BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Sunday, June 22, 1823

Beethoven is again in the City, and meets with Nephew Karl at his apartment there. They discuss servants’ wages. The servant at Blöchlinger’s gets up at 5 a.m. and doesn’t get to sleep till midnight, cleans boots and clothes all day, gets the worst possible food and only 15. fl. W.W. per month (or 6 fl. C.M.)

Karl draws up the menu of upcoming dinner possibilities, including bouillon with rice, steamed cabbage with bratwursts, kohlrabi, cherry cake (which he would like), leg of veal with lettuce. There isn’t enough bread though, and the shirts aren’t coming until Saturday, June 28.

Beethoven begins drafting a letter to publisher C.F. Peters in Leipzig, promising that he will receive what is rightfully his after August. It is Peters’ own fault that they could not be sent earlier, and Beethoven will go before any court of law. “Spare me from your loudly-toned letters. It is a waste of postage money, because you never know what you want.” Beethoven did not ask him to send money [which is true.] Others understand that because of his illnesses, he sometimes does not get to a particular work and that would result in money lying there a long time. But they are still happy to receive something from him. This defensive draft doesn’t go very far, and Beethoven considers how to respond to Peters over the next month or so before he actually answers in mid-July.

Uncle Ludwig’s eyes continue to bother him. Karl scolds him for not listening to him about washing them so much.

Bookkeeper Franz Christian Kirchhoffer joins them for midday dinner. He says he has many of Beethoven’s works that were published by Nikolaus Simrock in Bonn, including the Piano Concerto Nr. 1 in C major.

Karl says he had written examinations on Monday, June 16, and will have oral examinations on Saturday, June 28. Karl writes on behalf of Kirchhoffer that when he has everything that he needs, he will get married. Karl eats too much of the first course, and fears he won’t be able to eat the leg of veal.

Kirchhoffer notes that Franz Schubert is widely praised, but he hides himself away. They also discuss minor composers Jan Hugo Voříšek (1791-1825) and Anton Halm (1789-1872). Halm has written an opera Morvario, which he believes is better than any opera ever written. [Morvario was never published or performed.] Business is terrible for piano makers right now; four of them have been dispossessed this week. Piano maker Joseph Böhm got a patent for an invention for a transposing piano that will shift it up a half tone. But the same patent was also given to someone else.

There is concern that the Jesuits will be reintroduced. There are already 70 of them in Vienna. Kirchhoffer suggests that Schindler be dismissed and Karl take over as secretary. “He has demonstrated all of his sides to me. He has annoyed me a great deal.” Beethoven defends Schindler, perhaps about his usefulness in doing the subscription solicitations. Karl chimes in that Schindler remained at the office for half an hour, chattering away so that everyone saw him as a disturbance.

Kirchhoffer, like most of Beethoven’s guests, suggests that he write another opera. Beethoven, annoyed, changes the subject immediately. Kirchhoffer asks when Beethoven came to Vienna, and he responds 1790. Kirchhoffer suggests that 33 years is quite a long time. [One of them misunderstood, since Beethoven actually came to Vienna in 1792. ]

Kirchhoffer asks whether Beethoven knew Mozart. When Beethoven says that he did, Kirchhoffer asks where he saw him. [This interchange confirms that Beethoven at least was in the same place as Mozart, which has been the subject of dispute.]

Kirchhoffer takes his leave after dinner, wishing Beethoven another 20 years of life. His teenage son is in London.

Uncle Ludwig and Karl go for a lengthy walk at about 4 in the afternoon. Karl notes that while the midday heat is unbearable, he can go quite a distance in the evenings like this. Karl asks whether Ludwig wrote to Prince Galitzin in German, as he requested.

Blöchlinger’s wife Henriette’s name day is on July 12, and they are having a celebration. He is asking for a contribution toward the festivities from the parents of all of the students. At first, he had the idea that every parent that lived in the City should also bring a dish in addition to the money, and make it a picnic. Henriette’s parents also live at the Institute. Karl suspects Blöchlinger is just trying to have a day of free drinking at the expense of others. Prof. Pulay was right when he said “The Institute carries within it the seed of its own downfall.” On this kind of occasion, Blöchlinger likes to drink all night long. Even if Pulay was a Jew, Karl says, he wasn’t stupid. Anyway, so far only two parents have contributed even though they have been working on it for a week. One can 10 fl. W.W. [4 fl. C.M.], and the other 5 fl. C.M. For the festivities, Karl plans to recite Hamlet’s famous To Be or Not to Be soliloquy, in English. Karl thinks that quite a few family members will come and may intend to bring one dish for each attendee.

Back at the apartment, housekeeper Barbara Holzmann employed the new woman at a rate of 12 fl. per month. She will be on probation for two weeks, until July 8th. Holzmann is forgetful and doesn’t write things down. She has trouble making the money agree with the expenses, and no longer knows where the losses are.

They discuss the light evening meal, perhaps a soup, or some of the leftover veal with green beans. Karl doesn’t want a pastry but if there is one already made he would take it along with him to the Institute. Baron Prónay, Beethoven’s landlord in Hetzendorf, received the gift copy of the Diabelli Variations and extends his most courteous thanks. “He was frightfully happy and will write himself.”

Brother Johann is again not happy with Ludwig’s desire to end the summer in Baden bei Wien. Karl thinks this is why he and Schindler arranged the apartment in Hetzendorf as quickly as possible, so Uncle Ludwig wouldn’t have time to reflect upon it. [Neither Karl nor Ludwig seems to be aware that Johann is seriously and bedridden.]

Karl gets a croissant for breakfast; they also get milk but it acts as a laxative for him so he doesn’t drink anything and eats the croissant dry. That’s been the case for four years, so another two months won’t kill him. [Karl will be finishing his studies at Blöchlinger’s in August, 1823.] Karl takes a letter for the Esterházy secretary, Anton Wocher. He plans on going to the tailor, possibly tomorrow. Karl asks when Uncle Ludwig needs the letter to the King of Saxony; the first one apparently was mislaid before it could be accepted.

On a number of scattered pages in this section of the Conversation Book, Karl attempts to give Uncle Ludwig instructions on multiplication and long division. None of it sticks with him.

Karl heads back to the Blöchlinger Institute. Given the lateness of the hour, Beethoven probably stays in the apartment, and will be hunting for an apartment for the fall tomorrow. Schindler, who was house-sitting for Beethoven, is in all likelihood at his own apartment near the theater.

Conversation Book 34, 15v-30r, 36r, 36v.