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Karl Alois Johann-Nepomuk Vinzenz, Fürst Lichnowsky

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Title: Karl Alois Johann-Nepomuk Vinzenz, Fürst Lichnowsky  
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Subject: Piano Trios, Op. 1 (Beethoven), Ludwig van Beethoven, Piano Sonata No. 12 (Beethoven)
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Karl Alois Johann-Nepomuk Vinzenz, Fürst Lichnowsky

Karl Alois, Prince Lichnowsky (German: Karl Alois Johann-Nepomuk Vinzenz Leonhard, Fürst Lichnowsky, also known as Carl Alois, Fürst von Lichnowsky-Woschütz) (June 21, 1761[1] – April 15, 1814), was second Prince Lichnowsky and a Chamberlain at the Imperial Austrian court. He is remembered for his patronage of music and his relationships with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven.


He was born in Vienna the eldest son of Count Johann Carl Gottlieb von Lichnowsky and his wife, Countess Carolina von Althann. Although Lichnowsky spent most of his time in Vienna, it was actually in Prussia that he held the title of prince, while his estates were located in Grätz, then in the Silesian province that Prussia had conquered from Austria earlier in the century. The location is today called Hradec nad Moravicí and is within the borders of the Czech Republic.[2]

In his youth (1776 to 1782) he was a law student, studying in Leipzig and in Göttingen. While in Göttingen he met Johann Nikolaus Forkel, who later was to become famous for writing the first biography of J. S. Bach. Lichnowsky at the time began to collect works by Bach in manuscript copies.[3] He also was a musician and a composer.

Lichnowsky was married (1788)[3] to the former Maria Christiane Thun, the "beautiful" (Deutsch) daughter of Countess Wilhelmine von Thun.[4]

He was a lodge brother of Mozart; see Mozart and Freemasonry.[5]

He died of a stroke in Vienna on 15 April 1814.[6]

Relation with Mozart

In 1789 he traveled to Berlin, taking Mozart along with him. For details of the trip, see Mozart's Berlin journey.

He also lent Mozart money, which Mozart was unable to repay. This led the Prince to sue Mozart, and on 9 November 1791, a few weeks before Mozart died, the Lower Austria Court (Landrechte) decided the case in favor of the Prince, ruling that Mozart owed him the sum of 1,435 florins and 32 kreutzer, a substantial amount. The court issued an order to the chamber of the Imperial court (Mozart's employer) to attach half of Mozart's salary of 800 florins per year. The evidence of the lawsuit was uncovered (by Otto Mraz) only in 1991, and hence is not discussed in earlier Mozart biographies.

Relation with Beethoven

Lichnowsky was one of the most significant aristocratic supporters of Beethoven. In an 1805 letter the composer called him "one of my most loyal friends and promoters of my art."[3]

In 1796, the Prince traveled to Prague, this time taking Beethoven with him. The composer was on his way to Berlin.[4]

In 1800, Lichnowsky gave Beethoven an annual allowance of 600 florins until such time as he found a regular appointment as a musician (this never happened). The stipend continued until 1806, when a furious quarrel erupted between the two, terminating their friendship: Beethoven, staying at Lichnowsky's country estate, had refused to play for visiting French officers. Later, arriving home in Vienna, Beethoven smashed a bust of the Prince.[2]

In 1809, it is not Lichnowsky, still personally estranged from Beethoven, but Lobkowitz who joined with two other aristocrats (Archduke Rudolph and Prince Kinsky) in arranging a stipend for the composer. However, due to economic chaos (Napoleon had just occupied Vienna with his army), it was not possible to pay the stipend, and Beethoven later filed a lawsuit against Lichnowsky and Kinsky.[7]

Seven of Beethoven's musical compositions, all before 1806, were dedicated to Lichnowsky:[3]


Regarding personal names: Fürst is a title, translated as Prince not a first or middle name. The female form is Fürstin.


  • Clive, Peter (2001) Beethoven and his World: A Biographical Dictionary. Oxford University Press.
  • Deutsch, Otto Erich (1965) Mozart: A Documentary Biography. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
  • Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, article "Lichnowsky". Online edition. Copyright 2007 by Oxford University Press. The article is by Elliott Forbes and William Meredith.
  • Nosow, Robert (1997) "Beethoven's popular keyboard publications," Music and Letters 56-76.
  • Solomon, Maynard (1995) Mozart: A Life. New York: Harper Collins.

External links

  • "’. . .owing to indebtedness of 1,435 Gulden 32 Kreuzer’: A new document on Mozart’s financial plight in November 1791" A slightly flawed translation of Walther Brauneis's original 1991 article.
  • Genealogy: 15 generations of the Lichnowsky Family.

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