BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Friday, August 29, 1823

Beethoven is in Vienna for a few days, having come early from Baden bei Wien this morning. Nephew Karl, who has been out of Blöchlinger’s Institute for a few days, but still had examinations until this morning, is visiting and preparing to move to Baden with his uncle.

Karl says he spent the last two nights at Frau von Reinlein’s large home on the Graben. [One of her sons, Jacob, had been a classmate of Karl’s when he was younger; the von Reinleins were well-to-do.] Yesterday, he went with Frau von Reinlein to Wiener Neustadt, about 30 miles south of Vienna, to pick up her son Raphael at the Imperial Military Academy there. Raphael had completed his examinations, so they went to get him. It was an all day trip since they left at 5 o’clock in the morning and didn’t get back until 11:30 last night. They wouldn’t let him leave so he spent the last two nights there. Lieutenant field marshal Philipp von Faber at the Academy asked Karl about his uncle. The carriage there and back cost 25 florins.

Karl has priced carriages to Baden, and they can be had for 24 to 30 kreuzer, depending on where you catch them. [The trip took about four hours by coach.]

Uncle and nephew price wine; Karl observes it is not necessarily more economical to buy it by the case; a case holds about 50 jugs. He does some multiplication to show the prices of various options. One of the wines doesn’t need to be kept so cool as the others, and is priced at 31 fl. 15 kr. per case.

The new trunk is ready; the cost is 8 fl. 30 kr. She [probably housekeeper Barbara Holzmann] says everything will go into it.

Karl makes some last remarks about the economies being exercised on the food for the pupils at Blöchlinger’s Institute. But that’s behind him now.

She [again, probably Holzmann] needs to go for water right away. There is no carriage available for her to bring the water; tomorrow she can bring everything and come out for 2 fl. 3 kr. She needs to go immediately, otherwise the wagon will leave without her at 3 o’clock. The rest of the stuff can come tomorrow.

Karl visited the parish priest [to get the certification that he was still alive so that the pension could be paid for him. This trip was probably timed to be able to collect the pension, since they seem to have ready funds and make a number of purchases and payments today.]

Ludwig notes a mark on Karl’s new clothes; Karl says it’s just a tailor’s marking rather than a stain. He observes that even if he weren’t coming to live with Uncle Ludwig, he’d still be happy just to get away from the strict routine and poor food at Blöchlinger’s. One was completely dependent there on the mood of the cook.

At a restaurant or coffee house, shortly before 3 PM, they discuss various wines. Karl [suspiciously very knowledgable about wines for a 16-year-old] observes that 1811 is the best vintage, colloquially called the Eilfer. [Elf=eleven] Karl asks whether his uncle, who had a lifetime complimentary ticket to the Baden theater, has been there yet.

Beethoven intends to engage Blöchlinger’s servant. Karl says the servant would like beer, and it doesn’t need to be expensive. He would be satisfied with soup for food, since he gets nothing at all to eat at Blöchlinger’s.

Karl notes that he had to return one of the pairs of trousers that the tailor made since he had stitched a large piece of different material into them! On the whole, Karl thinks that they will do well together economically, and if Uncle Ludwig follows his advice on “bread-money,” the household budget will be in good condition. Ludwig asks what advice that was; Karl says he hasn’t given it yet.

Later this afternoon, Beethoven meets with banker Franz Salzmann [which was one of the items on his to-do list.] Concerning the bank share, he will begin the necessary steps right away; he is confident that Beethoven would get a 700 florin advance payment. [Beethoven appears to be planning to get a short-term loan against one of his bank shares again] He needs to turn it over before 5 o’clock today, and the money should be available tomorrow. Salzmann regrets he doesn’t see Beethoven more often.

Karl settles up some bills. The tailor’s charge for the leftover amounts from last year and several new things came to 36 fl. 2 kr. The shoemaker’s bill came to 26 fl. 9 kr, for a total of 62 fl. 11 kr. He enters these figures into the expense book.

Salzmann returns, having turned in the bank share. But the funds will not be available until next Thursday, September 4.

Conversation Book 39, 36v [brightened and contrast enhanced.] Courtesy Berlin Staatsbibliothek

Karl can do the examinations [probably for entering a teaching program at the university], though he will need to get another permission slip. Either Blöchlinger or Professer Pleugmackers can get that for him. He already knows the subjects of the test: Latin, Greek, mathematics, and history. Karl is fond of Pleugmackers, who was like Joseph Köferle, the teacher of geography and history at Blöchlinger’s until 1820. [Karl very lightly draws a head and writes “Köferle” in calligraphic script here above it.]

[At least one sheet appears to be missing here. The pair talk into the late evening.] Karl observes that the waiters at the restaurant “are really waiting longingly for our departure.” But he wryly observes that if one were to be guided in everything according to the will of others, he would have much to do.

At this point they return to Beethoven’s apartment in the Windmühle for the night. Conversation Book 39, 25r-37r.

It’s worth nothing that Karl writes a great deal going forward; as recently as a year ago Uncle Ludwig could still hear Karl’s voice well enough to understand him. But now, whether because Karl’s voice was getting deeper, or his uncle’s hearing had deteriorated even further, or some combination of the two, he has to write nearly everything to make himself understood.