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Author: Tita Büttner
Status as at April 2012
In the Footsteps of Vienna’s Famous Musicians
A Vienna City Walk by Tita Büttner
Experience Vienna, the world’s capital of music, by tracing the footsteps of some of the famous composers who have lived and worked here: Ludwig van Beethoven, Alban Berg, Johannes Brahms, Anton Bruckner, Gottfried von Einem, Christoph Willibald Gluck, Joseph Haydn, Emmerich Kálmán, Anton Karas, Joseph Lanner, Franz Lehár, Franz Liszt, Gustav Mahler, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Otto Nicolai, Antonio Salieri, Franz Schmidt, Arnold Schoenberg, Franz Schubert, Robert Stolz, Johann Strauss senior and junior, Richard Strauss, Antonio Vivaldi, Hugo Wolf, Carl Michael Ziehrer and many more.
Many of these artists knew each other, were students and teachers of each other, and were friends. These relationships gave rise to numerous anecdotes that further enhance the charm of the original locations.
Walking time: approximately 2 hours Additional travel time: approximately 30 mins Including breaks and stops at attractions, a whole day can be spent tracing the footsteps of famous musicians – at the same time experiencing Vienna’s picturesque historic center.
Ask your hotel or the Tourist Information Office on Albertinaplatz (open daily from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.) for a free city map (also available online at: www.vienna.info) and the Vienna Tourist Board’s
Calendar of Events which gives a run-down of what’s on. The Vienna Card is also a useful
companion. Costing EUR 18.50 (from May 1, 2012: EUR 19,90) it gives you 72 hours’ unlimited travel on the city’s underground, bus and tram network as well as 210 discounts and special deals
at museums, tourist attractions, theaters, concert halls, shops, cafés, restaurants and Vienna’s wine taverns.
Start in the heart of the city – at Stephansplatz (U1, U3)
St. Stephen’s Cathedral (Stephansdom)
The cathedral is the icon of Vienna. The locals call it “Steffl” and its walls bear witness to the lives of many famous musicians. Joseph Haydn (b. 1732 Rohrau, Lower Austria – d. 1809 Vienna) for
example, moved to Vienna at the age of eight and began his career as a choirboy in this church. For nine years (until his voice broke) he and his brother Michael Haydn received a thorough musical education here. On November 26, 1760, at the age of 28, Haydn was married in the cathedral, not, however, to the woman he loved – she had gone to a nunnery at her parent’s
request – but to her older sister.
Antonio Vivaldi (b. 1678 Venice – d. 1741 Vienna, “The Red Haired”) was a priest by profession,
but the creator of the famous “Four Seasons” was known throughout Europe as a talented musician. As his fame waned and he fell into poverty Vivaldi came to Vienna to try his luck again –
without success. Within a few months he was dead and his passing is recorded in the Cathedral register on July 28, 1741 (at the time Haydn had just begun his musical career as a choirboy). The names of Christoph Willibald Gluck (b. 1714 Erasbach – d. 1787 Vienna), Antonio Salieri (b.
1750 Legnago, Venice – d. 1825 Vienna), Franz Schubert (b. 1797 Vienna – d. 1828 Vienna) and
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (b. 1756 Salzburg – d. 1791 Vienna) also appear in the same death
register. Mozart’s wedding to Constance and the christening of two of their six children are also recorded in the Cathedral archives.
In May 1791 a heavily indebted Mozart applied for the well-paid position of Music Director at the Cathedral. He agreed to carry out the duties on a voluntary basis until the death of his old and sickly predecessor. But before he could officially take up the position he died on December 5, 1791 at the age of 35 just a few steps from here at Rauhensteingasse 8 (today the Steffl department store, enter at Kärntner Strasse 19). Shortly before his death he wrote in a letter: “I have come to the end, before I could enjoy my talent. And life was so beautiful.” Today the Steffl department
store is located where Mozart’s death house once stood (Kärntner Strasse 19).
Almost 60 years after Mozart’s death several thousand people accompanied Johann Strauss senior (b. 1804 Vienna – d. 1849 Vienna), the “grandfather” of the Viennese Waltz, on his final
journey to this cathedral. His son Johann (b. 1825 Vienna – d. 1899 Vienna) continued the work of
his father and built a reputation as the world famous “Waltz King”. He was already 37 before he dared tie the knot in this cathedral. The happy bride was Henriette Treffz. She was known as Jetty and was a 44-year-old opera singer and mother of seven children born out of wedlock. Despite all the fearful predictions, the marriage was not only happy, but Jetty proved an extremely successful manager for her famous husband.
Singerstrasse runs off Stephansplatz (see city map). It is just a few yards to the House and Church of the Teutonic Order (Deutschordenshaus)
(1st district, Singerstrasse 7, www.deutscher-orden.at)
In the forecourt next to the entrance to this atmospheric little church, a memorial records that Mozart lived here between March 18 and May 2, 1781. The young genius was here for only a few weeks but it was a decisive period for Mozart as it was during this time that he clashed with his employer, the Archbishop of Salzburg. As a result, the 25-year old Mozart resigned and decided to remain in Vienna as a freelance artist. It was a self-assured and courageous decision in light of the fact that most of the savings of the former child prodigy had been exhausted. It marked the beginning of a turbulent decade with great artistic successes, a happy marriage, children, wealth and respect combined with failures, intrigues, illness, debts and a premature death. Johannes Brahms also lived on the top floor of the building between 1863 and 1865. In the courtyard of the Deutschordenshaus, where you can visit the Treasury of the Teutonic Order, there are windows with old, wrought-iron lattice. Behind the windows is a small 18th century theater where the Mozart Ensemble Vienna performs concerts. Walk through the second courtyard (the summer location of a relaxed outdoor cafe) to return to Singerstrasse.
Continue left a few yards to Blutgasse. Time seems to have come to a standstill in the picturesque courtyards of numbers 9 and 3. The view from the window into this courtyard inspired Wenzel Müller (1767-1835) to compose the song titled: “Kommt ein Vogerl geflogen”. At the end of Blutgasse you come to Domgasse.
(1st district, Domgasse 5, 10 a.m. - 7 p.m. daily, www.mozarthausvienna.at, discount for Vienna Card holders)
Of the dozen apartments occupied by Mozart during his Vienna years only one survives – that at
number 5 Domgasse. The composer lived here from September 29, 1784 to April 24, 1787. His first-floor apartment was quite grand with four large rooms, two smaller rooms and a kitchen. The years Wolfgang Amadeus spent here were probably the happiest of his life and it was the dwelling he stayed longest at. Many great works were written here, including “The Marriage of Figaro”.
At this time Mozart was a celebrated musician with a circle of illustrious friends and was often commissioned to give numerous concerts in aristocratic homes. Exuberant parties, music making
and billiards were all part of the fun. His father Leopold traveled from Salzburg and stayed for more than two months (from February till the end of April 1785); Joseph Haydn, who Mozart called his “fatherly friend”, was a visitor and Mozart’s younger student Johann Nepomuk Hummel even lived
here for two years. The 17-year-old Ludwig van Beethoven (b. 1770 Bonn – d. 1827 Vienna) was
probably also among the visitors. He traveled from Bonn especially to take lessons with Mozart but had to leave before tuition began after his mother fell critically ill. At the age of 22 he returned to Vienna to learn from Haydn – and stayed until his death.
The Mozarthaus Vienna is spread over six floors where you can immerse yourself in the composer’s world, exploring his tremendous creativity, his family, his friends and his foes.
Walk through the arch at Domgasse 2 to return to Stephansplatz – at the rear of the Cathedral.
Immediately opposite the arch under the Capistran Pulpit you will find the Crucifix Chapel. Mozart’s body was taken by carriage from here to St. Marx Cemetery.
Walk through the passage at Stephansplatz 6 to Wollzeile and proceed through the next passage at Wollzeile 5a. (This takes you past Figlmüller, a restaurant famous for its especially large Vienna Schnitzels). This brings you to Bäckerstrasse. Turn right.
Perhaps you can spare a little time for the following old courtyards: Bäckerstrasse 7 is one of only a few residences with 16th century Renaissance arcades and a collection of old wrought-iron works on the walls. Bäckerstrasse 12 bears the name “allwo die Kuh am Brett spielt” (where the
cow plays) and features the remains of the corresponding frescoes. The Baroque residence at no. 16 boasts a modern climbing wall in the courtyard. From here it is not far to
Take a look into the Jesuit Church (Universitätskirche) which dates from 1627. The “fake dome” is best seen when you look up from the light-colored stone of the nave. Between September and June Sunday mass here features sacred music by composers such as Haydn, Mozart and Schubert (starts at 10:30 a.m.).
Former Old University (Stadtkonvikt)
(1st district, Dr.-Ignaz-Seipel-Platz, opposite the Academy)
This building is not open to the public. It was home to both the Akademisches Gymnasium and the Imperial City Seminary (Stadtkonvikt). It was here that an eleven-year old Franz Schubert received a thorough education as court chorister from 1808 to 1813. Antonio Salieri was the court music
director who discovered the boy’s exceptional musical talent and recommended him for a highly
sought-after place. After Schubert left the school Salieri even gave him a further three years of free private lessons.
