An octet is a piece of chamber music made for eight instruments. Not many have been written, so they’re considered kind of special. Maybe the easiest to understand is the octet for two string quartets. You just double all instruments and voila, you have eight musicians. Beethoven contemporary Louis Spohr wrote four of these.
The opus 32 is a different beast altogether. It is scored for the unique combination of a clarinet, two horns, a violin, two violas, a cello, and a double bass. So it is a combination of wind and string instruments, instruments that can easily combine with each other.
Spohr was born in 1784, and already at 1799 he audaciously asked Duke Karl Wilhelm Ferdinand of Brunswick for financial help after an unsuccessful concert tour. The duke liked him and hired him as a chamber musician. He later met and studied with Beethoven, commenting that his piano was out of tune. The two remained friends nonetheless. Spohr died in 1859, having composed ten opera’s, almost ten symphonies for a total of 150 in opus numbers.
He was very popular in his own time, but this popularity didn’t keep after his death. There are some attempts to revive his music, but I must say it is not for me. At least this work is not. Then again, I’ve never been really a fan of wind instruments.