BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Friday, May 2, 1823

In the afternoon at a coffee house, Beethoven makes note of table and cabinet wax, in scented and unscented varieties, for sale at the Red Apple tobacco shop. They also offer a remedy against bugs.

An unidentified person, possibly a shopkeeper, writes in the conversation book today. He identifies a seal engraver at the Red Tower, across from the guardhouse. His father-in-law made such things [what, exactly, is unstated] and can repair them. It doesn’t hurt to ask.

Conversation Book 31, 35r.

About today, Ludwig writes a letter to brother Johann (which does not survive) in which he appears to be passive-aggressively approving that Johann recognizes that his conduct has been improper. The letter’s contents are known from a remark Karl will make on May 4 in the conversation books. Brandenburg Letter 1642.

Also about today, Beethoven writes to his former pupil and present agent in London, Ferdinand Ries. Having learned that Caspar Bauer, the Esterházy secretary, will be returning to Vienna about the end of the month, he has some matters that he wants concluded before Bauer departs. The exact date of the letter is unknown, since the first page is missing.

Beethoven hopes that Ries has been able to come to an agreement with an English publisher regarding the Missa Solemnis, and the fee sent, by which time the copy will be ready for dispatch to London. The handful of subscription copies were not a problem for the Vienna publishers [a reference to the ongoing negotiations with Anton Diabelli to publish the Mass], so he doesn’t see why they would be a problem for the British ones. [Ries was in fact unable to interest an English publisher in the Missa Solemnis, and it remained unpublished there until after Beethoven’s death.]

Beethoven confides that things are difficult for him with money; the Cardinal [Archduke Rudolph] has become less generous, while demanding more of Beethoven’s time. But it gives Beethoven great pleasure to give a dedication to Ries [the Diabelli Variations were dedicated to Ries’ wife Harriet], rather than – entre nous – satisfying the desires of the greatest of great lords for such a thing. He promises the dedication of the Ninth Symphony to Ries. [The Symphony was actually dedicated to King Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia.]

Along with this letter is a fresh communication for Bauer to present to the King. This talks only about the issue related to Wellington’s Victory, op.91, which was dedicated to the then-Prince Regent but not even a letter of thanks was received. He does not touch upon the subscription to the Missa Solemnis. His original instructions [the letter of February 24] contained both, but the letters are otherwise the same. Perhaps Bauer will be clever enough to obtain a butcher knife or a tortoise for it. The engraved copy of the score to op.91 should still be presented to the King. There is some urgency, since Beethoven has learned that Bauer intends to return to Vienna at the end of May, so he begs Ries to please speak to Bauer immediately. Beethoven recognizes that this letter will cost a lot of money, so Ries should just deduct that from what will be sent. [Beethoven appears to assume that Bauer has not yet contacted the King; it is unclear whether he had any basis for this belief other than the fact he had as of yet heard nothing from Bauer.]

Beethoven apologizes for being such a burden to Ries. “God be with you, all the best to your wife, until I am there myself. Take care, and although they think I am old, I am a young old man.”

Brandenburg Letter 1641, Anderson Letter 1175. A portion of the instructions to Bauer are written in by Schindler. The surviving portion of the letter is held by the Bonn Beethovenhaus, H.C. Bodmer Collection Br 201. The first page was already separated from the rest of the letter in 1838.

Painter Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller writes today to Gottfried Christoph Härtel in Leipzig. Härtel had asked that the half-finished portrait of Beethoven be sent as it is, but Waldmüller objects. He believes that any delay from when the painting was expected is not his fault; he did not receive the commission until April. He believes that he is doing Härtel a favor by painting as quickly as he can, since Beethoven is going to country soon in any event. [He does not mention that Beethoven is also being an exceedingly difficult subject, refusing to sit more than once, and even then for only about an hour.]

Albrecht Letter 318. The original was in Breitkopf & Härtel’s archive in Leipzig, and presumably was destroyed in bombing during World War II.