Aug 13, 2012

Four More Months for Ignaz Schuppanzigh

Ignaz Schuppanzigh. Painting by Joseph Danhauser (Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, Inv. No. 4551). Curiously enough, the Belvedere's homepage merely lists this painting as "Portrait of a Man" and dates it at "around 1840".

According to music encyclopedias (The New Grove, MGG) and biographical standard works on Austrian musicians (ÖBL, ÖML), the legendary violinist Ignaz Schuppanzigh was born on 20 November 1776. The origin of this incorrect date is shrouded in mystery. Wurzbach only gives Schuppanzigh's year of birth and it seems that Hans Jancik, who published this date in the old MGG (vol. 12, col. 327), either copied it from Frimmel's 1926 Beethoven-Handbuch or made it up, misinterpreting the sources on the Hofmusikkapelle in Vienna's Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchiv. Documents in the estate of Hermann Ullrich (A-Wn, F67) show that, while doing research for his article "Ignaz Schuppanzigh (1776-1830). Beethovens Freund und Geiger. Eine Studie" (Vienna 1973), Ullrich even copied Schuppanzigh's marriage entry at St. Stephen's parish which contains the violinist's correct date of birth. Ullrich, however, also noted down two wrong dates of birth: 20 November and even 10 November 1776. In 1997, Clemens Hellsberg, violinist and member of the VPO, submitted a dissertation titled Ignaz Schuppanzigh (1776-1831). Leben und Wirken. Hellsberg gave tomus and folio number of Schuppanzigh's baptismal entry and referred to one of Schuppanzigh's birth certificates that he must have seen. But he obviously misread the baptismal entry, refused to accept the facts and described the date on the birth certificate as "obviously erroneous". Since then, the false date of birth has been carved in stone and it is high time to give Schuppanzigh back the four months that music historians cut from his life. Ignaz Anton Schuppanzigh was born on 20 July 1776 in the house Stadt 701 (today Fleischmarkt 11), seventh child of Franz Joseph Schuppanzigh, teacher of Italian at the k.k. Realakademie and his wife Maria Anna, née Menschl. Schuppanzigh's godparents were the belt maker Thomas Scharfenberger and his wife Barbara. Four documents related to Schuppanzigh's birth do exist:

1) The entry in the baptismal records of St. Stephen's Cathedral (A-Wd, Tom 93, fol. 46r).

2)  Schuppanzigh's birth certificate written out on 18 July 1800 which he submitted to the Vienna City Council, when on 4 August 1800 he applied for being granted the age of legal majority (A-Wsa, Mag. ZG, A3, 91/1800).

3) Two entries in the records of St. Stephen's concerning Schuppanzigh's wedding to Barbara Killitschky (b. 3 July 1781 [St. Ulrich 35, fol. 455r]) on 7 May 1807 that contain the groom's date of birth. (Schuppanzigh's brothers in law Franz Rzehaczek and Ignaz Martin served as best men). Here is a part of the earlier entry concerning the first and only publication of the banns on 5 May 1807 (A-Wd, Rapular 1805-07).

4) A second copy of Schuppanzigh's birth certificate that he submitted to the court, when on 2 March 1824, he applied for an "Expectanz Stelle als Violinspieler in der k.k. Hofkapelle" (a position of expectancy as violinist in the court chapel).

The copy of Schuppanzigh's birth certificate that in 1824 he submitted to the court (A-Whh, HMK, Karton 13)

Schuppanzigh wanted to succeed Zeno Menzl (1757–1823), but Leopold Jansa got the job, and Schuppanzigh had to wait three more years for a definite appointment which he only got after the death of Franz Pösinger on 19 August 1827.

In Phil Grabsky's film "In Search of Beethoven" Schuppanzigh's name appears several times. The nifty narrator pronounces it "Shoop-an-sigh".

© Dr. Michael Lorenz 2012. All rights reserved.

Updated: 3 December 2023


  1. Herr Shoop-an-sigh can now rest peacefully. Thanks for posting the documents. Very interesting.

  2. Thank you for posting this interesting news about my namesake! Fräulein Zupančič

  3. ignaz schuppanzigh? Correct slovenian is "Ignac Župančič", its a slovenian name and surname, originating from the coast area of today slovenia, that explains why Ignaz Schuppanzigh's father was a teacher of italian in Vienna... still today the majority of local people in the slovenian coast area speak italian very well from a young age, in addition to the native language slovenian. Thats because of the vicinity of italy (and historical reasons).

    Also, we have a village named Župančiči which is plural of Župančič) near the town of Koper, Slovenia. To have a village with your surname (in plural) is a very common occurrence in Slovenia.. it means that some of your loooong time ancestors were from that village.

  4. Your information comes too late. Schuppanzigh was not Slovenian, he was Viennese and he signed his name "Schuppanzigh". And why his father taught Italian, has been known for ages.

  5. Schuppanzigh's ancestors came from west Slovenia - Goriška Brda - near Italy border. They were a noble family.
    Ignaz's grandfather moved to Vienna for the second marriage and he had a son - Franz Xaver - Ignaz's dad.

  6. Without exact sources this information is worthless.

  7. History of Schuppanzigh (Župančič) family:

    The book is written in Italian language by professional historians.

  8. Thank you very much, this is all very interesting. In none of the many Viennese primary sources however Ignaz Schuppanzigh's father appears as Franz Xaver. On his marriage contract (dated 20 January 1767) and on his will (dated 23 January 1800) he signed as "Franz Joseph". I want to point out that the above blogpost's topic is not Ignaz Schuppanzigh's ancestry, but his date of birth.

  9. Ich bin der Autor des zitierten Textes, wo habe ich falsch „Franz Xaver“ für „Franz Josef“ geschrieben. Franz Xaver Josef, geboren 1769, war der ältere Bruder von Ignaz. Das Siegel von Ignaz ist das gleiche, das auch sein Großvater Johann Anton (1677-1748) verwendet hat, der in Schallenberg (Salimbergo, Šlomberk) bei Görz geboren und gestorben ist und lange Zeit in Prag und Wien gelebt hat. Ignaz Schuppanzigh war jedoch von Geburt an ein echter Wiener.

  10. Scroll upwards. On January 5, 2015, at 7:40 PM, you wrote "Franz Xaver - Ignaz's dad".