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News > March 2014 > Beethoven and his contemporaries: a musical guide to Vienna

Beethoven and his contemporaries: a musical guide to Vienna

A number of notable musical figures were born in the city, plus many legends - including Beethoven – called the Austrian capital their home during their careers, so the city’s musical reputation does not come without good reason.

Vienna’s musical legacy lives on to this day, with its highly acclaimed Philharmonic Orchestra and numerous other talented local ensembles for guests on a river cruise holiday through Europe to enjoy, as well as many tributes to the country’s musical heroes.


While Ludwig van Beethoven is widely known as a German composer, he spent a significant portion of his life and musical career in Vienna – a city home to numerous musical greats of the late 1700s – where he studied under the masters

Beethoven came to Vienna for the first time in 1787 as an aspiring 17-year old-musician. His stay was brief as his mother became ill and died, leaving him with family responsibilities, but he was able to return in the early 1790s. Vienna is credited with establishing Beethoven’s career, as he was able to take lessons here under Mozart and had a number of his now famed works premiere at the Theatre an der Wein, including his Violin Concerto and his opera ‘Fidelo’.

Visitors to the city can now see Beethoven Park and the Beethoven monument sat within, which was created by German sculptor Casper Zumbusch in 1880. For true Beethoven fans, the Beethoven Museum on the fourth floor of the Wien Museum is another must-see whilst visiting Vienna; here, visitors can walk in Beethoven’s footsteps as the steps up to the museum are the same ones Beethoven is known often to have walked himself.


The career of Beethoven’s mentor and idol Wolfgang Mozart was shaped through his time in Vienna. Coming from Salzburg originally, Mozart was an Austrian, and he only came to Vienna in 1781 after being summoned by his employer Archbishop Colloredo. After parting ways with Colloredo, the Austrian composer decided to make his own way in the city as a freelance musician.

Mozart’s prominent career in classical music in Vienna has led to many attractions and sites being created in his honour for guests of the contemporary river cruises Europe welcomes to enjoy. Mozart House is in the heart of Vienna, around the corner from St Stephen’s Cathedral where Mozart married his wife Constanze and had two of their six children baptised. The site acts as a representation of the composer’s work and life, much like the Beethoven Museum, and is the only apartment where the composer resided which has been preserved.


Like Beethoven, Vivaldi too wasn’t a native of this country, having been born in Venice, Italy, but he did choose to live out his later years in the pretty Austrian city. Recognised as one of the greatest Baroque composers, Vivaldi’s influence across Europe during his lifetime was significant. The composer, priest and violinist moved to Vienna after meeting the emperor Charles VI, hoping for a promotion in his musical career as a composer to the Imperial Court, but both men died shortly after Vivaldi moved.

There are several memorial plaques in the city to pay tribute to the composer - or the ‘Red Priest’, as he was otherwise known for his red hair - and visitors can see his burial site next to Karlskirche, a baroque church on the south side of Karlsplatz.

Image Credit: Eric E Castro (

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