BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Sunday, November 23, 1823

In the morning, Anton Schindler, still looking for a cook for Beethoven, comes by the apartment and says he will be going today to see the cook who used to work for Count Moritz Lichnowsky, who confirms she is very good. She has worked as a cook for 15 or 16 years, so she is experienced. Lichnowsky told Schindler that she makes everything well, and his only complaint was she makes too little of it.

Louis Antoine Duport of the Court Opera complained to Schindler that Beethoven doesn’t come visit him any more, and Schindler made the excuse that Beethoven’s apartment is too far away for regular visits to his theater.

In the evening, around 6 p.m., Nephew Karl makes an appearance. He has seen several concerts since he saw his uncle yesterday. One was a concert by pupils of the Conservatory at the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde. The other was Moscheles’ concert last night. He lets his uncle know that the concert opened with the first movement of his uncle’s Symphony in D [Nr. 2.] Karl was impressed with Moscheles’ fantasy on themes by Rossini and Weber, which Moscheles played from memory.

When Uncle Ludwig remarks on Karl’s description of the concert, Karl satirically says, “As you know, I have a great natural inclination to genius, and therefore, in connection with my erudition, it is easy for me to take delight in delighting people with interesting conversational exchanges.”

The topic turns to Beethoven’s former pupil Ferdinand Ries. His go-between with Beethoven, Franz Kirchoffer, told Karl his new concerto is very beautiful; his C-sharp minor concerto op.55 is said to be not bad. Kirchhoffer asked Karl whether he played billiards, and he said only that he knew the name. Karl reports Ries’s father, former Bonn concertmaster Franz Ries, is now in Godesberg, a spa town a few miles south of Bonn.

Karl now believes that the Imperial postal official Joseph Edler von Seidl was the author of the anonymous article about Beethoven and his nephew in the Allgemeine Theater-Zeitung last week. Seidl lives by St. Stephan’s. [In fact, it was written by Johann Chrysostomus Sporschil.]

Karl reports that his uncle’s old teacher Antonio Salieri attempted suicide by slitting his own throat, but he is still alive. Salieri didn’t know Haydn’s quartets, but only last year he had them played for him so he could become acquainted with them.

Karl reports that the maid came to him this evening and lamented she needs shoes but doesn’t have so much as a kreuzer in money. He asked how that happened, and she said the housekeeper took all her savings, 29 fl. 30 kr., and failed to pay her bread money twice. He addressed it with the housekeeper and she promises to pay the maid everything back tomorrow; they will see whether she keeps his word.

Karl suggests that a new housekeeper is probably in order after this. One could simply write a notice asking for “A housekeeper of moral character.” If one wanted to be more specific, you could say, “Housekeeper sought; she must be a widow, draw a pension, and possess a moral character.” Uncle Ludwig suggests “A widow as housekeeper, who has a little pension, or…”

Karl looks back through the conversation book and sees entries by Anton Schindler, to his surprise. He asks whether Schindler was here. Uncle Ludwig says yes, he’s trying to find them a cook. Karl thinks they can do without Schindler’s help: “Enough women will apply; we can surely choose the right one.”

Karl makes the linguistic observation that “Englishmen write “Beefsteake” and pronounce it “Bihfstähk;” Viennese write and say “Bifthek.”

Conversation Book 46, 15r-20v.

According to Moritz Lichnowsky, Beethoven’s Mass in C op.86 is performed today at the cloister church of the Augustinian order. As the German conversation book editors and Ted Albrecht note, at that church on May 7, 1820, this Mass had what was probably its first performance in a liturgical setting in Vienna, and it remains in its repertoire to the present day.