Better late: Vienna opens a Beethoven museum

Better late: Vienna opens a Beethoven museum


norman lebrecht

November 23, 2017

Given that the greatest composer lived most of his life in Vienna, and that Vienna makes a fortune from exploiting its musical past, you’d have thought someone would have opened a proper Beethoven museum in the composer’s house.

Well, they have now.

In good time for his 250th birth anniversary in 2020.


  • SL says:

    Birth anniversary. Not death.

  • RW2013 says:

    The photo is of the Testamentshaus in Heiligenstadt.

    • Sue says:

      I’m thinking that’s the place they’re referring to. I’ve been there and it was disappointing and one of 2 or 3 places in Heiligenstadt where Beethoven stayed/lived. The Beethovenhaus in Bonn is far better and worth a visit.

  • John Borstlap says:

    I thought there had already been ‘Beethovenhäuser’ with memorabilia all over Vienna, since LvB moved around a lot.

    • Sue says:

      The Pasqualatihaus virtually opposite Vienna University has good memorabilia, even though it’s not the actual apartment the composer rented; that one currently is occupied. If you can handle the 4 flights of stairs it’s worth a visit.

      To think of Beethoven as a lifetime renter, constantly on the move, and not a homeowner (as was the case with Haydn in Gumpendorf and Eistenstadt) is very sad.

      • Ungeheuer says:

        If only poor pitiful LvB were living amid today’s sorry homeownership market. What would he compose in response? Rage for a Lost 1,000,000 €?

      • John Borstlap says:

        As far as I know, B changed rented houses in search of a quiet place where he could work undisturbed and unnoticed by the locals. At one moment he was renting 4 different places in teh same time but lived in only one – getting forgetful and mixed-up. It does not seem to have been a money problem, but a location problem. Also neighbours often complained about loud piano banging and moaning and singing, also on hours that normal people would be sleeping, and water leakages since B was used to take cold showers every morning standing in a sort of bowl but carried-out with clumsy motorics. If he had wanted, he could have lived comfortably and without payment in one of the palaces of his noble partons, but he did not like the atmosphere of nobility, with their polished manners, dress codes, perfumes, and excited ladies.

        • Sue says:

          You can’t blame the neighbours for disliking his hours!! Still, he wasn’t a good tenant – keeping places terribly dirty and untidy and even having somebody knock out a wall to put in a window to increase his view of Vienna. Then there was his throwing objects at his house staff…..

          I’ve read about all the aristocratic women Beethoven loved and who were considered his superiors. Can you imagine one of the greatest genius in world history being ‘unacceptable’ as a spouse to some obscure aristocrat? I’m glad he didn’t marry any of them; none of us wants to hear another thing about any of them ever again!!

  • CL says:

    I believe that there is already a Beethoven Museum in Vienna. Also 200th Anniversary of his death is 2027.

  • Petros Linardos says:

    Arguably Vienna does a great job out of showcasing its musical heritage. Vienna has already had for decades old Beethoven houses turned into museums. I am positive I visited several of them in the 70s, including the one at Probusgasse 3, where Beethoven wrote the Heiligenstadt testament and where now the new Beethoven museum opened. Sounds like they reinvented the Probusgasse house.

  • Quincy says:

    Yes Paget’s would fit most of his problems, the lead also, there is a book by F. Mai a retired physician in Quebec which covers the lead suggestion. Paget’s is a new diagnosis from reviewing the PM notes.

    • Simon Sparrow says:

      Quincy you are correct the review of Beethoven’s PM notes in the Lancet and the paper by Mai are consistent with Paget’s disease which was indicated by the inside of the skull, this together with the lead from wine are the most likely explanation of his deafness as well as his many other health problems, gout, dropsy, gut problems etc.

  • TG Wilson says:

    Here is the report discussing Beethoven’s PM notes with a likely diagnosis of Paget’s disease of the skull. The other findings tie up with many of his other symptoms.

    • Felix Weingartner says:

      Paget’s disease is now the accepted explanation for his deafness and other issues. What is the treatment if any for Paget’s and is it X linked?

  • Fred says:

    wasn’t VAN Beethoven Flemish???

    • John Borstlap says:

      His grandfather was Flemish, hence the ‘van’, which does not compare with the German ‘von’ which refers to nobility. The ‘van’ merely means: ‘coming from’ (a place, a location, an area).

      • Felix Weingartner says:

        Beethoven never much liked the Dutch, he called them skinflints, I doubt that he cared much about Flanders, Belgium did not exist then, he used the van to give the impression it was similar to von, as van Swieten did.

        • Fred says:

          The Dutch aren’t Flemish, they are Dutch though they do speak the same language.
          The Van Beethovens originated from Mechelen in Flanders and there’s even a book ‘the Flemish element in Beethoven’, so maybe Mechelen should get its Beethoven museum as well.
          There are still about ten van Beethovens around in Flanders. A gym teacher at my school was called Van Beethoven and no student would dare to call him ‘Beethoven’…
          again is full name was VAN Beethoven and not Beethoven.
          And i think his first name on the birth certificate in Bonn was even Louis instead of Ludwig

          • Felix Weingartner says:

            He is actually Ludwig of the garden of Beetroot, fantastic!

          • Felix Weingartner says:

            Beethoven’s nephew, Karl van Beethoven married Karoline Barbara Naske (24) on July 16th 1832. He was 26 years old and was a second lieutenant in Oberst Graf von Stutterheim’s regiment. (Op 131 was dedicated to him).

            They had five children, the only descendants of this branch of Beethoven’s family, of which there was only one boy, who immigrated to the USA (under, it would seem, the name of Louis von Hoven).

            The children of Karl and Karoline had, between them, 20 children. There were 13 in the next generation and very few after that…

  • Fred says:

    as no one calls van Gogh just Gogh no one should call van Beethoven just Beethoven, the family were many, the descendants fewer and fewer but there are still van Beethovens n Flanders, all in some ways genetically related to the Bonn van Beethovens and their ancestors…..In somma : there’s a serious Flemish element in van Beethoven

    • John Borstlap says:

      His work stands as a lively monument of European Enlightenment ideals.

      • Edison says:

        That maybe, however he is still German not Flemish, he could not speak it at all nor was interested in Flemish stuff. He could not wait to leave Bonn.

  • Kylee Maloney says:

    Kia ora, all. My name’s Kylee Maloney and I’m from Aotearoa (New Zealand). My sister and I’ll be stoppign off in Vienna in late December as part of a cruise and, not being able to be in Vienna without doing something van Beethoven-related, I wondered if you knowledgeable people would be kind enough to suggest the best way to spend the few hours in which we could break away from the cruise. I’m totally blind and would relish something which would give me the best sensory experience.