Austrian Academy of Sciences
(1st district, Dr.-Ignaz-Seipel-Platz 2, www.oeaw.ac.at )
The magnificent grand hall of the Academy of Sciences is open to visitors Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. unless events are scheduled (please ask at the door). On March 27, 1808 Joseph Haydn celebrated his 76th birthday in the auditorium. Everybody who was anybody was there (even Haydn’s former student Beethoven). Wearing all his medals and decorations, the grand old composer was carried in on a sedan chair to great acclaim to attend a sensational performance of his “Creation”. This was to be the master’s last public appearance. He died a year later, during
Napoleon’s occupation of Vienna. In May 1809 Napoleon, a great admirer of Haydn, had a guard of honor posted in front of the dying composer’s house. Today it is a Haydn memorial with a Brahms memorial room. (6th district, Haydngasse 19, daily except Mon 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. and 2 – 6
p.m., closed on Jan. 1, May 1, Dec. 25)
In December 1813 the Academy’s auditorium was the scene of the 43-year old Beethoven’s
triumphant success with his Symphony No. 7 and the premiere of his symphonic work “Wellington’s Victory” that marked Napoleon’s defeat in Spain. The composer conducted both works but could not hear the roaring applause, as he had already become deaf. A few months later Beethoven enjoyed international success with this program. The statesmen at the Congress of Vienna were so overwhelmed by his music that they spread the word about the great composer in their respective countries.
Continue along Bäckerstrasse to Stubenring. You can now either continue on foot or skip a few stops and catch the no. 2 tram along the magnificent Ring Boulevard taking in various “musical detours” for example at the following sites (see city map):
Schwarzenbergplatz and the Schönberg Center (3rd district, Schwarzenbergplatz/Zaunergasse 1, www.schoenberg.at) Here, in Palais Fanto, a research center is dedicated to Arnold Schoenberg (b. 1874 Vienna – d. 1951 Los Angeles), the founder of twelve-tone music. Events and concerts are also held here.
Opera: the Vienna State Opera, the State Opera Museum, the Musikverein and the Theater Museum
Burgring: the Mozart memorial, the Collection of Historical Musical Instruments and Hofburg Chapel (Burgkapelle) From here, take no. 1 or D tram to continue to
Rathausplatz/Burgtheater: Strauss and Lanner memorials
Schottentor/University: Pasqualati House (a Beethoven memorial), Schottenstift: Franz Liszt stayed several times
If you want to continue the tour from Stubenring to Rathaus (Ciy Hall) on foot, walk across the Ring to
Here you will find memorials to Anton Bruckner (b. 1824 Ansfelden – d. 1896 Vienna), Franz Lehár
(b. 1870 Komárno – d. 1948 Bad Ischl, Upper Austria), Robert Stolz, the operetta genius (b. 1889 Graz – d. 1975 Berlin) and the prince of song Franz Schubert, as well as one of the world’s most
photographed monuments: the Johann Strauss Golden Statue. Surrounded by dancing and floating figures, the Waltz King is shown with his violin poised, ready to play. Schani (Strauss’s nickname) conquered the world in three-quarter time. The musical genius wrote 500 works, among them the “Blue Danube” and “Emperor” waltzes and the operetta “Die Fledermaus”.
Before you leave Stadtpark have a quick look inside the beautifully renovated Vienna Kursalon. It was built in 1867 and hosted the promenade concerts of the Strauss brothers, wowing Viennese audiences. Cross the Ring Boulevard and walk along Johannesgasse to Seilerstätte. House of Music
(1st district, Seilerstätte 30, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. daily, www.hdm.at, discount for Vienna Card holders) Covering four floors, this theme world treats you to fascinating and unique listening experiences, from simple sounds through to the music of the future. Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert, Strauss, Mahler, Schoenberg and, of course, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, are entertainingly presented. From 1841 to 1847 the composer of “The Merry Wives of Windsor”, Otto Nicolai (b. 1810 Königsberg, Russia – d. 1849 Berlin) resided in this house. Together with the members of the Court Opera Orchestra he founded the Vienna Philharmonic in 1842. Their museum is located on the first floor of the building. Perhaps you would like to try your hand at conducting possibly the world’s greatest orchestra? Using modern technology you can do just that in the House of Music, but please try to keep the tempo and don’t miss any cues, these virtual musicians are unforgiving.
