There is no evidence that anybody has ever asked that question. But that is no reason we should not ask it now. Let us, therefore, consider this excerpt from an invented exchange of letters. (Elements of it, however, are based on real correspondence.)
On July 3, 1812, the eleven-year old girl Emilie M. asked the question (among many others) in an adulatory letter to Beethoven in these terms:
“…I have been practicing your violin sonata in A major. You marked the last movement presto. Did you compose it presto?”
To which he answered three weeks later from Treplitz, a spa in Bohemia:
“My dear good Emilie, my dear friend, forgive me for the delay in answering your letter. I have been plagued by constant illness and I am here for the restoration of my health. Your praise is too immoderate; do not snatch the laurel wreath from Handel, Haydn, Mozart – to them it belongs, to me not yet.
“You ask whether I composed the presto movement in the sonata to which you refer at presto speed. The answer is YES! In my mind I heard it presto, but when I wrote it down I struggled with it at adagio speed, again and again. How I envy Rossini, who apparently writes his adagio arias at presto speed!
“Continue, my dear Emilie. Do not only practice art but penetrate to the very heart of it. This it deserves, for only art and science raise men to the Godhead….”