Beethoven at the Beginning
of the 19. Century


Many who have studied Beethoven's life have come to the conclusion that, in spite of its rather "uneventful" nature, it had its own, vital inner dynamic.   This discrepancy between a certain lack of outer events and the inner dynamic of his life also holds true in a comparison of his general life circumstances and the vital elements of the creation history of op. 29.

It was in 1796, the year in which op. 4 was published, that we find first traces of his loss of hearing.  Following the suspenseful further development of this inner dynamic, we arrive in the year 1801, in which it would become clear to him that his loss of hearing was to be permanent.  As we already know, during the summer of this year, he wrote to two of his closest friends, Wegeler and Amenda, to tell them of this turn of events.   We can read more details on this in our Biographical Pages and in our pages on Beethoven's friendships with Wegeler and Amenda.

1801 was also the year in which Beethoven composed the second work of the string quintet genre that Maynard Solomon described as a masterwork.   Both Thyer-Forbes [p. 296 and p. 298] and William Kinderman [p. 72]  report that this work was written in 1801.  With respect to it, Barry Cooper reports:

 "None of Beethoven's personal struggles of 1801 are evident in the music written that summer.  After finishing his four piano sonatas, his next major composition was a String Quintet in C commissioned by Count Fries, probably written in the summer . . . " [Cooper: 110].


Graf Fries

 In this section, we will come across this Beethoven patron again.  However, let us first try to find out what publisher Beethoven gave this work to.



With respect to this, we should again consult the Henle-Gesamtausgabe.  In it, we first come across this letter Kaspar Karl van Beethoven wrote to Breitkopf & Härtel in Leipzig:

"Kaspar Karl van Beethoven an Breitkopf & Härtel in Leipzig

                                                                                              [Wien, 28 März 1802]


Sie haben unß neulich mit einem schreiben beehrt, und den Wunsch geäußert etwas von meines Bruders Komposition zu haben,[1] aber damals war es uns nicht möglich Ihren Wunsch zu erfüllen, denn, wir hatten nichts fertig. Jetz aber ist es uns ein Vergnügen wenn wir Ihnen mit einem neuen grosen Quintet für 2 Violini, 2 Viole, et Violoncello dienen können,[2] welches wir aber nicht anders als 38 Ducaten Wienerwähring [sic] geben können.

. . . 

Uibrigens müßen Sie meinem Bruder nicht übel nehmen, das er nicht selbst an Ihnen geschrieben, indem ich alle seine Geschäften besorge.

                                                                                                              Karl v. Beethowen

Wien am 28. März 1802

   Unter beyliegender Adresse bitte ich künftig Ihre Briefe zu schicken.

A Charles v Beethoven
k.k. Kassabeamter
abzugeben am Universitätzplatz im k.k. BancoHauß No.> 796 beym Portier in Wien.

"Kaspar Karl van Beethoven to Breitkopf & Härtel in Leipzig

                                                                                              [Vienna, 28th of March, 1802]

Honorable Gentlemen,

Lately, you have honored us with a letter and expressed the wish to have some of the compositions of my brother,[1] however, at that time it was not possible for us to fulfill your wish, since nothing was ready.  However, now it would be a pleasure to be able to serve you with a new great quintet for 2 violins, 2 violas, and violoncello,[2] that we, however, can not give away for less than 38 ducats in Viennese [sic] currenty.

. . . 

By the way, you must not take it amiss that my brother did not write to you, himself, since I am looking after all of his business affairs.

                                                                                                              Karl v. Beethowen
                                                                                                                                   R.I. Cashier

Vienna on the 28th of March 1802

   I would ask you to send all future correspondence to the attached address.

A Charles v Beethoven
R. I. Cashier
to be delivered to the Universitätzplatz in the R. I. BancoHouse No.> 796, to the receptionist, in Vienna.


[Source:  Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Vol. 1, Letter No. 81, p. 102-103; Original: Bonn, Beethoven-Haus, Bodmer Collection; to [1]: probably refers to Letter No. 72 of November 28, 1081 or to a letter that was even dated earlier, perhaps Letter No. 59; to [2]: refers to op. 29; information taken from p. 103].

Considering the delivery speed of those days, the publisher replied fairly quickly:

 Breitkopf & Härtel an Beethoven

                                                                                               [Leipzig, 5. oder 6. April 1802][1]

[Laut GA nimmt der Verlag das Angebot von op. 29 an und teilt mit, dass er seinen Wiener Geschäftspartner[2] mit der Auszahlung des Honorars, 38 Dukaten, bei Übergabe des Manuskripts beauftragt habe. Er bittet um Ausstellung einer Eigentumsbestätigung[3] und erkundigt sich laut GA nach dem Preis der anderen abgenommenen Werke].

 Breitkopf & Härtel to Beethoven

                                                                                               [Leipzig, April 5 or 6, 1802][1]

[According to the GA, the publisher accepted the offer of op. 29 and advised that the publisher's Viennese business partner[2] has been ordered to pay out the 38 ducats upon delivery of the manuscript. The publisher asked for a written ownership declaration[3] and, according to the GA, enquired about the price of other purchased works].

[Source:  Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe Vol. 1, Letter No. 83, p. 104-105; Original: not known; pursuant to the GA, the existence and content of the letter was taken from the registration notes on Letters NO. 81 and 86; to [1]: refers to the fact that, according to the registration note, this letter was written on April 6, 1802; to [2]: according to the GA, this refers to the wholesaler Kunz & Comp. at the Hauptmarkt No. 775; to [3]: refers to the fact that the ownership declaration was, pursuant to the GA, only written in January, 1803; information taken from p. 105].

With respect to the delivery of the work we can observe that, according to "Beethovenish" conditions, it followed fairly quickly, as well:

Kaspar Karl van Beethoven an Breitkopf  & Härtel in Leipzig

                                                                                             Wien am 22 April 1802

Hr.  Härtl!

Wir haben Ihren Brief vom 5t dieses erhalten,[1] und das Quintet fortgeschickt.[2]  Keinen Schein haben wir unterschrei-[ben] können, weil Sie vergessen haben einen einzulegen,[3] . . .  

. . . 

. . .

. . .

ich bin mit vieler Hochachtung

                                                                                             Karl v Beethoven.

Als ich meinem Bruder sagte, das ich an Euer wohlgebohrnen geschreiben, so hat er mir beiliegendes an sie gegeben.[10]

de Vienne

A Monsieur Monsieur Hertl a Leipzig

uiber Prag

Kaspar Karl van Beethoven to  Breitkopf  & Härtel in Leipzig

                                                                                             Vienna, the 22nd of April 1802

Mr.  Härtl,

We have received your letter of the 5th of this month,[1] and we have sent off the Quintet.[2]  We were not able to sign an ownership declaration form, since you have forgotten to attach one,[3] . . .  

. . . 

. . .

. . .

I am, yours most respectfully,

                                                                                             Karl v Beethoven.

When I told my brother that I am writing to you, he gave me the attached for you.[10]

de Vienne

A Monsieur Monsieur Hertl a Leipzig

via Prag


[Source:  Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Vol. 1, Letter No. 83, p. 107-108; Original: Bonn, Beethoven-Haus, Bodmer Collection; to [1]: refers to Letter No. 83.; to [2]: refers to op. 29; to [3]: refers to the fact that, according to the GA, the ownership declaration was only signed in January 1803, probably in connection with the Artraia pirate print; to [10]: refers to Letter No. 86; details taken from p. 107-108].

Beethoven an Breitkopf & Härtel in Leipzig

                                                                                                [Wien, 22. April 1802][1] 

Ich behalte mir vor euer hochwohlgebohrn nächstens selbst zu sch[r]eiben -- Viele Geschäfte -- und zugleich manche Verdrießlichkeiten[2] -- machten mich eine zeitlang zu manchen dingen ganz unbrauchbar-- unterdessen können sie ganz auf meinen Bruder Vertrauen -- der überhaupt all meine Sachen führt. --

mit Wahrer Achtung ganz ihr


Beethoven to Breitkopf & Härtel in Leipzig

                                                                                                [Vienna, the 22nd of April 1802][1] 

I shall reserve the pleasure of writing to you, esteemed Sir, in the near future--a great deal of business--and, at the same time, a great deal of displeasure[2]--rendered me quite useless for some things, for some time--in the meantime, you can totally rely on my brother who, by the way, looks after all of my matters.--

with true esteem entirely yours,



[Source: Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Vol. 1, Letter No. 86, p. 108-109; Original: Bonn, Beethoven-Haus, Bodmer Collection; to [1]: refers to the fact that this letter was written on account of Letter No. 85 of April 22, 1802; to [2]: refers to Beethoven's reference to the failure of his plans for an academy concert; to [3]: refers to Kaspar Karl van Beethoven; details taken from p. 108-109].

