BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Monday, September 8, 1823

The pregnant maid having been released, the substitute for the new maid arrives and says she can be there through Saturday, for a charge of 3 florins. Karl writes in French, so she won’t understand, “It’s too much.” Nephew Karl demands a reference, and she is having one written. They agree on 16 kr. per day salary for the week. [At 60 kreuzer to a florin, that works out to 1 fl. 36 kr., so she accepted just over half her asking price.] Karl takes the opportunity to give his uncle a multiplication lesson, figuring out how much that salary would be for the six days from Monday to Saturday. Ludwig instead adds up a column of 16s, written out six times. Karl then shows him what the salary would be for 13 days of service, but makes an error and comes up with 2 fl. 48 kr. instead of the correct 3 fl. 28 kr. Uncle Ludwig does the addition his way and comes up with the correct answer. By comparison, housekeeper Barbara Holzmann gets only 15 kr. per day.

It all goes for naught, however, because the substitute claims to have injured her arm [did she just want to escape the Beethovens?] and yet another fill-in maid is required, because she cannot clean boots or carry water. The second substitute will be there at 6 a.m. tomorrow. The prior maid’s lover has offered to buy Karl a corkscrew. Karl is annoyed with Holzmann, who would have forgotten to buy the eggs again if he had not reminded her.

Karl reports that the landlord has already rented out Uncle Ludwig’s apartment back in the Vienna suburb of Windmühle. The building superintendent gave him an attitude that he didn’t appreciate. Karl has the room key.

Karl and his friend Joseph Niemetz go out to explore Baden on this holiday, while Ludwig continues work on the finale of the Ninth Symphony. They visit the concert hall and the ruined Rauheneck castle abpve Archduke Carl’s Weilburg palace, taking the unpaved route.

When they return, Karl reports that they are performing Uncle Ludwig’s Overture to The Creatures of Prometheus op.43 tomorrow. It will open the concert, and there is an overture by Mozart in the second half. Karl implores him to at least go and listen. Joseph Merk (1795-1852), the court cellist, will be playing, and Beethoven’s friend alto Caroline Unger will be singing. Also on the program is soprano Henriette Sontag (1806-1854). [Both of these singers will be soloists in the premiere of the Ninth Symphony next year.]

Conversation Book 41, 31v-34r.