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Viola, Beethovens Dienstinstrument in der Bonner Hofkapelle

Beethoven-Haus Bonn, Mö 11

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Beethoven used this instrument when he was a member of the Bonn Court Chapel. Court Chapel musicians received their instruments from the employer. From 1784 onwards Beethoven was employed as Court Organist. In 1790 the court calendar lists him as violist for the first time. Probably, Beethoven held this position from mid-1789 onwards when the national theatre, that also comprised members of the Court Chapel, was rearranged. After the archiepiscopal state was dissolved by the French in 1794 Beethoven's viola remained in the possession of the family of Franz Anton Ries, who was Beethoven's violin teacher and also a member of the Court Chapel. Obviously the instrument was frequently played there because it was completely overhauled several times in the 19th century. Neck, fingerboard, string holder and peg were renewed. Violin manufacturer Sebastian Dalinger (1735-1809) from Vienna is said to have built the viola around 1780. (J.R.)

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