BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Monday, March 8, 1824

Violinist Ignaz Schuppanzigh stops briefly by Beethoven’s apartment in the late morning or early afternoon to ask whether he wanted the vocal soloist parts for the Akademie concert to be provided with bass lines beneath, to help with rehearsal and to give harmonic context. Beethoven agrees that probably would be best.

Unpaid assistant Anton Schindler visits after Schuppanzigh has left. He observes that it is impossible for the housekeeper to cook at home because of the washing. [This is seemingly not Barbara Holzmann, who is usually called the “old woman,” even by Schindler; also, Karl tomorrow will mention the new servants. She apparently is concerned that the cooking would end up dirtying the laundry, which was probably hanging in the kitchen to dry.] Beethoven suggests hiring a washerwoman to do it, but she believes the washerwoman would want more money. But there is so much laundry it will take nearly three days to finish all the washing.

The conversation with Schindler resumes back in Conversation Book 57. He has been too busy at rehearsals to inquire about Beethoven’s health over the last week. Tomorrow, March 9, the Josephstadt Theater will be doing Der Wasserträger [The Water Carrier] by Cherubini. [Beethoven had last October identified this opera as having a particularly excellent libretto.] They have a guest Water Carrier, George Gned, who was a vocalist at the Kärntnertor Theater. But that won’t make any difference, Schindler says, suggesting that the orchestra, or Gned, or both, are not up to the task. [The Leipzig AMZ correspondent called Gned’s performance lamentable, and said that “Cherubini’s superb creation itself was assaulted quite unmercifully by the orchestra.” Nr.18, April 29, 1824 at 282.]

As to be expected, Schindler has heard through the grapevine that the Akademie has been resolved. “I am extraordinarily happy with your decision.” [Schindler is so extreme in his expressions that one might detect that he is hurt at having been shut out of the planning of the Akademie.] He assures Beethoven, who seems worried about the success of the concert, that it will go quite splendidly, since everyone is already happy about it. Beethoven starts to suggest that he doesn’t owe Vienna anything, and Schindler will have none of that. “On the contrary, you are obligated to the contemporary world to do it – to the better world, that is.”

Beethoven, still thinking about Caroline Unger as the alto soloist, asks Schindler what her range is. He believes she is an alto and sings G to F, but he will confirm that specifically with her. Beethoven asks how she studies a piece, and Schindler says she learns everything on her own. Beethoven seems rather depressed about the prospects for the concert being successful, and Schindler has to affirm once again that everything will go excellently; “don’t worry so much about it.” Beethoven notes he prefers Henriette Sontag with her fresh voice as the soprano, over Therese Grünbaum [aged 32], whom the others at yesterday’s meeting were pushing to sing the part. Schindler agrees saying a fresh, healthy voice is better than one that is already rather worn out. Based on what he saw of Grünbaum at the performance of Haydn’s Creation just before Christmas, she would not be able to participate. [Schindler does not elaborate on why.]

Schindler asks whether a decision has been made on the conductor, but Beethoven appears to have left his options open. His most likely candidate would be Michael Umlauf. Schindler again affirms everyone will highly treasure the honor to participate in such an event.

Schindler pleads to Beethoven that he may finally read the Petition delivered on February 26, “pretty please.” Schindler at last gets to read it, and he immediately hatches a plan. Schindler mentions that he has been asked to send correspondent reports to the Hesperus newspaper in Württemberg. He starts to suggest that he could send them a copy of the Petition to publish, and Beethoven almost certainly tells him not to do so.

Schindler changes the subject to one of his favorite topics, theater gossip. The word is that Count Ferdinand von Palffy, the owner of the Theater an der Wien, will go bankrupt soon. As of Saturday March 6, the orchestra still had not been paid their salaries. Duport, the manager of the Kärntnertor Theater, had formed an alliance with Palffy, which is to run through April, at a cost of 10,000 florins W.W. per month. However, he doesn’t pay that in cash any more, but rather pays Palffy’s old debts related to the theater and then sends him the account statements instead of money. The box office doesn’t make any money, so Palffy has nothing with which to pay the orchestra.

Conversation Book 58, 4v-5r; Conversation Book 57, 38r-40r.

Beethoven writes a short note, probably today, to a master carpenter. He asks that the carpenter send someone right away to hang a window for him.

Brandenburg Letter 1786. The original is held in a private collection, but the text in known from when the letter was sold at auction in 1970. The dating is probable since on the back is discussion with one of the servants about the problems with the wash, referring to “this terrible amount of laundry” and that if the Beethovens eat at home today it will take two days to finish it all, which ties in closely with Schindler’s comments above.

Sauer & Leidesdorf announces in today’s Wiener Zeitung at 245-246 the ninth volume in their ongoing series of the Complete Operas of Rossini in piano reductions, Adelaide di Borgogna (1817). As usual, the price to subscribers is 6 florins W.W., and 10 florins to others. The window for subscribing has been extended yet again, this time until the twelfth volume is published, and at that point the subscription will be closed, and the thirteenth release will no longer be available by new subscriptions. “This edition, about whose excellence it is superfluous to say anything because its distinction is obvious at first glance, is being published now in order to meet the wishes of the subscribers. The releases are being made now every three weeks, and already 30 operas are ready for publication, based on the original transcriptions by M.J. Leidesdorf, which are being worked on continuously.” In order to reward subscribers, two operas for the price of one at the price of 6 florins W.W. will be made available. This advertisement is repeated Friday, March 12.