BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Wednesday, July 31, 1822

From the letter dated July 26th, Beethoven has a rescheduled appointment today at 5:30 in the afternoon for a composition lesson with Archduke Rudolph. It appears that the twice-per-week schedule for the Archduke’s lessons over this summer was typically on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

While in Vienna, Beethoven has nephew Karl write a letter to brother Johann at his estate in Gneixendorf. He apologizes for the unreadable letter sent yesterday [apparently the mostly-lost letter discussed in yesterday’s entry], but he was exhausted and was writing with a bad quill. Beethoven would like to know how long it takes letters to go from his place to Johann’s, and vice versa.

With regard to publisher C.F. Peters, Ludwig notes that they have reached an agreement about the 1000 gulden payment for the Missa Solemnis. He wishes Johann were present, since he fears he is selling pieces to Peters too cheaply. Ludwig still owes him four marches, three songs and four bagatelles. But he can’t send the bagatelles yet because the copyist is busy with the Mass. [This appears to be untrue; Ludwig continued proofreading the score for months after this, and it seems unlikely to have been in the copyist’s hands yet.] He asks Johann again for an advance on the forthcoming money so he can afford to get to Baden, where he will need to spend at least a month.

Ludwig also expresses his irritation at the Steiner publishing house, which is insisting on a written promise that he give them all of his works, but he won’t agree to that unless they cancel the debt he owes them. He says the debt is about 3000 gulden, but he refuses to pay them interest. As part settlement, he has offered them the two works written for Hungary [King Stephan op.117 and The Ruins of Athens op.113], from which they have already published four pieces. Ludwig mentions that he has shouldered part of the debts that Karl’s mother incurred [covering these debts and the expenses of brother Caspar Carl’s last illness were a large part of why he needed to borrow so much from Steiner.] “If you were here, these things would soon be resolved; only necessity compels me to sell my soul like this.

“If you could come here and go with me to Baden for 8 days, it would be very nice. Only you must write me at once what your plans are. Meanwhile, make sure your kitchen and cellar are in the best condition, because I will probably set up our headquarters near you with my little son [nephew Karl]. We have made the noble resolution to consume everything you have. It goes without saying that we are only talking about September.” Karl adds a postscript: “I, the secretary, also embrace you with all my heart, and wish to see you again soon.” Beethoven correctly decides not to send the draft from Peters for 300 gulden to Johann, lest something happen to it.

Brandenburg Letter 1486; Anderson Letter 1087. The original of this letter, in Karl’s handwriting and signed by Ludwig, is held by the Bonn Beethovenhaus, H.C. Bodmer Collection Br 12. It is unclear whether Karl was visiting his uncle in Döbling, or whether the uncle was visiting Karl. Visiting days were usually Thursdays and Sundays, but since Ludwig likely was in the City for the Archduke’s lessons on this date, there may have been exceptions made. The letter can be seen here: