BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Tuesday, December 23, 1823

Brother Johann, probably with Count Moritz Lichnowsky, reports back on his visit with Court Opera manager Louis Antoine Duport yesterday. He is under pressure to get an agreement with Grillparzer [and presumably understood, with Beethoven as well.] They will need to bring it at least 12,000 florins W.W.

Lichnowsky adds that Beethoven should also give an estimate of how much time will be needed, and when the opera will be finished. Beethoven thinks that there need to be some changes, and Lichnowsky reminds him that Grillparzer stands ready to alter anything he likes.

Beethoven has a letter for Count Neuperg [Count Albert Adam von Neipperg (1775-1829), married to the Emperor’s daughter Marie Louise, who was once married to Napoleon Bonaparte, and is now the Duchess of Parma.] Lichnowsky says he’ll deliver it and will give an answer in a few days. [The letter is not known to survive, nor are its contents known, but it may have been a solicitation for a subscription to the Missa Solemnis, given the next comment.] Lichnowsky suggests that the dedication of the Missa Solemnis should be offered to Marie Louise. Lichnowsky offers to also write to Neuperg, whom he knows.

Marie-Louisa of Austria (1791-1847), oil portrait c. 1835 by Giovanni Battista Callegari

The conversation turns to Johann Gänsbacher, who is in the running for the Kapellmeister position at St. Stephan’s Cathedral. He has composed several Masses and a finely developed Requiem. Gänsbacher, like Beethoven, had studied counterpoint under Johann Georg Albrechtsberger. But Lichnowsky says “his compositions are without effect and passion.” Lichnowsky asks whether Beethoven is familiar with the fugues of Wilhelm Friedemann Bach (1710-1784). [Unfortunately Beethoven’s response is not recorded. As of 1823, only eight of W.F. Bach’s fugues had appeared in print.]

Nephew Karl arrives after Johann and Lichnowsky depart. He reports on the issues with the maid. Uncle Ludwig had reminded her to be honest, and she made a point of opening her basket so he could check it, which the others who were driven away would not comply with. She insists she didn’t take anything. She was extraordinarily happy to be retained, and will do whatever Uncle Ludwig wants. She even came back with 12 kreutzers more than expected when she bought wine, since they didn’t figure in the deposit on the bottles.

Conversation Book 50, 8v-12v.