BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Wednesday, December 3, 1823

In the morning, Beethoven begins drafting a letter to Brother Johann. He proposes that The Consecration of the House incidental music, op.124, the rights to which had been given to Johann in satisfaction of debts, should be sold for 100 ducats; Ludwig would be reimbursed 50 ducats for the copyist, and Johann would keep the other 50. This draft is catalogued as Brandenburg Letter 1754.

Beethoven also makes note of a roasting spit for sale, and that he needs to buy some green house plants.

Nephew Karl, before his departure at 9 a.m., says he will not be by on Saturday. A blind woman is outside again, asking for alms. [She had previously been by on October 29 or 30.] He laments that the maid is unable to write, making things difficult. Karl presumably leaves around 9.

[Schindler here years later falsifies entries purporting to introduce Ignaz Moscheles to Beethoven. In fact, Beethoven had known Moscheles for many years and had arranged for Moscheles to do the piano reduction of Fidelio for him.]

Moscheles comes by Beethoven’s apartment mid-afternoon, entering shortly after dinner, having been given the go-ahead by Schindler. He says he has often seen Ries in London, and they are both devoted to Beethoven. The Consecration of the House overture “went superbly (in London.)” Moscheles is not impressed with Beethoven’s lodgings and says he economized too much.

Poor Mälzel is in Paris and also sends his greetings. [Mälzel had invented the metronome and the panharmonicon, for which Beethoven wrote the original version of Wellington’s Victory op.91.] His present project is making dolls that say “Papa” and “Mama.” Beethoven asks whether that is just a hobby, but Moscheles says no, he is quite serious about it.

Towards the New Year, he will be returning to London and can take any messages along for Beethoven. He is not stopping very much. [Whatever Moscheles may have planned, he did not arrive in London until May of 1825.] If he stops in Paris, he’ll send things on through private hired coach, which would be faster than a courier. Beethoven asks whether the Channel crossing is not difficult in winter; Moscheles says it is actually better in January than in October or November.

Moscheles asks how the new symphony is coming, though Beethoven has to correct him that it is in D minor, not C major. Moscheles asks whether it is alright with the composer if he includes the Name Day Overture at his next concert on December 11? And if Beethoven will grace the concert by his presence. Beethoven, concerned about the difficulty of the Overture, asks who will be conducting. It is the concertmaster Johann Hildbrand.

While London is crazy for Beethoven, they do not want to pay pianists living there anything. Some, such as Charles Neate and Cipriani Potter happily play without payment.

Beethoven offers Moscheles some wine, which he declines. When Beethoven asks him why, it is because he is used to the London method of drinking it mixed with rum for his digestion. March through June are very slow for pianists and other artists; the rest of the year the time can be filled. Moscheles then explains guineas, pounds and shillings to Beethoven. Moscheles then asks whether he could have his brother from Prague meet Beethoven; he is waiting outside. Beethoven asks why he did not bring his brother in; Moscheles says it was because Beethoven was eating dinner.

Once the brother is brought up, Moscheles continues that he saw Brother Johann for the first time today at Artaria’s. Steiner & Co. have given life to The Ruins of Athens, which was published in February, 1823. Beethoven’s symphony nr. 2 went very well at Moscheles’ first concert. [He does not mention that only the first movement was played.]

Moscheles attention is drawn to Beethoven’s English Broadwood piano. He asks how it is doing for Beethoven. [It needs work, as usual.] A new English piano now costs 100 guineas, or 220 ducats. Presently he alternates between a Broadwood and Clementi piano.

Moscheles maximizes profit on his publications by arranging for strict simultaneous publication in several countries; that way he gets a double fee. If there is a delay, then the work gets pirated immediately and the publisher loses out.

Towards the end of the conversation Schindler joins the pair. Moscheles mentions that Count Ferdinand Troyer will be coming tomorrow. [In 1825, Karl Holz will describe Troyer as the procurer for Archduke Rudolph.] Schindler notes that Troyer gave a gift of 200 florins to pianist and composer Franz Schoberlechner.

Moscheles says he is staying at most until Christmas, and will come back if Beethoven will permit it.

Schindler remains, saying he spoke to violinist Joseph Mayseder, who knew about Schindler’s application for a position at the Kärntertor Theater. He pleads again with Beethoven to write a few lines to Duport, the manager of the theater and ask whether anything has been decided. Mayseder complained very much about the performance of the violins, and said there was no strength in the bowing. [Schuppanzigh was also seeking a position there, putting him in competition with Schindler. If Beethoven wrote such a letter, it does not survive. More likely he did not, lest he offend Schuppanzigh if he heard about it.]

Conversation Book 47, 26v-34r.

Moscheles’ diary relates the visit as follows: “Having arrived at the front door, I remembered with some degree of sadness how shy of people Beethoven was, so I asked my brother to wait downstairs until I had tested the water. However, as soon as I asked Beethoven, after greeting him briefly, whether he would be prepared to meet my brother, he inquired hastily, ‘Where is he?’ ‘Downstairs,’ I replied. ‘What? Downstairs?’ he cried out even more hastily. He then rushed down the stairs, grabbed my astonished brother by the arm, and pulled him right into the middle of the room, demanding, ‘Do you really think of me as a rough, unapproachable barbarian?’ He then showed great kindness towards my brother, but unfortunately, on account of his deafness, we were able to converse with him only in writing.” Emil F. Smidak, Moscheles: The Life of the Composer and his Encounters with Beethoven, Liszt, Chopin & Mendelssohn, p.32.

Today’s Wiener Zeitung includes an advertisement from S.A. Steiner & Co. for the newest composition from Beethoven’s former pupil, Carl Czerny, his Variations in Light Style for piano on the popular final song from the magical play Die Fee aus Frankreich, op.52. Steiner also offers a new edition of Czerny’s opus 1, Variations concertantes for piano and violin.