BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Saturday, February 8, 1823

As promised, Schindler writes to Carl Keller in Donaueschingen, soliciting a subscription for the Missa Solemnis from Keller’s employer, Count Karl Egon II von Fürstenberg. Schindler mentions that Artaria still has the Trio in C, WoO 28, the Variations on Là ci darem la mano. [These are the same variations that Johann tried to sell to Pacini in December, which may account for part of the reason why Artaria is so angry.]

Lichnowsky has visited Schindler, and he is quite concerned that Brother Johann may have already made contracts in Ludwig’s name without telling him. Lichnowsky believes that he will have to make some kind of public statement that Johann is not authorized to enter into agreements on his behalf. Schindler agrees, saying “You never should have allowed him to write anything.” Playing the lawyer, former law clerk Schindler points out that the agreements Johann has made with Ludwig are dangerous because he leaves empty spaces that could be filled in at will by Johann, and Ludwig would have no idea about them.

Joseph Carl Bernard agrees. “You have neglected to make the agreement with Johann properly, with signatures of witnesses and their execution. If you have signed the declaration, then he believes that he is entitled to sell everything in whatever manner appears to him to be the best…Perhaps he considers himself justified, and the declaration allows him to take all of these steps. It is best to do everything with the lawyer.” [Your editor has always said that no one should do anything without their lawyer being present.]

Beethoven spends much of the day in correspondence that he writes out himself, perhaps believing that today’s letters require a personal touch missing from Schindler’s efforts. First, he sends the packet of the long-promised scores to the warehouse operators and financial agents Meissl Brothers to forward to Carl Friedrich Peters in Leipzig. The packet contains Opferlied, op.121b, Bundeslied, op.122, Der Kuss, op.128, Bagatelles 1-6 from what would eventually be the set of 11 Bagatelles op.119, and the march WoO 20. Beethoven notes that it is quite urgent and Peters is in a hurry to have it. He once again pleads his ill health as an excuse. Brandenburg Letter 1560, Anderson Letter 1141. Beethoven appears to have written a separate letter to Peters, which is not known to survive, although a fragmentary draft of it is extant in a private collection. In this draft, Beethoven insists again that “I don’t just write for money, also to pursue my artistic goals, in in view of this the fee was certainly small.” Brandenburg Letter 1561, Anderson Letter 1080.

Beethoven writes another solicitation letter for the Missa Solemnis, this time to Karl Friedrich Zelter, the director of the Berlin Singakademie, addressing him as “My brave fellow artist.” The letter is very similar to the second half of Goethe’s letter, asking for Zelter to intercede on his behalf with His Majesty the King of Prussia and with Prince Radziwill of the Duchy of Posen. Brandenburg Letter 1563, Anderson Letter 1135. This letter is in the Bonn Beethovenhaus, H.C. Bodmer Collection, Br 265. However, it is tailored to Zelter to some extent, as Beethoven adds that the Mass could be performed a cappella with only slight alterations, which would suit the Singakademie’s needs. The effect is more powerful, though when the voices are doubled, multiplied and supported by instruments.

Next, Beethoven writes a quite lengthy six-page letter to Goethe in Weimar. Beethoven mentions that he trusts the poet has received the dedicatory copy of Meeresstille und Glückliche Fahrt, op.112, which he sent back in May of 1822. He also mentions that he has set Goethe’s poem Rastlose Liebe to music as well, and it should be appearing soon. [Beethoven began at least three continuity drafts of the song, but never completed it. Some of the efforts, catalogued as Hess 149, can be heard here: ]

Beethoven finally gets to the point after several pages, and this part seems to be copied in large part from the letter to Zelter: He has composed a grand Mass, which he does not mean to publish now, but rather to send to the most eminent courts. The fee is only 50 ducats. He has applied to the legation of the Grand Duchy of Weimar, which promised to forward the petition to the Grand Duke. The Mass can also be performed as an oratorio, which is the kind of piece that the societies for poor relief always need. He asks Goethe to intercede and draw the Grand Duke’s attention favorably. It would be even better if the Grand Duke could be persuaded to pay in advance.

