BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Thursday, February 26, 1824

Ludwig and Nephew Karl join Ignaz Schuppanzigh at the same restaurant as they had arranged yesterday afternoon. Schuppanzigh mentions that he recently took part in a performance of Der Freischütz, but the orchestra played disgracefully. [This remark confirms a review of the Kärntnertor Theater’s January 25th concert, found in the Leipzig Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung Nr.8 of February 19, 1824, at 121-122. This comment may have raised questions in Beethoven’s mind as to whether the Kärntnertor’s orchestra was up to the substantial demands made by his Mass and new symphony. As usual, Schuppanzigh addresses Beethoven in the third person, which is silently changed here for clarity.]

Schuppanzigh asks how things are looking for Beethoven’s Akademie benefit concert. Beethoven says that not much can be done currently because of Lent coming up soon. Schuppanzigh tells him it’s getting late, and Lent doesn’t last long. [It will begin on March 3, ending with Easter on April 18, 1824.] Three sections of the Missa Solemnis are projected to be given. Schuppanzigh says there should be no piano piece; there is no pianist here in Vienna. [He apparently is unaware that Beethoven has already invited Carl Czerny to perform the Emperor Concerto at the concert. Since Czerny rarely played publicly any more, Schuppanzigh is probably to be forgiven for not considering him a pianist.]

Schuppanzigh thinks that Beethoven should have Ferdinand Piringer [conductor of the Concerts spirituels] select and take charge of the best instrumental dilettantes, while Sonnleithner can handle the choral singers, and Joseph Blahetka can handle the announcements and flyers. Beethoven asked why Blahetka would be involved, and Schuppanzigh says he offered to do it. [This outline is nearly identical to that written by Sonnleithner yesterday and crossed out when he realized Beethoven had not yet received the Petition. It also indicates that Schuppanzigh, though not a signer of the Petition, was well aware of the actions of the group behind it and was working with them. Beethoven must have been quite confused by all this sudden interest in his Akademie concert.] Schuppanzigh also suggests some vocalists. But young Leopold Sonnleithner has all the singing dilettantes under his command, and he understands their capabilities well. Schuppanzigh closes by suggesting Beethoven should approach manager Louis Duport and ask again as to whether he can find a place for Schuppanzigh in the orchestra at the Imperial theater. He then departs, leaving Ludwig and Karl behind.

Beethoven makes a note that he needs shoe wax and letter paper.

Uncle Ludwig wonders whether his nephew might be able to translate Schiller’s poem An die Freude into English, for use in the Ninth Symphony by the London Philharmonic Society. Karl mentions that he was diligent in French and can understand any book in French, and even write it well. But to compose poetry demands a fluency similar to a mother tongue. And in English he is only a beginner. But Schiller has already been translated into English, so it should not be difficult to adapt the translation of the choral Finale.

Since Uncle Ludwig looks like he is finished eating, Karl has the bill made out right now, and will take care of it. With a 10 florin payment, with the meal at a price of 4 florins 22 kreutzers, he computes that the change will be 5 fl.38.

Ludwig, thinking about his plan to leave his precious bank shares to Karl on his death, suddenly realizes that inheritance taxes are due on bank shares from the time the testator acquired them. “O Misery!”

The pair makes their way to Frau Schlemmer’s copyist shop in the Kohlmarkt in the late morning or early afternoon. Karl asks his uncle how many copyists are working here, and where she will set up permanent shop.

Unpaid assistant Anton Schindler joins Beethoven, as Karl goes on his way. Schindler walks with Ludwig back to his apartment. He has gossip about Brother Johann and his wife Therese. The police were notified about the business with Therese, and if he is smart and follows advice, he can rescue a capital of 50,000 florins C.M., without costing him much. “It is happening in the greatest silence and circumspection.” Johann now sees for himself how much he has wronged Ludwig and himself. There is only one witness needed, but they need to be in a position to give evidence officially. One must now come to Johann’s aid, because he’s really serious about it, or else Schindler never would have gotten mixed up in it. But Johann needs to keep his mouth shut and speak nowhere about it, because that will spoil everything. She is citing the marriage contract, where he pledged half of the entire property that exists to her. [What scheme exactly Schindler and Johann have come up with to deprive Therese of her half of their estate is unclear, but in the end nothing comes of it.]

