Ten of Beethoven's friends and acquaintances

The great composer had a wide and interesting social circle. Here are some of the key people in Ludwig's life.


Karl Alois, Prince Lichnowsky (1761-1814)

One of the composer’s major patrons, described by him as ‘one of my most loyal friends’.

Antonie Brentano (1780-1869)

Long-term companion, dedicatee of Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations and, perhaps, the addressee of his ‘Immortal Beloved’ letter.

Stephan van Breuning (1774-1827)

Civil servant, lifelong friend – first in Bonn and then Vienna – and a steady presence in Beethoven’s life. Dedicatee of the Violin Concerto.

Giovanni Malfatti (1775-1859)

This esteemed doctor, for whom Beethoven wrote the cantata Un lieto brindisi, was one of the few medics he trusted. They fell out in 1817.

Josephine Brunsvik (1779-1821)

Beethoven’s piano pupil and, after her husband Joseph died, increasingly the target of his affection.

Ferdinand Ries (1784-1838)

Studied composition with Beethoven and assisted him as copyist, secretary and general companion.

Archduke Rudolf of Austria (1788-1831)

Piano pupil and patron, his friendship with Beethoven was marked by the dedication of works including the Archduke Trio and Emperor Concerto.

Anselm Hüttenbrenner (1794-1868)

The composer and pianist was one of only two people present at Beethoven's side when he died.

Anton Schindler (1795-1864)

Beethoven’s secretary from 1822-25 and first biographer. Some, including the composer himself, found him obsequious and over-protective.

Karl Holz (1798-1858)

The second violinist of Ignaz Schuppanzigh’s string quartet, Holz took over as assistant to Beethoven after Schindler’s departure.

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Freya ParrDigital Editor and Staff Writer, BBC Music Magazine

Freya Parr is BBC Music Magazine's Digital Editor and Staff Writer. She has also written for titles including the Guardian, Circus Journal, Frankie and Suitcase Magazine, and runs The Noiseletter, a fortnightly arts and culture publication. Freya's main areas of interest and research lie in 20th-century and contemporary music.