BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Monday, April 30, 1821

Those reading these Beethoven Bicentennial Minutes closely will note that almost all of the entries for the month of April were items laboriously gleaned from period newspapers. There is absolutely no record of Beethoven’s doings during the entire month of April, 1821. No dateable work on compositions, no letters, no mention of visits by wellwishers, nothing. That is quite unusual for Beethoven; even in February, 1821, when Beethoven described himself as being bedridden with rheumatic fever and unable to work, there are records of visits with him and he wrote at least one letter.

This absence of any work or contact with the outside world, as well as later statements in letters by Beethoven, suggest that his health has been very poor for the entire month. It also seems quite possible that he got word of Josephine (Brunsvik) von Stackelberg’s untimely death a month ago and it affected his state of mind badly as well, perhaps plunging him into depression in his vulnerable condition. Unfortunately, we are left to conjecture what was going on with him this month. In the month of May, we will get a slightly clearer picture of his activities, though his health still continues to be rocky and our knowledge of his activities sporadic.

Our next update will be May 12.

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