BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Sunday, January 25, 1824

In the mid-afternoon, after Kalkbrenner’s 12:30 p.m. concert at the small Redoutensaal, Johann stops by Ludwig’s apartment. Johann apparently reads Prince Galitzin’s letter from St. Petersburg, saying that he is arranging a performance of the Missa Solemnis in St. Petersburg. [As of his most recent letter, Galitzin was hoping to get the performance in before the start of Lent, but as it happens he has to wait until April, after Lent.] Johann questions whether Galitzin should have the right to choose where the premiere occurs, but Ludwig, needing to deal with Galitzin about the quartets, is not eager to push that issue with him.

Johann invites Ludwig and Karl to his place for a turkey dinner, but Ludwig declines. Johann has heard that Kreutzer’s new opera Der Taucher was a failure for the most part.

Ludwig makes some clever comment that is unfortunately not noted in the conversation book. Karl responds humorously, “My good fellow! You learn a great deal from me. You’ll become an all-round philosopher.”

Ludwig mentions that he approves of soprano Henriette Sontag’s voice, and Johann agrees. Mezzo Elise Beisteiner is also very fine.

Johann reports that Schuppanzigh, Haslinger, Diabelli, Mayseder, Leidesdorf, Stadler and Andreas Streicher as well as his wife Nannette were all at the Kalkbrenner concert earlier today.

Johann is looking forward to his brother’s ever-popular Septet op.20 at the Schuppanzigh Quartet concert later this afternoon. He is curious to learn what people will say about that Septet today. Johann saw Johann Nepomuk Hummel’s Septet in D minor, op.74 last Thursday, January 22 at the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde.

Ludwig still has not written a response to Kärntnertor Theater manager Louis Antoine Duport. Johann suggests that they write it together this evening; if it’s all right he’ll come back after the Schuppanzigh concert. Ludwig says he doesn’t have much in the house to eat. Johann shakes him off, saying he’s not coming for dinner. Johann then calls some unidentified male an idiot.

Johann goes home for his turkey dinner before the next concert. Karl says that the housekeeper is of the opinion that the rabbit they have for their dinner is so small it cannot be roasted whole; she will need to add it as an ingredient to another dish. The cheese Karl bought was inexpensive, only 7 kreutzers. [This may be the cheese that Uncle Ludwig noted down on January 21, Limburger and Strachin cheese.]

Karl has some gossip that Brother Johann told him today about his wife Therese. Johann is “hot on the trail” of his wife’s indiscretions, and he even caught her with her lover recently, so he thrashed her soundly, and then thrashed her daughter Amalie for good measure. Knowing Johann, Ludwig is skeptical about this story. Karl admits he doesn’t know whether or not it’s true.

Karl accounts to his uncle for the expense of the coffee, ordinary sugar and white sugar that he also bought this morning, which comes in all to 6 florins 46 kreutzers.

The nephew then continues that so far as he sees it, Johann and Therese don’t live on any sort of married basis; they often don’t say ten words to each other all day long. Ludwig wonders why he puts up with it, and Karl reminds him that she brought property into the marriage. But Karl remembers when he was young seeing her selling pastries on the street.

Ludwig does not go to the Schuppanzigh concert as he had suggested yesterday that he might. Johann probably picks up Karl, who accompanies him to see Uncle Ludwig’s Septet played by the Schuppanzigh Quartet (plus three). The pair return fairly late from the concert, which began at 4:30 p.m. Karl says that the concert didn’t end until a quarter to 7. [The editors note that the entire concert was the Septet, which runs around 40 minutes, and one unidentified Haydn quartet in C major, none of which run longer than 30 minutes, leaving about an hour unaccounted for. However, there may also have been extended conversations afterwards.] After that, Brother Johann read the newspapers, killing time because it was raining and he didn’t want to ruin his new coat.

The Haydn quartet went first and was applauded. “Then followed the Septet; it would be in vain however, to paint the impression that was manifest in everyone; the performance was splendid, and everyone was delighted.” [Ludwig was no doubt pleased by this report, even though he was generally contemptuous of the popularity of the Septet, written in his youth.] The crowd was unprecedentedly large, and many music dealers were there, including Ludwig’s friend Tobias Haslinger. Some of the crowd even had to stand outside the doors. Schindler was also there and sends his “most very obedient” regards, Karl wryly adds, mocking Schindler’s pathetic obsequiousness. The horn solo in the second movement of the Septet was very much applauded.

Beethoven’s Septet op.20 is here played live in 2011 by Janine Jensen and Friends:

There were many questions from the dilettantes for Johann about whether the Akademie concert would take place. Ludwig asks what Karl told them and he says he deferred to Johann. [Editor Ted Albrecht suggests that these discussions may have accounted for some of the delay in Karl and Johann leaving the concert, if they went on at length.]

Karl asks whether Uncle Ludwig wants to write the letter to Duport. If they do, Johann will drop it off at the theater himself tomorrow. Karl asks what his uncle would like for supper; Karl will run to the restaurant on the ground floor and get them something. Karl writes down “Veal,” and leaves to get the food.

Johann confirms that the Septet pleased the audience as much as if they were hearing it for the first time. Ludwig asks whether it was played well. “They didn’t play; instead they merely sang with their instruments. Schuppanzigh sang with such infinite beauty that he was often interrupted by general applause while he played.”

