BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Wednesday, September 17, 1823

Self portrait of Louis Spohr

Beethoven writes from Baden to composer Louis Spohr in Kassel today. He says that he did not send a subscription invitation to Hesse-Cassel for the Missa Solemnis, since he had been assured that they would not accept it. But speaking to Hauser [singer Franz Hauser, who had visited Beethoven in Hetzendorf in June], perhaps after all His Excellency the Elector might accept the invitation, seeing as the Czar of Russia, the King of France and the King of Prussia are subscribers. He has made inquiries several times at the Hessian embassy, but no one is ever there and they have apparently all gone to the country. Since now Beethoven is in Baden, it is not convenient to forward the invitation through the legation, so he is writing to Spohr directly and asks that the invitation be delivered to the Elector.

Beethoven says that his health was still not recovered when Hauser came to visit. But now he is feeling better and his eye complaint is rapidly clearing up.

As to Spohr’s inquiry about Beethoven working on an opera, it is true that Grillparzer wrote him a libretto [Melusine] and he made a start, but his poor health caused him to set aside several works that now must be taken up before he can work on the opera.

Hauser reported that Spohr had composed double quartets, which Beethoven finds delightful. “The musical public will surely look forward to them.” He envies Spohr his life in the country with his family. “My most dearest wish is to live that kind of life, but unfortunately my situation does not yet permit it.” In a postscript, he asks for a speedy reply. Although the subscription scheme has been successful on the surface, the copying costs have been very high. He could send a copy as soon as the 50 ducat honorarium is received. [The Elector did not in fact subscribe to the Mass.]

Brandenburg Letter 1740, Anderson Letter 1237. The letter’s whereabouts are unknown, but it was published in Wolfgang A. Thomas-San-Galli, Ludwig van Beethoven (Munich 1913) p.386f. The text of the letter is stated there to be written in Schindler’s hand; considering that Schindler had been dismissed and was persona non grata at this time, it was almost certainly in Nephew Karl’s handwriting instead.

Karl may go to Vienna this evening to run errands for his uncle, taking his friend Joseph Niemetz with him. Alternatively, he may take the 6 a.m. coach to Vienna the next morning and then come back tomorrow evening. Karl notes later that Uncle Ludwig kissed him as he left, and that he saw his Uncle watching out the window as he departed.

Before he goes, Karl finishes the letter to Prince Nikolai Galitzin in St. Petersburg that was started yesterday. In it, Beethoven asks for the 50 ducat honorarium for the subscription to the Missa Solemnis to be drawn on the Heniksten bankers.

Brandenburg Letter 1743. The original is lost, but its date and contents are known from Galitzin’s response to Beethoven of October 3, and the discussion in yesterday’s conversation book.

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