Here, it is appopriate to once again consider Beethoven's life circumstances of this period of the summer and fall of 1802.   As we know from our Biographical Pages and from relevant, already existing creation histories of our website, Beethoven spent this summer mostly at Heiligenstadt near Vienna in order to find relief from his increaing hearing loss, in the hope that his situation might improve.  From his "Heiligenstadt Will" of October 1802, we know that this hope had been crushed.

It is mainly left to our own imaginations to consider in what emotional state he returned to Vinna in the fall of 1802.  With respect to the fate of op. 29, Thayer-Forbes offers us the following first impression that begins with Beethoven's humorous lines to his friend Zmeskall:

"Another letter to Zmeskall who noted on it the date November 13, 1802, runs as follows:

Dear Z. -- Cancel definitely your music-making at Förster's, nothing else can be done;--

We shall rehearse at your house tomorrow morning at half past 8 and the production will be at my house at eleven--

Addio excellent plenipotentiarius regni Beethovenensis;

The rascals have been jailed as they deserved in their own handwriting.

This second letter makes reference to two separate matters that deserve attention.  "At my house" was no longer in the Hamberger House on the Bastion, but in the one pointed out by Czerny:  "Beethoven lived a little later (about 1802) on the Petersplatz, the corner house beside the Guard-house, vis-a-vis of my present lodgings, in the fourth[?} story, where I visited him as often as I did (in the Tiefer Graben].  If you will give me the pleasure of a visit [No. 576 beside Daum, second story], I will show you the windows.  There I visited several times every week.

What whim could have induced Beethoven to remove to this house with the bells of St. Peter's on one side and those of St. Stephen's sounding down upon him on the other, and he so suffering with his ears?  Perhaps because friends were in the house.  Your Förster's earliest recollections of Beethoven date from this winter and this house; for his father's dwelling was in the third story above him. He remembers that Beethoven volunteered to instruct him in pianoforte playing, and that he was forced to rise at six in the morning and to descend the cold stairs, child as he was, hardly six years of age, to take his lessons; and one occasion going up again crying because his master had whipped his little fingers with one of the iron or steel needles used in kitting the coarse yearn jackets worn by women in service. In his note to Zmeskall, Beethoven referred to "the production". Production of what? The new String Quintet, Op. 29, no doubt. The letter ends: "The rascals have been jailed as they deserved in their own handwriting." The "rascals" were Artaria and Co., who had unexpectedly made a printing of the Quintet and who were forced to nullify, temporarily, this edition by affixing their signature to a declaration, dated November 12, 1802. The Quintet was dedicated to Count Moritz von Fries who, it will be seen, was implicated along with the publishers in the unpleasantness that developed.

According to Ries (Notizen, p. 120): "Beethoven's Violin Quintet (Opus 29) in C major had been sold to a publisher in Leipzig, but was stolen in Vienna and published suddenly by A.{Artaria] and Co.  Having been copied in a single night, it was full of errors; whole measures were missing.  Beethoven's conduct in the matter is without parallel.  He asked A. to send the fifty copies which had been printed to me for correction, but at the same time instructed me to use ink on the wretched paper and as coarsely as possible; also to cross out several lines so that it would be impossible to make use of a single copy or sell it.  The scratching out was particularly in the Scherzo.  I obeyed his instructions implicitly, and A. was compelled to melt the plates in order to avoid a lawsuit.

A long letter to Breitkopf and Härtel, dated November 13, 1802, gives a lively picture of the excitement which the incident aroused in Beethoven:. . . " [TF: 308-310].

Before we quote this letter directly from the Henle-Gesamtausgabe, let us insert some comments by present-day Beethoven writers :

"Almost immediately he became involved in a quarrel with Artaria & Co., his most devoted Viennese publisher, concerning the publication of his Quintet, op. 29, which he had sold to Breitkopf and Härtel. [Solomon: 129].

" . . . a work whose unexpected and faulty publication by Artaria the following year led to bitter accusations of piracy from the composer and to a confused and messy lawsuit.  To the iracible composer, Artaria & Co. were 'rascals', guilty of the 'biggest swindle in the world'; . . . " [Kinderman: 72-73 n].

"Beethoven's progress with his new work was abruptly halted in November [1802] by a tiresome legal matter.  He had sold his Quintet, op. 29, to Breitkopf, but before they had time to publish it.  Count Fries who had commissioned the work and therefore owned a manuscript of it, apparently gave this to Artaria in Vienna for publication, having been told by them that the work was already in print.  When Beethoven heard about the deceit he was furious with the 'archscoundrel Artaria', who eventually undertook not to publish the work until  Breitkopf and Härtel's edition had been available in Vienna for fourteen days" [Cooper: 124

Let us now look at the text of Beethoven's letter to his Leipzig publisher in the Henle Gesamtausgabe and render our translation thereafter:

"Beethoven an Breitkopf und Härtel in Leipzig:

                                                                                  Vien am 13ten November 1802.

Ich eile ihnen nur was Wichtigste zu schreiben -- wissen sie also, daß die Erzschurken Artaria unter der Zeit, als ich auf dem Lande wegen meiner Gesundheit wegen war,[1] das Quintett[2] sich vom grafen Frieß unter dem Vorwand, daß er es schon gestochen und hier Existire,[3] sich zum Nachstich, weil das ihrige fehlerhaft, ausgebeten hatten, und -- wirklich vor -- einigen Tägen das Publikum damit erfreuen wollten[4] -- der gute gr[af] F[ries] bethört, und nicht nachdenkend, ob das nicht eine schelmerey seyn könne hatte es ihnen also gegeben,[5] mich selbst konnte er nicht fragen -- ich war nicht da -- doch glücklicher weise werde ich die Sache noch zur rechten Zeit gewahr es war den Dienstag dieser Woche,[6] in meinem Eifer meine Ehre zu Retten, ihren Schaden in der gröstmöglichen Geschwindigkeit zu verhindern, zwei, neue Werke[7] bot ich diesen niederträchtigen Menschen an, um die Ganze Auflage zu unterdrücken, aber ein kälterer Freund[8], den ich bey mir hatte, frägt mich wollen sie diese Schurken noch belohnen? die Sache wird also unter Bedingungen geschloßen, indem Sie versicherten, es müsse bey ihnen heraus kommen was nur immer wollte, sie würden es ihnen nachstechen, diese edelmüthigen Schurken entschließen sich also für den termin von 3 wochen, wann ihre Exemplare hier erschienen wären, die d> nachdem also erst ihre Exemplare heraus zu geben, (indem sie behaupteten Gr F. habe ihnen das Exemplar geschenkt; für diesen termin sollte der Contract abgeschlossen werden, und ich mußte dafür ihnen ein werk geben, welches ich wenigstens auf 40# rechnen[9] noch ehe der Kontrakt geschlossen, kömmt mein guter Bruder, wie vom himmel gesendet, er eilt zum gr. Fries, die ganze Sache ist die gröste Betrügerei von der Welt, das detail davon, wie fein sie mich vom Gr. F abzuhalten wußte, und alles übrige mit nächstem--auch ich gehen nun zu F. und beyliegender Revers mag zum Beweise dienen, daß ich alles gethan, um ihren Schaden zu verhüten -- und die Darstellung des ganzen mag ihnen ebenfalls beweisen, daß mir kein Opfer zu theuer gewesen, um meine Ehre zu retten, und sie vor Schaden zu bewahren -- aus dem Revers ersehen sie sogleich ihre Maßregeln, ich glaube, daß sie nun so viel als möglich eilen hieher Exemplare zu senden, und wenn möglich ist um denselben Preiß, wie der Schurken -- Sonnleithner,[10] und ich wollen noch alle übrige Maaßregeln nehmen, die unß gut dünken, damit ihre ganze Auflage vernichtet werde -- merken sie sich wohl, mollo und artaria machen schon wirklich nur ein Handelshauß,[11] daß heißt eine ganze Familie von Schurken zusammen -- die dedikazion an Frieß haben sie doch nicht vergeben, indem sie mein Bruder auf ersten Blatte angezeigt[12] -- den Revers haben ich ihnen selbst abgeschrieben, indem mein armer Bruder so viele geschäfte hat, und doch alles möglichst gethan, um sie und auch mich zu retten, er hat dabey in der Verwirrung seinen treuen Hund, den er seinen Liebling nannte, eingebüßt, er verdient, daß sie ihm selbst deswegen Danken, so wie ich es selbst schon für mich gethan -- stellen sie sich vor, da&zlig; ich vom dienstag so bis gestern Abends spät [recte: mit] diesem Handel fast einzig beschäftigt, und nur die Idee dieses Schurkenstreichs mag hinreichen sie fühlen zu laßen, wie es> unangenehm es war, mit solchen elenden Menschen zu thun zu haben --

                                                                                                                                     L v. Beethowen


Unterzeichneter verpflichtete sich hiermit, das von Hr. Grafen Frieß erhaltene Quintet komponirt von Lud. v. Beethowen, unter gar keinem Vorwand zu verschicken, noch hier oder anderswo zu verkaufen, bis die Original Auflage 14 Täge hier in Wien in Umlauf ist.

                                                                                                                  Artaria Comp

Wien am 12 9br 1802 --

dieser R.[evers] ist mit eigener Hand von der Comp. unterschrieben

Benutzen sie folgenden:

ist zu haben a Vienne chez Artaria Comp., a Münich chez f. halm, a Frankfort chez gayl et bädler,[13] vileicht auch in Leipzig chez meysel -- der Preiß ist 2 fl. zwei Gldn Wiener währung

Zwölf Exemplare die einzigen wie sie mir gleich anfangs versicherten, habe ich erwischt, und das alles davon abgeschrieben -- der stich ist abscheulich,[14] alles dieses benuzen sie, sie sehen daß wir sie jeden Fall in Händen haben, und gerichtlich belangen können --

Nb jede se[l]bst persönliche Maaßregel wieder A. ist mir recht --

An Breitkopf und Härtel in Leipzig

"Beethoven to Breitkopf and Härtel in Leipzig:

                                                                                  Vienna the 13th of November, 1802.

I am hurrying by just writing about the most important matters--you should know that during the time that I was in the countryside on account of my health,[1] the arch-scoundrels Artaria had asked for   the Quintet[2] from Count Frieß, in order to publish it, with the excuse, that it had already been published and that it already existed here,[3] since theirs was full of errors, and -- indeed, a couple of days ago, they had wanted to delight the public with it[4]--the good Count F[ries], thus beguiled and not thinking if that was not a prank or a trick, gave it to them,[5] he was not able to ask me--I was not there--however, fortunately, I discovered the matter still at the right time, it was on Tuesday of this week,[6] in my eagerness to save my honor and to prevent any loss to you as quickly as I could, I offered these deceitful people two new works of mine[7], in order to suppress the entire edition; however, a friend with a cooler head[8] who was with me at that time asked me do you want to to reward these scoundrels? the matter was then settled in under such conditions that they assured they assured, whatever will be published by you,  they will re-publish, these honorable rascals, thus they decided on a time frame of 3 weeks, when your copies will have appeared for sale in Vienna, so that they will only publish their copies after that (in that they maintain that Count Fries has given them his copy of the score as a present; the contract is to be made for this time frame,  and for that I would have to give them a work, the price of which I would have set at 40#(9) even before the contract was made, my good brother came, heaven-sent, he hurried to Count Fries, the entire matter is the greatest betrayal of the world,  the details of as how they wanted to keep me away from Count Fries, and everything else, next time--I, too, wll now go to F. and the attached Revers may serve as proof that I have done everything to prevent any loss to you--and the description of the entire matter may also serve to prove to you that no sacrifice was too great for me in order to save my honor and to prevent any loss to you---from the Revers you can see the conditions, I believe that now you will hurry to send copies here as soon as possible, and, if possible, at the same price as that of those rascals--Sonnleithner,[10] and I still want to impose other measures that we deem appropriate so that their entire edition will be destroyed--please consider that mollo and artaria are actually just one business,[11] that is, an entire family of rascals--the dedikation to Frieß, I hope that you have not given away yet in that my brother has indicated it on the first page[12]--the Revers, I have copied myself since my poor brother has been preoccupied with many matters and still he has done everything possible in order to save me and also you, in the confusion, he has lost his faithful dog that he has called his darling,  he deserves that you thank him for it, yourself, as I have already done on my part--just imagine, from last Tuesday until yesterday evening, I have almost entirely been preoccupied with this matter and the very idea of this caper may suffice to let you feel how unpleasant it was to have to deal with such wretched people--

                                                                                                                                     L v. Beethowen


The undersigned herewith obligate themselves not to send away nor to sell elsewhere the Quintet that they have received from  Count Frieß, composed by Lud. v. Beethowen, until the original edition will have been available for sale in Vienna for 14 days.

                                                                                                                  Artaria Comp

Vienna the 12th of 9br 1802 --

this R.[evers] has been signed by the Comp. in their own handwriting

Use the following:

is to be had a Vienne chez Artaria Comp., a Münich chez f. halm, a Frankfort chez gayl et bädler,[13] perhaps also in Leipzig chez meysel -- the price is 2 fl. two florins in Viennese currency

Twelve copies the only ones that they, already at the beginning, assured me of, I have caught and I have copied everything from them--the print is terrible,[14] use all of this, you see that, in any event, we have them in our hands and that we can sue them--

Nb any personal measure against A. I am in agreement with --

To Breitkopf and Härtel in Leipzig

[Source:  Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Vol. 1, Letter No.110, p. 128-132; Original:  Bonn, Beethoven-Haus, Bodmer Collection; to [1]: refers to the fact that Beethoven had spent most of the summer of 1802 at Heiligenstadt and that he had returned to Vienna around October 10, 1802; to [2]: refers to op. 29; to [3]: refers to the fact that the edition by Breitkopf &  Härtel, according to the publisher's records, had been completed on Dec. 29, 1802, while it had already been advertised by them on October 8, 1802, as "appearing at the end of October"; to [4]: according to the GA, in this and in the following letters, it had been described as a re-print; however, as the GA also points out, it was actually a pirate print based on a copy of the score that was in the possession of Count Fries; to [5]: refers to the fact that Count Moritz von Fries probably has commissioned the String Quintet, op. 29 and that he had a copy of it from about October 1801 on; to [6]: refers to November 9, 1802; to [7]: probably refers to op. 34 and op. 35, that Beethoven, according to the GA, had offered to the Leipzig publisher; to [8]: probably refers to "Sonnleithner" who will subsequently be referred to, see annotation no. 10; to [9]: probably refers to the Piano Sonata op. 31, no. 31 that had been completed at that time; to [10]: according to the GA, this probably refers to R.I. Court and Judicial advocate Dr. Ignaz Sonnleithner or his older brother Joseph who was also a lawyer; to [11]: refers to the fact that, effective September 3, 1802, Carlo Artaria had sold his company Artaria & Comp. to each of Tranquillo Mollo and Domenico (III.) Artaria, in equal parts; to [12]: according to the GA, this probably refers to a copy made by a copyist that served Breitkopf & Härtel for the printing of their edition; to [13]: refers to the fact that Artaria's edition was actually published with this indication by the publisher; to [14]: refers to the fact that Beethoven had apparently received these copies, [which, according to Ries, were 50] so that he could revise and correct them; details taken from p. 131-132].

On November 20, 1802, the publisher replied to Beethoven:

Breitkopf & Härtel an Beethoven

                                                                                    Leipzig, den 20. November 1802.

