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Ludwig van Beethoven, Trio für Klavier, Klarinette oder Violine und Violoncello (Es-Dur) op. 38, Violinstimme, Autograph

Beethoven-Haus Bonn, Sammlung H. C. Bodmer, HCB Mh 27

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In the hope of a cure

Around 1802/03 Beethoven was reworking his Septet op. 20 for a smaller ensemble, namely a Trio for Piano, Clarinet or Violin and Violoncello op. 38. Only the violin part of this arrangement has survived as an autograph score. Although the Viennese Kunst- und Industrie-Comptoir had already advertised the trio on 8 November 1803 in a newspaper advertisement, the publication was still somewhat delayed. It was finally printed in January 1805.
Beethoven dedicated the trio to Dr. Johann Adam Schmidt (1759-1809), a professor at the medical surgical Josephsakademie in Vienna. In the dedication written in French on the first page of the printed piano part, Beethoven expresses very warm feelings for the doctor, who had treated the composer from 1801 onwards. Schmidt played the violin and his daughter the piano. This is the reason why the composer suggested in his dedication that the work should be played within the family, at least when the beloved daughter's playing had improved somewhat.
Beethoven's extremely high regard for the doctor is not only apparent in the dedication. Even in the so-called Heiligenstadt Testament, which Beethoven wrote on 6 October 1802 in great desperation due to his increasing loss of hearing, he had written of the doctor in respectful and thankful terms despite his general bitterness, "as soon as I am dead and if Professor Schmid is still alive, ask him in my name to describe my illness, (...) - I thank all my friends, in particular Prince Lichnovski and Professor Schmidt".
In 1801 Beethoven had changed to Schmidt, as he did not feel he was being adequately treated by his then doctor, Dr. Vehring. He also harboured (wrong) hopes that Schmidt, who occupied himself intensively with modern remedies, would be able to lessen his hearing problems or even cure them. Thus Beethoven wrote on 16 November 1801 to his Bonn friend Franz Gerhard Wegeler (who was also a doctor), "What is your opinion of Schmidt? It is true that I am not inclined to change doctors, but I think V[ehring] is too much of a practitioner to derive many new ideas from reading - In that respect S[chmidt], I consider, is a totally different fellow and, what is more, he might perhaps not be quite so casual - People talk about miraculous cures by galvanism [here: therapy using electricity]; what is your opinion? - A medical man told me that in Berlin he saw a deaf and dumb child recover its hearing and a man who had also been deaf for seven years recover his - I have just heard that your Schmidt is making experiments with galvanism" (after the translation by Emily Anderson, 1961). (J.R.)

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