and finality as to render any further movements superfluous.  As we have said, the op. 111 variations are based structurally on the model provided by the final variation of op. 109; there, a reprise of the slow rhythmic values of the original theme is followed by a series of rhythmic diminutions culminating in sustained trills.  Now, in the op. 111 Arietta movement, each variation brings diminutions in the rhythmic texture without affecting the slow basic tempo: consequently, the theme seems to evolve from within through a rigorously controlled process.  By the third variation, there is a resulting transformation in character, due to the agitation and complexity of the rhythm, which Beethoven notates in the metre 12/32.  Thereafter, in the fourth variation, the tremolos and arabesques of thirty-second-note triplets, together with the syncopated chords in the right hand and the striking registral contrasts, create an ethereal atmosphere, as if the music has entered a transfigured realm.

The outcome of this gradual process of rhythmic diminution is reached in the cadenza that precedes the recpitulatory fifth variation.  This cadenza and the following transition represent an extended parenthesis in the formal plan, for the cadence in C major is fully prepared before the cadenza is reached but is delayed by a protracted trill on the supertonic.  Moments later this trill becomes part of a sustained triple trill above a B-flat pedal point, and the tonality shifts for the first time, to E-flat major.  Beethoven contemplates the theme from within, as an ascent into the highest register unfolds, expressed entirely through trills.  Here a phrase from near the end of the first half of the theme is heard in E-flat major, with a vast registral gap between treble and bass, a feature that fascinated Thomas Mann's Kretzschmar.  As Charles Rosen has observes, this episode seems to suspend the flow of time (28: The Classical Style, p. 446) it involves an intensely contemplative vision embedded within the context of a variation series which is itself highly introspective.  The contemplative vision is not untouched by darker shadows, however; immediately after the climax in E-flat, we hear a modulating espressivo passage that meditates on the head of Arietta theme in rhythmic diminution, with a striking drop in register.  This poignant transition absorbs diminished-seventh harmonies which are subtly reminiscent of the first movement, and suggests thereby a moment of regression in the developmental unfolding of the whole.

The ensuing fifth variation then restores the C major tonality and brings a synthesis and superimposition of the various rhythmic levels: the triplet thirty-second-notes in the bass derive from the ethereal fourth variation, while the sixteenths in the inner part derive from the transition and the first two variations.  Here Beethoven recapitulates the original Arietta theme in a formal gesture of considerable weight and significance.  This movement is the first important example of the ageing Beethoven's preference for decorated recapitulatory variations preceded by episodes in foreign keys, a procedure at work in the slow variation movements of two of the late quartets, opp. 127 and 131, as well as in the third movement of the Ninth Symphony.  In the coda of the op. 111 Arietta, however, we move beyond this recapitulatory gesture, entering a second and more ethereal synthesis of rhythmic levels.  The theme is now heard in the high register, accompanied by the triplet sixteenths in the left hand, and the sustained trill, now on high G.

In retrospect, the climactic progression of the variations can be seen to involve not only a system of progressive rhythmic diminutions but also a gradual registral ascent in which the dominant, G, assumes a central role.  This pitch is already emphasized at the close of the theme and the first two variations, where it is approached through a long crescendo and underscored by a sforzando.  In the fourth variation the arrival at G in the high register marks the moment of departure from the structural framework of the theme, leading into the cadenza-like passage with its multiple trills.  In the recapitulatory fifth variation the climax falls on the widely spaced dominant chord of a major ninth, with the pitch of melodic resolution, G, then sustained through much of the following coda.  The tonal and textural weight of this gesture on the dominant resonates beyond the closing tonic resolution, contributing thereby to the sense of openness of the final cadence and to the directional quality of the whole.

In the performance of the variations, it is essential to sustain continuity between the still, contemplative aura of the theme and the gradual transformation in character effected by the intensification of rhythm and expansion of register and contrapuntal texture in the first three variations.  The highly agitated character of Variation 3 leaves room, in the piano phrases at the beginning of its second half, for a subtle anticipation of the ethereal quality of later passages; the extroverted energy expressed in the jagged, accented rhythms of this variation is then reshaped in variation 4 to become an even faster yet now suspended, inward pulsation.  Important as well is an identity in tempo between the original theme and the recapitulatory fifth variation and coda.  As the theme is recapture, so too are various developmental stages recalled from the intervening variations.