From the excellent café-restaurant Cantino on the top level you can enjoy a wonderful view across the city’s rooftops.
Go along Krugerstrasse to Akademiestrasse, continuing across Kärntner Ring to arrive at Bösendorferstrasse.
(Entrance Musikvereinsplatz 1 (guided tours: tel. +43 1 505 81 90, www.musikverein.at) The Golden Hall of the Vienna Musikverein is probably the world’s most famous concert hall thanks to the worldwide broadcast of the Vienna Philharmonic’s annual New Year’s Day Concert. The Society of the Friends of Music is the “landlord” of the building and the world famous Vienna Philharmonic its best-known tenant.
Johann Strauss composed the waltz “Freut Euch des Lebens” for the opening ball in January 1870. The Waltz King dedicated “Seid umschlungen Millionen” to his friend Johannes Brahms (b. 1833 Hamburg – d. 1897 Vienna), who came to Vienna at the age of 29 and at 39 took over the artistic directorship of the Society concerts. He had a regular seat in the Director’s box in the Golden Hall and the second largest concert hall in the building now bears his name.
Brahms was born in Hamburg six years after Beethoven’s death. In Vienna he felt particularly close to his idol. In a letter to a friend he once wrote: “I will never write a symphony. You have no idea what it is like for me to feel such a giant constantly marching behind me”. In the end Brahms did compose four symphonies. He never married and died at the age of 64. You can find his statue nearby between the Musikverein and the Church of St. Charles Borromeo (Karlskirche) in Resselpark. His honorary grave is in the Central Cemetery (Zentralfriedhof) alongside Strauss, Beethoven and Schubert.
Vienna State Opera
(1st district, Kärntner Ring, www.wiener-staatsoper.at)
The State Opera opened on May 25, 1869 with Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” and has enjoyed a first class reputation in the music world ever since. Prominent directors such as Gustav Mahler, Richard Strauss, Karl Krauss, Karl Böhm and Herbert von Karajan have left their mark. The building was badly damaged in World War II. It remained closed until 1955 when it was reopened after extensive reconstruction with a performance of Beethoven’s ”Fidelio”.
At the back of the opera – Philharmonikerstrasse 2 (between Sacher Eck and the entrance to the Hotel Sacher) – you can see a plaque honoring Antonio Vivaldi who lived in the house that used to stand on this site and died on July 28, 1741. Continue straight ahead to Hanuschgasse where on the left you will find the
State Opera Museum
(1st district, Goethegasse/Hanuschgasse; Tue-Sun 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.)
Opera lovers are in their element here. Photos, costumes, stage design models, play bills and interesting documents take you on a journey through the last 50 years of the Vienna State Opera. At Albertinaplatz you can stop off at the Tourist Information Office or the Café Mozart opposite. Café Mozart is located on the site of the former Kärntnertor Theater (1763 - 1868) where Beethoven conducted the premiere of his Ninth Symphony. Augustinergasse takes you to Josefsplatz. But why not take a Musical-culinary detour along Spiegelgasse to Graben and back along Dorotheergasse:
Antonio Salieri (memorial plaque) lived and died in the house that used to be at Spiegelgasse. 11. Franz Schubert composed his Symphony in B minor (the “Unfinished”, memorial plaque) at no. 9 between 1822-23. At Dorotheergasse 2-4 Reinthaler’s Beisl serves Viennese specialties (11 a.m. –
11 p.m. daily). Next door is Café Hawelka – a meeting place for artists and literati with its own
legendary Buchteln buns after 10 p.m. Across the street you will find the “unspeakably good” Viennese sandwich king, Trzesniewski. Conradin Kreutzer, the dedicatee of Beethoven’s Kreutzer
Sonata lived in the house next door (memorial plaque). At no. 10 the Doblinger music shop sets the pulse of music fans racing. Number 11 is home to the Jewish Museum, and the records of the Protestant Church at no. 18 recall several “musical” events (the blessing of Johann Strauss jnr and
Johannes Brahms, the weddings of Arnold Schoenberg and Alexander von Zemlinsky, and Franz Schmidt’s death). Across the street is the Dorotheum auction house with a café on the second floor.
