Sep 6, 2015

A Godson of Frédéric Chopin

Although Chopin's second stay in Vienna lasted more than ten times longer than his first one in 1829, it is marginally dealt with in the literature. Chopin made the acquaintance of many Viennese fellow musicians, but was obviously so distracted by the events in his homeland and his unrequited love for Konstancja Gładkowska that he became stuck in a kind of lethargy and for a surprisingly long time appeared as a pianist only in private circles. Eventually, he gave one public concert and left Vienna in July 1831. Our knowledge concerning Chopin's second sojourn in Vienna is reduced by the fragmentary source material: from a period of eight months only twelve of Chopin's letters, two album entries (and one lost letter, summarized by Maurycy Karasowski) survive. And this is not the only problem. The fact that there is still no correct and fully reliable English translation of Chopin's early Polish letters and all kinds of strange errors are being dragged along in the literature, casts a revealing light on the current state of Chopin research. Many Mozart scholars could feel very much at home in this kind of situation.

Chopin in 1831. Unknown artist, mixed technique: coloured pencils, pastel, opaque paints, 365 x 295mm. Muzeum Fryderyka Chopina, Warsaw (M/1457).

In this article, which can only be a first step towards future research, I will not present a detailed account of the eight months that Chopin spent in Vienna in 1830/31. This task should be done by much better qualified Chopin scholars whose job it is to do this kind of work. I am going to deal with the previously unknown fact that in March 1831 Chopin officiated as godfather, I will present a number of unknown sources related to this event and I will address a few unresolved issues that still exist in connection with Chopin's second stay in Vienna.

Chopin's Residence: The House Stadt 1151

On 23 November 1830 at 9 a.m. Chopin and his friend Tytus Woyciechowski arrived in Vienna. First they took accomodation in the hotel "Zur Stadt London" at Stadt 684, then they moved to the "Goldenes Lamm" at Leopoldstadt 581. Together with the hotels "Zur Stadt Frankfurt" and "Zum Wilden Mann", these quarters were the most expensive hotels in Vienna.

The hotel "Stadt London", Stadt 684 on the Fleischmarkt. On its left is the old university library building.

The hotel "Zum Goldenen Lamm" in the Leopoldstadt. Lithography by Franz Josef Sandmann after Rudolf von Alt (A-Wn, 197.898 - B)

Before the end of November Chopin and Woyciechowski rented three rooms on the third floor of the house "Zum Englischen Gruß", Stadt 1151 ("The Angelic Salutation", today Kohlmarkt 9) from the apartment's main tenant Auguste von Lachmanovich, a Berlin-born widow, who for a long time had lived in Poland and had a polish sister-in-law. This tenancy may have been arranged with the help of Lachmanovich herself, her tenant Dr. Konrad Stube, a lawyer from Warsaw, or Dominik Artaria who owned the biggest share of the house. In a letter to his family of 1 December 1830 Chopin describes his successful search for a long-term residence:
We have rented three rooms at the Kohlmarkt, in the main street. It's true they are on the third floor but they are beautifully, most handsomely and elegantly furnished, and the monthly rent is quite low. My share costs me 25 florins. They are occupied at the moment by a kind of general-admiral, an Englishman, but he is moving out today or tomorrow. If he is an admiral I shall attract all the admiration so the house will lose nothing by the change. (Don't read out this letter to everybody or they will think I am becoming conceited!) Moreover the housekeeper, or rather the landlady of the apartment, is something of a baroness, a pretty widow, quite young, who, as she told us, had lived in Poland and had already heard about me in Warsaw. She knows the Skarzynskis and used to frequent high society; she asked Tytus whether he knows that pretty Mme Rembielinska and so on. Such a noble lady is worth 25 florins, if not more; besides she loves Poles, has no use for Austrians, is a Prussian and a very sensible woman. [...] We moved from the "Stadt London", where the food was extraordinarily salty, to the "Golden Lamb" in the Leopoldstadt and we shall hang on here in the meantime until that bewhiskered, lank, dried-up, green-purple-yellow-faced Englishman clears out from the baroness's place. In that "lavishly appointed" apartment, the expression comes from Tytus, who is resolved to make a smart fellow out of me, I shall at length be able to play and think of giving a concert, but not without a fee. Well, we shall see. 
After Woyciechowski's sudden departure Chopin did not stay on the third floor of Stadt 1151 for long. Because it saved him a lot of money, he let some English people rent his rooms and moved to the fourth floor where he also felt very comfortable. On 22 December 1830 he writes to his family:
I must tell you that I am now living on the fourth floor. Some English people heard from my predecessor [i.e. the admiral] about my beautiful apartment and wanted to rent one room. But when they arrived they used the pretext of looking over one to inspect all three, and they liked them so much that they offered me on the spot 80 florins if I would let them take over the rooms, which I was only too delighted to do. Baroness Lachmanowicz, my good and kind landlady, who is Mme Uszakow's sister-in-law, had a suite of rooms just like mine on the fourth floor: I was shown them, I took them, and now I am lodged as well for 10 florins a month as I was for 70. Of course you think your poor boy is living under the attic. Not at all there's still a fifth floor above me before you come to the roof, and I am a clear 60 florins in the pocket by the deal. People still come to see me and even His Excellency Count Hussarzewski has to climb up all my stairs. But the street is marvellous, right in the centre of the town, close to everything. When I go downstairs I have the most lovely walks Artaria's music-shop to my left, Mechetti's and Haslinger's to my right, behind me the theatre. What more can one want? [...] How comfortable I am in this room! Facing me are housetops, down below pygmies. I am right above them.
In a letter to Jan Matuszyński of 26 December 1830 Chopin describes his apartment on the fourth floor of Stadt 1151 and his daily life in these quarters:
Never mind, allow me to use what is left of the paper to describe my life here. I am lodged on the fourth floor in what is really the most beautiful street, so high up that I must lean right out of the window to see what's going on down below. Young Hummel has drawn a picture of my room (you will see it in my new album when I return to the bosom of my family), it is large, neat, with three windows. My bed is placed opposite the windows; on the right is my marvellous piano and to the left a sofa. There are mirrors between the windows and in the centre a fine, large, mahogany round table; polished parquet floor. It's quiet. The gentleman is not at home to visitors after dinner and so I can fly towards you all in my thoughts. In the morning my unbearably stupid servant wakes me, I get up, my coffee is served, I sit down to play and often have to drink my coffee cold. Then at about nine my German-teacher comes; after the lesson I usually play and then Hummel draws my portrait and Nidecki practises my concerto at least that is what has happened lately.

The only existing photograph of Chopin's residence, Stadt 1151, taken in 1900 by August Stauda, shortly before the building's destruction (A-Wn, ST 469F). At the lower right is the pharmacy "Zum goldenen Hirschen" at Stadt 1152.

The earliest existing photograph of the Kohlmarkt, seen from the Graben towards the Michaelerplatz, taken in 1874 by Wilhelm Burger (A-Wn, WB 76B(C). Chopin's residence was the fifth house on the left.

The rough layout of the apartments on the third and fourth floor of Stadt 1151 is documented in the 1788 Steuerfassion (municipal tax register). Chopin's first abode on the third floor consisted of six rooms, three chambers, a kitchen, an attic, a storage space for wood and a cellar.

The apartment on the third floor of Stadt 1151 in the 1788 tax register (A-Wsa, Steueramt B34/4, fol. 227). The tenant in 1788 was the merchant Aaron Leiderstorfer.

On the fourth floor there were two smaller apartments which of course were also cheaper. One consisted of four rooms, two chambers, a kitchen, attic, storage room and cellar and the other had one room, one chamber, an antechamber, attic, storage room and a cellar. The same layout applied to the fifth floor whose existence right under the roof (in accordance with Chopin's description) is documented by this source.

The layout of the apartments on the fourth floor of Stadt 1151 (A-Wsa, Steueramt B34/4, fol. 228). The tenant of the bigger apartment in 1788 was the salesman Joseph Ruckhart.

In the conscription records of Stadt 1151, which were drawn up in late 1830 by the municipal conscription officer, Chopin's name appears twice. The first document, the Fremden-Tabelle (table of foreigners) was (according to Franz Zagiba) "found by coincidence" and in October 1949 was on display at the Chopin exhibition at Vienna's Agathon gallery. It was published in 1951 under the misnomer "Meldezettel" in Zagiba's book Chopin und Wien. On this sheet Chopin is listed as "Friedrich Schopine [born] 810 Partikulier Warschau Pohlen", together with his fellow countryman Konrad Stube ("801 Dor Rechte Warschau Pohlen"), Chopin's landlady Auguste von Lachmanovich ("797 Gutsbesitzer Wittwe Berlin Preußen"), her son Paul ("820 Berlin") and the servant Karl Stelly ("812 Bedienter Wetzdorf NOe"). Stelly, born on 30 April 1811 in Schloss Wetzdorf (Pfarre Großwetzdorf, Tom. 1, fol. 61), was probably the servant who made Chopin's breakfast coffee and whom in a letter Chopin refers to as "unbearably stupid". It is interesting to note that, although Chopin lived above Baroness Lachmanovich, she is registered in apartment five and Chopin in apartment four.

Chopin and his housemates on the 1830 Fremden-Tabelle of Stadt 1151 (A-Wsa, Hauptarchiv, Pers. C5). The mark on the upper right shows that some people always have a ballpen ready.

The second appearance of Chopin's name in the records of Stadt 1151 has so far remained unknown. This could  have been caused by the note "Chopin, Frederic, Komponist", written on the document with a ballpen by Gustav Gugitz, who obviously thought that without his note posterity would not recognize Chopin's name. In 1949 this may have caused the archivist in charge Hanns Jäger-Sunstenau (although he himself blemished many documents) to withhold this sheet from the exhibition. On this document the composer is given as "Fried. Schopine fremd". The crossing out of his name means that he moved out and the note "leer" (empty) refers to a later state of the apartment.

Chopin's name on an 1830 conscription sheet of the house Stadt 1151, preceded by Gustav Gugitz's "explanatory" annotation (A-Wsa, Konskriptionsamt, Stadt 1151/11r). Gugitz, who was not an employee of the City archive, left hundreds of ballpen entries in archival documents, a phenomenon that will be dealt with in a future blogpost.

Chopin's landlady Baroness Lachmanovich appears two more times in the conscription records of Stadt 1151. First, together with Auguste Steinhart, her lady companion from Kassel, in a regular sheet where – like Chopin – she is described as "fremd" (which means that she is listed again in the table of foreigners).

Auguste Steinhart and Auguste von Lachmanovich on a conscription sheet from 1830 (A-Wsa, Konskriptionsamt, Stadt 1151/12r)

Second, Lachmanovich is still registered as living at Stadt 1151 in a Fremden-Tabelle from 1834.

Auguste von Lachmanovich in a list of foreigners from 1834 (A-Wsa, Konskriptionsamt, Stadt 1151/23r)

In 1900 the house Stadt 1151 was torn down and replaced with the so-called "Artaria-Haus", an Art Nouveau building, designed by Max Fabiani. On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Chopin's death the Austrian Chopin Society, headed by Franz Zagiba, planned to establish a small Chopin museum in the "Artaria-Haus", but no rooms were available in the building to realize this project. Therefore the society commissioned a memorial plaque (inspired by Chopin's profile portrait of 1830) which was unveiled on 17 October 1950.

The Chopin memorial (presumably a work by Robert Ullmann) on a front pillar of the house Kohlmarkt 9

Polish Friends

Apart from Viennese musicians and Johann Baptist Malfatti (who spoke Polish fluently) during the time of his second stay in Vienna Chopin mostly socialized with Poles. Constanze Beyer was Polish, Madame Elkan had been born Eleonora Milkuschitz von Milieski in Kraków and Rozalia Aleksandra Rzewuska was a daughter of Princess Rozalia Lubomirska and on 17 August 1805 – at the age of sixteen – had married Count Wacław Seweryn Rzewuski.

Countess Rozalia Aleksandra Rzewuska. Drawing by Thomas Lawrence (GB-Lbm 1900,0717.5)

Countess Rzewuska, at whose home (as Chopin puts it) "the whole world sometimes meets" and where the composer also made the acquaintance of Catherina Cibbini-Kozeluch, lived on the Wieden, "next door to Hussarzewski", who lived at Wieden 308 (Favoritenstraße 20). After his marriage to Countess Helena Sierakowska, the I. & R. chamberlain Count Adolph Hussarzewski (1790-1855) would buy this house from Joseph Blöchlinger in 1835.

