Count Oppersdorff (1778 - 1818): Beethoven's wealthy fan

Count Oppersdorff was a wealthy music-lover with an orchestra of his own, was the money behind Beethoven's Fourth and Fifth Symphonies.

Sheet music

Count Oppersdorff was a wealthy music-lover who had an estate near Ober-Glogau in Upper Silesia and maintained his own orchestra.

A near neighbour was Beethoven's great patron Prince Lichnowsky, whose country seat was at Grätz, near Troppau.

In autumn 1806 - a tense year for Beethoven, marked in the spring by his withdrawal of his opera Leonore after its apparent failure, and in the summer by his deteriorating relationship with his brother Caspar Carl who married in May and whose son Karl  was born in September - Lichnowsky persuaded Beethoven to accompany him to Grätz for some rest and peace.

While there they visited Count Oppersdorff, whose orchestra performed Beethoven's Second Symphony to his approval. Oppersdorff commissioned a new symphony from him - the Fourth - which Beethoven completed in October, selling the score to the Count for 500 florins for six month's private use. It was published two years later with a dedication to Count Oppersdorff.

In February 1807 the Count paid Beethoven a further 500 florins for the Fourth Symphony; and in June, evidently well pleased with the Fourth Symphony, he commissioned the Fifth for 500 florins, immediately paying the first installment of 200 florins.

Beethoven completed the Fifth Symphony in 1808, handing the score to Oppersdorff in November in exchange for the final payment - though the dedication went jointly to Count Razumovsky and Prince Lobkowitz.

There is no record of Count Oppersdorff commissioning any further works from Beethoven.