BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Tuesday, August 5, 1823

Probably today, Beethoven and unpaid assistant Anton Schindler depart Hetzendorf for Baden at about 5:30 a.m., looking for an apartment, and it is a very long day. They look at one that is fairly reasonable, but there are only two rooms, and it doesn’t become available for two weeks. Another is “very neglected,” and the landlord cannot say when it will be empty. Yet another has four rooms on the ground floor.

At some point they split up to better cover the ground more quickly, and meet up at a coffee shop. One place Schindler has found has 2 large rooms with a kitchen and it can be had in two weeks. The two others are only available at the end of the month. [The apartment with the 2 large rooms and the kitchen on the Rathausgasse appears to be the one Beethoven ends up renting.]

Schindler takes care of the coachman. The carriage driver also has attractive apartments available. There’a another apartment that can be split up, with two small rooms rented separately. In the Sauerhof lodgings, it is very expensive and there is nothing to eat.

Food is problematic in Baden; one can eat well in the casino. Since Schindler is an impoverished musician, he’s used to everything being bad. But everything is so much more expensive than in Vienna.

Beethoven notices a young woman and comments on her in the conversation book: “Ein prächtiger Popo seitwarts” (“A magnificent butt from the side.”) Schindler identifies her as “the daughter,” possibly of the coffeehouse proprietor Joseph Wirschmidt. She has been brought here for several summers, but hasn’t gotten a man.

At dinner, Schindler complains of the expense. He notes it is not venison season. He’ll eat half a pastry, if they’ll do that, though he’d like to have a portion of beef. The wine is rather strong.

They are joined at dinner by composer and author Johann August Eckschlager (b.1784), Kapellmeister of the Royal Municipal Theater in Pressburg (today Bratislava). [Beethoven, Karl and Schindler had at various times all remarked about Eckschlagers’s poor compositions and his pomposity, so he was probably not a very welcome guest.] He has to go see the wife of Archduke Karl about some songs with piano accompaniment he sent her. Their theater has been dead for the last year. He notes that it should be easy to find a place in Baden; this year it is fairly empty.

Schindler and Eckschlager talk about Kapellmeister Drechsler and his efforts to obtain a court organist position. Schindler remarks that he doesn’t like conducting. [Dreschler has been in Baden since mid-July.] Eckschlager says that the Baden theater is to be auctioned off in September. Hensler, who had managed the Theater in the Josephstadt in 1822, took it over but failed to open it in May as required in his contract. The mayor is angry, and it accomplishes nothing if 100 men are without bread because of such stupidity.

Eckschlager takes his leave. Schindler thinks it’s very far for Beethoven. Gutenbrunn, a village to the northwest would find nicer and friendlier quarters, and it is not so far. Only one room is available now, but the entire house would be available at the end of the month. At another place they check out the landlord is asleep and there is no one to show them the apartment. They also look at an apartment where Archduke Ferdinand, the crown prince, stayed earlier this year. Schindler questions whether they won’t visit attorney Johann Baptist Bach while they’re here in Baden. They look at another apartment, which is 2 rooms on the ground floor, without a kitchen.

There is one up the street from the coppersmith’s with four rooms and a kitchen that is empty on the 15th, and it isn’t any noisier than the one at the coppersmith’s. Four of the rooms will have midday sun. It is a bit farther. The landlord leaves a superintendent in charge, and he is a great admirer of Beethoven.If Beethoven takes the apartment in the garden, he can have just 3 rooms plus a kitchen. At 30 days, 6 florins C.M. per day makes 180 florins for a month [Schindler, unlike Beethoven, can do multiplication.] But at 5 florins per day, that is only 150 florins. Schindler talks the rent down to 4 florins per day, so that’s 120 florins C.M. for the month. It’s available on August 13. Agreement is reached for Beethoven to rent the Coppersmith’s House at Rathausgasse 94. He will move in on August 13th.

Having successfully closed their business, Schindler suggests they go to the theater for a while. Attorney Bach is apparently not at home, but they will come back again. The coach back to Hetzendorf is arranged at 8 p.m. Schindler suggests again that they go to the theater for half an hour. He wants to speak to Hensler about the music he loaned him.

The pair arrive back in Hetzendorf about midnight between the 5th and the 6th. The maid asks not to have to set the table with china, since Baron Prónay is asleep downstairs. She begs not to be abandoned, since she doesn’t know how to help. She has told this to the old woman. Schindler tells her just to lay the china out, but not to move the table. He and Beethoven agree that they think little of the nobility. “a count or a prince has never won my esteem on account of his “Highness.”

Beethoven is critical of Schindler, who gets defensive. “Put me to the test, and you will see for yourself that I am not as weak as you consider me to be.” He complains that Beethoven judges him too severely, but asks for patience.

The situation with Hensler in Baden is that his contract called for him to open the theater as of May 1, and remain until the end of October. However, he never came before the 15th of May, and every time left on October 3 or 4. The citizens complained that the guests didn’t stay because the theater was closed. Other little villages have theaters, and they are getting the tourists. So they have concluded to have a public auction for the rights. Hensler would not be happy to lose the Baden theater, but Schindler can’t see how even though it’s only for the summer he could still manage the Pressburg Theater. He has taken his son-in-law into the business and they tried to lease the Theater in the Leopoldstadt, but they didn’t have enough money. The rent is so high because the present entrepreneur has massive debts. Attorney Bach’s clients are the creditors, so he might be able to work something out if Hensler got along with him. The lessee has to take over the debts owed. The creditors say they would take 50%, and Bach’s influence could probably get them down to 40%. They probably should take that deal, because the current management isn’t likely to get them even 30% of their money.

Schindler notes that the red wine is hard on Beethoven’s chest. Schindler spends the night in Hetzendorf with Beethoven and returns to the city in the morning. Some of the foregoing discussion about Hensler may take place in the morning of the 6th.

Conversation Book 2r-24v.