BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Friday, October 27, 1820

BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Friday, October 27, 1820

Beethoven is obviously busy dealing with the aftermath of moving yesterday. Despite his persistent money woes, he is too busy today to collect some money himself.

Bearing the letter of authorization that we saw yesterday, Franz Oliva goes to the Artaria & Co. music dealing and publishing firm and picks up the 300 florins that they are holding on account for Beethoven. The receipt reads, “Received from Herr Artaria & Co. three hundred gulden W.W. [the Viennese paper currency] as the remainder of the six hundred transferred to him for the account of Herr van Beethoven.”

The phrasing of the receipt is very odd. Ted Albrecht, in his commentary in Letters to Beethoven, nr. 276, argues that it actually evidences a repayment made by Beethoven of cash advances received from Artaria. But if that were the case, why is the receipt signed by Oliva, and not by anyone from Artaria? Possibly some third party (perhaps another publisher, uncharacteristically paying Beethoven for a work rather than simply pirating it as usual) has forwarded a payment to Artaria on behalf of Beethoven and this 300 florins are the second installment of 600 total. Or perhaps Beethoven is borrowing from Artaria (he will borrow from Artaria in December of 1820, pledging his annuity against the debt), and Oliva is picking up and signing a receipt for those borrowed funds. But that latter alternative does not explain Beethoven’s comment yesterday that the funds “should have arrived in Vienna by now.”

Unfortunately, without the October 1820 conversation books, the exact circumstances of this payment remain murky and it is unclear whether it represents income or borrowed funds.

This receipt is held by the Bonn Beethovenhaus, H.C. Bodmer collection HCB Br 344.