BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Thursday, December 11, 1823

Nephew Karl visits during the day, appalled at what he has just seen in the back. “If we were to see everything that transpires in the kitchen, we would often lose our hunger.”

He works on the housekeeper advertisement again, adding to this draft that the woman must be “of moral character.” Karl will be going into the City and when he returns he will bring two boxes of tooth powder. Karl and Uncle Ludwig discuss whether it is better to say that the woman is “pensioned,” or as Karl thinks, “who draws a pension.” [Since technically it would be her husband’s pension.] Karl leaves by 12:30, heading for the Wiener Zeitung to place the ad. He arrives there around 1 p.m.

While Karl is gone, Beethoven has several visitors. The first is Frau Maria Theresia Halm, who describes herself as a “fellow countrywoman.” She asks Beethoven to visit her and her husband, the composer Anton Halm, whom Beethoven was friendly with. She stopped by Nikolaus Zmeskall’s house [Beethoven’s longtime friend and supporter Zmeskall was by now incapacitated with gout] and he sends his best greetings.

Shortly afterwards, Anton Schindler comes to Beethoven’s apartment. Ludwig complains about Karl’s lack of initiative; Schindler responds that Karl doesn’t trust himself to act independently without checking with Uncle Ludwig beforehand. But he should learn to do so. He may have to learn practical matters the hard way, just as Ludwig did the first time. Schindler thinks it would be best to turn over the entire management of the household to Karl, but Ludwig protests he is too busy with classes and schoolwork.

Schindler is unimpressed by the quality of education at the University. “Young people learn absolutely nothing there, because everything there is handled in a scholastic way. I know this from those who have studied with me.” Beethoven observes Karl is having trouble with Physics, and Schindler warns that the second year of Physics is even harder. But the fact they palm off Franz Karpe’s philosophy book as a textbook “is a blemish on the state of our schools.”

Schindler knows a possible cook, and will go to her tomorrow morning and send her to Beethoven.

He says that Moscheles confirms that the Accademie in Amsterdam still exists, and they could send him a copy of the diploma they had given him in 1809, which would be another selling point for the upcoming benefit concert if it and the recent honor from the Royal Swedish Academy could be noted in the advertisements. He’ll talk to the Dutch embassy for Beethoven today.

Beethoven asks when Moscheles’ concert will be, and Schindler says it is Monday, December 15th. Beethoven tells him that Moscheles will be playing his Broadwood piano at the concert. Schindler is aware of this, having talked to Moscheles, and responds, “Your instrument is so state-of-the-art that it will be epoch-making in the highest. It will be a true joy to hear Moscheles play on it. It has been strung entirely with new Berlin strings, and Beethoven will be convinced by the way it now sounds. Beethoven is skeptical, but Schindler insists that all English pianos will be strung with Berlin strings. While the importation costs horribly much, they will last 10 times longer than Viennese strings. Moscheles would like to know where Beethoven would like to sit at the concert. [Schindler had anticipated Beethoven’s wishes for where he would sit, but in the end Beethoven does not appear to attend at all. Schindler later adds some falsified entries about rehearsals for the concert.]

Tomorrow they will be presenting Beethoven’s Symphony in D [Nr.2. That symphony was played at the Gesellschaft der Musikfruende on Sunday December 14, but Schindler may be referring to a possible inclusion of the first movement as intermission music at a performance at the Theater in the Josephstadt, where the play Das Gespenst in Kr√§hwinkel was on the schedule for tomorrow.]

Schindler leaves, and Karl returns a little later (before 4 p.m.) He visited the Wiener Zeitung about placing the ad for a housekeeper, but was informed that first they need the Imprimatur of the High Police. So he went to visit them, and they said Uncle Ludwig must first personally sign his name to it. Then they will approve the ad.

The current housekeeper [a temporary fill-in] “is horribly impertinent.” Ludwig asks what he means by this, and Karl says she gives a lot of lip about everything, even if she is not spoken to. When they took the maid to task earlier today, the housekeeper told them to stop scolding her.

They then talk about the maid who left them because she got pregnant. “She still always cries about the flat-iron.” She doesn’t know what happened to it, and she says it wasn’t taken while she was there. She seems afraid [apparently both of Beethoven and her situation.] She may have to go back to work, since if the child lives she will have to feed it. Karl mocks her writing to her lover about education.

Karl wants to write out another advertisement for the housekeeper to be taken for approval right away tomorrow.

Karl tells of a prank in class. “During the lecture, a firecracker exploded with a powerful bang. These are balls filled with powder; which someone places on the ground, so that if someone steps on them, the bang results. This was in the afternoon in the History professor’s class. The same thing happened in the morning in Stein’s class [Latin and Greek].” Uncle Ludwig asks if the culprit was caught. “All investigation is in vain, for how is one to discover the perpetrator? Then the History professor gave them a talking to, in which, among other things, he said that the perpetrator’s wouldn’t receive any prize for having treated a 70-year-old man in such a way.”

Uncle Ludwig apparently agrees and is not pleased with such goings-on instead of the learning he is paying for, and accuses Karl’s mother Johanna van Beethoven of being a bad influence on Karl. He denies it, saying he cannot prove that he has nothing to do with her; likewise, he cannot prove that he doesn’t even know her current address. “I don’t believe that I have given you occasion to believe this through my behavior, all the moreso since you know how we spoke about this matter long ago and also – thank God! – agreed upon it.”

Karl changes the subject, saying he brought the tooth powder he was assigned to buy. “It is not as strong, and also not nearly as expensive as the last kind, but I don’t know whether it will be the right kind for you.”

Karl mentions that one of the servants ran into the “old woman,” former housekeeper Barbara Holzmann. She said neither she nor any other person would be in Beethoven’s service for long, and he would soon run her off again.

Conversation Book 48, 20r-29r.

Cappi & Diabelli puts forward an advertisement in today’s Wiener Zeitung at 1154 for the last three piano sonatas of Beethoven, op.109, 110 and 111. The supporting text states, “These three sonatas were reviewed with the greatest precision by the Author, and were recognized by him as the most correct edition.” This statement was not an exaggeration; Beethoven was not happy about the many errors in the first printings of these sonatas, and gave Diabelli extensive errata for producing better scores.

The same firm capitalizes on the popularity of Ignaz Moscheles’s series of concerts in Vienna, advertising on the same page numerous piano works by Moscheles, as well as his Grand Potpourri for piano and violin.