Beethoven Sites in Vienna
Updated: Jan 10
“There are and will be a thousand princes; there is only one Beethoven.” --
Ludwig van Beethoven
Dah-Dah-Dah-Dah ... The power and passion of those famous first four notes ... If you love Beethoven, here's my guide to visiting all the Beethoven sites in Vienna Austria.
Ludwig van Beethoven is as Viennese as wiener schnitzel. His dramatic life and work are inextricably bound up with Vienna. Beethoven sites are unmissable destinations in Vienna, if you are musically inclined.
Though born in Bonn Germany, Beethoven spent the bulk of his adult life in the musical capital of Vienna. There, he became the foremost composer in the Western world.
Through sheer force of will and emotion, Beethoven catapulted the music world from Classicism to Romanticism. His tormented life was like a Wagnerian soap opera. The often irascible Beethoven suffered from debilitating deafness, unrequited love, and abject poverty. But he persevered.
Let's take a look at the life of the vaunted composer and explore Beethoven's most famous sites and monuments in Vienna Austria.
Beethoven, A Short Biography
1. Early Life
Beethoven waas born in Bonn Germany in 1770. He had a musically inclined grandfather and a helicopter father, who was a drunk and yearned for Ludwig to be the next Mozart. Which eventually became a reality.
In Vienna, Beethoven studied with the resident classic music expert and father of the symphony, Joseph Haydn. Fairly quickly, he was recognized as a precocious pianist and burgeoning superstar.
But Beethoven was not a looker. Even his friends described him as ugly. Aside from a shabby and diminutive appearance, he had big brows, bruised eyes, and crazier hair than Einstein.
2. Beethoven's Encroaching Deafness & Mood Swings
In 1801, at age 27, Beethoven began hearing buzzing in his ears. Slowly, he lost his hearing. Beethoven attributed it to an accident. More likely, it was the result of a childhood illness or lead poisoning.
But it caused Beethoven to contemplate suicide and tormented him the rest of his life. His torment was expressed in the "Heiligenstädter Testament," an unsent letter to his brothers, discovered in 1827 after his death.
The moody Beethoven may have been bipolar. He was notoriously absent minded, difficult to get along with, and prone to tantrums. Beethoven could be maniacally creative, then lapse into composing doldrums. His teacher Hayden describes him as "a man of many heads and hearts" whose compositions are "things of beauty, but rather dark and strange."
Beethoven performed, on piano, for the last time in 1814. By 1818, in the final decade of his life, he was almost completely deaf. He could only communicate via written messages.
I must confess that I lead a miserable life. For almost two years, I have ceased to attend any social functions, just because I find it impossible to say to people, 'I am deaf.' If I had any other profession, I might be able to cope with my infirmity; but in my profession, it is a terrible handicap.