In an earlier column I rashly promised to take a closer look at Beethoven's agent and the fact that the agent's granddaughter married Charles Dickens. Turns out the agent in question (a Scotsman named George Thomson) was more of an importuner. His musical forte (apart from the violin) lay in an uncanny knack for persuading great composers that the folk music he had also been collecting just wasn't up to scratch and needed improvement with attached "symphonies" or that the folk poems he'd copied down from assorted Scottish peasants needed up-to-date, catchy tunes of the new Romantic genre. Beethoven came up with over 100 such pieces, some of which were rejected by Thomson as not being good enough. Chutzpah he did not lack.
This article was originally published with the title What a Nerve.