This blog post is not an article about the identity of the Immortal Beloved. An unexpected discovery of a document in the Municipal and Provincial Archives of Vienna in August 2017, suddenly pointed my attention to the previously unknown location of Baroness von Stackelberg's grave and the posthumous fate of her mortal remains. Considering the stunning misinformation that can be found in the Beethoven literature in general – as well as in the latest publications dealing only with the Immortal Beloved – this side issue has suddenly moved from the fringe of IB research to the center of attention.
The Death and Burial of Baroness von Stackelberg
Josephine (or "Josepha" as she is called in all official documents) Baroness von Stackelberg died on 31 March 1821 in the so-called Müllersches Gebäude that had been built by her first husband, the Hofstatuarius Joseph Count Deym Baron von Střítež (alias Müller). The entry in the Totenbeschauprotokoll reads as follows.
März 821 am 31ten
v. Stackelberg Wohlgebohrener Herr Christoph Freÿ- / herr von ––––, seine Frau Gemahlin Josep- / pha, gebohrne Gräfin Brunswik, von Ofen [sic] / gebürtig, im eigenen H: N. 648. in d.
Adl/ Adlergas. an d. Auszehrung, alt 40. Jr. / Nachmittag 5 1/2. Uhr. Kerndl.
March 1821 on the 31stThe Countess's wrong place of birth is not the only inaccuracy in the above entry. Since Joseph von Deym in his will had decreed that – in the case of her marrying again – his widow should waive the ownership of her half of the building to her two sons Friedrich and Karl, at the time of Josephine's death in 1821, the Müllersches Gebäude was owned by her four children: each of the sons owned 3/8, each of the daughters held 1/8 of the building. When in 1810 Josephine von Deym married Baron von Stackelberg, all she was entitled to keep from her first husband's inheritance was her dowry of 20,000 gulden and her share of the movables in Prague which in 1804 had been estimated at 6,027 fl 47 1/3 kr (A-Wsa, Patrimonialherrschaften B1.26, fol. 46r). As of 1810, the Countess did not draw any independent rental income and was dependent on her children's assets, and the cooperation of her children's guardian Franz Count von Sauer. This information concerning Josephine von Deym's financial situation during the time of her second marriage has previously not been addressed in the literature. When Josephine in 1813 wrote in a draft of a letter to her husband: "Wenn du das Haus, die Gallerie, mein Vermögen wieder herstellst aufrichtest, so darf dich das nicht hochmüthig machen, weil du nur ein Gebrechen verminderst [...]" (Goldschmidt 1977, 164), this statement was based on the false premise that Josephine still owned the Müllersches Gebäude. When John Klapproth wrote: "Mother Anna declared that she would withdraw any further support unless Josephine sold the Deym villa", he was unaware of the fact that at that time Josephine did not own any part of this "Deym villa".
v. Stackelberg, the well-born Sir Christoph Baron von ––––, his wife Josepha, née Countess Brunswik, born in Ofen, died in her own house
N. 648. in the Adlergasse of consumption, aged 40 years, in the afternoon at 5.30 p.m. Kerndl.[coroner]
The popular myth that "Josephine died in loneliness and oblivion and received neither a proper burial nor a gravestone" is obviously rooted in the well-known unconscious urge of biographers to increase their own accomplishment of rediscovery and vindication by presenting their heroine as having died completely unappreciated and shunned by her own kin. In her pioneering biography of Josephine von Brunsvik, Marie-Elisabeth Tellenbach set the tone that was to be echoed by many authors to come. Tellenbach described Josephine's death and burial as follows.
"Am 31. März 1821 abends um 5 Uhr starb Josephine – endete ihr irdisches grosses Leben um ein grösseres zu beginen." So schrieb Therese in ihr Tagebuch. Josephine wurde auf dem Währinger Friedhof zur letzten Ruhe gebracht. Kein Gedenkstein bezeichnet ihr Grab, keine Inschrift sollte der Nachwelt auch nur schlichte und knappe Kunde von ihrer Existenz überliefern! Auch hier hat die Familie Brunswick ihre damnatio memoriae in aller Strenge bestätigt.
"On March 31st, 1821, at 5 o'clock in the evening, Josephine died – ended her earthly great life to begin a greater one." Thus Therese wrote into her diary. Josephine was laid to rest in the Währing cemetery. No memorial stone marks her grave, no inscription was supposed to convey to posterity even a modest and concise knowledge of her existence! Here, too, the Brunswick family, in all severity, confirmed their damnatio memoriae. (Tellenbach 1983, 197f., my translation)The astonishing ignorance in matters of cultural and local Viennese history that is revealed in this paragraph is the root of most of the later misunderstandings. It is absolutely fascinating to see Tellenbach's flawed scenario develop into a solid narrative in the course of the next three decades. In his 2011 book Beethoven’s Only Beloved: Josephine! (which unfortunately weakened its own case by stepping into a number of journalistic traps), John Klapproth repeated Tellenbach's assertion of the Brunsvik family's damnatio memoriae. In the introduction of his book, in a loose translation of a quote from Ernst Pichler, who had stated "Josephine wurde in aller Stille verscharrt" (Pichler 1994, 10), Klapproth doubled down on the scenario of an "unappreciated Josephine destined for oblivion":
Almost exactly six years before Beethoven, Josephine von Brunsvik had been quietly interred at the Währing cemetery" (Klapproth 2011, 6).Klapproth then followed this up with the following claim:
Josephine Countess von Brunsvik, who was buried without ceremony, without obituary, even without any mourners. No tombstone on her grave. (Klapproth 2011, 6).In the main text of his book Klapproth quoted Tellenbach and added to the sad narrative by again denying Josephine a burial ceremony:
Josephine von Brunsvik died on 31 March 1821 in her own home, only accompanied by Viky, her oldest daughter. She was buried without any ceremony at Währing cemetery.
In lack of additional information, Jan Caeyers, in his biography of Beethoven, repeated the dire scenario presented by Tellenbach and Klapproth:No memorial stone marks her grave ... Once again the Brunsvik family has applied the damnatio memoriae with full severity. Exactly six years later, Breuning and Schindler would choose there "where he always liked to stay", a burial place for Beethoven.She was to be forgotten almost like she never existed. Except by one man, who "always liked to stay" at her grave. (Klapproth 2011, 137)
Josephine died completely lonely and impoverished on March 31st, 1821. Only Therese and the eldest daughter Vicky were with her. The Brunsvik family did not even bother to provide a worthy final resting place in the Währing cemetery. (Caeyers 2012, 577f., my translation)Not surprisingly, the narrative of the deceased "being denied a ceremony and a decent gravesite" has by now soaked deep into the popular literature. In his book Duett zu Dritt, the historian[sic!] Joachim Reiber concocted the following breathtaking nonsense about Josephine's late years:
The great emphasis of ideality, the great phrase of overcoming – with Josephine it collapses. She lived her last years under a false name. She died in Vienna in 1821 at the age of 42. She is buried in the Währing cemetery without a memorial stone. The noble comital family, whose beaming child she once was, no longer wants to do anything for her memory. (Reiber 2014, 72, my translation)Another case in point is the Austrian author Georg Markus – a notorious laughing stock even among journalists of his ilk who try to pass themselves off as historians – who in his latest book fantasizes about how the Brunsvik family "punished Josephine for her lifestyle":
Josephine Stackelberg geborene Brunsvik verwitwete Deym fand am Währinger Friedhof ihre letzte Ruhe, wobei ihr von ihrer Familie wegen ihres "lasterhaften Lebens" sowohl eine Begräbniszeremonie als auch ein Grabstein verweigert wurden. Sechs Jahre später wurde das Musikgenie, nur wenige Meter von der Geliebten entfernt, beerdigt. 20000 Menschen kamen, um von ihm Abschied zu nehmen.[translation:]
Josephine Stackelberg, née Brunsvik, widowed Deym was laid to rest in the Währing cemetery. Because of her "immoral lifestyle", she was denied a funeral ceremony and a tombstone by her family. Six years later the musical genius was buried a few yards from his beloved. 20,000 people came to bid him farewell. (Markus 2017, 262, my translation)
The foundation for this kind of gross misinformation was laid by Tellenbach who fell victim to an autosuggestion and failed to gather additional information concerning Catholic burial rites in Biedermeier Vienna. In addition to that, Tellenbach did not know that until 1923, there were two cemeteries in Währing (which in 1821 was located in Lower Austria): 1) the Allgemeiner Währinger Friedhof (today's Währingerpark), outside the Nussdorfer Linie, and 2) the smaller Währinger Ortsfriedhof (today's Schubertpark) which was located south of the Währinger Straße, about 400 meters west of the Währing parish church.
There are three main reasons as to why the narrative of Josephine's remains "having been quietly interred [verscharrt] in Währing" is completely untenable.
- The alleged lack of a memorial stone or any other kind of marker at the grave has no basis in any document related to Josephine von Stackelberg's burial. Because the Ortsfriedhof in Währing was so small, prior to 1841, unmarked anonymous graves were not allowed there. To have an adult buried in this cemetery, one needed to buy an own grave and order a 1st or 2nd-class burial. These requirements gave this cemetery a reputation of slight elitism.
- The Brunsvik family – who according to Tellenbach put a damnatio memoriae on a family member – had no say in the proceedings related to Josephine's burial. The decisions lay with her children and their guardian Franz von Sauer. Therese von Brunsvik was in no position to put a possible grudge into practice.
- The religious regulations made it impossible to deny a Catholic person (a Baroness to boot) an official burial ceremony. Such ceremonies were not even denied in cases of suicide, because members of the upper class always were able to secure a medical certificate that declared the deceased "mentally incompetent" at the time of death.
Since Josephine von Stackelberg's probate records were destroyed in 1927, we are not informed about the exact costs of her obsequies. But a number of surviving receipts, drawn up by "Leichen- und Conduct-Ansager" (masters of ceremonies of funeral corteges) from other Viennese parishes, provide detailed information concerning the performance of Catholic consecration ceremonies in Vienna at that time. As an example of a ceremony, I chose the obsequies of Antonia Forti, daughter of the opera singer Anton Forti and Henriette, nee Teiber, who died on 18 March 1831 at the age of 16 and, two days later, was consecrated in the Karlskirche (St. Karl 7, fol. 175). The funeral ceremonies of the Biedermeier era show that, as far as religious customs were concerned, the times of Josephinism were definitely gone. Antonia Forti's obsequies and funeral cost 138 gulden 43 kreuzer, which, high as this amount may seem, must be rated as medium and cheaper than most ceremonies. The list of items that had to be paid for Antonia Forti's funeral reads as follows (the amounts are gulden and kreuzer):
the coroner 40 Xr
the coroner's office 9 Xr
the oaken coffin including a black cross and gilded rosettes 8 f
the gilded cross of wax 24 Xr
the imprinted wrap 1 f 48 Xr
the priest 1 f
the cloth on the main altar 3 f
the 6 mourning chairs in the church 3 f
the catafalque in the church 5 f
the poor in the church 4 f
the Libera including the German song 3 f
the 4 red coats 30 X apiece for the leaders of the cortege [Conductansager] 2 f
the cleaning and dressing of the body 2 f
3 lbs of wax on the main altar 1 f 12 x apound 3 f 36 Xr
2 lbs. wax on the two side altars 2 f 24 Xr
2 lbs. wax for the priests 2 f 24 Xr
3 lbs. wax for the catafalque in the church 3 f 36 Xr
1,5 lbs. wax for the Conductansager and sextons 1 f 48 Xr
the 3 Conductansager for the announcements in the whole Freihaus in the whole neighborhood 1 f 30 X each, according to the I. & R. scale of charges 4 f 30 Xr
the services of the 4 Conductansager at the funeral, according to the I. & R. scale of charges, 1 f 30 each, 6 f
the thanksgiving prayer in the church, according to the I. & R. scale of charges, 1 f 30 Xr
the beautiful crown on the bier 5 f
the beautiful head garland for the body 2 f 30 Xr
the beautiful garland in the coffin 2 f 30 Xr
the beautiful parcel in the body's hands 30 Xr
3 beautiful parcels for the priests and the commander, 1 f each, 3 f
the 14 bouquets for the bachelors 36 Xr apiece 8 f 24 Xr
the 14 small bouquets for the lamps of the parish carriage 2 f
the 3 garlands on the 3 crosses 40 Xr
20 ells of bond for the parcels 2 f 40 Xr
3 ells of bond for the 3 priests on the candles 24 Xr
the wooden cross for the own grave 10 Xr
tips for 28 people from two parishes 7 fr 30 Xr
parish fee for St. Stephen's 38 f 33 Xr
fee for the trombonists 4 f 33 Xr
all of the Conductansager's errands for the burial 5 f
Id est 138 f 43 Xr
The charitable payments to poor people, who regurlarly took part in obsequies and the following corteges to graveyards, were an essential part of the welfare system in Biedermeier Vienna. Some of the items given in the above list, such as the crown and the 14 bachelors, were applied because the deceased was an unmarried minor. Like in the days before the Josephinian reforms in 1781, there was a great selection of possible costly improvements to the ceremony: the use of a castrum doloris needed additional 13,5 lbs. of wax (at a cost 6 f 12 x) and the service of seven additional "Conductansager" which – according to the "KK Stolle" (the scale of charges) – cost 1 f 30 x each. The performance of a Requiem involved the payment of a "Regenschoribeylage" of up to 40 gulden. The Deym family certainly commissioned the printing of "Partezettel" (death notices) of which 100 copies cost 2 f 24 x. There are countless examples in probate files of people who were consecrated at the Dominican Church that show how high the costs of burial expenses could be. On 15 February 1821, the obsequies of the former merchant Jakob Calliano took place at this church. His obsequies at St. Maria Rotunda cost 547 gulden 40 kreuzer. He then was transferred to Mödling, where he had owned a house, to be buried in the local cemetery – a ceremony which cost an additional 233 gulden and 28 kreuzer (A-Wsa, Mag. ZG, A2, 69/1821). Some Viennese parishes, such as the parish "Zu den heiligen Schutzengeln" on the Wieden, handed out printed standardized receipts for funeral expenses titled "Leichen=Specification". These forms also document the obligatory fees that were only waived in case of certified poverty.
