Thursday, October 28, 2010

10/28 In Search of Beethoven's Vienna Pt 4

Cream of Garlic Soup from Beethoven's house.
The final installment of my Vienna Beethoven-quest journal:

Part 4 - Beethoven's 1st Apartment - Josefstadt Theater - Lobkowitz Palace - etc.

Day 4 (continued)

After returning to Vienna from Heiligenstadt we stopped in at the Cafe Restaurant Winter.  Not only can one find the best cream of garlic soup in town, but it is also the same building B. first moved into when he set up permanent residence in Vienna when he was 22.  At the time it was the "city-palace" of Prince Lichnowsky, one of B.'s most important early supporters.  I mentioned this to the extremely nice waiter and he remarked "Really?  I didn't know Beethoven lived here.  That was before my time".  Funny guy.  The other thing to note is that this apartment is WAY out on the outskirts of Vienna.  Which makes sense since it was his first lodging - he wasn't yet famous.  Ironically, on the same street is the Trinity Church where Beethoven's funeral was held.  I hadn't planned on visiting this site so it was a surprise to find it.  Inside it's like no church I've ever seen before, but I'm no church expert either. 
Inside Trinity Church.
Heading south we hit 57 Josefstadtstrasse which is reportedly B.'s favorite apartment location (1820).  He was only here briefly though, so he was probably evicted for making too much noise.  I couldn't find a plaque to mark the occasion and I'm not sure if it's the same construction.  I noticed that it's on the outskirts of central Vienna so I could imagine he was able to hide from celebrity-hunters here more effectively than when he was a stones-throw from the concert halls.  A little ways down is the Theater in der Josefstadt.  Here B. composed and conducted the "Consecration of the House" overture to celebrate it's re-opening in 1822.  I noticed that the doors were open so I stepped in to take some snapshots.  A few moments later a crowd of well-dressed people came out of the corridors and I realized it was intermission of the evening's show - so I quickly raced into the theater auditorium to get some footage.  This was an unexpected bonus since hitting the Josefstadt theater was not even one of my main targets.  All in all it was quite a day.  I made a video out of the few seconds of footage which is at the bottom but I also found an online "virtual tour".
The descending curtain of the Josefstadt Theater stage.
Day 5 - end

The remainder of the trip couldn't possibly live up to the preceding 4 and frankly it didn't.  So I'll just summarize the highlights (and lowlights).  The next day was a big disappointment for me.  One thing I was looking forward to was going to the Lobkowitz Palace.  Upstairs is the "Eroicasaal" which is where B. conducted the first rehearsals and performances of the 3rd Symphony - "Eroica".  My plan was to listen to the Eroica while walking about the hall, just like in the movie "Eroica".  I was crushed to find that the room was closed this week!  I tried to bribe the gift shop lady into letting me up there but she wouldn't budge.  Blast!  I went across the street to view the windows of the Eroicasaal from afar and a kindly old man came up to me and started to talk to me about the building.  That was really nice.  The Viennese are extremely friendly I must say.  Or was it perhaps the reincarnation of Beethoven himself who was trying to console me?  After our conversation was over he suddenly disappeared.  Or he just walked very fast...
Front door of Lobkowitz Palace where the 1st Eroica rehearsal took place.
We spent the next few days largely devoted to my wife's interests which included the Klimt and Schiele exhibits at the Leopold Museum and the Belvedere Palace.  The Kasekreiner (pork sausage stuffed with cheese) we had for lunch at the Nachtmarkt was delicious! I did stop at the Beethoven store near the Molker Bastei apartment (which was closed on Day 2) and picked up my souvenir LvB bust.  It is by far the best bust I saw in Vienna...and only 3 inches high!  The store itself was somewhat smaller than I had hoped but featured custom artwork incorporating Beethoven imagery in some kind of mixed-media collage.  We also had the "best wiener schnitzel in town" at Figlmuellers (frankly I'm not crazy about wiener schnitzel) and the waiter bumped into my pen while I was writing down journal notes (without apologizing).  This is as good a place as any to note that my impression of the Viennese is that in their "service roles" (waiters, shop owners, etc..) they are somewhat contemptuous of tourists (beside the one at Cafe Winter)...but if you run into them on the street they are extremely nice.  Twice I was asked by a local if I needed help (one lady escorted me 2 blocks to the train station) - and twice we were treated to free beer.  Actually Vienna was voted "#1 most livable city" not too long ago.
Later in the week we stopped at Cafe Frauenhuber (formerly Jahn's Restaurant) where Beethoven and Mozart both performed (tho not at the same time).  You can find another of those virtual tours here.  We later bought some chocolate at Demel's and knocked on the door of Artaria's (one of Beethoven's early publishers - not the original building).  One evening we had sausage hot dogs from a food stall inside a parking garage.  What a great idea...I think.  I had some serious "book-lust" at the Doblinger Musikhaus which is Vienna's largest sheet music store.  Here I was able to look at gorgeous facsimile editions of Beethoven's 9th Symphony as well as the Eroica and Pastoral facimiles.  The Eroica was only about $1800...that's alot of "sacher tortes".  They are beautiful works of art even if they are facsimiles.
Extremely expensive photocopies.
One evening we attended a performance of Mozart's "Requiem Mass" at Karlskirche (St Charles' Church) which was performed on "historical" instruments.  It was a fine performance but it was our 8th or 9th church on this trip and I was getting chapel-fatigue.  On day 7 we stopped in at the Haus der Musik which is a kind of inter-active music museum using "cutting edge technology".  It's a well-intentioned museum but we weren't here in Vienna to hear techno versions of Mozart and Beethoven (we also stopped at the Arnold Schoenberg Center which I will write about tomorrow as an addendum).  Day 6 was spent in nearby Budapest, which is easily reached by train.  Budapest is also very walkable and has a much different vibe so it was a nice change of pace.  The castle there is pretty amazing. The last Beethoven site we managed to fit in was the "Zum Alten Blumenstock" inn (The Old Flower-something) at 6 Ballgasse.  When Beethoven lived in this building he worked on the Missa Solemnis while eating at the inn below, which B. considered his greatest work.  The whole trip was capped off by the concert at the Theater an der Wien which I already covered in Part 1.
The Ballgasse alley where Beethoven strolled.
It was a great experience to visit all these places to see how Beethoven had lived and worked.  I think it gives some insight into his daily life and working conditions.  I believe living in Vienna was important to Beethoven because of the easy access to great musicians, music patrons and celebrated concert halls - all within a 15 minute walk from his apartment.  However the city has changed so much (and is overrun with so many cars and tourists) that it was hard to walk around and think "Ahhhh..Beethoven!" all the time.  The smaller cobblestone streets (late at night) were the best for that kind of thing.   Many of B.'s homes have been demolished, but the ones which have been preserved are very evocative of a man serious about music and uncaring about luxuries.  The highlights were easily the Theater an der Wien, Heiligenstadt's Beethovengang river walk and the Pasqualati House.  All in all it was a pretty full trip and there are many more Beethoven sites I didn't have time to see including his homes in Baden, Dobling and Modling, his cemetery site(s) and a fairly long "Beethoven-walk" across the Danube river where he stayed with a female admirer.

My video tribute to the Theater an der Josefstadt:

Click on the square pic below to see more photos of Part 4. 
You can watch here on Youtube as a slide show as well...
Vienna 4

There were only 2 real disappointments on this trip and they were the closed Hofburg Redoutensaal and the closed Lobkowitz Eroicasaal.  Fortunately we can take a virtual tour of the Redoutansaal here (look for the Grosse Redoutenstiege and then go into the room ahead) and here's a page with some good pictures of the Eroicasaal - also here - oh well, next time!

And here's some useful internet sites which helped me immensely for those who may be interested in making their own Beethoven pilgrimage to Vienna:
Beethoven homes on Google maps

I have to mention this book I got in Vienna which is simply the best single paper guide for searching for musician sites in Vienna.:  David L. Nelson's "Vienna for the Music Lover:"  I did months of research preparing for this trip and this book has almost everything I dug up.

Finally, I uploaded my exhaustive notes in preparing for this trip - it is a combined document including all relevant info I could find from the above links.  It's not complete, and the formatting leaves something to be desired - but it should be


  1. This is great! I live in Bonn currently and plan to make a trip to Vienna in June so these posts have been so helpful!

  2. June sounds like a good time to go, it was a bit chilly when I was there in October- next time I go it will be in warmer weather.
    Have fun in Vienna!