Back at the beginning of the season, we heard one of the Prussian string quartets from Mozart played by the Jerusalem Quartet. On January 30th, we will be treated to another one of the Prussian string quartets with the Alcan Quartet, Quartet in F Major, K. 590. These pieces were originally commissioned by the King of Prussia. (https://mtochambermusic.wordpress.com/2013/09/12/mozart-and-the-king-of-prussia/) On the 30th, we will also be treated to a piece from Beethoven that was commissioned by a Count. The String Quartet No. 8 in E minor, opus 59, no. 2 is one of three pieces written for Count Razumovsky.
Andrey Kirillovich Razumovsky was a Russian diplomat stationed in Vienna for many years. He was born in November of 1752 and married in 1788. His marriage was in Vienna to Countess Elisabeth Thun, sister to the wife of Prince Lichnowsky, a friend of Beethoven. Razumovsky was also the brother-in-law to Prince Joseph Lobkowitz, another of Beethoven’s main supporters. It is believed that Razumovsky met Beethoven fairly soon after Beethoven’s arrival in Vienna in 1792. This is the same year that Razumovsky was appointed as the diplomatic representative to the Habsburg court in Vienna. At this point, Razumovsky held the title of Count and eventually he would be elevated to Prince by Alexander I.
The Razumovsky quartets were commissioned and composed in 1806 and published in 1808. Each piece was to contain a Russian theme. In String Quartet No. 8 in E minor, opus 59, no. 2, Beethoven used a folk song called Slava in the fourth movement. Count Razumovsky was an amateur violin player, playing second violin at times with quartets. He was a patron of the arts, known for his art collection. In 1808, he established a house string quartet with Ignaz Schuppanzigh, Louis Sina, Franz Weiss, and Joseph Linke.
Patrons play a large part in classical music and we are grateful for all of them past, present, and future!