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Once upon a time…

A place rich in history:

“I shall hear in heaven!“ (credited to Ludwig van Beethoven, 1827 at Schwarzspanierhof)

Vet Practice Schwarzspanierhof was founded more than 30 years ago at this location. In 2013 Usha Patel DVM took over the practice, renovated and augmented it and implemented the latest technical and medical standards. At Schwarzspanierhof modern practice management and quality assurance meet the historic character of a building from the fin de siècle and the charm of an Old-Viennese neighbourhood (see also: “How do we work?”).

Schwarzspanierstraße 15 – the vet practice is located in the central courtyard – is known as the “Schwarzspanierhof”, the “Schwarzspanier House” or “Beethoven´s Last Residence”. It is a listed block of buildings with courtyards that contains apartments, offices, shops, practices and other medical facilities. The Schwarzspanierhof is a Viennese landmark and a place of remarkable historical interest:

History of the Schwarzspanierhof

In the 17th century the Spanish Benedictine Congregation of Santa Maria de Montserrat built a monastery and garden in the “Alservorstadt” (inner part of today’s 8th and 9th district). Because of their black habit, the people in Vienna used to call the monks “schwarze Spanier (black Spaniards)”. Within the secularization in 1781 the former abbey, the so-called “Schwarzspanierhof,” was renovated into an apartment house. In those days one had a beautiful view over the “Glacis” onto the city wall and the “Inner City”. Soon after the cloister garden was parcelled and built up and Beethovengasse emerged. The spread out area of Schwarzspanierhouse changed several times ownwership and was finally acquired in 1845 by the monastery “Heiligenkreuz”. The original building (the “old” Schwarzspanierhof at Schwarzspanierstraße No. 15, formerly Alser Glacis No. 200) was replaced by the current one (“new” Schwarzspanierhof) in 1904 according to the plans of the architekt Gustav Flesch-Brunningen. However, some existing parts have been integrated and the area of the vet practice is dating from 1864.

In front of the building are stones of memory for 36 Jewish women and men who had lived here before their deportation by regime thugs during the times of National Socialism in Austria.

The former baroque church of the original monastery, the “Schwarzspanier Kirche” went through an eventfull history as well and accommodates today the “Albert Schweitzer House”. The street fassade of the building still exists in its original state.

Over the centuries, several well-known personalities have lived and worked in Schwarzspanierhof. Visitors can see two of them above the front portal: Nikolaus Lenau on the left and Ludwig van Beethoven on the right.

Ludwig van Beethoven

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 – 1827) spent – sick of liver cirrhosis and completely deaf – his final years here and passed away in his appartment on the second floor on the 26th of March, 1827. More than twenty thousand people – among them many celebrities – gathered in the park in front of “Schwarzspanierhof” to accompany the funeral procession to Trinity Church in Alserstraße and finally to the local cemetery in Währing. Schools remained closed in Vienna that day. The corps of Beethoven was exhumed twice later on and found his final resting place in a grave of honor at Vienna´s Zentralfriedhof. Beethoven is deemed to be the achiever of the Viennese Classicism and most important precurser of the Romanticism. An instrumental version of the main theme “Ode to Joy” from his ninth symphony’s last movement has become the anthem of the European Union and the Council of Europe respectively. Shortly before his death Beethoven was working an a tenth sinfony which remained incomplete. Such significant works as the String Quartet in B Flat Major Op. 130 and C Sharp Minor Op. 131, as well as “Beethoven´s last musical thought” came to life in the years between 1825 and 1827 at Schwarzspanierhof. Several famous last sentences of Beethoven are remembered: “Plaudite, amici, comedia finita est! (Friends applaud, the comedy is over!),” and “Schade, schade zu spät! (What a pity, too late!)” with respect to his last delivery of wines and also the citation from the very beginning of this page.

Nikolaus Lenau

Shortly after Beethoven’s death another famous name, Nikolaus Lenau, the nom de plume of Nikolaus Franz Niembsch Edler von Strehlenau (1802 – 1850), a German-language Austrian poet from Banat lived in the Schwarzspanier-House for several years. He stayed here intermittently at his sister´s and brother in law´s place from 1830 until 1835, interrupted by visits to Germany and a ten-month trip to the United States. He lead an vagrant life until his breakdown in 1844 and eventually spent his remaining years mentally deranged in an insane asylum in Oberdöbling near Vienna. Lenau is the most important lyric Poet of Austria in the 19th century, a typical exponent of the “Weltschmerz” in German literature and a prominent representative of the so called Biedermeier (Schilflieder). Many of his lays have been set to music, a. o. by Robert Schumann, Franz Liszt, Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy and Richard Strauss.

Johann Conrad Blank

A few decades before Beethoven and Lenau Johann Conrad Blank (1757 – 1827) partly worked in Schwarzspanierhof. The theologian and scholar gained great recognition as a mathematician in Austria and beyond. He had come from Vorarlberg to study philosophy and divinity in Vienna and was accepted within the Benedictines in Schwarzspanier House where he ordinated to priesthood in 1782. After the closing of the friary Blank worked as “Hofmeister” (tutor) and adressed himself mainly towards mathematical studies. He was appointed professor for mathematics at Theresianum and member of the academic council. Blank published several major educational handbooks and a table of logarithms. His violent death (just a few weeks before Beethoven´s passing) and the criminal proceedings which finally led to the public execution of the robber and murderer Severin of Jaroszinsky attracted much attention in Vienna at the time.

Otto Weininger

Finally it should be mentioned that the controversial jewish-protestant author and philosopher Otto Weininger (1880 – 1903) quite demonstratively chose Schwarzspanierhof as site for his suicide at only 23-years of age. His debatable main work “Geschlecht und Charakter / Sex and Character” became a cult book and bestseller soon after. On his headstone in the protestant graveyard of Matzleinsdorf one can read: „Dieser Stein schließt die Ruhestätte eines Jünglings, dessen Geist hiernieden nimmer Ruhe fand … Er suchte den Todesbezirk eines Allergrössten im Wiener Schwarzspanierhause und vernichtete dort seine Leiblichkeit. (This stone closes the last home of a youngling whose spirit never found peace on earth … He was seeking the area of death of an alltime great in Vienna´s Schwarzspanier House and destroyed his corporality there.)”

(without any claim to comprehensiveness)
– Bezirksmuseum Alsergrund
– Felix Czeike, Historisches Lexikon Wien, Verlag Kremayr & Scheriau, Wien 1992–200
– Wolfgang Wirsig, Sammlung der Wiener Hofnamen. Herkunft der Bezeichnung, frühere Bezeichnungen, Geschichte und Architektur, Baujahr, Bauherren, Architekten und Baumeister.
– Wien 2015 (Manuskript im Wiener Stadt- und Landesarchiv).
– Wiener Geschichtsbücher Band 2; Das Schwarzspanierhaus; Peter Pötschner; Paul Zsolnay Verlag, 1970.
– Der Schwarzspanierhof, Diplomarbeit Universität Wien, Kar A. Ernst; 2012.
– Thayer, Alexander Wheelock; Krehbiel, Henry Edward; Deiters, Hermann; Riemann, Hugo (1921).
– The life of Ludwig van Beethoven, volume 3 (2nd ed.). The Beethoven Association. OCLC 422583.
– Carl Gibson. Lenau. Leben – Werk – Wirkung. (= Beiträge zur Literaturgeschichte. Band 100). Universitätsverlag, Heidelberg 1989.
– Vorarlberg, aus den Papieren… (Franz Joseph Weizenegger, T. Merkle; Verlag Wagnersche Buchhandlung, IBK 1839).
– (Gerlnde Faustmann, Wien 2008).
– Emil Lucka: Otto Weininger. Sein Werk und seine Persönlichkeit. 6. Aufl. Schuster & Löffler, Wien 1921.
– Traum und Wirklichkeit Wien 1870 – 1930. 93. Sonderausstellung des Historischen Museums der Stadt Wien, Karlsplatz im Künstlerhaus 28. März bis 6. Oktober 1985, Broschüre der Stadt Wien 1985 (Herausgeber).
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