BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO: Friday, February 21, 1823

This morning, Beethoven adds a column of three 14s to come up with 42; he does not quite have a mastery of multiplication. He also notes that Schindler is taking the maid with him to buy matches and a sugar bowl. He needs to get his special pens from Hamburg and a tin spoon. Schindler years later finds two blank pages here and adds fake entries where he takes credit for inspiring Beethoven to write the Consecration of the House overture.

Wenzel Rampl visits Beethoven later in the morning. As a copyist, he has a portable inkwell and nearly all of his conversation book entries are written in ink; most everyone else writes in them with a pencil. They are discussing the problems of making a copy of Fidelio for Weber in Dresden. Rampl suggests that Wenzel Schlemmer should do it; he needs to make amends to Beethoven. Georg Friedrich Treitschke (1776-1842) once wanted a copy of the opera very quickly. Then Schlemmer removed the clean gathering of paper, so he owes Beethoven for that.

The performances of Fidelio currently running in Vienna have some changes made to the singing voices, and a great deal has changed in the drama. Rampl notices the changes to the voices in the second act Duet in particular.

Beethoven suggests copyist Michael Retzer might be able to do the work, but Rampl lets Beethoven know Retzer has died, so no. Rampl believes that if he can arrange enough copyists, he could have a copy ready in a week. If they need an example to copy from, Steiner’s copy could be borrowed. But he thinks Gallenberg will eventually come through and loan the theater’s copy.

Rampl notes that the Italian opera season (the reason Gallenberg did not think they had sufficient copyists available at the moment to do the work) starts March 3 with a performance of Rossini’s Otello. [the first performance of Otello actually occurred on March 13.]

After Schindler returns from his errands, he encountered Carl Odelga, the ambassador for Tuscany and Nassau, who suggested that they should also give him a subscription solicitation for the Missa Solemnis from Ferdinand III, Grand Duke of Tuscany. Schindler says he will write it immediately, because he wants to forward it tomorrow. On second thought, he’ll do it right after dinner.

Gallenberg is not willing to lend out the score of Fidelio, because the theater only has the one copy. But Schlemmer or Rampl can do the copying right in the theater and that avoids that problem. He expects them to finish within ten days.

Beethoven wants Attorney Johann Baptist Bach to draw up the declaration soon. After his recent illness, Bach is pushing himself too hard and is fatigued. He has had a number of serious illnesses, including rheumatism of the head. Schindler thinks his wife is too strong and too young for him and that’s also wearing him out. [Katharina Bach was only 18 years old at the time.] In the summer, he has a country house with a beautiful large garden and clean air. His wife is a simple and decent person. Her sister Anna is married to Count Joseph Wenckheim, a royal chamberlain.

As an example of how hard Bach pushes himself, Schindler knows from working in his office that on some days he would have 24 to 30 appointments; he still sees over a dozen clients a day.

Schindler also stopped by Blöchlinger’s Institute to visit Karl. Blöchlinger suggests that letters to foreign courts could be given to their language teacher to review and translate properly. Business language in a foreign tongue is difficult and it is hard to know whether one is expressing one’s self properly. He can arrange that by Sunday, February 23. Karl sends fond greetings and reports that his frostbitten foot is getting much better.

Beethoven expresses suspicions of Karl hiring carriages at Beethoven’s expense. Schindler dismisses that, saying Karl is not since it is very difficult to incur the charges. Walking does him no harm. He recently walked with Blöchlinger to the theater, although then it was dry.

Schindler does not think Beethoven should work out an agreement [possibly about the proposed Collected Works] with Steiner, since that would indicate no respect for Beethoven. It is better to be obligated to no one and to have a free hand. Artaria also recently warned to be on guard with Steiner. Schindler says that if Beethoven has works completed then he need not write as much because everyone will gladly take them upon completion. [For all Schindler’s bragging about his closeness to Beethoven, he (like others such as Johann and Bernard) seems to have no conception as to how difficult and laborious composition was for him. As Beethoven wrote in his early but still unrecorded song, The Poor Composer, Biamonti 15, “Every note costs me twenty drops of sweat.”]

Schindler thinks Beethoven should remain at home a few days more; while it is warmer, the air is still very damp. [The Wiener Zeitung of February 22 reports that today’s temperatures ranged between 39 and 41 degrees Fahrenheit during the day.]

Schindler will also write to his friend Ignaz Moscheles, who is in London; he can coordinate with Bauer about having the King subscribe to the Missa Solemnis. Schindler asks how much the London Philharmonic Society offered Beethoven as traveling money to come to London. [They did not offer anything, but on the other hand, Beethoven did not ask.]

Schindler and Beethoven have midday dinner at about 1:30 or 2; Schindler comments that there is enough for five people again. [At this point, leaf 49 was torn out of the book after Schindler had numbered the pages.] Friedrich Starke (1774-1835), horn player, composer and conductor, joins them for dinner. Like everyone else, Starke asks Beethoven when he will write another opera. Hensler, director of the Theatre in the Josephstadt, seems to think that Beethoven will have one ready in four weeks.

Starke is in trouble because he is two months short of Court service to make ten years, which would make him eligible for a pension. Even though Archduke Anton, the Emperor’s brother, interceded for Starke, the law is strict and being short even one day renders one ineligible. He had, however, served 20 years in the army in the military band, but these were considered civilian appointments and did not count toward his required service. He will nevertheless try again and ask them what he is to do with his children. Louis Duport, the administrator of the Kärntnertor has been kind enough to offer him the directorship of two ballrooms, for at least half a year.

He notes that the Kärntnertor Theatre is downsizing to save costs; 16 musicians and staff were dismissed suddenly. A first violinist there makes between 300 and 400 florins W.W. per year. [Starke’s own salary was 600 florins.] The younger replacements live with their parents, but at least that exempts them for serving in the military.

Starke lets Beethoven know that in the last few performances of Fidelio in Vienna, the Overture has had to be repeated; he has seen it four times. At that point, Starke’s watch is striking and he must go. After he and Schindler depart, Beethoven makes a note that he still needs a sugar bowl; Schindler and the maid failed in one of their morning tasks.

Conversation Book 24, 39r-50r.

After they part, Schindler writes the promised subscription letter to the Grand Duke of Tuscany and delivers it to Ambassador Odelga. Brandenburg Letter 1576. However, the original is not known to survive. It might be written in French, like one of the later subscription letters.

Sauer & Leidesdorf today repeats its advertisement in the Wiener Zeitung (at 172) for its unauthorized edition of four songs by Beethoven (WoO 145, and 148-150).