BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Friday, August 8 (approximately)

Once Nephew Karl leaves Bl√∂chlinger’s Institute, where he had regularly predictable days that he could visit Uncle Ludwig, it becomes more difficult to date the conversation book entries with precision. I have generally followed the suggestions of English conversation book editor Ted Albrecht.

About this morning, Karl goes with Uncle Ludwig to look for an apartment for the two of them upon the return from Baden. They start off too early, however, and everyone they want to talk to about apartments is still asleep. Karl likes the Landstrasse area best, probably because it is closest to the University in the fall. They look at two apartments that rent for 400 florins C.M., one at 500 and another for 900. One that’s very dark and one would be liable to break his neck at night is available for 260 florins.

One apartment near the guardhouse is taken off the list since it’s near a glassmaker; Albrecht suggests that Beethoven may have been concerned the glass dust would bother his still-sensitive eyes. Another has three rooms plus a kitchen, attic and cellar, with the equivalent apartment on the first floor (second floor American) at Landstrasse 323. [Beethoven eventually decides to rent the first floor apartment of this building, which still stands, though the ground floor apartment is now a restaurant.] The price, which is not subject to negotiation, is 254 fl. C.M. [per year.]

There’s then a discussion, perhaps at a coffee shop about someone who is disliked by housekeeper Barbara Holzmann. She loaned him 5 florins, and whenever he comes, she reminds him of it, but he gave her hope of the 50 florins that Beethoven promised him. [This reference to 50 florins suggests that the recently-dismissed Anton Schindler who was due 50 florins (and liked to mention that fact) is probably the topic of discussion, though it might also be poet/journalist Johann Chrysostomus Sporschil, who borrowed 15 florins from Holzmann and never repaid her, giving her a phony address, and might have been promised 50 florins for reworking The Ruins of Athens.] Karl says that he shouldn’t have been promised anything in advance; it just created a burden.

They look at another apartment that is 13 florins per month; Karl does the multiplication to get 166 florins, plus 10 for the tip for the building superintendent and lantern. Beethoven then does a good deal of calculations with currencies.

Conversation Book 38, 30r-34v. The next conversation book entries are on Sunday, August 10.

Franz Brentano writes from Frankfurt to Beethoven in Hetzendorf, in response to Beethoven’s letter of August 2, asking about the best way to send a large parcel of music to London. Brentano’s suggestion is that he should use the sea route from the Adriatic port of Trieste. Brandenburg Letter 1727. The letter itself is lost, but its date and contents are known from Beethoven’s Letter 1739 of September 5 to Kirchhoffer.

The Johann Cappi music shop advertises quite a few Beethoven works in today’s Wiener Zeitung at 739. These include the last three piano sonatas, opp. 109, 110 and 111, plus the overtures to Coriolan and Egmont arranged for piano (not by Beethoven), second printing.