The Arietta theme itself is one of the most sublime examples among Beethoven's piano works of that hymn-like character that often inspired reflective slow movements surrounded by contrasting outer ones.  Here, however, the inward vision is more sustained and far more affirmative and ecstatic than in earlier slow movements; yet, this variation framework is not incompatible with dynamic processes, such as the system of rhythmic diminutions and the modulating cadenza preceding the recapitulatory fifth variation. Being and Becoming are merged here into a unified structure.  The uplifting and visionary quality of the second half of the Arietta derives not only from the transformation of the theme and from the culminating effect of synthesis and recapitulation, but also from the role of this movement as a transcendence of the turbulent Allegro movement and all it implies.  In many respects, the Arietta strives toward perfection, whereas the Allegro is obviously imperfect, even the progression from the duple metre of the opening movement to the triple metre of the Arietta movement, with its many subdivisions in groups of three, is significant in this connection.

Various commentators have rightly perceived a philosophical and even religous dimension in this great work.  As Alfred Brendel has pointed out, the dichotomy embodied in the two movements of op. 111 has been variously described in terms of 'Samsara and Nirwana' (von Bülow), the 'Here and Beyons' (Edwin Fischer), and 'Resistance and Submission' (Lenz); Brendel also mentions the dichotomy of 'Male and Female Principles' (of which Beethoven sometimes spoke) and that of the real and the mystical world. (29 'Beethoven's New Style', Music Sounded Out, p. 71)  IT is revealing in this connection to compare op. 111 with some of Beethoven's other works from the 1820's.  In the Ninth Symphony, by contrast, the contemplative, inwardly absorbed slow variation movement leads to a reconfrontation with the 'external world' in the form of the dissonant Schreckensfanfare and the ensuing setting of Schiller's Ode to Joy in the choral finale.  In op. 111, of course, the reflective modality governs the conclusion; there are few hints here of a strife-ridden 'world background', such as the music of war that haunts the Agnus Dei of the Missa solemnis.

The conclusion of the preceding sonata, op. 110, for all its transcendental characteristics, projects a greater senses of an 'absorption of the world' through its distortion of the fugal subject in the double-diminution passage and its ensuing emergence out of the fugal labyrinth in the closing passages of apotheosis.  But any convincing assessment of op. 111 has to stress more than the remarkable power and coherence of Beethoven's transformations of the Arietta, with their cumulative sense that the contemplative vision has become more real than the 'external' world symbolized in the Allegro; crucial as well is the complementary relationship of the two movements.  As we have seen, Beethoven's use of parenthetical enclosure places a foreshadowing of the Arietta into the midst of the first movement; in the recapitulation and coda this tentative foreshadowing grows into a transition to the Arietta itself.  At the same time, in his coda Beethoven balances and transforms important passages heard earlier in the movement, such as the beginning of the slow introduction and the assertion of diminished sevenths that had cut off the lyrical second subject in the exposition.  The symbolism projected in op. 111 thus has two principal moments: the acceptance and resolution of conflict embodied in the Allegro and transition to the Arietta; and the rich, dynamic synthesis of experience projected in the ensuing variations.

Beethoven's last piano sonata is a monument to his conviction that solutions to the problems facing humanity lie ever within our grasp if they can be recognized for what they are and be confronted by models of human transformation.  Maynard Solomon has argued that 'Masterpieces of art are instilled with a surplus of constantly renewable energy--an energy that provides a motive force for changes in the relations between human beings--because they contain projections of human desires and goals which have not yet been achieved (which indeed may be unrealizable)' (30 Beethoven, pp. 315-16)  Among Beethoven's instrumental works op. 111 assumes a special position as an 'effigy of the ideal', in Schiller's formulation; and every adequate performance must reenact something of this process, reaching as it does beyond the merely aesthetic dimension of the moral and ethical"  (Kinderman: 231-237).