Looking over Ludwig’s bookshelves, Schindler would really like to read through the Mythologie by Moritz again, and asks if he can borrow it. He appears to make himself comfortable, eating a roll and reading, while Beethoven interviews a housekeeper applicant, Katharina Kummer. She is the widow of a tavern keeper. She has heard by word of mouth that Beethoven needs a housekeeper. Kummer writes reasonably well. Beethoven gets her address, and makes an appointment to meet with her at 5:30 on Friday evening, presumably so Karl can join them.

After Schindler departs, Beethoven makes a note that he needs small candles, which the domestic help had been requesting, but which he doesn’t seem to have purchased yet.

Nephew Karl joins his uncle this evening either at the apartment or at a coffee house. He gets filled in on Schindler’s proposed action with Johann and Therese, and [correctly] says not much will come from it. He seriously doubts the truth of the tale. He mentions Schindler has also asked him for Moritz’s Mythology.

The old woman [housekeeper Barbara Holzmann] asked Karl to tell Uncle Ludwig that Schindler ate a roll, so he wouldn’t think she had paid too much for the rolls. Uncle Ludwig is slightly annoyed that she is making a point over something so small. She meant it well, but she knows that Uncle Ludwig notices immediately when she gets charged too much, so she wanted to make sure Ludwig understood what happened.

Finding part of the last page of today’s entries blank, Schindler years later filled it with a forged explanation of eating the roll and offering to pay for it.

Conversation Book 57, 4v-10v.

The Petition to Beethoven, first page, courtesy Berlin Staatsbibliothek (aut.35,21).

At some point today, the mysterious visitor from yesterday drops off the Petition with Beethoven, but the person delivering it does not write in the conversation book, so perhaps he let the Petition speak for itself once he had personally delivered it. Schindler in his biography of Beethoven claims he was at Beethoven’s apartment when it was delivered just after the noon meal. While he might have been, he left no indication in the conversation book of that occurring, and we thus have to distrust his claims, as usual. Schindler definitely did not read it at this time, since he first does so on March 8th.

The Petition is quite lengthy and full of flowery and glowing language. It’s far too long to quote in full here, but this sample (trans. Albrecht) will suffice:

“Do not withhold any longer from the popular enjoyment, do not keep any longer from the oppressed sense of that which is great and perfect, the performance of the latest masterworks of your hand. We know that a grand sacred composition [the Missa Solemnis] has joined the first one [the Mass in C, op.86] in which you immortalized the emotions of a soul, penetrated and transfigured by the power of faith and superterrestrial light. We know that a new flower grows in the garland of your glorious, still unequaled symphonies [the Ninth]. For years, ever since the thunders of the Victory at Vittoria [op.91] ceased to reverberate, we have waited and hoped to see you distribute new gifts from the fullness of your riches to the circle of your friends. Do not disappoint the general expectations any longer! Heighten the effect of your newest creations by giving us the joy of becoming first acquainted with them through you yourself! Do not allow these, your latest offspring, to appear some day, perhaps as foreigners in their place of birth, perhaps introduced by persons who are also strangers to you and your spirit! Appear soon among your friends, your admirers, your venerators! This is our first and foremost prayer.”

Brandenburg Letter 1784; Albrecht Letter 344. The document continues on in this syrupy vein for three pages, and is signed by 30 admirers of Beethoven and music lovers. Oddly, with the exception of Czerny and Anton Halm, there are hardly any professional musicians on the list. The original is found at the Berlin Staatsbibliothek (aut.35,21). The handwriting has not been identified with certainty; Sieghard Brandenburg suggested it was probably written by J.J. Stainer von Felsburgs; Theodore Albrecht believes it most closely resembles the hand of Leopold Sonnleithner. The Petition was, as has been noted, probably unnecessary, since Beethoven was already planning to present the Missa Solemnis and Ninth Symphony at one or two Akademie benefit concerts in Vienna for himself, after Lent was over. However, it probably did not hurt in getting him to become more proactive about holding these concerts and making them a reality instead of letting them percolate as his usual vague pipe dreams.