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Ferdinand Wolanek, Brief an Ludwig van Beethoven, Wien, zwischen dem 23. und 26. März 1825, mit Anmerkungen und einem Antwortentwurf Beethovens, Autograph

Beethoven-Haus Bonn, BH 31

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At the beginning of 1825 the copyist Ferdinand Wolanek worked for a short time for Beethoven. This letter is Wolanek's letter of resignation to the composer. In carefully chosen, polite terms Wolanek returns the material he had been given to copy as well as the incomplete copy of the parts (for op. 125) to the composer. The reason he gives is that he is not able to keep to the desired deadline. The real reason follows: Beethoven's sometimes highly excitable temperament and his extraordinarily volatile behaviour.

Although Wolanek stresses he would not take Beethoven's "disagreeable conduct" personally - even celebrated composers like Mozart and Haydn would have the same problems if they worked as copyists for Beethoven - he underlines his decision. After all he is not one of those "common copyists", who consider themselves lucky to be able to maintain their existence even when treated like slaves. Wolanek ends the letter with the conviction that he has behaved impeccably towards Beethoven and does not have to answer to him for anything.

Beethoven's reaction to the letter confirms Wolanek's reproach. With angry and sweeping strokes he crosses out Wolanek's letter and outrageously insults him. On the reverse the composer drafts a reply in which he forbids Wolanek from giving him any kind of lecture and accuses him of arrogance. Like a contrary child he claims that he has long intended to fire Wolanek.

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