BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Saturday, October 5, 1822 (very approximately)

Anton Schindler relates the following anecdote from the time of the rehearsals or performances of Consecration of the House at the Theater in the Josephstadt (Constance S. Jolly translation, p.236): “We may demonstrate the degree to which the left ear was functioning by relating a frequently recurring incident that Herr [Michael] Greiner [the tenor for Consecration of the House] often witnessed. At the restaurant next to the Josephstadt Theater there was one of those musical clocks so popular at that time, which used to play overtures, single numbers from good operas, and the like. Beethoven always used to sit near it so that he could hear his favourite piece, the overture to Medea by Cherubini. He did not like to hear the trio in F major from his Fidelio because the tempo was too slow. He could recognize each piece from the first measure and follow it, commenting to us on the music as it went along. But if he turned his right ear to the clock, the whole would become to him a chaotic din.”

As always, one has to question the veracity of Schindler’s anecdote, but it does appear to be true that Beethoven still had some limited hearing at this time.

In today’s Wiener Zeitung at page 920, music dealer and publisher S.A. Steiner & Co. makes timely announcement of the forthcoming publication of the Great March with Chorus from Consecration of the House (borrowed from his Ruins of Athens) by Beethoven. Although this piece would eventually be catalogued separately as Beethoven’s op.114, the advertisement makes no reference to that opus number.

The full text of the announcement is as follows: “Preliminary Announcement. The Great March with Choir, from the occasional piece The Consecration of the House, set to music by Ludwig van Beethoven, and performed with general applause at the opening of the new Theater in the Josephstadt, has been bought from the famous composer as our property and will appear in various editions from our publishing house in the next few days.” Beethoven notices this advertisement, and comments upon it in a letter to brother Johann tomorrow.

The March and Chorus is performed here by Leif Sagerstam conducting the Turku Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus Cathedralis Aboensis: