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Stephan von Breuning


German civil servant and librettist Stephan von Breuning contributed to the revised libretto to Beethoven’s Fidelio.

Von Breuning was born in Bonn in 1774 and became a friend of Beethoven during childhood, when Beethoven gave piano lessons to his siblings. He studied law in Bonn and Göttingen. In 1801, the year Beethoven’s Fidelio received its premiere in its original version (as Leonore), Von Breuning moved to Vienna. Leonore’s premiere was not very successful, and there were complaints about Sonnleithner’s somewhat slow libretto, particularly for Act I. Von Breuning helped Beethoven to substantially revise the opera for performances in 1806, including compressing the original three acts into two. That same year, Beethoven dedicated his Violin Concerto to his friend.

Von Breuning served in Vienna as a court councillor from 1818. He planned to write a biography of Beethoven along with Franz Gerhard Wegeler and Anton Schindler, but his death soon after the composer meant that this project could not be realized.