Maestro Minute Archives
Here are some thoughts about our upcoming music
Beethoven the Vagrant
or Following Beethoven’s footsteps through Vienna
Ludwig van Beethoven moved to Vienna twice. The first time, in 1787, he was only 17 years old and planned to study with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. But as soon as he’d arrived, he got word his mother was near death, so he returned to Bonn, Germany, his hometown, to stay by her side. Beethoven ended up staying for five years, and while he was there, Mozart died. The second move to Vienna in 1792 was to study with Franz Joseph Haydn, who was too busy to correct Beethoven’s lessons.
Note: Some people (not me) claim that because of this Beethoven could not write a good fugue.
Beethoven remained in Vienna for the last 35 years of his life, composing the entire time, until he died in 1727. Beethoven was a known to be a difficult tenant (“he once threw a chair at his housekeeper”) and moved more than 60 times, often more than once a week and in one case twice in one day.
In Beethoven’s time “Stop and frisk” was the norm in Vienna, and you were required to register your address and occupation at the local police precinct and carry an ID card with you at all times.
Note: Hitler, when living in Vienna was registered as an “artist”
Beethoven, who often looked rather disheveled was often stopped by the constabulary and asked for his ID and address. He rarely had his ID on him, and since he moved so often, might not have remembered his address. So he would be taken to the local precinct where the sergeant would say to the officer “Oh, that’s Beethoven he lives at ….” and they would take him home.
Note: For Beethoven moving in Vienna required relocating a grand piano, often to second or third floor.