BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Tuesday, April 20, 1824

The drudgery of proofreading the parts for the Ninth Symphony for the upcoming Akademie benefit concert continues this morning. Sometime in the last few days, Beethoven’s plans for the location of the concert have changed once again, possibly because he is still irritated that the Theater an der Wien would not change its planned play opening to accommodate his schedule. Beethoven now plans to have it at the Kärntnertor Theater instead. He has sent unpaid assistant Anton Schindler to Kärntnertor Theater manager Louis Duport to state the necessary conditions to hold the concert there instead.

[While the Kärntnertor Theater’s capacity of around 1,800 was a few hundred smaller than that of the Theater an der Wien, Beethoven surely was attracted by the fact that the Kärntnertor had connections to the imperial court. It had also served as the site of the first performance of Beethoven’s Horn Sonata, op.17, in 1800; the first public performance of the Emperor Concerto, op.73, in 1812; and the premiere of the revised version of Fidelio, op.72., in 1814; so Beethoven had a personal connection to the theater.]

Nephew Karl is at Uncle Ludwig’s apartment early this morning. He cannot come back until after his lectures at the University let out at 1 p.m. So he will eat in the City. Then on Sunday, they can go out together again. This afternoon, at 2 o’clock, Karl will be seeing the old woman, former housekeeper Barbara Holzmann.

Uncle Ludwig would like the laundry done soon, but Karl thinks it would be better to wait until next Monday, since Sunday comes in between. Uncle Ludwig will have a couple shirts available already on Tuesday.

Unpaid assistant Anton Schindler comes mid-morning and reports that copyist Peter Gläser has nothing more to do until tomorrow. [This is a sure sign that Beethoven’s proofreading of the parts done by Gläser is proceeding just as slowly as his proofreading of the parts done by Paul Maschek in March.]

The chorus for the concert will total between 80 and 90 voices. Beethoven is pleased by the grand scale. Schindler notes that at least at the Kärntnertor Theater, their chorus is usually 16 or 17 per part, with 32 for the high voices, including the boys, and 34 for the men’s voices. Schindler departs to go talk to Count Palffy about the tentative switch from the Theater an der Wien to the Kärntnertor.

It is likely here that Beethoven writes a short, undated note to Schindler, after a few hours: “I waited for you until half past one, but since the caput confusum [probably a reference to the Akademie concert] is not progressing, and I do not know what will happen, I will go on to meet Karl at the University and take him to the Prater, so that Karl is able to eat. You will find us at the Mann [the gasthaus Zum wilden Mann, at Prater Nr. 48.]”

Brandenburg Letter 1745, Anderson Letter 1363. The original is held by the Berlin Staatsbibliothek (aut.36,4.) This letter seems to fit today from the context, since the Akademie is up in the air on several counts, and Beethoven meets Karl at the University and they go for mid-day dinner, and Schindler eventually catches up with them.

Before dinner, Karl runs into Schindler, who says he will meet them at the restaurant. Karl and Ludwig discuss the plans for summer while they wait, but Schindler never shows up. They have something for him, but one of them can give it to him later. Karl said they would wait for him here.

Schindler later joins them, probably back at Beethoven’s apartment, having run quite a few errands for Beethoven and finding out more information about the projected Akademie concert. The tenors in the Kärntnertor chorus are rather weak, so they should probably be reinforced by 3 or 4 from the Musikverein chorus. But that should be all that’s needed.

So far, Schindler found the story to be sad and frustrating, but now it starts to get interesting. If the time were not so pressing, Beethoven would have been laughing at the pettiness of both Count Palffy, who owns and manages the Theater an der Wien, and Louis Duport. Duport has agreed to all of the conditions required by Beethoven, but hopes that someone else will report that to Palffy. So Schindler went to Palffy to inform him and immediately heard him lament about the change in plans. Palffy would rather lose the 1,000 florins Beethoven had promised him than lose the honor of hosting this Akademie concert in his theater. So this evening, Palffy will go to Duport and will plead with him to give in and let the concert be held at the Theater an der Wien.

Beethoven asks when the amusing part is coming. Schindler tells him that it follows. Now, there were the greatest obstacles for Schuppanzigh to be concertmaster for the concert at the Theater an der Wien. Franz Clement, the concertmaster there, doesn’t have a problem with Schuppanzigh having that honor for Beethoven’s Akademie, but the orchestra is on Clement’s side and they refused to play under Schuppanzigh. Palffy is dismayed about this, because even if he orders the orchestra to play with Schuppanzigh as concertmaster, he can’t guarantee that they won’t inflict various intrigues and petty tricks on him. That problem does not exist at the Kärntnertor, since Duport is wholly in favor of it.

[A page may be missing here since the amusing part of Schindler’s story still seems to be missing; this conversation book should have 32 leaves but only has 31.]

If Palffy still wants, as he did earlier today, to give the concertmaster honor to Clement rather than Schuppanzigh, then Schindler is entirely in favor of moving the concert to the Kärntnertor, since it would be impossible to stop the intrigues of Palffy’s orchestra. Schindler then comments that his legal know-how should be trusted. [He had worked as a clerk for Beethoven’s attorney Johann Baptist Bach for several years, which apparently in Schindler’s mind qualified him as a legal expert.] So, in an hour Schindler will go to Duport and let him know that they will take him up on his offer. He has already agreed to a repeat of the Akademie if the first one is successful.

Beethoven asks when Schindler first found out about the problems with Palffy’s orchestra, because this is the first he’s being informed about it. Schindler learned about the orchestra’s conspiracy several days ago, but didn’t want to say anything until he was certain. And today he heard about it directly from several members of the an der Wien orchestra.

Conversation Book 62, 28r-31v. This concludes Conversation Book 62. There is a gap of a couple days, and Conversation Book 63 picks up again on April 23.

Kärntnertor Theater manager Louis Antoine Duport writes a letter to Beethoven today, announcing that at Beethoven’s request he has been in contact with Domenico Barbaja, who has the lease on the theater and operates the Court Opera. Barbaja is in Naples presently. He says that he very much hopes to receive a new opera composed by Beethoven, and waits only for Beethoven to give a definite response in connection with the cost and the time. This offer is contingent on Barbaja keeping the lease of the Theater beyond December 1, 1824.

Brandenburg Letter 1816; Albrecht Letter 358. The original is held by the Berlin Staatsbibliothek, aut.35,47. Barbaja’s lease was extended to March, 1825, and he later held the rights from 1826 to 1828. The opera referenced is the projected Melusine, the libretto for which, by Franz Grillparzer, had been in Duport’s hands for some time now. Considering that Beethoven seems to have approached Duport about getting confirmation from Barbaja that they would buy the opera, he was still planning to write it, although nothing would ever come of this idea.