BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Wednesday, August 6, 1823

Unpaid assistant Anton Schindler, having spent the night in Hetzendorf, goes back into Vienna this morning since he has orchestra rehearsals at the Theater in the Josephstadt.

Having reached an agreement about the apartment in Baden, Beethoven takes stock of his finances today. He is particularly concerned about the amounts being paid to Wenzel Schlemmer, the principal copyist for the Missa Solemnis. The amount still due to him is 135 florins.

He also computes the amount coming on the pension that he shares with Karl’s mother Johanna; he makes a note to cash in the coupons for half of the pension, and to give her half of that. There has been no discussion recently about Johanna’s health, so presumably she has recovered significantly.

Beethoven also makes a to-do list in preparation for heading to Baden. The linens need mending; the letter carrier needs to be notified to forward his mail; carts need to be arranged. He needs gray trousers. Tomorrow he should get the suitcases from the City. He will also need 2 tarpaulins [perhaps to secure the contents of the carts, to avoid the loss of a trunk like last fall]. Nightshirts are needed, gray pantaloons, and his long gray trousers and vest should be retrieved from the City.

Beethoven ponders how much a carriage costs from Vienna to Baden. Tomorrow his plan is to walk in to the City; the carriage will pick them up in the afternoon.

Conversation Book 24v-26r.

Unknown to Beethoven as he makes this list, Wenzel Schlemmer, his favorite copyist, who has been making the copies of the Missa Solemnis, dies in his mid-60s at home this morning at 10:30 a.m. of an infection. His widow Josepha will attempt to continue the copying business by subcontracting out the work.

About today, Beethoven writes to piano maker Matthäus Andreas Stein as a followup to their conversation a few days ago. Renting a piano in Baden won’t work; they want 34 florins monthly rent for a miserable piano! “I think this is money thrown out the window.” So he will take his Broadwood along, protected by mattresses. If Stein can arrange for one of his people to come along and make sure it is secure, that would be best. He plans to leave for Baden on the 13th of the month, so he asks Stein to tell him what he thnks.

Brandenburg Letter 1721, Anderson Letter 420. [Anderson dates this letter to 1813, relying on Kalischer, but it seems to be related to the discussion in the Conversation Book with Stein on the evening of August 4, discussing the best way of moving the piano to Baden, and Stein’s suggestion that he rent a piano while he is there.] The original is lost, but the text was published by Ludwig Nohl in Mosaik, Leipzig 1882 p.331. At that time, the original was in the possession of Court Organist Ludwig Rotter.

The Swiss Music Festival in Lausanne is in its second day, and the second part of the concert held in the Cathedral of Notre Dame of Lausanne opens with the Overture to Der Freischütz by Weber. This is followed by Beethoven’s Christ on the Mount of Olives, op.85 (1804). The enthusiastic correspondent in the Leipzig Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung of October 8, 1823 (Nr. 41) had this to say about the performance in French of Beethoven’s oratorio at 667-668:

Cathedral of Notre Dame at Lausanne, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

“But now the crowning glory of this performance, as well as of the whole festival, came from Beethoven’s Christ am Oelberge. This masterpiece, with which many of the singers and players were already well acquainted, was, on the whole, very well executed. It seemed as if each of the participants was elevated above themselves by the magnificence of this music. Madame de Seigneux was particularly distinguished by the power, security and noble simplicity of her singing. The person of Christ had been transformed into that of an archangel and this role was divided between Messrs. Hochreutner from Morges and Hay from Geneva. Madame de Seigneux sang the Seraph. How touching the duet: Ah qu’elle est grande sa souffrance pour désarmer les droits divins! Plus grande encore plus grande est la puissance de son amout pour les pouvres humains (Groß sind die Qual, die Angst, die Schrecken, etc.); and now the anxious chorus of disciples, followed by the terrible entrance of the chorus of soldier: Voilà l’homme! C’est le’homme (Hier ist er, der Verbannte etc.) with the terrifying figure of the bass accompaniment, and finally the truly heavenly jubilant chorus of angels: Donnez gloir au Dieu Sauveur. (Preiset ihn, ihr Engelchöre, etc.) The effect of this music on experts and laymen was indescribable; there was only one voice among the 3000 people who filled the church to the top galleries that day: this is the triumph of this music festival!”

Today’s Wiener Zeitung includes an ad at 732 for the newly-published Piano Concerto Nr. 4 by Beethoven’s former pupil Ferdinand Ries (dedicated to pianist/composer Ignace Moscheles), op.115, for 15 florins W.W. The company also helpfully points out that in addition to Ries latest compositions, “all the other works by this excellent and popular composer are available at the cheapest prices at the publishing house of Sauer and Leidesdorf.” The same work is also offered on the same page of the Wiener Zeitung by the S.A.Steiner firm for 6 florins C.M. (equal to 15 florins W.W., so Steiner was charging the same price, just denoted in the alternate currency. 1 fl. C.M.= 2.5 fl. W.W. at a fixed rate in 1823.)

Ries’ Fourth Piano Concerto (actually his second to be composed, in about 1809) in C minor is here performed by Christopher Hinterhuber, accompanied by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Uwe Grodd: