BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Friday, July 26, 1822

Beethoven writes a letter today to brother Johann at his estate in Gneixendorf. Ludwig complains that his apartment in Döbling is uncomfortable, and he is unhappy with his maid and housekeeper. He discusses his treatment of drinking Johannes fountain water and taking a powder four times per day, and then he’s supposed to need 30 baths in Baden. He hopes to go there by August 6 or 7, and would like Johann to come for a few days to help him if he could, though the dust and heat might be too much for him. Ludwig mentions that [as Piringer reported yesterday] Peters has already sent 300 florins that he has not yet drawn upon, and will have another 1000 coming once he finishes the corrections for the Missa solemnis. There are plenty of demands; he notes that Greisinger contacted him on behalf of Breitkopf & Härtel asking for works, and there are also requests from Paris [Beethoven probably means Moritz Schlesinger’s letter from Paris of July 3] as well as Diabelli in Vienna. [Beethoven had promised Diabelli a sonata for piano four hands sometime in the summer of 1822, to be delivered in November, but it was never written.] “In short, people are vying for my works; what an unfortunate happy person I am!!! This Berliner [Adolph Martin Schlesinger] is also set in. If only my health can be good, I should yet be on the right track.”

“The Archduke Cardinal [Rudolph] is here. I go to see him twice a week. There is certainly nothing to be hoped for from him in the way of magnanimity and money, but I am on such good, familiar terms with him that it would hurt me greatly if I were not to show him something pleasant. I also don’t think his apparent parsimoniousness is necessarily his fault. Before I go to Baden, I will need some clothes because mine are really, really poor, even insofar as shirts are concerned, as you’ve seen.” He asks Johann to get his wife’s opinion of a certain kind of linen. “If you can come, then come if it is not too much trouble. In September I’ll come to you with Karl, if I don’t go to the Cardinal in Olmütz, which he very much wants.” [Rudolph appears to have gone to Olmütz about the end of August.]

There is discussion of the apartment which Johann has rented for the fall in the suburb of Windmühle, at Obere Pfargasse Nr. 60. Beethoven is already having second thoughts about sharing that space. “Is it good for me is also a question. The rooms face the garden, but now garden air is most unfavorable for me. And then the entrance for me goes through the kitchen, which is very unpleasant and unhealthy.” He reiterates his plans to bring Karl and come stay with Johann near Krems and have a good time, unless he goes to [Rudolph’s archbishopric at] Olmütz. In any event, he begs that Johann write back upon receipt and say hello to his family. “If I didn’t have to go to Baden, I would certainly have come to you next month but as for now there is no other way. If you can come, it would be a great relief for me. Write right away. Farewell, I embrace you with my heart, and am as always your faithful brother, Luwig [sic]”

The original of this letter is lost, and the text is taken from the transcription by Ludwig Nohl, Nr. 245, collated with a lithographed facsimile done by Max Unger. Kalischer reads the date as July 22, but the letter refers to the 300 florins announced by Piringer’s letter so it must come after that letter, which was written either on the 24th or 25th. Brandenburg Letter 1483, Anderson Letter 1086.

This same day, Franz Joseph Zips (1770-1823), the personal valet of Archduke Rudolph writes from Vienna to Beethoven in Döbling. The Archduke is unwell, and thus his appointment tomorrow with Beethoven is cancelled. “If it pleases you, come on Wednesday, July 31, at half past five, and His Imperial Highness will be waiting for you.” The postmark bears the date of the 27th, though, making it an open question whether Beethoven got this news on a timely basis, or whether he made a trip into the City for nothing.

The original of this letter is held by the Bonn Beethovenhaus, H.C. Bodmer Collection Br 388, and can be seen at

You may recall that on Monday, July 8th, the Weigl firm advertised in the Wiener Zeitung the publication of Hieronumus Payer’s conflation of musical pieces by Rossini and Weber into a surely crowd-pleasing piece for solo piano, his opus 83. Today, Weigl advertises a followup version of this work for piano four hands, op.84, saying:

“We have recently advertised a composition of similar content, which has enjoyed the acclaim of an art-loving public to an excellent degree. Encouraged by this, the tone-poet has given been pushed to greater efforts in this version, and he has used the interesting variety that playing with four hands offers him for more variety and to produce stronger effects. Perhaps the most attractive of these is the conclusion of the work, in which, while the hands of the player seated on the right play the hunters’ chorus [from Weber’s Der Freischütz], those of the player on the left accompany it with the melody from [Rossini’s] Tancred: Di tanti palpiti. The key is D major. This neat invention will not fail to gain the applause of all players and listeners.”

It does sound intriguing, but unfortunately we have been unable to locate any recordings or videos of this outlandish-sounding work.