BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Sunday, June 29, 1823

Nephew Karl is with Ludwig this morning. Uncle Ludwig is in Vienna in the afternoon, so either they meet there, or Karl comes out to Hetzendorf and then returns to the City with him.

Karl comments that even if Johann’s wife Therese is not much of a housekeeper, she is still thrifty regarding things that don’t affect her and her wardrobe. Karl’s examinations yesterday lasted a very long time, all morning and all afternoon.

Karl is becoming more dissatisfied with the cook on Bl√∂chlinger’s staff. The cook is bad, and one time there was a housekeeper who wanted to sample the milk and stuck her fingers in the can. It used to be much better. Earlier one could have as much bread as he wanted, both at 11 o’clock and at dinner. Now there is no longer any bread in the morning and at midday dinner only two pieces may be had, and one at the evening meal. Karl would have starved there when he had scarlet fever had Ludwig not sent him food. He is hungriest before noon, since he doesn’t have anything to eat but a small croissant. Karl is resigned since it has been this way for a long time and it will soon enough be over when he leaves in August.

Karl laughs at the self-confidence of Franz Schoberlechner, who gave Schindler a letter asking Beethoven for six letters of recommendation.

Beethoven’s eyes are still bothering him. Karl suggests that he should try not using anything on them for once. It can’t hurt, even if it doesn’t help.

Later in the day, at Beethoven’s apartment, Franz Hauser, bass singer and teacher, pays a second call on the composer. [It’s also possible that Hauser just had one visit, but skipped around in the conversation book at random.] They talk about Beethoven’s home, the Rheinland. Last summer Hauser took the Rhein journey and visited Bonn and Koblenz, finding them beautiful.

Hauser is familiar with Beethoven’s Meeresstille op.112, and asks whether he has written any vocal music since. Hauser’s next tour will take him through Prague, Dresden, Leipzig and Weimar. Because he sings bass, he has to transpose most things, but musical pieces lose something in the process. Yet he doesn’t want to be deprived of them entirely. He has transposed Beethoven’s Adelaide op.46 [written for a tenor voice in the key of B-flat major] down into G and F major; in the latter it is quite easy. While A-flat is a good key for the song, it results in enharmonic problems crossing hands in the piano part. His range is from the F-sharp above middle C down to the G on the bottom line of the bass clef, but no lower.

Hauser again apologizes for taking Beethoven’s time. He wishes he could be of service to him. He repeats the idea of a tour being financially and emotionally rewarding. “In foreign countries, they would carry you on their shoulders; just try going to Paris and London sometime.”

Conversation Book 35, 1r-4v.

Beethoven writes an undated letter to unpaid assistant Anton Schindler about today or tomorrow, addressing him as Signore Papageno, in reference to his endless chattering. He asks Schindler to take two packages from the Old Woman, housekeeper Barbara Holzmann. He is pleased to announce that today he received the 40 ducats from Dresden for the score to Fidelio, so he is in a good mood.

One of the packages is for Prince Nikolai Galitzin in St. Petersburg, so it probably contains the scores to piano sonata op.111 and the Diabelli Variations. Beethoven had already received half a dozen complimentary copies for presentation and Galitzin for his generosity would be a natural beneficiary. If there is someone at the embassy who can get it to him directly, that would be best; otherwise it will have to wait for the mail coach on Tuesday. Schindler was in fact able to take Galitzin’s parcel to the Russian Embassy in Vienna, and it was forwarded through the diplomatic channels as Beethoven had hoped.

Brandenburg Letter 1679, Anderson Letter 1196. The original letter is in the Berlin Staatsbibliothek (aut. 36,58).