BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Thursday, January 1, 1824

Anton Schindler joins Beethoven and Nephew Karl for New Year’s Day dinner this afternoon. The principal topic of conversation is composer and pianist Friedrich Wilhelm Kalkbrenner (1784-1849), who arrived in Vienna on December 26. Kalkbrenner was described in the December 30 Wiener Zeitung Arrivals column as a “Rentierer,” or person of private means. Schindler opines that it is unthinkable that such a person would give a concert for his own benefit as Kalkbrenner plans. Schindler observes that Kalkbrenner bought himself an estate near Paris, so he certainly fits the description.

Soprano Henriette Sontag and alto Caroline Unger intend to visit Beethoven within the next few days; Schindler spoke to Unger earlier today, and “they are requesting your gracious ear.” Beethoven asked whether he made a call upon her, and Schindler says no, he only dropped off his New Year’s greeting card to Unger.

Another housekeeper applicant comes to the door, but Karl thinks she doesn’t appear to be anything special and shoos her away. There is a reference in the conversation book here to Saturday, so Karl may have told her to come back on Saturday, December 3.

Karl mentions that on the piano are a New Year’s card and a letter from his mother, Johanna. The card offers greetings and best wishes for the New Year. The letter describes Johanna’s financial situation and she asks for support, either directly, or by letting her have the half of her pension that Ludwig was awarded for Karl’s upkeep. [Brandenburg Letter 1770. The card and letter are themselves lost, but the fact they arrived today is known from Karl’s mention in the Conversation Book, and the contents can be discerned from Beethoven’s response on January 8th.]

Over dinner (which includes broth), Schindler points out that not many cooks also have to polish boots, suggesting that Beethoven may be expecting too much out of one housekeeper.

The Josephstadt Theater orchestra, of which Schindler is concertmaster, will be giving a benefit concert for a poor, sick member of the orchestra, at Krause’s Teaching Institute for Lutheran Boys. [Friedrich Krause had originally been in partnership with Joseph Blöchlinger, Karl’s former boarding school proprietor until this last summer, but they split up with Krause taking the Lutheran boys and Blöchlinger taking the Catholic ones, lest the two religions be mixed.]

Johann and his wife Therese briefly make an appearance at Ludwig’s apartment, but there is no documentation of the visit in the conversation book. Ludwig’s hearing may have been good enough to exchange New Year’s greetings without resorting to pencil and paper on this day. Or they may have taken Ludwig to visit Stephan von Bruening, as Ludwig had planned to do today, but used another (now lost) conversation book for this purpose.

Conversation Book 51, 14v-15v.

Page 4 of the Intelligenzblatt supplement to today’s Leipzig Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung Nr. 1 includes an advertisement from Nikolaus Simrock in Bonn for several works by Beethoven arranged (not by him) for piano four hands: The three String Trios op.9 arranged by C.D. Stegmann, and String Quartet op.59/1 in F.