BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Wednesday, February 11, 1824

Beethoven as usual spends the morning working on the score to the Ninth Symphony, which is coming along well, though the Finale is giving him trouble and will continue to be reworked.

In the late morning or early afternoon, he visits (possibly with Karl) the offices of the Wiener Zeitschrift [Vienna Magazine] and its editor, Johann Schickh. He asks, as does everyone, what Beethoven is working on. He says that he’s working on the symphony, and is thinking of a Requiem mass, though he could probably make more money on an opera like Melusine. Schickh asks him why he isn’t composing that opera on Grillparzer’s libretto yet? He could write the opera first, and then people can only hope he would write a Requiem.

Discussion turns to the senile Antonio Salieri’s confessions of having poisoned Mozart. Schickh is inclined to believe the worst: “Children and fools speak the truth.” Beethoven is finding that hard to believe from his old tutor in Italian part song writing. Schickh persists: “There are 100 to 1 odds that Salieri’s confession statement is true!” Beethoven remains resistant, but Schickh answers, “Mozart’s manner of death confirms this statement!”

Perhaps offended by this discussion, Beethoven leaves the magazine offices and returns home. Still in the early afternoon, unpaid assistant Anton Schindler drops by Beethoven’s apartment. The composer, in a foul mood [perhaps due to the argument about Salieri], appears to accuse Schindler of showing up only at dinner time. Schindler is taken aback. “But it astonishes me very much that you feel troubled about me on that account, since you see, though, what kind of stomach I have.”

Karl mentions that he encountered Brother Johann in the City this morning [probably after Karl’s university classes.] He still intends to come visit today.

Schindler continues. [The following remarks are probably fraudulent entries added years later, since they fill the rest of the page 12r after Karl’s comment above regarding Johann, but the German and English editors of the conversation books do not identify them as such. In particular, Schindler’s fawning address of Beethoven as “master” is usually a sure indicator that the entries are forged.] “You are so somber again, sublime master. What’s wrong? Where has your cheery mood been for some time? // Don’t take it so much to heart; it is largely the fate of great men! // Many people are alive who can testify how he [Mozart] died, and whether there were symptoms [of poisoning.] // He [Salieri] will have damaged Mozart more through his disapproval, than Mozart did to him.”

The genuine comments from Schindler begin on the next page, and are far more mundane. He asks about whether there is any news regarding Joseph Weigl’s quest to be appointed Kapellmeister at St. Stephan’s. The Archbishop had protested against the decision to name Weigl, and he laid the case before the Consistory, which naturally was of the same opinions as the Archbishop. The government’s decision in favor of Weigl was overturned, but the affair dawdles on and Schindler thinks it will take a long time to resolve. The Archbishop is said to have alleged that Weigl’s wife was too arrogant to deal with the boys’ choir as is necessary. She had been chambermaid to the late Empress Maria Therese. [The German editors note that Elisabeth Bertier, who married Weigl in 1805, had been chambermaid to Archduchess Leopoldina. Marie Therese (1772-1807) was married to Emperor Franz I, and is not to be confused with the more famous Empress Maria Theresa (1717-1780).] Karl interjects that they want Gänsbacher to have the position, implying that it’s a fait accompli.

Discussion turns to Beethoven’s Hammerklavier Sonata, op.106, perhaps in connection with Carl Czerny playing it recently at one of his Sunday recitals that Schindler attended. Franz Joseph Haydn, who like Salieri had instructed Beethoven, comes up in the same context. [Beethoven had dedicated his first three piano sonatas op.2 to Haydn, even though according to Ries he famously had recommended Beethoven not publish the Piano Trio op.1/3.] “What would [Haydn] have said, if you had brought him a Sonata like the B-flat [Hammerklavier]? He would have had a stroke, because this would certainly be over his head. Beethoven appears to make a comment defending Haydn and suggesting that he and Mozart both built upon what Haydn did. Schindler has none of that. “If Haydn had not lived, Mozart and you would have become exactly what you are.”

Schindler remarks that violinist Joseph Michael Böhm has returned from Paris. [He had toured Munich and Paris, giving concerts in both locations.] He has a package of music for Beethoven from Maurice Schlesinger in Paris, and intends to deliver it personally one of these days.

[Schindler probably departs and returns after dinner, possibly stung by Beethoven’s recent implication that he only shows up at dinner time; if he remains while Johann and Schuppanzigh each visit, he is uncharacteristically silent.]

Brother Johann stops by while Ludwig and Karl eat, and remarks that he had the same thing as Ludwig for dinner, but it was boiled at his place. Whatever dinner is, Johann thinks Ludwig’s cook boiled it a little too long. Johann stopped by Caroline Unger’s home and gave her father Ludwig’s letter, since she was at rehearsal when he stopped by. They are giving Conradin Kreutzer’s opera Der Taucher this evening, so they should probably go to the theater and sit in the Loge. Johann appears to leave, planning to pick up Karl later this evening for the show.

Violinist Ignaz Schuppanzigh comes to the door with a receipt for Ludwig to sign for the 87 ducats due from Berlin. Then tomorrow, before 9 o’clock, Ludwig should send Karl with the document and receipt, and then he can collect the money. He needs to be there [probably a bank or a business acting as a bank] after 10 or 10:30. Karl appears to inject that he will be going to the theater tonight and thus probably sleeping late. But Ludwig’s signature is necessary.

There is discussion of the position as violinist at the Hofkapelle, which was vacant due to the death of Zeno Franz Menzel on November 19, 1823. [Schuppanzigh had applied for the position. The editors note it basically amounted to a tenured post with benefits.] The most serious competition is Anton Jeckel (c.1764-1834) and Leopold Jansa (1795-1875), a prodigy who studied under Czech composer Jan Hugo Wozischek. [Schuppanzigh was born in 1776, so Jansa would have been a generation younger, which probably rankled him; Schuppanzigh later disdainfully refers to the 28-year-old Jansa as a 20-year-old, shaving even more years off his age.] Jeckel is getting nowhere. Count Dietrichstein says he proposed Schuppanzigh for the position, but it is up to the Emperor to choose. However, through the grapevine, Schuppanzigh has heard Dietrichstein actually praised Jansa extraordinarily. In disgust at such intrigues, he concludes, “I’ve really had enough of it here already.”

Schindler appears to return after Johann and Schuppanzigh are gone. He reports that the Royal Swedish Academy’s diploma for Beethoven is at the Minister of Interior’s office. Andreas Oberleitner, the famous mandolin player, who also works there and has done a great deal, has gotten it and it finally has been passed along to the Court for approval.

After Schindler departs, Karl goes to the theater with Johann.

Conversation Book 55, 11r-16r.

At the Josephstadt Theater in Vienna, Der Treue Opfer, a Festspiel by Eckshlager with music by Franz Gläser, is performed this evening for the Emperor’s birthday. An unidentified overture by Beethoven was borrowed to serve as the overture for this Festspiel. Leipzig Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung Nr.12 (March 18, 1824) at 184.

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