BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Sunday, July 16, 1820

Conversation Book 15, leaves 16v through 23r

Beethoven has lunch at his summer home in Mödling with Joseph Köferle, one of Karl’s teachers of geography, history and religion at Blöchlinger’s Institute. Köferle, who also was an official in the Government Finance Department, is looking for a letter of recommendation from Beethoven for a position as an apprentice at the Court Treasury; the director of the Treasury, Joseph Körner, is also a composer so Beethoven’s word will carry much weight for him. Beethoven apparently agrees to do so, since he twice asks how to spell “Köferle.”

They also talk about Karl; he has more examinations coming up, so he was unable to come along. Köferle thinks Karl is doing all right, at least in the subjects he was teaching. Karl’s Greek and Latin still need work, but he is comfortably reading Homer in the original Greek.

Like Blöchlinger, Köferle blames Johanna for the issues with Karl’s behavior. He always misbehaves and becomes indolent after he sees his mother. Blöchlinger has forbade anyone to allow her to see Karl. They talk about the teachers at various other schools (including that of Klinkowström, for whom the new housekeeper had worked), and Köferle generally has a low opinion of them. He loyally expresses support for the Blöchlinger curriculum.

Köferle observes that in a geography class, he noted the Kingdom of Hungary is technically a foreign country, and that it is difficult to extradite fugitives from there; Karl tellingly seems to have latched onto that notion.

Köferle thanks Beethoven again for his kindness, and reminds Beethoven that the letter must be written this week. If Beethoven did write such a letter, it is lost today. Beethoven probably did, since he also wrote a similar letter of recommendation for Köferle in September 1821 for a position at the National Bank, and at that time invited Köferle to visit again. The pair were obviously on quite good terms.

The next two weeks in the conversation books are very thinly covered. Since this period includes at least one known trip to Vienna and meeting with Oliva (who typically writes at length), there is some substantial material missing that should be present. It’s possible Beethoven misplaced the book for a while. In any event, there will be fewer and shorter Beethoven Bicentennial Minutes over the next few weeks before they resume on a more regular basis in August.