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Ludwig van Beethoven, Sonatine für Klavier (G-Dur) op. 79, Autograph

Beethoven-Haus Bonn, Sammlung H. C. Bodmer, HCB BMh 1/41

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Publishers' stories

The autograph score of the Piano Sonata (Sonatine) op. 79 was first owned by Muzio Clementi, in his time a famed piano virtuoso, composer and publisher in England. However, Clementi separated the movements from each other and sold them. It is only because of a happy chance that the parts came together once again at the end of the nineteenth century, in the possession of an English collector. They were rebound (which is why there are the letters between the first and second movement).
On tour in 1804, Clementi had sealed an agreement with Beethoven's publishers Breitkopf & Härtel in Leipzig, which meant that the publishers were willing to give him the rights to Beethoven's compositions for the British market, on the condition that he paid part of the composer's fee. Due to differences of opinion between Beethoven and Breitkopf & Härtel, the contract did not, in the end, lead to any publications by Clementi. On a later trip in 1806, Clementi once again tried to acquire music manuscripts by Beethoven in Leipzig - but this time Napoleon thwarted his plans. As he could not reach Prussia due to the war, Clementi decided to travel on to Vienna - a stroke of luck as it turned out. There the English publisher met Beethoven and they reached an agreement on 20 April 1807. Clementi acquired exclusive rights for several works by the composer for the whole of Britain's sovereign territory. He was delighted to tell his partners in London about the deal, as he had closed a good deal only paying 200 pounds sterling (for this amount, Clementi received the three Quartets op. 59, the Fourth Symphony op. 60, the Coriolan Overture op. 62, the Violin Concerto op. 61 and its arrangement as a Piano Concerto, as well as the Fourth Piano Concerto op. 58). Beethoven was also highly satisfied with this contract, as he wrote to his friend, Count Brunsvik, in a letter of 11 May 1807, "I am to get 200 pounds sterling - and, what is more, I shall be able to sell the same works in Germany and France" (from the translation by Emily Anderson, 1961). Subsequently there were, however, disagreements between the two parties. Clementi's company in London did not receive some of the manuscripts he had bought (obviously due to the war and Napoleon's embargo on England) and therefore put off paying the agreed sum, which was only paid in April 1810. Yet Beethoven did do business with the London publisher again (and was more successful this time), which resulted in Clementi & Co. publishing the Sonata op. 79 in 1811. (J.R.)

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