Note perfect: Beethoven’s spirit lives on in Vienna.
Ah, Vienna: Beethoven made his reputation here – and his spirit still lives on in the Austrian capital. Film-maker Phil Grabsky follows the great maestro’s trail.
Forget the “gift of God”, the “genius beyond understanding” and so on – Ludwig van Beethoven was all too human. And, if you know where to look, he can still be found in the city that meant everything to him: Vienna.
Young Ludwig arrived with his cases at the city gates of Vienna in 1792. The previous year, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart had died, almost unnoticed, in the city. At the time, the Austrian capital was the centre of music in Europe; while Paris, Mannheim, London, St Petersburg and others had their stars, Vienna was a cosmos all of its own. Operas, concerts, dances and masses could all be heard nightly throughout the city, so it was no foregone conclusion that a cocky, albeit talented pianist from the small town of Bonn was going to take the capital by storm. But he did. Indeed, he went much further, to become arguably the greatest pianist of his generation, before deafness forced him to switch tack and become arguably the greatest composer of all time.
To get a sense of who Beethoven was and how he achieved these heights, you need only to spend a short while wandering the Viennese streets.