BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Monday, January 5, 1824

Conversation Book 52 begins being used today. This is another extremely short book, comprised of only ten leaves, all of them filled with writing. It appears to cover only three days.

Ignaz Schuppanzigh is visiting Beethoven today. As usual, despite their close relationship, Schuppanzigh addresses Beethoven oddly in the third person, which is disregarded here for clarity. Improving Beethoven’s finances is the topic of discussion. For instance, Berlin is offering to pay Beethoven 1000 florins for an opera.

Another method of making money would be the proposed edition of Beethoven’s complete works, which had been discussed with Steiner and Haslinger. Maximilian Leidesdorf has also expressed interest, but he too would like a new work for each volume to increase the sales appeal. The added compositions don’t have to be anything long, and he would be satisfied with a new short piece in each volume, which wouldn’t take Beethoven long, and it would greatly increase his earnings. [Editor Theodore Albrecht notes that the Sauer & Leidesdorf firm was of modest size and was probably not actually in a position to take on what would prove to be a monumental task.]

If Beethoven would like, Schuppanzigh can write on his behalf to the Berlin theater manager Heinrich Bethmann about the Consecration of the House Overture. But Berlin musical director Carl Wilhelm Henning [to whom Beethoven appears to have agreed to loan the score for the opening of the new Berlin theater] is an honorable and upright man and Schuppanzigh expects him to deal fairly. Beethoven notes he saw that Schuppanzigh’s quartet recently played one of Henning’s quartets. Schuppanzigh says his composition skills aren’t bad, “but there’s no sense in it.”

Beethoven asks what Henning’s salary is in Berlin, and Schuppanzigh understands it is 25 florins per month, plus every three years the Theater provides him with a coat and trousers. But while he was on his recent trip to Vienna, Henning did not get paid at all. [That salary was probably a good deal less than Beethoven was expecting. It added up to only about as much as Beethoven paid his housekeeper and maid together, and he required that they also have pension income, since this salary was clearly not enough for them to live on.]

Beethoven asks about the housekeeper that Schuppanzigh was going to send him. She hasn’t come to see Schuppanzigh’s wife yet, so the word hasn’t been passed on to her. Beethoven is pleased to have Schuppanzigh’s recommendation, and Schuppanzigh agrees that is always better to employ someone who comes with a recommendation.

Schuppanzigh asks whether Brother Johann is still in Vienna. Ludwig says yes, with his wife Therese. He can’t afford to separate from her. Schuppanzigh asks whether she had a great deal of money, and Ludwig agrees that she did, and Johann is somewhat dependent on her finances. Schuppanzigh points out that he must have made a great deal of money, though, because it costs a lot to buy and maintain his estate in Gneixendorf. Ludwig thinks he bought more than he needed in order to be ostentatious. Schuppanzigh acknowledges that Johann’s a big talker, but that it was said that he was under investigation for his medicines. [Johann had made his fortune as an apothecary, in part from selling medications to Napoleon’s occupying troops, so he was apparently under continued suspicion.]

Conversation Book 52, 1r-2v.

Beethoven also probably mentions to Schuppanzigh at this time that he is working on a string quartet in A minor, which will eventually be op.132; Schuppanzigh will ask about the progress on that quartet on January 16. Sketches for the Finale of that quartet appear among the work on the Finale for the Ninth Symphony at f.8r and 36v-36r of the pocket sketchbook Autograph 8/Bundle 2, which Beethoven is currently using. Those sketches continue into the next pocket sketchbook, Artaria 205/Bundle 4.