BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Tuesday, November 4, 1823

Conversation Book 45 begins to be used today. It is made up of two different types of paper, and the pages of it appear to have been used out of order. The chronology thus can be only approximate, but we follow the English language ordering of editor Theodore Albrecht. The German editors had supposed that a book may have been missing, but Albrecht has reworked the chronology to fit with the identifiable dates and created a hypothetical reconstruction that we will generally be using here.

Karl is with his uncle this afternoon, probably at the boarding house where Karl eats his dinner. On days when he has Collegium in the afternoon, he can eat at home “and avoid all the confusion.” Thus, they can eat mid-afternoon dinner together on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. But one needn’t say anything to housekeeper Barbara Holzmann, who has once again been rehired by the Beethovens.

Nephew Karl ponders how there can be such a multitude of fish, despite the immense number of them that are caught daily. Although some people claim fish have no sense of hearing, he doesn’t believe that. Uncle Ludwig asks him why not. “They have examples that fish in ponds, etc. come to a call from their master.”

Uncle Ludwig says they need candles, a pound or so. Karl asks how much that would cost. It depends on whether one buys wax or tallow candles, Ludwig responds, the tallow being cheaper. Karl things it best to only burn wax; when you add it up it doesn’t cost any more than tallow since wax candles burn a longer time. Plus, tallow candles do damage to the chest. The macrobiotic guide that they have been trying to follow also says one should not burn tallow lights.

The soup for dinner has a meat that Uncle Ludwig cannot identify; Karl thinks it is dried sausage. With the soup plus a half pint of beer, that comes to 33 kreuzers each for dinner.

Karl relates that at Blöchlinger’s Institute, the tutors got coffee, but Blöchlinger insisted they make a good example and drink it without sugar. They did that until Köferle [the history teacher that Karl liked] became sick of it and bought a quarter pound of sugar. Köferle brought the sugar in his briefcase, and made a show of sugaring his coffee in front of Blöchlinger. From then on, Blöchlinger and his wife had the coffee (hers with sugar) and the tutors got hot chocolate instead, presumably since that was cheaper than sugared coffee for everyone.

Ludwig asks Karl whether he could take the Missa Solemnis to an unnamed copyist tomorrow. Karl says he can, after his first class gets over at 10 o’clock. Karl needs to be back at the University by 11:45 for his class in English, though. Karl needs a washbasin, and Uncle Ludwig makes a note of it, skipping two pages that were filled in weeks later.

Conversation Book 45, 1r-4r, 5v.

Prussian concertmaster Carl Wilhelm Henning (1784-1867) of the Royal Opera in Berlin arrives in Vienna today. One of his objects in coming is to obtain the score of The Consecration of the House, op.124, to be used for the opening of the Königstädtisches Theater in Berlin next August. He is accompanied by Heinrich Eduard Bethmann (1774-1834), an actor, director and poet. Henning contacts violinist Ignaz Schuppanzigh either today or tomorrow morning about getting an introduction to Beethoven for this purpose, and they visit likely tomorrow, since Karl is in classes, as is typical on Wednesdays.