BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Friday, April 11, 1823

We start Conversation Book 29 today. As has been the case in recent books, the entries appear to be out of order in the book, and we have again followed the chronology in the German and English editions.

Moritz Lichnowsky visits Beethoven this morning, discussing the libretto that Franz Grillparzer has prepared. He has heard that Diabelli is printing a new set of variations from Beethoven. He has many questions about the plans for an Akademie benefit concert [considering the slow progress on the Ninth Symphony, it is not likely to happen any time soon], Beethoven’s summer plans [Hetzendorf, and then likely Baden bei Wien afterwards], and how work is going on the Ninth Symphony [the first movement is mostly worked out and work is beginning on the second movement Scherzo.]

Apparently Johann is certain about the Grillparzer libretto, though Ludwig expresses some doubts. Lichnowsky says he will inquire in private about it, and promises a definite answer in two days (Sunday, April 13). Johann says Grillparzer will write to him.

Beethoven sends housekeeper Barbara Holzmann with the libretto of Fidelio to be sent to Dresden, for Weber’s performances of Fidelio beginning near the end of the month. The libretto must have been prepared separately from the score, which went out over a week ago. Schindler had run into her there, and told her she was already too late. Since it was not too heavy, he thought it could go by letter post through the postal coach. At Beethoven’s apartment in the late afternoon, he tells Beethoven she wasted her time. They only accept packages for Dresden on Thursday and Tuesday mornings. Schindler fills Beethoven in on the various postal rates for letters and parcels bound for Dresden. Schindler asks that it just be given to him and he will handle it; dealing with the very particular dispatcher of the postal coaches can be difficult and depending on the situation may or may not be required to be sealed.

Schindler remembers that he talked to attorney Johann Baptist Bach the other day. He says that if Beethoven wants an apartment in Baden, he can arrange a good and cheap one in Schloss Guttenbrunn, where he himself lives each summer. It has a large and beautiful garden, and is very near the mountains. You can come and go unnoted. A friend of Bach’s named Schimer owns the castle. [Beethoven does take him up on this offer in the summers of 1824 and 1825, but not this year, indicating he probably has already made arrangements elsewhere.] Bach suggests that if Beethoven intends only to go to Baden in the fall, he should spend the month of August there.

Schindler thinks Beethoven’s current servant situation is generally good. They complement each other well and have different strengths.

Don’t drink that wine, Schindler warns. He had some the other day and it left his mouth full of blisters. It must be seriously adulterated.

So far as Grillparzer is concerned, Schindler ran into him two days ago (Wednesday the 9th), and the poet said he will soon be sending Beethoven his youngest child. It is a libretto on the tale of Melusine, and he says he has taken a great deal of trouble to make it worthy of Beethoven’s genius. Ignaz Franz von Mosel (1772-1844), Court Councillor and vice-director of the Court Theaters, as well as a composer and arranger, as well as a supporter of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde, is the one who proposed Grillparzer pursue this libretto for Beethoven, so the way is paved for it in the theaters already. This will embarrass Joseph Carl Bernard, who has been working on the libretto for Der Sieg des Kreuzes for years and still has not finished it.

Beethoven needs to have his carpenter summoned [probably to make some chests, since chests are discussed later on in the conversation. This may be meant to replace the chest lost off the coach with Beethoven’s papers last fall when he returned from Baden], so Schindler says he will inquire with Bernard where the carpenter is located and make the necessary arrangements. It shouldn’t take long.

Beethoven (without naming names) says that Schindler has been accused of gossiping about him; Schindler denies it and asks to know who is his accuser, or at least the subject of the complaint. He promises not to make any inappropriate use of the information. [So far as can be determined from the Conversation Book, Beethoven refused to answer, and Schindler moves on. This might have just been Beethoven being paranoid.]

The fair copy of the Diabelli Variations has been completed, and Beethoven is proofreading. Schindler asks whether Beethoven will send the proofread copy to him tomorrow morning, or whether he should pick it up for delivery to Diabelli.

Schindler is looking forward to a presentation of Rossini’s La Cenerentola in German in about five weeks. They have a light dinner of hard-boiled eggs. Schindler complains that they are not boiled enough and his is quite cold. Holzmann seems to be confused today, perhaps as a result of her difficulties with the Dresden dispatcher.

With respect to the Swedish diploma that has still not been approved by the Emperor, Schindler looked into it again today, and it has gone to the government again from the Court chancellery. Like all state business matters, there is a horrible bureaucracy that lasts forever even when there is nothing to discuss. Schindler asks that if Beethoven ever gets another such honor or a hundred that he not pursue such a thing, at least in this method.

Conversation Book 29, 9r-16r.

Alfred Brendel here plays the completed Diabelli Variations, op.120: