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Beethoven Patron - Karl Lichnowsky

Karl Lichnowsky a Beethoven Patron

In a January 16, 1805 letter, which Beethoven wrote to Breitkopf & Härtel, he described his relationship with Prince Karl Alois Lichnowsky:

He really is - surely a rare thing for a person of his social class - one of my most faithfyl friends and one of the most loyal patrons of my music.

Beethoven dedicated several of his compositions to Lichnowsky, and all was well between them until an incident occurred at Lichnowsky's estate in 1806:

...in 1806, his relations with Lichnowsky suffered a breach which was probably never healed.  It occurred while Beethoven was staying at the prince's estate at Gratz, near Troppau, in Silesia [now Hradec, near Opava, Czech Republic].
. . .
His stay ended abruptly, however, as a result of an episode of which differing descriptions exist (none of them, unfortunately, by an eyewitness). 

His refusal to play before visiting French officers reportedly led to an angry scene with Lichnowsky, who may even have threatened him in some manner, whereupon, according to one version, Beethoven was only just prevented by Count Oppersdorff from striking the prince. 

Beethoven then rushed out of the house and walked by night - according to nineteenth-century versions of the incident, to the town of Troppau [or] to the village of Hirschdorf [Jelenice], the distance in each case being about 8 kilometres. 

On arriving back in Vienna, he is said to have smashed the bust of Lichnowsky which he had in his rooms; but this incident is more likely to have occurred between early August and the middle of October 1808...  (Peter Clive, Beethoven and His World: A Biographical Dictionary, pages 203-204.)


Media Credits

Image of Prince Karl Alois Lichnowsky, online courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Quoted passages from Peter Clive, Beethoven and His World: A Biographical Dictionary, pages 203-204.

 

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