BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Thursday, May 11, 1820

Front Gate of the Christof, by Karl Gruber, licensed under CC BY 2.0

Front Gate of the Christof, by Karl Gruber, licensed under CC BY 2.0

Beethoven has arrived at his summer place, the garden house of the Christhof in Mödling, which was then a little village of about 300 buildings, and is now an industrial exurb. He had considered purchasing the place, which was a former ecclesiastical house (hence the name), in the fall of 1819. Instead, Johann Speer outbid Beethoven, and was now his landlord for the first floor (second floor American) apartment.

Beethoven had summered in Mödling at the Hafner house the previous two years, but the proprietor served notice on him that he could no longer have it on account of the “noisy disturbances” that occurred there. Beethoven was not a good neighbor.

While in Mödling, Beethoven primarily worked on the Missa Solemnis, which was supposed to be for the Archduke Rudolph’s installation as Archbishop of Olmütz back in March, but was still not very far along at all. Beethoven made a few preliminary sketches for the piano sonata nr. 30, op. 109, amongst the work for the Mass. He also took the local baths for relaxation.

Unfortunately, the next conversation book in the series is lost. The editor of the English translation of the conversation books, Ted Albrecht, suggests that about November 1, 1822, when Beethoven was moving from his summer residence in Baden to Vienna, the trunk with this book, as well as most of them for 1818 and all of them for 1819, may have fallen off the wagon. Beethoven writes in July 1823 that “an unfortunate accident robbed me of a considerable portion of my papers.”

Front of the Christhof. By Viennpixelart - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Front of the Christhof By Viennpixelart, CC BY-SA 4.0

Rear of the Christof

Rear of the Christof

Inside of the Christof. By Karl Gruber - Own work, CC BY 3.0,

Inside of the Christof by Karl Gruber, CC BY 3.0

The thread will thus resume fully in early June, when the next surviving conversation book picks up. However, as there are dates in the remainder of May where we know what Beethoven was doing, I’ll add them. So see you all then.

Attached are some photos of Beethoven’s residence in Mödling for the next five or so months, at Babengergasse 16 (now Achsenaugasse 2-6).