The entry in the Bahrleihbuch (the register of burial fees of the Bahrleihamt) shows that, after the solemn obsequies at the Dominican Church, Baroness von Stackelberg's coffin was transported to Währing in a carriage drawn by four horses (the wrong cemetery "St. Marx" was copied from the false entry in the parish register).
Es ist dem Wohlgeb. H. Christoph Freÿh: von Stakelberg seine Frau Josepha geb. Gräfin von Brunswik alt 40 Jahr in der Adler gassen N° 648. Pfarre Dominicaner den 31. abends um 6 uhr gestorben und an Auszehrung Beschauet worden
In Freÿdhof St Marx
Bezahlt 2 Klaß – – – – – – 37. 6
Wagen mit 4 Pferd Nach Wahring 12 f – kr.
Christoph Baron von Stackelberg's wife Josepha née Countess von Brunswik, 40 years of age, died on the 31st in the evening at 6 p.m. and was inspected to have died of consumption.
to the St. Marx cemetery
paid for the 2nd class – – – – – – 37 gulden 6 kreuzer
carriage with 4 horses to Währing 12 gulden
As far as the costs of the ceremony and the burial in Währing are concerned, we can rely on documents from Beethoven's probate file (A-Wsa, Hauptarchiv, Persönlichkeiten B16, fol. 92). Like Beethoven, Baroness Stackelberg was buried according to the 2nd class (between 1821 and 1827 the regulated standard prices did not change).
[translation:]Uiber Fünfzig Gulden CMz. welche für die nach der II. Klaße gehaltenen Leiche des verstorbenen H[errn] Ludwig von Bethoven als sämtliche Auslagen an die Kirche, Pfarre, Armeninstitut, für Totengräber, Träger, Ansager, und Vorbether, Meßner, Ministranten, Ausläuter, für mitgehende Instituts-Arme und Schulkinder sammt Aufsicht tragenden Schulgehülfen, für das Miserere, und Motteten, für Libera und Assistenz &c sind gezahlt worden.Quittung
Währing d 28tn März 827
Id est 50 fr Cm Johann Hayek mpia
For fifty gulden Conventionsmünze [assimilated coinage] which were paid for the 2nd-class burial of the deceased Mr. van Beethoven as overall expenses to the church, parish, almshouse, for the gravedigger, bearer, director of the ceremony and litanist, sexton, altar boys, bell ringers, for the accompanying poor from the almshouse and school children, together with the supervising school assistants, for the Miserere, the motets, the libera and the assistance, etc.Receipt
Währing, March 28th, 1827
Id est 50 fr Cm Johann Hayek mpia
The costs of Baroness Stackelberg's own grave in Währing are also well documented. A grave in Währing cost 30 gulden which was more expensive than a grave in the so-called "Kommunalfriedhöfe" (communal cemeteries) which in 1819 cost 20 fl 42 x. Beethoven's probate file (A-Wsa, Hauptarchiv, Persönlichkeiten B16, fol. 99) contains the following receipt.
Über Dreyssig Gulden CMz welche für einen einfachen Platz auf dem hiesigen Pfarrfreydhofe zur Ruhestätte des verstorbenen Herrn Ludwig von Beethoven an die Pfarrkirche zu Währing sind gezahlt worden.
Währing den 27ten März 1827.
Id est 30 fr Cm Johann Hayek mpia
ReceiptFor thirty gulden Conventionsmünze [assimilated coinage] which were paid to the parish church in Währing for a simple spot as resting place of the deceased Mr. Ludwig van Beethoven.Währing, March 27th, 1827.Id est 30 fr Cm Johann Hayek mpiaparish priest
In Währing, Baroness von Stackelberg's coffin was taken from the carriage, put in front of the altar of the parish church and consecrated again. The entry in the Währing burial register concerning this ceremony repeats the information from the parish of St. Maria Rotunda: "Dem Wohledlgeborenen H. Christoph Freÿherr v Stakelberg seine Frau Gemahlin Josepha Gräfinn Brunswik".
The cortege then continued its way to the Ortsfriedhof where Josephine von Stackelberg was buried in an own grave "in the fourth row" – which, so far, is the only information we have as to the gravesite's exact location (see below). One thing is certain: Josephine von Stackelberg's burial site was not located "in close proximity" to what in 1827 was to be Beethoven's.
The Death and Burial of Victoire von Deym
Josephine's eldest child Victoire (born 6 May 1800) died of scarlet fever on 2 February 1823, at 2:30 p.m., in the house Leopoldstadt 9 (the so-called Altes Dianabad which had been built by Charles de Moreau).
Victoire Deym's death and burial is connected with a rather gruesome family legend that was told by Therese von Deym's grandniece Dr. Ilka Melichar to the music historian La Mara (Ida Marie Lipsius) who in 1909 published it in her book Beethovens Unsterbliche Geliebte. Das Geheimnis der Gräfin Brunsvik und ihre Memoiren. According to this oral tradition, Victoire von Deym was buried alive:
One after the other, Josephine took four of her gentle daughters in the prime of life and in the most beautiful hopes for their earthly future. Victoire, the shining star, was the first at the age of 23 years; she was declared of legal age and was supposed to help educate her orphaned brothers. Together with me she would have established and directed a great educational institution in the beloved fatherland! Weißkirchen near Tyrnau was chosen as its location. We wanted to call it Antonaeum, in honor of my precious father! In 1823, on February 2nd, after a short illness of five days, – scarlet fever that had affected the brain – after she had escorted her mother and her aunt to the grave, and in sickness and death had taken care of them like an angel, she died, and, as the legend has it, was seen again after her first death inside the crypt of St. Stephen's! 1) .
How this story could ever gain credibility is completely inexplicable. First, all the primary sources show that Victoire von Deym was not buried immediately, but – in accordance with the law of that time – two days after her passing. Second, she was not buried in the crypt of St. Stephen's. After the reforms of Joseph II, burials in the crypt of the Cathedral were limited to members of the high clergy (such as, for example, Bishop Hieronymus von Colloredo in 1812). Third, Victoire was buried in her mother's grave in Währing which renders the whole tale of her trying to open a "front door" of a crypt fictitious. That the tale of Victoire von Deym's "Scheintod" was ever taken serious is even stranger, given the fact that her death notice clearly gives her obsequies as having taken place two days after her death, on 4 February 1823. This death notice gives the church of St. Leopold as venue of her consecration, but this is an error. Since the Dianabad was located in the parish of the Carmelite church of St. Joseph, Victoire's obsequies were held in this church. This document also states that "the body will be consecrated at 2 p.m. and then transported to Währing".1) [footnote] She died a gruesome death. As victim of a scarlet epidemic that raged in Vienna, like all victims of the disease, she had to be buried immediately. Apparently dead, she was put into the crypt, and when after a while it was opened, the unfortunate was found with the coffin lid open, lying on the steps in front of the door with an arm gnawed off. Dr. Ilka Melichar, née Countess Deym, in Prague told me this. Elsewhere [in her memoirs] Therese Countess Brunsvik writes: "When I learned of the brilliant daughter's death, I could not be consoled and for three years remained an errant in mind and body." (La Mara 1909, 111f., my translation)
Victoire von Deym's cortege proceeded similar to he mother's two years earlier. Her brother Fritz and her aunt Therese may have been the only relatives that accompanied the coffin. Her brother Karl was with his grandmother in Ofen and her three half-sisters, Marie, Theophile and Minona, were staying with their father in Estonia.
The Death and Burial of Friedrich von Deym
Josephine von Deym's son Friedrich (a godson of Count Friedrich von Nostitz-Rieneck and Franziska Duchess of Württemberg) was one of the more prominent members of the Deym family. After a career in the Austrian military and as official at the Viennese court, in 1848 he became a member of the Frankfurt Parliament.
Friedrich Deym Count von Střítež died suddenly of "Lungenlähmung" (lung failure) on 23 January 1853.
Regarding Friedrich von Deym's death and burial, La Mara quotes the following sentence from Therese von Brunsvik's memoirs: "Fritz suddenly died in Vienna, universally mourned. His eleven children surrounded his coffin, the youngest a boy, two years of age, named Franz."(La Mara 1909, 128). The number of Fritz's children given by La Mara has yet to be corroborated.
That Friedrich von Deym was buried "II Classe" in an "eigenes Grab zwischen Bellmann u. Widtmann alt" ("second class burial in an old[!] own grave between Bellmann and Widtmann") is documented in the 1846-1869 register of graves of the Währinger Ortsfriedhof. This "old grave" was his mother's.
Since Weiß's register and the Gräberbuch do not provide grave numbers, it is not possible to determine the exact location of the Deym family grave. Furthermore, Weiß's data concerning the exact location of the fourth row are at odds with the map of the cemetery from 1914. The following plan from 1913 shows the entrance section of the old cemetery. On top ist the Währingerstraße, to the left of the entrance are the "Leichenkammer" (which was torn down before 1923) and the chapel (which today houses a public restroom). To the right is the warden's house. The grave with a cross above the supposed fourth row is that of the Schwab family (and of the parish priest Josef Maynollo) with its big crucifix by Balthasar Permoser that, until 1784, stood in the old Nikolaifriedhof on the Landstraße.
Among the prominent people buried in the cemetery's fourth row – according to Weiß's 1877/78 register – were the following individuals.
- Constance Spencer Smith, née Herbert Baroness Rathkeal (1785–1829), poetess and the object of one of Lord Byron's most famous love poems. She was the model of Florence in Childe Harold's Pilgrimage. According to Hampeis and an essay in the Neues Wiener Journal from 1923, the front of her tombstone bore the last stanza of Byron's poem Euthanasia, and the back side the first 12 lines of Byron's aforesaid poem from 1809. On 15 April 1896 Smith's remains were transferred to her nephew's grave in the Zentralfriedhof. Still, on 24 September 1919, the "Städtische Sammlungen" (the predecessor of today's Wienmuseum) asked the Magistratsabteilung X to look for the monument during the clearing of the cemetery, but it could not be found. In 1980 Spencer Smith's grave in the Zentralfriedhof was sold to new owners.
- Charles de Moreau whose headstone bore the inscription "Architecte, Chevalier de la legion d'honneur". This grave was located beside the Puthon grave. According to a list, drawn up in 1895 by Karl Glossy, Moreau's grave was meant to be preserved but it is now lost. The grave of Peter Mollner, whose location could not by identified by Hans Pemmer in 1970, is located at the foot of the pillar between the gravedigger's house and the entrance.
- Franz von Sommaruga (and several of his relatives, exhumed and transferred to the Meidling cemetery in August 1896)
- Franz Xaver von Aichen
- Johann Paul Sollinger
- Vinzenz Pittrich (1791–1848), privy councilor and knight of the Order of St. Leopold
- Elisabeth Ernst (1780–1860), benefactor and saver of Vienna's Ruprechtskirche
- Johann Conrad Hippenmayer, co-founder of the Austrian National Bank
- Alexander Armand Gaston Count von Mottet (1800–1873)
- Ferdinand von Mitis (1791–1856), engineer and co-constructor of the Carls-Brücke across the Donaukanal
- Friedrich Baron von Lilien (1744–1831), retired lieutenant field marshal and father-in-law of
- Johann Baptist Baron von Puthon, the younger (1773-1839) (grandson of the Savoyan emigrant Louis Pouthon), merchant, head of the Austrian National Bank and the I. & R. privileged Donau-Dampfschiffahrts-Gesellschaft. Also buried in this grave are Puthon's wife, the pianist Antonia, née von Lilien (1781–1824) and her son Eduard (1803–1830) Antonia von Lilien was a piano pupil of Johann Jakob Heckel and a friend of Beethoven. Alexandrine Baronne de Montet, in her memoirs, writes about Antonia von Puthon's death: "Notre chère Antoinette est morte jeune encore; son mari l'entoura dans sa dernière maladie des soins les plus tendres, les plus touchants. «Il m'aime donc, disait-elle à ma belle-mère en levant ses beaux yeux au ciel avant de mourir: je meurs consolée.» Elle mourut comme une sainte. Je la vis exposée sur un haut catafalque, dans un de ses magnifiques salons, belle comme un ange encore et paraissant endormie dans une douce pensée." The Puthon family grave is the only one in the cemetery's row four of which remains still survive.
In 1821 the Währing village cemetery covered only about a half of today's Schubertpark. It consisted of today's separated Gräberhain and the southward area that reached to the Schulgasse. The width of the former cemetery area in relation to its final size can be seen on a view of the new entrance which in 1833 was published as frontispiece in Hampeis's book Chronologische Epigraphik der Friedhöfe Wien’s.
The gravedigger's house and the chapel at the entrance of the cemetery were built but in 1827 by Adolph Korompay, the ramp was constructed in 1832. In 1841 the area of the cemetery was about doubled by the addition of a field, west of the cemetery, which had been purchased and donated by the wax monger Christoph Wishofer.
On May 4th, 1873 (Sunday) I received a written order from the honorable parish office to fill up the open shaft graves and not to open any of the local graves again without assignment from the parish. Decree from the City Captaincy of May 2nd 1873
The municipal administration now began to realize the cemetery's transformation into a public park, a project that dated back to 1913. The following two plans, drawn by the Wiener Stadtbauaumt in May and October 1913, show the two states of the cemetery, before and after its projected transformation into a public park. The left design shows many crypts in their original location. At the right margin, circled in red, are the graves of Beethoven and Schubert, with the crypt of Count John O'Donnell (1762–1828) still between them, because it was a "Stiftungsgrab" which was meant to be preserved. The design on the right shows the first park project with many graves still in their original places and a rondeau in the center. For reasons of piety this project was never realized. As one official put it: "To have children's playgrounds beside graves is not acceptable".
It is particularly interesting to see who was buried in the vicinity of Schubert's and Beethoven's first graves. The crypt of the Hardmuth family and Baroness Marie Schlechta von Wschehrd (1869–1872), between O'Donnell and Beethoven, was vacated in 1895 (for August Stauda's 1903 photograph of the memorials see Wien Museum, I.N. 29573/6). Opposite O'Donnell's crypt was that of Comte Andreas Florian de Mercy (1772-1840) and his wife Marianne, née von Stadion (1777–1833). Buried in grave No. 64, to the left (south) of Schubert, was Joseph Pompe (1787–1831), a privy councilor who was employed at the I. & R. lotto office. The location of Pompe's grave was certainly not a coincidence, because Pompe was a music aficionado and a close friend of Joseph von Spaun. On the other side of Pompe's grave, until its transfer to the Zentralfriedhof in 1887, the crypt of the Metaxa family had been located (hence it is missing in the below map). Grave No. 60, right (on the below plan) of Beethoven's, was the crypt of the Oettingen-Wallerstein family. Buried in grave No. 263, opposite Beethoven, was the composer Ignaz von Seyfried. Right beside Seyfried's grave was that of Franz Clement (No. 262). A colored newspaper clip in one of Karl Blaschke's albums in the Wienbibliothek shows these two graves still in their original location.
In 1924 Seyfried's and Clement's headstones were moved north into the Gräberhain where they now stand five meters apart facing opposite directions.
The question of what to do with artistically important graves, of which twenty-five were so-called "Stiftungsgräber" (foundation graves), led to years-long discussions between the municipal instances and the parish which was a contracting party of most of these foundations. Some of these graves were preserved (Inzaghi, Peter, Rosenbaum), the remains of the other owners of foundation graves (such as Nestroy's sister Franziska and her daughter, Johanna Princess Bretzenheim von Régecz) were (allegedly) transferred into a newly installed crypt in the Währing parish church. The City's efforts to preserve the graves of historically significant people were hampered by the circumstance that the exhumation entries in the Gräberbuch end in 1888 and the department X had not archived a full set of records concerning the exhumations that had already taken place.
In 1920 the City of Vienna tendered a competition among architects concerning the design of the park and the preservation of some of the memorials. From the nineteen designs that were submitted the jury discarded ten, awarded the 2nd prize (3,000 kronen) to seven of them, and proposed two for purchase. No 1st prize was awarded. The official report from the Magistratsabteilung 22 closes with the statement: "With regard to the current financial situation of the City of Vienna none of these designs will be realized for the time being."
In 1924, eventually, Karl Dirnhuber's design "Denkmalpflege" was realized. The overall cost of the project amounted to 2,17 billion kronen. Dirnhuber also designed the residential building Weimarer Straße 1 which is located east of the park, behind the empty graves of Beethoven and Schubert. The reburial of of countless remains and the relocation of some of the graves was accompanied by a number of gruesome incidents that were caused by lack of sufficient closure of the cemetery grounds. On 7 June 1925 the Viennese mayor Karl Seitz opened the Schubertpark to the public. On this occasion he planted an oak tree.
The Exhumation of the Deym Family in 1909
In October 1909, the Deym descendants of Josephine von Deym – probably her great-grandson Ottokar von Deym – commissioned the mortuary of Josef Klammerth to disinter their grandmother and her two children Victoire and Friedrich and transport their remains to the Deym family estate in the Bohemian village of Nemyšl. The procedure had to follow strict regulations: the exhumation had to be performed in the presence of the district physician (in this case Dr. Moritz Breuer [1848-1918]), the metal coffin, wherein the remains of the three exhumed individuals were to be transported, had to be soldered airtight, put into a wooden coffin, and had to be accompanied on the train to Bohemia by an attendant. Furthermore, the transport had to leave Vienna early enough to allow the reburial on the very same day. The costs of such an exhumation are documented in the papers related to the disinterment of members of the Schlechta/Hardmuth family in 1895. The attending physician cost 5 gulden in addition to which an aptly-named "Beilagengebühr" of 50 gulden was charged.
On 7 October 1909, the permission to have the Deym family exhumed from the grave in Währing was granted by the Vienna Magistrate.
The translation of this document reads as follows.
Magistrate of Vienna, department XOn 14 October 1909, an exhumation assignment was issued by the department of funerary affairs of the municipal conscription office.
as political authority of the 1st instance.
M.-Dep. X, 7743 /09.
The undertaker firm Josef KLAMMERTH, IV. Favoritenstr. 42, [applies] for the exhumation of the bodies: 1.) of Countess Josefine DEYM, deceased in February 1821, 2.) of Countess Viktoria DEYM, deceased in February 1823 and of Fiedrich Count DEYM, deceased on 23 January 1853, from the crypt in the Währing village cemetery and the transport to Nemysl–Sudomeric, district of Tabor in Bohemia for the purpose of a reburial in the local cemetery.
Vienna, October 7th, 1909.
The exhumation of these bodies from the Währing village cemetery and the transfer to Nemysl–Sudomeric in Bohemia is being permitted, based on the decree of the I. & R. Ministry of Interior of 3 May 1874, Reichs-Gesetz-Blatt No. 56, under the following conditions: the exhumation is to be performed under the supervision and according to the orders of Dr. M. BREUER, municipal district physician, XVIII. Währingerstraße 71, who has to be consulted in this case.
After the exhumation, the remains of all three bodies are to be kept in a simple coffin that has to be soldered airtight and are to be transferred to Bohemia by rail.
The transport must be accompanied by a reliable individual as attendant whose name, profession and address has to disclosed to the public health department and the public health officer. Regarding the credentials of this attendant the I. & R. police authorities have to be contacted.
Furthermore, the regulation in § 42 and 43 of the decree, issued by the I. & R. Ministry of trade of 10 December 1892, Reichs-Gesetz-Blatt No. 207, must be observed.
The transport has to be scheduled at an early enough hour so that the body will arrive at the location of the burial on the same day before nightfall. The time of the body's arrival at the burial location has to be communicated in time to the I. & R. district physician, eventually by telegraph.
All fees related to this exhumation must be paid before the procedure at the municipal coroner's office.
This permit expires, if it is not put into use inside one year's time from today, or on the day of the clearing, if the Währing village cemetery should be cleared earlier.
The honorable Währing parish office has attached the permit for the exhumation to the condition that the party will bear all the costs, that the cemetery warden will be reimbursed, and that after the exhumation the area around the crypt will be put in order again.
For that purpose, compliance with these conditions has to be documented at the Währing parish office.
For the head of the department:
Journ. A 16133 M.=Z. 7743/1909. / Abt. X.
In the morning of 16 October 1909, the remains of Josephine, Victoire, and Friedrich von Deym were taken to the Franz-Josefs-Bahnhof from where they were transported with the Franz-Josefs-Bahn to Sudoměřice u Tábora.
Assignment of exhumationof the bodies of Countess Josefine Deym, deceased in 1821, Countess Viktoria Deym deceased in 1823 and Friedrich Count Deym deceased on 23 January 1853 from the crypt in the Währing village cemetery, and their transfer in a simple metal coffin to Nemysl–Sudomeric, Bohemia.
The exhumation will take place on Saturday, October 16th, 1909 at 8 a.m.
Conscription office (department for funerary affairs).
Vienna, October 14th, 1909. [Johann] Gradwohl management assistant at the conscription office
Concerning Josephine von Deym's and her two children's final resting place in Bohemia there are two possibilities: since Nemyšl has no own cemetery, the coffin was either transported to the parish village Chotoviny where it was buried in the local cemetery, or – more likely – taken to Nemyšl and put into a private family crypt. Further research will be necessary concerning the exact location of Josephine von Deym's final resting place. The 1909 burial records of the Chotoviny parish have not yet been transferred to the Třeboň Regional Archives, but, since reburials did not demand a religious ceremony, it is unlikely that these records will offer any new information.
The Exhumations of three other Piano Pupils of Beethoven
Josephine von Deym was not the only one of Beethoven's piano pupils whose remains were to be exhumed in the twentieth century. On 22 March 1856, at 2.45 p.m., Julie Countess von Gallenberg née von Guicciardi – Josephine von Deym's cousin and the dedicatee of Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 14 – died of old age in the house Stadt 322 ("Zum Hahnenbeiß", today Am Hof 5). On 25 March 1856 she was consecrated in the Kirche Am Hof (Am Hof 5, fol. 26) and transported across the Nussdorfer Linie where she was buried in the Währinger Allgemeiner Friedhof, in an own grave in row 23. The costs of this procedure are documented in Countess Gallenberg's probate records: her burial cost 265 gulden, the tombstone 95 gulden and 40 kreuzer.
In 1858 and 1864 Julie's sons Joseph and Hector von Gallenberg were also buried in this grave. Her four other children (Hugo, Marie, Friedrich, and Alexander) died outside of Vienna. When in 1923 the Währinger Allgemeiner Friedhof was converted into a public park (today's Währingerpark), the 280cm-tall granite monument was transferred to a separate area which (like in the Schubertpark) is today's Gräberhain. The note "Siehe wie bei Grab N° 1322" in the following entry in the register of graves refers to the grave of the general of the branch Joseph Baron von Lauer whose remains, on 24 August 1923, were exhumed and reburied in what was then called "Gedächtnishain" (memorial grove).
Julie von Gallenberg's date of birth, 23 November 1784, which also appears on her tombstone, has recently been described as being two years too late (Steblin 2009). However, since all Viennese sources, such as Guicciardi's marriage entries, her probate file and her tombstone (which Steblin failed to address) give 1784 as her year of birth, for the year 1782 to be correct, Julie Guicciardi's birth certicifate must have been a falsification.
Dorothea von Ertmann, arguably Beethoven's best piano pupil and dedicatee of his Piano Sonata No. 28, died on 16 March 1849 in the house Stadt 243 (today Strauchgasse 1).
As the cause of Ertmann's death the records give "Übersetzung des Krankheitsstoffes auf das Gehirn" (transfer of the contagious matter to the brain). On 18 March 1849 Ertmann was consecrated in the Schottenkirche and transported to the Währinger Allgemeiner Friedhof where she was buried in the cemetery's twelfth row. The register of graves of this cemetery describes her headstone as "1'20 M. S." (1,20 meters tall, sandstone). In August 1923 the remains of Baroness Ertmann were disinterred, her monument was transferred into the "Gedächtnishain" and she was reburied under the monument (whose plaque is now lost).
Therese Baroness von Droßdik, née Malfatti, ennobled von Rohrenbach zu Dezza, was one of the most colorful members of of Beethoven's circle of friends. The fact that Beethoven, at some time, allegedly planned to propose to her, or that she has been presented as possible dedicatee of the bagatelle WoO 59, Für Elise, cannot be addressed in this blog post. Regarding this topic, I refer to three of my publications (Lorenz 2001, 2011, and 2013). Like the aforementioned Josephine von Deym, Julie von Gallenberg and Dorothea von Ertmann, Therese von Droßdik, too, was not allowed to remain in her first grave.
Therese von Droßdik died of dropsy on 27 April 1851 in the house Stadt 1038 (Kärntner Straße 38, Vivaldi's last residence). Two days later she was buried close to her parents in the Matzleinsdorf cemetery. This was carried out in accordance with her will of 1844 where she had written the following:
[...] ferners ersuche ich mein Leichenbegängniß so wie bereits gesagt so einfach wie möglich nehmlich 3ter Claße eine fromme Seelenmeße, u. ein eigenes Grab zur Beerdigung, wo möglich an der Seite meiner entschlafenen Eltern.[translation:]
[...] furthermore I request my burial ceremony to be as simple as possible, as stated above, in the 3rd class, a pious requiem mass, and an own grave for the burial, if possible beside my departed parentsRight beside each other, in the graves 461–465 in row two of the Matzleinsdorf cemetery, five members of the Malfatti and Gleichenstein families lay buried in the following order.
- Therese's father Jacob Friedrich Malfatti von Rohrenbach (1769–1829)
- Therese's nephew Arthur Baron von Gleichenstein (1817–1828)
- Therese's brother-in-law Ignaz Baron von Gleichenstein (1778–1828), the dedicatee of Beethoven's Cello Sonata op. 69 (the widely held opinion that Gleichenstein therefore was an amateur cellist, is corroborated by no source at all)
- Therese von Droßdik (1792–1851) herself (whose husband Wilhelm Baron von Droßdik died on 9 June 1852 in Buda)
- Therese's mother Theresia Malfatti von Rohrenbach, née von Velsern (1769–1829) (she was obviously buried in a separate grave, because she died only seven months after her husband)
The grave registers pertaining to reburials in 1909 in the Zentralfriedhof, held by the Vienna City Archive, are currently inaccessible due to severe mold damage. The records in the archive of the Friedhöfe Wien GmbH, which I have not been able to check, will certainly provide more information. The results of this research will be of small relevance however, because, since the five Gleichenstein/Malfatti graves do not appear in Vienna's database of graves, they must have been vacated at some point in the twentieth century anyway.
Back to Baroness von Stackelberg (and yet another Grave)
In 1954 Siegmund Kaznelson presented the hypothesis that Josephine von Stackelberg's daughter Minona could have been an illegitimate child of Beethoven. This theory was not entirely unsubstantiated. After all, Christoph von Stackelberg had supposedly left his family in June 1812, and Minona was born on 8 April 1813, nine months after that supposed night of love on 3 July 1812 in Prague which, a few days later, triggered Beethoven's epistolary outburst. While the French historians Jean and Brigitte Massin considered Kaznelson's idea quite sensible, to some established Beethoven scholars the actual existence of a child of Beethoven appeared much too sensational and adventurous to be accepted as a tenable scenario. Most of the current Josephine advocates are now convinced that Minona von Stackelberg was Beethoven's daughter and they have expressed this belief in several publications.
In an uncanny way, research on exhumations in the Währinger Ortsfriedhof during the late nineteenth century leads back to Beethoven and the eternal issue of the Immortal Beloved, albeit along a totally different trail. Several paths in the old Währing village cemetery were named after prominent crypts that were located along them. The "Inzaghigang" went along the last row of graves on the western side and the "Grillparzergang" marked the way on the south side towards the poet's crypt. The exact location of the "Banffygang" could not been determined yet. It probably went straight across the cemetery, because from 1870 until 1901, when her remains were transferred to St. Florian, Anton Bruckner's sister Anna lay buried in an "own grave, 4 Schuh wide, beside Aloisia Steinböck, in the 5th group on the right, along the Banffy-Gang" (A-Wsa, Serie 188.8.131.52.1802, Währing Ortsfriedhof, B1-Gräber: alt: XVIII-B-2, fol. 12r). This path was named after the crypt of Dionys Count Bánffy de Losoncz and his wife Johanna, née Baroness Schilling von Cannstatt. Count Dionys von Bánffy was born on 21 May 1780 in Hermannstadt (today Sibiu), member of one of Hungary's oldest noble families. His father was Georg von Bánffy de Losoncz (1748–1822), freemason, friend of Joseph II, and subscriber of Mozart's three concerts in the Trattnerhof in March 1784. Like his father, Dionys Count Bánffy, who in 1804 was appointed to the honorary post of I. & R. chamberlain, was a great lover of music. The fact that in 1807 the Trapani-born guitarist and composer Matteo Bevilacqua (1768–1821) dedicated his sonata for guitar and piano op. 50 to Bánffy, shows that Bánffy must have been an amateur musician. On 30 April 1813, in St. Stephen's Cathedral (A-Wd, Tom. 83a, fol. 81), Count Bánffy married Johanna Baroness Schilling von Cannstatt who had been born on 13 August 1789 in Reval (today Tallinn), member of the Thalheim branch of the family and younger sister of the noted pioneer of telegraphy Paul Ludwig Schilling von Cannstatt. The Bánffys became important patrons of music who in their apartment at Stadt 281 (now Graben 19) entertained a musical salon which was well-attended by Vienna's nobility. The Bánffys took great interest in the talent of the piano prodigy Carl Filtsch whose career they supported (Short 2003, 361). Liszt and Tausig were among the performers at these soirées that even continued after Count Bánffy's death in 1854. On 16 January 1856, Franz Liszt arrived in Vienna to attend the centennial festivities for Mozart and to meet old friends and patrons. On 19 January 1856 Liszt wrote to Princess Carolyne zu Sayn-Wittgenstein:
Tout va passablement bien et quasi à souhait pour moi ici – seulement il faut que je sois dur pied, depuis 9 heures du matin jusqu'à minuit, pour ne pas faire de besogne au fond! J'ai à peine vu la moitié du monde que je dois voir. Dans une heure, je dînerai chez le Pce Esterhazy, demain j'attends réponse de Mr de Metternich, auquel je viens d'écrire; Mme Bánffy m'a accueilli les bras ouverts. (La Mara 1900, 299)To Agnes Street-Klindworth Liszt wrote on 3 February 1856:
As far as old acquaintances go, I met again Prince and Princess Paul Esterházy (at whose home I dined a week ago), Prince Fritz Schwarzenberg, who still remains a rare specimen of knightly honor and grandseigneurial spirit, Count Schlick who has been dubbed rightly the Austrian army's "Bayard", Countess Bánffy (née Baroness de Schilling – a Russian) whom I saw again last year in Weimar and at whose home I met again Baron Jósika, Countess d'Acerenza, and Princess Khevenhüller [...]. (Pocknell 2000, 84)In March 1858, on his way to Pest, Liszt was in Vienna where he again met Countess Bánffy (La Mara 1900, 418). On 14 April 1858, a big soirée took place at Countess Bánffy's about which Liszt reported to Princess Sayn-Wittgenstein as follows: "Avant-hier, il y a eu aussi grande soirée chez Mme la Csse Bánffy. Tausig et Laub y ont joué. Le Cte Lanckoronsky ayant refusé aux chanteurs italiens la permission d'y chanter, j'ai pris sur moi de dédommager Mme Bánffy de ce désappointement." (La Mara 1900, 432f.)
What do Countess Bánffy's soirées have to do with Josephine von Stackelberg and Beethoven's Immortal Beloved? Closer research on Dionys and Johanna Bánffy de Losoncz reveals that Minona von Stackelberg, Beethoven's alleged daughter, lived in the Bánffys' home. She actually made Franz Liszt's acquaintance, because she was present at the aforesaid soirées.
After Christoph von Stackelberg's death in 1841, his daughters Maria Laura and Minona moved to Hosszufalu (today Satulung in Romania) where their aunt Charlotte Teleki von Szék lived on her estate. Maria Laura died there in 1843, followed shortly by her aunt (Josephine's sister) Countess Teleki. Minona now went to Vienna where she moved in with the Bánffy couple at Stadt 281.
It is possible that there had been some family relationship between the Stackelberg and the Schilling von Cannstatt families (after all, Johanna von Bánffy was born in Reval). Minona von Stackelberg became Countess Bánffy's lady companion. That she shared the apartment with the Bánffys is proved by two entries in two conscription sheets of Stadt 281. First, in 1857, Countess von Bánffy is registered as tenant of apartment No. 6 and "KK. Sternkreuzordensdame & Gutsbesitzerin [from] Rewall in Rußland". A note on the far right of the sheet reads: "Gemahl Graf Zionis[sic] Banffy 854 in Wien gestorben. die Familie wohnt seit 40 Jahren in Wien." (The husband Count Dionys Banffy died in 1854 in Vienna. The family has been living in Vienna for 40 years).
