BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO: Wednesday, March 10, 1824

Beethoven probably spends the morning proofreading the pages of the choral parts of the Missa Solemnis that the copyists produced yesterday. Meanwhile, the copyists continue work extracting parts from the Mass score at Beethoven’s apartment. They likely complete the choral parts by today, so after proofreading they can be taken by Tobias Haslinger to be lithographed, ten copies of each part. They then set in on the soloists’ parts, with a bass line for rehearsal purposes. Work goes fastest on the relatively short Kyrie, and the copyist working on that movement starts generating parts for the strings.

Brother Johann discusses today what he has been doing in preparation for the Akademie benefit concert for Ludwig. He spoke to Schuppanzigh yesterday, and then he went to see the Kärntnertor Theater manager Louis Antoine Duport. Duport very much likes the idea of an Akademie concert for Ludwig, but it’s not up to him to approve an evening concert, but rather to Count Dietrichstein, the Imperial musical administrator. Johann urges Ludwig to write to Dietrichstein immediately, asking for his approval of using the Grosser Redoutensaal for the Akademie on the evening of Thursday, April 8. Johann says he will do the rest in person to get the approval. [As we will find out in about seven weeks, Johann is not telling Ludwig everything about his visit to Duport.]

[The Redoutensaals were a pair of concert halls established in 1748 by Empress Maria Theresa, that had once been part of an opera house, and now are part of the Hofburg palace complex. There is a large hall for concerts or balls, the Grosser Redoutensaal, and a small hall for more intimate events, the Kleiner Redoutensaal, which seats about 400. The Grosser Redoutensaal had excellent acoustics, and at the time was the largest concert hall in Vienna. It thus was a very solid choice for Beethoven’s Akademie concert. Because it was a ballroom, however, it required scaffolding to be erected to raise the orchestra above the audience. The number of seats therefore varied and it is difficult to get an accurate estimate. Some accounts mention crowds of 3,000 to 5,000, though those numbers are probably exaggerated. Given the size of the orchestra and chorus Beethoven would require, a substantial portion of the ballroom would have to be devoted to the scaffolding.]

Ludwig asks why they need to insist on an evening concert. Johann explains that the gross will be 1500 florins more than a concert during the day. Ludwig would prefer dealing with Duport, whom he knows fairly well. But that won’t work without the Count. Ludwig asks what is to be done, if they don’t approve an evening concert? Well, then if not, the mid-day hour would remain open as an option. If that’s what happens, then Duport will give an old opera or an old ballet that evening, so as to make the afternoon option more appealing.

On the way here, Johann spoke to the copyist, Paul Maschek. It is Maschek’s opinion that the copying of the Missa Solemnis parts would go faster and better if all the copyists worked at his home, rather than at Beethoven’s apartment. It’s too far to come out here and people are already tired by the time they get here, and they don’t want to do that. They would also start copying at his place at 4 a.m., which they couldn’t do here. [Maschek’s apartment was about a 45 minutes walk from Beethoven’s. It is not so stated in the conversation books, but the copyists may also have complained, like Beethoven has done more than once, about the poor light in his apartment.] Beethoven reluctantly goes along with this change, probably preferring not to have the copyists underfoot and pestering him with questions. On the other hand, that defeats part of the purpose of doing the work here, with the composer handy to answer such questions.

This afternoon, after classes, Nephew Karl comes to Beethoven’s apartment and sees Johann was here. He asks whether the Redoutensaal has been decided upon as the venue, and Ludwig says it seems to be. Karl is confused, because there had been talk about doing the Akademie concert at the Theater an der Wien instead. When Uncle Ludwig affirms that the Redoutensaal is the plan, Karl agrees that’s the best place. [The Redoutensaal was significantly more reverberant than the rather dry theaters.]

Karl thinks his uncle should come with him Sunday afternoon [March 14] to the concert of the Schuppanzigh Quartet at the Musikverein. It’s good for people to see him. Uncle Ludwig has tentatively had Schindler invite Henriette Sontag and Caroline Unger to mid-day dinner on Sunday, which would make going to the concert impossible.

Karl asks about the ticket prices for the gallery and the parterre in the Redoutensaal. Beethoven probably has not thought that far ahead, and likely defers to Johann and Duport’s judgment.

The shoemaker arrives at Beethoven’s apartment, probably to deliver the refurbished shoes and boots.

The system of one ring of the bell for one of the servants and two rings for the other is breaking down, as the servant who was supposed to respond on one ring didn’t know that was her signal.

Heft 59, 4v-6v

Ludwig probably does not get around to writing the requested letter to Count Dietrichstein about the concert just yet, despite Johann’s requests. This procrastination is pretty typical of Ludwig, even though the planned April 8th concert date is less than a month away.

He does, however, write two other letters. The first is to Heinrich Albert Probst in Leipzig. He acknowledges Probst’s purchase of the Opferlied op.121b, Bundeslied op.122, the Six Bagatelles op.126, Der Kuss op.128, and the Consecration of the House Overture, op.124, for 100 ducats total. Copies will be made and forwarded as soon as possible. He asks Probst to send a bill of exchange to a local banking house for payment. Beethoven would like to do the arrangement of the Overture for piano two hands and four hands. He finds his correspondence takes up too much of his time. [These works are all owned by Brother Johann, given to him in payment for various loans made to Ludwig. Beethoven will eventually arrange for his former pupil Carl Czerny to do the piano reduction of the Overture, and does not do it himself.]

Since Probst responded quickly and positively, Beethoven now offers him the Missa Solemnis. “Unfortunately, now I have to talk about myself since I think it is the greatest work I have ever written.” The fee would be 1000 florins C.M. He also has a new symphony with a choral finale on Schiller’s Ode to Joy, in much the same vein as his Choral Fantasy op.80, but on a far grander scale. The honorarium for the symphony would be 600 florins C.M. However, that piece would only be available as of July, 1825 [since the London Philharmonic Society has exclusive rights for 18 months. Considering that the symphony is not even a finished score yet, the 18 months would more properly have been stated as being over around October 1825 or later.] Because of the long delay, Beethoven would also provide a piano transcription at no additional cost. [Beethoven never did a piano reduction of the Ninth Symphony, nor did he authorize anyone else to do one, as he had with other works.]

Brandenburg Letter 1788; Anderson Letter 1269; Albrecht Letter 345. The original is broken into two parts. The first page is in the Bonn City Archive (Ii 98/516), while the second is at the Berlin Staatsbibliothek (aut.33) Probst’s notes on the letter indicate it was received by him in Leipzig on March 15th and he responded on March 19th; however the reply is dated March 22 and will be addressed on that date.

The second letter is to publisher B. Schott’s Sons in Mainz. Beethoven acknowledges receipt of the request from the editors of their new musical journal Cäcilia, and asks that this reply be forwarded to them. Beethoven prefers to reveal himself to the world through his works, rather than through writings, so he declines their request to be a correspondent for them, but he will try to find them a reliable Vienna correspondent, which is difficult due to the partisanship felt in the City.

However, he tells Schott that he does have available for purchase new works, including a grand Mass with solo and choral voices. “It is difficult for me to talk about myself, but I consider it to be my greatest work.” He offers the same price of 1000 florins C.M. He also offers the Ninth Symphony, again at the price of 600 florins C.M. Then he makes the offer of a new string quartet [which he has barely begun], for an honorarium of 50 gold ducats. [This offer of the quartet seems like an added-on afterthought, which suggests he wrote the letter to Probst first.]

Brandenburg Letter 1787; Anderson Letter 1270. The original letter is in the archive of B. Schott’s Sons in Mainz. The letter is in Ludwig’s hand, but Nephew Karl writes the address for legibility. On the letter after receipt, Gottfried Weber, the editor of Cäcilia, and Johann Joseph Schott make notes regarding this offer, and Weber suggests it would be money in the bank to acquire the new quartet, and they should proceed to acquire that work.

Perhaps stung by Beethoven’s dismissal of him yesterday, perhaps busy with rehearsals, unpaid assistant Anton Schindler does not yet go to soprano Henriette Sontag and alto Caroline Unger with Beethoven’s invitation to dinner on Sunday.