Letter penned by Beethoven uncovered in Germany
- 11 January 2012
- From the section Entertainment & Arts
A letter written by composer Ludwig van Beethoven has emerged in Germany after being left in a will.
In the six-page document of Beethoven's scrawled corrections, he complains about his illness and a lack of money.
Experts were already aware of the 1823 letter's existence, but say it is of historic value.
Broadcaster John Suchet, who has written books on Beethoven, said finding the letter was "hugely significant".
Speaking to BBC News, he said: "We've always known it existed, therefore the information in it isn't new, but anything in its original form to do with Beethoven is hugely significant.
"It means we can look at his handwriting, which was always untidy, because his father took him out of school very early so he could concentrate on music."
Stefan Weymar, from the Brahms Institute in Lubeck where the letter will be displayed, added: "Beethoven was not a composer with beautiful handwriting.
"It is spontaneous and he wrote things, then crossed them out, his thoughts changed as he went on."
In the letter, Beethoven asks harpist and composer Franz Anton Stockhausen to help find advance buyers for his Missa Solemnis mass.
He also wrote about an eye disorder from which he was suffering at the time.
"My low salary and my illness demand efforts to make a better fortune," said Beethoven.
The letter ended up in the hands of music teacher Renate Wirth, a descendant of the recipient.
The value of the document has been estimated at more than 100,000 euros (£82,000).
Michael Ladenburger, head of the Beethoven House Museum in Bonn, told Reuters news agency that the appeal of the document was "certainly very great".
Suchet added: "Beethoven, in my view, is one of the greatest artists who ever lived. His music and legacy will be known to every single generation in the world, until the end of time.
"I'm publishing my sixth book on him later this year and I'm dedicating it to my grandchildren's children because they will know his music - they don't have to like it - but they will know it.
"Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo or Mozart, in my view, are only a handful of truly great artists who ever lived, therefore anything to do with them that can make us understand their thought process is of great significance."
The letter is the latest information in recent months that has come out on Beethoven.
In December, scientists wrote in the British Medical Journal that they thought the composer's deafness helped to define his music.
They said that he favoured lower and middle range notes as his hearing deteriorated.