BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Tuesday, September 2, 1823

Since the coach arrived so late last night, apparently after Ludwig went to bed, the coachman needs to be paid, and he wants a tip.

Karl had a good deal of trouble with the embassies yesterday; he went to the places Uncle had indicated, but many of them had moved or they were not staffed and he was sent to other places. [While some embassies appear to have actually moved, part of this runaround may be due to the renumbering of the Vienna addresses that occurred in the early 1820s. Ludwig may have given Karl the old addresses, which now were some place else.] Karl went to the supposed location of the Hessen-Darmstadt embassy on the Bauernmarkt, but they sent him to another street and there was nothing there. He inquired at the police headquarters, but there was nothing where they sent him either. From there, they sent him to the Hessen-Kassel embassy. The Darmstadt embassy had also moved there but there was no one there.

The tailor Karl visited has given some article of clothing [probably another supportive vest for Beethoven’s swollen abdomen] to the doctor to take it with him from here.

Copyist Mathias Wunderl has been employed by Josepha Schlemmer to finish one of the copies of the Missa Solemnis; he will soon be finished, he says. Carl Odelga, the representative for Tuscany and Nassau, left Vienna yesterday, and Saxony refused to subscribe to the Mass.

Uncle Ludwig apparently becomes angry, since Karl’s notations in the Conversation Book become very defensive. “I went where you entrusted me to go.” Ludwig is accusatory and appears to ask Karl why he is upset. “Because I am sorry that I went into the City alone, and therefore gave you opportunity to become mistrustful of me again.” Karl is particularly unhappy that they have already come to this on just the third day; he left Blöchlinger’s “where I enjoyed many good things and which I have to thank for what I am and have learned.” Karl acknowledges that he could have been there only through his uncle’s doing.

“Then I am amazed that you did not have me made aware of anything, immediately this morning, since you ask me in all frankness and sincerity, and also rightly; and though you are not frank with me, but instead hurt me by silent mistrust, which only gives rise to misunderstandings.” Nevertheless, “I have never doubted and still don’t doubt that we can live together happily; I at least, shall never give you reason to be dissatisfied, but I don’t believe that it is possible if you don’t stop being mistrustful toward me. I certainly cannot give you any proof beforehand that I shall do anything other than what obligation demands. But if you had not already believed in my honesty earlier, you would surely not have taken me unto yourself.”

Karl acknowledges that Ludwig has done much for him, but it makes him sad that Ludwig does not consider him worthy of that favor. Perhaps he would rather Karl returned to Vienna? Ludwig laughs at the idea, but Karl says he did have the option to live there, but his only desire was to come to live with his uncle. “I can promise with certainty that I shall not make any trouble for you, if you do not make it for yourself.” Ludwig seems to say, we shall see, and Karl responds “I am sorry enough that you still find it possible.”

Ludwig is in a gloomy mood and Karl regrets that he seems to be the cause of it. Perhaps he spoke too freely, but he considers it better to talk than be silent and not defend himself. “I believe that you are in error if you believe that I truly remain indifferent when you say that I am doing something against you.” He may as well tell Karl to go live with his mother.

Karl denies having rebelled, but he can’t help feeling pain at being mistrusted for nothing. “I am not arguing….But I believed I took the right path by not remaining silent, as in the past, when you spoke like that and considered me insolent. If you also consider my frankness to be insolence, then there is nothing more left to me, because I am not in a state that I can cry and keep a smile on my face at the same time; and I also don’t want to be in a state to pretend this way.”

“You have reproached me, and that has made me sad.” Ludwig finally relents in his anger at his nephew. “I shall consider myself fortunate as long as you trust me.”

The discussion turns to other topics. Karl met with his teacher, who advised him to buy the Petiscus book on mythology, or if that is not available, the one by Pölitz, which he did, since it contains the necessary information. Karl returns the 10 florins change.

The argument between the two flares up again. “I see that you imagine complaints that I was supposed to have had, in that I wrote you all of this; but that is not it. Every time, I only answered your words in a way that came from my heart.” It is Ludwig’s obligation to explain what he means. Karl only hopes that they are not so far apart that he sends Karl away. He will stay as long as his uncle wants him. Ludwig angrily tells him to find another place to live. “I don’t know how I am to answer you in order to please you, but it is impossible for me to remain indifferent when you already say that I should seek another home for myself.”

Karl says they have made no progress from when they started, and that was all based on his uncle’s insinuations. “I don’t understand why you would start reproaching me for the freedom that you have granted me only today.” Ludwig tells Karl not to be offended; Karl denies he is offended and he will just keep silent and speak only on his uncle’s invitation.

Barbara Holzmann interrupts them about midday dinner. Whatever dinner is, she does not want to fry it in butter, and insists that it must be fried in lard. She is insistent that she has never fried it in butter, and she knows everything better than other people. [Editor Theodore Albrecht notes that Frau Holzmann is probably right; lard burns at a higher temperature than butter, and is better suited for frying generally.]

Karl diverts his uncle’s attention to Holzmann, saying that he doesn’t believe the housekeeping by her can last much longer. “She is irresponsible, as if she were a child.” He adds, “So old, and also so vain. She always makes herself new clothes.” He suggests that Ludwig’s friend Nanette Streicher might know someone who could take over.

Karl also gossips a bit about Dr. Carl von Smetana, who had operated on his hernia back in 1816. “Smetana owes his reputation only to foot amputations, etc., not to his head. He is absolutely not a medical doctor. Absolutely no one goes to him who doesn’t need him as a wound doctor.”

The discussion then turns to Schindler, and Karl suggests that he has spent the 31 florins already. “I’ll bet he doesn’t have a kreuzer of it anymore.” He adds that Schindler told him he has unlimited admiration for attorney Johann Baptist Bach, for whom he had clerked in the 1810s. While he was serving as a clerk, Bach had left all the cabinets and desks open with banknotes were. He respected that Bach trusted to his honesty. “I have already caught him forgetting that he criticized the same thing that he had recently praised; this is more proof that his tales are always hyperbole, and his judgments are only extreme.”

Karl thinks they could not have found a better apartment in Vienna for the price; while they have only two rooms here in Baden, there are three in the Ungargasse. They should take the opportunity to dispose of superfluous or unnecessary furniture, and they can get things organized now. “Everything must also be kept in the greatest cleanliness and order; otherwise we’ll need twice as much space.” They could also place an advertisement in the newspaper for a housekeeper.

Karl observes that Greek has the greatest conciseness because of the free use of the participle. Then Latin, and finally German. French is too restricted in his view. His examination included a question concerning Latin rhetoric, and an ode or piece by a Latin author. There was a piece from the Greek in addition to grammatical questions, a mathematical problem, and a question regarding history. “I believe, though, that everyone who distinguishes himself very much during his student years must also, to a great extent, distinguish himself in life.”

Campe’s dictionary took the comical step of banning all words that were not originally in German, and replaced them with German words. Karl says, “I find this aspiration very fine and patriotisch” [Editor Theodore Albrecht notes that Karl is probably being sarcastic, since “patriotisch” is a word of Latin origin.] English is different, since all sorts of foreign people have come there, so their language is a mixture of Greek, German, French and Latin. But it is fashionable in German-speaking countries to use French words. “To say ‘Ludwig’ would be too commonplace, therefore ‘Louis.'”

Looking for an evening supper, yesterday’s roast is still there. Karl observes that it is very difficult for a foreigner to learn Viennese German; it can only be spoken naturally by native Viennese. Uncle Ludwig was the subject of conversation at the Reinleins’ house the other day. Their son Raphael will now become a cadet in the cavalry, even though his mother doesn’t want him to. At the military academy they had severe punishments: lashes with a birch rod for minor offenses; beatings with a cane for serious one; and lashes with a whip for the most serious. They carry things too far sometimes. “One cadet hit the major on the h4ead with a musket; he was arrested immediately and sent to the regiment as a private.” Raphael had not come home to Vienna in five years. Even though it is forbidden there, he smokes tobacco all day long. Smokers who are caught are “locked in a room with 5 old soldiers, who sit in a circle around him, and smoke so heavily that he has to capitulate.”

At the end of the very long day, Karl realizes that in all the hubbub the coachman never got paid.

Conversation Book 40, 9v-30, 1r-1v. Most of this conversation book has been devoted to this single day, including their tumultuous argument. We have quoted at length because this is the first such major dispute between uncle and nephew, but it will certainly not be the last.

Charles Neate writes to Beethoven today in French from London. Although Neate dates the letter September 2, 1822, that is a slip of the pen since the postmark shows 1823. Beethoven had written to Neate back on February 25th confirming that he would write three quartets for the sum of 100 pounds. Neate apologizes for the delay in responding, but he really has not had anything to report until now. He isn’t wealthy enough to come up with the 100 pounds himself, but got several people together on a subscription and they have finally raised the amount. They will be happy to provide it as soon as the scores are received. He asks that they not be copied in Vienna before they are sent. Neate has been unwell himself for the last six months, and feared that he might not live long enough to hear the new quartets. But now he is recovered and looks forward to these works. He asks that Beethoven respond in French, or at least German written in French letters, since he cannot read German handwriting.

Brandenburg Letter 1737, Albrecht Letter 334. The original is held in the Berlin Staatsbibliothek (aut. 35,54). The postmarks also show that the letter was received in Vienna, and forwarded to Beethoven in Baden. Neate had visited Beethoven in Vienna back in 1815, and had been trying ever since to convince the composer to come to England.