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Information on the subdivision of Beethoven's correspondence in the digital archive



In order to organise Beethoven's numerous letters in a logical and clear way, all his correspondence was systematically subdivided into groups. Letters to the same recipient were grouped together, even though the letter might fit better in a different group. As many of Beethoven's contemporaries were related to and dealt with the composer in ways that cannot be clearly defined, overlappings in content are inevitable.

  • Example 1: For Beethoven, Ignaz Moscheles was mainly a publisher. However, there are letters directed to him as a musician. Still, all letters belong to the group "publishers".

  • Example 2: Ferdinand Ries and Franz Brentano are friends from Vienna. Like many of his friends, they also helped Beethoven with business issues. Ries carried out negotiations with publishing houses in London. Brentano did the same in Bonn with Simrock. Less close acquaintances would therefore have to be filed under "publishers" but due to their special meaning, Ries and Brentano remain in the group of the Vienna friends.

To prevent fragmentation in too many small groups, the groups were assigned people who peripherally meet the category criteria.
Special cases occur with people from whom the Beethoven-House only has one letter and which will then be filed in a group for its content even though it could have been filed in a different group.

  • Example: For Beethoven, Friedrich Duncker, the author of the tragedy "Leonore Prohaska" (1815),is a writer. In a particular letter, Beethoven asked Duncker, then the cabinet secretary of the King of Prussia, to arrange for a subscription of op. 123. Therefore, the letter belongs to the group "authorities" as it was addressed to a government official.

The fact that Beethoven addressed recipients with "My dear friend" and signed letters with "Your friend" does not necessarily mean that the recipient was indeed a friend of the composer.

Classification, transfer, dating and recipients of the letters are based on: Ludwig van Beethoven. Briefwechsel. Gesamtausgabe. Published on behalf of the Beethoven-House by S. Brandenburg, Munich 1996.