BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Saturday, March 27, 1824

Beethoven proofreads more parts for the Missa Solemnis and the fair copy of first couple movements of the Ninth Symphony, adding a flood of corrections in ever more furious manner. Missing articulations, slurs where they should not be, it’s one set of errors after another, in part due to the virtually unreadable autograph, but also in part due to the haste with which the fair copy is being written. It was unreasonable for Beethoven to expect a much different result, but he was used to the late Wenzel Schlemmer making the best of his difficult handwriting.

Unpaid assistant Anton Schindler comes by the apartment and helps sort through the parts and collates them. Everything for the Missa Solemnis is there, up to the first violin part of the Credo, which the copyist brought yesterday, and still needs to be proofread. Schindler is meeting with theater manager Louis Antoine Duport today to get the formal approval for use of the Grosser Redoutensaal for April 8th. It was too late to meet with Duport yesterday.

Nephew Karl goes to the restaurant downstairs to get veal for the three of them for mid-day dinner.

Schindler as usual has the latest theater news. Duport will be giving the first Italian opera of the season on April 1, Gabriele by Michele Carafa (1787-1872). Beethoven expresses his disgust and hopes it fails. Schindler says he doesn’t hope that it does, but also isn’t afraid if it does.

Today, Friedrich August Kanne, editor of the Vienna Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung, will be conducting his newest opera, Lindane, at the Leopoldstadt Theater. The poetry for this fairy opera is by Adolf Bäuerle, the editor of the Allgemeine Theater-Zeitung. Schindler feels Kanne is “now degenerating very much into the common folk.” His AMZ is disappearing without a trace. [Indeed, having not been published in January and February of this year due to financial problems, the Vienna AMZ will cease publication permanently at the end of 1824.]

Karl returns with the veal, which is flat from having been pounded for tenderness. Schindler asks Beethoven whether he has decided on Michael Umlauf or Joseph Weigl as conductor. [All the discussion with Schuppanzigh thus far has been for Umlauf, and Weigl has only come up when Schindler mentions him, so in all likelihood Beethoven has made his choice.]

Schindler understands that apparently there is trouble amongst the copyists; Maschek’s assistants don’t want to have anything more to do with him and are staying away. Maschek is declaring that he had the copying work sent to Peter Gläser and others. Beethoven likely indicates that he is still having Maschek finish the fair copy of the Ninth Symphony, for Schindler answers that he would ask Beethoven to be strict with him. “Experience has taught me that it is necessary.”

Beethoven acknowledges that Gläser’s work seems to be fine. Schindler says it’s certainly good, but he’s not strict enough with his assistants. They [probably meaning Maschek’s crew] did things to produce the quickest results, but the other parts, being done by Gläser, should be better. Gläser gives his assurances.

Schindler must go, but he will take with him the proofread solo parts for the Missa Solemnis to give to Jäger, the tenor, and Preisinger, the bass. [Soprano Henriette Sontag and alto Caroline Unger have already received their parts for the Mass.]

Someone comes to the door, possibly from Beethoven’s financial advisor Kirchhoffer, since he knows about the continuing relationship with Ferdinand Ries. He has questions about the Akademie, such as whether there has already been a rehearsal, and whether Schuppanzigh is directing. He also asks, “Is the English Symphony the one for Ries?” [The Ninth Symphony, which Beethoven considered dedicating to Ries, was commissioned by the London Philharmonic Society.] The unidentified visitor promises to come to the Akademie.

Later today, copyist Paul Maschek’s assistant comes to Beethoven with the autograph score for the Finale of the Ninth, and an assortment of parts for proofreading. He tells Beethoven everything is collated correctly, and he doesn’t think there will be much to correct. [Beethoven appears to restrain himself at that comment, somewhat surprisingly, given his evident rage in his proofreading remarks.]

The assistant has a couple questions about the Finale, however. In the clarinets, at the end of the section “und der Cherub steht vor Gott,” there are three bars that are not orchestrated. He was unsure what to do, and didn’t want to write them as unisono. Beethoven explains that this is where the clarinets playing in A will need to change to B-flat clarinets, so leaving those three bars empty for them was correct.

The copyist also points out that at “Seid umschlungen, Millionen!” the trombones are missing from the autograph score. Beethoven makes a note on the original autograph score here explaining what needs to be done. Beethoven writes at bar 655, where there is no room for the trombone parts, “From here on, see the trombones in the supplement.” That supplement is almost certainly the manuscript score of the three trombone parts for the Finale and the Scherzo, held at the Beethovenhaus as H.C. Bodmer Collection Mh 28, and which can be seen here:

You may recall Beethoven made a note to himself on March 19 that he needed to write out these trombone parts, and he appears to have done so in advance of this discussion, and gives it to the copyist today. However, the contrabassoon part is also missing here. The necessary contrabassoon supplement is held by the Berlin Staatsbibliothek. Jonathan del Mar in his critical commentary to the Ninth at 14 states that “This is not a ‘part’ in the normal sense of the word – i.e., it could not be played from – but a series of incipits for each section, with indications such as col Fag 2do (same as the 2nd Bassoon) or col cB (same as the basses) or in 8va Bassa. From bar 849 the whole part is written out – in immense haste.” This haste suggests that Beethoven had already started writing out the contrabassoon part, but had only gotten to bar 849, the concluding Presto, and finished the part Prestissimo while the copyist waited for it.]

The copyist tells Beethoven that if he will proofread the part, he will take it to be duplicated. [Beethoven likely tells him that he can’t do it right now, probably intending to give it to Gläser to be duplicated.] The assistant says the whole Quatro, or four string parts, for the Ninth are already finished, and the Harmonie, or wind parts, will be finished by tomorrow, Sunday, mid-day. Beethoven appears to tell the copyist to bring them in so they can be proofread and duplicated. The copyist, expecting more duplication work, says he needs work to keep his people busy, or else they are left unused, with nothing to do.

The copyist asks how many times the choral parts for the Ninth will need to be copied. Beethoven suggests that they will just have them lithographed like they did for the choral parts to the Missa Solemnis. The copyist knows people at the Lithographic Institute; they can go about their business badly and take a long time, while he has no lack of copyists for duplicating, and lithography will not be any cheaper. [Whether Beethoven agrees is unknown since none of the choral parts of the Ninth Symphony from the Akademie concerts survive. However, whatever the decision is, the choral parts will still not be duplicated as of April 12.] The copyist says he [probably Maschek] wants to come on Tuesday, March 30th. Beethoven makes an appointment for 2 p.m. [likely to deliver the fair copy of the Finale, and the parts. But Maschek does not appear to come on that date. Beethoven might have his maid pick up the copies instead.] The copyist leaves, likely disappointed.

Conversation Book 60, 31v-35r.

The identity of the copyist writer in today’s entry has been a matter of some dispute. The German editors suggested it was the same handwriting as written earlier in the book, which from context is pretty clearly Paul Maschek. English language editor Theodore Albrecht argues it is Peter Gläser writing, not Maschek. Albrecht correctly observes that Maschek drew lines between all of his entries to signal that he was finished with his thought, as all who are within Beethoven’s circle regularly do. The writer here, like Gläser, does not. While the writing is similar to Maschek’s, we cannot say that it is a clear match.

After repeated graphological, vocabulary and contextual analysis, and long e-mail discussions with our devoted reader Birthe Kibsgaard, who keeps us on our toes about such details, our solution is that it must be Maschek’s assistant writing today.

The evidence: Jonathan del Mar in his critical commentary to the Ninth Symphony at 16 notes that this fair copy (which he refers to as source C) is written in full by two copyists, with some pages later rewritten and inserted just prior to publication. That corresponds to Maschek and his assistant. Gläser did not make the fair copy C, and if he were today’s writer, he would have just seen the score for the first time, and not been in a position to ask the perceptive questions about the clarinets and trombones noted above.

However, Maschek’s assistant would know about these issues with the clarinets and winds. He had also come to Beethoven’s apartment with Maschek previously, so knew where he lived, and Beethoven obviously knew the writer, who did not require any introduction. In addition, the writer here refers to the string parts as “Quatro.” Gläser’s word for the four string parts was “Quartett.” A careful analysis of the handwriting between the two also indicates differences, especially in the formation and confidence of capital letters such as H and Q, that suggest that today’s writer is not Gläser. The reference to “my people” may simply indicate that this trusted assistant had recruited and trained much of Maschek’s staff and felt protective towards them.

If so, then Maschek was not, as Albrecht suggests, fired on March 23rd, but was at least allowed to finish the fair copy of the Ninth as indicated here, while Gläser and his crew were put to work duplicating the parts for the Missa Solemnis that Beethoven had finally gotten around to proofreading. Gläser probably does the bulk of the duplicating work from this point forward, likely through Schindler’s influence (such as his insinuations above that Maschek’s assistants were abandoning him), so Maschek may have felt that he had been fired. But that is clearly not the understanding of the assistant writing above, who expects more duplicating to be done by Maschek, himself, and his crew, especially since time is short before April 8th, making this an emergency requiring all available hands be copying.

The Pietro Mechetti firm announces the publication, in conjunction with Carl Lightl in Pesth, Carl Czerny’s newest work for piano in today’s Wiener Zeitung at 312, his Fantaisie dans le Style moderne, or Pot-pourri brillant for pianoforte on favorite themes, op.64. “The most popular motifs of the new ballets are here connected with those of other great composers in such a way that the publishing company can hope to present this little work to music lovers as a whole in itself, in the manner that is now commonly referred to as a free fantasy of fortepiano playing. There are no significant difficulties to overcome and it will therefore be as entertaining as it is easy to perform for almost all classes of players.” Czerny was of course one of Beethoven’s few students of composition.