"Op. 111 begins with a dramatic downward lead of a diminished 7th, followed by a full diminished 7th chord.  Such an idea was not completely unprecedented--the third 'Razumovsky' Quartet also begins with a diminished 7th cord, while the Fantasia, Op. 77 begins with descending scales outlining the same chord; nevertheless it was unusual for Beethoven to begin with such ambiguous tonality, and the power of the opening gesture admirably sets the mood for what follows.  The slow introduction leads without a break into a stormy Allegro, in which the main theme includes a striking diminished 4th.  Melodic disjunction thus plays a key role in this movement, and it reaches the non plus ultra during the second subject group (bars 32-4), where what sounds as a single melodic line includes leaps of over four octaves (the leaps are even larger in the repacitulation, but less angular).  Beethoven, following the lead of Mozart and Handel, had long been developing large melodic leaps, in works such as Fidelio and Meeresstille, and he had even sketched a leap of two octaves for the words 'Et resurrexit' in the Missa solemnis.  The piano, however, provided far more scope than any singer, and he was by now increasingly exploring the outer limits of the enlarged keyboard.

Despite all its dramatic power, expressive ritenutos, and ingenious invertible counterpoint, the first movement is perhaps surprisingly conventional, echoing the mood of several other C minor works.  Indeed, Czerny even believed it to have been composed at some earlier date.  The second movement, by contrast, possesses an extraordinary visionary quality, transcending all previous piano music and even challenging the limits of the notational system in which it was written.  Conventional notation, unlike medieval notation, is designed primarily for binary subdivisions of each note value, and copes much less with ternary divisions, which require numerous triples signs and/or dotted notes.  In these variations Beethoven explored some of the possibilities of ternary division (possibilities that had lain neglected since the fifteenth century), creating notational peculiarities that bewildered some of his contemporaries.

The 'Arietta' theme is deceptively simple, with a cantabile melody whose opening C-G-D-G recalls that of the Diabelli Variations; unlike Diabelli's theme, however, the broad outline of the first phrase is C . . . E . . . B, a subtle reference to the C-E-flat-B of the first-movement theme.  The Arietta consists of two conventionally repeated pairs of four-bar phrases, although these are run together to create an almost seamless continuity that is typical of late Beethoven.  The metre. however, is an unusual 9/16, providing a hint of the ternary divisions to follow.  The theme is followed by four variations which, following age-old tradition, use increasingly short note values, so that bars in successive variations are typically divided into 9, 12, 24, and 27 notes.  The fourth variation is a double one (the repeates being written out and varied differently), and it is followed by an extended developmental interlude before the final variation (bars 130-46), which omits the repeats, and a substantial coda.  Thus the structure, theme--four variations--link--final variation--coda, resembles that of several of the variation sets written for Thomson (Opp. 105 and 107).

In its metrical scheme, however, the movement is highly innovative.  The rhythm of the opening figure, quaver-semiquaver, is developed obsessively in variation 1, and reappears twice as fast (with the note values halved) in Variation 2, then twice as fast again (note values quartered0 in Variation 3.  To accommodate these subdivisions within the underlying three-beat pulse, Beethoven resorts to peculiar time signatures of 6/16 and 12/32.  These are not strictly correct by modern rules, since the former implies two groups of three semiquavers and the latter four groups of three demisemiquavers, but these conventions were not established in Beethoven's day.  His notation is anyway perfectly comprehensible, and no modern time signature is capable of indicating a bar consisting of three beats each of which divides into four sub-beats which in turn divide into three.  More confusing is his omission of triplet signs and dots, so that in Variation 2 some semiquavers are longer than others (depending on whether or not they are followed by a demisemiquaver--an unintentional revival of a medieval convention formerly applied to breves and semibreves).  A similar situation arises in Variation 3.  From Variation 4 onwards each beta divides into nine, and so the correct time signature would be 27/32, but Beethoven uses 9/16 with implied triplet signs.  thus the Theme and Variation 1 contain bars of 3 x 3; in Variation 2 it is 3 x 2 x 3; in Variation 3 it is 3 x 2 x 2 x 3; and from Variation 4 it is 3 x 3 x 3.  It is remarkable that such strange mathematical puzzles could come from a composer who was, as he admitted himself, so bad at arithmetic.

In Variation 3 the incessant, fast lilting rhythms, combined with chords struck fractionally before the beat, create an extraordinarily forward-looking, jazz-like effect.  The fourth variation is even more remarkable, with shimmering sounds in a low register alternating every eight bars with extremely high, delicate twingling.  Huge contrasts of register continue in the remainder of the movement, and sound particularly striking on a piano of Beethoven's period, where differences in tone between high and low notes were much greater than on a modern piano.  During the coda, trills figure prominently, and the movement ends with the opening figure inverted to form a closing gesture in typical Beethoven manner.  When Moritz Schlesinger received Op. 111 he enquired tentatively whether there might not be a third movement, accidentally forgotten by the copyist.  Superficially this seems a plausible supposition, since sonatas usually had three movements, with a quick finale after an Adagio.  Yet surely nobody who heard this sonata could possibly imagine anything to follow this enormous, unfathomable and uplifting movement" (Cooper: 288-291).