The families of Joseph Blöchlinger (Karl van Beethoven's teacher) and Adolf von Husarzwewski on a conscription sheet of Wieden 308 (A-Wsa, Konskriptionsamt, Wieden 308/46r)

That Chopin made regular excursions to the suburb of Wieden has previously not been noticed by Chopin scholars. Another fellow countryman, with whom Chopin had regular contact, was his former classmate, the composer Tomasz Napoleon Nidecki, who in December 1830 visited Chopin every day to practice Chopin's concerto. At that time Nidecki lived not far away from Chopin, at Stadt 571 (Graben 22), where he obviously had not enough space for a piano.

Tomasz Napoleon Nidecki ("Thomas Nidetzky 807 Tonkünstler Warschau Pohlen m.[it] Auf.[enthalts] Karte") on a list of foreigners at Stadt 571 (A-Wsa, Konskriptionsamt, Stadt 571/27r). At the time Nidecki worked at the Theater in der Leopoldstadt he lived at Leopoldstadt 261 (today Tandelmarktgasse 8).

In spring of 1831, with the help of his fellow countryman Peter Anton Steinkeller, Nidecki was able to secure a commission from the Leopoldstädter Theater. In 1833 he was appointed musical director of the theater, a post he also owed to his Polish origin.

The Baptism of Peter Alexander Steinkeller

The name Steinkeller, a person with whom Chopin interacted socially in Vienna, is rarely ever being commented in the standard Chopin literature. During the time of his second stay in Vienna this name appears four times in Chopin's letters:
  1. 26 December 1830 (to Jan Matuszyński): "Next morning I was awakened by an invitation to dinner at Mme Elkan's, the Polish wife of a banker. I got up, played a little in a gloomy mood. Then Nidecki came with Leidenfrost and Steinkeller and when we separated I went off to dine with Malfatti."
  2. 1 January 1831 (to Matuszyński): "I'm going to lunch [to] Malfatti. Tomorrow I am at Steinkeller's."
  3. 29 January 1831 (to Josef Elsner): "Just as today every barrel organ can play Strauss, maybe in a few months Nidecki will also be played; but in another sense. I was with him yesterday at Steinkeller, who has given him an opera to write. He counts a lot on it; Schuster that famous comedian, will perform in it, and Nidecki can make a name for himself."
  4. 20 July 1831 (according to Karasowski's summary of a lost letter) "Chopin tells his parents that he is leaving with Kumelski en route for Munich via Linz and Salzburg. He is in good health, and Steinkeller has supplied him with money."
It is important to note that the first two appearances of the name Steinkeller could refer to two different persons: the Polish banker and industrial magnate Peter Anton Steinkeller and his younger brother Rudolph, who at that time was the owner of the Leopoldstädter Theater. The third and the fourth quotes definitely refer to Peter Steinkeller, because owing to his bankruptcy Rudolph had fled from Vienna on 17 January 1831 (see below) and Peter was busy clearing up his brother's economic mess at the Leopoldstädter Theater. Both Steinkeller brothers were very well-acquainted with the city of Vienna, because in their youth they had both spent time there, attending the k.k. Polytechnisches Institut. The opera that Peter Steinkeller "had given Nidecki to write", was Die Kathi von Hollabrunn, Meisl's parody of Kleist's famous play, that was to premiere with mixed success on 11 March 1831. Rudolph Steinkeller had originally planned to have Johann Strauss write the music for this play, but not only did Strauss not need the money, he obviously was also clever enough not to get engaged with a theater of dwindling artistic reputation. Chopin seems to have known Peter Steinkeller from Warsaw, because Steinkeller's father-in-law was the Warsaw merchant Jan Anthonin who had been one of the organizers of Chopin's concert on 24 February 1818 at the Radziwiłł Palace. Peter Steinkeller and his family are documented to have arrived in Vienna from Warsaw on 14 June 1830. Steinkeller moved into an apartment at Leopoldstadt 510, because this house was located right beside his brother's residence, the Leopoldstädter Theater.

The note concerning the arrival of Peter Steinkeller in the Wiener Zeitung on 16 June 1830 (p. 674)

The next announcement of Peter Steinkeller's arrival in Vienna on 7 December 1830 ("Herr Steinkeller mit Familie von Rom") suggests that he and his family had spent some time in Rome, maybe returned to Warsaw and then went to Vienna again to evade the November Uprising. Other notable tenants of Leopoldstadt 510 at that time included the playwright Adolph Bäuerle , the ballet dancer Pauline Hasenhut (see below), the composer Johann Horzalka and the luthier Johann Georg Stauffer. Johann Nestroy was to reside in this building only 26 years later when he was director of the Carltheater.

The house Leopoldstadt 510, "Zum guten Hirten" (also "Zum großen Tiger"), ("The Good Sheperd", today Weintraubengasse 1) in 1902 (A-Wn, ST 879F). This house was built in 1812 and torn down after 1966. Visible on the far left of this photograph is the clock that stood in front of the Carltheater.

The same view today: the houses 510 and 509 are gone and have been replaced by the "Therese-Krones-Park" which is not a park, but a couple of shrubs hiding the access to an underground garage.

The house No. 510, "Zum guten Hirten", was situated to the right of the Leopoldstäder Theater, opposite the house Leopoldstadt 503, "Zur Weintraube", where in 1830 Ferdinand Raimund and Therese Krones lived. Krones died at Leopoldstadt 503 on 28 December 1830.

The old Leopoldstädter Theater. Postcard by Michael Frankenstein, misnamed "Carl-Theater" (A-Wn, PK 3275, 28). The house "Zur Weintraube" is on the right. This postcard is based on Paul Cohn's 1820 engraving.

In 1847 the old theater was replaced with the Carltheater and after the demolition of the Carltheater in 1951 the silhouette of the old theater building became visible again on the wall of the house Leopoldstadt 510.

A view from the Praterstraße into the Weintraubengasse in 1960. Visible on the left, on the house No. 510, is the silhouette of the old Leopoldstädter Theater (A-Wn, 177.674A(B)). The building on the right is the so-called "Alliiertenhof" which in 1897 replaced the house "Zur Weintraube".

Peter Steinkeller's name appears twice in the conscription records of Leopoldstadt 510. First, (like in Chopin's case) on a regular sheet as "Peter Steinkeler 799 Bancier in Warschau" with the reference "Fb" (Fremdenbogen).

Peter Steinkeller on a conscription sheet of Leopoldstadt 510 (A-Wsa, Konskriptionsamt, Leopoldstadt 510/22r)

Second, in the list of foreigners, together with his wife, three children and two maidservants: "[Haus] 510 [Wohnpartey] 7 Peter Steinkellner 799 Bancier in Warschau Eh[gattin] Angelika 803 Sohn Peter 825 [Sohn] Alexander 831 Tochter Pauline 827 [Wohnpartey] Anna Elsner 798 M[a]gd Königgrätz Elis:[abeth] Umogd [Aumayr] v. Enns OÖ".

Peter Steinkeller and his family in an 1831 list of foreigners at Leopoldstadt 510 (A-Wsa, Konskriptionsamt, Leopoldstadt 510/54v)

On Friday, 4 March 1831, in the house Leopoldstadt 510 Anielą Steinkeller gave birth to a son who on 7 March 1831 was baptized "Peter Alexander" at the nearby Church of St. John of Nepomuk. The waiting time of three days was probably caused by the fact that on the Sunday following the birth the intended godparent Frédéric Chopin was scheduled to give a concert at the Redoutensaal and did not have time to go to the Leopoldstadt before that event. The Sunday concert was eventually postponed (see below) and on the following Monday the christening could take place with the parish priest Joseph Gorbach officiating.

The entry concerning the baptism of Peter Alexander Steinkeller on 7 March 1831 (Pfarre St. Johann Nepomuk, Tom. 5, fol. 64)

Namen des Taufenden. Joseph Gorbachmp Pfarrer.
Jahr, Monath, Tag. geboren den 4t[en], getaufet den 7t[en] März 831.
Wohnung und Nro. des Hauses. Leopoldstadt, Nro 510.
Nahmen des Getauften. Petrus, Alexander.
Religion. Katholisch. 1.
Geschlecht. Ehelich. Männlich. 1.
Vaters Nahme und Condition oder Charakter. H.[err] Peter Steinkeller / Banquier zu Warschau / im Königreich Pohlen, des / H.[errn] Peter Steinkeller / Kaufmanns alldort, und / seiner Frau Gemahlin / Josepha geborn[en] Trey / Sohn.
Mutters Tauf= und Zunahmen. Angelika Anthonin /des H.[errn] Johan Antho- / nin ein[es] Kaufmanns in / Warschau, und seiner / Frau Gemahlin / Alexandra gebor- / nen Charlemont / Tochter
Pathen. Anna Bittmann / Tochter des Herr[n] / Alois Bittmann / fürstl.[icher] Hausoffizier / Stadt No 251, und / Fréderic Chopin / aus Warschau. / Stadt 1151 Privatier / alldort, wohnhaft derma- / len in Wien, in der / Stadt Nro 1151.
Anmerkungen. Hebamme: Anna Cacheè / wohnhaft Leopoldstadt Nro 510. / Copulirt nach Angabe, in Warschau, den 25ten Jäner 824.
Chopin's signature in the godparents rubric is autograph. Because he only wrote down his address, but not his profession, the priest crossed out the address and added the words "Privatier alldort, wohnhaft dermalen in Wien, in der Stadt Nro 1151" ("a man of private means, living there [in Warsaw], currently living in Vienna at Stadt No. 1151").

The names of the godparents in the above entry with Chopin's autograph signature

The church where this baptism took place was the old church of St. Johann Nepomuk that had been built in 1780 by Franz Duschinger and was situated at what today is Praterstraße 41, about 330 ft closer to the theater than today's church. In 1841 the old church was replaced with a new one by Carl Roesner in the style of early historicism.

The old church of St. Johann Nepomuk in the Leopoldstadt. Watercolor after an older drawing by Johann Wilhelm Frey

A view of the Jägerzeile (today's Praterstraße), showing the Leopoldstädter Theater, the house "Zur Weintraube" and the old church of St. Johann Nepomuk. Oil painting by Franz Scheyerer, around 1825 (Wienmuseum)

The same area of the Jägerzeile (at today's Nestroyplatz) after the flood of 1 March 1830. Illustration from Franz Sartori's book Wien's Tage der Gefahr und die Retter aus der Noth (Vienna 1830).

I have not been able to figure out the date of death of Chopin's godson Alexander Steinkeller. Several notes in the Kurjer Warszawski (for instance on 19 May 1859, p. 751) prove that he was still alive in 1858.

Peter Anton Steinkeller

Given the fact that there are several excellent articles by Polish historians concerning the biography of Peter Anton Steinkeller, a detailed account of this man's life and his many merits is outside the scope of this blogpost.

Piotr Antoni Steinkeller. Portrait from Henryk Radziszewski's and Jan Kinderski's book Piotr Steinkeller. Dwie Monografie (Warsaw 1905)

Peter Anton Steinkeller was born on 15 February 1799 in Kraków, son of the Kraków businessman Piotr Steinkeller and Josephine, née Trey. His ancestors originally hailed from Pomerania, from where during the Reformation they had emigrated to Austria and moved to Kraków in the eighteenth century. After an internship in his father's business Steinkeller continued his education in the field of commerce and banking in Vienna. After his father's death in 1813 he became the principal heir of the Steinkeller company. On 25 January 1824 in Warsaw he married Anielą Elżbieta Anthonin (1806-1834), the daughter of Jan Anthonin, one of the richest merchants in Warsaw. From the beginning of his business career Steinkeller showed extraordinaary verve and entrepreneurial acumen. With Karol Scholtze, a producer of soap and stearin, he ran the trading firm Peter Steinkeller & Cie which became on of the largest companies in Poland. Together with Konstanty Wolicki he leased the salt trade in Galicia and in 1822 he bought a zinc mine in Jaworzno and erected another one near Będzin. In the 1830s he bought the estate Żarki which he turned into a modern agricultural plant. Among other things he ended socage, introduced the use of artificial fertilizers and built sugar and machine factories which supplied the nearby industrial areas. Steinkeller bought zinc from the City of Kraków and soon dominated the Russian zinc market. He built zinc rolling mills in Paris and London, thus becoming the main supplier of zinc on the European market. Between 1836 and 1852 he leased the production of Poland's zinc mines and foundries, but did not succeed in establsihing an international zinc consortium. Beginning in 1837 he erected various industrial plants in Solec, including a factory for carriages (which was managed by his brother Rudolph) and a tile and stove factory. Steinkeller's innovative visions also were a profound impetus for Poland's mail and passenger transport. The coaches from the Steinkeller factory ran between Warsaw and Kraków, a service that was later expanded to other routes. From 1845 on he supplied the mail service with carriages that were still in use at the turn of the century. In 1838 Steinkeller was among the founders and major shareholders of the "Warsaw-Vienna Rail Road Company Ltd" (Towarzystwo Akcyjne Drogi Żelaznej Warszawsko-Wiedeńskiej), fervently advocating the use of modern steam engines instead of the initial plan to use horse traction. Owing to lack of private funding this enterprise went bankrupt and was eventually taken over by the state. Due to technical problems, not all of Steinkeller's business initiatives were successful. Not even the experts he brought in from abroad could solve the problem of dewatering of the lead mines in Olkusz, or keep the production of agricultural machinery running. In the late 1840s Steinkeller's financial situation declined. Rising debt with the Bank of Poland and a fire that destroyed a factory complex in Solec in 1852 forced Steinkeller to declare bankruptcy. All his assets were taken over by the Bank of Poland and he returned to Kraków where in Podgórze he still owned a brick factory. On 11 February 1854 he died of a heart attack. Steinkeller was married twice: first to Anielą Anthonin (the mother of Chopin's godson Alexander) with whom he had five children; and second, to Marią Lemańska whom he married on 15 September 1835 in Kłobuck. Peter Anton Steinkeller is considered one of Poland's most important industrial pioneers whose ideas and visions were far ahead of his time.

