Beethoven’s Apartment in Heiligenstadt is Reopened

At an opening ceremony on November 20, Chargé d’Affaires Eugene Young highlighted the essential role of American philanthropy and expertise in supporting the Wien Museum’s efforts to reopen the Beethoven Wohnung on Probusgasse 6 in Heiligenstadt, in Vienna’s 19th district. Thanks to generous support from the American Friends of the Vienna Museum, a Chicago-based organization, and expertise from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the Beethoven Museum is opening its doors to visitors.

And last night Beethoven’s music returned to its home, as students from the Lincoln Park Music Center in Chicago played excerpts from several of the composer’s pieces, including the “Sinfonia Eroica” and the “Tempest Sonata,” both of which were composed in Heiligenstadt.

Remarks of Chargé d’Affaires Eugene Young:

Good afternoon.

I would like to thank Wien Museum and especially Matti Bunzl for giving the American Embassy the opportunity to be part of this opening ceremony.

At first glance, the connection between Beethoven and America is not an obvious one. After all, Beethoven never visited the United States. Nor did he compose any “American” symphony.  But his music traveled across the Atlantic Ocean and Americans fell in love with it, as Europeans already had.  I suppose Professor Kinderman will tell us a little bit about Beethoven in America in a few minutes.

In any case, the connection between this new museum and the United States is a very obvious one, as we have heard from Matti.  It is a connection that makes us proud and that is part of a vibrant cultural exchange tradition between the United States and Austria.  This fruitful exchange happens in many ways. Through non-governmental institutions and individuals such as this project of the Wien Museum, but also through government programs and embassies on both sides.

For example, the State Department sponsors the International Visitor Leadership Program for midcareer professionals in a variety of fields. Together with Austria, we administer the Fulbright academic exchange program. A few years back at the Embassy we started a program called from Austria to Austin for young Austrian entrepreneurs – and I am delighted to see some alumni of this program here today.  All those programs support the collaboration and cultural exchange between Austria and United States.

We do this because we, like our Austrian friends, believe in the great value of exchange aimed at mutual understanding. I know we owe this particular exchange to a good part to Matti Bunzl, his strong ties to the U.S., and his tireless efforts to connect our two countries for mutual benefit.  Matti, thank you for helping to maintain – and even grow – this productive and creative relationship.  And congratulations for what looks like a fantastic new hotspot for music lovers. And there are quite a few around here in Vienna, as we all know.  I cannot wait to see more of the exhibition.

Thank you all for your attention. Enjoy the afternoon.