BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Monday, February 2, 1824

Because today is Candlemas, a national holiday, Nephew Karl does not have classes. He and Uncle Ludwig go to a concert by Carl Czerny, where he plays Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations op.120. [Czerny gave recitals to small groups in his apartment, but very rarely played in public, preferring to earn his living through an enormous volume of compositions, and by giving lessons.] Karl says that Moscheles has kidney stones, which are preventing him from going to London as he had planned; he may instead come back to Vienna.

Karl tells his uncle that Czerny has been said to have admitted he didn’t understand the Variations entirely. There was an overly enthusiastic audience member who was unruly with his applause and pointed out all the beauties for others. He obviously knew the variations well, for at one point he said, “Pay attention to what’s coming up; it’s even more beautiful.”

Brother Johann is supposed to be coming later. He probably will want to have a letter for Count Neipperg. The Count needs to be addressed as Your Excellency, and be approached very gently, because he is very proud. His wife, Marie Louise, daughter of Kaiser Franz I, should agree to subscribe to the Missa Solemnis and that will take care of it.

Count Moritz Lichnowsky shows up at Beethoven’s apartment this afternoon. He will again approach Odelga about the Grand Duke of Tuscany subscribing to the Missa Solemnis. Lichnowsky revises Uncle Ludwig’s dictated draft letter to Count von Neipperg, telling him that he has completed a Mass, that many kings and nobles have subscribed, and he would hope that Her Majesty Empress Marie Louise might subscribe. [Marie Louise is currently Archduchess of Parma, but she had been Empress as the wife of Napoleon Bonaparte before his exile.] This draft in the conversation book is catalogued as Brandenburg Letter 1779.

Discussion turns to Conradin Kreutzer’s Der Taucher. Karl thinks it’s silly as everything ends happily thanks to the protection of a fairy. Lichnowsky is very pleased that Ludwig is proceeding with his opera and the Akademie concert. Ludwig has his doubts but Lichnowsky dismisses them. “You are so indifferent, even though everything is ready and waiting for you.”

Ludwig tells Lichnowsky about Czerny’s concert. Lichnowsky’s daughter has a teacher whom Czerny sent; he himself will take over her training in April. Czerny hears her play every two weeks, and she must learn entirely according to Czerny’s method. Her hand position is much improved.

Reports are that Rossini has been well received by the King of England and they are singing duets together. [Rossini had arrived in London in January, 1824, and had breakfast personally with King George IV.]

Johann stops by with his carriage. He would like to visit Johann Baptist Streicher’s to see some newly-invented pianos. Czerny will also be there.

The maid brings in food from the restaurant downstairs, and the bill for the foursome comes to 5 florins 8 kreuzers, and she is given the money to pay the restaurant. Johann says that the “old woman” [Barbara Holzmann] will surely come tomorrow. She seems quite happy to be employed again.

After dinner, Karl, Johann and Lichnowsky go to see the new inventions, which may be demonstrated by Czerny. Uncle Ludwig remains behind, and Anton Schindler comes to visit. He did not attend Czerny’s concert, but he had heard him play the Diabelli Variations at his apartment yesterday [which seems to have served as a dress rehearsal for today’s concert.] “As a layman, I may not make any eulogy to you, but I was completely taken by the greatness and sublimity of this work, which probably won’t be completely understood for several years, as Moscheles and Kalkbrenner (who don’t understand it) have themselves said so; and Czerny has only now consecrated them in that way.” Schindler would like to take Karl to Czerny’s recital next week, when Schindler understands he will be playing Beethoven’s last three sonatas, op.109, 110 and 111.

Conversation Book 54, 32r-35v. This ends the chronological entries in Conversation Book 54. We will resume tomorrow in Conversation Book 55.