The main objective of Peter Steinkeller's stay in Vienna in 1830 and 1831, was to extract his incompetent brother Rudolph from his troubles as bankrupt owner of the Leopoldstädter Theater, to buy the theater and to sell it again with the least possible loss. Eventually, the difference between the buying and selling prices amounted to about 45,000 gulden. When Chopin left Vienna in July 1831, Peter Steinkeller generously provided him with money for the journey.

Rudolph Steinkeller

Rudolph Steinkeller's short career as theater owner in Vienna did not only take place in the immediate physical proximity of the legendary actor and playwright Ferdinand Raimund, it is also uncannily reminiscent of the fate of some protagonists in Raimund's magic plays. We owe a great deal of our knowledge about Rudolph Steinkeller's acquisition of the Leopoldstädter Theater to the fact that the theater historian Karl Glossy still had access to the files of the Polizeihofstelle that were to perish in the 1927 fire of the palace of justice. The lost files 1498, 2230, 2798, 3134, 3179 and 7082 from 1827 all covered the police investigations and reports concerning Steinkeller's early business activities in Vienna. According to the reports of the Vienna police, Rudolph Steinkeller "was born in 1805" in Kraków, fourth child of the merchant Peter Steinkeller who after his death in May 1813 left each of his five children a patrimony of 15,000 gulden CM. In 1825 each of the Steinkeller children (Peter, Caroline, Anton, Rudolph and Joseph) inherited another share of 55,000 gulden from their mother. Between 1816 and 1820 Rudolph Steinkeller attended the Latin school in Kraków and because in 1820 he had taken part in the students' turmoil at the house of the police indentant Kostecki and feared to be expelled, he left school and practiced commerce in his mother's wholesale firm. In 1824, together with his mother, he moved to Vienna where he successfully attended classes at the department of commerce of the Polytechnisches Institut. He then traded bills of exchange together with his eldest brother and also leased a mill stone pit. The police chief of Podgórze could report nothing unfavorable concerning Steinkeller's political views, but stated that Steinkeller "had always revealed himself as a man full of arrogance with an unbearable, impetuous and selfish character".

Josepha Steinkeller ("771 Großhändlerswittwe von Krakau") and her daughter Carolina, registered as foreigners in the house Stadt 3 in 1826 (A-Wsa, Konskriptionsamt, Stadt 3/12r).

On the occasion of a stay in Vienna in 1826, when Rudolph Steinkeller requested to establish a business there, he was offered to buy the two theater buildings in the Leopoldstadt, No. 511 (the theater), and No. 508 (the so-called "Stadel" which housed a workshop and storage room for scenery and costumes). The proposed purchase price of 185,000 gulden was (not surprsingly) vastly inflated. On 3 November 1826 he returned to Kraków, discussed the deal with his brother Peter, realized the assets and, after his return to Vienna on 3 January 1827, signed the purchase contract salva ratificatione (under the condition of approval). Because he could identify himself as being of age (which proves that he must have been born at least in 1802) and presented affidavits from Viennese banks that he was a well-known and well-accredited gentleman, on 30 January 1827 the draft of the contract was affirmed by the Landrechte under the condition that he had to present the political consent. The Vienna police administration certified that, as far as political or moral issues were concerned, nothing unfavorable could be found against Steinkeller. He was described as living quietly, seclusively and economically. For his apartment at Leopoldstadt 402 (today Prater Straße 61) he paid an annual rent of 400 gulden, usually had lunch at the inn "Zum Füchsel", never attended any social gatherings and in the evening regularly visited the theater.

Rudolph Steinkeller on a list of "Elternlose Ledige" (parentless bachelors), living at Leopoldstadt 402 in 1827 (A-Wsa, Konskriptionsamt, Leopoldstadt 402/15r). Steinkeller's name is accompanied by the note "seit 826" ("in Vienna since 1826").

The police administration admitted that Steinkeller lacked the education and experience to manage a theater, but since he would receive the actual privilege only in in January 1834 (after the end of Leopold Huber's lease), he would have enough time to learn the trade and until then he could leave the administrative tasks to a person qualified enough to meet the demands of the authorities. On 21 August 1827 the Court Chancellery bestowed the theater privilege to Steinkeller, but he was not allowed to exercise it before 1834. A copy of the purchase contract, whereby the Leopoldstädter Theater passed from Karl von Marinelli's bankrupt estate to Steinkeller, survives in one of the land registers of the Bürgerspital dominion. It is to be noted that at the time of the purchase Steinkeller pretended to be of noble birth and he never was able to meet one of the clauses in the contract, namely to present his predicate of nobility to the court of the Landrechte. The original of this important unpublished document (whose original German text can be downloaded here) bore the signature of Ferdinand Raimund, the poet who in 1844 was described by The Foreign Quarterly Review as "one of the most original and poetical figures that Germany ever possessed."

The first page of the copy of the purchase contract of the Leopoldstädter Theater and its "Stadel" between Karl von Marinelli's liquidator Dr. Karl Krziwanek and Rudolph Steinkeller, dated 31 August 1827 (A-Wsa, Patrimonialherrschaften, B106/26, fol. 212v)

The signatures on the aforesaid copy of the purchase contract. The signatories were: Karl and Franziska von Marinelli and Dr. Karl Krziwanek (as sellers), Joseph von Catharin and Ferdinand Raimund (as witnesses) and Rudolph Steinkeller (as buyer) (A-Wsa, Patrimonialherrschaften, B106/26, fol. 217v).

On 17 April 1828 Steinkeller presented Ferdinand Raimund as the theater's new principal and the newly apponted director expressed his gratitude in a short speech to his colleagues.

About five years of the history of the Leopoldstädter Theater on a conscription sheet of the theater building: "Rudolph von[sic] Steinkellner 805 Theater Inhaber" ("spektor" and the predicate of nobility crossed out); on the left, filed as owner: "Peter Steinkeller Inhaber des Theaters wohnt 510", followed by "Herr Karl Franz edler von Marinely" who, together with his family, is also listed as tenant and "Theater Privilegiums Inhaber v Leopoldstadt" (A-Wsa, Konskriptionsamt, Leopoldstadt 511/18r). Rudolph Steinkeller's Polish manservant Peter Gabrinecki appears on the theater building's list of foreigners (A-Wsa, Konskriptionsamt, Leopoldstadt 511/38r).

What now followed was the negligent destruction of the most successful ensemble that the Vienna Volkstheater had ever possessed. Rudolph Steinkeller turned out to be an ignorant bully, who, being obsessed with cutting costs, managed to lay off (or chase away) his theater's best and most beloved forces. Raimund's administration was mostly make-believe, because Steinkeller made his decisions arbitrarily and without consulting with anybody. He massively reduced salaries and benefices and laid off long-time popular members of the ensemble: Louise Haas, Johann Sartory, Anton and Ignaz Schuster, Elise Gärber, Katharina Ennöckl, Friedrich Joseph Korntheuer and Therese Krones all were dismissed. Steinkeller, whom Carl Ludwig Costenoble in his diary refers to as "a very unreasonable barbarian" and "more brute than human being", was known to always carry a whip and to appear among his employees in the company of two enormous dogs. As a result of Steinkeller's stupid actions and his chaotic administration, that the Viennese soon called "polnische Wirtschaft" ("Polish mess"), the theater's revenue plummeted. In July 1830 Ignaz Schuster resigned and in August 1830 Raimund also had enough and resigned from his post. The economic situation was worsened by Carl Carl's successful repertoire at the Theater an der Wien, the recession that followed the July Revolution and by the growing fear of another Cholera outbreak. On 17 January 1831 Rudolph Steinkeller fled from Vienna as bankrupt. On 22 June 1831 the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung described this escape as: "Der Eigenthümer hat sich in aller Stille entfernt" ("The owner has absented himself in secret") and the Viennese press circulated the following quip: "Which English town describes the owner of the Leopoldstädter Theater? Oxfort!" (i.e. "der Ochs ist fort", "the ox is gone").

Now Peter Steinkeller, the elder, more reasonable and more moneyed brother stepped in to clear up the chaos that his brother had left behind. The sources suggest that the brothers Steinkeller had coordinated their actions in advance and that Peter himself, after buying the theater on 15 January 1831, had advised Rudolph to quickly leave Vienna. On 21 January 1831 Peter Steinkeller received the official ownership of the theater and on 25 January he installed Franz von Marinelli as partner and new theater administrator. On 23 March 1831 Marinelli bought the theater with a loan from Baron Friedrich von Dietrich and Baron Karl von Schloißnigg. The following entries in the land registers of the Vienna Bürgerspital document Peter Steinkeller's activities in 1831 as short-time owner of the Leopoldstädter Theater:
  • The registration of the purchase contract between Rudolph and Peter Steinkeller, dated 15 January 1831 (A-Wsa, Patrimonialherrschaften, B106/27, Sätze, fol. 186v)
  • The "Einverleibung" (incorporation) of Rudolph Steinkeller's contract of 24 January 1831 to Peter Steinkeller (Ibid., fol. 187v)
  • The belated registration of Rudolph Steinkeller's ownership ("Gewähranschreibung") on 24 January 1831 which on the same day was registered as having been transferred to his brother Peter (A-Wsa, Patrimonialherrschaften, B106/27, Gewähren, fol. 81r-83r)
  • The registration of the sale of a third of the theater buildings to Franz von Marinelli (Ibid., fol. 188r)
  • A copy of seven paragraphs from the will of Peter Steinkeller's mother Josepha, dated 26 June 1825, documenting the distribution of Josepha Steinkeller's estate among her children (Ibid., fol. 214v-215v)
  • The registration of Karl von Marinelli's ownership according to the purchase contract with Peter Steinkeller of 23 March 1831 (A-Wsa, Patrimonialherrschaften, B106/29, fol. 8v-9r)
  • The "Einverleibung" of the above contract on 28 March 1831, cashed in on 21 January 1839 (A-Wsa, Patrimonialherrschaften, B106/27, Gewähren, fol.203r)
  • The registration of Marinelli's payment of 28,000 gulden to Peter Steinkeller in six installments between 23 September 1832 and 23 September 1834 (A-Wsa, Patrimonialherrschaften, B106/28, fol. 209v-210r)
The so-called "Dienstbücher" (registers of owners and real estate taxes) of the series B106 from between 1816 and 1868 were destroyed in 1927.

In February 1831 Peter Steinkeller rehired Johann Sartory as artistic director. One of the first things Peter Steinkeller did to raise the profit was to tender an award of 100 ducats for a new play. The legal aftermath of Rudolph Steinkeller's bankruptcy lasted for several years, as several of Rudolph Steinkeller's creditors tried to get their money back from his brother.

An in-depth look at Rudolph Steinkeller's way of running his theater: a list of promissory notes, issued by Steinkeller to the tailor Ignaz Zeillinger in a file pertaining to Zeillinger's lawsuit against the Steinkeller brothers (A-Wsa, Mag. ZG, A5, 1109/1831). Another lawsuit against Steinkeller is addressed here.

From the many files of the Vienna Civil Court, covering these lawsuits, only three survive from this court's series A5 (Faszikel 7): 1109/1831, 802/1831 and 1847/1831. By always being absent from Vienna at the right time, Peter Steinkeller managed to dodge most of the court's summonses and distress warrants.

A public summons ("Edikt") by the Vienna Magistrate, addressed to Peter Steinkeller, requesting his appearance at the Vienna Civil Court on 17 August 1832 at 10 a.m. (A-Wsa, Mag. ZG, A5, 1109/1831).

The Vienna police was still interested in Peter Steinkeller's activities as late as 1848. The only surviving file concerning Peter Steinkeller in the holdings of the Polizeihofstelle of the the Austrian State Archives is a report, dating from 7 March 1848, concerning Steinkeller's arrival in Vienna on 1 March of that year and his departure three days later, after having conferred with the merchant Hugo zu Salm-Reifferscheidt, "providing no occasion for any alarming perception" (AVA, PHST 3479/1848). Debts and mismanagement were not the only things that Rudolph Steinkeller left behind in Vienna. In 1829 two sisters were members of the Leopoldstadt ensemble: Therese Lenz ("the Elder") and Friederike Lenz ("the Younger"). Both of them were hired as "Pantomiminnen und Charaktere" which meant they mostly took part in pantomimes and ballets. In the 1830s Therese Lenz was to achieve some local fame as a dancer in "magic parodies", such as Karl Schadetzky's "Harlekins Geburt, oder das Zauberhorn". On 1 December 1829 Joseph Lenz, the father of the Lenz sisters, wrote the following letter to the Vienna Magistrate:
Honorable Magistrate!
My daughter Therese has been put into the unfortunate situation by the theater owner in the Leopoldstadt Mr. Rudolph Steinkeller, by whom she had been engaged, to have been impregnated in February of this year und she has given birth to a girl on November 14th of this year. Since my daughter is only 19 years of age and therefore a minor, the child is in her care in my house and because it needs a guardian in the interest of its future care, the undersigned requests that the honorable Magistrate may deign to assign the child's guardianship to him to be able to take care of the fate of this unfortunate creature according to his duty and conscience.
                                       Vienna, 1 December 1829
Joseph Lentzmp
                  I. & R. government official

Joseph Lenz's letter to the Vienna Magistrate concerning Rudolph Steinkeller's illegitimate daughter Leopoldine (A-Wsa, Mag. ZG, A3, 328/1829). Leopoldine Lenz's godmother was her aunt Friederike (Pfarre St. Johann Nepomuk, Tom. 4, fol. 141). To preclude misunderstandings: such a document cannot be found in some register under the name "Steinkeller". It can only be found by spending ten months going through about 350 boxes of the Vienna municipal court's orphan files.

For obvious reasons Rudolph Steinkeller never returned to Vienna. He settled in Kraków and later for some time managed his brother's carriage factory in Solec where the legendary Steinkellerka was produced. He died on 14 April 1862 in Kraków.

The signatures of the actress Katharina Ennöckl and Rudolph Steinkeller on a contract concerning the clearance of Ennöckl's apartment (A-Wst, H.I.N. 144.111)

The Other Godparent: Anna Bittmann

Why was Anna Bittmann, "daughter of a princely house officer", chosen as godmother of Alexander Steinkeller? Because her mother had been a sister of Steinkeller's mother Josepha, Anna Bittmann was Peter Steinkeller's cousin. That Polish historians such as Józef Wawel-Louis (and the Polish Wikipedia) give the maiden name of Peter Steinkeller's mother as "Josepha Frey", is obviously based on a mistranscription that is revealed by the information "seiner Frau Gemahlin Josepha geborn[en] Trey" in Alexander Steinkeller's baptismal entry. Not surprisingly, Anna Bittmann was deeply rooted in the Polish social environment that thrived in Biedermeier Vienna. Anna Bittmann was born on 26 November 1803, second child of Alois Bittmann and his wife Franziska, née Trey. Her place of birth was the house Alsergrund 106, "Zum goldenen Hirschen" (last number 125, today Alserstraße 33). Close to this building Prince Liechtenstein owned a palace (Alsergrund 98) and a large garden (Alsergrund 126). Anna's father Alois Bittmann hailed from Alt Rothwasser in Moravia (today Červená Voda) where he had been born around 1767. His marriage in 1801 under the authority of the "Feldsuperioriat" proves that at that time he was already a member of Johann I Joseph Prince of Liechtenstein's military unit where he worked as "Kucheltrager" (kitchen waiter). When in 1805 his principal became head of the family and moved to the Liechtenstein Palace in the Herrengasse (Stadt 252), Bittmann was promoted to the rank of "princely cook".

The entry concerning the baptism of Anna Bittmann on 26 November 1803 at the Alserkirche (Pfarre Alservorstadt, Tom. 6, fol. 269). The father is given as "Aloys Bittmann hersch[aftlicher] Kucheltrager bey T.[itulo] H[errn] Fürsten Johann von Liechtenstein".

Alois Bittmann's sons also joined the prince's staff: Jakob became a servant and Alois became a professional scribe and worked as actuary at the Liechtenstein estate of Eisgrub (Lednice). In 1830, on a conscription sheet of Stadt 252, Anna Bittmann is referred to as "in Dienst" (in service).

Alois Bittmann's family on a conscription sheet of the Liechtenstein palace in 1830 (updated in 1840): Franziska Bittmann and her last son Carl were already dead, the son Jakob is a "Fürst Lichtensteinischer Hausoffizier" and Alois had earlier been a "Burggraf. Schreiber zu Feldsberg". His entry is accompanied by a list of passports that were issued for his travels to Moravia; the entry "Tocht. Anna 804 in Dienst" is at the bottom (A-Wsa, Konskriptionsamt, Stadt 252/17r).

Alois Bittmann died on 3 July 1842. His Sperrs-Relation lists the following children:
Children 3
3 Of legal age and their whereabouts
Mr. Jakob Bittmann, cook with His Excellency Prince Aloys Lichtenstein, N 130 in the Rossau, 41 years of age,
Anna Bittmann, unmarried, 38 years of age, lady's companion with Countess Mniszek, N: 266 in the City,
Mr. Aloys Bittmann, court actuary of the dominion of Eisgrub in Moravia, 36 years of age.

The three Bittmann children, listed in their father's Sperrs-Relation (A-Wsa, Mag. ZG, A2, 5367/1842)

At this point, for reasons of visual enjoyment, I insert a document, written in 1842 by Anna Bittmann's younger brother Alois. It nicely documents the skills that were needed to work as scribe for the Princes of Liechtenstein.

