Stephan von Breuning (17 August 1774 – 4 June 1827) was a German civil servant and librettist. He was Ludwig van Beethoven's lifelong friend, from his childhood in Bonn when receiving music lessons until acting as executor in Vienna.
Born in Bonn, Breuning was the son of Emanuel Joseph von Breuning and his wife Helene von Breuning, also known as Beethoven's second mother. In 1784, the family made the acquaintance of Ludwig van Beethoven in their home at Bonn. He became a close friend to the family and gave piano lessons to the Breuning children Eleonore and Lorenz.
In 1801, Breuning moved to Vienna where four years later Beethoven's Fidelio was premiered. Besides Joseph Sonnleithner and Georg Friedrich Treitschke, Breuning also contributed to the libretto. In 1806, Beethoven dedicated his violin concerto op. 61 to his friend. Following Beethoven's death in 1827, Breuning assisted in handling affairs of the estate, but he died at age 52 only a few months after the composer. The plan to publish a Beethoven biography, which Breuning had considered writing in collaboration with Beethoven's childhood friend and Breuning's brother-in-law Franz Gerhard Wegeler and Anton Schindler, could not be realized.
Breuning married in April 1808 Julie von Vering (1791–1809), the daughter of Beethoven's physician Gerhard von Vering (1755-1823), to whom Beethoven dedicated the piano version of his Violin Concerto. After her untimely death he entered into a relationship with Constanze Ruschowitz around 1812 (1785/86 in Freudenthal, Austrian Silesia, – 5 October 1856 in Vienna), whom he married on 18 February 1817. She had three children:
- Ludwig Nohl, Drei Freunde Beethovens. Über Beethovens Beziehung zu Ignaz von Gleichenstein, Stephan von Breuning und Johann Malfatti, in the Allgemeine deutsche Musikzeitung, Jg. 6 (1879), Nr. 39 dated 26.9., p. 305–308; Nr. 40 dated 3.10., p. 313–315; Nr. 41 dated 10.10., p. 321–323; Nr. 42 dated 17.10., p. 329–331; Nr. 43 dated 24.10., p. 337–339
- Stephan Ley, Beethoven als Freund der Familie Wegeler – von Breuning, Bonn 1927
- Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians
- Martella Gutiérrez-Denhoff, Neue Mosaiksteine im Bild der Familie von Breuning. Ein Beitrag zum geistig-sozialen Umfeld des heranwachsenden Beethoven in Bonn, in: Musikalische Quellen – Quellen zur Musikgeschichte. Festschrift für Martin Staehelin zum 65. Geburtstag, published by Ulrich Konrad, Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2002, p. 345–361
- See Friederike Grigat, Die Genese von Franz Gerhard Wegelers Beethoven-Biographie in den Jahren 1827 bis 1845, in dies., Die Sammlung Wegeler im Beethoven-Haus. Kritischer Katalog, Bonn 2008 (Bonner Beethoven-Studien, volume 7), p. 32–75
- Wien, Pfarre Alservorstadt, Trauungsbuch, Tom. 1809–1817, fol. 264, quote after Rita Steblin, Beethoven’s Name in Viennese Conscription Records, in The Beethoven Journal, Jg. 24, Nr. 1 (Summer 2009), p. 4–13, here p. 13 Anm. 47
- Beethoven als Freund der Familie Wegeler – von Breuning on Worldcat