BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO: Tuesday, February 4, 1823

Anton Schindler stops by Beethoven’s apartment this morning, after having talked with Count Gallenberg, supervisor of the Kärntnertor Theater’s music library. The Count sends his compliments, and he would be happy to give any spare score of Fidelio but they only have one, so a copy will need to be made in order to send one to Dresden for the use of Carl Maria von Weber.

Beethoven is still in the market for a new stove, and Schindler says he can get one more cheaply in the suburb of Spittelberg.

If Bach can indeed get as much loaned on Beethoven’s bank shares as he says, then the best route would be to immediately have the Mass lithographed; it will take a few weeks and then everything will be ready to go as soon as the subscription funds begin flowing in. The André and Simrock publishing houses are making the most beautifully engraved copies currently, according to Leidesdorf.

Beethoven asks Schindler to visit the doctor of Johanna, Karl’s mother, to see what the state of her health is, and whether she is indeed in need of funds. Schindler says he will go to the doctor himself, and hopes to have an update for Beethoven by tomorrow. But he is skeptical; they know she is getting at least 600 florins per year, plus the father of her daughter says he is paying 40 florins per month. “There must be thousands who live on less than 600 florins per year.”

There is some more discussion of Count Gallenberg. In an oblique reference to his wife, the former Julie Guicciardi, Beethoven says “I was his invisible benefactor, through someone else.” Schindler says he should know that, so he would have more regard for Beethoven. Schindler has a low opinion of her intelligence, saying that if she has to do something the day after tomorrow, she will no longer remember it.

Gallenberg was rather rude to him; he was surprised that Beethoven did not have a score himself, and when Schindler told him he did not, Gallenberg said it was no wonder the way he always is constantly moving about and he probably lost it due to his unsettled condition. What business is it of his, Schindler wonders.

The cook thought Beethoven was joking when he said to cook an unidentified food in a particular way; she had never heard of such a thing. He notes that housekeeper Barbara Holzmann, “the old woman,” should try it to see how good it is. [Holzmann is already back in Beethoven’s employ, if she ever actually left when he fired her last week.]

Schindler asks what should be done about the works that Steiner has in hand but refuses to publish; Bach also wants to know whether he should take any action.

The conversation returns to the Countess Gallenberg, formerly Julie Guicciardi. In a revealing moment, Beethoven writes about her, in French: “I was beloved by her, and more than her husband ever was. He, however, was more her lover than I, but through her, I learned of his misfortune, and I found a wealthy man, who gave me the sum of 500 fl. to help him. He was always my enemy, and this was precisely the reason that I did everything as well as I possibly could for him.”

Schindler sarcastically notes that Gallenberg also called Beethoven “an ‘insufferable person,’ probably from sheer gratitude.” He notes that she has a fine figure, even now. Beethoven responds, “She was born Guicciardi. She was his wife already before they went to Italy, and she sought me out tearfully, but I scorned her.” He adds, in German: “If I had wanted to devote my life’s power to such a life, what would have remained for the nobler, the better things?” [Julie was Beethoven’s piano student in 1800, and in 1801 he wrote to Wegeler about her as a “dear, magical girl,” but even then he noted that the class differences between them were insurmountable. The “Moonlight” Sonata, op.27/2 (1802), is dedicated to her. In 1803, she married Gallenberg and they moved to Italy; they had only returned to Vienna in 1822. Even twenty years later, her choice to marry Gallenberg rather than Beethoven still clearly galled the composer.]

Schindler says he is going to meet again with Attorney Bach. Beethoven, alone again, makes a list of shaving soap, a yard of fine white cloth for shirt collars, and pens, before doing his shopping.

Schindler then returns, probably in the later afternoon. Attorney Bach told him that although the subscription requests should in general go through the embassy, they should properly be directed to the Court itself. He will revise the letters that he has not yet sent accordingly, including that for Ferdinand III, Archduke of Tuscany.

Schindler was at Bach’s home; Bach has a neck ailment and is confined to bed. But he says not to let the bank shares out of Beethoven’s hands just now, because the market volatility is high and the value has plummeted again. He is considering every reasonable solution to avoid this speculation and suggests Beethoven wait it out a few days to see what will happen.

Wiener Zeitung editor Joseph Carl Bernard sends his regards, and reports that Johanna’s doctor does not want to get mixed up in their battles back and forth. But he will pass on her new address so Schindler can go there himself and investigate her circumstances. The doctor knows it’s on the Salzgries, but didn’t know the number offhand. Schindler doesn’t want to make assumptions based on the doctor’s unwillingness, but will go tomorrow again. The doctor didn’t say whether he had given her the money Beethoven forwarded to him for her.

Schindler asks for a piece of paper; he will write the subscription solicitation to Archduke Ferdinand right now. [He clearly has written so many of these letters that he no longer needs his exemplar copy to work from.] He also writes one to Grand Duke Karl August of Sachsen-Weimar, Brandenburg Letter 1547. Beethoven intends to write to Karl Friedrich Zelter, director of the Berlin Singakademie, asking that he also subscribe to the Missa Solemnis. They have a light dinner, and Schindler gets soup and a side dish of vegetables.

Schindler expresses satisfaction that the Prussian ambassador, Prince Franz Ludwig, has answered Beethoven directly about the Mass. When he delivered the letter to the Prussian embassy, they sent him away brusquely, and he was afraid they would not consider it seriously. Schindler suggests that it would be polite to write back to him.

Beethoven is becoming more determined to go with lithography of the subscription copies. Copyist Wenzel Rampl comes by later in the evening, complaining of the bad and rainy weather. He seems to have more questions about the Missa Solemnis score, but they are not dealt with in the Conversation Book. Rampl acknowledges that Beethoven prefers to talk to him directly, rather than one of his assistants. If Beethoven prefers, he can have Peter Gläser (1776-1849, father of the composer Franz Gläser) rastrate the sheets for the score. [Rastration is drawing the staves onto the paper for the copyist. Gläser will eventually become Beethoven’s favorite copyist, after the death of Wenzel Schlemmer.]

Conversation Book 22, 38v-54r.