BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Wednesday, May 14, 1823

Beethoven’s digestive system is still giving him trouble today. Johann advises him not to eat any more fish, not to drink too much water, or eat a great deal in the evening.

Johann has gone through four business managers. He will have an advertisement in the Wiener Zeitung (Intelligenzblatt) for the sale of his estate in Gneixendorf. His asking price is 25,000 florins.

There are new fast coaches also announced in the Wiener Zeitung. One can leave Vienna early in the morning, and by the next morning be in Brünn [Brno, in Moravia. According to Google Maps, that trip is about 140-150 km.]

The two brothers head to a wine house. Johann complains that the wine is warm and too flat. Ludwig is again worrying about the 400 florin expense of the apartment in Hetzendorf. Johann reminds him again that he paid 300 florins last summer for a much worse attic apartment.

Johann notes that Conradin Kreutzer is writing two operas at one, one of them a revision of his 1813 opera Der Taucher, based on Schiller. “In any case, you should write poor Grilpatzer’s [sic[ opera this summer.

Ludwig returns to his apartment, where he meets up with Schindler and Franz Grillparzer. The poet commiserates that he also has diarrhea frequently. That should improve once Beethoven is in the country. It would be best to drink only acidic mineral water. Grillparzer has gotten a good deal of relief from that. He likes the water from the Johannisbrunnen Springs, about 120 miles south of Vienna.

Grillparzer points out the downside of having an official position. He has to be subordinate to every Dummkopf. But he wouldn’t live anywhere else; there is real emotion in Vienna. The censors are problematic, but that should be less of a problem with music. Beethoven suggests that there may be plenty of revolution in his music, and Grillparzer says, “If they knew what you were thinking about in your music!” Grillparzer asks when Beethoven will go to the country, and he hopes to depart in the next few days.

Schindler reminds Beethoven that if he likes Grillparzer’s libretto to Melusine, the poet will be happy to take whatever further steps are needed. Grillparzer announces he is already planning a serious opera, Drahomina, which he would like Beethoven to set. Grillparzer self-effacingly says that in opera the poetry is there only in service to the music.

Grillparzer thinks that the French attract their best minds to the work of libretti. He opines that there are seldom bad original operas; the bad ones are all translations or adaptations. The main problem will be finding a tenor who can play Raimund, the principal role in Melusine. Beethoven suggests a tenor, whom Grillparzer dismisses as commonplace. Franz Wild (1792-1860) would be good, but he’s not in Vienna. Caroline Unger would not be bad for the female lead. He laments that Germans seldom teach the coloratura style. Grillparzer says that he is a dabbler in music, and that he learned the melody of poetry through music.

After Grillparzer leaves, Schindler remains to discuss the Missa Solemnis subscriptions. The time is probably ripe to approach Prince Esterházy about subscribing. He often has Beethoven’s Mass in C op.86 performed. Schindler is pleased that things went well with Grillparzer; he had feared that he could not make himself understood in the conversation books. Now he is quite delighted that the opposite is true.

Johann returns, possibly for dinner. As it turns out, Karl will get 8 new shirts rather than 7; once it was cut out, the piece yielded another shirt. One will be ready already this week. Johann believes that Esterházy should get an engraved copy, rather than a hand-copies version of the Mass. He has been in discussions with Artaria about a plan where Ludwig would get Haydn’s position for 1000 florins per year and a free apartment; the Missa Solemnis could be used as the first official work. One such piece would be required every year, though. Johann suggests that it best to give Esterházy an engraved copy but ask for nothing, and let Artaria, who often talks to the prince, put the idea into his head.

Schindler has time tomorrow afternoon to go out to Hetzendorf with the old woman, housekeeper Barbara Holzmann, to get the apartment ready. They will set up the bellpull so that it reaches into the room that Ludwig will be using as a bedroom.

Ludwig suggests having a beer, but Johann says that’s not a good idea under the circumstances. He says that he could at most drink a half, or a third of a liter of beer.

Conversation Book 32, 46v-56r.