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Beethoven Piano Concerto no. 4: History of Concerto No. 4

By Brooke Szymusiak

Overall Description

Welcome to Baldwin Wallace University’s Reimenschneider Bach Institute: Virtual Exhibit! This virtual tour will visit Ludwig van Beethoven’s (1770-1827) Piano Concerto No. 4. (1806) Beethoven has composed multiple, well-known compositions, including his five piano concerti. As a set, they are some of his best and popular works. He was only able to premiere the first four himself due to health problems. This makes the fourth concerto particularly notable.The fourth concerto was composed in 1805 and premiered in 1806! Take a look!  

Title Page

File:Beethoven piano concerto 4 title.png

Pictured: Title Page 

History of Concerto No. 4

Beethoven composed this Piano Concerto in 1806, the beginning of his Middle Period works. With Beethoven as the soloist, the first performance was dedicated to and held in the private home of Prince Lobkowitz, in early spring of 1807. Lobkowitz was known for his support of Beethoven. The two first met when they both had just moved to Vienna; they quickly became friends. Lobkowitz was a big supporter of Beethoven’s music and enjoyed playing himself. Fun Fact: He played the cello!  

The first public performance of the concerto was in Vienna on December 22, 1808, again with Beethoven himself as the soloist. Beethoven often played the piece himself. Beethoven's fame came not only from his compositions but from his brilliance as a pianist. He did not seem to compose works for just any mediocre musician to perform. Beethoven had high expectations and his concertos especially were very advanced; with this piece he could not only show off his composition but also his virtuoso piano skills. It was intended to be impressive; he felt only he could pull this off. Fun fact: He perfectly sight-read Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier.