BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Wednesday, January 7, 1824

Widow Anna Seisser applies for the housekeeper position this afternoon. She had been married to the Criminal Court Commissioner Franz Joseph Seisser, who died in 1817 of a stroke. She lives on her pension. Beethoven offers her the position, but she would like two days to think it over. He asks if she has any requests, and she would like a regularly-employed fine man-servant. [Beethoven had long resisted hiring any male servants, even when Nephew Karl urged him to do so.]

After she leaves, Beethoven makes a note that he needs a barber’s razor.

Nephew Karl and violinist Ignaz Schuppanzigh show up later at Beethoven’s apartment. Schuppanzigh heard pianist Friedrich Kalkbrenner play today, and he thought Kalkbrenner was better than Moscheles. Beethoven asks in what way, and Schuppanzigh says Kalkbrenner has more feeling in his execution.

In the wide-ranging conversation that follows, Schuppanzigh expresses his opinion that Beethoven’s former pupil Ferdinand Ries copies entire passages from his old teacher.

Beethoven asks about how Schuppanzigh liked life abroad. One can eat very well in Russia, but in Prussia only very poorly. Everyday life there is miserable, although if you have money you can get everything you need.

Beethoven asks after Karl Friedrich Zelter (1758-1832) [composer, director of the Berlin Singakademie, friend of Goethe and teacher of young Felix Mendelssohn.] Schuppanzigh mentions that he was in Vienna recently and asks whether he visited Beethoven. Beethoven says he did not. Schuppanzigh notes that the Berlin Singakademie has piano and contrabass accompaniment; in the Russian churches they sing without accompaniment, and are very precise.

Schuppanzigh makes a gift of some wine to Beethoven, saying it is very healthy and one can drink a lot of it. Beethoven tries to pay him, but Schuppanzigh insists it is a present, and he expects nothing for it.

Schuppanzigh’s brother-in-law, Franz Rzehaczek, an amateur violinist and member of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde, has a daughter who plays piano very well. She would like to be so fortunate as to play something for Beethoven. Rzehaczek would do anything he can for Beethoven. Beethoven asks about Schuppanzigh’s wife’s sister, Frau Linke. Schuppanzigh corrects him; Frau Linke is not her sister but her cousin. [Schuppanzigh breaks off mid-sentence here, possibly continuing in a now-lost conversation book that covered the period through January 16.]

Conversation Book 52, 9r-10v. As noted, that concludes this very short conversation book. At least one book used over the next nine days appears to be missing.