BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Thursday, August 3, 1820

Beethoven writes from Mödling to Archduke Rudolph in Vienna, responding to the Archduke’s letter suggesting he would come to visit Ludwig. He thanks the Archduke for the attention, but, without saying as much, redirects Rudolph away from visiting his humble abode in the country. That self-invitation goes unanswered.

Beethoven instead says in response that he tried to arrange a visit to Vienna tomorrow to wait upon the Archduke, but no carriage is to be had. Beethoven will come instead on Saturday, August 5. He promises to call on Rudolph early in the morning that day, and says “My sole wish is that I may be able to contribute to the fulfillment of all that I.K.H. [Ihro Kaiserliche Hoheit, or Your Imperial Highness] desires of me.” Translation by Emily Anderson, Letter 1027; Brandenburg 1402. So it appears that Beethoven is willing to comply with the Archduke’s wishes for lessons, and possibly earn some additional much-needed money. As mentioned yesterday, whether Beethoven was in fact unaware of the Archduke’s return to Vienna, or was feigning ignorance to avoid offense, is uncertain.

The original letter is hidden in the clutches of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna, A 84/120.