H. L. v. Beethoven in Wien

Daß Artaria das uns überlassene Quintett[1] gestochen hat, ist freilich ein schlimmer Handel. Von Artaria befremdet uns dies nicht, da dieser uns, wie andern, schon nachgestochen hat. Und da dieser uns noch im M.[onat] März d.[ieses] J[ahres] den Mitverlag der neuen Haydnschen Quartt. op. 77 gegen die Bedingungen von 50 # anbot,[2] um, wie er uns schrieb, "dem so schädlich als entehrenden Nachstich vorzubeugen" -- uns aber NB mit demselben Briefe ein Werk (Romberg Duos[3]) einsandte, das er uns nachgestochen hatte (so wie er uns vorher Hadynsche Vol.Son. pp nachgestochen hatte][4]. Daß aber Artaria zu dem Mskrpt. Ihres Quint. [kam], ist freilich nur allein Ihre eigene Schuld, da Sie uns das Alleineigentum dieses werkes schriftlich zusicherten, so begaben Sie sich ausdrücklich jeder andern Disposition über diesem Werk. Haben Sie nun demohngeachtet darüber disponiert und es, ehe es bei uns herauskam, dem H. Graf Fries gegeben, so sind Sie allerdings auch selbst u. allein dafür verantwortlich, wenn daraus schlimme Folgen entstanden u. dies Mspt. zu unserm Nachteil gemißbraucht wurde. Wir habe nicht das Vergnügen, Sie näher zu kennen, aber Ihre Werke bezeichnen Sie zu deutlich als einen Mann von Geist u. Herzen, wir dürfen daher keinen Augenblick zweifeln, daß Sie unbefangen u. gerecht über diese Sache urteilen u. erkennen werden, daß Sie selbst durch weitere Mitteilung des Mspt. zu dem Mißbrauch desselben Gelegenheit und Anlaß gaben, die Artaria außerdem nicht finden konnte, u. da&zlig; Sie selbst daher auch unsern Schaden zu tragen durch Recht und Billigkeit verpflichtet sind. Ihnen steht auch das recht zu, deshalb Regreß an Artaria zu nehmen, gegen den Sie gewiß auch Recht finden werden. Wir können bei dieser Sache weiter nichts tun; der v. Artaria versprochene Aufschub würde, wenn ihn dieser auch so gewiß hielte als er ihn gewiß nicht halten wird, unsern Schaden keineswegs mindern, denn was sind 14 Tage für den Debit eines Werkes? Des von ihnen verminderten Preises nicht zu gedenken,[5] bei welchem wir nicht auf die Kosten eines selbst geringen Honorars kommen können. Wir hielten uns daher versichert, daß Sie uns entweder das empfangene Honorar durch H. Kunz & Co. wieder zurückzahlen oder sich verbindlich machen werden, uns bald durch ein anderes Werk von gleichem merkantilem Wert zu entschädigen. Deuten Sie es uns nicht übel, wenn wir mit Offenheit hinzusetzen, daß Ihre Künstlerehre bei diesem auf jeden Fall zu einer lauten Publizität kommenden Vorfall um destomehr befangen ist, da ein ähnlicher Fall mit einem dem Grafen Browne überlassenen Werke pp. schon Aufmerksamkeit erregt hat.[6]

  Wir sehen Ihrer baldigsten Antwort entgegen und vertrauen darauf, durch selbige unsere Hochachtung gegen Sie bestätigt u. die Aussicht zu einer ferneren Geschäftsverbindung mit Ihnen, die uns immer schätzbar sein wird, eröffnet zu sehen.

Breitkopf & Härtel to Beethoven:

                                                                                    Leipzig, the 20th of November, 1802

H. L. v. Beethoven in Vienna

Of course, the fact that Artaria has printed the Quintet[1] that had been given to us, is a terrible business. We are not surprised by Artaria, since they, as they did to others, have rendered pirate prints of our original editions before. And since they also, already in March of this year, have offered us the co-publication of the new Haydn Quartt. op. 77 for 50 #[2] in order to, as they wrote to us, prevent a both shameful and dishonorable pirate printe--while he, however, with the same letter sent to us a work (Romberg Duos [3]) that he had pirate-printed from our edition (just as before, he had printed Haydn's Vol. Son. pp[4]. However, that Artaria gained access to the manuscript of your quintet, is, of course, alone your fault, since you assured us in writing that we are the sole owners of this work, If you, in spite of this, have disposed of it and have, before it was published by us, given it to Count Fries, then you are, of course, solely responsible, yourself if unfortunate consequences arose out of this and when this manuscript was used to our disadvantage. We do not have the pleasure of knowing you more closely; however, your works indicate only too clearly that you are a man of a find mind and heart, and therefore, we must not doubt for a moment that you will be able to judge freely and soundly in this matter and that you will realize that you, yourself, in giving the manuscript to a third party, allowed for the opportunity of it being misused and that Artaria would not have had otherwise, and that you, yourself, are, therefore, justifiably obligated to carry the cost of these damages. We can not do anything further in this matter; the delay that Artaria promised will, even if they would stick to it and certainly will not stick to it, certainly not reduce our losses, for, what are 14 days, afterall, for the debit of a work? That is not even considering the price that you have lowered[5] and that will not even allow us to arrive at a small honorarium. Therefore, we rest assured that you will either return the honorarium that you have received through H. Kunz & Co. or that you will obligate yourself to let us have a work of equal economic value, soon. Do not think unkindly of us if we openly add that your honor as an artist, in the event of a too loud publicity in this matter, will be all the more affected, since a similar case with a work that has been given to Count Browne, has already drawn attention to itself.[6]

  We look forward to your early reply and trust that our high esteem of you will be confirmed by it and that it will allow for a further business connection with you that we will always value.


  [Source: Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Vol. 1, Letter No. 112, p. 132-133; Original: not known; text pursuant to the GA, according to Wilhelm Hitzig, Die Briefe Gottfried Christoph Härtels an Beethoven in ZfMw 9 (1926/7), p. 324f. and there pursuant to the copy books of the publisher; to [1]: refers to op. 29, to the Artaria & Comp. edition, see Letters No. 110 and Nr. 119; to [2]: refers to the fact that Härtel accepted the offer and that his edition that was dependent on Artaria's, was announced in October 1802, while Artaria's edition was already advertised in the "Wiener Zeitung" on September 11, 1802; to [3]: probably refers to three Duets for violine and violoncello, op. 2, by Andreas Romberg, Artaria, Verlagsnummer 878, with respect to this, the GA refers to Letter No. 92; to [4]: refers to square brackets purusant to Hitzig; to [5]: refers to the fact that in his letter of November 13, 1802, Beethoven had receommended the same price as Artaria; to [6]: refers to Letters no. 96 and no. 109; details taken from p. 133].

The following letter of December 4, 1802 shows that Beethoven was able to enlist the help of Georg August Griesinger to intervene on his behalf:

Georg August Griesinger an Breitkopf & Härtel in Leizpig

                                                                                                   Wien, 4. Dezember 1802

[ ... ] Sie wissen gewiss schon das weder Fries[1] noch Beethoven den Nachdruck der Sonate[2] bey Artaria befördert haben. Conti[3], der Violinspieler, welcher Graf Fries Lectionen giebt, erschlich das Manuscript und er ist allein das Werkzeug dieser esqroquerie. Hofmeister[4] ist jezt hier. So weit war ich in meinem Briefe, als ich durch einen Besuch vom Bruder des Beethowen[5] unterbrochen wurde. Er bittet mich, den Vermittler zwischen Ihnen und seinem Bruder zu machen. Lezterer sey über Ihren Brief vom 20. November[6] worinn Sie Ihm die Schuld wegen des Artariaschen Nachstichs allein zuschreiben, so aufgebracht, dass er ganz mit Ihnen brechen und das Geld gegen die an Kunze und Compagnon kürzlich überlieferten Variationen[7] zurückgeben wolle. Ich las den Brief das corpus Ihres delicti und fand, dass er so beleidigend nicht sey und dass Sie als Kaufmann nicht anders schreiben konnten. Der Bruder ist auch der Meynung, dass die Sache so viel Lärmens nicht verdiene, er gestand mir aber dass sein Bruder Louis durch seine Gesellschafter, hiesigen Verleger und auswärtigen Correspondenten so verwönt sey, dass ihn der geringste Verdacht an seinem Ehrgefühle in Feuer und Flamme seze. Morgen früh gehe ich zu Beethoven und denke, es soll mir gelingen, tantas componere lites. Vorläufig habe ich den Bruder versichert dass Ihre Absicht keineswegs seyn könne, einen Fehdehandschuh auszuwerfen, dass Sie dem Beethowenschen Talent alle Gerechtigkeit widerfahren lassen und so weiter. Sollten Sie ihm wieder einmahl schreiben so lassen Sie etwas Weihrauch in Ihre Tinte fallen; Künstler sind nun einmal ein reizbares Völkchen [ ...]

