BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Friday, September 5, 1823

A note is received from Dr. Staudenheim, who says he has a headache and cannot come to dinner today. Nephew Karl cynically observes that he does not ask to reschedule, and it probably does not hurt Staudenheim’s feelings to avoid the dinner, and a likely impromptu unpaid consultation. Later Karl says that Staudenheim eats very little and declines invitations. He jokingly says his uncle is an Epicurean, while Staudenheim is a Cynic.

The wine in Baden is more expensive in Vienna; it is 48 kr. for a half measure here against the 39kr. there. They won’t be able to get it so often any more.

Uncle Ludwig has diarrhea again today. Karl expresses his belief that it comes primarily from poor eating. He also had it the day before yesterday and never had any fruits. At Blöchlinger’s he left the milk standing because they diluted it with too much water. Along the same lines, Karl asks his uncle what kind of fish he would like for dinner. There are no pikes available, but there are carp and trout. By the time they decide on carp, the housekeeper Frau Holzmann has disappeared and Karl is concerned that when she is found the carp will be gone too. But Holzmann soon returns, and she will get the carp. She also has a rabbit for Sunday dinner, and green peas.

Uncle Ludwig complains that Karl writes too large in the conversation books; Karl writes much smaller and asks whether that is better. Beethoven makes a note about overshoes in the City or Hetzendorf. [Possibly he is trying to remember whether he left them behind in Hetzendorf in the hasty move, or whether they were in Vienna.]

Karl begins making plans to go to Vienna later this afternoon by carriage. The new apartment will be partly vacated a week after St. Michael’s Day [September 29] and the whole thing will be available in two weeks. [So by October 13, which may put Beethoven in Baden longer than he really would have liked due to the expense.]

Karl asks Ludwig to write down a list of everywhere he needs to go. Beethoven’s shopping list includes a barber’s razor and a thick quilted jacked. Karl needs to visit the post office and the wine bottle carrier. There is a long list of things to do, and it will probably take most of the day. But Karl believes he can do it more quickly if he is alone, since he can move much more rapidly through the streets.

Ludwig also makes a note to write to Griesinger, the Saxon councillor and a representative of the publisher Breitkopf & Härtel.

Karl’s impoverished friend Joseph Niemetz is coming to visit them. He can either sleep in the housekeeper’s bed or share the bed with Karl. Karl promises he will not be in the way since they will be together, reading or outside. Ludwig objects about the extra food, and Karl reminds him that there is always too much food and nothing more needs to be cooked than if Uncle were by himself. Ludwig continues to fret, and Karl tells him his worries are unnecessary.

Karl believes he has everything he needs for the trip to Vienna. He asks for the necessary instructions at once; he’ll follow them closely and hope for good success. Now he is thinking that he will take the early morning carriage tomorrow, and asks that Uncle wake him when he goes to the baths. If Karl doesn’t get dressed until 5 a.m., it will be too late.

Karl asks whether his uncle knows Schiller’s comedy Der Neffe als Onkel [The Nephew as the Uncle]. He likes good-natured little dramas.

Karl says that he saw a huge dead carp. He asked who would eat such a thing, and Holzmann answered that “Jews buy dead fish.”

If Karl could be one person from ancient times, it would be Hannibal, his favorite. He likes Ulysses better than Achilles. The pair go to a wine shop and by 7 fl. 20 kr. worth of wine, being six bottles with a 15 kr. deposit on each bottle. The porter wants a tip for packinging the bottles.

Karl asks what he is to do in Hetzendorf on the way into Vienna. [Presumably this includes checking for the overshoes there.] Nothing needs to be given to the copyist on this trip. Back at the apartment, dinner is ready and the carp is prepared very well. Karl asks what his backup plan should be if he cannot get a fiacre there and back. His plan is to do the most difficult thing first and get it out of the way.

There are very few entries in the conversation book after dinner, so it is possible that Karl departs for Hetzendorf and Vienna either this afternoon or, as he had suggested, he may leave very early on the 6th to run all his uncle’s errands.

