Beethoven’s Letters & Kirschtorte.

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For this purpose I should be pleased if you would let me have by degrees the scores of the masters which you have, as for example, Mozart’s Requiem,  Haydn’s Masses; and  especially everything of the scores of, for instance, Haydn, Mozart, Bach, Johann Sebastian Bach, Emanuel, &c. Of Emanuel Bach’s pianoforte works I have only a few things, yet a few by that true artist serve not only for high enjoyment but also for study ; and it gives me the greatest pleasure to play over to a few genuine art friends works which I have never or only seldom seen.

To Breitkopf and Haertel, 26 July 1809.

Your undertakings likewise make me glad, and I hope, if works of art can procure gain, that it will fall to the lot of genuine true artists, rather than to mere shopkeepers. That you wish to publish the works of Sebastian Bach rejoices my heart, which beats in unison with the high art of this forefather of harmony, and I desire soon to see the scheme in full swing.

To Capellmeister Hofmeiser, 15 January 1801.


In reading Beethoven’s letters, there is always a wondeful sentiment of endearment. He appears at times, bursting with excitement and at others with anger and obstinacy, to after regret his shortcomings and come off as apologetic, at times infinitely kind and others anxious, but at the core, the letters reveal a person with strong convictions and everlasting search for the noble and poetic in Nature and man. One can also see how he acknowledged his peers, always in admiration and never in equal terms, including towards his former teacher Haydn, towards whom in spite of having differences, he always held his music in a very high regard.

An avid reader of the classics, a profoundly spiritual man, an admirer of Handel and Bach, and a genenerous soul (concerned about the well-being of Bach’s youngest daughter, who had fallen into poverty), all these letters sum up the fascinating and uplifting sensation of grasping and contemplating a collosal and sympathetic spirit.


For his birthday, I decided on Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte. Though this dessert’s origins are in the southwestern region of Germany, Josef Keller is said to have invented the cake in 1915 at the Café Agner in Bad Godesberg, near Bonn. This was never confirmed, but it sparked the inspiration for this cake. It is cherry season here where I live, so it all complemented perfectly, alongside a cup of strong coffee.



Perhaps you could let me have editions of Goethe’s and of Schiller’s complete works — from their literary abundance something comes in to you, and I then send to you many things, i.e., something which goes out into all the world. Those two poets are my favourite poets, also Ossian, Homer, the latter of whom I can, unfortunately, only read in translation. So these (Goethe and Schiller) you have only to shoot out from your literary store-house, and if you send them to me soon you will make me perfectly happy, and all the more so, seeing that I hope to pass the remainder of the summer in some cosy country corner.

To Breitkopf and Haertel, 8 August 1809.


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