BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Monday, February 24, 1823

Beethoven makes a note to talk to Ignaz Seyfried [who later wrote a book about Beethoven’s studies with Haydn, Albrechtsberger and Salieri] about the Missa Solemnis. As Kapellmeister of the Theater an der Wien, he would be a likely candidate to conduct the premiere of the Mass. After the disastrous rehearsal of Fidelio last autumn, Beethoven knows he is no longer up to the task. He also makes a note to talk to Dr. Staudenheim, his long time physician [Beethoven writes “Staudenheimer,” apparently as a joke.]

Anton Schindler shows up in the early afternoon, with news that Ignaz Moscheles has just sold a composition for 100 ducats, which indicates that Beethoven’s charges may be too low. Schindler points out that if they are going to use copyists to satisfy the subscriptions, they need to start now. The Courts cannot be kept waiting for a year while the copyists work. The alternative would be to lithograph them, which would be more expensive but faster. Hopefully they will know where they stand within the next three weeks.

Beethoven has venison and boar meat for dinner; Schindler says the gamey odor repels him and he cannot eat such things. But he will have a little cheese.

At 10 AM tomorrow, Schindler has an appointment to meet with Caspar Bauer about the things to be sent to England for the Esterházy secretary Anton Wocher. Beethoven needs to write to Ferdinand Ries and Charles Neate. Beethoven suggests that he invite Bauer to dinner with them, when he sees him tomorrow morning.

Schindler says he was introduced to the Italian composer Michel Carafa (1787-1872), who heard Beethoven’s oratorio Christ on the Mount of Olives, op.85, last night, and was very delighted by it. He would like to visit Beethoven on Wednesday the 26th or Thursday the 27th, as it would make him very happy.

The Italian opera company has begun arriving in town. Schindler says that Joseph Bernard tried to quiz nephew Karl on his Greek studies, and Karl posed him a question back that Bernard could not answer, and that shut him up pretty quickly.

Schindler talks for a bit about the Biber club, where he often goes after performances at the Josephstadt Theater where he is concertmaster. The restaurant has been completely renovated and is quite elegant, and the wine is very good and also inexpensive. The proprietor is a rich man who likes to have prominent guests. Common people don’t go there because smoking is prohibited.

Joseph Bernard reports that he is still working on the libretto to the oratorio Der Sieg des Kreuzes for Beethoven, and promises that he will undertake nothing more until it is done. He invites Schindler to dinner at his place tomorrow night. Joseph Weigl’s new opera, Die eiserne Pforte, based on E.T.A. Hoffmann’s novel Das Majorat, is to be premiered tomorrow night at the Kärntnertor theater.

Conversation Book 25, 14v-23v.

Schindler leaves and makes a fair copy of the letter addressed to King George IV of England that Karl’s professor translated into French for him. In it, Beethoven reminds the King that back in 1813 he had dedicated to His Majesty the composition Wellington’s Battle and Victory at Vittoria [op.91] and sent the only copy of the work in England. Prince von Razumovsky had acted as courier. For many years, Beethoven had hoped that the then Prince would have confirmed the safe arrival of the work [and by implication, provide financial compensation] but as of yet nothing has been heard.

But through Ferdinand Ries, Beethoven is aware that it was given to Herr Salomon and Herr Smart, who performed it in public at the Drury Lane Theater. “It was very offensive for the undersigned to find this all out in an indirect manner, but Your Majesty will certainly forgive his tender feelings, and most graciously allow him to remark that he spared no time and no expense in presenting this work to Your Most Highest, in the best manner, and to give you maximum pleasure from it.” Perhaps the work was presented in some unsuitable manner, and thus he again puts forward the petition to put before Your Majesty an engraved score of the Battle at Vittoria. This copy has been ready for this purpose since 1815, but has been held back due to the uncertainty that Beethoven had about the whole affair. Knowing his Majesty’s wisdom and favor for the arts, he asks that His Majesty consider and comply with this humble petition.

While the original letter to King George does not survive, Schindler’s draft in German does and is held at the Berlin Staatsbibliothek (aut. 35,74a). Brandenburg Letter 1579, Anderson Letter 1142. Schindler will take the fair copy to Bauer early in the morning.

Cappi & Diabelli announces in today’s Wiener Zeitung at 179 the publication of Franz Schubert’s Fantasy in C major for pianoforte, op.15 (today most well known as the “Wanderer” Fantasy). “The Fantasie is recognized by everyone as that species and type of music in which the composer’s art, freed from the shackles of form, can unfold most clearly and fully test its worth. Herr Schubert non only proved his mastery in these latest works, in which he showed that he not only possesses the gift of invention, but also knows how to carry out his happy motives, according to the old demands of art. The present Fantasia is a worthy companion to the similar works of the first rank of composers, and therefore deserves to be set apart by all artists and music lovers.”

Murray Perahia here plays the Schubert Wanderer Fantasy op.15, D.760: