BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Friday July 28, 1820 (approximately)

Now that the litigation over Karl’s guardianship has finally been concluded, Beethoven needs to deal with the matter of his half of the unpaid pension for Karl’s care and education, which has been funded at his personal expense throughout the long litigation. To that end, he works on a testy draft letter to the pension office, pointing out that he was appointed guardian, and that he has been paying for Karl’s care for four years, and he has received nothing on the pension, even though a year and a half ago it had been agreed that he and Johanna would split the pension.

[Because the annuity is for Johanna’s life, there needs to be proof that she has not died.] Whether or not Johanna has claimed her half is not germane. They keep insisting that he prove that she is alive before paying him [it seems Oliva has still not been able to get the parish priest to sign the declaration that she is living, despite months of trying]; Beethoven declares that if she were dead everyone would know it. He also notes that it’s not very much money in any event: a little over 13 florins per month, and hardly enough to care for an orphan.

Whether Beethoven ever finished or sent this letter is unknown. His attorney Johann Baptist Bach may have had other ways of approaching the issue. Someone other than Beethoven has written “7th month” on the last page of the draft letter; a date of late July 1820 is consistent with Beethoven’s repeated reference to a “year and a half” after the January 1819 agreement to split the pension.

Brandenburg Letter 1401 (not in Anderson). The autograph is held in the Vienna City and National Library, I.N. 150005.