Maximilian Franz (1756 - 1801) and Beethoven's career beginnings

Brother of Marie Antoinette (pictured), son of the Holy Roman Emperor, as the youngest son of the Imperial royal family Maximilian Franz was dispatched to an outpost of the Empire, Bonn in Germany, seat of the Elector of Cologne and Archbishop of Münster - to both of which titles he was appointed.

Marie Antoinette

Maximilian Franz was a great supporter of the arts, maintaining a court orchestra in which the young Beethoven played viola. In 1791 he took his orchestra with him to his summer palace at Mergentheim, a trip along the rivers Rhine and Main which Beethoven, aged 20, greatly enjoyed. He was appointed kitchen scullion on the boat and presented with a scroll commemorating the fact, which he kept till the end of his life.

In 1787 - probably after an intervention by Count Waldstein  - Max Franz gave Beethoven six months' leave of absence to go to Vienna to study with Mozart. The trip was cut short by the terminal illness of Beethoven's mother.

Again in 1792 Max Franz allowed Beethoven to travel once more to Vienna. Bonn was under occupation by French troops and Max Franz had been forced to disband the orchestra. Beethoven left on 2 November 1792, never to return to Bonn.

Max Franz was never in good health since he had injured his knee on the battlefield in his youth. In his middle years he put on an enormous amount of weight and died at the early age of 45.

Beethoven - who visited him shortly before his death in the Vienna suburb of Hetzendorf -- intended dedicating the First Symphony to Max Franz, but Max Franz died before it was completed. Beethoven dedicated it instead to Baron van Swieten .