BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Monday, June 23, 1823

Beethoven’s eye infection clears up significantly today, for at least a week, because in a letter to Archduke Rudolph written on July 1 he notes that it had gotten better 8 days earlier. Brandenburg Letter 1686.


Beethoven makes a note that he should send Karl a Kugelhupf breakfast cake [a yeasted ring cake with raisins], since he doesn’t get anything but a little croissant for breakfast at Blöchlinger’s. Also, Karl needs some clothes brushes. Finally, Beethoven makes a note of the subscription rate for the Wiener Zeitung as being 3 fl. 45 kr. C.M. for three months.

Conversation Book 34, 31v-31r.

Beethoven writes a lengthy undated letter in three parts to unpaid assistant Anton Schindler. Beethoven begins by warning Schindler not to take seriously the remarks made about the King of Prussia. Brother Johann also should not say anything.

The Variations op.120 were left behind, and he asks that Schindler give them to the housekeeper on one of her regular trips into the City. [This probably refers to the eight copies on fine paper that Diabelli had promised Beethoven; he appears to have received them but forgotten them at his apartment in the City on one of his regular trips in to conduct business, most likely yesterday.] Also he should forward the copies intended for London. Beethoven is losing patience with Schindler: “Don’t just act according to your own conceits, because everything is going wrong. You are acting like a blind executor, of which we unfortunately have plenty of examples.”

The second part asks about the diploma [for Beethoven’s admission into the Swedish Royal Academy of Music] and where it was put before it had to be sent to the Emperor for approval, and how long ago it was dispatched. “I’m asking you not to take a single step for yourself until you explain to me again about the miserable business with Prince Esterházy?” [Beethoven must have received the Prince’s refusal to subscribe to the Missa Solemnis, and can hardly believe it. Beethoven had considered giving the Prince a free copy in hopes of receiving a kapellmeister appointment, but was talked out of that by Schindler in favor of asking for the usual 50 ducats. And now Beethoven has neither from Esterházy, and seems to be blaming Schindler. A further eight lines of what appear to be ranting at Schindler are crossed out, probably by Schindler, so that they are mostly illegible.]

In the final part, Beethoven says, “Inquire with the arch-lout Diabelli, when the re-engraved Sonata in C minor [op.111] from the French edition is to be completed, because I want to proofread and correct it. I have requested four copies of it for myself, one of which is to be printed on beautiful paper for the Cardinal [Archduke Rudolph]. Should he act in his usual loutish ways, I will come and personally sing him a bass aria in his shop so that it may resound both in his shop and on Graben.” [Diabelli’s shop was at Graben, Nr.1133. Schindler notes on the letter that Diabelli was unimpressed by this threat, and said that he would transcribe the bass aria, have it engraved and even pay him for it. Beethoven was more polite to Diabelli after that, according to the always unreliable Schindler.]

Brandenburg Letter 1685, Anderson Letter 1179. This three-page letter is held by the Berlin Staatsbibliothek (aut. 36,25). It seems likely that Beethoven, who had already corrected the proof once, wished to transfer his further corrections to the engraver’s example to be sent to London, which had already been completed. This results in further delays, such that the London copy does not depart until July. This added delay will have important consequences.

In today’s Wiener Zeitung at 578, Johann Cappi advertises for sale the last three piano sonatas of Beethoven, op.109, 110 and 111. Cappi also offers the second editions of piano arrangements of the Overtures to Beethoven’s Coriolan and Egmont. These arrangements were neither arranged by, nor approved by, the composer.