BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Tuesday, May 20, 1823 (approximately)

While he is in Hetzendorf for the summer, Beethoven writes a long series of letters to Anton Schindler, most of them unfortunately undated. We have placed them on hypothetical dates that seem to make sense from the contents and context, but the actual dates they were written may vary from what we have proposed by days or even weeks.

In an undated letter to Schindler written shortly after the move to Hetzendorf, Beethoven flies into a rage about the botched copying of the Missa Solemnis, probably by Franz Baptist, who had been engaged by Johann against Ludwig’s reservations. “What has happened to the trombone part? It is quite certain that the boy still has it — because he didn’t turn it over with the Gloria because we didn’t take notice that he had copied it so badly, and we therefore didn’t think of taking the trombone part away from him. If need be, I’ll go to the police in Vienna about this.”

Beethoven also sends along a copy of the theme from the Diabelli Variations, op.120 for Rampl’s use as a template in making a copy of the work for Diabelli. He should just copy the theme onto a single sheet, and then he needs to copy the work up until the end of the 12th variation. [The first 12 variations had already been engraved by Diabelli; Rampl had already copied the later variations and now had to add in the earlier variations for the copy to be sent to London.] Schindler will have to check with copyist Wenzel Schlemmer about what is still missing in the Kyrie. “I want nothing more to do with such things.”

“I must end here, with such a head. I have to blindfold my eyes at night, and take proper care of them, or rather as Dr. Smetana says, I shall write few more notes.” He gives his regards to Esterházy secretary Wocher, whom he intends to visit when he goes into town. He asks for confirmation as to whether the Variations have been sent off.

In a postscript, Beethoven adds that “My eyes, which are getting worse, rather than better, only let me do things slowly.” As soon as Diabelli has the proofs for the Variations ready, they should be sent to Beethoven for review.

The notion that the publisher must have the manuscript in order to prove ownership of a work is news to Beethoven. He has a library of manuscripts that he still possesses. Copies were engraved and then they returned the manuscripts to him. If Diabelli wants, he can be given a written statement regarding ownership of the work; he has done that before. Diabelli could have claimed one of the copies, but those turned out so badly it is just as well.

Brandenburg Letter 1650, Anderson Letter 1180. The original is held by the Berlin Staatsbibliothek, (aut.36,31).

Today in Berlin, the popular tenor Herr Bader gives a concert. Among the other works performed, such as a Scene and Aria from Mozart’s Idomeneo and a duet from Rossini’s Ricciardo e Zoraide, is Adelaide, op.46, by Beethoven. The reviewer particularly approved of Bader’s “full chest voice, the power and endurance of the same.” Leipzig Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung of June 25, 1823 (Nr.26) at col. 418. The reviewer in the Vienna AMZ of the same date (Nr. 51) at col 405 described Bader’s performance of the Beethoven song as “well-rendered and beautiful.”

Adelaide is here performed by tenor

Fritz Wunderlich, with accompaniment by Hubert Giesen: