BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Thursday, May 1, 1823

Brother Johann and Nephew Karl stop by today to visit Ludwig. Johann has to run some errands; Ludwig offers to come along but Johann says he doesn’t need a friend and he can straighten up things alone.

For midday dinner, Karl says he would like to eat radicchio. While dinner is being prepared, Uncle Ludwig dictates two letters. The first is a letter to Antonio Pacini in France. He begins in his rather inadequate French, but Karl objects, telling him to dictate in German, and Karl will write the letter in French.

Uncle Ludwig makes fun of Karl’s darkening chin hair. Karl embarrassedly says, “That is only soft facial hair.”

Ludwig complains about his sore nose, and Karl says he should use linen handkerchiefs, not silk ones. [Brother Johann has given the same advice, which Karl seems to be repeating.]

Johann returns to Beethoven’s apartment after running his errands and speaking to attorney Bach, and making inquiries about the apartment in Hetzendorf. Bach said that it would be necessary to speak to Baron Prónay, the owner, beforehand. Johann thought the baron was a very well-bred and pleasant man. Prónay said he had given Schindler a letter confirming the tenancy, and that he has instructed Countess Kemény to give Schindler the key immediately. She will not be renting the rooms downstairs, but if Ludwig wants them he can have them for an additional 20 florins. Bach was quite satisfied with this arrangement. Schindler will probably bring the key when he arrives this evening. Prónay says that Countess Blainville offered 300 florins for the apartment.

Hearing this, Ludwig feels he has overpaid for the apartment [he had agreed to pay 400 florins.] Johann says that in 1822 Ludwig paid 300 florins for a miserable attic apartment, and here he is getting a nice place. And then he paid a great deal to stay in Baden on top of that. The Baron has reserved a table in the garden by the palace, if Ludwig wants to use it. The emperor also visits the garden often.

Johann asks if there are letters ready for Paris and St. Petersburg. [This probably refers to the letter to Pacini that Karl just drafted, and that to Karl Lissner, which was probably drafted at the same time.]

Conversation Book 31, 30v-34v.

The letter to Pacini that Karl drafts in French from his uncle’s dictation is then copied over by Ludwig. It is dated May 5, but on May 3 Johann says that he has already mailed this letter on May 2, so that dating is wrong in several respects. Perhaps Beethoven sought to backdate it for some reason, in order to make it appear he was being more responsive to Pacini.

The letter says that brother Johann offered a Trio for sale. Ludwig had promised exclusive use of that Trio for ten months but that time has now expired and it can be sent. [The Trio WoO 28 for two oboes and English horns, written in 1797. The story about exclusive use is a fabrication to cover for the confusion caused by Ludwig and Johann selling the same works to various publishers.] In addition, Pacini can have the Diabelli Variations (which Beethoven calls a “great work,”) six piano bagatelles op.119/1-6, and the two songs Opferlied (Matthison) and Bundeslied (Goethe), in both piano versions and with accompaniment of various instruments. [Op.121b and op.122; the piano versions are catalogued separately as Hess 91 and 92, respectively.] For this group of works, Beethoven would charge 400 francs. According to the postmarks, Pacini received the letter on May 15th.

Brandenburg Letter 1646, Anderson Letter 1166. The original is in the Paris Bibliothèque Nationale.

The second letter (written in German) is to publisher Carl Lissner in St. Petersburg. He drops Ignaz Schuppanzigh’s name as having suggested Lissner would be the best publisher for Beethoven’s works in Russia. He offers the same six bagatelles for 20 ducats in gold, the Diabelli Variations for 30 ducats in gold and the two songs for 12 ducats. He asks for an immediate reply, since other publishers are interested.

Brandenburg Letter 1647, Anderson Letter 1177. This lettter is in the Austrian National Library in Vienna (7/2-19). Although both Anderson and Brandenburg list this letter as being dated on May 7, that seems likely to be a misreading of a sloppily written “May 1,” since Johann has the letter on May 3, and says that he is mailing it that day.

Today’s Wiener Zeitung at 402 repeats the advertisement by Sauer & Leidesdorf of Four German Poems, set to music by Beethoven, op.113. The publication was not authorized, and the opus number was not assigned by Beethoven. Although it has been suggested to Beethoven that he demand compensation from the publisher, it is unclear whether he ever took such steps.

The same page includes an announcement of Ignaz Schuppanzigh’s first public concert in Vienna in seven years on next Sunday, May 4th at noon, with tickets available at a cost of 5 florins W.W. from the music shops of Artaria, Steiner and Mechetti, as well as on the day of the concert. The announcement is repeated in tomorrow’s newspaper.