Count Ferdinand Ernst Gabriel von Waldstein
Count Ferdinand Ernst Gabriel von Waldstein (24 March 1762, Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...
– 26 May 1823, Vienna) was a German nobleman and patron of the arts. A member of the Waldstein family
The House of Waldstein is a Bohemian noble family. It acquired large properties in Bohemia and Moravia and produced many statesmen and civil servants. In 1628 the family was one of the first among the Bohemian nobility to be promoted to graf status, then to Reichsgraf two years later...
and an early patron of Beethoven, his political and military roles included Geheimrat
Geheimrat was the title of the highest advising officials at the Imperial, royal or principal courts of the Holy Roman Empire, who jointly formed the Geheimer Rat reporting to the ruler...
Bonn is the 19th largest city in Germany. Located in the Cologne/Bonn Region, about 25 kilometres south of Cologne on the river Rhine in the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, it was the capital of West Germany from 1949 to 1990 and the official seat of government of united Germany from 1990 to 1999....
, lieutenant-general in the British army, and Komtur
Komtur was a rank within military orders, especially the Teutonic Knights. In the State of the Teutonic Order, the Komtur was the commander of a basic administrative division called Kommende . A Komtur was responsible for the alimentation of the Knights by the yield from the local estates, he...
in the Teutonic Knights
The Order of Brothers of the German House of Saint Mary in Jerusalem , commonly the Teutonic Order , is a German medieval military order, in modern times a purely religious Catholic order...
LifeHe joined the Teutonic Knights in 1787 and became a novice of the order in Ellingen
Ellingen is a town in the Weißenburg-Gunzenhausen district, in Bavaria, Germany....
. He was made a knight of the order by its Grand-Master, Max Franz
Archduke Maximilian Franz of Austria
Archduke Maximilian Francis of Austria was an Archbishop-Elector of Cologne, the last child of the Habsburg ruler Maria Theresa and her husband, Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor. His siblings included two Holy Roman Emperors , as well as Queen Marie Antoinette of France and Queen Maria Carolina of...
, on 17 June 1788.
Living in Bonn from early 1788 onwards, Ferdinand was admitted to the court of the Prince Elector of Cologne
Cologne is Germany's fourth-largest city , and is the largest city both in the Germany Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia and within the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Area, one of the major European metropolitan areas with more than ten million inhabitants.Cologne is located on both sides of the...
. A year later he became "privy councillor" of the order and a member of its Staatskonferenz in Bonn. Two years later, he acquired a knightly estate in Godesberg and thus became a member of the Cologne's Landstandschaft. From 1788 to 1792, Ferdinand was sent on various diplomatic missions. In 1792, he received the Komtur of the order in Virnsberg, in the Deutschordensballei Franken. In early 1794, he was in the entourage of the elector on a mission to the French in Vienna.
In Bonn, he noticed the young Ludwig van Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer and pianist. A crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western art music, he remains one of the most famous and influential composers of all time.Born in Bonn, then the capital of the Electorate of Cologne and part of...
and became one of his early patrons. It was he who took Beethoven to Vienna for the first time in 1787, where he arranged for him to meet Mozart, and recommended him to Joseph Haydn
Franz Joseph Haydn , known as Joseph Haydn , was an Austrian composer, one of the most prolific and prominent composers of the Classical period. He is often called the "Father of the Symphony" and "Father of the String Quartet" because of his important contributions to these forms...
in 1792. His words to Beethoven on the composer's departure for Vienna in November 1792 remain famous:
Beethoven dedicated Sonata No. 21
Piano Sonata No. 21 (Beethoven)
The Piano Sonata No. 21 in C major, Op. 53, also known as the Waldstein, is considered to be one of Beethoven's greatest piano sonatas, as well as one of the three particularly notable sonatas of his middle period . The sonata was completed in the summer of 1804...
in C Major, Op.53 to him.
He became obsessed with the idea of defeating Napoleon's army, and squandered all his money raising an army. On 3 June 1795, Ferdinand sealed a contract with England on creating a "Mergentheim regiment". From 1796, he was in London. On 23 July 1797, the elector wrote, "For over a year neither the order nor his creditors have heard anything from Ferdinand von Waldstein, I wish him much money and intelligence". Evidence shows Ferdinand was occasionally with his regiment in west India. In 1807, he left the British army.
From 1809, Ferdinand lived in Vienna or on his Bohemian estates. He withdrew from the order in 1811. On 9 May 1812, Ferdinand married Countess Isabella Rzewuska. After unfortunate financial transactions, he became impoverished, and died in 1823 in Vienna.