BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Sunday, October 6, 1822

Berlin Staatsbibliothek Mus. ep. autogr. Beethoven 42., first page (Salutation by Beethoven, remainder in Nephew Karl’s handwriting.)

Beethoven dictates to nephew Karl a letter for brother Johann in Vienna today about various publishing matters. He notes that Steiner advertised the Chorus with March, op.114, yesterday (“pompeusement”), and suggests that Johann try to get Steiner to publish the entire score of Consecration of the House (the new Overture plus the reworked Ruins of Athens, op.113). There are still eight numbers Steiner does not have: the Overture and seven other numbers. They priced the overture at 30 ducats, and vocal pieces with instrumental accompaniment at 20 ducats each, so Ludwig suggests the full set should sell for 140 ducats total.

If Steiner wants King Stephan, op.117, there are twelve numbers in that work, which he would let them have for 155 ducats, using the same formula. The Consecration of the House is still being performed [tonight is the final performance at the Theater on the Josephstadt], so there would be parts available, but King Stephan is available only in full score. If they only want the first, then they can dispose of the other elsewhere.

As to the piano arrangement of the march, op.114, and other piano arrangements they intend to publish, he will correct them at once and return them with all possible speed.

Johann may tell Steiner that the old overture for Ruins of Athens [which Steiner had bought in 1815] had to be scrapped, because in Hungary this work was given at the end of a program as an epilogue, and here the evening was to open with the composition. They can still sell the old overture everywhere separately. The score and everything else can be copied in three days’ time, but they need to give a definite reply soon.

Beethoven sends Johann the full price list [apparently the same price list that had been used in suggesting prices to C.F. Peters], but asks him to keep it safe and return it when he visits. Some of the prices are quoted quite advantageously. In a postscript, Ludwig asks Johann to think over carefully the question of taking on the Mass himself, because they need to reply to Simrock. He does not want Johann to be to any extent the loser in the transaction. [Johann had asked for the Mass to be given as security for his loan of 200 gulden in August. Ludwig of course was highly reluctant to give up his big bargaining chip.]

Brandenburg Letter 1505; Anderson Letter 1103. The original is held in the Berlin Staatsbibliothek as Mus. ep. autogr. Beethoven 42. The first page of the letter is reproduced here.

Also at noon today, Franz Pechatschek, first violinist and concertmaster of the royal Wurttemberg court orchestra, gives a concert in the Landständischer Saale in Vienna. Among the numbers on the program is a work by Beethoven’s former pupil, Ferdinand Ries, Swedish Folk Songs with Variations [op.52] for piano, performed by Leopoldine Blahetka. “This aspiring young artist is advancing in the arts and will soon rise to become a public favorite. If there is anything to complain about in her playing it is only the too frequent changes of tempo during the performance of the piece, to which we draw her attention. She was greatly applauded. The composition is very nice, just far too long.” Vienna Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung Nr.83, October 16, 1822, cols.663-664.

[Modern recordings of this set of variations run about 15 minutes, so one wonders what the critic will think of Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations op.120 when they emerge next year. Leopoldine Blahetka (1809-1885), just 12 years of age at the time of this concert, did indeed have a long and successful career as a concert pianist and composer. Beethoven had heard her play in 1815 when she was aged five. He recognized her talent, gave her a few lessons, and arranged for Joseph Czerny, Karl’s piano teacher, to give her additional training. She took Vienna by storm in 1820 when she played Beethoven’s 2nd piano concerto in B-flat on April 3, 1820, at the age of ten.]

The Vienna Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung for November 16, Nr. 92 at column 733 mentions that in Leipzig the inaugural concert of the season opened with Beethoven’s Second Symphony in D major, “which was executed quite bravely, only throughout the whole thing the long pauses were too widely extended.”

The finale of that concert was Beethoven’s composition Meeresstille und glückliche Fahrt, on two poems by Goethe, which had only recently been published though written nearly a decade earlier. The reviewer (identified only as “B…..r”) was at a loss for words: “Since this highly original composition demands not only the greatest attention of the listener as well as the most precise execution, perhaps I will talk about it later.”

Meeresstille und glückliche Fahrt is here presented in a thrilling live performance in 1996 by John Eliot Gardiner at Avery Fisher Hall, with the Monteverdi Choir and soloists Luba Orgonasova, Anne Sofie von Otter, Michael Schade, and Franaz Hawlata: