One special inventory within the biographical collections of the Wien Museum is that containing portraits, memorabilia and musical instruments that recall famous musicians or composers and their activities in Vienna. In combination with stage pictures and stage design sketches for opera performances as well as views of performance locations, they offer access to Viennese musical history since the 17th century with special relation to personalities.
One part of the collection is displayed in the eight musicians’ apartments of the Wien Museum in premises inhabited by important composers. The first to be founded were the Haydnhaus (1899) that was taken over by the City of Vienna in 1904 and Schubert’s Birth House (1912); the Haydnhaus also presents objects from Johannes Brahms’ estate in the “Brahms Room”. In 1941 Mozart’s apartment in the “Figarohaus” (“Figaro House”; today the “Mozart House Vienna”) and the Pasqualitihaus (Pasqualati House; Beethoven) were opened up to the public; the latter location houses – amongst other items – the famous portrait of Beethoven by Willibrord Josef Mähler (1804/05) as well as numerous objects from the “Beethoven-Sammlung in Heiligenstadt” (“Beethoven Collection in Heiligenstadt”), which was added to the museum in 1894. The commemorative rooms in the house in which Schubert died were opened in 1954, further museum rooms in two houses lived in by Beethoven in the city’s 19th district followed in 1970. Since 1978 Johann Strauss’ apartment in Praterstrasse is also open to the public as a museum. The portraits, furniture and memorabilia exhibited there belong to the most important stocks of the music collection; a significant part of them derives from the Strauss-Meyszner Collection that was restituted and then re-acquired by the City of Vienna.
Besides objects which evoke important composers (including Joseph Lanner, Franz von Suppé, Anton Bruckner, Josef Strauss, Gustav Mahler, Hugo Wolf or Ernst Krenek), the Wien Museum also possesses numerous photos and personal items of famous folk singers (like Josef Matras, Josef Bratfisch, Edmund Guschelbauer or Louise Montag). Moreover, the museum owns a collection of musical instruments, including such notable pieces as a fortepiano of Joseph Haydn, a guitar that once belonged to Franz Schubert, Josef Lanner’s so-called “giraffe’s piano”, musical instruments from Eduard Strauss’s orchestra, and a fortepiano of Gustav Mahler. In 2008 the Wien Museum – with the support of the Society of Friends of the Wien Museum – acquired the Bösendorfer grand piano that belonged to Johann Strauss the Younger. This has been restituted by the City of Vienna and is now back on display in the Strauss apartment.