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Ludwig Ritter von  Köchel

Ludwig von Köchel was born in Stein near Krems, Austria, on January 14, 1800, the son of Johann Georg Köchel. Because his parents were wealthy, Ludwig was able to attend the Piarist grammar school in Krems. His parents, however, died young, leaving the young Köchel on his own. He studied at the University of Vienna, where he received his Doctor of Jurisprudence degree, then served from 1827 to 1842 as a teacher and educator of the four sons (Albrecht, Karl Ferdinand, Friedrich und Wilhelm) of the military leader Archduke Karl. Later he accompanied his former pupil, Archduke Friedrich, on a voyage to Algiers, Portugal, England and Scotland aboard the frigate Bellona. Köchel received the civilian rank of Kaiserlicher Rat ("Imperial Counsellor") in 1832, and in 1842 he was elevated to knighthood (Ritter).

In 1843 he retired into private life in Vienna, then moved in 1848 to Cieszyn (Teschen) and from there to Salzburg, where he held a position as k. k. Schulrat ("Royal Imperial School Counsellor") from 1850 to 1852. Finally, he returned to Vienna around 1863 and devoted himself to botanical, musicological and mineralogical studies while building his rich collections and taking many research trips. On June 3, 1877, he died at his home in the palace of Archduke Albrecht in Vienna.

Ludwig Ritter von Köchel published numerous important works of musicology, his main work being the "Chronologisch-thematische Verzeichniss sämmtlicher Tonwerke Wolfgang Amade Mozarts," issued in 1862 by the prestigious Leipzig music publisher, Breitkopf and Härtel. This so-called Köchelverzeichnis ("Köchel catalog") is the indispensable working directory for all of the compositions of Mozart. Köchel's commitment to Mozart's oeuvre was accompanied by such great devotion that he donated the huge sum of 15,000 florins, so that the complete edition of Mozart's works could be printed (publisher Breitkopf & Härtel).

While living in Salzburg Köchel also studied the mineral deposits of the Salzburg area, culminating in the publication of Die Mineralien des Herzogthumes Salzburg. Mit einer Uebersicht der geologischen Verhältnisse und der Bergbaue dieses Kronlandes (Vienna, 1859). In this regional mineralogy Köchel used the systematic nomenclature introduced by Friedrich Mohs. The memory of the naturalist Karl Ehrenbert Freyherr von Moll (1760-1838) must have been particularly important for Köchel, because he also contributed to a biography of this Salzburg scholar.

Köchel felt a lifelong connected to his home town of Krems-Stein, and in memory of his school days there he bequeathed his lovingly tended mineral collection to the Piarist grammar school (now the Bundesgymnasium and Bundesrealgymnasium in Krems). There Köchel's mineral collection is still preserved, along with Köchel's handwritten catalog. In the preface to his catalog he states that he began collecting in 1830, having been inspired by the "profound founder of the natural history method in mineralogy," Prof. Friederich Mohs. The initial foundation of his collection was a small group of specimens purchased from Prof. Anton Schrötter; thereafter he acquired additional specimens from dealers Dr. Jacob Baader in Vienna, Dr. August Krantz in Bonn, and Leopold and Anton Seifert in Teplitz.

Köchel also received many gifts including Uralian minerals from his friend Dr. Ed. Mikschik in St. Petersburg, Mount Vesuvius minerals picked up by the Archduke Karl during his trip to Naples, multiple precious and rare specimens from the Archduchess Marie Karoline Rainer, and his friends Hofrat von Hassenbauer, Baron Ritterstein, and Hofrat von Scharschmid. During his stay in Salzburg for several years he also had the opportunity to acquire rare old specimens from that area, mostly from Bergrath Mielichhofer's estate, and also during the course of his travels.

Of the original 3,288 cataloged specimens in the collection, about 2,500 have survived. Some seem to have been lost in the chaos of war. The minerals are still housed in their three original walnut boxes, still arranged according to Mohs (1839). The collection represents 45 years of collecting activity during the mid-19th century by a connoisseur of minerals. It was customary in those days to collect primarily miniature-size specimens averaging around 5 cm, each one carrying a printed label with species and locality information carefully inscribed in Köchel's handwriting.

Köchel led a very successful life as a lawyer, educator, writer, music scholar, composer, botanist and mineralogist, and was member of many learned and scholarly societies.

HUBER, P. (2006) Mozart, Köchel und die Mineralogie / Ein mineralogischer Beitrag zum Mozart-Jahr 2006. Lapis, 31 (9), 25-32 and 58.
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The Mineralogical Record - Ludwig Ritter von  Köchel
The Mineralogical Record - Ludwig Ritter von  Köchel
The Mineralogical Record - Ludwig Ritter von  Köchel 45 x 56 mm; courtesy of BG/BRG Krems (Piaristen)
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