BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Saturday, November 22, 1823

Nephew Karl is still at Uncle Ludwig’s apartment this morning. Karl is interested in the concert being given this evening at the Kärntnertor Theater by Ignaz Moscheles. “Since he himself is a composer, it would really be a shame on him if he played compositions by other; he is therefore playing a concerto of his own tonight, and a free Fantasia, likewise of his own.” Beethoven comments favorably on Moscheles’ pianism; Karl snidely replies, “For those who like speed.”

Karl could go to Blöchlinger’s tomorrow evening. His former schoolmaster Cajetan Giannatasio del Rio told Karl that he should visit soon and bring Uncle Ludwig along, “because my whole family longingly wishes to see him.” Uncle Ludwig is too busy right now, so Karl says he will tell them that his uncle will appear sometime, quite unexpectedly. He then quotes Schiller’s poem Die Erwartung (1799), “Thus as from High Heaven, The Hour of Joy appears.” [Karl pretty accurately quotes the first and last stanzas, confirming his affection for Schiller, shared with his uncle.] “Even if this poem is not one of Schiller’s most beautiful, in this way, my good fellow, you can see that I am well-read.”

After Karl departs, Anton Schindler reappears this afternoon. He wasn’t able to talk to Weigl yesterday about the Court Opera. He does wish that Beethoven had asked Duport to give him an answer, so that if he agreed [about the Akademie benefit concert plans] Schindler could proceeded to start organizing things. He will ask Duport orally, and says he is going directly to see Duport.

Conversation Book 46, 13r-15r.

Karl then goes to the Kärntertor theater for the concert by Ignaz Moscheles. It does not appear that Uncle Ludwig goes with him.

The Vienna Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung Nr.97 (December 3, 1823) reports of the concert given today Moscheles, who has just completed a lengthy tour of Holland, France and England. Although the centerpiece was a concerto by Moscheles himself (Nr. 4 in E major), the concert opened with the first movement of Beethoven’s Symphony Nr. 2 in D major, which according to the AMZ at 772 “was dutifully performed by the orchestra.” [As a side note, the AMZ for November 19 at 744 had announced the concert was to be held on Friday the 21st, rather than today, Saturday the 22nd, which as our friend Birthe Kibsgaard observes may have resulted in some people going to the theater in vain the night before. However, most other sources, including a surviving poster, confirm that the concert actually happened today.]

The Allgemeine Theaterzeitung of November 29, 1823 at 571 was more lavish and poetic in its praise for the symphony movement:

“The first movement of the Symphony in D major by the grand master Beethoven was executed with impressive dignity and with all the soulful expression and classical delivery that would could expect only from the excellence of our court theater orchestra, the only one of its kind in Germany. The basic melodic idea floated on the harmonious dimensions like a sublime world spirit on the infinite floods and its colorful refractions of rays dissolved the mind, which had been frozen into a marble column mid-note, into resonant sounds that could be heard only in the inner ear.”

The first movement of the second symphony is here performed by the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Berlin, conducted by Paavo Järvi: