Dec 31, 2015

An Unknown Child of Johann Nestroy

The significance of the Austrian playwright and actor Johann Nestroy as poet and philosopher cannot be overrated. Egon Friedell, in his classic work Cultural History of the Modern Age, describes Nestroy as follows: "He was a Socratic dialectician and Kantian analyst, a Shakespearianly struggling soul, who, with truly cosmic imagination, distorted the measuring system of all human things, only to illuminate thereby their true dimensions. The greatest, indeed the only philosopher that Vienna has ever produced". In 1912, in his classic essay Nestroy und die Nachwelt, Karl Kraus wrote the following:
Und dennoch sei jenen, die sich zur Kunst herablassen und ihr den Spielraum zwischen den Horizonten gönnen, so von der individuellen Nullität bis zur sozialen Quantität, mit ziemlicher Gewißheit gesagt: Wenn Kunst nicht das ist, was sie glauben und erlauben, sondern die Wegweite ist zwischen einem Geschauten und einem Gedachten, von einem Rinnsal zur Milchstraße die kürzeste Verbindung, so hat es nie unter deutschem Himmel einen Läufer gegeben wie Nestroy. Versteht sich, nie unter denen, die mit lachendem Gesicht zu melden hatten, daß es im Leben häßlich eingerichtet sei.

And yet, to those who condescend to art and give it room between the horizons, from the individual nullity to the social quantity, it shall be said with considerable certainty: If art is not what they believe and allow, but the distance between the sight and the thought, the shortest connection between a gutter and the Milky Way, then never under the German sky has there been a runner like Nestroy. Of course, never among those, who, with a smiling face, had to report that life is ugly.
One of the many scholarly projects that I have put on my virtual shelf to be published in the future – as soon as somebody is willing to pay for it – is a huge collection of unknown documents related to the life of this incomparable satirist whom one critic aptly called "Hogarth of the stage". In the course of my fifteen-year-long search for Nestroy documents, I unearthed a lot of material whose discovery is surprising given that all *available* Nestroy documents have supposedly been published in Walter Obermaier's and Hermann Böhm's book Johann Nestroy Dokumente. But this edition, which was funded by (who else?) the Kulturabteilung der Stadt Wien and published in 2009, is marred by glaring ommissions and astonishing mistakes. This blog post – which is meant as a mere appetizer – is supposed to point out the current unsatisfactory state of Nestroy research. As the eminent Nestroy scholar Jürgen Hein put it: "Some chapters of Nestroy's biography should be written anew, others should be opened in the first place". Many sources concerning Nestroy's biography are still waiting to be published and, in my opinion, this cannot be better demonstrated than by presenting one of the poet's previously unknown children. Imagine a scenario where we realize that Mozart fathered a child that we know nothing about. This is the kind of situation we are dealing with in the case of Nestroy's unknown son.

Johann Nestroy on 14 March 1861. This photograph by Ludwig Angerer is not included in the 1977 book Johann Nestroy im Bild.

In 1928, Bruno Hampel (1888–1953), amateur genealogist and employee of the Austrian Postal Savings Bank, published an article titled "Die Familie Nestroy und die Sippe der Gattin des Dichters" (Monatsblatt Adler 10). This article, which deals with Johann Nestroy's and his wife's genealogy, has become the basis of most publications about Nestroy's family. But Hampel's research does not meet modern standards. He lacked the necessary expertise concerning archival sources, misidentified a number of Nestroy's relatives and failed to include important biographical data in his article. In many instances he could not access the primary sources and had to resort to provisory and undocumented presumptions. Once again, we are being reminded of the situation in Mozart scholarship where Otto Erich Deutsch never bothered to check the reliability of Emil Karl Blümml's research on Mozart's children, and in his edition of the Mozart Dokumente chose to uncritically refer to Blümml's forty-year-old publication. Also reminiscent of Mozart research is the fact that some of the transcriptions in the Nestroy Dokumente are so flawed that they should basically be published anew.

Marie Weiler

In 1822, shortly before his debut as opera singer, Nestroy declared his intention to marry Wilhelmine Nespiesni, one of three illegitimate daughters of Katharina Zwettlinger (née Nespiesni, widowed von Sonnenstein) and Count Franz de Paula Zichy de Zich et Vasonkeö. On 23 August 1822, Joseph Carl Rosenbaum, a friend of Wilhelmine's mother, wrote the following in his diary:
Nach Mittag in den Garten. Dorthin kamen die Pisling, dann er mit 3 Kindern, die Zwettling mit der Mali und Liesi, unterhielten sich recht gut. Sie erzählte mir, dass Nestroy ihre Mina heiraten will, wenn er beim Hoftheater engagiert wird. Er singt morgen den Sarastro und bat mich um meine Protektion. Ich stimme für diese Heirat nicht. Dann ins Kärntnertor-Theater. Mosevius missfiel abermals, plauderte mit Michel, Kupelwieser; er zeigte mir den Nestroy; er soll eine hübsche Stimme, aber keine Tiefe haben.

In the afternoon to the garden. Mrs. Pisling came there, then her husband with 3 children, Mrs. Zwettling[sic], Mali and Liesi [Amalia Nespiesni and her half-sister Elisabeth Zwettlinger] enjoyed themselves quite well. She [Mrs. Zwettlinger] told me that Nestroy wants to marry her Minna, in case he will be hired by the court theater. Tomorrow he will sing Sarastro and asked me to support him. I disapprove of this marriage. Then to the Kärntnertor-Theater. Mosevius displeased again, I chatted with [Ignaz] Michel, and [Joseph] Kupelwieser; he pointed out Nestroy to me; he is said to have a nice voice, but no gravity. [A-Wn, Cod. Ser. n. 203 Han, Bd. 10, p. 57r. My thanks go to DI Peter Prokop for providing this source, part of which was first published by Karl Glossy on 24 April 1927 in an article in the Neue Freie Presse]
Soon after Nestroy had expressed his intention to marry Mrs. Zwettlinger's daughter Wilhelmine, a series of events occurred that changed the bride's situation and may have influenced the realization of the couple's marriage plans. Nestroy was employed by the K.K. Hof-Theater. On 26 May 1823 (Wiener Zeitung, 2 June 1823, 503), Wilhelmine Nespiesni's guardian, the court physician Dr. Andreas Pißling, died. Pißling had been a close friend of Wilhelmine's father and he had also been the curator of her patrimony (according to §166 ABGB a father could not be the guardian of his own illegitimate children). On 20 June 1823 (Wiener Zeitung, 25 June 1823, 585) Wilhelmine's illegitimate father, the I. & R. Captain Count Franz de Paula Zichy de Zich et Vasonkeö, died of "Auflösung der Säfte" (dissolution of the fluids) at the age of 54 (his year of birth given by Wurzbach is wrong). Wilhelmine's new guardian, her step-father Franz Wilhelm Zwettlinger, possibly had different views concerning her choice of partner. In August of 1823, Nestroy was hired by the German Theater in Amsterdam which put him under time pressure, because his fiancé was already pregnant. On 7 September 1823, in Vienna's Augustinian Church, Nestroy married Wilhelmine Nespiesni, and on 9 September the newly-weds left Vienna for Amsterdam where they arrived twelve days later. The fact that Nestroy's nineteen-year-old wife owned a paternal heritage of 12,000 gulden in Viennese Currency, from which she was drawing an annual pension of 222 gulden, not only made her a more desirable match, it also provided her with the kind of financial independence that may not have strengthened her marital fidelity. These assets had been bequeathed to Wilhelmine in 1813 by her illegitimate father, and she was to receive the full amount of her inheritance in 1828. In 1827, during his engagement in Graz, Nestroy's marriage came to an end. His wife began an extramarital affair with Count Adelbert Batthyány von Német-Ujvar and she left her husband. In 1845, Nestroy legally divorced her, but the legal situation at that time defined a divorce as "Scheidung von Tisch und Bett" (divorce from table and bed) and precluded both spouses from marrying again. In 1827, while still being engaged as singer at the Graz opera, Nestroy began a thirty-five-year relationship with his colleague, the actress and singer Maria Cäcilia Laucher who appeared on the stage under the name Marie Weiler, a surname that she seems to have taken from a relative. It was not her grandmother's maiden name which was Kunigunde Metzger. Another explanation of the name's origin could well be that, at some point of time, Marie's mother Cäcilie Laucher (as she was to claim in 1825 and 1840) really was married to a merchant named Weiler, and for legal reasons, was obliged to give birth under her maiden name, because her deceased husband was not the father of her child.

The sisters Antonia Laucher and Cäcilie Weiler and their three children, registered in 1825 in a conscription sheet of the house Stadt 322 ("Zum Hahnenbeiß", today Am Hof 5). This previously unknown source sheds more light on a still slightly mysterious family constellation: Cäcilie Weiler is described as Antonia Laucher's younger sister and "Handelmannswittwe v: Dilligen in bayern". Antonia Laucher's illegitimate son Alexander Woina was living "im Erziehungshaus zu Korneuburg" and Maria Laucher (born 1812 and "Nichte der obigen") is obviously a previously unknown illegitimate daughter of Antonia Laucher (that this Maria was Marie Weiler's sister makes no sense). It must be noted that Antonia Laucher's alleged stepson Adolf Wagner (Obermaier 2009, 54) does not appear in this document (A-Wsa, Konskriptionsamt, Stadt 322/12r).

After her death in 1861, Marie Weiler's mother is referred to as "ledige Privatiere" in the death records, but her name is still given as "Cäcilia Weiler" (St. Johann Nepomuk, Tom. 6, fol. 159).

Marie Weiler in 1861, photograph by Ludwig Angerer (A-Wst, H.I.N. 229.599 Fa)

Although the birth of Marie Weiler has been dealt with in the literature, I shall still address this topic, because a) based on an error in the literature (Rommel 1930, 36), her date of birth sometimes is still wrongly given as "13. September 1809" (for example in Schöny 1977 and, as of December 2015, on German Wikipedia), b) the Nestroy Dokumente manage to misidentify Weiler's place of birth, and c) the identity of her father is still not clear in the literature. Maria Antonia Cäcilia Laucher (the future Marie Weiler) was born on 13 November 1809, illegitimate daughter of Cäcilia Weiler, née Laucher (born 15 November 1787 in Dillingen, daughter of the regens chori Joseph Anton Laucher [Dillingen 4-T, pag. 42]) and Count Ferdinand von Stockhammer who professed to his paternity by signing his name in the baptismal register. That the name of the father reads "Stochtamerer" is caused by the fact that this document is a copy of an original baptismal register that may still be preserved (which the Dokumente fail to mention). Maria Laucher's, her mother's and her aunt's surname is given as "Lager" in the baptismal entry. This is a typical off-hand attempt to blur the identity of the mother, a method that was frequently applied on the occasion of the baptism of illegitimate children. The later incorrect spelling "Lacher" is nothing else but the long-time result of the flawed baptismal certificate, copied from an incorrect entry that had served the purpose to anonymize an unmarried mother. In printed sources Marie's godmother, her aunt, the opera singer Antonia Laucher (20 Jun 1786 – 22 Aug 1871), always appear under the name Laucher. The literature concerning the Laucher sisters is generally weak. As of December 2015, the German Wikipedia article on Antonia Laucher, for instance, presented the singer as having been married to her own father-in-law.

The entry concerning the baptism of Marie Weiler (with her name Laucher anonymized as "Lager") on 13 November 1809. The note on the far right reads: "He [Stockhammer] himself has signed as father" (St. Rochus und Sebastian, Tom. 5, fol. 200).

In the Nestroy Dokumente, Walter Obermaier claims that Marie Weiler was born "at Landstraße 268, in the still extant house 'Zum Kometstern', Landstraßer Hauptstraße 112". This is false. Being unaware of the two later renumberings of the Landstraße suburb in 1821 and 1830, the co-author of the Dokumente did not realize that the number 268 in Weiler's baptismal entry refers to the house's number in 1809 and not to the last one from 1830. Marie Weiler was born in the house Landstraße 340, "Zum Grünen Kranz" (The Green Wreath, today Landstraßer Hauptstraße 26).

Marie Weiler's place of birth, Landstraße 340 (A-Wn, L 20.904-C)

In this house (built in 1800 and ruthlessly torn down in 1972) Beethoven intermittently lived between 1817 and 1819. Here he wrote the Piano Sonata op. 106. In 1951, a small memorial plaque was mounted above the entrance.

The Beethoven plaque above the entrance of Landstraßer Hauptstraße 26 on a photograph from the 1960s (A-Wsa, Fotosammlung, C7017/672)

Together with a second, explanatory one, the old plaque in 1973 was remounted beside the entrance of the new (unspeakably ugly) building.

"At this spot the house was situated where the above plaque had originally been mounted."

The building which in 1972 replaced the old Beethoven site. This monstrosity stands as a symbol for Vienna's misguided urban planning during the 1970s (see: Klein 1973).

Most of the information in the literature about Marie Weiler's father Count Ferdinand von Stockhammer is still fragmentary or wrong. Stockhammer was born on 6 July 1787 in the "Stockhammerisches Haus", Stadt 626 (today Rotenturmstraße 4), only child of Count Ignaz von Stockhammer (b. 9 October 1756) and his wife Maria Anna, née Bernrieder (b. 24 September 1759).

The entry concerning the baptism of Ferdinand von Stockhammer. His godfather was Mathias Huld, an inmate of a poorhouse. This old practice of charity was strictly observed in the Stockhammer family (A-Wd, Tom. 99, fol. 95v).

The early death of his parents – his mother died on 14 February 1789, his father on 24 March 1795 – might well have had an effect on young Ferdinand's easygoing life and his love for the musical theater which brought him into contact with Cäcilia Laucher, who, like her sister, for some time was employed as singer at the court theater. On 31 March 1806, for instance, the two Laucher sisters took part in a benefit concert of the Tonkünstler-Sozietät and on 22 March 1807, at another concert of the Sozietät, they sang the soprano parts in Hummel's cantata Eudimione e Diana. At the time of his affair with Cäcilia Laucher, Ferdinand Stockhammer lived at Stadt 1150 (today Kohlmarkt 7).

Count Ferdinand von Stockhammer ("Studiosus Landwehr Officier 3 Bat[taillon] 3 Compag[nie]") on a conscription sheet of Stadt 1150 from around 1810 (A-Wsa, Konskriptionsamt, Stadt 1148/11r)

Stockhammer kept a close relation to Vienna's musical life. He was a member of the board of representatives of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde and regularly housed concerts at his home (in 1819, Ignaz Moscheles gave the Viennese premiere of  Hummel's op. 81 at Stockhammer's). In 1835, the composer Franz Lachner dedicated his first symphony to Stockhammer. Most interesting of all, in the early 1840s, Stockhammer was a very active protector of the "Wiedner Kirchenmusik-Verein" (sacred music society of Wieden) at the Karlskirche, at a time when Nestroy lived in that parish. In November 1837, after the death of Johann Nepomuk Hummel, Stockhammer organized a musical memorial ceremony in the Karlskirche which was conducted by Conradin Kreutzer. It is not known if Stockhammer ever had any contact with his daughter Marie Weiler, but he certainly knew about the existence of his grandchildren.On 16 September 1813, in the parish church of Hütteldorf (Hütteldorf, Tom. 4, fol. 14v), Stockhammer married his cousin Countess Johanna Nepomucena von Stockhammer (b. 16 September 1796). This marriage, which seems to have been arranged by the family to curb Stockhammer's passion for female opera singers, between 1815 and 1817 produced three children who all died very young.

Ferdinand von Stockhammer's signature as witness of his sister-in-law Sophia von Stockhammer, on the occasion of her wedding on 29 May 1817 to Count Johann Heinrich von Auersperg (A-Wstm, Tom. 10, fol. 174)

During the last years of their lives, the Stockhammers resided in the house Stadt 411, "Zum Englischen Gruß" ("The Angelic Salutation", today Judenplatz 5).

Ferdinand and Johanna von Stockhammer, registered on a conscription sheet of Stadt 411 from about 1840. The notes "Stw" (Stadt Wien) and "gestorben" (deceased) were added after 1842 (A-Wsa, Konskriptionsamt, Stadt 411/7r).

Ferdinand von Stockhammer died of a stroke on 8 August 1845, during a summer stay in Baden bei Wien (Baden, St. Stephan, Tom 10, fol. 256), and was buried three days later in the Stockhammer family crypt in Purkersdorf (Purkersdorf, Tom. 6, fol. 100). His wife had already died on 20 June 1842 (Maria Hietzing, Tom. 3, fol. 32). On 22 August 1845 (Wiener Zeitung, 21 August 1845, 799), the "Wiedner Kirchenmusik-Verein" took part in the celebration of a Requiem for Stockhammer in the Karlskirche.

Nestroy's Three Known Children

Apart from the miscarriage that his wife suffered on 22 December 1824, Nestroy until now was known to have fathered three children. A son with his wife and another son and a girl with his partner in life ("the faithful friend of my days", as he put it) Marie Weiler. These three children (whose lives have been covered in the literature) are the following:
  1. Gustav Johann Wilhelm Nestroy was born on 21 April 1824 at Heiligeweg 15 in Amsterdam (Jürgen Hein neither gives an exact shelfmark for the baptismal entry nor does he specify the church where the child was baptized). Gustav Nestroy became an employee of the "K.K. privilegierte Kaiser Ferdinands-Nordbahn" (I. & R. Emperor Ferdinand Northern Railway) and in 1860 married Antonia Schöppesdorfer. On 29 April 1869 at 9 a.m. he died at Hietzing 247 (today Lainzer Straße 30) of "Lungenlähmung in Folge Hypertrophie des Herzens" (pulmonal arrest, caused by cardiac hypertrophy). The inheritance of his mother, who – seven years after the death of her divorced husband – was still under guardianship, amounted to 1952 gulden 8 kreuzer. Gustav Nestroy had no children.

  2. Gustav Nestroy's widow Antonia, listed as owner of the house Hietzing No. 247 in the 1880 Orientirungs-Schema der Gemeinde Hietzing bei Wien (Vienna: Verlag d. Gemeinde Hietzing) 

  3. Karl Johann Anton Nestroy was born on 3 October 1831, illegitimate son of Nestroy and Marie Weiler and baptized "Karl Laucher" (this is the name that appears in the index) on the same day in the Augustinian Church. On the occasion of his christening, the parish priest and Nestroy's colleagues Ignaz Frech von Ehrimfeld (Ignaz Stahl) and Louis Grois signed as witnesses to Nestroy's acknowledgement of paternity.

  4. The left half of Karl Nestroy's baptismal entry with a note at the bottom, added in 1858 by the parish priest Johann Georg Etz, referring to the child's legalization. The wrong name "Lacher" (which also appears in the Imperial decree) still originates from Weiler's false baptismal certificate. The transcription of this document in the Dokumente contains several astonishing mistakes (St. Augustin, Tom. 7, fol. 136).

    On 3 February 1858, Karl Nestroy was officially legalized by Emperor Franz Joseph I as Johann Nestroy's legitimate son (at that time illegitimate children could only be legalized by an Imperial decree). Following a family tradition (his uncle Ferdinand had joined the military, because he was "groß und stark gewachsen"), Karl Nestroy became a soldier. On 18 August 1852, after his graduation from the k.k. Genie-Akademie, he was appointed first-class lieutenant. After having reached the rank of captain in 1859, he retired early (obviously for reasons of health problems) in 1863. On 15 July 1880 – while already being very sick – he married Stefanie Maria Franziska von Bene. This wedding took place at Karl Nestroy's sickbed at Gumpendorfer Straße 3 (St. Josef ob der Laimgrube, Tom. 18, fol. 65) and not in the church of St. Josef ob der Laimgrube (as given in Obermaier 1996/97, 319). Karl Nestroy died on 30 July 1880 at Altmannsdorf 64 (Altmannsdorf, Tom. 2, fol. 11) of "organischer Herzfehler" (organic cardiac defect).

  5. Maria Cäcilia Nestroy was born on 2 April 1840 at Wieden 794 and baptized two days later in the Karlskirche. Her godmother was her grandmother "Cecile[!] Weiler" who on this occasion again described herself as "Kaufmanns=Witwe" (widow of a merchant). Nestroy professed to his paternity by signing the baptismal register. His friends, the actors Louis Grois and Franz Gämmerler signed as witnesses. Like her elder brother, Maria Nestroy was also legalized in 1858 by the Emperor. On 12 October 1857, Maria Nestroy married the I. & R. cavalry captain Karl Sluka (1827–1891) with whom in 1861 (according to Hampel 1928) she had one daughter, Maria Karolina, who only lived for two weeks. Maria Sluka died on 18 April 1873, at Opernring 3 of cardiac arrest (St. Augustin, Tom. 9, fol. 105 [this date is missing in Hampel 1928]).

Nestroy's Fourth Child: Adolph Johann Nestroy

Johann Nestroy and Marie Weiler had a previously unknown third child. A son, who was born on 25 March 1842, and baptized Adolph Johann on 28 March 1842 in the Karlskirche.

The entry concerning the baptism of Adolph Johann Nestroy on 28 March 1842 (St. Karl, Tom. 12, fol. 75). The editors of the Dokumente do not address the fact that Maria Nestroy's baptismal entry in the records of the Karlskirche is a fair copy of an original that still exists.
Nahme des Taufenden. Joh: Jestrźabek, / Cooperator.
Jahr, Monath, Tag. 1842. den 25ten / März geboren, / den 28ten ge= / tauft.
Wohnung und Nro. des Hauses. Wieden / N° 794
Nahmen des Getauften. Adolph Jo= / hann
Geschlecht. Unehelich. Männlich. 1
Religion. Katholisch. 1
Vaters Nahme und Condition oder Charakter. Johann Nep: Nestroy, / Schriftsteller und Schau= / spieler, gebürtig aus / Wien, kath: Rel: ehe= / licher Sohn des Johann / Nestroy, Doctors bei= / der Rechte, Hof= und Ge= / richtsadvokaten, und / der Magdalena, gebor= / nen Constantin.
Mutters Tauf= und Zunahmen. Maria Laucher, ge= / bürtig aus Wien, kath: / Rel: Tochter der Cä= / cilia Laucher, und des  / des Grafen Ferdinand / Stockhammer, der / laut Taufschein sich als / Vater erklärt hat.
Todtgeburten. /
Pathen. Cecile Laucher / ehemalige k.k. / Hofoperistin.
Anmerkungen. Hebamme: Barbara / Gruber, Stadt N° 223.
[additional note] Daß der bei der Taufe anwesende H. Johann Nestroy sich frewillig / als Vater dieses Kindes erklärt und verlangt habe als solcher eingetragen / zu werden, bestättigt nebst zwey Zeugen, seine eigenhändigen Unterschrift:
Joh: Nestroy Schrift= / steller und Schauspieler / m.p.
Ignaz Frech Edler von / Ehrimfeld, als Zeuge / m.p.
Louis Grois / als Zeuge / m.p.
Adolph Nestroy's place of birth was the house Wieden No. 794, "Zum Luftschützen" ("The Airgunner", today Rechte Wienzeile 9). Nestroy lived there, because this building was located south of the Wien river, exactly opposite the Theater an der Wien which – crossing the river on the so-called "Theatersteg" – was only a five-minute walk away from Nestroy's home. Wieden 794 was a two-storeyed house which had a large yard and on its south side was divided from the Freihaus by the Mühlbach.

The house Wieden 794 (in the center) on the map of Robert Messner's Die Wieden im Vormärz (Vienna: Verb. d. Wissenschaftl. Gesellschaften Österreichs, 1975). The red color marks the preserved houses dating from before 1845. The houses of the Laimgrube, north of the river, are not visible, because this map only covers the Wieden.

A photograph of the front of the house Wieden 794 taken in 1902 by August Stauda (Wien Museum, I.N. 24266). Nestroy's play Einen Jux will er sich machen was written in this building. Nestroy's landlord was the flax dealer Leopold Rainharter. In 1903 the studio of the painter Olga Wisinger-Florian was located in this house.
A photograph of the northeastern part of Wieden 794 taken in 1902 by August Stauda (Wien Museum, I.N. 41948/2).

A photograph of the north wing of Wieden 794 from the same series (Wien Museum, I.N. 41948/1)

A photograph of the northwestern corner of the yard of the house Rechte Wienzeile 9 in a much more desolate state during the 1930s (A-Khm, Theatermuseum, FS_PA85184alt)

Johann Nestroy's family with Marie Weiler being described as "mother of the below children" in an 1840 entry on a conscription sheet of Wieden 794. Weiler's mother is listed as "Afterp[artei] (subtenant) Cezilia Weiler[!] 792 Kaufmannswitwe[!] Tillingen Bay[ern]" (A-Wsa, Konskriptionsamt, Wieden 794/27r). For unknown reasons, this document is not included in the Nestroy Dokumente.

At this point a few comments regarding Adolph Nestroy's baptismal entry are necessary. Although the text of this document very much resembles Maria Nestroy's (already published) baptismal entry from 1840, a number of small differences are of interest. Because the officiating priest seems to have been better acquainted with the parents, certain details, that were considered important two years earlier, are missing. Particularly interesting is the fact that the child's godmother (and grandmother), who in 1840 appeared as "Cecile Laucher Kaufmanns=Witwe", now calls herself "ehemalige k.k. Hofoperistin" (a mix-up with her sister is impossible, because at that time Antonia Laucher was already the widowed Antonia von Nespern whose husband had died in 1839). The midwife Barbara Gruber is of interest, because in the 1850s she advanced to the position of court midwife and in 1858 assisted the Empress with the birth of Crown Prince Rudolf. Gruber was born Barbara Hofmann on 22 September 1800 (A-Ws, Tom. 45, fol. 18). In 1822 she married the municipal tax official Joseph Gruber from whom she later lived separated (A-Ws, Tom. 43, fol. 101). On 17 August 1880, she died a house owner in Baden bei Wien (Baden, St. Stephan, Tom. 19, fol. 94). Like in 1831, Nestroy's two witnesses were his friends, the actors Louis Grois and Ignaz Frech von Ehrimfeld (Ignaz Stahl), the latter of whom caused theater historians to spill a lot of ink, without ever determining his correct date of birth. Ignaz Stahl was not born on 20 October 1790 (a wrong date that authors have copied from Wurzbach's article for more than 100 years). He was born on 20 October 1788 in the "Frech'sches Haus", Stadt 395 (Tiefer Graben 28) and baptized Ignaz Amand Johann Nepomuk Felizian, only child of Ignaz Nicolaus Georg Amand Frech von Ehrimfeld (1759–1827), Hofkonzipist with the United Bohemian and Austrian Court Chancery, and his wife Barbara, née Haas von Grünberg (1766–1847).

The entry concerning the baptism of Ignaz Frech von Ehrimfeld (Ignaz Stahl) on 20 October 1788 (A-Ws, Tom. 43, fol. 77). Stahl's biographical sketch (A-Wst, H.I.N. 174.762), which he wrote in 1860 for Moritz Bermann, proves that Stahl himself was unaware of his correct date of birth. The wrong year of birth also appears on Stahl's tombstone in St. Marx.

