A portrait of Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827), made by Hugo Hagen in around 1892
In 1826, Beethoven spent the autumn months in the vicinity of Krems, staying at Wasserhof just outside Gneixendorf. A guest of his brother Johann van Beethoven, it was at Wasserhof that Ludwig van Beethoven completed his last work, a string quartet in F-Dur: Opus #135. Beethoven’s work is often seen as being metaphysically laden with big themes that render man pitiful and insignificant. Although this is perhaps not at first sight in accord with a web-site that is dedicated to the propagation of humanism, the form of humanism advocated here is pragmatic and draws from the realisation that we are but a part of something much larger. The underlying ethos is that only once we understand where we belong in the world, can we claim for ourselves a place and ascribe for ourselves an informed and responsible role. To this extent we must confront the gaping void that awaits us and the crushing wheels of history and change that repeatedly grind our endeavours and achievements to dust. Nevertheless, the final phrase of Beethoven’s Opus #135 is preceded by the words; „The difficulty resolved. Resolution. Must it be? It must be!“
During his stay at Wasserhof, Beethoven visited a doctor and surgeon called Dr. Karrer. Karrer lived and practised in Lengenfeld and when Beethoven arrived the doctor was out and his famous patient was left with no choice but to sit and wait, supposedly on a chair which is now on view in Museum Krems.
Although Wasserhof is not open to the public, there is an impressive granary which has been adapted for concerts and public events and it was here that in September, to mark the 250th anniversary of the composer’s birth, the Köchelgesellschaf held a series of concerts preceded by an introductory talk (www.koechelgesellschaft.at).
Where Schubert was quick in seeing Beethoven’s greatness, Beethoven only realised Schubert’s stature on his deathbed saying; „Verily does the divine spark dwell in Schubert!“ In 1827, at Beethoven’s funeral in Vienna, Schubert was one of the torchbearers. Although there is no record of Beethoven’s having visited Dürnstein, to mark his anniversary, in October, the 2020 Schubertiade examined the links pertaining between Beethoven and Schubert. Featuring Robert Holl and friends, the Schubertiade is held every year in the Augustine monastery in Dürnstein.
See www.schubertiade-duernstein.at for further details.