BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Tuesday, January 21, 1823

The 10 AM meeting with Baron Tettenborn, the ambassador from the Archduchy of Baden, goes very well. It turns out that Tettenborn is a great admirer of Beethoven’s music, and he has many kind things to say about Beethoven. There is a brief moment of embarrassment as Beethoven addresses him as “Your Excellency,” which is not the correct form for an ambassador. Tettenborn does not write in the Conversation Books, but rather Schindler transcribes a few of Tettenborn’s comments and responses to Beethoven.

They also have some discussion about Dr. Carl Joseph Mayer and his Electro-Vibration machine. Beethoven had made a note of it back in April, 1819, but apparently never tried it as a treatment. Tettenborn had been in Beethoven’s birthplace of Bonn while serving in the Napoleonic wars. His son is attending school at the institute of Friedrich Krause, the Protestant counterpart to the Catholic Blöchlinger’s where nephew Karl was a student.

Beethoven makes a note in the conversation book to remind himself to send the 5-voiced fugue [the string quintet op.137] and canon to publisher S.A. Steiner. He may be thinking that these little pieces could be part payment for the debt owed to Steiner for several years, or at least to convince Steiner not to pursue legal means.

Beethoven meets Wiener Zeitung Editor Joseph Carl Bernard briefly, who says he had lunch with Johann Ullinger, a wholesaler and partner in a cotton factory. Ullinger’s daughter also attends Blöchlinger’s institute, and like nephew Karl, her feet froze and they are giving her persistent problems.

Afterwards, Beethoven meets with Schindler in the early afternoon, probably at Beethoven’s apartment in Windmühle. Schindler fills Beethoven in with more detail on how the meeting with Tettenborn went. At about two o’clock they repair somewhere for mid-afternoon dinner. There is more discussion of the fire at the Munich Theater. Schindler’s friend, Katharina Sigl, who met Beethoven last fall and immediately fell in love with him, apparently came out of the fire with burned shoes and she lost all her rings.

Beethoven notices a short, attractive woman. Schindler talks to her briefly and relates that she comes from the Rheinland.

The discussion returns to Tettenborn, who Schindler describes as a country squire. He spends every year in the country until November. Since Napoleon’s fall, he has acquired beautiful estates in Westphalia as a reward for his military service.

Schindler says that he will show Beethoven the libretto for the opera that the High Administration of the Kärntnertor Theater has put together for him. [Wanda, Königen der Sarmaten by Zacharias Werner] “Your brother gave it to me to look through; I have already given it the death sentence, and don’t comprehend how they can give you something so miserable.” But he again begs Beethoven mention nothing of it.

There is discussion of how to handle the subscription request for the Missa Solemnis with the state of Mecklenburg, which has two Grand Dukes, Friedrich Franz I and Georg Friedrich Karl Joseph. It will be tricky to apply to Mecklenburg by addressing one without offending the other, but Schindler says he has given it some study.

Schindler also relates some gossip from Beethoven’s brother Johann that Court Councillor Raphael Kiesewetter (1773-1850), vice president of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde, held a mock trial of Rossini and sentenced him to 100 lashes and then hanged him. [Apparently Rossini is not beloved by all of Vienna.]

Schindler suggests that Beethoven review Tettenborn’s biography in the Conversations-Lexicon. He assures Beethoven that he is still in that book. [However, it continued ever since 1819 to make the assertion that Beethoven was the illegitimate son of Friedrich Wilhelm II of Prussia. That fabrication would not be removed until 1833, after Beethoven’s death.] Tettenborn joked that he is looking forward to a Tettenborn Symphony.

Schindler’s plan is to walk the subscription letters around the city and deliver them to the various embassies in person, probably on Sunday. His plan is to write the rest of them tomorrow afternoon. He will also look through Bernard’s text for the oratorio Der Sieg des Kreuzes.

On Saturday, January 25, Beethoven’s lawyer (and Schindler’s former employer) Johann Baptist Bach will be coming to visit Beethoven for dinner. He doesn’t, however (perhaps aware of Beethoven’s relative poverty) wish for an expensive meal. He will not bring his wife, since at a meal with a bachelor she would have nothing to do; it would make him uncomfortable. From other conversations, it appears that Beethoven is interested in discussing making his will and naming Karl as his heir.

Conversation Book 19, leaves 9v – 13r; Conversation Book 20 leaves 1r-4v.

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