Backtrack a few steps and you come to the
Theater Museum in Lobkowitz Palace
(1st district, Lobkowitzplatz 2, daily exc. Tue, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., www.theatermuseum.at, discount
for Vienna Card holders)
This is a genuinely unique museum that theater fans should make time for. Generations of the Lobkowitz princes were not only owners of this palace but also generous patrons of various
musicians. Beneficiaries of this generosity included Christoph Willibald Gluck (b. 1714 Erasbach –
d. 1787 Vienna). Empress Maria Theresia appointed the composer to teach to some of her 16 children, including Marie Antoinette who later became the queen of King Louis XVI and an advocate in Paris for her former teacher. Gluck was a reformer of opera and was highly regarded in the music world. Mozart, for example, placed great value on the support of his fatherly friend. Ludwig van Beethoven conducted his third symphony in the room here now known as the Eroica Room. It was a private performance for the composer’s great supporter, Franz Joseph Maximilian Prince Lobkowitz, whose contribution to a life-long allowance for Beethoven helped persuade the famous composer to remain in Vienna.
Walk along Augustinerstrasse to
The square is named for Emperor Joseph II, the son and successor to Empress Maria Theresia. He was not only a great reformer but also an accomplished musician and composer. Many a famous musician has had to cross Josefsplatz to reach key performance venues such as the Redoutensäle, the National Library, the Church of the Augustinian Friars and the Pallavicini and Pallfy palaces. Many of these venues are still used on occasions for musical performances. Michaelerplatz/St Michael’s Church (Michaelerkirche)
The 17-year old Joseph Haydn played the organ here in 1749. He lived next door in a small attic room, where he worked as an employee of the composer Nicola Porpora and got to know the court poet Pietro Metastasio, who also had lodgings there. Metastasio’s remains were laid to rest in the crypt of St Michael’s, and W. A. Mozart’s Requiem was performed here for the first time, during his
funeral service only a few days after his death. To your right just after you enter the church you will find two somber reliefs with the following text: “A funeral service for Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was held in this church on December 10, 1791 during which parts of his Requiem were heard for the first time.”
When you leave St Michael’s you come out at Michaelerplatz. St Michael’s Arch takes you into the grounds of Hofburg Palace. To the left of the arch you will find a memorial plaque that states: “Here
stood the old Burgtheater until 1888. Emperor Josef II founded it as the national theater in 1776.” It was used not only as a theater for plays but also as an opera house and concert hall. It was the venue of the premieres of Gluck’s “Orpheus and Eurydice” and Mozart’s operas “The Abduction from the Seraglio”, “The Marriage of Figaro” and “Così fan tutte”. Haydn’s “Emperor’s Hymn” was also first heard here, to great acclaim. Haydn composed it for the birthday of Emperor Franz II
(February 12, 1797). Its melody was to be Austria’s national anthem until 1918 and again from 1929 to 1938. It remains the melody of the German national anthem to this day. Walk through St Michael’s Arch and enjoy a stroll through the magnificent Hofburg precincts. There
are also “musical treasures” to be discovered here:
EXTRA TIP – during the warmer months: The original Hoch- und Deutschmeister Palace Guards
(Inner courtyard; Sat 11 a.m. – 12 noon from May to mid-October, for free)
Live nostalgia. Just like in the days of the Emperor, every Saturday from May through mid-October the band of the Original Hoch- und Deutschmeister in their traditional blue uniforms march from Graben to the Inner Palace Courtyard – with music including the melodies of Franz Lehár, Robert
Stolz and Johann Strauss.
The ensemble forms at the inner court yard of Hofburg Palace at 11 a.m. There they give a 40-minute rendition of works by the Strausses, Franz Lehár, Carl Michael Ziehrer and Robert Stolz. The 35 musicians range in age from 19 to 82 and the history of the band reaches back to 1741. Hofburg Chapel (Burgkapelle)
(Schweizerhof, viewing times: Mon–Thu 11 a.m. – 3 p.m., Fri 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.)
The Imperial Court Chapel has played a key role in Austria’s music history. Many members of the
Imperial family had outstanding musical training and were patrons of the best performers of their day, many of whom gave performances in Hofburg Chapel. Today you can hear the Vienna Boys’ Choir here as part of religious services (Sept.-June, www.wsk.at).
As you stand on Heldenplatz square look over to the broad steps of the New Palace (Neue Burg). Here you will find the
Collection of Historical Musical Instruments
(Neue Burg, Wed-Sun, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., www.khm.at, discount for Vienna Card holders)
If you are partial to both old musical instruments and imperial ambience, then this is just the place for you. Borrow an Audio Guide and walk through the collection. On show are priceless historical items such as the grand pianos played by Chopin, Beethoven, Johann Strauss, Liszt, Schumann, Brahms and royal family members and one of Leopold Mozart’s violins. They are joined by a host of curiosities such as instruments from the Biedermeier period that can be transformed into walking