BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Friday, January 16, 1824

A new maid starts working for Beethoven today. She will last only 17 days.

Beethoven and Nephew Karl have afternoon dinner at a restaurant, possible Zum grünen Fassl on the Kohlmarkt. Beethoven copies from the newspapers an advertisement from the Red Hedgehog wild game market, at the sign of the Wild Duck. They have authentic wild boar and all types of fresh game, as well as truffles.

Beethoven also makes a note of a book, Ausführliche Darstellung der Ursachen, etc. der in unsern Tagen so haüftigen Verschleimungen [Detailed Description of the Causes, etc. of the Mucosa that are so Common in our Times], by Jacques L. Doussin-Dubreuil, translated from the 8th edition by Dr. J.H.W. Schlegel. [No advertisement for this book around this time has been located in the usual newspapers Beethoven read, so he may have seen a copy in a book shop.]

Brother Johann joins them, saying he has spoken to violinist Ignaz Schuppanzigh, who will also be coming. Johann was at a social group where they were talking about the poetry of Joseph Alois Gleich (1772-1841), and they viciously tore it to pieces. Johann attended Gleich’s most recent play, Die Elfen-Insel, earlier this month.

Nephew Karl totals up their dinner, plus Beethoven buys some coffee, sugar and veal to take home. Schuppanzigh arrives and Karl appears to take the veal back to his uncle’s apartment, perhaps driven by Johann. Beethoven and Schuppanzigh continue on to Maximilian Leidesdorf’s music shop to discuss the possibility of that firm publishing Beethoven’s collected works.

Leidesdorf asks whether Beethoven wants to talk to his attorney, Johann Baptist Bach, about the project. The sooner that it’s done the better. He aims to satisfy Beethoven. Schuppanzigh believes it best to start with the earlier works. Leidesdorf thinks it would be better to begin with the works for solo piano, and the variations, and then add the accompanying instruments. He feels his current plan of one volume of about 30 sheets every two months would be about right. The first volume could contain nine solo sonatas and supplements. Beethoven appears to offer a list of his works [possibly the one drawn up by Tobias Haslinger, when Steiner was considering the same project a couple years ago.] Leidesdorf says he is familiar with everything Beethoven has written, but that would certainly be helpful, and he asks Beethoven not to forget to send it.

Schuppanzigh urges “Dear Beethoven, just think of business and start working on something.” Leidesdorf tosses out other ideas for how to proceed. Opus 1 is three piano trios, so they could begin with them. For the piano variations, what he’d like to do is include one page for optional new variations. [It is difficult to imagine Beethoven liking that idea at all, and the publisher quickly changes the subject.] Leidesdorf thinks it would be best to have all the overtures and symphonies engraved in full score form. Beethoven mentions that The Creatures of Prometheus, one of his most popular works, is currently only available in parts. Leidesdorf says they could also derive a full score of that ballet from the parts.

Schuppanzigh asks how things are going on the Quartet in A minor [which will eventually be op.132.] As they depart, Leidesdorf again reminds Beethoven to bring him the list of works. Beethoven walks home.

Conversation Book 53, 1r-5r.

The Weigl art and music shop advertises in today’s Wiener Zeitung at 53-54, in conjunction with Lichtl’s Industrie Comptoir in Pest, the new publication of the Introduction et Variations (dans le style elegant) for piano on a Bohemian national dance, op.56, by Beethoven’s former pupil Carl Czerny. The text (likely by Czerny himself) states, “A well-chosen theme is a key requirement if variations are to be of general appeal. Herr Czerny found one here and treated it with visible affection. We can recommend these variations as a pleasant accompaniment to the New Year, and the Carneval will also embrace this tone poem, created with the liveliest humor, with fraternal arms.” Although the theme is quite simple, the work is rather difficult and would indeed make a virtuoso showpiece, much like Beethoven’s own recently published Diabelli Variations, op.120.