BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Saturday, September 20, 1823

Karl and his friend Joseph Niemetz have a little wine today, but since Niemetz is not used to it, he is a little tipsy. The boys are planning a long walk for today, but Uncle Ludwig does not appear to join them. Housekeeper Barbara Holzmann is out taking care of her granddaughter today. Karl observes that the new maid had worked as a server and a cook at Zum goldenen Schwan hotel/restaurant in Baden. Karl decides that he will walk to Vöslau (about 3 miles south of Baden), although it is quite treeless and he really would prefer shade.

Uncle Ludwig complains that he does not get paid as well as the poets do. Karl contradicts him, saying that “These days, nothing is as well paid as musical works. Schiller certainly did not get a tenth as much.” Ludwig asks, What about Goethe? Karl responds “If you went about your works as cleverly as Goethe, you would also have as much.”

Karl asks whether his uncle still plans to give an Akademie benefit concert. Yes, he will, once the Ninth Symphony is finished. [That concert does not occur until May 1824.] Ludwig is feeling sorry for himself and unappreciated. Karl tries to cheer him up, “I believe that if many people know your situation, you would now also feel that people value you.” There may not be hope for Austria, but in foreign countries he would surely be appreciated. Archduke Rudolph gives his affections but nothing else, and everyone assumes that he is Beethoven’s benefactor. Karl had initially believed he would be better, but now thinks there is nothing to be hoped for from him.

Karl departs on his walk, returning in a fiacre in time to go to the theater in Baden. Karl hates to be late. “When I attend, I must hear the first downbeat of the violins if I want to say that I saw the whole thing.” Karl reminisces about a time he was walking in the mountains with his uncle picking blackberries.

At the theater, Karl suggests that they tip the woman who opens the locked seats, in hope of getting better seats. The tip works, and although she is initially rude, she eventually becomes quite polite. Perhaps she resents that they have free tickets. The performance is mediocre, “as good as one can expect here. A few times, however, one had to laugh in the most heartrending scenes.” Johann Eckschlager was conducting, and that reminds Karl of an anecdote: When Eckschlager visited Uncle Ludwig for dinner, he drank so much that after he left and someone asked him a question on the street, he pulled a paper out of his bag and wrote the answer as if he were talking to Beethoven. Eckschlager himself told Karl this story. Karl observes that he is not in a position to buy good wines, which may account for his overimbibing.

Karl then notes that “the richest people are Jews. Rothschild, the richest in the realm; Callmann, who was able to pay 25,000 fl. for an operation; Henikstein [Beethoven’s banker]; Neuling, Uffenheimer — all Jews.”

Karl brought hazelnuts with him from Vienna because they are inexpensive there, but until now he had forgotten how to crack them open.

Ludwig then asks Karl to compute his interest for two months, and compare what he is being charged with his expected 4 fl. per day. Karl was told to come back on Thursday, September 25 [apparently to Franz Salzmann] and that the money would surely be there. On Thursday the 18th, he told Karl that he had spoken with Heinrich Seelig, and he was firmly convinced that Seeling would deliver the money. [Seeling, a Vienna wine merchant, apparently is the lender on the bank share this time around.]

The housekeeper’s salary is again due soon. The housekeeper and the maid are having a fight and Holzmann told the maid to go away, but she is refusing. Karl suggests that Holzmann be reproached; if they remain silent they will have the same problem and she will do the same to every good woman who they can get, and possibly also begin gossip. If she is threatened with being sent packing, she will be less likely to do so.

When confronted, Holzmann denies it all. She says no one will last long working for Beethoven. There was another girl, as skillful as this one, but she refused to carry out the chamber pot, and so she was dismissed. Karl thinks she is insolent. Holzmann denies it, and repeats the story to the maid, and then she goes out to dinner.

Conversation Book 43, 2r-7r.

Today’s Wiener Zeitschrift, Nr. 113 at 923-24 includes a report from Graz that contains oblique mentions of several Beethoven works. “Another of Professor Schneller’s ideas about arranging the sonata according to a lyrical principle was poetically conceived and executed by the witty Anselm Hüttenbrenner, who was fully trained under the masters of Vienna. A new, greater and nobler spirit would come into the nature of the sonata and symphony if the musical pieces were to follow one another according to the characters of the ode, the idyll, the elegy, the satyr, the idealized march and dance of certain peoples, and the The main melodies of these six pieces were summed up in one fantasy in the way that Beethoven brilliantly and creatively did in his Sonata quasi una fantasia [op.27/1 seems to be meant rather than the “Moonlight” Sonata quasi una fantasia, op.27/2] Anselm Hüttenbrenner is said to have delivered several characteristic pieces of music in the vicinity of the Rosenhaines with his deep soul and genuine art, such as this one, which bears the title: Tableaux musicales pour le pianoforte seul. La Meditation. L Bergere. La Melancolique. La folàtre. Le Guerrier. La Danseuse. La Reveuse.”

The report continues, “[Playwright Ignaz] Castelli spent part of the year here, as spring turns to summer, fully restoring his health. The heart that spoke faithfully to him from so many eyes must have pleased him more than Beethoven’s Serenade, more than performance of his plays.” [It is unclear whether the writer means the Serenade for String Trio op.8, or more likely, the Serenade for for Flute, Violin and Viola in D op.25.]

Today, twelve-year-old Franz Liszt and his family leave Vienna on a European concert tour that will take them to Munich (arriving there September 26), Augsburg, Stuttgart, and Strasbourg, before finally arriving at their final destination, Paris, on December 11, 1823.

Young Franz Liszt