Georg August Griesinger to Breitkopf & Härtel in Leizpig

                                                                                                   Vienna, the 4th of December, 1802

[ ... ] You certainly already know that neither Fries[1] nor Beethoven have arranged the pirate print of the Sonata[2] by Artaria. Conti[3], the violinist, who gives lessons at Count Fries's has obtained the manuscript surrepetitiously and he alone is the tool of this esqroquerie. Hofmeister[4] is here, now. This is how far I had come with this letter when I was interrupted by a visit by Beehoven's brother[5]. He asks me to act as intermediary between you and his brother. The latter is so enraged by your letter of NOvember 20th[6] in which you declare him to be alone at fault for the pirate print by Artaria that he wants to break ties with you entirely and to return the money for the variations[7] that had recently been delivered to Kunze and Company, to them. I read your letter, the 'corpus delicti,' and did nto find it as insulting and that, as a businessman, you could not write otherwise. The [Beethoven's] brother is also of the opinion that the entire matter is not worth so much ado and he told me that his brother Louis has been so spoiled by his friends, local publishers and other correspondents from abroad that the slightest suspicion against him will enrage his pride and feeling of honor. Tomorrow morning, I will visit Beethoven and think that I will be able to tantas componere lites. In the meantime I have assured his brother that it can certainly not have been your intention to throw down the gauntlet and that you will duly respecvt Beethoven's talent and treat him accordingly and so forth. When you write next to him, add some incense to your ink, since artists are a touchy lot, after all [ ...]

[Source:  Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Vol. 1, Letter No. 118, p. 138-139; Original:  destroyed during WWII; Text pursuant to Griesinger p. 175 ff.; to [1]: refers to Count Moritz Johann Christian von Fries [1777 - 1826]; to [2]: refers to the Quintet, op. 29; to [3]: refers to Giacomo Conti [1754-18256], an Italian violinist and composer who had lived in VIenna from about 1786 on; to [4]: refers to teh fact that the publisher and composer Franz Anton Hoffmeister had already stayed in VIenna since October, 1802; to [5]: refers to Kaspar Karl van Beethoven, who had already informed Griesinger of the pirate print of op. 29 by Artaria, earlier; to [6]: refers to Letter No. 112; to [7]: refers to op. 34 and op. 35 and to the fact that Beethoven had sold both works to Breitkopf & Härtel for 50 ducats; details taken from p. 138-139].

As TF [p. 311] report, on December 5, 1802, Beethoven's brother Caspar Carl wrote to the publisher:

Kaspar Karl van Beethoven to Breitkopf & Härtel in Leipzig

                                                                              Vienna, the 5th of Xber [=December] 1802


You have written a letter to my brother that should, if at all, only be written to a schoolboy, but not to an artist like Beethoven;[1] you would not dare to write such a letter to Herr Haydn, and if you will receive a note in the future, try to calm him down, since I have already [given] the 50# to Herr Kunz, and they are supposed to be dispatched, right away.[2]  I have already lived through two heavy storms on you account, since I told him that what you have written could only have been written in your first fit of anger and that it was not thought through; however, I will have to send the Hofmeister of Count Schönfeld[3] to him (whom he likes), in order to calm him down to some degree.

Finally, I will also tell you about the way in which my brother's works are handled.

We have already sold 34 works and about 18 nos.[8]; these pieces have mostly been ordered by connoisseurs, and with the following contract:

A connoisseur who wants to have a work will pay a certain amount for it so that he can have it for himself for half a year or for an entire year, or even longer, and obligates himself to give the manuscript to no one, and after this time the author can do with it as he wishes.  This was the case with Count Frieß. Now, Count Frieß has a certain Conti as a vionlin master, and Artaria approached the latter, and probably he said to Count Frieß [probably around 8 or 10#) that the Quintet[4] had already been printed and was on sale everywhere.  Now, Count Frieß believed that no harm could be done, anymore, and handed the manuscript over without telling us anything.

By the way, Sir, do not take it amiss when I tell you how I find it, an open heart shows an open mind; the way you preferred to express yourself was even more insulting to a Beethoven than to a tradesman. Without giving up any of your rights, you could have chosen a polite writing style instead of a rough one, for Beethoven, too, until now used to differentiate between publishers, whereby he preferred you over all others.

Now, Count Frieß is not here, but he will come back in six days; then I will take care of your compensation in one way or another and will let you know about it, right away.  Then I will send you the attached Revers [undertaking] by  Artaria, signed[6] for your review, and you will send it back to me, occasionally.  This revers [undertaking] cost my brother seven days in which he could not do anything, and it cost my uncountable errands and unpleasantness, and the loss of my dog, whereby my brother would have deserved thanks but not  s u c h  a letter, for, who is at fault for coincidences and bad people?  He is not a God who can foresee everything.

With respect to Count Braun I demand that you approach the Kunst- und Industriehandlung in Vienna for information,[8] since it is too unimportant to me to discuss this any further.

In general, you have misunderstood my brother's character and my honesty, since I handle all of my brother's affairs, he leaves all business matter to my disposition.

I certainly believe that you may have reasons to expect the worst from some composers, since also in this field, there are those who sell a work more for profit than out of necessity,[9] but in our case this is not so.

                                                                                          Your K. v. Beethoven

[Source:  Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Vol. 1, Letter No. 119, p. 139-140; Original: Bonn, Beethoven-Haus, Bodmer Collection; to [1]: refers to Letter No. 112 of November 20, 1802; to [2]: refers to the fee for the Variations, op. 34 and op. 35; to [3]: refers to Georg Anton Griesinger; to [4]: refers to the fact that Beethoven gave opus numbers to his more important works and to those of lesser importance he only assigned numbers; to [5]: refers to op. 29; to [6]: refers to the fact that the original of the "Revers" has not bee preserved; to [7]: refers to the fact that in the original this word has been written very wide; to [8]: refers to the fact that, according to the GA, in the summer of 1802, there existed rumous that two marches that had been composed for Count Browne had been published unrightfully; to  [9]: according to the GA, this is obviously a reference to Haydn, see Letter No. 120; details taken from p. 140].

On December 8, Griesinger sent a lengthier letter to Leipzig: 

Georg August Griesinger an Breitkopf & Härtel in Leipzig

                                                                                              [Wien, 8. Dezember 1802]

[ ... ] Mein Besuch bei Beethoven hatte den erwünschten Erfolg, und er wird die variationen[1], die er mit seinem bekannten Talent vorspielte, schiken. Die Geschichte mit dem Quintett verhält sich folgendermaßen: Beethoven hatte es an den Grafen Fries unter der Bedingung abgetreten, dass er nach 6 Monaten darüber disponieren könnte. Nach Verfluss eines Jahres wurde es von Ihnen erkauft.[2] Kaum war es in Leipzig, als Beethoven zufälliger Weise erfuhr, dass das Quintett bey Artaria gestochen werde.[3] Sogleich eilte er hin, Artaria war so unverschämt zu behaupten dass es ihm vom Grafen Fries geschenkt worden sey. Fries wusste kein Wort davon und es entdeckte sich daß Conti von dem Grafen Fries das Manuscript auf einige Tage geborgt hatte, unter dem Vorwande, für Artaria ein fehlerfreies Exemplar darnach zu corrigiren. Beethoven ging zu einem Advokaten[4], dieser sagte ihm dass, ehe der Process völlig eingeleitet sey, Artaria die ganze Auflage fertig und verschikt haben könnte. Beethoven war so ehrlich, dem Artaria 2 neue Werke die er schon fertig hatte[5] anzubieten wenn er die Auflage unterdrücken würde. Als auch dieses nicht wirkte, sagte er ihm die derbsten Wahrheiten und erhielt durch Friesens Vermittlung dass Artaria das Quartett nur als Nachstich, und 14 Tage nach Erscheinung des Originals verkaufen wolle.[6] Beethoven war über den verdammten Streich entsezlich aufgebracht und 8 Tage hindurch unfähig, nur eine Note zu sezen. Ihnen schrieb er in einige Zeilen, vermutlich ohne ins Detail zu gehen, was geschehen sey. [7]  Ihre Antwort [8] worinn Sie sich wie natürlich an ihn halten, nahm Er, der doch alles mögliche zur Behauptung seiner Ehre gethan hatte, als eine neue Kränkung auf. Er habe, hiess es, nicht die gemeine Erziehung wie viele seiner Collegen genossen und sey unfähig, ein Manuscript das ihm einmahl bezahlt worden sey, zum 2ten mahle zu verkaufen. Papa Haydn habe sich dadurch genug prostituirt usw. Es ist unnöthig, meine Antworten herzusezen die sich von selbst verstehen und die auch so viel wirkten wie kaltes Blut gegen eine gereizte Empfindlichkeit wirken kann. Beethoven wird jezt den Grafen Fries Ihren Brief schiken und Ihn bitten das er den Artaria zur gänzlichen Unterdrükung der Auflage anhalte und sich darüber entweder eine schriftliche Versicherung geben lasse oder ihm die Platten abkaufe.[9] Sie möchten, bis dieser Punkt in Richtigkeit ist, die Originalausgabe zurükbehalten.[10] Durch Artarias bereits ausgestellte Versicherung seinen Nachstich erst 14 Täge nach Ihnen auszugeben, seyn Sie wenigstens provisorisch gedekt und können zögern ohne einen Nachtheil zu befürchten. Wenn Ihnen darum zu thun ist, mit Beethoven in gutem Vernehmen zu bleiben so lassen Sie in Ihren nächsten Brief einfliessen dass Ihre Absicht nie gewesen sey, ihn zu beleidigen, dass Sie ihn schäzen und dergleichen mehr.

