BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Sunday, November 19, 1820

At the Concert spirituel of this afternoon, conductor Franz Xaver Gebauer conducts the Eighth Symphony of Beethoven, continuing his cycle of the symphonies that began in the previous season. Gebauer is doing his best to promote German music, and in particular Beethoven. Nevertheless, Beethoven enjoys punning on his name, several times referring to him as “Geh, Bauer!” (Go, peasant!)

Our Lady of the Assumption, Troppau/Opava.
Photo by Palickap, CC BY-SA 4.0

The Wiener Zeitung of 28 November reports that in Troppau, Archduke Rudolph, in his multiple roles as Cardinal and Archbishop of Olmütz, celebrates mass on this day in the main local parish church, Our Lady of the Assumption, [now a co-cathedral]. Present were the King and Crown Prince of Prussia. At noon there is a formal luncheon with not only the Austrian royals but also the Czar of Russia and the King of Prussia, as well as assorted princes, princesses and ministers.

The Troppau Protocol is adopted by the Congress of Troppau on this date. This declaration basically proposed that any state that changed government by revolution automatically ceases to be a member of the alliance. If there is immediate danger to another member as a result, then the alliance agrees to use peaceful means, or if necessary arms, to bring the state back into line.

[Beethoven’s dedication to freedom, the principles of Enlightenment and self-determination would almost certainly have been offended by this Protocol. We have seen him be sympathetic to the Neapolitans, their revolution and demands for a written constitution.]

[The Protocol was also unpopular in Britain, since there was concern it could permit the Russians to invade if they thought Ireland was being misgoverned. “Shall we see a horde of Cossacks encamped in Hyde Park?” asked one opposition MP.]

[Under authority of the Troppau Protocol, the Austrian army will crush the revolt in Naples in the spring of 1821, leading to increased political oppression and corruption in the administration of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.]

In the evening on this date, the royals in Troppau all attend the theater performance of The False Prima Donna in Krähwinkel, an 1818 opera by Ignaz Schuster (1779-1835). [Schuster would later write funeral music for Beethoven and serve as one of his pallbearers. In 1822, this opera, The False Prima Donna, will alternate with the revival of Beethoven’s Fidelio at the Josephstadt and Leopoldstadt theaters.] According to the newspaper, the royals were greeted by loud cheers from the crowd until the end of the performance.

The Prussians will return to Berlin on the 21st, arriving on the evening of the 25th, spending a day in Breslau. That distance is around 500 km., so the Germans will make very good time. However, the Austrian emperor, the Czar of Russia and Archduke Rudolph all still remain in Troppau for a while longer.

Our next update will be November 24.