Ignaz Schuppanzigh (1776-1830): Beethoven's lifelong friend

A renowned violinist and leader of Prince Lichnowsky's String Quartet, Ignaz Schuppanzigh was one of Beethoven's few lifelong friends.

Ignaz Schuppanzigh

Schuppanzigh was a renowned violinist and leader of Prince Lichnowsky's String Quartet. He also ran for a time the summer series of concerts in the Augarten Park.

In 1808 he was engaged by Count Razumovsky as leader of a permanent quartet at the Count's palace - the quartet was disbanded eight years later after the fire which destroyed the palace.

Beethoven met Schuppanzigh soon after he arrived in Vienna, and the two remained friends and close musical associates for the rest of Beethoven's life. Schuppanzigh regularly was the first to play Beethoven's compositions for violin, and was leader in the first performances of the Late Quartets (except Op 131).

He was also leader of the orchestra for the first performance of the Ninth Symphony at the Kärntnertor Theatre on 7th May 1824.

Schuppanzigh was enormously fat, regularly complaining at having to climb four floors to Beethoven's apartment in the Pasqualatihaus. Beethoven made fun of Schuppanzigh's fatness, composing a piece in celebration of it - Lob auf den Dicken [In Praise of the Fat One], WoO 100, for full chorus and three solo male voices, the first line of which is "Schuppanzigh ist ein Lump" [Schuppanzigh is a rogue].

Beethoven also composed a short canon, WoO 184, to celebrate Schuppanzigh's return from seven years in St Petersburg in 1823, and used to call him jokingly Sir John Falstaff.