Ludwig van Beethoven (singer)

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Ludwig van Beethoven the Elder Ä., Engraving after a portrait by Amelius Radoux

Ludwig van Beethoven (born January 5, 1712 in Mechelen , Austrian Netherlands , † December 24, 1773 in Bonn ) was a Flemish singer (tenor / bass), court conductor of the Elector of Cologne and grandfather of the composer Ludwig van Beethoven .


Ludwig van Beethoven the Elder Ä. was born in Mechelen in 1712 as the second son of master baker Michael van Beethoven ( baptized February 15, 1684 in Mechelen , † June 28, 1749 in Bonn ) and his wife Maria Louise Stuyckers (born April 24, 1685 in Mechelen, † December 8, 1749 in Bonn). In addition to the bakery trade, Michael van Beethoven also bought and sold real estate, old furniture and paintings. Ludwig van Beethoven the Elder Ä. had three siblings:

  • Kornelius van Beethoven (baptized September 25, 1708 in Mechelen, † July 16, 1764 in Bonn)
  • Ludwig van Beethoven (baptized June 23, 1710 in Mechelen, † September 22, 1710 ibid)
  • Lambert Michael van Beethoven (baptized July 25, 1715 in Mechelen, † September 21, 1715 ibid)


At the age of almost six years Ludwig van Beethoven d. Ä. to the choir boy school of the archbishop's cathedral of Mechelen , where he became a choir boy on December 10, 1717.

On October 12, 1725 Ludwig van Beethoven the Elder was born. Ä. Student of Anton Colfs, the cathedral organist and carillon master of the cathedral, who instructed him in tablature , figured bass as well as harpsichord and organ playing. About the time immediately after the end of his apprenticeship in spring 1727, the life of Ludwig van Beethoven the Elder is clear. Ä. nothing known.

On November 9, 1731 Ludwig van Beethoven the Elder was born. Ä. Tenor at the Sankt-Peters-Kirche in Leuven and also worked there as a substitute for the conductor. Possibly this position was favored by Rombout van Kiel, canon of the Saint Peters Church and former classmate of Michel van Beethoven.

From September 2nd, 1732 Ludwig van Beethoven the Elder worked. Ä. as a singer at the Lambertus Cathedral in Liège , this time as a bass player. This change was possibly due to Francois Stoupy, director of the Liège college in Leuven and friend of Rombout van Kiel.

In March 1733, the Cologne elector and archbishop Clemens August of Bavaria brought Ludwig van Beethoven the Elder. After hearing him sing in Liège, as a singer at his court in Bonn.

On November 17, 1733 Ludwig van Beethoven the Elder married. Ä. Maria Josepha Poll (* around 1714, † September 30, 1775 in Bonn). The marriage had three children:

  • Maria Bernhardine Ludovica van Beethoven (baptized August 28, 1734 in Bonn, † October 17, 1735 in Bonn);
  • Markus Joseph van Beethoven (baptized April 25, 1736 in Bonn, date and place of death unknown);
  • Johann van Beethoven (born November 14, 1740, presumably in Bonn, † December 18, 1792 in Bonn), father of the composer Ludwig van Beethoven .

The family first lived in the old Jesuit grammar school in Wenzelgasse, later the property owned by master baker Fischer at Rheingasse 386 and finally the post office opposite the Beethoven House (Bonngasse 515) at Bonngasse 386.

The Ludwig van Beethoven the Elder Ä. Long-cherished hope of one day becoming court music director was initially disappointed in 1760 when not he, but the younger Joseph Touchemoulin was given this post; in contrast to the singer Ludwig van Beethoven d. Ä. Touchemoulin was an experienced instrumentalist on the violin and had already composed. But after the death of Clemens August von Bayern on February 6, 1761, his successor Maximilian Friedrich von Königsegg-Rothenfels was forced to take cost-cutting measures. Ludwig van Beethoven the Elder took over Ä. the post of court conductor, in which the tasks of singer and conductor were combined; Touchemoulin went to Regensburg because of the incident . In addition, Ludwig van Beethoven d. Ä. continued the trade in wine that he had built up over the previous years; Mainly Dutch customers were supplied. What sales Ludwig van Beethoven d. Ä. obtained with the wine trade is not known.

Ludwig van Beethoven the Elder Ä. died in Bonn on December 24, 1773. Despite the debts that he left to his son Johann, his inheritance from his father was in excess.

Portrait of Ludwig van Beethoven the Elder Ä. ("Beethoven's grandfather") by Wilhelm Amelius (Leopold) Radoux in Bonn. Bonn, Beethoven House. Illustration as a wood engraving by Adolf Neumann (Gartenlaube 1879, p. 613.)


Master baker Fischer described the appearance of Ludwig van Beethoven the Elder. Ä., Of which Amelius Radoux made an oil portrait, as follows: “Stattur des Hof Kapellmeister. A tall, handsome man, a cold face, broad forehead, wrinkled wetness, big fat eyes, fat red tubs, very serious face ”. According to the physician Franz Gerhard Wegeler , who later became a childhood friend of the composer Ludwig van Beethoven, it was Ludwig van Beethoven the Elder. Ä. about a "small, strong man with extremely lively eyes".

Fischer and Wegeler describe him as a man who showed a serious and honorable character and conscientiousness in professional practice and housekeeping as well as helpfulness and sociability.

Although Ludwig van Beethoven died on Ludwig van Beethoven the Elder. Ä. was only three years old, he developed a great admiration for his grandfather. For example, when he moved around Vienna numerous times, he always carried Radoux's oil portrait of his grandfather with him and gave him a place of honor in his respective apartment.


  • Ludwig Nohl: The Beethovens in Bonn. A biographical sketch. , in: The gazebo. Illustrated family sheet. Born in 1879. Ernst Keil, Leipzig 1879, pp. 612–616; P. 613: Portrait of the grandfather. Wood engraving by Adolf Neumann after a painting by Radoux in Bonn in the possession of the widow Karl van Beethoven in Vienna.
  • Ludwig van Beethoven the Elder Ä. In: Joseph Schmidt-Görg : Beethoven - The story of his family , Beethoven-Haus Bonn, G. Renle Verlag Munich Duisburg, 1964, pp. 52–57
  • The great role model: Grandfather Louis van Beethoven , in: Jan Caeyers: Beethoven - The lonely revolutionary , CH Beck-Verlag, 2013, ISBN 978-3-406-65625-5 , pp. 29–39


  1. ^ Seat of the University of the Austrian Netherlands .
  2. Independent Principality , Suffragan Diocese of the Archdiocese of Cologne.