Feb 29 1812: Beethoven to Thomson

George Thomson (1757-1815) was a Scottish publisher who began a correspondence in 1803 with Beethoven.  Beethoven's reply letter to Thomson dated October 5, 1803 is the composer's first letter to Britain. The exchanges and business between the two continued until 1820.

During that period, Thomson asked Beethoven to compose various works based on traditional Scottish, English and Welsh melodies. In turn, Thomson published the adaptations sometimes with words added by poets such as Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and even Lord Byron.  Beethoven also wrote various works including piano variations on the English folk songs "God save the King" and "Rule Britannia." Beethoven initially received three ducats for each adaptation, later on he received four and then five.

On February 29, 1812, Beethoven is writing to Thomson asking for payment for the Scottish songs he had sent him. Beethoven appears particularly annoyed that Thomson had implied that Beethoven was charging to much because Monsieur Kozeluch was charging less for adaptations. Leopold Kozeluch was a Czech composer. He was also Mozart's successor as Court composer and imperial Capellmeister in Prague. Beethoven may have resented being compared to him, as early in Beethoven's career, Kozeluch had been held up as a model for Beethoven to follow. Beethoven does not care that Kozeluch only charges two ducats for each song. "Moi je m'estime encore line fois plus superieur en ce genre que Monsieur Kozeluch (:Miserabilis:)", Beethoven writes indignantly. He also adds that he knows that Hayden charges 4 ducats. He wants his money. 

Beethoven's letter of February 29, 1812, written in French, can be found here

More information on the relationship between George Thomson and Beethoven can be found here.

You can hear 'Oh, Had My Fate Been Join'd With Thinecomposed by Beethoven with words by Lord Byron below:

I have also attached a video of Sir Thomas Allen, Janice Watson and Timothy Robinson singing 'Come fill, fill, my good fellow' composed by Beethoven with words by William Smyth.

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