BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Monday, May 8, 1820

Conversation Book #13, leaves 40r-48v

Beethoven and his nephew Karl walk to lunch in the City, and Karl lets his uncle know he passed his Greek exam handily; Karl proudly notes he is already reading Homer despite the skepticism of some of Beethoven’s friends. Karl complains he has a toothache.

Beethoven makes note of a cookbook by Ignaz Gartler, probably at a bookshop on the way.

Beethoven’s friend Franz Oliva joins the pair at lunch, at Zum wilden Mann (which remains to this day in Vienna: see attached), and reports that he has still not been able to catch the pastor to sign the pension affidavit affirming that Johanna van Beethoven is still alive. Tomorrow the priest will not be available either, since there will be processions for the Feast of St. Gregory Nazienzen. Oliva muses whether they can submit the paperwork without the priest’s signature.

Zum wilden Mann, Wien

Zum wilden Mann, Wien

Statue of Herakles, Zum wilden Mann, Wien

Statue of Herakles, Zum wilden Mann, Wien

Karl continues to complain about his toothache, which he has had since at least Thursday before last (April 27). But the dentist is supposed to visit the Blöchlinger Institute where Karl is studying, probably on Friday the 12th.

Beethoven’s companions then get into an argument. Karl, after indulging in wine at the party yesterday, had said he dislikes Oliva (“In vino veritas,” observes Oliva). Karl now accuses Oliva of having spoken against him at Blöchlinger’s Institute, where Karl is studying, and Oliva takes umbrage. [In fact, those comments had been made by Joseph Czerny, Karl’s piano tutor, so Oliva is being unjustly accused.] Beethoven tells them to “Cool down and knock it off,” making a little rhyme in German: Einkühlen zum aus-spühlen.

Admonished, the party turns the conversation to the more neutral subject of Karl’s garden, where he has planted radishes and Turkish carnations.

After lunch, Oliva and Beethoven walk Karl back to Blöchlinger’s. In Blöchlinger’s office, Beethoven and Oliva discuss with the headmaster the fact that Karl’s mother, Johanna, in a last-ditch effort, has appealed the decision awarding Ludwig guardianship of Karl to the highest court (i.e., the Emperor). Blöchlinger dislikes it when Johanna visits because she says things that upset Karl badly and he loses the whole day. He commends Karl’s studies, confirming that in his written exam last Thursday Karl had no errors. His oral examination is scheduled for Monday the 15th.

Beethoven and Oliva then go to a winehouse or coffeehouse to talk. Oliva suggests that if Beethoven is undisturbed in the country over the summer, he can compose enough to get his financial affairs in order, if he can give three concerts, in addition to the money expected for the Missa Solemnis (which would not in fact be finished for another three years; Beethoven was not honest with his friends about how little progress he had made on the work). Oliva calls it an early evening, since Beethoven has much to do in the morning to get the movers and other matters arranged for his move to his country rental in Mödling.