Franz Ries (1755-1846): Beethoven's guide and guardian

Franz Ries, the father of Beethoven's friend and assistant, Ferdinand Ries, helped to foster young Ludwig's musical talent and ensured his protege wasn't left out of pocket by his careless father.

Franz Ries

It's hard to believe that the young Ludwig van Beethoven was so talented that at the age of just 13, he was appointed assistant court organist.

One of those who recognised his musical talent early, and did all he could to foster it, was Franz Ries, the leader of the Elector's orchestra.

A kindly, caring man, he was particularly solicitous of Ludwig's welfare after Ludwig's mother died in 1787, almost certainly lending him money.

In 1789 Ries helped Ludwig draft the letter to the Elector which resulted in Johann van Beethoven's retirement as court singer and half his pension being paid to Ludwig.

And in 1793 after Johann's death, although Ludwig had moved to Vienna, he assisted him in petitioning the Elector - successfully - to pay him amounts due to him that his father had squandered.

In 1801, he sent his son Ferdinand to Vienna with a letter asking Ludwig to help Ferdinand progress musically in the capital.

Beethoven read the letter and said to Ferdinand: "I cannot answer your father just now; but do write to him that I have not forgotten how my mother died. He will be satisfied with that."

Ferdinand later wrote: "I learned that the [Beethoven] family, being greatly in need, my father had been helpful to [Ludwig] on this occasion in every way."

Ries outlived his son Ferdinand by eight years, and is today buried in the same cemetery in Bonn as Beethoven's mother.