Let us take a look as what Joachim Kaiser has to say about this sonata: 

Kaiser refers to this sonata, of course, as Beethoven's lat piano sonata, but not as his last great piano work nor his last time that he dealt with the sonata form and agrees that it is a >>testament<<, but only in that sense that in it, Beethoven stretched musical characteristics to their outermost boundaries or to their purest form.  

He then asks the question as to whether the two-movement form of this sonata is a real problem or just an imaginary problem, and he refers again to Jean and Brigitte Massin who read from the sketches, in their work >Beethoven<, an original three-movement concept and also refers to Beethoven's publisher Schlesinger who had expected three movements and enquired as to whether the third movement might, accidentally, have been left behind at the copyist's.  .  .  .    

Analysts and itnerpreters, continues Kaiser, agree in confirmation that, after the Arietta finale of Op. 111, there could not have followed a third movement.  Prod'homme (>Beethovens Klaviersonaten<,  p. 275), reports Kaiser, in contrast, appears to already discern a two-movement design in the sketches.  

Kaiser then refers to Thomas Mann's novel >Doktor Faustus< and that, since its existence, Op. 111 also is described as "the sonata that Thomas Mann wrote about", and that in Chapter VIII of this novel, the organist and composer  Wendell Kretzschmar holds an enthusiastic speech on the question as to why Beethoven, to his Piano Sonata Op. 111, has not written a third movement.  Thomas Mann, continues Kaiser, uses here, as he would report in Chapter V. of his book on the writin of >>Doktor Faustus<<, suggestions that he had reeceived in form of a >>highly instructive<< interpretation by Theodor W. Adorno and that, what Adorno explained to Mann in 1943 agrees in principle with his ideas that he had expressed in his essay, >Spätstil Beethovens<.  Unfortunately, argues Kaiser, the Adorno/Mann interpetation does not stand repeated reading too well.  Certainly, admits Kaiser, in some details, it is poetically elaborate, yet the thesis that is presented is somewhat forced.  . . . 

. . .  K In conclusion, Kaiser writes that beneath the visible two-part design of Op. 111 there is hidden a three-part design, and already the development of the weighty Maestoso introduction via the Allegro to the Variation Adagio could be understood as a three-part design and one can also consider the introduction, itself, to be comprised of three different characteristics, but also the subsequent three-part first movement and the variations, that also contain a clear three-part design:  theme and variation 1-3, the double variation as a gigantic middle part, followed by the synthesis of the last variation. However, continues Kaiser, Beethoven undermines the two-part design which is contradicted by the three-part structures, in the following way:  the pp-C-Major-finale of the first movement appears to already anticipate the calm of the Arietta, the gigantic heightening in the last variation is again barely covered or reached by the heading of the movement,  >>molto semplice e cantabile<<, since here, writes Kaiser, the music certainly speaks in the language of an enthusiastic C-Major finale, and only the coda restores the Adagio peace, at a new level, taking its leave.  (Kaiser: 608-609).


The active pianist Anton Kuerti provides us with the following overview: 

"In "Dr. Faustus," Thomas Mann asserts that Op. 111 is the farewell to the piano sonata as a genre, that after the medium was exhausted and obsolete.  Others feel Beethoven might eventually have written more sonatas, and that any of the last five sonatas would have made a fitting and memorable conclusion to this extraordinary chronicle.  For there is simply no way, in dealing with these pinnacles of musical art, to say which is the highest, as their blinding summits defy triangulation.

Op. 111 stands on only two colossal legs, each with a single-minded continuity that contrasts with the many changes of tempo and mood and the shorter movements found in its siblings.

The contrast between these movements could not be greater.  The first is passionate, strident, angular, and complex in its moody key of C minor; the last, in the untroubled key of C major, is smooth, resigned, and transcendentally sweet.  Some see here portrayed first the strive and terror of the world, and then the peace and spirituality of the hereafter.

