BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Sunday, August 10, 1823

Nephew Karl spends much of the day with Uncle Ludwig in Vienna. Their discussions first cover Karl’s mother Johanna, and whether or not she is in need of money from the pension she splits with Ludwig. Karl thinks it better that the funds be used well here than used poorly at her place. At one time, they had computed that she had plenty of money to cover her expenses. [The putative father of her illegitimate daughter was believed to be contributing a substantial sum to their upkeep.] If she were in need, she would be asking for money.

Karl asks who is doing the copying of the Missa Solemnis subscriptions, since copyist Wenzel Schlemmer died a few days ago. Ludwig probably responds that he will work with Schlemmer’s widow to get the work finished.

Beethoven ponders what clothes should be taken along to Baden, and Karl suggests that he limit it to the clothes that are still in fashion. Then Karl launches into a diatribe about one of the servants. “Not once did she sew ribbons onto my vests, although I tried to get her to do so. Laziness. One of the new underpants is completely opened up because she never mended it. She made the excuse that she doesn’t have a patch to sew into it. She also does the wash poorly.”

Then there is some discussion about the intrigues of Brother Johann and former unpaid assistant Anton Schindler. Karl notes that Schindler has no will of his own and is everyone’s slave, so he did as Johann wanted. Johann feared Ludwig might spend too much time in Baden, and he wanted Schindler go to Dr. Staudenheim and tried to get him to recommend that Ludwig stay away. Karl knew about these plans but didn’t want to trouble Ludwig by saying anything. Karl is surprised that Johann lets himself be so dependent on his unfaithful wife Therese.

Karl mentions a newspaper article for a newly developed scented water that can be used as a stain remover and a shaving lather. Blöchlinger has some of this Wiener Wasser, and it is better than Cologne water.

Beethoven’s mythology book is not usable, but Petiscus has a new history of ancient mythology in two parts It is unfortunately expensive.

Karl spoke to Blöchlinger for advice about his future. He visited horticulturist/poet Johann Baptist Rupprecht (1776-1846), who wrote the words for Beethoven’s song Merkenstein, set in two versions, op.100 and WoO 144. Rupprecht gave a letter of recommendation for Karl to the vice director of philosophical studies. But he said that Karl should apply to the prefect of the Piarist teaching order, which would mean getting Blöchlinger involved since he was on good terms with the Piarists.

Blöchlinger is discussing Karl’s curriculum but doesn’t seem terribly interested in helping. For instance, Karl talked about a course in history, and Blöchlinger’s response was “History will probably not take place.” But if history does take place, what then? Karl is annoyed that he’s treating it like a joke, which it certainly is not. Karl thinks he will talk to Prof. Pleugmackers for advice, as he is quite a different person. He says Karl is the only one of his students that shows promise. Pleugmackers will be teaching French at the Engineering Academy for 850 florins.

Karl asks when Ludwig intends to go to Baden. When Ludwig answers that he is renting as of August 13, Karl says it’s already Sunday the 10th. Ludwig asks what day the 13th will be, and Karl answers Wednesday. Karl says that while they are in Baden they should visit Hauptmann Carbon, the former owner of the Christhof in Mödling where Beethoven had stayed in the summer of 1819.

Karl has grown out of a lot of his clothes, and Frau Blöchlinger has suggested that perhaps she could have some of his old linens for her children. He has several vests and pants that are too small. He only has one pair of trousers that fit any more. He has white ones that he has been wearing for 2 years, only because he has had them altered.

Karl is happy that they found the apartment. [So the apartment at Landstrasse 323 must have been rented by Beethoven in the last few days.] Karl asks whether the rooms have parquet floors. Frau Blöchlinger’s rooms have a floor polished with wax every two weeks.

Karl asks whether Holzmann has arranged the carriage reservation for Wednesday morning. Karl would prefer taking all of his books and everything he needs to Baden. He has German examinations coming up, but August 29th everything will be over. Karl doesn’t want Uncle Ludwig to come to the examination, but Karl has to attend or it will be ruinous to his grades.

Karl says, “Yesterday S began to accost her [presumably Holzmann] about money, but to rescue herself, she said: ‘For God’s sake! Leave; the Master is coming!” Thereupon he ran from her, confounded. She has lent him 9 fl., not 5 fl.” [Was S Schindler or Sporschil? The German editors suggests Schindler; English conversation book editor Ted Albrecht suggests Sporschil is more likely since he was known to have borrowed money from Holzmann. Our thought is Schindler is the better choice, as there would be no reason for Holzmann to shoo Sporschil away, and Beethoven surely did not want to find Schindler nosing about the apartment. This conclusion is buttressed by the fact that when Beethoven has Karl pay Schindler his 50 florins on August 23, one of the deductions will be 9 florins for “household.”)

Karl says he needs to get some exercise as he will be sitting too much. If he could rise a horse while they are in the country, that would be nice but it costs 5 florins for a day.

They talk a bit about the appointment of the second Court Organist position. [Ludwig and Schindler had backed Joseph Drechsler.] Karl thinks Simon Sechter would be the better choice. [Sechter would get the position. He eventually has Anton Bruckner as one of his pupils.]

Beethoven has a lifetime complimentary ticket to the theater in Baden, so Karl is looking forward to going. The ticket says “Forever.”

Karl asks whether Ludwig prefers Schiller or Goethe? Does he think Shakespeare is greater than Schiller? Karl concedes that the popular opinion is Shakespeare but personally he prefers Schiller.

Karl says it is important to be able to spell correctly, even in haste. Since his calligraphy is so good, he has written Pleugmacker’s application for the professor position for him. He learned that skill at Giannatasio del Rio’s educational institute.

Karl mocks Schindler, saying that he had himself announced as General Schindler in the house in Windmühle. Ludwig wonders who he can get to house-sit for him, now that Schindler is out of the picture. Karl says he can advertise in the newspaper, “Whoever wants to dwell for free, in exchange for liaison with all embassies,” then he will have his pick. Karl makes a reference to the Old Woman speculating where Schindler takes his money. “Specifically, she saw at his place–” and at this point Schindler tore a leaf, apparently embarrassing to him, out of the Conversation Book after he numbered the pages post Beethoven’s death.

Karl is dismissive of Dr. Staudenheim, calling him “nothing special. Indeed, he could not cure my father [who died of tuberculosis in 1815.] Physicians are mostly hard-hearted, like butchers, hunters, and all who see a great deal of blood.”

Karl leads prayers at Blöchlinger’s every day. He reads one of Paul’s epistles, though no one understands it. Karl is contemptuous at Blöchlinger’s insistence on including these letters to enhance his reputation. The epistles read are often absolutely inappropriate, because they contain h[atred?] of women.

Conversation Book 38, 34v-49r.

On this date, Brother Johann writes from Gneixendorf to Ludwig, letting him know that his health has much improved and that he has entered into negotiations with publisher S.A. Steiner. He also invites Ludwig to come stay with him in Gneixendorf, instead of going to Baden. Brandenburg Letter 1728. The letter is lost, but its contents and date are known from Ludwig’s response on August 19.