Johann turns to business. There is money coming in from the London Philharmonic Society for the commission of the Ninth Symphony. If they have the planned Akademie in the spring, that should generate enough money to pay off Steiner and Ludwig would still have 2,000 florins to tide him over the summer. Johann then increases his estimate, believing that there would be 4,000 florins left over. [Johann is not taking into account the substantial expenses for the theater, staff, the musicians and soloists, and the massive amount of copying that would be required.] Leidesdorf will also take it over for 4,000 florins, if Ludwig doesn’t want to make the arrangements. But Leidesdorf insists it should be held in the evening. “All the ladies will come then because they all want to be beautiful in the evening, and they will be.” Ludwig finds this ludicrous and asks where Johann got this notion. “Leidesdorf told me so.”

The two brothers reminisce about the days of the Congress of Vienna in 1814-1815, when the ladies dressed splendidly. Ludwig finally agrees that an evening concert would probably be best. Johann assures him that it would be quite easy for Duport to schedule an evening concert.

Karl returns with the veal and asks whether the new symphony will run longer than the Sinfonia heroica. Ludwig probably answers that it will be at least ten to fifteen minutes longer, since his Third Symphony runs about 50-55 minutes, while the Ninth typically takes 65-70 minutes if all repeats are observed. Using that information, then together with the Missa Solemnis and two pieces from the new opera that would make a complete program. Johann thinks the singers at the Kärntnertor Theater are currently quite fine.

Johann mentions that Leidesdorf told him that “Weber has horribly lost his way in his opera [Euryanthe] and thereby did even more to harm German opera than to advance it. [As we have discussed, Euryanthe was intended to begin a festival of German opera, but instead its disastrous failure brought the entire plan to a halt and the theater manager was fired.]

Karl observes that half of Euryanthe was stolen from Fidelio. Ludwig asks why it failed, then. Karl answers, “No-one understood it.”

Karl has some gossip that pianist Friedrich Kalkbrenner has been giving lessons to thirteen-year-old piano prodigy Leopoldine Blahetka. Ludwig asks why he would do that, and Karl simply replies, “Money.”

While eating the veal, Johann observes that physician Christoph Hufeland (1762-1836) recommends that one should not eat a great deal in the evening, and especially little meat. Ludwig asks what he suggests instead. Often an egg dish would do.

Ludwig asks about Johann’s servants and how much they are paid. He gives the cook 100 florins per year. [Which is substantially less than Ludwig has to pay to keep servants.] Johann says that the old woman [Barbara Holzmann] would probably like to come back.

While Ludwig may make some efforts at letter drafts with Johann, they don’t arrive at a satisfactory product and the letter to Duport will have to wait. Johann leaves, and Karl tells him, “Adieu, Herr Uncle!” After Johann leaves, Ludwig asks what Karl was laughing about that Johann had said. Karl answers, “My good fellow! I didn’t know that he had said anything, and I also didn’t know that I laughed about anything. I only said, ‘Adieu, Herr Uncle’ as he left. I smiled about it because I am not accustomed to calling him that, and it was merely a repetition, because Schindler had addressed him that way at the quartet concert today.

Beethoven makes a shopping list. Beethoven usually made such lists in the mornings, but this seems to have have been written this evening since there are also comments from Karl such as the location of a shop.

+Coffee
+Sugar
+Shaving mug
+Razor
+Pens
+Locksmith: doors; Karl’s
+Eyeglasses

Beethoven seems to have forgotten Karl just bought sugar. The eyeglasses and razor have been on several shopping lists recently.

Karl would like to write the testimonial for the temporary maid today, so there aren’t delays tomorrow. According to the housekeeper, the maid would just as soon be let go even though her two weeks’ appointment aren’t over, and won’t be until next Sunday. [Karl has classes all day Monday and may not be able to come to the apartment again later in the day.] With the Drangeld [down payment] she would get 5 fl. 8 kr.; without the Drangeld, 3 fl. 38 kr. [So the advance paid to the maid must have been one and a half florins. in the right margin, Karl checks his math. However, the testimonial does not appear to get written today, since Karl talks about it again tomorrow afternoon.]

Karl mentions that on the way back from the concert this afternoon, Johann mentioned the 50 ducats that should be coming from Berlin [for the use of Consecration of the House, which Johann owned as payment for a debt owed by Ludwig], but if he still has to wait for that money to come in, that wouldn’t bother him.

Karl says Johann would like to be rid of both his wife Therese and her daughter Amalie, but he lacks the courage.

Conversation Book 6v-8r, 41r-36r.

At a concert this evening at the Kärntertor Theater featuring the ballet Der Pilger, a musical Akademie benefit concert is held featuring new bassoonist Theobald Hürth and hornist Elias Lewy, both of whom had been hired from abroad by kapellmeister Conradin Kreutzer. Among the pieces featured at this concert is Beethoven’s Overture to Prometheus. The Leipzig Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung Nr.8 of February 19, 1824 at 121-122 is fairly critical of the orchestra, which is acknowledged to be rebuilding. Apparently most of the players left and have joined “the more comfortable service at the Burg theater, so the old and well-founded fame of the Kärntnertor Orchestra naturally began to falter, and the addition of new capable members is all the more desirable.” Schuppanzigh will be less kind in his description of the Kärntnertor Theater orchestra in a conversation next month.