BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Tuesday, February 17, 1824

Beethoven writes a letter to his friend Tobias Haslinger at the Steiner music publishing house, with a humorous opening:

Best To!
— bi!
— as!

He asks that Haslinger give Joseph Ecker [(about 1773-1829), who was owed 1100 florins by Karl’s mother Johanna] the sum of 55 florins 32 kreutzers C.M. in exchange for Ecker’s receipt. [This was probably an interest payment Ludwig was making on Johanna’s behalf.] Karl has made several unsuccessful attempts already. Maybe he’ll find an easier way to do this as Beethoven has up to now always given the payments directly, but his sack is now more empty than full. But Ecker says he has to work through Haslinger and Steiner. It makes Ludwig look like he is the debtor. [Beethoven expresses some resentment for covering for Johanna’s debts.] “Few people will find fools as generous as me. This should be respected, or else I won’t give anything more.” Karl will be by Steiner’s shop this afternoon to give a receipt to be drawn on the Archduke’s treasury, against the 750 florins W.W. due in Beethoven’s next stipend payment.

Brandenburg Letter 1780; Anderson Letter 1265. The original is held by the Bonn Beethovenhaus, H.C. Bodmer Collection Br 144, and can be seen here:

Unpaid assistant Anton Schindler shows up at Beethoven’s in the early afternoon, having just come from a prospective housekeeper, Madame Lehmann. She already has a position but will leave it if Beethoven takes her on. She’ll come either tomorrow or Thursday. “I must confess that I think very highly of Lehmann. Wait till she shows you what she can accomplish with cooking.” Beethoven is skeptical, and Schindler adds, “At least she shows herself to be knowledgeable and clever.”

Josephstadt Theater director Carl Friedrich Hensler sent the Overture to Consecration of the House op.124 to the theater in Pressburg today (which Hensler also managed). Schindler says he expressed his opinion against doing this, knowing it would make Beethoven angry, but with old Hensler there’s not a lot he can do. The Overture will end up being distributed in copies before it ever gets published. Ludwig says Johann has inquiries about publication in several directions, but Schindler says if Beethoven waits, then it’s going to be too late. [Given the commitment to let Berlin use the piece for the opening of their new theater, Beethoven has little choice other than to wait.]

Things are bad at the Theater in the Josephstadt, Schindler says, “because no-one can tolerate Herr Hensler’s scandalous treatment.” A number of members, from painters and machinists to dancers and singers, have left. “Hensler was always known as a rude fellow, but he makes more progress in this art every day. He doesn’t treat anyone with respect. He recently told [Kapellmeister Joseph] Dreschler in public that he cursed the hour when he engaged him.”

Schindler asks whether Caroline Unger has been here yet. [Schindler years later forges an entry happily taking the blame for Beethoven composing the Overture, since the world will admire it.] Unger told him she still intends to go to Berlin, and Sontag will be going to Kassel, but Sontag won’t leave until Easter of next year.

Schindler goes hat shopping with Beethoven, to replace the ridiculously shabby hat everyone has been complaining about and laughing at. Once he finds a new one, Schindler urges him to get rid of the old one. He suggests that Beethoven give it to him as a remembrance, and a holy relic. [Beethoven seems to refuse to do so, clinging to his ruined hat.]

As they walk, they pass Unger’s apartment. Schindler says Beethoven should surprise her, since she is usually home alone at this time. Beethoven dismisses that idea.

Beethoven brings up the idea of buying a lot and building a house in this area. Schindler tries to talk him out of it, saying, “You would not believe what building a small house costs; it’s always better to buy one that’s already built.” Schindler thinks Beethoven is better off in apartments for now, since houses are also heavily taxed. Beethoven doesn’t believe that there are so many expenses in home ownership, but Schindler says he should for the fun of it ask any landlord to show his list of expenses sometime. In any event, Beethoven has too many bad memories in this suburb, and he should look elsewhere.

Schindler says young Leopold Jansa from Pest has gotten the position Schuppanzigh was after at the Hofkapelle. Beethoven thinks Schuppanzigh would have been better and Schindler agrees. “Again, proof that merit goes absolutely unrecognized here.” Schindler asks whether Schuppanzigh really might go to Berlin. Schindler suspects the usual behind the scenes intrigues were involved. He supposes Schuppanzigh might as well go to Berlin because there is really nothing here in Vienna, and having lived in Russia so long he’s already used to living in a foreign country.

Later that afternoon or early evening, after transacting the necessary business with Haslinger, Karl suggests that if Beethoven likes a housekeeper candidate [possibly Schindler’s suggestion, Lehmann] then he should take her on. But Karl would like to see her.

Karl also doesn’t believe the wine is unadulterated, as Johann had suggested the other day. The bottles are inscribed as being from the Three Lions [Anton Schneider’s wine and grocery dealership the Three White Lions, which was along Beethoven’s usual routes for walking.] Karl suspects that once they have someone who is a repeat customer, they immediately start sending bad wine, but are more careful at the beginning of the relationship. One can be horribly cheated with wines, as everyone knows.

Conversation Book 56, 20v-25v.

The firm of Sauer & Leidesdorf, which had been discussing a release of Beethoven’s collected works, today announces in the Wiener Zeitung the new publication of the first half of a major work by Franz Schubert, his song cycle Die schöne Müllerin, op.25 [now catalogued as D.795.] While many of the published works of Schubert had been written years earlier, this was indeed a new work, finished in November of 1823, to a text by Wilhelm Müller, who would also eventually write the text for Schubert’s Winterreise.

“Given our opinion that every successful work contains its own eulogy of commendation, we prefer to refrain from any emphatic praise when it comes to these songs. We simply note that the well-known composer has succeeded in capturing the novelty of his melodies in these songs to an extremely high degree, which makes a musical work of art appealing to both the connoisseur of the arts and the accomplished music lover. The second volume of this work will be published in 8 days. These songs will follow shortly with guitar accompaniment.”

Sauer & Leidesdorf reminds the interested purchaser that they also have other previously-released Schubert works, including the piano sonata for four hands op.30 [D.617]; Gruppe aus dem Tartarus [D.583], and Schlummerlied [D.527] by Schiller, op.24; Die Liebe hat gelogen [D.751], Selige Welt [D.743], Schwanengesang [D.744], Schatzgräbers Begehr [D.761], op.23; Der Zwerg [D.771], and Wehmuth [D.772], op.22; Auf der Donau [D.553], Der Schiffer [D.536], Wie Ulfru sischt [D.525], op.21; Sey mir gegrüst [D.741], Frühlingsglaube [D.686], Hänslings Liebeswerbung [D.552], op.20. The three lieder op.20 are also available with guitar accompaniment.

This advertisement is repeated in the March 4, 1824 Wiener Zeitung at 232.

Die schöne Müllerin, D.795, is here performed by Ian Bostridge, tenor, accompanied by Mitsuko Uchida on piano, live March 10, 2018: