BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Tuesday, January 28, 1823

Creditors are pressing Beethoven from every side. Steiner is demanding repayment of the substantial amounts Beethoven borrowed years ago to support his dying brother and his family, and even his tailor, Joseph Lind, has his attorney threatening legal action for unpaid bills. Beethoven writes in the morning to Schindler, begging him to get the money from the loan Schindler has arranged against his bank share, so he can pay off Lind today. Beethoven says he will not be going out today as he doesn’t feel well, so if Schindler wants to come eat with him at his apartment, he is welcome to do so.

Brandenburg Letter 1540, Anderson Letter 1127. This letter is held at the Berlin Staatsbibliothek, aut. 36,46.

Schinder arrives in the early afternoon, but without the money. He asks Beethoven to be patient until tomorrow or at the latest the day after tomorrow. He could have gotten the money yesterday, but it would have been at a ruinous 12 percent interest rate; he should be able to get it at 6 or 7 percent. The tailor will just have to wait another two or three days to get paid. But there will also need to be papers drawn up so Beethoven has protection.

Beethoven complains more about sister-in-law Johanna (who had promised to repay the money Beethoven borrowed for her family, but has never done so). Schindler says, “As bad as she may always be, she was at one part of your family and still must be considered a member of it. Unfortunately!” Schindler cannot stay for dinner; he has several days ago arranged to eat at the home of a court official who is a skilled mandolin player.

Before he leaves, Schindler asks for a description of the house of Herr Carbon (the mayor of Mödling who visited Beethoven a few weeks ago). He notes that Johanna has sent Karl a salve for his feet, apparently still hurting from frostbite.

Overnight, Beethoven quarrels with housekeeper Barbara Holzmann (the “old woman”) and fires her again.

Conversation Book 21, 6v-8v.

Today composer Carl Maria von Weber writes to Beethoven from Dresden, where he will be conducting Fidelio in the spring. Weber is known to have written Beethoven at least four times, and Beethoven responded thrice. However, all of this correspondence is now lost, except for a draft of today’s letter. In that draft, Weber talks about having conducted Fidelio in Prague in 1814, and that it gave him an intimacy with its essence, as inspiring as it was instructive. “Every performance of it will be a feast day; may I be permitted to offer to your august spirit the homage that lives for you in the inmost heart of my heart, and where adoration and love compete for supremacy.”

Brandenburg Letter 1541, Albrecht Letter 305. The original is held by the Berlin Staatsbibliothek, aut. Weberiana 1.11 A f 2,19.

Coincidentally, the sixth of eight performances of the current revival of Fidelio in Vienna is held tonight, with Wilhelmine Schröder in the starring role. After this run ends, she will head to Dresden, where she will also headline Weber’s production of the opera.