A letter written by Beethoven has revealed that the composer had money worries.
Newly-uncovered from the will of a music teacher in Germany, Beethoven writes of having a “low salary”, while his “illness demand efforts to make a better fortune”. He later complains of an eye disorder.
The composer then went on to call on the addressee, harpist and composer Franz Anton Stockhausen, to help him find an advance buyer for his work Missa Solemnis.
Further money worries came from the composer’s concern at struggling to pay for the education of one of his nephews. He stressed that the boy would also need financial support after his death.
Historians had knowledge of the letter but had previously not been able to add it to their collection. It is now in the hands of the Brahms Institute and the six-page letter is thought to be worth more than €100,000 (£83,000).
Beethoven famously had terrible handwriting and the letter is true to this, with messy scrawls and a number of corrections and crossed-out words.
Stefan Weymar, a music researcher at the Brahms Institute, told Reuters: “Beethoven was not a composer with beautiful handwriting.
“It is spontaneous and he wrote things, then crossed them out, his thoughts changed as he went on and that is the impression the letter gives.”
Earlier this month researchers from Amsterdam and Maastricht universities found that Beethoven’s progressive deafness could be the reason why he used fewer high notes in later compositions.
They found fewer uses of high-frequency notes in the later stages of Beethoven’s impairment, although when he was fully deaf, the composer went back to writing high notes.
“When he came to rely completely on his inner ear he was no longer compelled to produce music he could actually hear when performed and slowly returned to his inner musical world and earlier composing experiences,” noted lead researcher Edoardo Saccenti.
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