Prince Lichnowsky (1756-1814) and Beethoven: Life in Vienna

When Beethoven arrived in Vienna in November 1792, he had a letter of introduction from Count Waldstein to Prince Karl Lichnowsky, one of Vienna's foremost patrons of the arts.

Prince Karl Lichnowsky (1756-1814)

When Beethoven arrived in Vienna in November 1792, he had a letter of introduction from Count Waldstein to Prince Karl Lichnowsky, one of Vienna's foremost patrons of the arts.

This secured him not just a small apartment - in the attic of the Lichnowsky's sumptuous apartment in the Alstergasse - but a patron of inestimable worth.

The young man was soon performing at the Friday concerts held by Prince Lichnowsky in his salon, and meeting the men and women of influence in the arts.

So taken were Prince and Princess Lichnowsky with their young lodger, that within a month they moved him down from the attic to a spacious apartment on the ground floor.

They then moved him into a set of rooms in their own apartment. But Beethoven quickly tired of having to dress neatly and turn up promptly for meals, and he moved out in May 1795.

Prince Lichnowsky was forgiving of the young musician's treatment of him - Beethoven found the Lichnowsky's attention oppressive and was quite prepared to snub them in public.

In 1800 Prince Lichnowsky settled an annuity of 600 florins per year on Beethoven, to give him a regular income. This continued until 1806, when Beethoven fatally ruptured the relationship.

Lichnowsky had taken Beethoven away to his country estate at Grätz, near Troppau in Silesia, in August 1806 - after the professional trauma of the failed productions of Loenore, and the personal trauma of Carl van Beethoven's marriage to Johanna, which Beethoven tried with all his might to prevent.

But Beethoven found Lichnowsky's paternal attitude to him as oppressive as ever. After a furious row - after Lichnowsky had asked him to perform for some French officers who were invited to dinner - Beethoven stormed out of the house and made his way on foot to Troppau.

He rapidly fell ill, but still insisted on returning to Vienna. As he entered his apartment on the Mölkerbastei, he hurled the plaster bust of Lichnowsky - which Lichnowsky himself had given him - to the ground.

Despite Lichnowsky's persistent efforts at conciliation, Beethoven never allowed the relationship to resume its earlier intimacy.

In Lichnowsky's declining years - he and his wife had moved into a smaller apartment in the city centre after he had been almost bankrupted by the war against Napoleon, and the Princess had had to undergo a mastectomy - he would climb the four flights of stairs to Beethoven's apartment and sit outside listening to him play.

Beethoven never allowed him in. Lichnowsky told the servant he was content just to sit and listen to the remarkable young man for whom he had done so much.

Lichnowsky was the object of one of the most quoted of Beethoven's statements. Before he stormed out of the estate at Grätz, Beethoven left behind a note which read: "There are many princes and noblemen. There is only one Beethoven."

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