Appendix Beethoven


Beethoven's apartment in Schwartzspanierstrasse

In his account of the meeting with Beethoven, Liszt talks of "two small rooms". Now - how small is "small"? Here is a  drawing of Beethoven's last apartment  from The Historic Museum in Vienna (thanks to Dr. Adelbert Schusser) and based on the recollections of eyewitnesses.

First of all there was more than two rooms and the large one was big enough to have two pianos in the middle - and during Beethoven's final illness even a bath tub - besides a number of closets, tables and bookcases.

According to Czerny Beethoven's rooms were never tidy; clothes, papers, books, manuscripts were scattered around, and this could make the rooms feel crowded and 'small'.

But still, it was no "small" abode. Above Schwarzspanierstrasse where Beethoven had his last flat. At this time there was electrical trams and the trees are a bit bigger than on the wonderful "classical" picture.    

On the drawing above there is one point which is not quite understandable: The room called staircase had this door to the stairs as shown. The door is green and has been preserved. So has the door handle and lock and they are all - in accordance with Murphy's Law - kept in two different museums. In all timber from doors, doors and pieces of the floor was salvaged and given to the Stadtischen  Museum, Wien on the 11th December 1903.
But here is the "famous" picture which was taken  a year or two before the one above:




Then why do I show this picture? Well - there are certain reasons. First of all it was Beethoven's last apartment in Schwartzspanierstrasse in Wien. I do not insist that humanity has become wiser - for it has not, but today this building aught to have been the treasure of treasures among UNESCU'S list of World Heritage Sites.


This is the famous picture of Beethoven's funeral. In the background the Schwarzspanierhaus and on the left the funeral procession with the coffin on the shoulders. Among the pall bearers were Franz Schubert who after the ceremony drank to the next to "follow" Beethoven - it was he. 20.000 people had assembled to witness this occasion.

Schwarzspanierhaus  used to be a monastery and was built 1687-1727. On 11th of May 1781 the building was bought by the merchant Joseph Ignaz Sigmund as one large house with several courts and canals and this was continued by the silk merchant Franz Hofzinser in 1811 and his pair of children. in 1821-1845 the Count Somsich family owned the building after which the Cistensienser Monastery from Heiligenkreuz (Lower Austria) took over the building, parting it and creating the Beethovengasse.

Among the tenant of this flat after Beethoven it is worth to mention the author Nicolaus Lenau whose Faust inspired among others Liszt (Mephisto Waltz) and later the philosopher who inspired Ludwig Wittgenstein, Otto Weiniger (1880 - 1903). The latter committed suicide but according to some web pages it is suggested that this happened at a time the house had been demolished. This gives rise to some vivid pictures (!).

The haunting reality is, that it was in these room some of the greatest music of mankind was created. In fact it will be impossible at any time give a realistic estimate for Beethoven's importance in World Culture.
Nevertheless at the beginning of the 20th century the Viennese City Counsel in all their "wisdom" decided to tear down this cultural shrine turning their deaf ear to the protests from all over the world from intellectuals, artists and writers (incl. Stefan Zweig's) - and the walls came tumbling down.

On November 15th 1903 a kind of "Farewell Celebration" was held and two days later Beethoven's last dwelling was no more.


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