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Beethoven’s Letters: dedication of 3 piano sonatas to the Prince Elector of Cologne

June 1, 2008

The young Beethoven dedicated three piano sonatas to Max Friedrich, Prince Elector of Cologne. This is the letter of dedication.

Most Illustrious!

Music from my fourth year began to be the first of my youthful occupations. Thus early acquainted with the gracious muse who tuned my soul to pure harmonies, I became fond of her, and, as it often seemed to me, she of me. I have already reached my eleventh year; and since then often has my muse whispered to me in inspired hours: “Try for once and write down the harmonies of thy soul!” Eleven years old – methought – and how would an author’s air become me? And what would masters of the art probably say to it? I almost became diffident. Yet my muse so willed–I obeyed,and wrote.

May I now venture, most illustrious Prince, to place at the foot of your Throne the first fruits of my youthful works? And may I venture to hope that you will bestow on them the benevolent paternal look of your encouraging approval? Oh yes! The arts and sciences have always found in you a wise protector, a generous patron, and budding talent has prospered under your noble, paternal care.-

Full of this encouraging assurance, I venture to approach Your most serene Highness with these youthful attempts. Accept them as a pure offering of childlike homage, and look graciously on them, and on their young author.

The above appears on the reverse side of the title-page of the first publication. The title is as follows:

“Three Sonatas for pianoforte dedicated to the Most worthy Archbishop and Prince Elector of Cologne, Maximilian Friedrich, my most gracious Lord.

“Dedicated and composed by LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN,
“Aged eleven.”

Published by Councillor Bossler, Spires. No. 21. Price 1 fl. 30 kr.

Beethoven’s Letters with explanatory notes by Dr. A.C. Kalischer, J.M. Dent & Sons, Ltd., London & Toronto, 1926, p.1.

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