BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Monday, May 19, 1823

Karl and Uncle Ludwig go to the baths in Atzgersdorf, about 5:30 AM. Ludwig makes a note that they need to bring along straw mats. He also adds two columns of monetary figures, probably keeping track of their expenses. Karl is pleased that they were able to get a carriage at such a low price.

Schindler joins them about noon on this holiday back at Beethoven’s apartment in Hetzendorf, and he suggests that Karl should be taken for a drive to Kalksburg and Kaltenleutegeben. The valleys there are beautiful. Kalksburg is just past Atzgersdorf, and Kaltenleutgeben is just over a low hill beyond that.

The pantomime Der Feuerberg, with its erupting Vesuvius, was well received at the Theater in the Josephstadt the other evening. The machinist and scenic designer got curtain calls for their extraordinary work.

Karl says that the bath really did him good. Dinner today is lamb, and Karl thinks it doesn’t have a bad taste. He suggests perhaps Uncle would like goose sometime. He notes there are breakfast places in Atzgersdorf, but not coffee houses. He complains that it is oppressively warm today. [According to the weather reports in the Wiener Zeitung, it will reach 78 degrees Fahrenheit today, and up to 85 on the next two days.] He feels quite exhausted between the bath and the heat.

Schindler jokes that the other day a woman created a spectacle in the baths; she could not turn off the water tap, and would have drowned if someone had not rescued her.

Talk turns to Johann’s real estate plans. Schindler suggests that he might consider the Laudon estate at Hadersdorf, west of Vienna. Karl says that Johann is only selling Gneixendorf because of the distance, which means he will move to Vienna. He won’t just give the place away, however.

When brother Johann and his wife Therese, and her daughter arrive, Nephew Karl writes a parody of Goethe’s Erlkönig:

Wer reitet so spät durch Nacht und Wind?
Es ist der Bruder mit Frau und Kind.

[Who rides so late, though night and wind?
It is the brother, with wife and child.]

[The second line in the original is “Es ist der Vater mit seinem Kind” or “It is the father with his child.” Beethoven had set Goethe’s poem to music in a continuity draft about 1796, catalogued as WoO 131, which can be heard in a completion here. The poem had recently received a celebrated setting by young Franz Schubert, which made his reputation in Vienna.]

The visitors have brought coffee with them. Therese also brought some asparagus and a small goose along. Johann wanted to drive through the Prater, but Therese insisted they come to Hetzendorf instead. Johann arranges for someone to get some wine, which is “mountain wine,” even stronger than Ludwig is used to. Ludwig again wants to fire the kitchen maid, but Johann says not to do so until they have a replacement signed up; Therese will look for someone.

After dinner and coffee, Johann and his family return to Vienna. Karl thinks the wine is almost too sweet. Last year’s wine was as good as the famous vintage of 1811. Karl tells Ludwig that he can bring some of Ludwig’s wine left at the apartment, if he likes. The housekeeper, Barbara Holzmann, is out of money for purchases, so she will need to be funded. She says that the milkman cannot come today because he does not have a wagon; he will bring everything tomorrow.

At about 5 o’clock, Karl declares, “Let’s walk back into the stifling City!” Karl and Schindler head back to Vienna on foot, about a three hour walk, rather than taking the carriage Karl had arranged previously (possibly to save money). But because it is a holiday, Karl’s 7 PM curfew matters little and Schindler has no performance to play for tonight at the theatre.

Conversation Book 33, 9v-15r.

Over the next four or five days, there are no entries in Conversation Book 33. Beethoven probably had no visitors and was working on the Ninth Symphony and proofreading copies as much as his eyes would permit.

On this date, J.N. Schelble, director of the Frankfurt Music Society writes to Beethoven asking to be subscribed to the Missa Solemnis, bringing the total subscribers so far up to five. “The hope of receiving a new composition from you, great master, inspires all the members and reinvigorates their musical zeal; I therefore request you as soon as it is convenient to you to forward a copy of your Mass to me.”

At the seventh subscription concert of the season for the London Philharmonic Society this evening, Beethoven’s Fourth Symphony is performed alongside Mozart’s Symphony Nr. 41 “Jupiter” with its concluding fugue, and the overture to the opera Zaire (1805) on Voltaire’s tragedy, by Peter Winter (1754-1825). The Leipzig Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung correspondent notes that the beginning of the Beethoven symphony was not played at its best. Nr. 35 of August 27, 1823, at 567.