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Rudolph (1788-1831), Erzherzog von Österreich, seit 1819 Kardinal und Erzbischof von Olmütz - Stich von Blasius Höfel nach einer Zeichnung von Adalbert Suchy

Beethoven-Haus Bonn, B 186

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Archduke Rudolph of Austria was the youngest son of Emperor Leopold II and the brother of Emperor Franz I. In 1819 he was elected Cardinal and Archbishop of Olmütz. The Archduke was an excellent piano player. He admired Ludwig van Beethoven's music and sometimes even composed pieces of his own. For many years he was not only a close friend but was also Beethoven's most important patron.

When Beethoven was offered the position of bandmaster at the Court in Kassel in 1809, Rudolph and the Princes Kinsky and Lobkowitz announced an annual pension of 4,000 florin for Beethoven if he remained in Vienna. Beethoven gave the Archduke piano lessons and also accepted him as student of composition - the only one he ever took on. In 1818 he composed a song theme for his student following the words "O Hoffnung, du stählst die Herzen, du milderst die Schmerzen" (Oh, hope you harden our hearts and sooth our pain) (WoO 200) which the Archduke wrote 40 variations on. When Beethoven thanked Rudolph for sending him this composition in 1819, he called it "excellent".

The Archduke was the student and patron Beethoven dedicated most of his pieces to, among them the piano concerts op. 58 and 73, the piano sonata "Les Adieux" op. 81 a, the Hammerklavier sonata op. 106 and the trio in B flat major for piano, violin and violoncello op. 97. For the inauguration of Archduke Rudolph as Archbishop of Olmütz in March 1820, Beethoven composed his "Missa solemnis". Unfortunately, the piece was not completed in time for the ceremony.(S.B.)

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