Maestoso; Allegro con brio ed appassionato

The short introduction opens with three bolts of lightning, followed by a lengthy ebbing away, still in the same double-dotted rhythm as the opening, but the energy apparently neutralized by the three spent bolts.  This introduction serves as an ominous fanfare setting the dark mood, like the first scene of Macbeth, without introducing any of the main characters.

The short and thunderous six-note flourish that opens the Allegro (34) is enormously expanded into a theme by a series of extensions.  The fact that everything important is proclaimed immediately and the rest of the theme is just an echoing, rambling extension, is what gives it such a powerfully assertive character.  The whole movement is essentially a wrathful working out of this motive; aside from one short counter-motive (35), added at the start of the highly contrapuntal transition, and the extremely brief, luminously melodic second subject (36), there is no other thematic material introduced until the coda, where a single fresh phrase surprises us (37).  There the excitement of the movement goes underground, and we end in a chilling C major, which makes the movement take on an even more gloomy aspect, like a very dark and bleak painting with one isolated ray of sunshine.

Arietta: Adagio molto semplice e cantabile

The Arietta, which is followed by five variations, is one of the sublimest and simplest themes ever created.  Groups of three give a sense of roundness in music.  In this theme everything is round as can be, for not only are there three pulses to the measure, but each pulse is itself subdivided into three notes, the meter being 9/16.  The first half of the theme is glowing, sweet and untroubled, while the second (38), starting in A minor, contains a hint of darkness, as a small cloud temporarily cases a shadow.

In each of the first three variations the motion approximately doubles, although the tempo remains constant.  While the basic melody and harmony are unaltered, exquisite chromatic passing notes are added, which give increasing opulence to the texture and the expression.

The impetuous jazz-like drive of the third variation (39) gives us the impression that Beethoven is battering at the limits of variation form, trying to gather sufficient energy to jump out of the variation and rid himself of it constraints.  He passes instead to a calm double variation (40); instead of repeating each half he writes two consecutive variations on the first half.  The angelic figurations glistening high in the treble, transparent and sparse, are intoxicating.

We pass on now to a free passage (41) that modulates grandly, with an endless trill, to E-flat major.  The trill continues in a long chain, desperate to evoke life from the deadest of instruments.  AS Beethoven climbs to the highest point and introduces a fragment of the theme, the trill suddenly ceases (42), just when it is most needed.  It is an unprecedented moment: the bass and treble both play single notes separated by five octaves, as though the composer were telling this theme, "There, I leave you to stand on your own." It sings on briefly with a lonely forcefulness, and then gradually sinks back to earth, in an inspired transition that leads us back to C major and a final variation (43), which restates the theme, now sumptuously orchestrated and imbued with a growing forcefulness and grandeur--one of the great noble moments in all music.

It is here that we finally escape from variation form, as Beethoven seizes the main motive (44) (Now altered to a descending third), and repeating it with ever increasing fire, brings the movement to an unexpectedly passionate climax.  He seems to be crying out, as he starts the coda, still with the same motive, that he is free at last from the shackles of variation form, and can spontaneously and joyously pour out his whole heart.

Under an incandescent shower of high trills, the coda (45) states just the first sunny half of the theme, before dissolving into the celestial figurations used in the fourth variation.  A final farewell to the seminal descending fourth (46) (which is then subtly inverted and echoed in the bass) closes off one of the most exalted pieces of music ever written." (Kuerti: 55-57).

Let us, perhaps, conclude with Thomas Mann's comment on the conclusion of this sonata, in his novel, Doctor Faustus:

"But when it ends and while it ends, something comes, after so much rage, persistence, obstinacy, extravagance; something entirely unexpected and touching in its mildness and goodness. With the motif passed through many vicissitudes, which takes leave and so doing becomes itself entirely leave-taking, a parting wave and call, with this D G G occurs a slight change, it experiences a small melodic expansion.    After an introductory C, it puts a C sharp before the D . . .  and this added C Sharp is the most moving, consolatory, pathetically reconciling thing in the world.  It is like having one's hair or cheek stroked, lovingly, understandingly, like a deep and silent farewell look.  . . . " (Mann: 55).

Here, we offer you a chance to listen to a midi file of this sonata, via the following link: 

Kunst der Fuge: Beethoven-Sonatas

We wish you a great deal of listening enjoyment!

For those of you who want to explore this topic further in a serious manner, we can offer you a link to the Beethoven Bibliography Data Base of the Ira Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies in San Jose, California:

Opus 111 - Search