How Beethoven got the money of rich patrons

Beethoven had perfected the art of wrapping his fingers around the body. Numerous influential patrons financed him.

By Beethoven-House Bonn

Beethoven-House Bonn

Maximilian Franz (1756-1801), since 1784 Elector and Archbishop of Cologne (1800) by AnonymousBeethoven-House Bonn

Patron and sponsor: Elector Maximilian Franz

Elector Max Franz enables Beethoven to go to Vienna to study - and even continues to pay his salary. His motivation: as a "patron of the arts", the Elector can adorn himself with Beethoven's works and enhance his prestige.

Three sonatas for piano (E flat major, F minor, D major) WoO 47 Three sonatas for piano (E flat major, F minor, D major) WoO 47 (1790) by Ludwig van BeethovenBeethoven-House Bonn

First dedications: the "Kurfürstensonaten

In Beethoven's time, the church and the nobility financed the arts. Beethoven therefore had to learn how to attract the attention of the powerful. His teacher Christian Gottlob Neefe made sure that he dedicated the first piano sonatas to his employer in the Bonn Hofkapelle.

Fürst Karl Lichnowsky (1761-1814) (1920) by AnonymousBeethoven-House Bonn

The first Viennese patron: Prince Karl Lichnowsky

In Vienna Beethoven soon had to look for new patrons. Through a recommendation, he came to Prince Karl Lichnowsky, who introduced him to the Viennese nobility. But when Beethoven was to play before French officers - no sense of art! -, it comes to a break.

Years later, Beethoven still writes the Prince a peppery letter: "Prince, what you are, you are by chance and birth, what I am, I am by myself; princes have it and will have thousands more; there is only one Beethoven.

Rudolph (1788-1831), Archduke of Austria, Cardinal and Archbishop of Olomouc since 1819 (1823) by Friedrich Johann Gottlieb LiederBeethoven-House Bonn

Influential piano student: Rudolph of Austria

Beethoven met the son of the Austrian Emperor at a princely reception. Rudolph had Beethoven teach him piano and composition. When the Duke had to flee from Napoleon's troops, Beethoven dedicated a sonata to him:

Sonata for piano (E flat major) op. 81a, 2nd and 3rd movement Sonata for piano (E flat major) op. 81a, 2nd and 3rd movement (1810) by Ludwig van BeethovenBeethoven-House Bonn

Piano sonata no. 26 in E flat major op. 81a - "Les Adieux

"Vien 1810 on the 30th of January / Written upon the arrival / of His Imperial Highness / of the Revered Archduke Rudolf / of / Ludwig van Beethoven".

Photography of an oil painting probably by Friedrich Oelenhainz (1935) by AnonymousBeethoven-House Bonn

Beethoven must remain in Vienna: Franz von Lobkowitz

Napoleon's brother wanted to bring Beethoven to Kassel. There he would have had his own orchestra! But Prince Franz von Lobkowitz forges a plan with Archduke Rudolph to keep Beethoven in Vienna.

Annuity agreement (1809-03-01) by Ludwig van BeethovenBeethoven-House Bonn

Princes for Beethoven: the annuity

Together with the nobleman Kinsky, the princes commit themselves to a monthly payment. The model for today's sponsoring contracts!

Songs for voice and piano after poems by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe op. 83 Songs for voice and piano after poems by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe op. 83 (1811) by Ludwig van BeethovenBeethoven-House Bonn

Beethoven thanks

Beethoven knows how important dedications to the nobility are. So he provides them abundantly with them - and thereby secures their support. He dedicates these Three Songs for Voice and Piano op. 83 to Princess Kinksy.

Contract Between Ludwig van Beethoven and the Publisher Artaria & Co. (1795-05-19)Beethoven-House Bonn

The first freelance artist

Despite many supporters, Beethoven always strived for financial independence. If he felt too dependent on one of the patrons, Beethoven could still rely on the fees of the publishers and his self-organized concerts - a true freelancer!

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