BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Saturday, January 25, 1823

Tenor Wilhelm Ehlers stops by Beethoven’s apartment to pick up the scores and poems that Johann Eckschlager had requested be returned to him in Pressburg (today Bratislava). Ehlers is not pleased with Eckschlager himself; he notes that Eckschlager was in Vienna recently and disrupted one of Ehlers concerts with his drunkenness. “I went to rehearse with him, Eckschlager, three days, and only with great difficulty could I extract one miserable rehearsal [from him.]” To make matters worse, Ehlers had to pay the musicians for three days’ work. Over the last four weeks, Ehlers has been in Pest, Temesvar, and near the Turkish border. He is unable to stay long since he must return to Pressburg again tomorrow.

Beethoven writes several letters today as well. The first, to Schindler, reminds him to try to broker a loan one one of his bank shares, and also to pick up nephew Karl and attorney Johann Baptist Bach for midday dinner tomorrow. He suggests Schindler hire a fiacre for the occasion. Brandenburg Letter 1534, Anderson Letter 1126. The original is in the Berlin Staatsbibliothek, aut. 36,44, and can be seen here:

Beethoven also has nephew Karl write in French to Prince Nikolaus Galitzin in St. Petersburg today, accepting his offer to compose several quartets. “I would not have failed to reply to your letter of November 9, if the press of business had not prevented me from writing to you. It is with great pleasure that I observe that Your Highness appreciates the works of my mind. You want to have a few quartets; as I see that you cultivate the cello, I will take care to satisfy you on this point.” Beethoven asks for a fee of 50 ducats per quartet; if that is satisfactory, the Prince should remit the fee to the banker Héniksten in Vienna. Beethoven promises the first quartet by the end of February, or at the latest, mid-March. [The first of the quartets for Galitzin, op.127, will not be completed until Feburary, 1825, as Beethoven once again overpromises what he is capable of doing.]

Brandenburg Letter 1535, Anderson Letter 1123. The original is held in the Musée Adam Mickiewicz in Paris.

Karl returns to Blöchlinger’s Institute.

Meanwhile, the gears are turning on the Missa Solemnis subscription project. Today, Johann von Stainlein, the ambassador from the King of Bavaria, forwards the request for a subscription to the King. The request, like the subscription solicitation, merely asks whether Beethoven may present his latest work, the Mass in score, to the king, and notes that he requests an honorarium of 50 ducats to defray the costs of copying. Brandenburg Letter 1536, Albrecht Letter 304. The original is kept in the Bavarian State Archives.

Friedrich Gremp, the ambassador from Württemburg, writes a similar letter today passing on the solicitation to his principals in Stuttgart. Brandenburg Letter 1537, kept in the Stuttgart State Archives.

In London today, the Philharmonic Society approves a payment of 25 pounds to Beethoven for the 18 months’ exclusive use of the Overture to Consecration of the House, op.124. Beethoven’s friend and former pupil Ferdinand Ries had arranged this transaction. Beethoven had apparently told Ries to make this offer in a now-lost letter.

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