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Lot #6218
Ludwig van Beethoven Autograph Letter Signed to His Secretary

Rare handwritten letter by Beethoven, sending cryptic instructions to his devoted secretary: "The matter must be approached cleverly"

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Estimate: $60000+
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Rare handwritten letter by Beethoven, sending cryptic instructions to his devoted secretary: "The matter must be approached cleverly"

ALS in German, signed “Beethoven,” three pages on two adjoining sheets, 5 x 8, no date but circa mid-February 1826. Handwritten letter to Karl Holz, who played the second violin in Ignaz Schuppanzigh's string quartet, a close friend of Beethoven’s and the composer's devoted secretary toward the end of his life; Beethoven frequently entrusted with his quotidian missions. The background of the letter is obscure: it probably refers to an episode involving Beethoven’s housekeeper, Ms. Lindner, with whose work he was dissatisfied, and to the problem of supervising the lifestyle of Karl, Beethoven’s troubled young nephew. He also makes a request for some flannel cloth; Beethoven’s conversation notebooks reveal that Holz’s sister Anna attended to the requested purchase of the flannel in mid-February 1826.

In full (translated): "As token payment the cane did its job yesterday. I would much prefer if you located somebody to trace the K. trail, perhaps we shall find something better than we expect—and only then is action to be taken according to conviction—whatever the cost, I will gladly refund all, only the matter must be approached cleverly. I ask you sincerely to instruct your sister, whom I send my regards, to buy two cubits of flannel according to this swatch; you can bring the cloth along when you visit me this noon—I only regret having to burden you in so many matters. In haste." In very good to fine condition, with moderate overall foxing, and minor loss to the edges.

Citation: Beethoven, Briefwechsel, vol. 6, no. 2117 (“original unknown”), based on Kalischer’s inaccurate edition (1908), vol. 5, no. 1181. From the collection of Adolf Göttmann, Berlin (cf. MGG vol. 5, cols. 460f.).

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Art, Literature, and Classical Music
  • Dates: #682 - Ended June 20, 2024

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