Ignaz Frech von Ehrimfeld adopted the stage name Ignaz Stahl, because he obviously did not want to embarrass his noble relatives with his acting career. By doing this, he caused a lot of posthumous confusion. Some amusingly ignorant theater historians of the Don Juan Archiv actually believe that Frech's pseudonym "Ignaz Stahl" was a real name of a person whose pseudonym[!] was "Tobias Frech von Ehrimfeld" – who actually was a real person, namely the actor's cousin, the writer Tobias Frech von Ehrimfeld (1785–1809).

The seal of the Frech von Ehrimfeld family (A-Whh, OMaA 640-32)

Why did Nestroy name his third son Adolph? Who was the child's spiritual namesake? It was probably the composer Adolph Müller senior who worked together with Nestroy as Kapellmeister at the Theater an der Wien and also wrote the music for Nestroy's new play. The birth of Adolph Nestroy should also be put into a broader biographical perspective. During Maria Weiler's third pregnancy, Nestroy wrote one of his most successful plays: Einen Jux will er sich machen which premiered on 10 March 1842, at the Theater an der Wien. Weiler's pregnancy was the reason why Nestroy did not put a role for her in this play.

Johann Nestroy's fourth child Adolph already died on 14 April 1842, of "Kopffraisen" (Eclampsia infantum, i.e. infantile convulsions).

The entry concerning Adolph Nestroy's death in the municipal death register (A-Wsa, Totenbeschreibamt 191, N, fol. 5v)
[den 14ten April]
Nestroy Johann, Schauspieler an Theater an d. Wien, s.[sein] K.[ind] Adolf; kath. 3 Woch: v: Wieden N 794. am Kopffraisen  dto  [Johann Lauttner]
Nestroy Johann, actor at the Theater an der Wien, his child Adolf, aged 3 weeks from Wieden 794 was inspected by coroner Lauttner to have died of convulsions.
On 16 April 1842, Adolph Nestroy was consecrated in the Karlskirche according to the "8. Rubrik" (8th category) of the Stollordnung (regulation of burial fees) and buried on 17 April 1842 in the cemetery Außer Matzleinsdorf.

The entry concerning Adolph Nestroy's obsequies in the parish records of the Karlskirche (St. Karl, Tom. 8, fol. 295)
Zeit des Sterbens. [1842] 14 April
Wohnung und Nro. des Hauses Wieden / N° 794.
Nahmen des Gestorbenen, und des Condition oder Charakter, allenfalls Charakter des Ehegattens oder Vaters. Nestroy Adolph, / Kind des Johann Nestroy, Schauspie= / lers, an Kopffraisen
Geschlecht. Männlich. /
Religion. Katholisch. /
Alters Jahre 3 / Wochen
Todesarten Krankheit Gewöhnliche /
Ort, wohin, und Tag, an welchem die Begräbniß geschehen. Matzleinsdorf / den 16 April 1842.
Anmerkungen.. 8 Rubr.
How important this short-lived infant was to his parents is signified by the fact that Adolph Nestroy was given an own grave in the Matzleinsdorf cemetery (9th row, No. 1368). For a child of this young age such an expense was quite extraordinary. One is reminded of Nestroy's orders in his letter of 2 August 1842 to Ignaz Stahl, concerning a possible burial of the actress Louise Rusa (who was planning to undergo surgery): "An attractive grave, surely not in an ordinary one, among every Tom, Dick and Harry ["Creti und pleti"]." It is possible that Nestroy and Weiler originally had planned to be eventually buried in the Matzleinsdorf cemetery, together with their last child.

The entry concerning Adolph Nestroy's grave ("1368 Nestroy Adolf, Schauspielers Kind, Wieden N° 794, beerd.[igt] 17. April 1842") in the old register of own graves in the Matzleinsdorf cemetery (A-Wsa, Matzleinsdorfer Kommunalfriedhof, B2-1, alt: II-D-2, Eigene Gräber, fol. 88v)

How could the existence of Adolph Nestroy for such a long time escape the attention of Nestroy scholars? The most important source for the existence of Nestroy's two other illegitimate children was the Emperor's decree of legalization from 1858. Of course, Adolph Nestroy never needed to be legalized, because he died too young. In 1928, Bruno Hampel was aware of Marie Nestroy's date of birth and he also knew that she had been baptized in the Karlskirche. He could not check the entry however, because the Knights of the Cross with the Red Star – who are administrating this parish – did not grant him permission to access the church records. All later Nestroy scholars (except for Heinz Schöny who just copied everything from Hampel) fell victim to a beginner's mistake: while checking the church records, they looked for something they already knew, instead of maintaining a broad-minded approach in a search for something they possibly did not know. The routine procedure of checking the baptismal index (which in the Karlskirche parish consists of a separate book) occurred to no one.

