Haughty Beauty


By the time Muzio Clementi had collected a good deal of Beethoven’s music, he was determined to bring Beethoven the man into his circle of friends. He wrote to his business partner, William Collard on April 22, 1807:

By a little management, and without committing myself, I have at last made a complete conquest of that haughty beauty, Beethoven, who first began at public places to grin and coquet with me, which of course I took care not to discourage; then slid into familiar chat, till, meeting him by chance one day in the street–“Where do you lodge?” says he; “I have not seen you this long while!” Upon which I gave him my address.

Two days later I find on my table his card, brought by himself, from the maid’s description of his lovely form. This will do, thought I. Three days after that, he calls again and finds me at home. Conceive then the mutual ecstasy of such a meeting! I took pretty good care to improve it to our house’s advantage, and therefore, as soon as decency would allow, after praising very handsomely some of his compositions–“Are you engaged with any publisher in London?”

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“No,” says he.

“Suppose then, you prefer me.”

“With all my heart.”

“Done. What have you ready?”

“I’ll bring you a list.”

In short, I agreed with him to take in manuscript form three quartets, a symphony, an overture, a concerto for the violin which is beautiful and which, at my request, he will adapt for the pianoforte with and without additional keys; and a concerto for the Pianoforte: for all which we are to pay him two hundred pounds sterling.

Beethoven was equally delighted with the arrangement, writing to a friend a few weeks later, “By this means I may hope even in my early years to achieve the dignity of a true artist.”