Unkempt hair, a stern gaze, and a mind full of music. That’s how Beethoven looks on the main monument to his genius in Vienna, located in a remarkably musical part of the city.
- A large bronze statue of the maestro built in the late 19th-century
- The most famous of the various Beethoven monuments
- Close to the main concert houses that regularly play his music
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The creation of a monument to Beethoven was the brainchild of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Wien, a musical society that continues today and whose concert hall is possibly the world’s greatest classical music venue (and also home to the Wiener Philharmoniker orchestra).
The sculptor Caspar von Zumbusch eventually won the design commission and his bronze statue saw the light of day on May 1st, 1880, some 53 years after the composer’s death.
Emperor Franz Joseph should have attended the unveiling, but was indisposed. One of his younger brothers, Archduke Karl Ludwig, took his place.
The monument lives on Beethoven Square (Beethovenplatz) and features the Bonn-born genius sitting imperiously on a plinth above various mythological and symbolic figures that include Prometheus (himself the subject of a ballet with music composed by Beethoven).
Zumbusch also designed some of Vienna’s other well-known monuments, such as a huge one to Empress Maria Theresa that features Mozart and Haydn. He also designed two prominent equestrian statues:
- One of Archduke Albrecht in front of the Albertina art museum
- One of Field Marshal Radetzky (he of the march) on Stubenring
Just about everywhere you look in central Vienna has some kind of musical connection, but the area around Beethoven’s statue positively reeks of rosin and piano polish. For example:
- The Kursalon (built in 1867), where Johann Strauss entertained the Viennese, is just a block away, as is the road named Schubertring.
- The world-class Konzerthaus concert hall (built in 1913) lies practically on the other side of the street.
The Beethoven monument is not even the only memorial to this musical genius on the square: he has another version of himself for company. A more abstract, bronze of the composer by Markus Lüpertz sits a few metres closer to the road.
Oh, and if it’s composer statues you want, then the golden Johann Strauss is a short walk away along with various other composer memorials in the Stadtpark.
How to get to the Beethoven statue
Subway: Beethovenplatz is very close to the Stadtpark station on the U4 line (the station building stems from the hand of famous turn-of-the-century architect, Otto Wagner).
Trams and buses: The Schwarzenbergplatz stop is nearby, which is reached on the 2, D and 71 tram lines or buses 2A and 4A. The 4A also stops at Akademietheater, next door to the Konzerthaus and a little closer to Beethoven.
Address: Beethovenplatz, 1010 Vienna