Sehr empfindlich war es ihm dass Sie ihm die Geschichte mit Graf Braun[11] vorrükten, wo Beethoven doch so ganz unschuldig war und worüber er die überzeugendsten schriftlichen Beweise vorweisen kann. [ ...]

Georg August Griesinger to Breitkopf & Härtel in Leipzig

                                                                                              [Vienna, December  8, 1802]

[ ... ] My visit with Beethoven brought the desired result, and he will send the Variations[1] that he played with his usual talent.  The story with the quintet is as follows:  Beethoven had given it to Count Fries with the condition that he could use it for 6 months. After a year, you bought it.[2] Barely had it arrived in Leipzig that Beethoven accidentally found out that the quintet was to be printed by Artaria.[3] He went there, right away.  Artaria was brazen enough to maintain that he had received it as a present from Count Fries. Fries knew nothing of that and it came out that Conti had borrowed the manuscript from Count Fries for a few days in order to correct a sample of it for Artaria.  Beethoven went to his lawyer[4], and the letter told him that, before a lawsuit could even be started, Artaria might already have printed and sent out the entire edition.  Beethoven was so honest to offer Artaria two works that he had already completed[5] if he would suppress the edition.  When this did not help, he told him the truth in no uncertain terms, and through [Count] Fries's he was able to arrange that Artaria would only print his edition two weeks after the appearance of the original edition.[6]  Through this wretched business, Beethoven was agitated and was unable to compose even a single note, for eight days.  He wrote a few lines to you, probably without telling you everything that had happened. [7]  He, who had done everything possible to save his honor, took your reply [8] in which you, naturally, hold him responsible, as a new insult.   He said that he had not been raised in the common manner in which some of his colleagues have been raised, and therefore, he does not consider himself capable of selling a manuscript for the second time, for which he had already been paid.   Papa Haydn has prostituted himself in this may, enough,  etc. It is not necessary to repeat my replies here that are a matter of course and that worked as much as cold blood can work against an agitated mind.  Beethoven will send your letter to Count Fries and will ask him that he will urge Artaria to suppress the entire edition and that he will try to either obtain written confirmation or to buy the plates form him.[9] Until this has been clarified, he would ask that you hold the original edition back.[10] On the basis of Artaria's assurance that he will only publish his edition 14 days after your original edition, saves you, at least for the time being and gives you time to wait without having to fear any damage.  If it is important to you to remain on good terms with Beethoven, please mention in your letter that it was never your intention to insult him and that you value him, etc. etc.

He was very upset about your mentioning the story with Count Braun[11] in which Beethoven was entirely innocent and with respect to which he can deliver the most convincing proof. [ ...]


[Source:  Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Vol. 1, Letter No. 122, p. 141-143; Original: It was lost during WW II; Text prusuant to Griesinger, p. 177f.; to [1]: refers to op. 34 and op. 35; to [2]: refers to the fact that  Breitkopf & Härtel had bourght the Quintet, op. 29 in April 1802 and that the manuscript copy was sent to him during the same month, according to the GA it probably was a copy that Beethoven had reviewed; to [3]: refers to the fact that Beethoven only learned of Artaria's edition of op. 29 in November, 1802; to [4]: probably refers to Dr. Ignaz Sonnleithner; to [5]: probably refers to op. 34 and op. 35; to [6]: probably refers to the fact that, according to the GA, Beethoven had obligated himself to review Artaria's edition and to correct it, as he subsequently did; the GA points out that, in doing so, Beethoven probably aimed at a delay or at preventing Artaria's edition from appearing; to [7]: refers to Letter No. 110 of November 13, 1810; to [8]: refers to Letter No. 113 of November 30, 1802; to [9]: refers to the fact that, obviously, Count Fries did not agree to this; to [10]: refers to the fact that, according to the GA, pursuant to the printing books of Breitkopf & Härtel, the printing of the edition was completed on December 29, 1802, but that the publisher had already advertised it in the   AMZ 5 (1802/03), in the Intelligenzblatt 11 (to No. 2 of October 6, 1802); to [11]: refers to Count Johann Georg von Browne-Camus; details taken from p. 142-143].

 The publisher did not take long to send a letter to Beethoven.  It was dated December 11, 1802:

Breitkopf & Härtel an Beethoven

                                                                                Leipzig, den 11. Dez. 1802

   Wir schrieben Ihnen in unserem letzten Briefe[1] über den Vorfall mit Ihrem Quintett[2] und über das, was wir hierbei für unser Recht hielten, mit einer vertrauungsvollen und freimütigen Offenheit, aber in unserem Briefe war durchaus nichts, was Ihnen als unbescheiden hätte mißfallen oder Ihren H. Bruder kompomittieren können, noch weniger konnten oder könnten wir je eine solche Absicht haben. Vielmehr enthält derselbe (ob wir gleich in dem Augenblicke, da wir Ihnen schrieben, über jenen Vorgang nicht wenig piquiert waren, als Sie es mit Recht waren) deutlich ausgesprochene Äußerungen unserer Achtung für Sie u. unseres Wunsches, durch diesen Anlaß ihre Verbindung mit uns nicht gestört zu sehen, u. Ihres H. Bruders war von uns dabei gar nicht erwähnt. Wir gestehen Ihnen daher aufrichtig, daß wir uns einen soeben empfangenen Brief Ihres H. Bruders[3] nicht erklären können, in welchem er uns versichert, daß Sie sich durch unser letztes Schreiben sehr beleidigt gefunden hätten, u. worin er sich gegen Anschuldigungen rechtfertigt, die uns nie gegen ihn in Sinn kommen werden. Wir sind es übrigens von Ihnen gewiß, daß Sie unsere letzte Darstellung dieser Sache, Ihrem wesentl. Inhalte nach, gerecht gefunden haben werden, u. daß diese Ihnen dahier nicht hat mißfalen können. Ihr H. Bruder schreibt uns zwar bei dieser Gelegenheit, "daß man für Zufälle u. schlechte Leute nicht könne u. nicht alles voraus wissen könne". Wir sind es jedoch von Ihnen versichert, daß Sie in diesen u. gleichen Fällen gern den Verleger, dem Sie das Eigentum eines Werkes zugesichert hatten, dasselbe auch schützen u. garantieren, und ihn, wo er ohne Schuld wäre, gewiß auch ohne Schaden sein lassen würden. Daß uns bei unserem vorigen nicht gekränkter Eigennutz leitete, sondern daß wir bloß offen äußerten, was uns nach unserer Überzeugung hierbei gerecht schien, beweisen wir sehr gern dadurch, daß wir Ihnen allein diese ganze Sache überlassen und unserer Beeinträchtigung dabei durch Artaria nicht mehr gedenken werden. Nichts würden wir jedoch mehr bedauern, als wenn es diesem Herrn gegen Sie und uns gelungen sein sollte, in dieser Sache einen Anlaß zu finden, Sie u. Ihren H. Bruder von uns, ohne unsere Schuld, zu entfernen. Von den H. Kunz & Comp. haben wir das Mspr. Ihrer Var. noch nicht erhalten u. diese daher ersucht, es bei Ihnen abholen zu lassen.[4]

