BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Sunday, August 27, 1820

Conversation Book 16, leaves 21v through 27v

Beethoven awakens at Oliva’s apartment and his first thoughts are of Karl. He had let his nephew know he would be in the City for several days. Why has he not heard from the boy? Oliva reminds Beethoven that Karl had examinations on Friday and Saturday, so his first opportunity to write will be today.

They then take a carriage and look at apartments. Beethoven still is not feeling well, and he needs to be urged by Oliva to get out of the carriage; he cannot very well look at an apartment from there. Beethoven is feeling symptoms of a cold coming on, as his ears are stopping up.

Beethoven’s Broadwood piano, an 1818 gift from the English manufacturer, and one of his most prized possessions

Nevertheless, they continue on. As they visit apartments in the Landstrasse neighborhood, they stop by Stein’s piano shop to see what the situation is with the Broadwood piano that Stein has modified to be more readily audible by Beethoven. It seems to be in good order. Beethoven suggests adding a small hearing tube, which Stein can have made. Stein says he can have the piano delivered to Mödling on Thursday the 31st or Friday, September 1st.

Beethoven and Oliva continue looking at apartments outside Landstrasse for a while, but Beethoven, feeling unwell, heads back to Oliva’s apartment to rest while Oliva goes alone to Blöchlinger’s to check in on Karl. Afterwards, Oliva reports back that Blöchlinger was dismayed when he heard it was Ludwig’s name day on Friday the 25th and it went by unnoticed; he blames himself more than Karl because the boy was diligent in his examinations. [Elsewhere, Beethoven mentions that he seldom celebrates his name day, but rather his birthday, so he no doubt found Blöchlinger’s distress amusing.] In fact, Karl did the best on the examination of the entire group.

Then there is the matter of money: the 100 florins that Beethoven has on deposit to cover Karl’s expenses is almost used up. Blöchlinger will be preparing a bill for Beethoven, who no doubt is very glad to have finally received Schlesinger’s payment. Blöchlinger has even more allegations against Karl’s mother Johanna (“He has learned many things lately”), and he will detail them in writing for the police. Karl “has made extraordinary progreess in Greek,” translating 110 verses of Homer into German every day. There is a cryptic remark by Oliva, “He is good, but does not appear to be entirely free from the Hungarian.” Is this a reference to Karl’s sudden interest in the difficulty extraditing fugitives from Hungary?

They proceed to a restaurant, where Oliva orders chicken. He is concerned that Beethoven is emphasizing the cheapness of an apartment over its liveability; he fears the one Beethoven is leaning towards will be too cramped. Oliva reminds Beethoven that his last apartment was too small, and it was still larger than this one. Remember, he says, you will have to live in it for six months. They discuss Beethoven’s plans for the next few days.

Because the rental season switches over at Michaelmas in late September, there is some urgency to finding a place. If Beethoven goes back to Mödling for a few days, everything may be gone by the 29th, when Beethoven plans to return. Oliva thinks it best if Beethoven simply remain in Vienna rather than going to Mödling and coming back on the 29th. Oliva cannot do the apartment search for Beethoven alone. Beethoven seems to accept this reasoning, in part because he is still not feeling well.

Oliva notes that Beethoven’s landlady for his room rental in the Alleegasse section of Vienna is complaining that he always forgets his key and she has to let him in. He needs to remember to bring it along when he comes to Vienna.

Oliva says Stein has a room in the spa at Mödling and goes there frequently; he claims to have “often come to visit you, but has never found you there.”

It begins to rain heavily (according to the Vienna newpapers, there was “unsettled weather” at about 10 p.m., so this is another very long day) and Oliva wants to head home. Beethoven accompanies him and spends the night again. Once there, Oliva advises that the men walking behind them on the way were plainclothes police, who were observing them and listening to everything. [Beethoven’s paranoia had some justification, since despite his protection by the Archduke he was still considered a suspect character.]