BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Friday, November 29, 1822

Beethoven writes to Joseph Schreyvogel (1768-1832), a writer and dramatist, who currently is in charge of the combined court theaters as well as censor for the Vienna theater magazine. He has his friend Joseph Carl Bernard, editor of the Wiener Zeitung, return some theater tickets for him and ask for new ones. “If I haven’t been to the theater as much as usual, it’s mainly because of my poor health. But now I’m feeling better and will be more involved with it again. I’d be happy to write something for the theater once again, unfortunately because I have to receive a fee! My salary is no salary at all, so things are certainly difficult. Anyway, as you know, I have never asked for anything for trifles.

“I wish nothing less than that your merits will also finally be recognized. Rest assured that I value very much, as little as it may mean to you. Meanwhile, there is a relationship of our spirits, which nobody can break apart.

“With true respect, your most devoted Beethoven.”

Brandenburg Letter 1513, Anderson Letter 908. The letter is dated only November 29, but no year is indicated. The description of Beethoven’s long illness and now feeling better fits quite well with the year 1822. Beethoven also makes the complaint about “salary without salary” in several letters of the winter of 1822/1823, making this dating probable. Anderson on the other hand suggests the date is November 24, 1818, and Nathan Fishman in his edition of the letters agrees with Anderson.

Meanwhile, interest in the guitar has peaked with the series of concerts by virtuoso and composer Luigi Legnani, which just concluded a few days ago. One of the most intriguing musical advertisements in today’s Wiener Zeitung at p.1100 is Cappi & Diabelli’s announcement (alongside several works by Legnani) of Vincenz Schuster’s arrangements for two guitars of an “Andante favorit” and Variations, both derived from unnamed quartets by Beethoven. The Andante favorit is not Beethoven’s famous Andante favori WoO 57, but rather a lovely setting of the Andante con moto quasi Allegretto from the Quartet op.59/3, while the Variations are an arrangement of the third movement of the Quartet op.18/5.

Vincenz Schuster (c.1797-c.1863) was a friend of Franz Schubert, and was apparently the only professional performer of the arpeggione, a six-stringed musical instrument fretted like a guitar but bowed like a cello. Schubert wrote for Schuster the Arpeggione Sonata, D.821 (1824), usually played today on viola or cello.

Izhar Elias and Fernando Cordas here play the Variations arranged for guitar duo by Schuster as his op.4, from Beethoven’s quartet op.18/5, third movement Andante cantabile:

The “Andante favorit,” arranged by Schuster after Beethoven’s quartet op.59/3 third movement, is played by the same duo here: