BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Saturday, December 20, 1823

Anton Schindler comes by Beethoven’s apartment in the afternoon, joining Ludwig and Nephew Karl. Schindler complains that he has been tied up in rehearsals the whole week through today, but now they are at an end. The work they are premiering tonight, Arsenius, a comic opera by Franz Joseph Gläser, is more expensive than a grand opera. It’s a counterpart to a prior magical tale with song and dance, Arsenia, which was premiered in September. [So Gläser knocked this sequel out in about three months.] Three new works by Gläser have been premiered in the last four weeks, and all of them have been fiascos, in Schindler’s opinion.

Schindler asks whether Beethoven has gone to the theater recently. Beethoven answers that yes, he went to both of Moscheles’ concerts on the 15th and 17th. Schindler says he heard the general opinion is that the Fantasy on Beethoven’s Broadwood was very poor. “Moscheles is merely a so-called routine composer and player.” Karl interjects that Moscheles “is only interested in eating.”

Schindler reports that very reliable people in the theater administration would have written to Beethoven about composing an opera, but that “certain individuals” insist that “nothing more could be expected from you, in that you no longer wrote great works, etc.” Beethoven is plainly furious at this allegation, and Schindler agrees, “Infamy.”

Schindler has some gossip about the various applicants for important musical positions and whether or not they have merit or are just in Imperial favor.

Schindler reports that Franz Zips, Archduke Rudolph’s valet has died. [He died in Kremsier on September 25, 1823.]

There is some discussion of Spanish politics and the influence of the Bourbons, and the hapless rule of King Ferdinand VII, who appoints only priests and general flatterers to important positions; he named a priest as prime minister. But the King of Portugal who reigns despotically [John VI, who suspended the constitution in 1823 and seized absolute power from the Cortes], has behaved wisely in the current crisis.

Schindler asks whether Beethoven has read the biography of Napoleon by Barry E. O’Meara [recently translated into German from the original A Voice from St. Helena, London 1822] It contains extraordinary issues, assembled like a diary and very noteworthy.

Today, the tragedy Regulus by Heinrich von Collin is opening in a new production at the Burgtheater. At the Theater an der Wien, there is an opera by Schubert with a libretto by Frau Chezy [who also wrote the much-maligned libretto for Weber’s Euryanthe. This new work, Rosamunde, is not really an opera, but a play with incidental music. The Overture and the Shepherd’s Chorus and Hunter’s Chorus all have to be repeated. The Overture was recycled from Schubert’s 1822 opera Alfonso und Estrella, which was not performed during the composer’s lifetime. Unfortunately, the original version of the play as performed on this date is lost. The incidental music parts were tied into bundles after the second performance and put into a cupboard, where they were discovered by Sir George Grove and Arthur Sullivan in 1867.]

The Overture to Rosamunde is here performed by George Szell conducting the Cleveland Orchestra:

Schindler asks whether Beethoven has spoken with Grillparzer lately. He has not, and he needs to deal with the conditions that the theater is asking about for the proposed opera Melusine. Grillparzer’s patron and supervisor Count Stadion is very sick. Grillparzer gave the libretto to the publisher Wallishauser, but Schindler doesn’t think it will be published before everything is settled. Grillparzer told Schindler that he had no choice about providing the libretto to the publisher, because he is indebted to Wallishauser.

Soprano Henriette Sontag has long wanted to visit Beethoven, but fears it would not be appropriate. Schindler describes her as having rare diligence and rare good-breeding, “a model of rare morality.” [She will sing the soprano solo at the premiere of the Ninth Symphony.]

Karl interviews another housekeeper, who was referred by Brother Johann. She had to leave because of his wife Therese, who supposed some secret agreement between them.

Conversation Book 50, 1r-6r. This book is somewhat longer than Conversation Book 49, in that it consists of 20 leaves as opposed to the earlier book’s 12. It covers approximately six days, through Christmas Day.

Today’s Vienna Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung Nr.102 at 816 announces that the Schuppanzigh Quartet’s concert series will begin again at the Musikverein on Sunday, December 28th. “The famous artists who have previously taken part in this event will also arouse the interest of all music lovers with their talents. The beautiful institute, which does honor to the artistic city of Vienna, deserves the friendliest sympathy and support of all connoisseurs and friends of music.” The announcement is repeated in the December 24 issue at 824