Listening to Beethoven #174 – Lob auf den Dicken, WoO 100

ignaz-schuppanzigh
Violinist Ignaz Schuppanzigh, the subject of this song

Lob auf den Dicken (Schuppanzigh ist ein Lump), WoO 100 for tenor, two basses and choir (1801, Beethoven aged 30)

Dedication Ignaz Schuppanzigh
Text Beethoven
Duration 40″

Listen

Background and Critical Reception

This is the first appearance of a musical joke in Beethoven’s output – and one of the first pieces for unaccompanied choir we have encountered. Many of the jokes are from the composer himself – with Lob auf dem dicken Schuppanzigh (Praise to the fat Schuppanzigh) no exception.

It does exactly what it says on the score, taking the mickey out of one of Beethoven’s few lifelong friends, violinist Ignaz Schuppanzigh. ‘We all agree that you are the biggest donkey’, runs the text, affectionately taunting the man who was to take part in the premieres of all three string quartets dedicated to Count Razumovsky, Schubert’s Rosamunde string quartet and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, where he led the orchestra.

It seems Beethoven’s friend was thick skinned in more ways than one.

Thoughts

This is definitely one of those songs where the humour is ‘of its time’ – and it certainly helps to have the text to hand when following it. It would be good to know how Schuppanzigh received Beethoven’s humour, as otherwise it feels rather awkward.

It is a tiny musical postcard, showing off the composer’s humour, while giving a hint that composing was something he did in his sleep and that his confidence was high enough to write like this in public. There will be more jokes and send-ups as time goes on…

Recordings used and Spotify links

Cantus Novus Wien / Thomas Holmes (Naxos)

Kammerchor der Berliner Singakademie / Dietrich Knothe (Brilliant)

A full-throated Berlin version – and a light-hearted new recording on Naxos. Both work well.

Spotify links

A playlist of four different versions of the Op.48 Lieder can be found here:

Also written in 1801 Zelter 12 Lieder am Clavier zu singen Z122

Next up 12 Contredanses, WoO 14

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