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    A day in the Life of Beethoven

    After having made Vienna his home, Beethoven spent most of his life in the city. A musical journey back in time.

    Like his great idol, Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven chose Vienna as his hometown. Two of the apartments in which he spent his time here are open for visitors today and offer a glimpse into the life of the great composer. Together with other important locations that bear witness to his life in Vienna, a walk in the footsteps of Beethoven becomes a wonderful experience. 

    Welcome to Beethoven’s Vienna

    For most great composers who have found in Vienna a source of inspiration and creative home, there exists only one apartment that has remained intact since their lifetime. Ludwig van Beethoven is an exception: Two of his abodes are available for visitors to explore and house treasures from his life. During this walk, we will take a closer look at some of them. The starting point of our day: the Schottentor. 

    For most great composers who have found in Vienna a source of inspiration and creative home, there exists only one apartment that has remained intact since their lifetime. Ludwig van Beethoven is an exception: Two of his abodes are available for visitors to explore and house treasures from his life. During this walk, we will take a closer look at some of them. The starting point of our day: the Schottentor. 

    Kunsthistorisches Museum: Sammlung alter Musikinstrumente, Ludwig van Beethoven / Art-history Museum
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    Pasqualatihaus

    Looking at the clear blue sky above the Votivkirche near the subway station Schottentor, we can’t help but feel that today will be a good day. In the footsteps of Beethoven, we’ll experience “his” Vienna. In the morning sun, we walk a few steps towards the Pasqualatihaus, on the corner of Mölkerbastei and Schreyvogelgasse. The namesake of the building, Johann Baptist Freiherr von Pasqualati, was a great patron of Beethoven. The virtuoso lived here for almost eight years. This is where he found the inspiration for his only opera, “Fidelio.” He also brought the gentle melody „Für Elise“ to paper here. The former apartment of Beethoven is now open to visitors as part of the Wien Museum. Five different rooms tell the story of the artist Beethoven and introduce us to his works. Large windows offer a lovely view and we can’t help but wonder if Beethoven looked out these windows too and found inspiration for his music.

    Typical Viennese black coffee
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    Beethoven the coffee lover

    Our next stop takes us to the Albertina-Platz. Here, on May 7, 1824, patrons of the Theatre at the Kärntnertor, could enjoy the world premiere of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9. Today, there is nothing left of the theatre, as it was torn down in 1870, but the melodies of the symphony accompany us on our tour. Before we continue our walkthrough Vienna in Beethoven’s footsteps, we’ll stop at the Café Mozart for a little break. Contrary to what you might think, Viennese coffee houses do not only serve coffee and cake, they also have typical Viennese dishes on the menu. Beethoven was known to enjoy many things, but he especially loved his coffee. At the time, the hot drink was a luxury product, but Beethoven owned a coffee machine of his own and celebrated his own special ritual: it is said that he always used exactly 60 coffee beans for his espresso. Whether our coffee has also been ground from exactly 60 beans is a question we will likely not solve today. We are leaving the Café Mozart and head on to the Karlsplatz.

    Homage to Beethoven at the Secession

    The golden cupola of the Secession is recognisable from afar: The closer we get to the building, the more this Art Nouveau icon fascinates us with its intricate detail. „Der Zeit ihre Kunst. Der Kunst ihre Freiheit“ (To every age its art. To every art, its freedom), reads the inscription on the facade. Since its foundation by representatives of the Wiener Moderne such as Gustav Klimt, Koloman Moser and many others, the Secession has been a sought after location for art exhibits. Especially of interest to us is the Beethoven Frieze. The artwork measures 34 x 2 metres (104 x 6 feet) and was completed in 1902 by Gustav Klimt as a homage to Beethoven in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of his death. It is a visualisation of Richard Wagner’s interpretation of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9: mankind’s search for fulfilment. The Frieze consists of three parts and was originally conceived as a decorative painting for the jubilee exhibition. After several changes, the Frieze came to be owned by the Republic of Austria and since 1986, it can be seen at the Secession as a permanent loan by the Belvedere.

    Beethoven’s favorite spot: Heiligenstadt

    In the Probusgasse 6, in Vienna’s 19th district, we’ll find another branch of the Wien Museum: The Beethoven Museum. Back then, the area was still a suburb of Vienna, but today it is within the city limits. A spa here was frequented by Beethoven as he sought a cure, or at least improvement, for his increasing hearing problems. The rooms have been converted to the Beethoven Museum which leads us through the stations of his life in six chapters, presented on more than 250 m² (2690 square feet): arriving, rejuvenating, composing, earning, performing and bequeathing. Each of the chapters shows us one aspect of the artist as well as a part of his former abode. In 1802, Beethoven wrote his „Heiligenstädter Testament“ here, spurred on by the fear of complete deafness. However, he never sent these “last lines” to his three brothers. Another work that he completed here is his Symphony No. 3 „Eroica.” Later he also worked here on Symphony No. 9, his greatest work. During a walk through Döbling, we reflect on the many Impressions we gathered of the great composer.

    Grand finale at the Heurigen Mayer am Pfarrplatz

    To celebrate the end of an eventful day in the footsteps of Beethoven, we visit the wine tavern Mayer am Pfarrplatz. An added bonus: The Heurigen is only a few steps away from the house where Beethoven used to live. We take a seat on the typical wooden benches in the cosy courtyard and enjoy the last hours of the evening over a glass of wine from the tavern’s own vineyards. The Viennese “Heurigenmusik” (roughly: wine tavern music), which plays in the background, might not be a symphony by Beethoven, but it puts everyone in a joyful, relaxed mood. Thankful for the variety of music experiences, we end our evening.

    Learn more about Beethoven and his works:

    •                 Theater an der Wien
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    •                 Haus der Musik: Beethoven Room / Haus der Musik
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    •                 Zentralfriedhof, Ehrengrab von Ludwig van Beethoven
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      A Day in the Life of Mozart

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