Daguerrotype of Nestroy from around 1850 (Wien Museum, I.N. 57459))

Similar to the case of the identification of Haydn's real wife, the discovery of Adolph Nestroy's short existence changes very little in Nestroy's biography. But it should change our perspective on current Nestroy research and make us more skeptical concerning what we read in the cutting-edge literature.


Bartsch-Salgast-Dyhrn, Rudolf. 1954. "Das Wiener Geschlecht Nesper (von Nespern)". Adler. Zeitschrift für Genealogie und Heraldik. 3. (XVII.)  Band, 11. Heft, 154-158.
Hampel, Bruno. 1928. "Die Familie Nestroy und die Sippe der Gattin des Dichters". Monatsblatt Adler 10, 369-87.

Hein, Jürgen. 1988. "Nestroy in Amsterdam". Nestroyana 8, 53-69.

Klein, Rudolf. 1973. "Requiem für ein Wiener Beethovenhaus (3, Landstraßer Hauptstraße 26)". Wiener Geschichtsblätter 28, 26-28.

Obermaier, Walter. 1996/97. "Aus Johann Nepomuk Nestroys Familie". Jahrbuch des Vereins für Geschichte der Stadt Wien, 307-319.

–––––––. 2007. Johann Nestroy. Sämtliche Briefe. Vienna: Deuticke.

–––––––. Böhm, Hermann. 2009. Johann Nestroy Dokumente. Vienna: Deuticke.

Orel, Alfred. 1958. "Opernsänger Johann Nestroy". Jahrbuch des Vereins für Geschichte der Stadt Wien, 94-113.

Rommel, Otto. 1930. Johann Nestroy. Vienna: Anton Schroll & Co.

Schöny, Heinz. 1964. "Neues zur Stammtafel Nestroy". Adler. Zeitschrift für Genealogie und Heraldik 6. Bd., 15./16. Heft.

–––––––. 1977. "Die Vorfahren des Dichters Johann Nestroy". Adler. Zeitschrift für Genealogie und Heraldik 11. Bd., Heft 1.

© Dr. Michael Lorenz 2015. All rights reserved.

Updated: 14 March 2023

Postscript (November 2017)

In Nestroyana 3/4 (2016), the journal of the Internationale Nestroy-Gesellschaft, Walter Obermaier, the editor of the Nestroy Dokumente, republished the above information related to Nestroy's previously unknown son. He gave credit to my publication, graciously praised my research, and tried to explain this belated discovery and the negligence of Nestroy scholars as follows: "This musicologist [Dr. Lorenz] is a proven researcher of sources, in particular meticulous research concerning persons in which he relies not least on archival material and the online portal Matricula where for several years the records of many parishes can be retrieved." Obermaier's statement is based on a misunderstanding. My discovery had nothing to do with Matricula. I discovered the existence of Nestroy's son Adolph already in 2011, at a time when the Viennese parish records had not yet been digitized. I have been conducting research in Vienna's parish archives for more than 20 years and, owing to my good relations to several parish secretaries, I was able to scrutinize material that no other present-day researcher has ever seen. During my long work in the parishes, I never met a Nestroy scholar. The records of the St. Karl parish may have been inaccessible to Bruno Hampel before WWII, but since then, thanks to the friendliness of the parish priest and his secretary Josef Machaček, for several decades, the records of this parish have been easily accessible to researchers. And yet, no Nestroy scholar ever bothered to visit the beautiful Vienna headquarter of the Knights of the Cross with the Red Star. It was always so much easier to copy Hampel's flawed article from 1928. Symptomatic of Obermaier's flawed perspective is the fact that – like countless of his colleagues – he is obviously holding the belief that the Vienna church records have been completely digitized. This is a misconception. The digitization of these records was done by people who had no previous knowledge of the actual holdings of the parish archives. These people came to the parishes like managers of a foreign corporation and often decided on a whim which series of books should be digitized. No experts on Viennese parish archives were ever consulted by Matricula which resulted in important sources being completely ignored. The supposed completeness of digitization of the Vienna church records, which is currently being presented to the public, is pure fiction.


  1. This is amazing. Is there any reaction from Nestroy-Gesellschaft to this?

  2. I have reasons to doubt that the Nestroy-Gesellschaft really cares about Nestroy research. Maybe they also are unable to read English.