BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Wednesday, December 24, 1823

Beethoven hosts Nephew Karl, Brother Johann, and surprisingly, Anton Schindler, who seems to have been accepted back at least on a probationary basis. They discuss the ad that Karl wrote up for a housekeeper who is a widow who can cook and has a pension. Schindler suggests it would be good if the ad were placed in the Wiener Zeitung soon, since they might be able to get someone over the New Year.

Schindler announces Ignaz Moscheles will be departing Vienna on January 2nd. Moscheles asks that the Ninth Symphony be finished by then, apparently planning to visit and look at the score. [While the symphony will be finished by then at least in the form of a continuity draft, Moscheles does not appear to have come back to Beethoven’s apartment before departing Vienna. It’s possible that he is embarrassed by the fact the horn parts to the still-unpublished Name Day Overture have been misplaced while loaned to him and he dreads Beethoven’s wrath.]

The current cook was apparently very thin, since Schindler jokes that she takes all her nourishment from the steam rising from the dishes.

The conversation turns to the plight of Anton Salieri, Beethoven’s old teacher of writing Italian vocal music. His career has been sand and stone [probably an allusion to Matthew 7:24-27, the parable of a man whose house built on stone survived the storm, while the man who built his house on sand saw it fall.] “He had to be taken to the hospital by force, because he did not want to bear the costs himself. Then, on the second day, while the guards ate their mid-day meal he began to slash away [at his throat] with the table knife, but was restrained from it.” He was hospitalized because he refused to take his medicine. His daughters are over 30, and he won’t allow them to marry because he doesn’t want to give them a dowry. But his opera Axur still brings him a good income from royalties when it is performed in Paris. This royalty system, Schindler agrees, is a good idea and is being applied to authors. [Beethoven surely would have done well under such a royalty program.]

Schindler says he is to eat with Count Ferdinand Stockhammer [on the board of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde, possibly thinking he would ask about the possibility of the Musik-Verein hosting Beethoven’s proposed Akademie benefit concert, but also to ask for assistance with one of Beethoven’s sisters-in-law] but he would prefer it if Beethoven came along.

Karl wants to write an opera called The Uncle Johann, and his uncle will buy it for 30,000 florins. Schindler jokes that if that happens, they will need to change the title to The Poor Uncle Johann.

No rice is on the menu today for Christmas Eve dinner. They’ll be having dumplings, crackers, noodles, and cauliflower.

Conversation Book 50, 12v-15v.

Today’s Wiener Zeitung contains a larger than usual selection of advertisements for music. Amongst them, at 1201, Cappi and Diabelli offers Beethoven’s last three piano sonatas, op.109, 110 and 111, making the point as usual that they have been reviewed by the composer and are the most correct editions. Cappi & Diabelli also advertises a number of compositions by Ignaz Moscheles, including the Grand Potpourri for piano and violin; Les charmes de Paris, Rondo for Piano; and his Fantasy and Variations on Au clair de la Lune for piano (with arrangements for piano quintet), among others.

Moscheles’s Variations on Au clair de la lune, op.50, are here performed by Ian Hobson and the Sinfonia da Camera: