BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Sunday, April 13, 1823

Moritz Lichnowsky comes by Beethoven’s apartment late in the morning. His information is that the libretto by Grillparzer has been finished. It is at the director’s office and is designated to be sent to Beethoven. It is the tale of Melusine. Johann Baptist Wallishauser, Grillparzer’s publisher, wanted to come by this morning and speak with Beethoven about it.

Lichnowsky asks whether the variations [op.120] have been sent to Diabelli yet. Beethoven replies not yet; they are almost ready. He plans to go to Döbling this summer. Beethoven was there last summer, but this year he will be in Hetzendorf, and Lichnowsky makes a note of where he will be staying. Lichnowsky says he will call on Grillparzer personally tomorrow to make inquiry about the opera.

After he leaves, Beethoven makes a note about Karl’s laundry.

At 12:30 PM, eleven-year-old Franz Liszt gives his final concert in the Redoutensaal. Beethoven does not attend, but brother Johann and Schindler do. Ludwig Nohl reported that Liszt claimed Beethoven was in the audience, but that is plainly an error based on today’s conversation books. Karl probably does not attend, as his later references to this concert all appear to be second-hand. The announcements for the performance take especial note of Liszt’s Hungarian ancestry, indicating the budding nationalist movements.

The Vienna Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung of April 26, 1823 (Nr.34) at 270 reviews the concert given by Liszt today in the small ballroom. “He played the great fortepiano concerto in B minor by Hummel[Concerto Nr. 3 op.89], Variations by Moscheles, and a fantasy. You have to do justice to this talented boy; he played with skill and elegance. However, he still lacks physical strength, a deficiency that was especially noticed during the performance of the concert. To improvise on a given subject requires not only talent but also many years of experience in the musical field, which an eleven-year-old boy can hardly have. Was the probable cause that the little sorcerer was already embarrassed when the subject was presented? The young man was given a theme of 24 bars, on a complex rondo. Risum teneatis! Madam Schütz sang an aria by [Carlo] Coccia with excellent diligence, with an accompaniment of excellent carelessness. The first movement of Mozart’s great symphony in C mjaor, and a vocal quartet sung by Messrs. Haizinger, Rauscher, Ruprecht and Seipelt, were both well liked. The little one enjoyed a good income from the concert.”

Brother Johann brings Karl for a visit, after Liszt’s concert. Beethoven asks what the boy used as a theme to improvise upon, since he had refused Liszt’s request for a theme yesterday. Johann says he improvised on Hungarian and German melodies; apparently people knew in advance that he would be improvising on a theme from the audience, for numerous members of the audience had themes along with them.

Johann observes that the meat for midday dinner has spoiled. [Conversation Book editor Theodore Albrecht suggests that this meat may have been left by housekeeper Barbara Holzmann for Beethoven’s dinner Saturday night, and he was too preoccupied to eat and it was still sitting there the next afternoon.] They talk a bit about Grillparzer and Melusine. Johann has Karl write that Wallishauser paid Grillparzer 600 ducats for his tragedy Sappho (1819), implying that Ludwig ought to get something of that order if he composes music for Grillparzer’s libretto. They also tell Ludwig about a housekeeper who wants to take on household duties for just room and board. Ludwig is familiar with her; this is the second time this widow has advertised in the Zeitung, and she appears to understand the art of cooking thoroughly.

Karl asks if he can take a piece of bread and cheese with him back to Blöchlinger’s. He asks Uncle Ludwig whether he has read the scenes from Johanna Gray by Dr. Eduard Sommer, published in the Wiener Zeitschrift.

Karl asks whether Uncle Ludwig has his baptismal certificate. He says Johann claims Ludwig is two or three years old than he is. [Johann was in fact nearly six years younger, born in October 1776. Karl’s father Caspar Karl was around three years younger than Ludwig.] They make fun of the fact Johann’s black hair is turning grey and that he vainly dyes it black. If he did not, it would already be completely white. Johann retorts that Ludwig should think about dying his own hair.

Speaking of vanity, Karl relates an anecdote about Frau Blöchlinger, who he says looks like a skeleton. “She was busy recently, sewing her overcoat. Suddenly someone knocked at the door. Completely startled, she threw the overcoat aside and cried out: ‘Oh my God! If someone were to see me sewing!'”

Johann says that Diabelli came first to Ludwig’s home and then to Johann’s, begging urgently to get the score for the Variations by tomorrow, April 14. He will agree to delaying the publication of the Missa Solemnis until September, but not a full year as Ludwig had requested. But Diabelli says he will pay immediately upon delivery of the score. In any event, arrangements should be made for sale of the Mass in Paris and in London. Someone told Maurice Schlesinger in Paris that he could have it for France as of October 1.

In any event, Johann needs to know what to tell Diabelli he owes for the Variations. He should have copies made and sent to London and Paris immediately. Johann urges Ludwig to send for the copyist tomorrow morning and have them copied right away. Schlesinger is coming to Vienna, and he can be given the scores then; that will speed everything along and Ludwig’s work will get out into the world all the faster. Johann recommends that Schlesinger get everything intended to be published in France, but he has to agree in writing that he is limited to the territory of France. If he won’t do that, then Johann knows of another publisher in Paris.

Johann asks what time he should have the copyist come tomorrow morning. Ludwig seems to take exception to being rushed in this manner, and Johann tells him, “Then get him yourself,” and leaves in a huff.

Karl is still there and observes that “the old woman”, Barbara Holzmann, went out to get celery a while ago and still hasn’t returned, so the soup for the evening meal hasn’t been made. Karl talks about an essay in the Wiener Zeitschrift by Georg Ludwig Sievers (1766-1830), who regularly gave reports on the happenings in Paris.

Before long, Holzmann returns and starts making the soup for supper. Karl confirms that Holzmann is coming to get his laundry on Tuesday the 15th. He is still growing and needs some new clothes. The shirts and underpants are about worn out, and all of his vests are too small.

They talk a bit about sister-in-law Therese’s illegitimate daughter Amalie. Karl asks whether she uses the Beethoven name. Uncle Ludwig doesn’t know. Karl can find out, if he would like. [Amalie used the last name Waldmann, not Beethoven.] Karl takes his bread and cheese and heads home; Uncle Ludwig may accompany him.

Conversation Book 29, 20v-27v