BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Monday, December 11, 1820

1826 portrait of Czar Alexander I by George Dawe (1781-1829)

Still in Troppau (now Opava), Archduke Rudolph hosts an imperial dinner for the Russian czar, Alexander I (1777-1825), according to the Troppau Zeitung of December 15, quoted in the December 19 Wiener Zeitung. Beethoven surely was watching the Archduke’s movements in the newspaper carefully to see when he might be called upon to begin giving lessons once again.

Alexander I had initially been fairly liberal, for a czar of Russia, but as he got older he became more reactionary. As late as January of 1820, he had supported a free confederation of European states, rather than a dictatorship of the great powers. But with the signing of the Troppau Protocol last month, Alexander, under the influence of Austrian minister Metternich, set that aside in favor of interventionism to suppress revolutions and liberty.