BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Tuesday, September 12, 1820

Conversation Book 16, leaves 76r through 82r

Beethoven returns to Vienna, presumably returning Karl and Köferle to Blöchlinger’s. Archduke Rudolph is expecting a composition lesson from Beethoven today, hence the return to Vienna after just two days or so.

This morning he stops by Franz Oliva’s office, but Oliva is tied up until at least 11:30. He should have plenty of time after 3:30, and promises to come meet Beethoven immediately after his mid-day dinner [which he usually took at around 2 p.m.] Oliva also promises to arrange Beethoven’s carriage back to Mödling to pick him up at the Black Camel.

Beethoven goes out to Blöchlinger’s Institute to talk with the headmaster in the later morning or early afternoon. Beethoven appears to approve of Blöchlinger’s good treatment of Karl, since Blöchlinger responds: “One must perform every kindness in the world without consideration for himself, if not, he’ll always be harmed to a greater or lesser extent. If our conscience doesn’t reward us, then we are for the most part to be pitied.” Blöchlinger asks whether Karl will go back to Mödling with Beethoven [presumably he does not go.]

Karl has given a nice letter folder to Köferle as a gift. Blöchlinger refers to him as “really a superb man.” Other students had been giving him gifts of maps, so Karl wrapped his up in this letter folder for Köferle.

Blöchlinger twice invites Beethoven to lunch “with our poor table,” but he declines. “Today people have nothing but revolution in their heads.” Austrian troops are indeed being sent to Naples to put down the rebellion there, as the Emperor himself had been complaining a few days earlier.

Blöchlinger intends to come to visit in Mödling, but warns Beethoven that it may be without much warning. Beethoven is usually there on Sundays.

Beethoven then goes to a restaurant in the City, and makes a note that of the 19 chickens, 7 are gone and there remain 12. He originally wrrote that 6 are gone and 13 remain. [Was the seventh chicken served to his guests yesterday for lunch? Sorry to say, this is the last we hear about Beethoven’s chickens.]

Reading today’s Beobachter, he notes a professor in Switzerland has proposed using water and hail drains made of straw, which would replace Franklin lightning rods. [I question the physics of such a arrangement.]

Later in the afternoon, Oliva meets Beethoven, probably at the restaurant. Oliva notes it is lucky Biedermann had sent him this direction, because otherwise Beethoven “would have been in greater embarrassment.” It’s not clear exactly what Oliva has messed up, but “You may be convinced that it pained me to the depths.” Possibly there was some issue or misunderstanding with the carriage that was arranged for 6:30 p.m.

They then discuss two apartments that they looked at. The smaller (also at Wetzlar’s) is supposedly being held for Beethoven to see until tomorrow. But Beethoven still has to go and give Archduke Rudolph his lesson; Oliva will meet him at the Kameel at 6:30.

They talk about Karl, and Oliva takes Beethoven’s side: “But how could you protect him, if such seeds are planted in him? The boy has an unfortunate reserve and falseness, still as the result of his first impressions as a child.” [His mother Johanna had been arrested when Karl was about four, for leading a scheme to steal some valuable necklaces on consignment with her, and faking a burglary to disguise the theft. She was caught when she was later seen wearing one of the necklaces.]

They then discuss lottery numbers, and Oliva suggests that the lower numbers are stronger and that Beethoven should pick number 7. Beethoven repeats the anecdote that Karl related yesterday about Archduke Ferdinand’s horse being shot out from under him, but Oliva says that a major general with whom he eats lunch says that the rumor is not true.

When it comes time for the Archduke’s lesson, Oliva learns that he is not yet home; he is having dinner at Schönbrunn. The Archduke was expected after four, but after five he is still not back. The lesson will thus need to be postponed, since the Archduke is leaving tomorrow morning at 9 o’clock and Beethoven’s carriage is leaving at 6:30 tonight. Oliva observes that every 40 days like clockwork the Archduke has an epileptic seizure. [Perhaps Oliva is speculating as to why the Archduke is not back yet?]

Reactionary war is definitely in the wind; Oliva reports that three monarchs are assembling in Teschen and will sign a new declaration of war against the revolutionists in Italy; the Carbonari there are consecrating their daggers and guns at a portrait of the Virgin Mary for her aid in fighting for freedom against the enemy. Oliva then goes to make sure the carriage will be ready at 6:30 at the Kameel.

Beethoven makes a list of things to bring along, including his umbrella, boots and overcoat. While waiting at the Black Camel for the carriage, he makes notes of several apartments in the newspaper, crossing out one as being too expensive, then changing his mind since it has six rooms so perhaps not. One of these apartments needs painting.

Before the carriage leaves, Oliva catches up with him, saying the person who recommended Beethoven’s current cook wants to know if he is satisfied with her; “that person is concerned to garner honor with the recommendation.”

At 6:30, Beethoven takes the carriage back to Mödling. The next conversation book entry dates from about September 16th.