BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Tuesday, December 30, 1823

More housekeepers are interviewed today at 2 p.m. The first woman is 40 years old, the widow of an official. She has an imperial pension of 150 florins C.M. per year. She wants to know whether she would have someone else to help in the kitchen, and whether she would have her own room. But she does not want the front room as she is a little delicate. She asks, “Have I the good fortune of speaking with the famous composer Beethoven?” She asks whether he likes plain cooking, which he does.

The second applicant, named Mayer, saw the advertisement in yesterday’s Wiener Zeitung. She has a 400 florin pension, and would like to have until tomorrow to consider the position, once she has been told her conditions and duties.

Nephew Karl figures out the salary of the departing temporary housekeeper/cook, who has been working there since December 16. They have apparently had enough of her and get rid of her immediately upon having reached a decision. Karl shows his uncle the method of computing the salary, using multiplication and long division. For the 14 days, she will get 18 florins. She is also entitled to another 5 florins, 36 kreutzers, apparently because she was holding both positions. She is paid, and immediately departs with all her things. Which of the six candidates was hired is unclear, but since she starts right away the first one interviewed today seems the most probable.

Later in the day, Uncle Ludwig has a visitor, who appears to be named Wolf. Karl writes that Wolf is an acquaintance of Ignaz Schuppanzigh; he saw Beethoven at the Moscheles concert. He knows Moscheles very well, and thinks a great deal of him as a pianist. He has seen Beethoven play, and has spent the last three years in Paris. Like Moscheles, the visitor insists that if he went to London, Beethoven “would be treated like a god.”

Conversation Book 51, 11r-14r.

Also today, Prince Nikolai Galitzin writes to Beethoven from St. Petersburg. He is grateful for Beethoven sending him the first page of the Gloria, but as it turns out his copy of the Missa Solemnis was complete already, so that gesture was unnecessary. Galitzin has been studying the score every day, and without hearing it nevertheless has it in his head. They are to have the first rehearsal of the work next Monday, but it can only be performed in the month of February due to Lent beginning in early March. [The performance in fact does not take place until after Lent, in April.] “I will take all care to make sure that this masterpiece is performed in a manner worthy of its famous author.” He also requests that Beethoven send him metronome markings for the Mass. [When the Missa Solemnis was eventually published, it did not include any metronome markings.] Galitzin also strongly urges that Beethoven do this for all of his past works, since he has observed great variations in how they are performed. Doing so would resolve that question, and Mälzel’s metronome seems the perfect way to accomplish that.

Galitzin has not, however, yet received the other promised works that Beethoven had sent. He did find the Diabelli Variations in a music shop, though. “This work is a masterpiece like everything that comes from you. We can only admire the happy fertility that the science of harmony inspires in you in this work.” Galitzin asks what comes between the sonata op.111 and the Variations, op.120. He has not been able to obtain these works, whatever they are, and would like Beethoven to forward them. [Some of them, like the Name Day Overture op.115 and King Stephan Overture op.117, remained unpublished at this time, but others like Meersstille und glückliche Fahrt op.112 had been published by now.]

Brandenburg Letter 1763. The original is now lost, but was transcribed by Thayer, TDR V, p.557f.