H. L. v. Bethoven in Wien

Breitkopf & Härtel to Beethoven

                                                                                Leipzig, the 11th of Dec. 1802

   In our last letter[1] we wrote about the incident with your Quintet[2] and about what we considered to be  our right, openly and confidentially; however, there was nothing in our letter that could have displeased you as being immodest or compromising to your brother, and we certainly never could or would have had any intention of doing that.   Rather, this letter {although, at the time at which we had written it, we were more that a bit upset as you were rightfully, too), it clearly contained our expression of our esteem for you and of our wish that we did not wish for this incident to disturb our relationship with you, and on our part, we did not refer to your Herr brother.  Therefore, we honestly state that we can not explain to ourselves the letter that we have just received from your Herr brother[3], in which he explains to us that, on account of our last letter to you, you felt very insulted and in which he justifies himself against accusations that we would never have dreamed of making against him.  Moreover, we are certain that, essentially, you will have found our presentation of this matter justified and that, due to this, it could not have displeased you.   Yet, in his letter, your Herr brother wrote, "that one is not at fault for coincidences and bad people and that one can not know everything in advance".   However, we are certain that, in this and in similar cases that you would wish to secure and guarantee to the publisher of a work that you have promised to him and that you would wish to prevent him from suffering any damages that are not his fault.  That we, in our last letter, were not guided by our hurt ego but rather merely expressed what appeared to be justified to us, we gladly prove to you by leaving the entire matter in your hands and that we will no longer ponder the losses that we would incur on account of Artaria.   However, we would regret nothing more that if this gentleman would succeed in finding occasion, due to this matter, to drive a wedge between us, you and your Herr brother, without any fault of ours.   From Kunz & Comp. we have not yet received your Variations and have asked them to pick them up from you.[4]

H. L. v. Bethoven in Vienna

[Source:  Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Vol. 1, Letter No. 121, p. 143-144; Original: not known, text, pursuant to the GA, according to Wilhelm Hitzig, Die Briefe Gottfried Christoph Härtels an Beethoven, in: ZIM w 9 (1926-27), p. 324f.; to [1]: refers to Letter No. 112 of November 20, 1802; to [2]: refers to op. 29; to [3]: refers to Letter No. 119 of Dec. 6,  1802; to [4]: according to the GA, it is not clear when Beethoven had delivered the autographs of op. 34 and op. 35 to Kunz & Comp.; details taken from p. 144].

On December 18, 1802, Griesinger conveyed Beethoven's suggestions to the publisher:

Georg August Griesinger an Breitkopf & Härtel in Leipzig

                                                                              Wien, 18. Dezember 1802

[ ... ] Beethoven ist wegen der Geschichte mit dem Quintett äusserst ärgerlich.[1] Er lässt Ihnen hiemit 2 Vorschläge machen: 1) er will die Hälfte des erhaltenen Honorars zurückgeben und Sie behalten den reversmässigen Vorsprung von 14 Tagen vor Ataria;[2] oder 2) er bezahlt die 38 Dukaten ganz zurük, und Artaria braucht sich an keine Zeit zu binden. Er lässt sich entschuldigen dass er bey einer Geschichte wo Graf Fries denn doch auch einigermaßen verwikelt ist keinen bessern Ausweg zu finden weiss, und verspricht feierlich, dass in Zukunft nichts ähnliches vorfallen soll. Beantworten Sie mir diesen Punkt. [ ... ]

Georg August Griesinger to Breitkopf & Härtel in Leipzig

                                                                              Vienna, December 18, 1802

[ ... ] Beethoven is extremely angry on account of the Quinet story.[1] He is making the following suggestions to you: 1) to return half of the fee he received from you and you can keep the "revers' [undertaking" of 14 days by Artaria;[2] or 2) he will return the entire 38 ducats and Artaria will not be found on any time frame.  He apologizes that he does not know of a better solution in a case in which Count Fries is involved, and he solemnly promises that in future, something like thiswill not happen.  [Please] reply to this point. [ ... ]

[Source:  Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Vol. 1, Letter No. 122, p. 144; Original: burned during WW II; Text pursuant to Griesinger, p. 181f.; to [1]: according to the GA, this refers to a pirate print of op. 29 by Artaria & Comp. in Vienna; to [2]: refers to Letter No. 110 of November 15, 1802; details taken from p. 144].

What might seem curious to us today are the publisher's doubts about the "mercantile" value of Beethoven's works that were expressed in their letter to Karl van Beethoven of January 28, 1803: 


Breitkopf & Härtel an Kaspar Karl van Beethoven

                                                                               Leipzig, den 28. Januar 1803.

Herrn Ch. v. Beethowen in Wien.


    Empfangen Sie unseren verbindlichen Dank für die Anzeige der neuen Werke, welche ihr Herr Bruder dem Stich zu übergeben gedenkt,1] und für Ihre damit auf uns wohlwollend genommene Rücksicht. Noch können wir zwar nicht selbst aus Erfahrung über den merkantilen Erfolg der Werke Ihres H. Bruders urteilen (denn unser neuestes Werk von ihm, das Quintett[2] ist nur erst versandt worden) und nur unser Vertrauen auf den Kunstwert seiner Werke, und der Wunsch, uns seine Verbindung zu erhalten, entscheidet bis jetzt unsern Entschluß, doch hoffen wir, daß Sie auch hierauf einige Rücksicht zu nehmen und unsere werten Verbindungen zu erleichtern geneigt sein werden. . . . "

Breitkopf & Härtel to Kaspar Karl van Beethoven

                                                                               Leipzig, January 28, 1803.

Herr Ch. v. Beethowen in Vienna.


    Please accept our thanks for your announcement of the new works that your Herr brother means to make available for printing,1] and for your well-meaning consideration expressed in this way.  We are not in a position yet, ourselves, to judge the mercantile value of the works of your Herr brother (since his latest work, the Quintet[2] has only been dispatched, recently) and only our trust in  their artistic value and the wish to keep our connection with him intact is the reason, thus far, for our resolution; however, we hope that you, too, will consider this and that you will be inclined to facilitate our relationship. . . . "

[Source:  Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Vol. 1, Letter No. 126, p. 151-153; Original: not known; text pursuant to Wilhelm Hitzig, Die Briefe Gottfried Christoph Härtels an Beethoven, in: ZfMw 9 (1926/27), p. 339; to [1]: refers to op. 36, op. 37 and four pieces from op. 43 as well as a prenumeration edition of three sonatas; to [2]: refers to op. 29; details taken from p. 152].

Beethoven's brother replied as follows on February 12, 1803:

Kaspar Karl van Beethoven an  Breitkopf & Härtel in Leipzig

                                                                                  Wien am 12. Feb 1803

Herrn Härtel in Leipzig

Hochzuverehrender Hr.

Zu unserer Freude hat Mollo das Quintett bis jetz noch nicht angekündigt,[1] und wird es auch vielleicht nicht ankündigen, weil ich bey der Hofstelle ein Dekret erwürkt habe, das künftig vom Bruder nichts mehr darf gedruckt werden, wenn es nicht von mir unterschrieben ist,[2] (nemlich in der Zeitung) auf diese Art wird es wahrscheinlich unterdrückt werden. Die Industrie Handlung, und Träg haben beyde, aber Cappi hat es noch nicht angekündigt, wahrscheinlich weil er auf seinen Kollegen Mollo wartet.[3] Beyliegend werden Sie auch meine Ankündigung finden.[4] 

. . .

. . .

ich bin mit der größten Hochachtung

                                                                                            K v Beethoven

de Vienne

A Monsieur Monsieur  Breitkopf & Härtel über Prag

. . . 

Kaspar Karl van Beethoven to  Breitkopf & Härtel in Leipzig

                                                                                  Vienna, the 12th of Feb 1803

To Herrn Härtel in Leipzig

Highly Esteemed Sir

Until now, to our delight, Mollo has not yet announced [the publication of] the Quintet,[1] and perhaps they will also not announce it, since I have obtained a Decree from the Court that in future, no work of my brother may be printed if he has not agreed to it in writing,[2] (namely, in the newspaper); in this way, it will probably be suppressed.  The Industrie Handlung, and Träg both have, but Cappi has not announced it, yet, perhaps, because he is waiting for his colleague Mollo.[3] Attached, you will also find my announcement.[4] 

. . .

. . .

I am, with the greatest Esteem,

                                                                                            K v Beethoven

de Vienne

A Monsieur Monsieur  Breitkopf & Härtel über Prag

. . . 

[Source:  Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Vol. 1, Letter No. 127; p. 153-154; Original: Bonn, Beethoven-Haus, Bodmer Collection; to [1]: refers to the edition of op. 29 that was published by Artaria & Comp.  With respect to this, the GA comments that since September 1, 1802, togeter with Domenico Artaria, Tranquillo Mollo was a partner in this business; to [2]: refers to the fact that this Decree is not known; to [3]: refers to the fact that, according to the GA, the Industriekontor announced an edition of op. 29 that was not described further, but probably that by Breitkopf & Härtel; to [4]: refers to the fact that with this letter, there was enclosed a clipping from the Wiener Zeitung No. 7 of January 22, 1803, with the following announcement by Beethoven: 

                              "An die Musikliebhaber.

