BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Tuesday, July 4, 1820

Conversation Book 14, leaves 88r through inside back cover

In a Mödling coffeehouse before taking the coach to Vienna, Beethoven reads through yesterday’s newspapers and marks down ads for the German translation of John Carton’s book on spot removal (Graz, 1815), as well as horse hair being available near the Kärtnertor Theater. He also writes down Bernard’s new address, where he had moved in April, apparently with the intent of paying a call, though there is no indication in today’s entries that he does so on this trip. Possibly Beethoven returns Part One of the Victory of the Cross libretto at this time, as Bernard had requested on Sunday.

Once in Vienna, Beethoven collects Franz Oliva from his office at Mayer & Landauer, probably about noon, to head out to Blöchlinger’s to meet regarding nephew Karl at 1 p.m. Once again, there is high drama. Karl was supposed to have had his oral examinations this morning, but instead he ran away yet again to his mother, Johanna van Beethoven. Blöchlinger sent his wife and a servant to collect Karl. At first turned away, Frau Blöchlinger threatened to call the police. Johanna finally came down and made excuses for Karl. After Frau Blöchlinger promised that Karl would not be punished, Johanna relinquished the boy to her. Karl returned and took the examination, doing well on it after all of this. Blöchlinger is conscious that using corporal punishment might cause problems for Beethoven in the guardianship proceedings, but is also reluctant to let Johanna have any authority over the boy. He will get the police involved if need be. [Since he was in Johanna’s apartment, Karl now is surely aware that his half-sister has been born, but he seems to have kept that information to himself thus far, since Blöchlinger makes no mention of it.]

Despite all the hubbub, Blöchlinger is forced to concede that Karl is in fact current on his studies. Possibly to gratify Beethoven, Blöchlinger expresses serious animosity for Johanna, calling her a scoundrel and worse. If she had not caused Karl any harm, that would be one thing, but “I am ashamed to see such a notorious whore in my house.” If it would be useful, Blöchlinger can give a written account of the day’s events. He ends by offering Beethoven and Oliva lunch, but they decline. Blöchlinger asks multiple times for power of attorney to call the police on Johanna, but Beethoven does not agree to that either, and departs. [Beethoven does not appear to have talked directly to Karl on this visit. Reading between the lines, the emphasis on punishment at Blöchlinger’s, dwelt on at length here and in Sunday’s conversation with Bernard, combined with Karl’s complaints, may be beginning to bother Beethoven.]

On the walk back to the City, Oliva lets Beethoven know the bad news that the quarterly allowance for Karl will not be available until the end of July. Oliva has some business to do, and arranges to meet Beethoven at the Archduke Karl hotel at 3:30. At the appointed time, Oliva takes Beethoven to show off his new residence. They then go to a stationer’s to purchase special stamped tax paper necesssary to claim the dividends. Oliva presumably fills these out for Beethoven, and they make claim on the dividends of some of the bank shares (at least one is not due until July 18th). Oliva notes that the carriage driver said he could come earlier than 8:30. [That would get Beethoven back to Mödling before it was completely dark (around 9:30 p.m.)]

On this date, publisher Adolph Martin Schlesinger writes Beethoven from Berlin confirming the arrangement for publication of the 25 Scottish Songs, op.108, and piano sonatas 30 through 32, opp. 109-111. Schlesinger will accept the music in two batches, and the fee will be paid by a bill of exchange drawn on Schlesinger.

The next entry dates from about July 7.