BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Thursday, January 8, 1824

Beethoven writes to Karl’s mother Johanna, in response to her New Year’s letter asking for financial assistance. He apologizes for not sending anything for New Year’s, but both he and Karl have been busy. But she should know that she has nothing but best wishes from them both.

So far as her request for financial assistance, Ludwig would like to help, but he has financial problems of his own with expenses and debts that have to be dealt with, and he is still waiting on certain payments he is due. He affirms that he will not try to take her half of the pension, which she will continue to receive. [Ludwig last year had toyed with the idea of renouncing his half of the pension in her favor, but was convinced not to do so by Karl and Brother Johann.] If he becomes wealthy enough to be able to contribute to her upkeep, he will certainly do so, but he reminds her of the 280 florins 25 kreutzers that she borrowed from music publisher Steiner. Ludwig is trying to repay that for her, nor is she being required to pay the five percent interest. He also points out that she received two months’ pension from Beethoven, paid through Schindler, and the next installment should be available on January 26th.

[Johanna is also being sued. This litigation may be related to the fact that Johanna has owed substantial money to Joseph Ecker (c.1773-1829) since 1818. Ecker allowed her to make interest-only payments, and had accepted an assignment of her pension and other income rights to him as collateral, but she seems not to have been making even those interest payments.] Ludwig says he will talk to his attorney Johann Baptist Bach to see whether anything can be done for her. Karl and Ludwig both wish her all the best.

Brandenburg Letter 1771, Anderson Letter 1257. The original is held by the Bonn Beethovenhaus as H.C. Bodmer Collection Br 16, and can be seen here:

Maria Szymanowska at the piano; portrait by Aleksander Kokular, c.1825.

Prominent Polish composer and virtuoso pianist Maria Szymanowska (1789-1831) gives a well-attended morning concert in Berlin today, playing the piano part in Beethoven’s Piano Quintet, op.16 (1797), according to a report in the Leipzig Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung for February 12 (Nr.7) at 107. Szymanowska was one of the first professional touring virtuoso pianists. She would die in the 1831 cholera epidemic in St. Petersburg.

In a review of her performance of the same Quintet in Weimar the preceding summer, the AMZ for Feb. 26, 1824 at 139-140 stated that she found enthusiastic admirers that considered her playing far above that of some more famous artists, “and found in her playing pretty much the highest possible that could be achieved by human power.”