BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Saturday, April 28, 1822 (approximately)

Portrait (1841) of Nikolaus Johann van Beethoven, by Leopold Gross. Original in Vienna, √Ėsterreichische Nationalbibliothek

Beethoven’s youngest brother Johann (1776-1848), a successful and well-to-do apothecary, is in Vienna with his wife Therese and her daughter. At some point during their visit but before the first few days of May, Ludwig broaches the subject of Johann acting as Beethoven’s assistant and business agent, much as brother Casper Carl had done twenty years earlier. [Ludwig conveniently overlooks the fact Casper Carl had musical talent and knowledge; Johann has neither, but his business experience may compensate for that omission.] Ludwig suggests that they live together, or at least close by, perhaps with nephew Karl. How enthusiastic Johann is about this suggestion is unclear, but he doesn’t refuse. Given Ludwig’s longtime animosity toward his sister-in-law Therese, it is doubtful that she is very interested in the idea of living together. The notion will nonetheless become more deeply fixed in Ludwig’s imagination as time goes on.