    Indem ich das Publicum benachrichtigte, daß das von mir längst angezeigte Originalquintett in C Dur bey Breitkopf & Härtel in Leipzig erschienen ist, erkläre ich zugleich, daß ich an der von dem Herrn Artaria und Mollo in Wien zu gleicher Zeit veranstalteten Auflage dieses Quintetts gar keinen Anteil habe. Ich bin zu dieser Erklärung vorzüglich auch darum gezwungen, weil diese Auflage höchst fehlerhaft, unrichtig, und für den Spieler ganz unbrauchbar ist, wogegen die Herren Breitkopf und Härtel, die rechtmässigen Eigenthümer des Quintetts, alles angewendet haben, das Werk so schön als möglich zu liefern.

                              "To the Music Lovers.

    By having announced that my original Quintet in C Major that had already been announced, has been published by Breitkopf & Härtel in Leipzig, I also declare, at the same time, that I have no part in the edition of the Quintet that has been published by the Herren  Artaria and Mollo in Vienna, at the same time.   I am also forced to make this declaration since that edition is highly faulty, incorrect and totally useless to the player, while the edition by the Herren Breitkopf and Härtel, the rightful owners of the Quintet, have done everything to ensure that the work has been printed as beautifully as possible.


                                                                                        Ludwig van Beethoven."

details taken from p. 154].

TF [p. 311-313] presents the legal dispute as follows:

"As MacArdle points out, Ries's story has little basis.  Rather, Artaria felt compelled to defend the integrity of his house by filing a petition in the High Police Court on February 14, 1803, demanding a retraction by Beethoven of his false charges.  He made his position clearer in a statement to the court dated February 28, 1083 when he established the following points: after Count Fries had bought the Quintet, he agreed to hand over a copy to Artaria for publication; soon hereafter the Count asked that the issue be delayed "until the edition by Breitkopf and Härtel should have been on sale here in Vienna for fourteen days; an accompanying declaration by Count Fries states that the firm carried out the promise to the full; Beethoven himself corrected two copies of the edition and was consequently responsible for any mistakes therein; Mollo had nothing to do with the edition.

Two excerpts from Beethoven's reply to Artaria of September 1, 1803, make Count Fries's role in this matter appear very inconsistent.  After reviewing his agreement with the Count of half a year's possession of the music, followed by its purchase for publication by Breitkopf and Härtel, the composer continues, "Since Herr Graf v. Fries was not authorized according to our verbal agreement to bring out an edition of this Quintet, I inquired of him concerning Artaria and Mollo, and he indicated to me that they reminded him that an edition of his Quintet had already appeared in Leizpig and that they only wished to publish it as a reprint, and in view of this Hr. Gf. von Fries did not hesitate to give his Quintet to Artaia and mollo."  Further on he states:  "As regards Artria's assertion that he obtained the Quintet for publication from Herr Graf v. Fries by just means, I must reply that when I complained to him concerning the edition prepared by Artaria, Hr. Graf told me in person that Artaria had obtained the Quintet from him by trickery, using the plea mentioned above, therefore I cannot understand at all how Hr. Graf v. Fries can say in the certificate shown to me that Artaria and company asked him for permission to publish the Quintet that was bought from me, which request he granted willingly; as I see it, from the showing of this evidence Graf von Fries cannot have remembered any longer what he had said to me." Etc.

Count Fries was conveniently traveling at the time and therefore unavailable for questioning at the hearings.

At the same time, Beethoven admits that he did correct the two copies for Artaria but out of anger did not do a thorough job; he concludes: "However I have not done wrongly by Artaria in reporting in the declaration that his edition is full of mistakes, incorrect, and of no use as all for the performer."

Artaria's reply on September 5th points out that his request for the Quintet from Count Fries could not have involved trickery since he did not know of the Leipzig edition at the time, that the mistakes in his edition are the fault of Beethoven, who should have told him that the copy was unusable.

An important musician, appointed by the court to study the edition, found that all of Beethoven's corrections had been observed by the publishers.  At the same time Mollo made it clear that he had nothing to do with any of the negotiations.

It is not surprising to find that the court ruled on September 26 against Beethoven and in favor of the publishers.  They ordered the composer to retract his announcement of Januar 22 in a written statement to be submitted to the court prior to its publication.  The court added in a statement on October 12th that should Beethoven fail to comply with this decision, he must realize that it would give full assistance to the plaintiffs to secure their rights through process of law.  A report dated December 4, 1803, shows that Beethoven was summoned to court, was told in the clearest way possible to proceed with the disavowal of the announcement so injurious to Arrtaria and Mollo, yet he remained unwilling to write out the retraction.

On March 31, 1804, however, the following appeared in the Wiener Zeitung:

             A N N O U N C E M E N T   T O   T H E   P U B L I C

After having inserted a statement in the Wiener Zeitung of Janury 22, 1803, in which I publicly declared that the edition of my Quintet published by Mollo did not appear under my supervision, was faulty in the extreme and useless to the players, the undersigned hereby revokes the statement to the extent of saying that Herren Mollo and Co. have no interest in this edition, feeling that I owe such a declaration to do justice to Herren Mollo and Co. before a public entitled to respect.

                                                                          Ludwig van Beethoven.

Beethoven never did write the retraction of his charges against Artaria despite a further judgment by the Magistrate of Vienna of March 8, 1805, which reiterated the composer's obligation and established the right of the plaintiff to publish himself such a retraction at the expense of the defendant, a right which Artaria never used.  Instead, an agreement was signed by the lawyers of the two parties on September 9, 1805, concerning future editions of the work.

Nottebohm has shown that Ries was further mistaken about the melting of the plates.  They were used for four different editions.  The first edition has bad and "of no use at all for the performer" because no consideration was made for the turning of pages.  This was improved in the second edition in certain places for all parts with the revealing words under the composer's name, "Revu et corige par lui meme."  The fourth thedition differed from the third only by the fact that the plates were not being used by the form, T. Mollo." [TF: 311-313].

 Let us round TF's comments off with the following comments by modern authors:

" . . .  Despite his later admission that he himself had corrected Artaria's proofs, he accused the firm of having stolen the Quintet, and in February 1803, Artaria filed a court petition demanding a public apology.  Beethoven stubbornly refused to issue retraction, however, even in the face of a court order" [Solomon: 129].

" . . . yet Artaria was exonerated by the court, which requested in vain a retraction of Beethoven's accusations against the firm" [Kinderman: 72-73].  

" . . .  Beethoven and his brother Carl spent an enormous amount of energy trying to reassure Breitkopf and Härtel and resolve the problem, which was compounded by the fact that Beethoven had at some stage corrected the proof for Artaria and therefore had had a hand in their edition.  The matter dragged on into the following year and even later before being resolved" [Cooper: 124]

Wie dem auch sei, wie TF [S. 323] berichtet, veröffentlichte Breitkopf und Härtel op. 29 im Jahr 1802, und es war Graf Moritz von Fries gewidmet.


After all these legal problems, before listening to the work, it is a true joy to read some comments by modern authors and music critics:

"It is, however, the String Quintet, op. 29, written in 1800-1801 and published the following year, that is his masterpiece in this genre, worthy of a place alongside Mozart's magnificent works for this combination of instruments.  It is a charactericstically spacious, sonorous, and fully controlled work, with smoothly flowing thematic development, a lyrical Adagio, an inventive and unflagging Scherzo and with much tremolo accompaniment--one of the most successful "stormy" finales (the first was in opus 2 no. 1) of Beethoven's early years" [Solomon: 102]. 

"Its most important innovation is the key of the second subject in the first movement.  Beethoven had explored remote key relationships in several earlier works, and had sometimes placed part of the second group in an unexpected key (the dominant minor in Op. 2 No. 3; the minor of the relative major in the Pathetique; but the main part of the second group had always been written in the dominant of the relative major.  Now, for the first time, he tried a different approach:  the lyrical second subject in A major, and the composition in A minor.  This innovation was so successful that before long he was using the mediant or submediant for the second subject nearly as often as the dominant.  On this first occasion, however, there had to be some exceptional musical justification for using A major in such a conspicuous form, but just before the recapitulation Beethoven inserts a minuet-style passage in a completely different metre from the surrounding material.  This wholly unexpected insertion is in A major, and so the second subject of the first movement provides a long-range pointer to a startling irregularity.  Meanwhile the minuet-style passage only returns in the coda, but in C major, to resolve the sense of disruption caused earlier" [Cooper: 110-111].].  

How long should it take until Beethoven would return to this compositional genre?  Let us read more abut this in our next section:

To our Section on op. 104