BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Monday, March 29, 1824

Things go very badly for the Akademie plans today.

It may be today that Beethoven invites Anton Schindler to come for dinner in an undated note, but tells him to bring his own food along. “Be ready – We are ready.”

Brandenburg Letter 1768, Anderson Letter 1329. This note is held by the Berlin Staatsbibliothek (aut.36,43). It probably dates from between late November 1723 and late May 1824, the period that Schindler was back in favor with Beethoven. Schindler has written the date 1824 on the letter, but it is unclear whether he did so contemporaneously or decades afterwards. We suggest it may come here since Schindler had yesterday been sensitive about Karl’s accusation that he only shows up at dinnertime.

Karl, coming for mid-day dinner after classes, mentions that the cream has been made by another woman. It cost 12 kreutzers.

Shortly before dinner, Beethoven receives the promised written permission from Duport to use the Redoutensaal. Unfortunately, Duport grants permission for “Kleiner Redoutensaal” rather than “Grosser Redoutensaal.” That is, he gave his approval for the small theater that holds only 400, rather than the larger one with a capacity of around 2500 or more. This is a major difference, since the income from a concert in the small Redoutensaal would be only a small fraction of those at the larger one, making the endeavor unprofitable, and the forces needed to perform these large scale works would not likely fit in the room either. Duport’s letter to Beethoven is not known to survive, and its contents are known only from Karl’s comments and Beethoven’s draft response.

Karl says this must be a mistake; Schindler said yesterday Duport told him that everything would be according to Uncle Ludwig’s wishes, and nothing other than the large Redoutensaal could conceivably fit his needs. [As it will be explained at the end of next month, this was in fact no mistake, but an intentional slight at Beethoven, in response to Brother Johann threatening Duport a few weeks earlier. But Beethoven is aware of none of this today.]

Karl observes that the lamb for dinner was not fresh, so the cook made Schnitzel.

Karl mentions that at the Theater in the Josephstadt last night, Beethoven’s friend publisher Tobias Haslinger sent his greetings. He started to talk about the Akademie concert, having learned that proofreading was taking so much time. He suggested it would be better to postpone the concert from April 8th until shortly after Easter [April 18] so there will be time for the necessary rehearsals.

Full of gossip today, Karl mentions Count Moritz Lichnowsky is at Steiner’s music shop [where Haslinger works] every day after 9:30, and he talks of nothing but Beethoven’s Akademie concert.

Schindler arrives, likely after dinner, due to Karl’s accusations yesterday. For his part, he has some Beethoven family gossip. Brother Johann’s wife Therese has received a letter from Linz, but not from Johann. The letter said Johann intended to leave Linz for his estate the day before the letter, and then will be returning to Vienna this week. So if Ludwig wishes to write to Johann, it will need to be done today; it should then reach him in Gneixendorf by Wednesday the 31st. [Johann had deputized Schindler to spy on his wife while he was off in Linz considering the purchase of another apothecary shop.] The fact she has been warned of Johann’s impending return in this manner is rather disturbing to Schindler.

Beethoven has made an appointment, probably with the copyist Maschek, for tomorrow at 2 p.m. Beethoven tells Schindler to cancel that. Schindler will let him know that he may not come tomorrow, until Beethoven is completely finished [presumably with the proofreading.] He will not come.

Schindler observes that Beethoven’s eye looks worse again than it did yesterday. [Much of 1823 was lost to persistent eye infections.] Schindler suggests that he take care of himself for a few days.

[From Schindler’s comments, it is apparent that Beethoven does not share the letter from Duport with him, as he considers how to respond.]

Later, Beethoven drafts a letter to Louis Antoine Duport in French, likely with Karl’s help. In the draft, he starts off pleasantly enough and thanks Duport for granting the use of the small hall. But “unfortunately it is only suitable for solo players and for small dances. It is not the thing for me; my works require a large area, a hall to give what are termed grand musical performances. Naturally one cannot pay great sums for the hall for such concerts without running up significant costs: 600 florins for the copying, plus 4500 florins for the administration.” On top of that are the expenses of the performers. After that, what is left for Beethoven? “As for me, despite the simplicity of my character, it must be admitted that the most illustrious and the most enlightened patrons and protectors of the Arts invited me to do so.” Working himself into a lather of anger as he writes, over what he sees now [correctly] as an intentional insult by Duport, Beethoven says that now he will not give an Akademie at all, and that will be no misfortune for the capital. “I am very obliged to you though, for the small hall.”

Revisions to this draft letter point out that with a large chorus and orchestra, one can expect a large audience that would not be possible with a small hall. “It is not a kindness to have given me such a small hall.” Beethoven does not appear to finish or send this letter, but in the process of writing it, he decides to call the whole thing off.

Brandenburg Letter 1798; Albrecht Letter 352.

Conversation Book 60, 39v-44r.