BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Thursday, March 22, 1821 (approximately)

Beethoven’s assistant Franz Oliva and Oliva’s employer, wholesaler Joseph Biedermann, departed for Moscow on a three-month passport roughly three months ago. About this time, Biedermann returns to Vienna without Oliva, who remains behind in Russia. Although the Wiener Zeitung commonly reported travelers leaving Vienna or coming from abroad into the city, there is no mention there of their departure or Biedermann’s return.

It’s a shame that we don’t have any information about Beethoven’s reaction to Oliva failing to return. Was he angry? Did he feel abandoned? Or did he know in advance Oliva’s intent to overstay his passport? Unfortunately, unless the missing conversation books or some unknown letters turn up, we will not know.