BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Friday, January 24, 1823

Beethoven makes a note in Conversation Book 19 at 20v that he needs a night stool, a clothes chest, and his tailor needs to take in the sides of his trousers a bit. He also makes a note to figure out how many copies of the Mass need to be sold in subscriptions to leave him 1000 florins after the expenses of copying, etc.

Schindler comes by Beethoven’s apartment in the late morning or early afternoon. He advises Beethoven not to worry about how the letters soliciting subscriptions will be received; “if only you have compositions, the whole world reaches out eagerly for them.” Apparently they have also been considering lithography of the Mass for the subscriptions, rather than copies made by hand, which would be laborious and expensive in quantity. Schindler spoke to a friend of his, lithographer Adolph Kunike (1776-1838), who lived nearby, for his thoughts on the matter. Such a large scale work would cost at least 600 to 700 florins to prepare, and even then you would have to keep a watchful eye that the expense did not get higher. At his place, a work that has 160-170 pages would cost 1800 florins for 200 copies.

Beethoven writes a short note to Attorney Johann Baptist Bach confirming their meeting at noon tomorrow, and notifying him that Karl will be present. Schindler will pick Bach up. Brandenburg letter 1533, Anderson letter 1261. He sends Schindler off to deliver it.

On his return, Schindler informs Beethoven that Bach cannot visit on Saturday the 25th as he had planned, as he will be at the home of his brother-in-law, Count Joseph Anton Wenckheim. Bach will take the liberty of visiting the first day of next week, Sunday the 26th. Beethoven has fired his maid again. Schindler comments that the remaining one [Barbara Holzmann, the “old woman”] is suitable for Beethoven because she understands a joke.

Schindler suggests that they go to visit Baron Tettenborn on Monday, the 27th at around noon. Schindler will send him word they will be coming, and Tettenborn will be very happy to see him. Schindler has confirmed that Tettenborn is forwarding the solicitation letter to the Grand Duke of Baden.

Beethoven’s friend Joseph Carl Bernard, editor of the Wiener Zeitung, meets Beethoven and Schindler for midday dinner around 2 PM, and comments that the beef is good. With regard to a proposed Akademie benefit concert for Beethoven, the Provincial Councillor says that the prices should not exceed 4 florins in the gallery and 2 florins in the parterre. There has not been such a concert in the Redoutensaal since Ignaz Moscheles on December 12, 1819, and he charged 5 and 2 florins, respectively.

Schindler notes that Johann August Eckschlager, composer for the Royal City Theater in Pressburg [Bratislava today] sends Beethoven a composition; Schindler derides it as “of absolutely no value.” Eckschlager had given Beethoven some compositions and poems in Baden, and would like them back. Wilhlem Ehlers, tenor at several theaters in Vienna, is going to Pressburg tomorrow and can deliver them.

Bernard says that the libretto to the oratorio Der Sieg des Kreuzes is complete and Beethoven will shortly receive it. Once it is set, they can move on to an opera immediately. After dinner, they all got to a coffeehouse and then to the lithographic institute. Bernard asks when they are visiting the Hungarian alto Caroline Unger, who was a court singer at the Kärnterntor Theater. He is placing a piece about her in tomorrow’s Wiener Zeitschrift. [Although longtime readers of this feature may recall Bernard had parted with that publication in 1820, complaining that it included too many contributions by Protestants, Jews, and women, he appears now to be back on good terms with it, in some kind of editorial role.] Schindler says that she doesn’t make enough money (2000 fl. C.M.) to be in that paper. He says he will visit her tomorrow, the 25th.

Bernard says Unger is interested [in the oratorio]. Right after the December 4 premiere of the opera Libussa [for which Bernard wrote the libretto, and Conradin Kreutzer the music], the court document draftsman Baron Franz Maria Nell sent her two sonnets. Bernard thinks the sonnets aren’t bad but the censor refuses to let them be published, saying “such delicacies should not be placed before the public.” He suggests they both go see her.

Bernard, Schindler and Beethoven repair to the Lithographic Institute, where they are quoted a fee of 850 florins to print 15 copies; for an additional 850 another 100-200 copies can be had. Beethoven heads to his apartment, while Schindler heads to the Josephstadt, probably for a performance at the theater that evening.

Nephew Karl comes by in the afternoon, reporting that a student at Blöchlinger’s had said in the newspaper “a certain Beethoven” had won 20,000 florins in the Rothschild lotteries, and he wanted to see if it was true. Tomorrow he has examinations. Karl also writes a number of words from the Agnus Dei, which suggests that Beethoven may still be considering possible changes to the Mass.

Conversation Book 20v-

Beethoven with his deafness did not quite understand the quote for the lithography, and sends an undated note, probably this evening, to Bernard, asking for clarification. Beethoven says that he has forgotten whether the director of the Lithographic Institute (whose name he has also forgotten) only wanted to know the number of sheets involved, or whether he wanted to see the score as well. He tells Bernard not to visit tomorrow, but rather Sunday, for dinner if he hasn’t a better offer. [Beethoven has apparently forgotten that Bach is coming on Sunday instead of tomorrow, or this entry may be out of order and come before Beethoven learned about Bach’s inability to visit on Saturday.]

Brandenburg Letter 1544, Anderson Letter 990. The original is held by the Beethovenhaus in Bonn as part of the H.C. Bodmer Collection, Br 39, and can be seen here: