BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Thursday, August 7, 1823

Beethoven walks into the City to run errands today and collect the suitcases and clothes for the impending move to Baden. The walk is several hours; if he visits Frau Josepha Schlemmer to pay his respects that will add an additional half hour or so of walking time, according to Conversation Book editor Theodore Albrecht. He will stay several days, looking for apartments in the City.

In the mid-afternoon, Nephew Karl drops by Beethoven’s apartment. He mostly wears his nankeen vest. The striped ones hold their colors, while others don’t. But the dark ones don’t get dirty.

Unpaid assistant Anton Schindler stops by around 3 p.m. He gives Beethoven the address of a painter, perhaps Ferdinand Waldmüller still begging for another hour sitting so he can finish the portrait of Beethoven he began some months ago. Schindler would have come to dinner, but it was raining too much. He has just come from the Theater in der Josephstadt (presumably from rehearsals), and sends greetings from Karl Mayer, one of the founders ot the theater, and Peter Gläser, who was a trumpeter and a part-time copyist there.

Schindler notes that he see Ferdinand Ries’ Fourth Piano Concerto was just published. [An advertisement for the Concerto, op.115, from Sauer & Leidesdorf appeared in yesterday’s Wiener Zeitung at 732.]

Schindler was going to go see Frau Schlemmer today, but when he found out she was coming to visit Beethoven he decided not to do so. Peter Gläser offered his services as copyist in place of the deceased Wenzel Schlemmer. Gläser wanted to come personally, but Schindler thought it best if he relayed the request. “I believe that he is musical enough, but they must be somewhat more delicate with their copying, because all of these theater copyists – and that includes Gläser – are used to scribbling. I have all esteem for old Gläser, only his copying itself is often too poor for the theater. Otherwise, he is a man of great honesty.”

Schindler says that he has evenings free today and tomorrow. He will use that time to visit the Stockhammer family in Purkersdorf. He is quite ill with high blood pressure and if the doctor had not been called, he might have suffered a stroke.

And then, something happens. It’s not clear what, but at some point in the next few days Beethoven becomes furious at Schindler and abruptly cuts him out of his circle completely. Nothing is indicated in the Conversation Books as to what produced this rupture. Editor Theodore Albrecht suggests that it may have been triggered by Schindler talking to Gläser about replacing Schlemmer as the copyist for the Missa Solemnis, when Beethoven was already intending to have the work done through Frau Schlemmer. Prof. Barry Cooper suggests that it may have been due to Schindler being generally unreliable and deceitful. In letters and conversation books over the summer, Beethoven variously refers to Schindler as low-minded, contemptible, evil, predisposed to intrigues, and a wretched arch-scoundrel. There is also later reference to Schindler having asked to be paid for the apartment-hunting trip to Baden a few days ago, which may have set Beethoven off.

When exactly the break between Beethoven and Schindler occurred is also unclear, but it seems to have occurred very shortly after these entries. The next two days are spent apartment hunting in Vienna with Karl, and Schindler does not appear at all, which regular readers will recognize as highly unusual. On August 10th Karl is rather blunt in his written comments about Schindler and his intrigues, which suggests he felt safe saying so and that he did not expect Schindler to see his remarks. When Beethoven writes to his brother Johann on August 19th from Baden, he says he wants nothing to do with Schindler, so Schindler’s termination is definitely before that date, and likely between today and the 10th.

The schism seems to last about three months. The next time Schindler genuinely reappears in the Conversation Books is not until about November 21, 1823, though he does insert fraudulent entries after Beethoven’s death to make it appear like there was no falling-out between the two. The conversation books for most of October 1823 are missing, and they may have shed more light upon this mystery. Karl will take over as Uncle Ludwig’s unpaid assistant until at least then, though not without some fireworks.

After Schindler leaves, Beethoven notes down a few currency figures, and notes that the customs fee at Neudorf, about 7 miles north of Baden, is 4 kr. C.M.