BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Friday, June 16, 1820 (approximately)

Conversation Book 14, leaves 33v through 35r.

Continuing Beethoven’s shopping/reminder list.

++ There is an obscure mention of someone named Spiegel, whom Beethoven describes as “He has completely gone to ruin.” Beethoven notes Spiegel has a shop at the Michaelerkirche. This seems important to Beethoven, as it’s one of only a very few items on the long list marked with a double plus.

++ Barber’s razor

– Beethoven mentions Frau Peters’ housekeeper. Karl Peters was co-guardian of nephew Karl along with Beethoven, and Beethoven was well acquainted with his wife, Josephine. Karl Peters is currently in Italy, but Frau Peters remained in Vienna. It seems that she may have suggested that Beethoven take on her housekeeper, and was vouching for her. Beethoven marked it with a minus, suggesting he was skeptical. But this housekeeper will nevertheless get serious consideration when he makes it to Vienna.

+- A portable writing desk. This could have been useful on Beethoven’s countryside rambles with his pocket sketchbooks, so he could note down any music that occurred to him, hence the plus. The minus may have been him thinking better of having to cart around such a thing on his long walks.

+ Either a new pen knife, or sharpen the old one.

++ Sealing wax

++ Rat or mouse poison (the third mention of rodents in the list)

++ Wax candles

+ A reminder to ask about Countess Anna Marie Erdödy (1779-1839), a good pianist and Beethoven’s friend since 1803. She has been put forward by Gail Altman as a candidate for Beethoven’s Immortal Beloved, but Barry Cooper has shown this to be impossible. Although married, Erdödy had been separated from her husband since about 1810. After some stays in Croatia and Italy, she had returned to Vienna in 1819. Editor Ted Albrecht indicates that she was the subject of a police investigation there at about the same time, apparently due to a death in her household. Peters had given Beethoven Erdödy’s address in Vienna on January 11, but Beethoven does not appear to have remained in regular contact with her during the first half of 1820. She will go to Hungary for the first part of the summer, returning to Vienna once again on July 30.

– Another haircut reminder. Despite the duplicate mention, the minus supports the impression that Beethoven cared little about his appearance.

+ 12- and 16-lined music paper

+ A salt barrel

Beethoven departs for his weekly Vienna shopping excursion either on Friday evening, June 16, or early Saturday morning, June 17.