Beethoven's Lobkowitz Birthday Cantata was composed by April 12, 1823, for the 26th birthday celebration on April 13 of Prince Ferdinand von Lobkowitz (born 1797). The prince was the son of Franz Joseph von Lobkowitz, one of Beethoven's leading patrons. The cantata was commissioned by Karl Peters, tutor to the Lobkowitz family. According to an account by Peters, Beethoven was staying with the family at the time and was concerned that no celebration had been planned for the Prince's birthday, offering to compose a cantata for the occasion.
The performance never took place, however, and the piece did not become known to the public until it was published in 1867 in Ludwig Nohl's Neue Briefe Beethovens (New Beethoven Letters). It is an example of the eighteenth-century Gesellschaftslied, a festive form in which a soloist is joined in particular passages by a chorus.
This diminutive work, for soprano or tenor soloist with four-voice choir and piano accompaniment, is in ternary form with a tiny coda. After the soloist sings a line praising "our dear Prince," the choir joins for numerous repetitions of "he lives!" A brief piano passage modulates to the dominant for the central section, in a much slower tempo that befits a text mentioning the Prince's noble calling and commensurate rewards. This section is performed purely by the soloist, who has a flashy cadenza at the close. The return of the first section brings with it the text, melody, and Allegro tempo of the opening, but the accompaniment is simplified -- the pianist no longer doubles the voice part, but plays only chords, giving a harmonic foundation. Again, the chorus joins the soloist for shouts of "he lives," continuing through a repetition of the soloist's opening lines.