BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Thursday, April 3, 1823

On his way to Beethoven’s apartment on visitation day, nephew Karl runs into housekeeper Barbara Holzmann, who tearfully complains that uncle Ludwig is accusing her unjustly and failing to understand her. Karl joins his uncle, incensed at the “old woman’s” treatment, and they quickly get into a fight.

Ludwig complains about how she mends his shirts, and Karl replies that she still mends very well. He wanted them quickly so they may not have been up to her usual standard. She did the laundry on the day that Ludwig instructed her, so it’s not clear what he is so angry about, and why he is taking it out on her. It’s affecting Karl personally: “I can’t remember having laughed.” Holzmann did the wash when she understood him to want it, but if she didn’t understand properly, whose fault is that? Karl needs to get this out of his system; he is treating her so unjustly. “It would be poison if I were to eat when so upset.”

There is a ring at the door. Karl goes to answer it, and finds it is a woman who wants to work as a cook, not as a kitchen maid. She is still working elsewhere, but can bring testimonial letters, and will be able to start a week from Thursday. Karl leaves without having dinner and goes back to Blöchlinger’s. Upset by this row with his nephew, Ludwig apparently does not leave his apartment for the next two days. There are no conversation book entries for this period. He does seem to work intensely on the first movement of the Ninth Symphony.

The Leipzig Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung for June 4, 1823 (Nr. 23) at col. 357 mentions that at the Provincial Hall at noon there was a declamatory/musical entertainment by imperial court actors Heinrich and Emilie Anschütz, which opened with a performance of Beethoven’s Overture to the Creatures of Prometheus, op.43.

Leonard Bernstein here conducts the Vienna Philharmonic in a performance of this overture: