BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Sunday, March 7, 1824

As noted yesterday, Conversation Book 58 is briefly used and then the conversations go back to Conversation Book 57 tomorrow. This book is comprised of only five leaves, making it hardly a book at all and more like a short pamphlet. Beethoven likely started a fresh book because of the important meeting he was having regarding the Akademie concert at the Stern restaurant, across from St. Stephan’s Cathedral. Previous descriptions of this meeting have given the date as Tuesday, March 9, but editor Theodore Albrecht suggests today is a more likely date, based on the pacing of the entries, Beethoven’s known daily habits and the fact at least six individuals, some of whom had busy lives, would be more likely to all be available on a Sunday afternoon than a weekday.

Beethoven arrives at 1 p.m. meets with violinist Ignaz Schuppanzigh, patron Count Moritz Lichnowsky, violinist Joseph Böhm (1795-1876), violinist Karl Holz (1799-1858) [both Böhm and Holz appear to be students of Schuppanzigh] and publisher Tobias Haslinger. Beethoven seems to be the last to arrive, since the others have already ordered and Schuppanzigh asks whether Beethoven would like red wine and beef. Beethoven is introduced to Böhm, who is sitting next to Lichnowsky. Schuppanzigh is next to Beethoven and does most of the writing for the group.

Schuppanzigh asks whether copyist Frau Schlemmer visited Beethoven yesterday. The answer is probably no, since she did not write in the conversation books.

For solo singers, Schuppanzigh suggests the baritone Forti, tenor Jäger, and soprano Therese Grünbaum.

The question again arises as to whether the score of the new symphony was already been copied. There will need to be 40 choral parts printed, ten for each voice. Haslinger thinks that the choral parts could be engraved more cheaply than having them copied by hand, since there are so many required.

Beethoven writes to Haslinger, so as not to be overheard, “Say nothing more about engraving the Mass; I am about to send it off.” [The last of the copied subscription copies of the Missa Solemnis had not yet gone out.]

In order to get a fair copy of the symphony, it will be best if the copyists work at Beethoven’s apartment so he can explain what is required and make corrections as they work. Ten copyists of the best sort will come the day after tomorrow. Will Beethoven also need to use his frequent copyist Wenzel Rampl to make out his writing for the fair copy? Beethoven thinks that would be best, so Schuppanzigh will go see him tomorrow. Beethoven mentions that Rampl is quite poor, and Schuppanzigh says that he looks poor as well.

Haslinger will issue a circular to the dilettantes who play stringed instruments in order to supplement the orchestra, but Beethoven will need to sign his name to it himself, in order to show that this undertaking is serious. Perhaps the parts should be lithographed. Haslinger could front the costs of that, and would not charge interest. [Beethoven was sensitive on this point, since he was furious at learning he would have to pay interest on his long-standing debt to the Steiner firm, where Haslinger worked.] But the vocal parts first need to be copied out before they can be lithographed.

For the symphony, they will need 6 first violin parts, 6 second violin parts, 4 viola parts, 5 violoncello parts [and also contrabasses], plus doubled winds [Editor Albrecht notes the term used is Harmonie, or 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 horns and 2 bassoons, and likely 2 first and second flutes as well, but not doubled trumpets and trombones. Even at this early stage, a larger-than-normal orchestra was being contemplated.]

Schuppanzigh introduces Karl Holz, who plays second violin in his Quartet. “Holz” meaning “wood” in German, Schuppanzigh makes the joke, “This is a wooden student of mine.” But Böhm was the more intelligent one, he says. [Karl Holz will later become important in our story as Beethoven’s unpaid assistant in 1825 and 1826. This may be their first meeting. Beethoven will continue to make the same pun on Holz’s name. Böhm, termed the “father of the Viennese school of violin playing,” from 1819 to 1848 serves as the professor of violin at the Vienna Conservatory, and will be teacher to Joseph Joachim among other illustrious pupils.]

Plans for the Akademie being set out, the meeting adjourns and Beethoven returns home.

Brother Johann and Nephew Karl attend the concert for the benefit of Ernest and Caroline Krähmer at the National Assembly Hall at 12:30 p.m. today, and thus were not at the planning meeting. Ernest played the czakan, a popular sort of walking stick/oboe, and Caroline played clarinet and violin. Therese Grünbaum, who had been mentioned as a possibility as a soloist for Beethoven’s Akademie, also sang. They return after the concert, probably around 2:30 p.m., likely not long after Ludwig arrives. Karl says that the participants were astonishingly enthusiastic about taking part in Beethoven’s Akademie. “It would be a shame if this would be in vain.” Both Krähmers volunteered to take part, as did others. Some waltzes were said to be by Tobias [Haslinger; the first-name-basis used here indicates Karl is quite familiar with Haslinger.]

Karl writes, probably for Johann who has looked back at the minutes of the organizational meeting in the conversation book, regarding the copying needed for the concert. The people at the concert suggested that the copying of the symphony be done by Benjamin Gebauer (c.1758-1846), who is described as “the best and most dependable.” Ludwig is resistant. [Although Gebauer, the principal copyist at the Theater an der Wien, had copied much of the Third Symphony, he had a difficult working relationship with Beethoven.] The symphony needs to be copied out in a fair copy at least one time. [A second fair copy will also be needed to send to the London Philharmonic Society, which had commissioned the work.] And only the choral parts are to be lithographed, he sees, so that will help. Ludwig complains that it will take too much time to proofread all of these copies. Johann shrugs that objection off, since Schuppanzigh can help do that work, if he has the score.

Ludwig asks who sang the vocal selections at today’s concert and Karl answers it was Grünbaum. Uncle Ludwig asks how she was, and Karl says the public doesn’t like her, though he doesn’t elaborate on why.

Karl is hungry, so he’s going to the Birne [the Golden Pear restaurant, about 5 minutes’ walk from Beethoven’s apartment] to get a capon, though he’d like a salad. The maid tries to get one for him. After Karl returns from the Birne, he notes that the maid was down by the house gate with her lover, who quickly left, and then the maid ran up. They had nothing but poulade [hen] at the Birne, so he got a salad without dressing.

Ludwig mentions violinist Joseph Böhm was at their planning meeting. Karl relates an anecdote that Böhm quarreled with Schuppanzigh’s cellist Linke, who said that if Böhm could play something, then Linke could certainly also play it.

Johann, kind of out of nowhere, mentions that he got his second apothecary’s shop “for free” with the help of a hand-written letter from the Emperor, and now it is worth 20,000 florins.

Ludwig asks whether Johann is still living together with his wife Therese. Johann answers that there is a difference between living together and being together. Ludwig asks how that works, and the response is Johann does what he wants, and he lets Therese do what she wants.

Conversation Book 58, 1r-4v.

Schuppanzigh probably goes to see Frau Schlemmer himself this afternoon or tomorrow morning, and learns that she is either unable or unwilling to copy the parts for the Akademie concert, which as of tomorrow will be only a month away, if matters go as planned. That is somewhat regrettable, since Frau Schlemmer’s copyists have been making the scores of the subscription copies of the Missa Solemnis, so they are already familiar with the very substantial work. That familiarity may be why Frau Schlemmer knows the work cannot possibly be done on the required timetable, with a symphony on top of it. Schuppanzigh turns to Plan B, and contacts copyist Paul Maschek, who agrees to take on the project.

Today’s concert by the Schuppanzigh Quartet, the fifth in its fourth subscription series, has on the program Haydn’s Erdödy Quartet Nr.6 in E-flat major [op.76/6, Hoboken III/80]; Mozart Quartet “Nro.2” in D minor [Quartet #15 K.421]; and Beethoven’s Rasoumovsky Quartet Nr.2 in E minor [op.59/2]. Vienna Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung Nr.12, March 27, 1824 at 45.

Rasoumovsky Quartet Nr. 2 op.59/2 is here played by the Alban Berg Quartet:

In Paris today, 12-year-old Franz Liszt has his greatest public success of his young career, when he plays Hummel’s B-minor Concerto and Czerny’s Variations for piano and orchestra at the Theater Italien. According to the account left by his father, Adam Liszt:

“This concert was a public triumph for my boy. From the moment he appeared, the applause was almost without end; after every “passage” there was enthusiasm and the liveliest expressions of astonishment. After every piece he was brought back two or three times and applauded. The gentlemen of the orchestra relentlessly tapped their bows on the backs of their basses, cellos, violas and violins, the brass players shouted themselves hoarse, and everyone was indescribably enchanted.”

The Parisian public cannot get enough of the boy. One reviewer is even convinced that the soul and spirit of Mozart have passed into the body of young Liszt. Alan Walker, Franz Liszt: The Virtuoso Years, 1811-1847, at 98-99.