BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Friday, May 5, 1820

Conversation Book #13, leaves 24v through 33r:

Beethoven and his bookkeeper friend Franz Oliva continue their efforts to get the necessary verifications that Johanna van Beethoven is still alive, so that Ludwig can collect the pension for acting as guardian of nephew Karl. Early in the morning they go to visit her landlord’s agent, but he’s out until 2 o’clock, which is the same time they were supposed to visit the priest to get his verification. They decide to go to the local coffeehouse and read the newspapers until 1:30 and then try the landlord again.

Beethoven does some additional shopping and also briefly visits his lawyer, Johann Baptist Bach, to discuss the issue of the letter sent to Karl Peters, nephew Karl’s co-guardian, that caused such a stir yesterday. But there’s only half a sentence written by Bach, so it’s most likely a very short visit. Bach believes Beethoven should find another co-guardian; since Peters is in Italy acting as tutor to Prince Lobkowitz’s children, he can’t very well fulfill his duties as guardian to Karl in Vienna.

Beethoven is planning a dinner for his friends on Sunday, May 7, before he departs for Mödling. He arranges for an enormous quantity of fish to be delivered for the party. Oliva says he will bring salad.

At Oliva’s office, in the afternoon after getting the landlord agent’s signature, Beethoven practices his signature for the official document making claim for the pension. “Make the L bigger,” says Oliva. Oliva says he will visit the priest midday on Saturday, May 6th to get his signature verifying Johanna van Beethoven is still alive.

They then go back to the coffeehouse where they spent the morning and discuss the rental house in Mödling; part of the arrangement with the landlord for a discount in rent is that Beethoven agreed to repair the balcony.

Oliva notes that the portrait by Joseph Karl Stieler (just completed in April, attached) on exhibition is acclaimed as being “remarkably lifelike.” A bas-relief medal by Joseph Daniel Böhm was also supposed to be in the exhibition, but Oliva says Böhm was not satisfied with the medal so he did not submit it. The medal is lost today, but a copy (see attached) was made by Carl Ranitzky in 1870.Bohm Beethoven medal copy by Radnitzky   1a
Beethoven Stieler portrat
Oliva has been interviewing cooks for Beethoven to replace the housekeeper who abruptly quit. They discuss the merits of pianist/composers Johann Nepomuk Hummel and August Eberhard Müller.

In the evening, at either a winehouse or coffee house, Oliva notes that in all the hubbub he forgot to attend the Concert spirituel at 4 pm, for which Beethoven had loaned the score of his Mass in C, op.86 two days earlier. Oliva and Beethoven agree to meet at the coffee house at 4 pm on Saturday May 6, after Oliva has obtained the priest’s verification.

As you can tell from this day’s entries, Beethoven loved coffee, and he loved it very strong. One wonders what Oliva’s employers thought of all this.

At leaves 28v-29r of the Conversation Book, Oliva and Beethoven accidentally skipped a page. Anton Schindler, later an assistant for Beethoven and his first biographer, took that opportunity years after Beethoven’s death to forge entries here in the books that make it look as if he knew Beethoven years before he actually did.