Minona von Stackelberg's name appears in the Fremdentabelle (table of foreigners) as resident of apartment No. 6, because she erroneously was considered a relative from Russia. The entry reads: "[apartment] 6 Minona Freiin von Stachelberg 820 Anverwandte Rußland [Religion: Evangelisch Augsburger Confession] [Ist im Besitze eines Reise=Dokuments] Ausl[änderin]". The other nine cohabitants of apartment No. 6 were the family physician Carl Erberg and other domestic staff.
Count Dionys von Bánffy de Losoncz died of old age on 3 July 1854, at 9:15 p.m. (St. Michael 13, fol. 89) and was buried first class on 6 July in an own crypt in the Währinger Ortsfriedhof along what was to become known as the "Bánffygang".
At some time between 1861 (Lehmann 1861, 9) and 1864 (Lehmann 1864, 99), Countess Bánffy downsized her household and, together with Minona von Stackelberg, moved to Graben 10. There, on 22 October 1865, at 5 p.m.(St. Michael 13, fol. 174), the Countess died of old age and on 25 October was buried in the family crypt in Währing (Währing 6, fol. 312). Countess Bánffy's main assets consisted of real estate near Klausenburg (today Cluj-Napoca).
On 25 July 1896 (according to the municipal database), Dionys and Johanna von Bánffy were exhumed from their crypt in Währing and transferred to a new crypt in group 48A in the Zentralfriedhof. This transfer was certainly initiated by one of their many Hungarian relatives. It is not known if the original headstone was also moved to the Zentralfriedhof.
After Countess's Bánffy's death, Minona moved to Habsburgergasse 5 (the Cavrianisches Haus) where on 21 February 1897 she died of "hypostatic pneumonia" (A-Wsa, Totenbeschreibamt 557, 1024f.).
Her Sperrs-Relation and the entry concerning her consecration in the records of the protestant Stadtpfarre show that Minona, in spite of having been baptized Catholic, had been raised in her father's confession of faith (Lutherische Stadtkirche 17, 29/1897). Minona von Stackelberg's probate file sheds light on her late years and her financial situation. On 14 March 1896 the district court had put her into guardianship of the lawyer Dr. Hugo Friedmann, due to a mental incapacition which is already addressed in the literature (La Mara 1920, 80). Unfortunately the file pertaining to this court decision – which contained a detailed genealogical chart – is not preserved (the Kuratelsakten of the BG Innere Stadt only survive as of 1898). Minona's main heir was her niece Countess Blanca von Deym (1832–1906), a daughter of Minona's half-brother Karl von Deym (1802–1840). The other heirs were Minona's grandnieces and grandnephews, the following grandchildren of Friedrich Deym Count von Střítež: Countess Josephine von Deym in Merano, Baroness Elise von Korb-Weidenheim in Prague, Count Ottokar von Deym in Vienna, Princess Cantacuzino in Merano, the children of deceased Baroness von Blittersdorf, and "Hungarian relatives of a born Countess Brunsvik after a Count Emerich Teleky". Minona's alleged "depressing economic situation", described in 1920 by La Mara, was obviously based on flawed information that La Mara had received from Countess Constanze Cappy (La Mara 1920, 8). At the time of her death Minona von Stackelberg enjoyed an annual income of 1,470 gulden which consisted of two lifetime annuities: First, from Countess Bánffy Minona drew a lifetime annual pension of 1,050 gulden that the Countess had bequeathed to her friend Minona in her will dated 18 April 1865. 50 fl of this pension were regularly put into an account of the Klausenburger Sparkasse. Second, based on a right of lien on real estate in Transylvania that had belonged to her uncle Ladislaus von Teleki, Minona drew a second pension of 420 gulden per annum. This annuity, which had to be paid by Minona's cousin Max von Teleki, had been bequeathed by Ladislaus von Teleki in his will of 22 June 1872.
The value of Minona von Stackelberg's estate, which consisted of old furniture and clothing, was estimated at 1,550 gulden 30 neukreuzer. Because these assets were exceeded by the liabilities (consisting of medical expenses, arrears of rent, burial costs, and a loan from Blanca Deym), Minona's estate was settled with a loss of 311 fl 59 x that was covered by Blanca Deym. On 23 February 1897 Minona von Stackelberg was put to rest in the Bánffy crypt in the Zentralfriedhof. Her burial cost 373 fl 80 x. The dates given in the following protocol are dubious: "20./VII." for the reburial of the Bánffy couple is at odds with the information in the digital database, and "18./II. 97" for Minona's burial cannot be correct.
The crypt of the Bánffy de Losoncz couple and their companion Minona von Stackelberg in group 48A of the Zentralfriedhof still exists. The headstone is gone and all that remains of the crypt is its lid on the ground. The eerily anonymous state of this burial site seems to indicate that "Anonim" (the ananym of Minona's name) had to become reality at some point of time. The crypt left of the Bánffy/Stackelberg site belongs to the von Gapp family and is still in use (its status is "auf Friedhofsdauer"). The last person buried there was Peter Anton (von) Gapp in 2010.
Although the crypt's right of usage expired in 1986 (the last fee seems to have been paid in 1926), it is not in immediate danger of being vacated. It is located in a loosely occupied area of the cemetery where there will never be a shortage of space.
It should be an easy task to open this crypt, identify Minona's remains (they must be resting on top of the Bánffy couple's metal coffins), and take bone samples to conduct a DNA analysis. Bones of a human being that died 120 years ago only contain mitochondrial DNA. In this case, however, the DNA in Minona's remains cannot be Beethoven's, because the father's mitochondrial DNA never reaches the offspring's genome. Therefore the chances of identifying Minona's father are nil. Apart from the doubtful scientific meaningfulness of such an enterprise, if this research were performed with the appropriate seriousness and would result in a high-quality TV documentary, a huge financial profit – albeit of dubious moral merit – is waiting to be made here. But since this procedure will certainly not prove that Beethoven was Minona von Stackelberg's father – what will happen then?
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© Dr. Michael Lorenz 2017.
Updated: 10 June 2022
I express my gratitude to Anna Forster-Petrova, Lucia Schuger, David Buch, Catherine Sprague, Giuseppe Mariotti, Stefano Frega, Anne-Louise Luccarini, Wolfgang Oehmicke, Noemí Cabello, Janet Page, and Luk Vaes for their support during my research for this article.
Update (23 June 2022)
In the meantime I have learned that the right to use Minona von Stackelberg's grave was acquired by alleged relatives. This takeover was not, of course, realized for the purpose of a funeral, but for its opposite. It is planned to exhume Minona to prove a relationship with Beethoven (there is "skullduggery" afoot in the original sense of the word). For the plain genetic reasons mentioned above, it will never be possible to furnish this proof. The whole dubious enterprise does not serve Beethoven research, but has the sole purpose of making a lot of money with a corpse.