BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Thursday, May 4, 1820

Conversation book #13, leaves 19v-24v.

Beethoven continues his preparations to move to Mödling in the countryside for the summer. His friend, bookkeeper Franz Oliva, spends much of his day assisting Beethoven. We learn more about the housekeeper who abruptly quit; she had been a miller’s wife, but the husband squandered all the money and she divorced him. She has no children.

Oliva went to visit piano maker Matthäus Andreas Stein to inquire about prices, while Beethoven notes on his shopping list suspenders and a milk pitcher.

They were not able to get the verification that Johanna van Beethoven is still alive yesterday. The pair go to a stationer’s shop to get official tax-stamped paper for these verification purposes, and make plans to get signatures from the priest and Johanna’s landlord.

While Oliva goes to his office to do a little work, Beethoven goes on other errands and then gets his 6 PM bath. Afterwards, he meets Oliva and Karl’s piano teacher, Joseph Czerny (no relation to Beethoven’s former pupil Carl Czerny) at a coffee house. There has been some trouble due to a letter sent to Karl’s co-guardian, Karl Peters. Beethoven is angry at his attorney, Johann Baptist Bach, and Czerny and Oliva try to talk him down, as it wasn’t Bach’s doing to send the letter. But they agree Beethoven should let him know about it.

Afterwards, Beethoven goes with Oliva to Oliva’s apartment in the city, where they discuss the issue with Peters and the guardianship further. While Oliva writes out the receipts for the pension, Beethoven reads the newspapers and finds an apartment listing for the fall that he finds of interest. Apparently the receipts take quite a while, because Beethoven also has time to sketch out a German dance, Biamonti 726. Ted Albrecht, the editor, suggests that this may constitute a 12th “Mödlinger Dance” written for an ensemble that played at an inn called the Three Ravens. The 11 Mödlinger Dances WoO 17 are generally considered to be doubtful Beethoven compositions, but if Albrecht is correct, this would be persuasive evidence that they are genuine Beethoven works.

You can hear this little dance melody Biamonti 726 here in our newly-added mp3 sound file. The manuscript page is attached, thanks to Armando Orlandi of Biamonti 726 from Conversation Book

Oliva tells Beethoven that he will get the landlord’s signature, and that they will visit the priest together Friday afternoon, May 5.