BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Saturday, January 24, 1824

This section of Conversation Book 54 is written backwards in the book, starting at folio 43v.

Brother Johann is visiting Ludwig at his apartment, again insisting that priority should be given to composing an opera. Ludwig could then sell it to Paris, London and St. Petersburg. At the very least, he owes Duport a letter telling him what his plans are concerning the proposed opera Melusine. If a contract is made with Duport, he suggests Ludwig should insist on an evening concert in the Grosser Redoutensaal. Ludwig asks why. The reason is that everyone wants to go to a concert in the evening; in the midday they are out walking. Ludwig suggests that he could work something out with the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde, for an evening concert after the premiere. Johann says that won’t work, as the Musikverein does not have permission for the evenings. Ludwig has doubts, but Johann says that if he includes an aria and quartet from the new opera, that will bring in the crowds.

Johann will be going to the Akademie concert early tomorrow for Friedrich Kalkbrenner with the harpist François Dizi. In the afternoon Johann will go to the Schuppanzigh Quartet’s concert, to hear Ludwig’s quartet be played. [This is likely a slip of the pen by Johann, as they will be playing the Septet op.20, not a quartet by Beethoven.]

Johann returns to the idea of Ludwig’s Akademie. “You absolutely can’t believe how much everyone is hoping for and talking about your Akademie.” That pleases Ludwig. Johann continues, “There is such a great need for German composers.” Ludwig asks what is being performed at the Kärntnertor Theater tonight; that would be Der Taucher, by Conradin Kreutzer.

Circling back around to the opera idea, Johann asks whether Ludwig has even read the libretto to Melusine thoroughly. Ludwig insists that he has, but it will need changes. Grillparzer says he is happy to accommodate any changes. “No person other than you can provide a good German opera; all the Germans are saying so.”

In any event, Johann thinks Ludwig should write to Duport tomorrow with his answer. Ludwig suggests that he may go to the Schuppanzigh Quartet concert tomorrow. Johann says he got a free ticket from Schuppanzigh. Ludwig’s presence would make Schuppanzigh happy.

Nephew Karl joins the conversation and relates that the harpist Dizi went to one of the recent Schuppanzigh Quartet concerts, and he cried out when Uncle Ludwig’s quartet was played.

Johann asks whether Ludwig has someone arranged to copy the new Symphony. Ludwig expects that he will continue to use Frau Schlemmer. Johann suspects that she will probably marry another copyist in order to keep her late husband’s business going.

Johann will probably go to the second or third performance of Der Taucher [Monday the 26th or Wednesday the 28th] in order to see whether anyone is there. Ludwig mentions that Henriette Sontag is in it, and Johann agrees that she is very fine. If it’s all right with Ludwig, Johann will take Karl to see Wenzel Müller’s opera Aline Queen of Golconda, parody of Aline oder Wien und Baden, at the Theater in the Josephstadt. [That opera had premiered two days earlier, on the 22nd of January and continues daily through the 27th, with less regular performances until the end of February.]

Ludwig mentions that Kalkbrenner has a good reputation as a pianist. Johann is not impressed with Dizi; he “is not extraordinary on his harp.” Johann spots the manuscripts of some piano sonatas lying on the piano, and asks when they will be engraved. Ludwig corrects him that his last three sonatas had already been published. Johann says that Ludwig’s friend Tobias Haslinger is very courteous to him.

Conversation Book 54, 43v-41r.

Karl and Johann probably attend Aline this evening.