Beethoven's capital

"All these notes don't pay my needs!!"

Beethoven's work-scholarship granted by Prince Lobkowitz, Prince Kinsky and Archduke Rudolph

Thanking the patrons

Out of gratitude, Beethoven dedicated various works to his patrons. Archduke Rudolph, the youngest son of Emperor Leopold II and brother of Emperor Franz, was one of Beethoven's piano and composition students and became the composer's most important patron. He was an excellent pianist and now and then engaged in composition activities himself. Beethoven dedicated him far more pieces than anybody else. The piano sonata op. 81a (Les Adieux) intended for him illustrates the Archduke's departure, absence and return to Vienna during the war in 1809 in three movements. On the title page of the manuscript Beethoven wrote: "The Farewell, Vienna, May 4, 1809, on the departure of his Imperial Highness the revered Archduke Rudolph". Thus, the sonata can be seen as a piece of composed biography.

Prince Lobkowitz was dedicated Beethoven's new string quartet op. 74 as well as the fifth and sixth symphony (also dedicated to Count Rasumowsky). Beethoven wrote the piece in the summer and autumn of 1809 while staying in Baden close to Vienna.

Archduke Rudolph of Austria (1788-1831)
String quartet in E flat major, op. 74

While Beethoven believed that his scholarship provided him with a safe foundation to fully focus on his art and be free from all material worries, reality should soon teach him a lesson. The Napoleonic Wars devoured large sums of money. Just like during the Seven-Year War a decision was made to increase the amount of Banco-Zettel. The total circulation of bills rose from 74 million in 1797 to 1,061 million in 1811. The gap between the Banco-Zettel and the silver coins once intended for their coverage had already broadened so much that the notes could not longer be exchanged into metal money. Consequently, the Banco-Zettel continued to lose its buying power and led to a general price rise and impoverishment of large population classes.
Upon signing the agreement in the spring of 1809, Beethoven's annual salary of 4,000 florins in Banco-Zettel was equal to 1,620 florins in convention money (silver currency) - the salary of 600 ducats for the position at the Kassel court would have equalled 2,700 florins convention money. By August 1810, it only equalled 890 florins, in December, at the lowest exchange rate, only 416 florins.

Piano sonata in E flat major, op. 81a

Finally, the Austrian government realised that a national bankruptcy was inevitable and followed the advice of Court Chamber President Count Wallis. In 1811 all Banco-Zettel was devaluated. According to the decree of Emperor Franz I from February 20, 1811, soon called "Bankrottpatent", all circulating Banco-Zettel was to be devaluated to a fifth of its face value from March 15 on and changed into "redemption coupons" for the new "Vienna currency" (W.W.) until January 31st, 1812.
In order to reduce the loss of agreements under private law such as annuities, pensions etc. until the decree came into force the new value of these payments was calculated using the Banco-Zettel exchange rate valid when the agreement was signed. For this purpose, a table was developed. The value for March 1809 was 248, so the amount determined at the closing of the contract equalled the sum to be paid multiplied by 2.48.