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The Charge

Portrait of Ludwig van Beethoven

Ludwig van Beethoven spent a good deal of his time concerned with music and money. A letter that he wrote to composer Ferdinand Ries on February 28, 1816, dismisses both matters quickly in order to take up a new preoccupation:

Quite some time ago I wrote to let you know that the trio and the sonata had been sent out. In my last letter, I asked you, since I still had so many expenses to cover, to make sure that Herr Birchall reimburses me for the cost, which comes to at least ten gold ducats. In any event, he got the pianoforte arrangements for next to nothing. And the only reason we let him have the Battle so cheaply is because we didn’t think that the Viennese publisher would take so long to publish it.

So I hope, my dear Ries, that you’ll rouse yourself a bit so that I may soon receive 140 ducats here in Vienna. In my previous letter I’ve already told you where to send the money.

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Neate left at the beginning of this month and is bringing you the overtures as well as some other compositions.

I haven’t been well for quite a while. My brother’s death has affected my morale and my nerves. I’m very upset about the death of Salomon because he was a noble-minded man whom I remember well from my childhood.

You have become the executor of a will and at the same time I have become the guardian of the child of my poor deceased brother. You will have nothing like the frustration I have had because of this death. At the same time I have the sweet consolation of having saved a poor innocent child from the clutches of an unworthy mother.

Best wishes, dear Ries. If ever I can be of service to you in Vienna, think of me as nothing but your true friend, Beethoven.

Beethoven and his nephew Karl would try each other’s patience for years to come.