BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Sunday, January 4, 1824

No conversation book entries are known to exist for January 4, which is somewhat odd since Karl would typically be with Uncle Ludwig on a Sunday. From Schindler’s remarks later, he did not appear to visit Beethoven today either. It’s nevertheless possible that another very short Conversation Book like the previous one was used and has been lost. In any event, the conversation book entries resume tomorrow, January 5, 1824, with a visit from violinist Ignaz Schuppanzigh.

Beethoven continues working on the orchestration and writing out the full score of the Ninth Symphony.

Presumably piano maker Joseph Ries comes to Beethoven today to attempt more repairs on Beethoven’s Erard piano, as he had promised to do on January 28.

Assuming that Ries appeared as he promised, then it seems likely that on this date Beethoven gives Ries a short undated note, addressed to music publisher Maximilian Leidesdorf. Beethoven, feeling puckish, addresses it to “Dorf des Leides” [Village of Suffering.] He asks that the bearer, Herr Ries, be given a few easy four-hand piano pieces, cheaply, or even better, for free. “Conduct yourself according to the purified teachings.” He signs it “Beethoven minimus.” [Most likely wordplay since “minimus” might be compared to its opposite, “maximus,” referencing Leidesdorf’s first name, Maximilian. In any event, the bearer named Ries is almost certainly Joseph Franz Ries, since his brother Ferdinand Ries, Beethoven’s former pupil, who was suggested by Anderson as the bearer, had been in England for many years before Leidesdorf became a music publisher. There are discussions both before and after this date about the impoverished Joseph Ries having to give music lessons, so easy four-hand piano pieces would be appropriate for his pupils.]

Brandenburg Letter 1777; Anderson Letter 120. The original is lost, but a facsimile was published in the Beethovenjahrbuch I (1908), in the appendix. The date of January 1824 seems likely, since Beethoven was currently discussing with Leidesdorf the possible publication of Beethoven’s Collected Works. That prospective business arrangement would have made Beethoven feel comfortable in asking for free music for Joseph Ries to use in his teaching of piano pupils. The reference to “purified teachings” is suggested by Sieghard Brandenburg to be a reference to the Jewish Leidesdorf having converted to Catholicism in 1810. Beethoven probably gave this note to Ries in appreciation since he had refused payment for the repair work on the Erard piano.

The second in the Schuppanzigh Quartet’s third series of subscription concerts is held this afternoon. The program consists of Haydn’s Quartet #56 in E-flat, op.71/3 (Appony Nr.3); a Quartet by Mozart in B-flat [probably either Quartet #17 K.458 or Quartet #22 K.589]; and Beethoven’s Quartet #3 in D, op.18/3.

Beethoven’s Quartet #3 in D, op.18/3 is here performed live by the Meccore Quartet, August 9, 2020.