BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Friday, December 12, 1823

Beethoven and Nephew Karl have an unidentified visitor this afternoon, whom editor Theodore Albrecht suggests is organist and conductor Franz Lachner (1803-1890). The visitor asks Beethoven if he would be so kind as to look over the music of his cousin, who is ten years old and learning Generalbass. Beethoven complies and thinks the girl has some talent. The visitor mentions that Emanuel Aloys Förster has published a string quintet setting of one of Beethoven’s symphonies. [It is unclear which symphony he refers to; the new Kinsky-Halm’s fairly comprehensive list of period arrangements does not shed much light on it, though there were undated and uncredited string quintet versions of the Seventh and Eighth Symphonies that might correspond.]

The visitor suggests that Karl ought to read the writings of theologian Jacob Salat (1766-1851) or professor of Philosophy Johann Tieftrunk (1760-1847). He also asks when Beethoven intends to go to England; he has been talking about doing that for a long time.

The visitor asks what Beethoven is doing this evening. Beethoven says he is dealing with diarrhea and probably won’t be able to go out. The visitor, not taking the hint, helpfully suggests that massaging his abdomen with his hands would relieve it.

The visitor asks Beethoven’s opinion of the Harmonie method of Johann Gottfried Schicht (1753-1823), using the “inversion-system” for the relationship of chords. He’s interested in having his cousin learn the rules so as to understand musical works better and play pieces from her own head. She has lessons daily, studying Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Clementi. Beethoven recommends that children study Generalbass as a proper foundation. [Beethoven himself had a good grounding in Generalbass from his studies as a boy in Bonn with Neefe, which he continued with Albrechtsberger after he came to Vienna.]

He asks what Masses Beethoven would advise for him. [Beethoven appears to show him the score of the Missa Solemnis, possibly the Frankfurt Cäcilia-Verein’s subscription copy.] He is surprised that the Mass has no figured bass. In Frankfurt they don’t play the organ at Mass, and in the country it’s often omitted for short Masses.

Before departing, the visitor mentions that in the area of Tabor [a town in southern Bohemia, once a stronghold of the Hussites] he had two of Beethoven’s quartets performed, “and the people listened to them with the greatest joy.”

Brother Johann visits in the afternoon. He has another housekeeper prospect, a fine young woman who can write very well and is loyal. He can send her tomorrow.

Conversation Book 48, 29v-31v.

The publishing firm of Sauer & Leidesdorf announces the publication of the sixth and latest volume in its subscription series of the Complete Operas of Rossini for piano, Edoardo e Cristina (1819), for 10 florins W.W. (6 florins for subscribers). Subscriptions remain available through January 1, 1824. If one subscribes to all six volumes, the seventh will be free.