BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Saturday, September 27, 1823 (approximately)

At a restaurant, the proprietress could not make a lot of a chicken dish because they only had one chicken.

Karl says he was upset that his expenses were off by 12 kreuzer, but then he remembered that the old woman [housekeeper Barbara Holzmann] had bought a little box of lampwicks for that amount.

There is more discussion about the exchange of the Dutch ducats. Karl thinks it strange that the lottery collector who exchanged them for Holzmann earlier gave her a kreuzer less each, but he thinks she couldn’t be deceitful. Although the Dutch ducats are valuable, they are seldom full weight. While Karl was exchanging the money, the fat police servant [apparently from Baden] declared that in Baden they don’t give any exchange rate, and only the Jews do it in hopes of turning a profit.

The chicken for dinner is fairly cold. There were not a lot of options; they had a miserable pheasant for 3 florins, otherwise nothing. They can get wine from Burgundy at the ruined Merkenstein castle. [Beethoven had written two songs, op.100 and WoO 144 on the poem Merkenstein, by Johann Rupprecht.] The maid knows the hunter’s wife, who makes butter and they can get some of that as well.

Karl didn’t take the key [presumably to the old apartment in the Windmühle] since Uncle Ludwig said that Holzmann would bring it along, but she forgot it and the key is still in Baden.

Karl tries to show his uncle that it is more economical to buy wine by the measure rather than by the bottle. There are deposits on the bottles, so one does get back some money when the bottles are turned in. But it doesn’t help when Holzmann miscounts them and they get less deposit back than they should.

Karl gets ready to take an excursion to nearby Vöslau. At first Ludwig is reluctant to go along, but Karl finally convinces him to go with the promise that the food will be better there.

Once they are in Vöslau, they run into Marie Pachler-Koschak, the wife of an attorney in Graz, whom Beethoven has known since 1817. She is also there for the baths, and she invites them to come and stay with them in Graz. They then could return to Vienna together. Karl suggests that his uncle might like to visit the Steyermark during the wine harvest. Ludwig, intent on finishing his symphony, declines the invitation.

However, Ludwig does make a little gift to Pachler-Koschak. He writes in her album the canon Das Schöne zum Guten [The beautiful to the good] in F, WoO 202, on the closing lines from Mathison’s Opferlied.

In a letter dated December 25, 1823, Pachler-Koschak will write of this meeting, “What pierced my soul was the sight of Beethoven. He had aged very much. He complained about illness and the rush of business. His deafness, if possible, was even increased, but his reluctance or rather inability to speak seems to have vanished. Our conversation was for my part written only. He wrote me a musical farewell at the moment of our parting, which I, as you can imagine, maintain as a holy relic.” (Faust Pachler, Beethoven und Marie Pachler-Koschak, Berlin 1866, p.20.) The canon was transcribed by Thayer, and the original, which bears the inscription, “Vöslau on the 27th of September by L. van Beethoven to Frau v. Pachler,” is held by the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna, A 15.

Das Schöne zum Guten, WoO 202, is here performed by Cantus Novus Wien:

They return in the evening, and Karl finds his uncle sleepy, and doesn’t want to disturb him. Karl helps him find a little book [possibly a pocket sketchbook.] Karl he will go to the baths now, since he wants to be there when there are the fewest people around. He makes some inquiry, which confirms that at 8:30 p.m. tonight they should be deserted; they close at 9 p.m. Karl leaves his uncle to his drowsiness.

Conversation Book 43, 35r-38v.