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Ludwig van Beethoven, Sonate für Klavier (c-Moll) op. 111, Überprüfte Abschrift

Beethoven-Haus Bonn, Sammlung H. C. Bodmer, HCB Mh 54

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"Destroy the latter immediately"

The Berlin publisher Schlesinger did not destroy this corrected copy for the Piano Sonata op. 111, despite Beethoven's instruction to do so. Schlesinger did not heed him for a good reason: he probably did not receive another one.

The story of Beethoven's last major piano sonata and its engraver's model might have been as follows (the interdependence of the sources has not quite been cleared up):
In 1820 Beethoven had reached an agreement with the Berlin publisher Adolph Martin Schlesinger and sold him his last three Piano Sonatas op. 109, 110 and 111. In January 1822 Beethoven completed the autograph score of the Sonata op. 111 (the first movement is at the Beethoven-Haus, BH 71; the second movement has disappeared without a trace). The composer had a copy of this first autograph score made for the publisher. Beethoven read through this copy (HCB Mh 54), corrected it and sent it to Berlin. However, afterwards he wrote the autograph score out again. In the second movement in particular there were major changes, so that on 20 February 1822 Beethoven wrote the following to Schlesinger in Berlin, "concerning the last sonata [op. 111] which has now already been sent, I would like to tell you that I am sending you another copy of the last movement with variations with the next post. As so many different things were going on, I only gave the copyist my first version. Yet as sometimes happens parts of it were not finished or not shown correctly. Please do not use this and do not show it to anyone - destroy it as soon as you have received the other copy. On account of my earlier illness some things remained undone, which is why I was under a lot of pressure as can sometimes happen. You will receive this movement at the most eight days later than the sonata itself."

So another copy was to be made of the second movement in its current version. Five weeks later, on 9 April, Beethoven wrote to Schlesinger to say that this second copy was on its way, "(...) however the new copy of the last movement of the third sonata is only going out with tomorrow's post as I was hindered. Please confirm receipt of this as soon as it arrives and put a mark on the copy so that it cannot be confused with the one you already have. Please destroy the latter immediately." In July Adolph Martin Schlesinger confirmed receipt of Beethoven's letters. However he did not say that the second copy had arrived. He probably never received the second copy and had to have the work engraved using the first one.

Schlesinger's son Maurice had shortly before settled in Paris as a music publisher. In spring 1822 he had visited his father and been given the copy shown here for publication. In order to get his Paris publishing house off to a good start, Maurice was going to publish the sonata by the famous composer instead of his father. The engraver's model - the copy shown here - had a uniform appearance and shows no trace of the second movement having been exchanged. Although the movements are separate, not bound together, both of them were done by the copyist Wenzel Rampl - the staff ruling and watermark on the paper is identical. Only the binding (or rather the stitch holes) are different. So Maurice had probably been given the first copy of the sonata on his visit. The copy of the second movement which Beethoven had said was coming possibly never arrived in Berlin. (J.R.)

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