The self-effacing little house on Grinzinger Straße experienced one of those coincidences history likes to throw out at us now and then: a meeting of two greats (one slightly more great than the other).
- 18th-century house where Beethoven and Franz Grillparzer both lived (the clue is in the name)
- Close to a few other Beethoven sites around the suburb of Heiligenstadt
- See also:
(Now a private house, which means you can’t go inside)
Austria regards Franz Grillparzer (1791-1872) as one of the country’s greatest writers and, perhaps, its greatest poet. For a short while in 1808, he lived in the same house as Ludwig van Beethoven.
We know this because Grillparzer wrote about it.
Apparently, Beethoven’s lodgings faced the street, while Grillparzer and family had rooms facing the garden.
As Grillparzer tells it, his mother liked to sit on the corridor between the two sets of rooms and listen to Beethoven play (imagine!).
Unfortunately, the maestro was none too pleased to have an eavesdropper while he worked.
(Photo of the rear courtyard of the house, as printed on a postcard sometime after 1904; Wien Museum Inv.-Nr. 105275/200; excerpt reproduced with permission under the terms of the CC0 licence)
It seems he eventually noticed the unwanted attention, leading him to storm out of the house and never touch the piano there again until the Grillparzers left for town in the autumn. Oops.
Who knows how different Beethoven’s oeuvre might have been if Mrs Grillparzer had been a little more circumspect about her love of music?
A simple plaque on this private house commemorates the coming together of two creative minds. It simply says (my translation):
Ludwig van Beethoven and Franz Grillparzer lived here in the year 1808
(The plaque outside the house)
Interestingly, Grillparzer and Beethoven would see more of each other in the future, the poet even writing the eulogy for the latter’s funeral.
The house in question went up in the late 18th century. It’s one of many Beethoven addresses in and around Heiligenstadt, formerly a country village outside the city and a favourite haunt of the composer. For example, the excellent Beethoven Museum is a short walk away.
How to get to the house
The address is out in the leafy suburbs, reachable by Bus 37A, which goes up Grinzinger Straße soon after leaving Heiligenstadt station (which is on the U4 subway line).
Get off at the Armbrustergasse stop and walk up past the church (St. Michael’s), which traces its roots back to at least the 13th century: Beethoven may even have played the organ in there.
Note that as a private residence, the house is not open to the public.
Address: Grinzinger Straße 64, 1190 Vienna