"The amount of money one needs is terrifying"
Little Ludwig

Financial Affairs

Beethoven was not as rich as Haydn or Salieri, however he also cannot be considered as poor.

Beethoven became shareholder of the Privileged Austrian National Bank. He received annual dividends and used his shares as a security for loans. The prices for his shares more than doubled between 1819 and 1825, the shares however, were not for sale. Beethoven considered them as inheritance for his nephew Karl, and sold only one share in 1821 when he was in need due to a sickness, when he had very little income. However, Beethoven did not die poor. He led a rather frugal life and spent only minor sums on luxury articles, he died as a rich man. Just 5% of Vienna citizens left a similar or higher fortune. (Beethovenhaus, Bonn, and Viktoria Maresch)

The „Rondo alla ingharese quasi un capriccio“ in G Major, Op. 129 or better known as „Rage Over a Lost Penny“ (here interpreted by Rudolf Buchbinder) was composed between 1795 and 1798 but left incomplete and unfinished. It was published by Anton Diabelli, who obscured the fact that it had been left unfinished. (Hertzmann, 1946).

According to John Aschenbrenner, Beethoven was in a rage, accusing a maid of stealing a gold penny. The maid ran out and was never heard from again. The neighbour heard furniture crashing, and he could only conclude that the Maestro was tipping over furniture, madly looking for the lost gold penny…

The first musical entrepreneur

He is said to have been the first entrepreneur in music. Beethoven achieved great fame and decided to be a disruptor. Unlike his other colleagues who relied on the royal court for commissions, he started writing and selling his own music to publishers directly (see Leonora Overture, published by Breitkopf and Härtel, Leipzig). This change of direction for musicians gives a key into Beethoven’s leadership qualities, the most prominent of all is being able to never stop believing in yourself!


Beethoven is widely considered to be instrumental in moving music from the classical period to the romantic period. This may not mean much to us today, but in the late 18th century, classical music reigned, and every major composer of the day wrote to the classical form, including Beethoven is his early compositions. However, as Beethoven matured as a musician and composer, he began to move outside this form and push his music beyond conventional wisdom and the classical form.


Entrepreneurs do the same things today by pushing the envelope of conventional wisdom and by shifting paradigms.

(Theresa Maurisch)

Task 4: Inflation and sovereign default

Towards the end of the Seven Years‘ War (1st global conflict starting in Europe  „a struggle for global primacy“ between Britain and Prussia on one side and France, Russia and the Habsburg Empire on the other side ), paper money (banknotes) was issued in Austria for the first time in 1762, and these were called „Wiener-Stadt Banco-Zettel“. 

Further issues followed in 1771, 1784 and 1796. When, as a result of the Napoleonic Wars, the demand for money increased rapidly and more banco slips were printed without hesitation (46 million gulden were in circulation in 1796 and 74 million in 1797), the issue of banco slips got out of control. 

Since, especially between 1800 and 1806, enormous quantities of uncovered banknotes continued to be issued (450 million in circulation in 1806, 175% market value of hard money), by 1811 more than 1.061 million gulden worth of banknotes were in circulation (833% market value of hard money), leading to sovereign default.

(Günther Probst)

Share of the Austrian Hungarian National Bank, Money Museum Austrian National Bank

Foto: Title page, Leonore Overture, Pasqualati House Vienna Museum (W. Holzheu, 12.8.2020)

Wiener Stadt Banko Zettel; Wien Museum, Online Sammlung, abgerufen am 6.1.2021 (W. Holzheu) 

Günther Probst; Österreichische Münz- und Geldbeschichte, Böhlau 1973m S. 526 ff

Clemens Jost and others; The quest for stable money, Central Banking in Austria, 2016