Beethoven then launches into a discussion about his troubles and responsibility for Karl and his education, and his poor health that has prevented him from doing professional tours. He is confident that a few words from Goethe would compel the Grand Duke to do the right thing for art. [Goethe, who is quite ill at the time, is not known to have responded or to have interceded with the Grand Duke, who did not in any event subscribe to the Missa Solemnis.] Brandenburg Letter 1562, Anderson Letter 1136. The letter is today in the Goethe and Schiller Archive in Weimar, GSA 33/54.

Finally Beethoven writes to Franz Salzmann, chief accountant of the imperial Austrian National Bank in Vienna. Beethoven apologizes for not coming to visit him for New Year’s, but he didn’t know Salzmann’s address. Now he has been meaning to come but nephew Karl is sick. In any event, he needs assistance regarding his bank shares. Beethoven asks Salzmann if he can please be so kind as to remind him the dates and amounts of the dividend payments on the shares. Beethoven promises that they will come and visit. He needs to apologize to Salzmann’s wife, since last time he saw her he accidentally made a dreadfully rude remark to her. In a postscript, he wonders if he could draw against that dividend today or tomorrow. Brandenburg Letter 1564, Anderson Letter 743. The original is held in the Bonn Beethovenhaus, H.C. Bodmer Collection, BBr 49. [The dividends were payable on the bank shares every six months, in January and July.]

Schindler comes back with Karl later in the day, and is still going on about the perceived duplicity of Johann. Schindler says Johann has told him that he would deposit the 10,000 florins from the sale of the complete works into his own hands, and also the bank shares. “I have been silent about this up to now, but it is now the right place to mention this.” Beethoven tells Schindler and Karl to go to the devil, probably in response to these comments about Johann.

Joseph Carl Bernard joins the group, gossipy as always. His comments today are about Friedrich August Kanne, editor of the Vienna Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung. His musical comedy, Die Belagerung von Purzelpona received uniformly negative reviews. Bernard calls it a total failure.

Karl is working on his studies and his poetical essay. There has been some delay due to his examinations. Karl writes that Bernard believes that the whole issue with Johann is a misunderstanding; while he is certainly avaricious, Johann is not a thief. Karl says that if Schindler had written that to him, he would have thrashed him, because he as much as comes out and says he cheated Ludwig.

Karl and Schindler depart, apparently for a ball, leaving Bernard with Beethoven. Author and philologist Emerich Thomas Hohler (1781-1846) shows up with Karl Peters [who in 1820 had served as Karl’s co-guardian] and David Hamilton (1803-1863), a young organist from Scotland, who wanted to make Beethoven’s acquaintance and to take some new composition of Beethoven’s back to Great Britain. Hamilton’s father is an organ builder in Edinburgh. Hohler says he finished his commentaries on Caesar’s Gallic Wars, and is mostly finished with Virgil’s Aeneid. He writes out a Miserere he heard in Rome, and asks whether he heard it correctly; Peters says it looks strange. [Hohler appears to be referring to the famous Miserere by Gregorio Allegri (1582-1652), performed every Holy Week in the Sistine Chapel. What Hohler writes bears no resemblance to Allegri, however.]

Bernard, an intolerant Catholic, makes disparaging remarks about liberal Protestant Friedrich Wähner, whom Beethoven liked and admired. Seeing that Beethoven is enraged, Hohler tries to tell Beethoven that Bernard was only joking, but that just seems to make matters worse. The entire group departs almost immediately afterwards. But the remarks about Johann by Schindler and Bernard weigh upon Ludwig’s thoughts tonight. Is he being cheated by his own brother?

Conversation Book 23, 46r-57v and 1r-3v.