BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Saturday, August 26, 1820

Conversation Book 16, leaves 11v through 21v

Beethoven goes to a Vienna coffeehouse and looks at some newspapers, making a list of half a dozen more apartments to check out. He then goes to meet Oliva at his office at Biedermann’s before 10 a.m. Oliva reports that he has finished entering “the greater part” of the English texts onto the copyist scores for the 25 Scottish Songs, op.108; once he’s done, Beethoven can have them for proofreading and correcting.

Oliva has someone coming in at 10, and after that he can help Beethoven till noon, and then again later in the day. That works with Beethoven’s schedule, since he has to visit the Archduke Rudolph to give him a composition lesson. They agree to meet at Doll’s bookshop again at 3:30, and then he can help Beethoven until about 6 p.m. Before they part, Oliva advises Beethoven he should tell Stein to have the mechanic come along tomorrow to inspect the Broadwood piano to make sure that everything is right. Beethoven then runs errands, notes down more apartments and presumably gives the Archduke his lesson [though as usual the Archduke does not write in the conversation books.]

In the afternoon, Oliva and Beethoven meet up again and possibly move to a wine house. Oliva says he has told Bernard he needs to finish the libretto for Victory of the Cross; Vincenz Hauschka (1766-1840), one of the founding members of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde, which commissioned the work, is pressing for it. [Hauschka was also a close friend of Beethoven, one of the few with whom he used the intimate “du” form of address. A portrait of Hauschka can be seen at this link to the Beethovenhaus website.] Hauschka wants it finished this month, i.e. within five days. Bernard says he will meet Beethoven at the Black Camel to discuss the matter at 8 o’clock tonight.

Oliva makes a quick run home for a quarter hour, but he finds he now has other things to do and cannot go out later this afternoon after all. Instead, he says he will meet Beethoven at the Lobkowitz coffeehouse at 7:30. Annoyed at what seems to be abandonment by Oliva, Beethoven rushes off and walks around the neighborhood, making note of various apartments for rent. In the late afternoon, there are heavy rain showers, which would likely limit Beethoven’s ability to visit more apartments, and he may get caught in one or more of them.

At 7:30, Oliva and Beethoven meet up again at the coffee house. Oliva says he has time tomorrow, but today he ended up just having too much to do. Oliva offers to run any errands that Beethoven needs doing. More thunderstorms begin while they are there, so meeting Bernard at the Black Camel is not an option; Oliva invites Beethoven to stay at his apartment. Oliva again suggests that Beethoven get an apartment in the City; “it is too unpleasant always to be alone and far away in the suburbs.” And again, “It would be better for you in the City; you are outside of all contact.” The roasts offered at Lobkowitz are not the best; Oliva describes them as “warmed-up stuff.” Oliva notes that when he told Bernard that Hauschka was anxious for the oratorio, he became embarrassed and tried to blame the delays on Beethoven living out in the country.

Beethoven is falling ill. He is completely worn out and and achy after two days of house hunting, amongst other activities. He even falls asleep several times in the coffee house, which embarrasses Oliva. They agree to go to visit Stein’s piano works tomorrow (Sunday) since Stein is sure to be there personally then. They walk a few blocks to Oliva’s apartment, stopping at an apothecary to buy some liniment for Beethoven’s pains, and Beethoven is put to bed after an exhausting couple days.