BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Monday, March 1, 1824

Beethoven, after dealing with someone about laundry, makes his shopping list:

6 napkins.
3 tablecloths.
2 vests.

Nephew Karl comes by the apartment in the afternoon and asks for the tuition fee for the first course, which is 9 florins W.W. Today is the deadline for payment, so he needs the funds right away.

Karl mentions that when he came out with Brother Johann last night, they were watching people dancing at the restaurant across from Beethoven’s apartment. There, sitting on a bench, was their former kitchen maid, without anyone accompanying her, waiting for someone to dance with her.

At about 2 p.m., a person arrives on behalf of a housekeeper applicant. She is already in a gentleman’s service and cannot get away, but she is familiar with this apartment and is interested in the position. [The editors suggest that this applicant is Magdalena Eigner, the widow of a gold worker.] Karl gets her address.

Karl departs to pay his tuition, and unpaid assistant Anton Schindler arrives a little while later, surprised that Karl is not there for dinner. Schindler complains of hemorrhoids, saying he has a vein of gold in his backside rather than in his coin purse.

Schindler asks whether Archduke Rudolph has answered Beethoven’s last letter yet. [This is probably the December 7, 1823 letter, recommending Ignaz Schuppanzigh for the violinist position at the Hofkapelle.] He has not, and Beethoven is unsure when the Archduke will next be in the City. Schindler is surprised he isn’t coming to Vienna from Olmütz for Lent. If he does show up, Schindler has a request for him on behalf of a good friend who has long been a regimental chaplain; Rudolph long ago promised him a parish but seems to have forgotten, so he’d like to remind the Archduke of his promise.

Karl returns, probably after Schindler departs, and they probably go to a coffee house. The discussion turns to improvisation on the piano, possibly in reference to Ignaz Moscheles’ concert in December, where he played a “free fantasia” on Beethoven’s Broadwood piano. Karl says he doesn’t think that the pianist was very tired out by improvisation. “It was less a ‘Phantasie‘ than a kind of ‘Potpourri‘ that tickles the ears, but also permits many allusions.” Uncle Ludwig, in a rare glimpse of his own improvisational process, writes down so no one can hear, “As soon as the ideas are right, nothing more stands in the way of working them out.” [Schindler here adds more fraudulent entries years later about improvisation.]

Karl mentions that at the concert yesterday, several people told Brother Johann that Ludwig should make haste with the Akademie, and put an announcement in the Wiener Zeitung as a certainty, so that people have confidence in it. Afterwards, Schuppanzigh stood with them in the street for half an hour talking about the Akademie. “Everything is in readiness to serve you; all of them have already taken up their places.” Johann is making arrangements for the copying. Ludwig asks who he is using, and Karl responds, Frau Schlemmer. He will be having her copy the Gloria and Credo from the Missa Solemnis. Ludwig asks whether any of the late Wenzel Schlemmer’s sons is a copyist, Karl says the younger son is apprenticed to a merchant. [The elder was apprenticed to a tailor; Schlemmer’s daughter Anna became an actress.]

Conversation Book 57, 21r-24r.

In Leipzig, Heinrich Anton Probst receives Beethoven’s letter of February 25, and immediately responds to him, accepting Beethoven’s offer of various pieces (Opferlied op.121b, Bundeslied op.122, Der Kuss op.128, the Six Bagatelles op.126 and the Consecration of the House Overture op.124), but for a total price of a round 100 ducats rather than 104. He would also like to have the Overture provided in reductions for two-hand and four-hand piano.

Brandenburg Letter 1785. The original is not known to survive, but its date and contents are known from the annotations on Beethoven’s letter, and Beethoven’s response.