Conversation Book 41, 14r-23r.

Beethoven writes three letters today. The first goes to his good friend Tobias Haslinger at the S.A. Steiner publishing house. “Since I am here in the waters of the Styx, I ask my friend of the upper world to send me the 4 vocal parts of the March in E-flat from The Ruins of Athens, and also the score of the Battle of Vittoria [better known today as Wellington’s Victory, op.91,] both of which I will send back in a few days.” And so far as the 3,000 florins owed to Steiner, Beethoven believes that Karl will be able to have 600 florins for the first installment tomorrow afternoon, and that an additional 600 florins will be available from Attorney Bach. “You can trust everything to my nephew Karl.” [Beethoven apparently believed that he would be able to engineer either a sale of one of his bank shares, or a loan against it, but he ended up being unable to do so and this was in Steiner’s view yet another empty promise for repayment.]

Brandenburg Letter 1738, Anderson Letter 1096. The original is held by the Hamburg university theater collection. From this request for the Turkish music and Wellington’s Victory, which contains a fugal treatment of “God Save the King,” it seems clear that at this moment Beethoven is working out the middle part of the finale of the Ninth Symphony, with the Turkish-influenced Alla marcia (“Froh, wie seine Sonnen”) and succeeding fugue, allowing us to date his progress with some precision.

The second letter, also addressed by Nephew Karl though written in Beethoven’s hand, is addressed to Franz Christian Kirchhoffer, the go-between for Ries in London. He promises that the symphony [the Ninth] will be delivered to him within 14 days at the outside. [The finale is still in progress, as we see from the foregoing letter to Haslinger, and the symphony will not in fact be finished until early next year.] So far as the score for the Missa Solemnis is concerned, it’s too large to send to England to be published there in one package, so it will have to be split up. He is thinking of sending it via Trieste [as several people such as Franz Brentano have already recommended] and Beethoven asks Kirchhoffer’s opinion on the matter. Beethoven ends by inviting Kirchhoffer to come to Baden, where he will be greeted with love and affection by him and Nephew Karl.

Brandenburg Letter 1739, Anderson Letter 1238. The original is in the Bonn Beethovenhaus as part of the H.C. Bodmer Collection, Br 169. It can be seen here:

The third letter is to Ferdinand Ries himself in London. Beethoven opens by saying that he should let other people do things for him, but he entrusted the publication of the Diabelli Variations op.120 to his brother Johann and Anton Schindler, and they messed everything up. It was supposed to be published in England at the same time as in the German countries, and the dedication to Antonie Brentano was only supposed to be in German countries as well. [Beethoven had told Ries that in the British version it should be dedicated to Ries’ wife, but he couldn’t write that on the score since he didn’t know her name.] “Everything went through Schindler. I have not yet met in all of God’s world a more miserable person, an arch-scoundrel who I gave up on.”

Ries had written in a now-lost letter of July 16, 1823 that he could sell an Allegro di bravura for piano, if Beethoven wanted to write one for 30 ducats. Ries had written two such pieces himself for publisher Thomas Boosey, his op.99. Beethoven then tells Ries an outright falsehood, claiming that the new symphony is now completed and at the copyist right now, and he is working with Kirchhoffer as to the best way to get it to London. [Copying of the Ninth Symphony did not begin until at least February of 1824.]

Beethoven then turns to his various ailments. He arrived in Baden in poor condition, and while others enjoy the baths, he has to write. Beethoven is not only taking the baths, but is also drinking mineral water. The score for the Missa Solemnis will have to come in two pieces, and he is working out with Kirchhoffer how that will be accomplished. He also intends to send Ries the choruses he asked for and the oratorios. [Upon what texts these works were to be written is unclear. The oratorios appears to have been requested by Ries on behalf of Sir George Smart. In any event, nothing ever came of them.] Beethoven repeats how sorry he is about the problems with the Variations; they were written more for England than for here, he adds.

Brandenburg Letter 1740, Anderson Letter 1237. The original letter is held by the Bonn Beethovenhaus, NE 30, and can be seen here: