BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Saturday, February 14, 1824

Beethoven adds the following to his shopping/to do list:

+Mirror.
+Tailor. [crossed out]
+Stove pipe
+Glassmaker and Locksmith [crossed out]
+Blotting paper
+Blotting sand
+About the Schiller Edition still at Meyer’s, the copperplates, on domestic vellum paper, 2 fl. C.M.
[The entries that are crossed out are presumably struck out after Beethoven has accomplished them later today. The advertisement from Jacob Mayer & Co. book dealers for the subscriptions for the Schiller Pocket Edition in 30 volumes appear numerous times in the Intelligenzblatt of the preceding weeks, most recently Friday, February 13, 1824. The domestic vellum paper is for the ordinary edition; the version on English vellum is 3 florins C.M. As the editors note, the “still” reference probably indicates Beethoven had seen the advertisement previously and was just now reminding himself to place the subscription order for Karl. He will still be making that reminder to himself near the end of March.]

Karl returns to his uncle’s apartment around 3 p.m., having attended a rehearsal at the Theater in the Josephstadt. They took great pains with The Consecration of the House Overture [which was most likely being used as an overture for the play Der Feldtrompeter by Hensler, to be performed the next evening. In previous performances, parts of Beethoven’s Second Symphony appear to also have been used as an overture for this play.] The morning rehearsal lasted until 2 o’clock. Anton Schindler, who is the concertmaster for the orchestra there, told Karl that it will go even better tomorrow. His uncle is pleased, but Karl wishes the wind instruments were better. Ludwig asks what’s the problem with them. The soldiers who were brought in from the Army bands “play horribly wrong.” Uncle Ludwig asks whether they played the wrong notes, but Karl clarifies that they played the notes right, but they were badly phrased. [Editor Theodore Albrecht notes that this is a common failing of orchestras trying to play this difficult work even today.]

They discuss the pending advertisement for a new housekeeper. Since they have ultimately decided not to rehire the “old woman” [Barbara Holzmann] it does no harm for the ad to come out in the Wiener Zeitung. [They presumably mean here that they intend not to rehire Holzman on a permanent basis, as Holzmann is already working as a temporary housekeeper for Beethoven, as there is mention of her working for them on February 16 and elsewhere.]

They are interrupted by the tailor, who arrives, presumably with his tape measure in hand this time. He is owed 2 florins 30 kreutzers.

Afterwards, they go into the City, possibly running errands and doing shopping. They likely visit a locksmith and arrange for him to come to the apartment tomorrow. They run into Brother Johann briefly. Johann says he was at Carl Czerny’s. He told Czerny that Ludwig has “a concerto in the works” and that he wants him to play it in the upcoming Akademie. [Where Johann got such a notion is unclear. There has been no mention whatsoever of Ludwig writing a new piano concerto in the last five years of conversation book. This may just be another instance of Johann overcommitting Ludwig in order to generate money. Ludwig may clarify that he wanted Czerny to play his existing concerto Nr.5 at the Akademie.] Karl thinks “Czerny would play the Concerto well under your leadership.” [Czerny had in fact given the public premiere of the concerto at the K√§rntnertor Theater in 1812, and had played it a second time at a benefit concert in 1818.]

They forgot to get the roast veal and have to go back to the grocery market. When they arrive, they are too late and there is nothing left but roast lamb. Since his uncle doesn’t like roast lamb, Karl didn’t want to buy that, especially since the grocer had said the roast veal would be fresh, so the disappointment is double.

The topic of Karl’s mother Johanna and her financial distress comes up. When she wrote them on New Year’s day about money, Karl didn’t raise any objections, but she has now apparently been asking for help once again. He had thought immediately that they would end up in a disagreeable situation once more, and here they are, because she never rests. [Ludwig will in a couple days help Johanna out with her debts, despite his disapproval of her and his own precarious finances.]

Beethoven adds to his shopping list blotting sand (once again), a pencil and a carrying case.

Conversation Book 56, 5r-6r.

Undeterred by the threats from Artaria, the Sauer & Leidesdorf firm (with which Beethoven has had discussions about publishing his collected works) announces Otello, the eighth volume in the ongoing series of the Complete Operas of Rossini, reduced for piano solo. The ad at p.160 of today’s Wiener Zeitung indicates that this volume is sold at 6 florins per copy to subscribers, and 10 florins for everyone else. Sauer & Leidesdorf advertises this offering as “new, enlarged, and the most complete edition based on the original.”