The exquisite handwriting of Alois Bittmann, court actuary in Eisgrub (A-Wsa, Mag. ZG, A2, 5367/1842)

With the help of her father's (and certainly the Prince's social connections) Anna Bittmann was able to secure a job as lady's companion in the service of Countess Helena Mniszek, the wife of Count Stanisław Adam Mniszek who resided in his own house beside the Liechtenstein Palace at Stadt 266 (today Wallnerstraße 7).

Count Mniszek's house Stadt 266, protruding on the left side of the Wallnerstraße (A-Wn ST 2931F). This building, which until 1911 belonged to Mniszek's daughter Luitgarde Stadnicka, was torn down in 1913.

Countess Mniszek was born Princess Helena Lubomirska in 1783, daughter of  Prince Józef Lubomirski. Thus she not only was a relative of Chopin's friend Countess Rzewuska, her husband Count Mniszek, whom she had married in 1807, was probably a business partner of Peter Anton Steinkeller. Count Stanisław Adam Mniszek (1774-1846) was one of the most interesting Polish noblemen in Vienna. In 1799 he had bought the castle and dominion of Frain (today Vranov nad Dyjí), where from 1816 on he produced earthenware in the local manufactory. In 1829 he invented a method of manufacturing a new kind of light blue, light brown and light green Wedgwood, by means of a special treatment of clay and glaze, the patent of which he had extended in 1834

Count Stanisław Adam Mniszek

Count Mniszek was a professed lover of music. In June 1822 Felix Hippolyt Doré, a son of Count Mniszek's tutor and administrator Joseph Doré, married Therese Derffel, a cousin of Franz Schubert's friends Franz von Schober and Franz Derffel. Thus Hippolyt Doré not only established the connection between his and Schober's family, he als brought Count Mniszek into contact with Franz Schubert and his friends. In 1829 Mniszek was among the subscribers of Schubert's posthumously published song cycle Schwanengesang.

The view from Vyhlídka Tanečnice towards Vranov Castle. Lithography by Joseph Doré (1806-1872), a cousin of Schober, who in 1833 was the head of the "chemical earthenware printing company" in Vranov. This Vienna-born Doré drew many views of Vranov and its surroundings that today grace the walls of the castle and are attributed to "the French painter Joseph Doré". 

Anna Bittmann remained in Countess Mniszek's employment for the rest of her life. On an 1850 conscription sheet of Stadt 266 she is listed as "Gesellschafterin" (lady companion).

Anna Bittmann's name in a group of domestic servants at Stadt 266 (A-Wsa, Konskriptionsamt, Stadt 266/14r)

Anna Bittmann died of a stroke  on 24 May 1854 at Countess Mniczek's house Stadt 266 and was buried on 27 May in an own crypt in the cemetery beyond Matzleinsdorf.

The entry concerning the death of Anna Bittmann on 24 May 1854 (A-Wsm, Tom. 13, fol. 89)

Anna Bittmann's mistress Countess Helena Mniszek died on 14 August 1876 in Vranov.

The Caché-Mattis Connection

On 11 June 1831 Chopin performed his Concerto in E minor at the Kärntnertortheater. His appearance was part of a concert that served as opening act of Theodosia, a ballet by Paolo Samengo with music composed by Wenzel Robert von Gallenberg.

The Zettel of the court theaters, announcing Chopin's concert at the Kärntnertortheater on 11 June 1831 (A-Wkm, Theatermuseum, Hoftheater 1831)

This was not just any performance. It was a premiere of a new work with new scenery and costumes, featuring some of the best ballet dancers of their age: Pietro Campilli, Dominik Mattis, Federico Massini, François Crombé and the legendary Fanny Elßler with her sister Therese and her cousin Hermine. The Elßler sisters had a close relation to the composer Count Gallenberg who was the godfather of Fanny's illegitimate son Robert Franz and Therese's illegitimate daughter Robertine Marie. It is interesting to note that Kanne's favorable review of Chopin's performance appeared in the Theaterzeitung on 18 June 1831, five days earlier than the review of the ballet, where the reviewer praised the dancing and the music, but criticised the the odd storyline and the staging. The combination of Chopin's concert with a ballet that was performed for the benefit of the dancer Dominik Mattis (whom the Fryderyk Chopin Institute mistakes for a conductor) has always been considered a coincidence and the result of Duport's more or less arbitrary performance schedule. I do not think that it was a concidence. I surmise that Chopin knew Mattis personally, because he had met him and Mattis's fiancé Pauline Hasenhut at Peter Steinkeller's home in the Leopoldstadt.

In late 1830 and early 1831 the dancer Dominik Mattis (born 1803 in Torino) and his fiancé, the ballerina Pauline Martina Hasenhut (born 1809 in Vienna, daughter of the ballet master Philipp Karl Hasenhut) were the darling couple of Viennese and Italian audiences. On 12 December 1830 they left Vienna to begin a three-month engagement at the Teatro della Scala in Milano.

Dominik Mattis. Engraving by Joseph Kriehuber (A-Wn, PORT_00022915_01)

Pauline Hasenhut. Engraving by Joseph Kriehuber 1829 (A-Wn, PORT_00148615_01). Pauline Hasenhut and her younger sister Leopoldine had been among the hundreds of victims of the serial child abuser Prince Alois von Kaunitz-Rietberg.

According to a report, published in the Theaterzeitung on 27 January 1831, Mattis and Hasenhut performed at the Teatro Carcano to enthusiastic audiences: "They only need to appear to be greeted with a storm of applause and curtain calls. Mattis and Hasenhut performed a new Pas des deux in the  ballet Kaokom and the applause was enthusiastic. These accolades are all the more remarkable, as the Milanese are said to be not too generous expressing their acclaim." On 31 March 1831 Mattis and Hasenhut returned to Vienna. Since Pauline Hasenhut's father had died in 1825 and she was still under age, her legal guardian was the actor Anton Caché who lived at the same address as the Hasenhut family, at Leopoldstadt 510, the residence of Peter Steinkeller.

Theresia Hasenhut and her children Ignatz, Leonhard, Leopoldine, Pauline and Eva on a conscription sheet of Leopoldstadt 510, dating from 1830. After the family's move to the city, this sheet was transferred to the records of Stadt 969. The entry in red refers to an arrest of Leonhard Hasenhut (A-Wsa, Konskriptionsamt, