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Response to elleng (Original post)

Sun Sep 16, 2018, 08:31 PM

1. Damn! That man knew how to write!

Here’s a great Beethoven story.

A wonderful mentor of mine was a music publisher named Freddie Bienstock. As he was Jewish, he saw the rise of anti-Semitism in the late 1930s and his family immigrated to the U.S. from Austria.

He got a job in the mailroom at Chappell & Co., one of the world’s biggest and oldest music publishers. He eventually rose through the company and put together a consortium to buy the firm.

When the deal closed, Freddie went to each of the offices around the world. When he arrived at the London headquarters, he discovered a huge old safe in the executive office. No one knew what was in it and no one knew the combination.

So he called a local locksmith who examined the safe and reported that he would have to damage the safe in order to open it. Freddie told him to go ahead and when the door swung open, there was but a single letter inside. It was obviously very old so an archivist was brought in to assess the letter.

Turns out, it was a letter from Beethoven to Chappell in which he requested a financial advance for a couple of his latest works! He asked for 20 ducats, I think.

Here’s the epilogue. Years later, Freddie was the publisher for the composer William Bolcom. Each time Bill came to the NY office, he would look at the framed Beethoven letter with its accompanying translation.

When Bolcom’s opera, “The View From The Bridge” premiered at NY’s Metropolitan Opera, Freddie gave Bill 20 ducats!

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elleng Sep 2018 OP
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