BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Saturday, December 6, 1823

Nephew Karl is visiting Uncle Ludwig today. He asks how things stand with Ferdinand Ries in London about the Missa Solemnis. Uncle Ludwig asks Karl’s opinion whether he should write the opera or the planned Mass for the Emperor. Karl is decidedly in favor of the opera [he had written earlier that if he were a composer he would write nothing but operas.] “Write the opera. If well received it would bring you 5,000 fl. C.M.”

Karl reminds his uncle to write the Cardinal [Archduke Rudolph] about Schuppanzigh. [And not Schindler, whom Karl still disliked, even if his uncle had reconciled with him.]

One of the housekeepers is having her trial today. If she isn’t good, Karl says Brother Johann knows of a good one for whom he could vouch.

The planned Akademie is the top priority. “The Akademie can bring in 3,000-4,000 fl.” Next should be the opera. In addition to the commission payment, Beethoven would be entitled to a full evening’s income from Duport. [Editor Ted Albrecht notes that if an opera were successful, the composer traditionally received all of the profits from the fourth performance.]

Count Moritz Lichnowsky’s messenger comes by Beethoven’s apartment again today, saying that the Count would certainly wish to see them tomorrow, and sends his regards and asks that they should not fail to appear. This time they accept the Count’s invitation.

Karl notes that Lichnowsky has spoken with Ignaz Moscheles, who told him that two years in England would surely get Beethoven 6,000 gold ducats. Uncle Ludwig says he can’t do that now. Karl retorts, “I am speaking of the End of the World.” He repeated that Consecration of the House made a great sensation in London. “He [it is unclear whether Karl means Lichnowsky or someone else] would pay you 12,000 florins for the opera when it is finished. Cash.” But now the opera will be only Italian for the next year.

Beethoven makes a note that he needs coffee. At some point today, Brother Johann comes by with a stash of oysters, which the three of them enjoy.

Later that day, Schindler visits Beethoven again, full of more gossip. Duport is making three-year contracts at the Kärntnertor Theater with a “dubious individual.” The Emperor is staying out of it and leaves it to the impresario Domenico Barbaja, paying 100,000 fl. C.M.

Schindler also has more to report about how Brother Johann is handling his wife Therese and her lovers: “We now have cause to be satisfied with the Fratello; he very seldom allows his wife to drive out anymore; eats mostly away from home, and says that the first time that he has proof of the suspicion that he bore, then he will have her shut in. He cannot seek a divorce, because, according to our laws, he would have to give her half of his property, but he will show the intruder the door from now on.”

Conversation Book 47, 41r-44r.

Carl Keller writes today from Donaueschingen in Baden-Württemberg to Schindler (care of Artaria music shop, since Schindler had been moving) about Prince Egon II of Fürstenberg. The price of the Missa Solemnis at 50 ducats was still thought too high for him to subscribe. Keller thinks that it was a difficult decision, so perhaps if Beethoven were to write directly that might change his mind, but Keller has done all that he can.

Brandenburg Letter 1755. The original is in the Bonn Beethovenhaus, BH 213, Schindler-nachläß, and can be seen here:

Today’s Vienna Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung Nr.98 at 780, includes the announcement of a new grand oratorio, with libretto to be provided by the well-known Herr Joseph Carl Bernard, who wrote the rich dramatic works “Faust” (music by Louis Spohr) and “Libussa” (Conradin Kreutzer). “He has already completed it in a highly successful manner. Beethoven, our great, still vigorous, master, will write the music.”

Beethoven will not, in fact, write the music, rejecting Bernard’s libretto Der Sieg des Kreuzes, which Bernard has been working on for many years.