BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Monday, December 29, 1823

Karl’s advertisement for a housekeeper appears in the Intellegenzblatt section of today’s Wiener Zeitung, at 1327. It reads:”A widow of moral character, who can cook, read and write well, and receives a small pension, to be taken on as a housekeeper under very advantageous conditions. The information can be found at Ungargasse No. 323, on the first floor, door No. 12, every day at 2 p.m.”

About two in the afternoon, Nephew Karl meets Uncle Ludwig to interview four prospective housekeepers. The first, Anna Rinn, is a 29-year-old widow from Prague. She gets a 500 florin pension and has capital of 11,000 florins W.W., along with a farm and garden in Dornbach. She can cook well and is courteous. Karl thinks she is too aristocratic. She is a War Commissioner’s widow, and has an income of 50-60 florins per month. She could also rent Beethoven four or five rooms in Dornbach for his summer place.

As an alternative, Karl observes that they could easily get back a prior housekeeper from Erdberg. Although she has a job, she doesn’t like it but she would need to give two weeks’ notice.

The second candidate, Anna Gottschedt, brags about her fine bakery products, pastries and the like, but no cakes. She used to play the piano a great deal, and her late husband was in the Musikverein in Graz. She is very pleased to meet Beethoven. She has an annual pension of 100 florins C.M. She is primarily concerned with her good name and being treated well.

At around 2:30, the third applicant, Susanna Krupka, is brought in. Karl observes, “She is already half dead.”

In the midst of the interviews, a cabinet maker stops by the apartment and interrupts, saying that for 7 florins he will make every chest like new.

Back to Frau Krupka. She had worked for a countess. Of the first three, Karl likes Gottschedt the best. She has a married daughter in Graz.

The fourth applicant, Leonore Gross is interviewed around 3 p.m. but makes a poor impression on Karl. She “is a worn-out, downtrodden person, who is not suitable for us. And the first one [Anna Rinn] is an aristocratic woman who wants to be treated like a princess, and likewise isn’t suitable for us. The one who came second [Gottschedt], however, is sincere and cried when I told her your name, since it aroused a strange feeling in her, because her husband had so often participated in your compositions, and she herself played [pieces] of yours.”

Krupka is the widow of a coffee brewer, and as such does not have a pension but does have some income of her own. She has already worked for two households. She can bring references, if desired. Uncle Ludwig doesn’t make a decision right away about the four of them. Instead, he’s worried about how he will come up with the money to pay them. Karl suggests that he should publish the Ninth Symphony and the Missa Solemnis by subscription, and once the subscription is done, sell the printing plates to Tobias Haslinger.

Karl says he will write the letter to Louis Antoine Duport of the Kärntnertor Theater right now. “We must write immediately, because it has already been several days since you received the letter. Plus you already promised Duport a week ago that you would answer him.” Uncle Ludwig wants to put Duport off, but Karl points out that he has been delaying giving the theater administration a clear response for a year now.

Back to the four housekeeper applicants. Karl lists them off for his uncle, and where they live. But Uncle Ludwig isn’t quite satisfied and puts off a decision. That’s just as well, as more applicants will show up tomorrow.

[Anton Schindler, finding the rest of page 8r blank, many years later inserted several fraudulent entries about the Sixth Symphony here.]

Ludwig goes to a coffee house with Karl, and reads the newspapers. He makes a note of a book by A.J. Montegre on hemorrhoids.

They are joined by Brother Johann, who agrees with Karl that Duport cannot be put off with a nonspecific answer again, or the Kärntnertor theater administration would lose all confidence. Attorney Bach says Beethoven should designate whatever price he likes for the opera, and then wait for the reply. But they aren’t in a position to draw up a contract without knowing what conditions Beethoven wants. Johann believes Ludwig has delayed so long that no one believes him any more, and they are saying nothing can be gotten from him.

Duport told Johann that he wanted to see the contract, and the conditions. Ludwig doesn’t know what to ask for, so Karl suggests waiting another couple of days. He recommends sending a vague letter reporting that he has the book of Melusine, and will report in a few days concerning the time needed, the performance, the honorarium, etc. [Brandenburg Letter 1762.] Johann can’t deliver the letter today, but could do it after dinner tomorrow [Tuesday, December 30.] Duport is not available before dinner.

Johann believes that before the Symphony can be sold, the Missa Solemnis must be sold. He joins in reading the newspapers, and observes that the theater in Graz burned down on Christmas Eve. Pianist Friedrich Kalkbrenner has come to Vienna from London to give several concerts.

Later that evening, Karl tells his uncle that Johann doesn’t think they will ever have an orderly household, so it’s incumbent on them to prove him wrong. The first housekeeper applicant [Anna Rinn] is financially secure but time hangs heavy on her hands so she is looking for a position.

Karl tells his uncle he should reclaim the copy of the Consecration of the House because Johann is trynig to sell it.

Karl says the overture to Fidelio was performed this evening. Uncle Ludwig asks where, and Karl responds at the Kärntnertor Theater. [Karl’s statement is consistent with the report of the January 15 Leipzig Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung (nr.3) at 45, that the Fidelio Overture was performed at a musical Akademie for the benefit of composer Joseph Mayseder (1789-1863) at the Kärntnertor Theater, among other works.]

Conversation Book 51, 5r-11r. Sincere thanks to our friend Birthe Kibsgaard for her kind assistance with this entry.

The Overture to Fidelio is here performed by the Vienna State Opera Orchestra, conducted by Leonard Bernstein: