Beethoven 2020

Celebrations of 2020: The Lobkowicz Palace Museum celebrates the 250th anniversary of the birth of Ludwig van Beethoven

Lobkowicz Palace | 16th January, 2020

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The Lobkowicz Palace Museum in the Prague Castle complex joins celebrations of the 250th anniversary of the birth of the world-famous German composer Ludwig van Beethoven. Thanks to Joseph Franz Maximilian, the 7th Prince Lobkowicz (1772–1816), visitors to the permanent exhibition have a unique oportunity to see, for example, the first printed edition of Symphony No. 3 in E-flat, known as Eroica, or the original performing parts with autograph alternations and corrections by Beethoven for his Symphony No. 4  in B, and Symphony No. 5 in C minor.


In cooperation with the Bundeskunsthalle and Beethoven-Haus in Bonn The Lobkowicz Collections have loaned for an exhibition entitled Beethoven - Welt.Bürger.Musik. a portrait of the composer’s prominent patron – Franz Joseph Maximilian, the 7th Prince Lobkowicz, and his wife Marie Caroline Schwarzenberg, Princess Lobkowicz. Another planned cooperation will be a loan to the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. On 25 March 2020, will open an exhibition titled Beethoven bewegt, where Lobkowicz Collections will loan original performing parts with autograph alternations and corrections by Beethoven for his Symphony No. 5 in C minor, parts for the Prometheus Overture, and a set of parts for the Egmont Overture.

"We greatly appreciate our cooperation with the Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, and are delighted that museum visitors will be able to see the Symphony No. 5 and both Overtures in Vienna, where they were played publicly in the nearby Lobkowicz Palace. The parts will be temporarily exhibited in the vicinity of other exemplars in Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Wien, of which the 7th Prince of Lobkowicz was one of the founding members," explains the Director of Administration and Educational Programming.


The symphony was originally called “Bonaparte” and was intended to be dedicated to Napoleon. However, when Napoleon declared himself Emperor, disillusioned Beethoven decided to rename the symphony and to dedicate it to his main patron and music lover, Joseph Franz Maximilian, 7th Prince Lobkowicz. Beethoven’s dedication to the Prince is written on the front page of the edition. The heroic symphony was first performed during private rehearsals at the Lobkowicz Palace in Vienna in the Spring of 1804. This edition is of great importance for musical history because of the corrections and annotations written in Beethoven’s own hand. The parts of the symphony in this exhibition, whose many markings, and stained corners and edges indicate much use, were printed in October 1806 and represent the very first edition of the work to be published. This earliest version of the first edition contains handwritten corrections made by Beethoven and the publisher, who no doubt wished to ensure that the dedicatee had a definitive copy.

The two have met in 1792, shortly after Beethoven had arrived to Vienna. The 7th Prince followed the development of the composer closely, and along with Archduke Rudolf and Prince Kinsky, Joseph Franz Maximilian guaranteed Beeethoven an anuity that would allow him to work without financial worry. Beethoven repaid Joseph Franz Maximilian by dedicating a number of pieces to him – in this case, the six String Quartets opus 18, the Triple Concerto, the Harp Quartet Opus 74 and the lieder cycle An die ferne Geliebte, as well as the Symphonies No. 3, 5 and 6.

The first rehearsals and private performances of the Eroica Symphony took place in late May or early June 1804 at the mentioned Lobkowicz Palace in Vienna. That October, after private performances of the new symphony at his Bohemian estates (Jezeří Castle), Prince Lobkowicz made two handsome payments to Beethoven; these paid for the exclusive rights to it that he had enjoyed during this period, and secured the dedications of this work and the Triple Concerto. The Lobkowicz family is one of the most distinguished princely families in Central Europe. To an extent that is hard for us to imagine today, they have supported musical and artistic creation for more than four centuries.