BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Sunday, February 8, 1824

Unpaid assistant Anton Schindler visits Beethoven’s apartment in the late morning or early afternoon, having come from Carl Czerny’s private Sunday morning recital. The program was quite ambitious: The Hammerklavier Sonata in B-flat op.106, Sonata #31 in A-flat op.110, Sonata #32 in C minor op.111, and then Czerny by popular demand had to repeat the Diabelli Variations op.120 from last week’s program. Schindler observes that the B-flat sonata alone gives him plenty to do. “The fugue of all fugues is the Devil’s; [Czerny] had to take a rest.” Beethoven asks why; and Schindler responds that, “he was already tired, because he had already played a great deal.” [This remark suggests that he refers to the concluding fugue of the Variations, assuming Schindler accurately gave the order the works were played, but it may also refer to the difficult fugues in the Hammerklavier.]

Schindler had recently run into alto Caroline Unger just after leaving Beethoven’s place. She said she would pay Beethoven a little visit, perhaps today or tomorrow.

Beethoven begins talking about his old Italian vocal composition teacher, Antonio Salieri, who sadly seems to have lost his mind, and people believe the worst of him. Schindler says one must take the belief in his confessions in that light. Beethoven dismisses these confessions, and Schindler agrees there is no proof, but it only strengthens the general belief that he was guilty.

Schindler apparently looks at the previous pages and sees Grillparzer was here yesterday. Beethoven mentions that his drama Ottokar has been banned by the censor, and appears to ask whether the Archduke might be called upon to intervene. Schindler says that artistic works go for approval to Baron Joseph von Schweiger-Lerchenfeld, the Archduke’s treasurer, but he left for Prague the other day, so it is unlikely for there to be any action any time soon.

Beethoven asks whether there has been any response to the letter that Schindler took to the post office, asking whether Franz Carbon could rent Dr. Johann Hubertus’s apartment in the Archduke’s residence. There doesn’t seem to be a reply yet. Beethoven wonders whether that request will be denied. Schindler doubts it, since Hubertus never comes to Vienna, so why should he pay for an apartment? Schindler jokingly asks how it is that he came by the title of town crier.

The kapellmeister situation at St. Stephan’s has finally been resolved; the Archbishop pushed through the appointment of his favorite candidate, Johann Baptist Gänsbacher, overturning the decision that had been made in favor of Joseph Weigl.

Beethoven mentions his friend violinist Ignaz Schuppanzigh, who is giving a concert later this afternoon. Schindler says Schuppanzigh assured him he is very certainly coming here this morning. The payment for the performance of Consecration of the House in Berlin has arrived, which Schuppanzigh had arranged, and he has been commissioned to give the news to Beethoven personally. [Since the morning is already over and it’s near dinner time mid-afternoon, Schindler is almost certainly being sarcastic towards Schuppanzigh as unreliable.]

Schindler had dinner with Brother Johann yesterday. Johann received unfortunate news from Linz, as the remaining money owed to him from the sale of his apothecary shop is in default.

[Beethoven apparently is able to hear at least parts of the conversation this afternoon, since some of the writing in the conversation book today is Karl clarifying things that were spoken by Schindler, which Beethoven had not understood.]

Schindler joins Beethoven and Nephew Karl at mid-day dinner around 2 p.m. Karl notes the wine was only 16 kreutzers. Beethoven is not keen on the food, but Schindler points out it is cooked well. Schindler continues his story about Johann; he got into a fight with his wife Therese yesterday. Schindler says they will never learn. Now he plans to buy a house for 9,000 florins C.M. in Linz, and he’ll open an apothecary shop there.

Beethoven asks Schindler to accompany Karl to the Schuppanzigh Quartet concert this afternoon. Schindler begs off: “I don’t want to hear any more music today, not even Schuppanzigh’s Quartet concert; I still have the Sonatas too much in my head.” Something spills, making Beethoven angry but Schindler assures him the housekeeper will be able to wash it out.

Schindler mentions that Count Moritz Lichnowsky was also at Czerny’s. “Czerny deserves all respect, because, among all pianists, he is the only one who still loves Classical music, and especially studies your works with diligence and love, and really acknowledges openly that any success that he has in composition is owed only to the study of your works.”

Karl goes to the first in the fourth series of Schuppanzigh Quartet concerts (apparently by himself), leaving about 3:45 for the 4:30 program. The concert includes Haydn’s “Tost” Quartet in B-flat op.55/3; Mozart’s Quartet in E-flat K.428; and Beethoven’s String Quintet in C op.29. Vienna Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung Nr.12, March 27, 1824 at 45. On his return, a little before 7 p.m., Karl notes that Beethoven’s friend Ferdinand Piringer played the added second viola part in the C Major Quintet.

Karl again complains about Schuppanzigh’s regular use of portamento: “Something peculiar that I noticed about Schuppanzigh is that he tends to slide his finger from one tone to another on the string, so that, for example, he plays the tones [high A down to D], you hear the intermediate tones crowded together quickly, [G-F-sharp-E], like an unclear scale. Is that right?” [Karl had made the same observation after last week’s concert.]

Conversation Book 55, 6r-8r.

The String Quintet op.29 is here played live in Frankfurt on 6 December 2020 by the Hába Quartet and Philipp Nickel:

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.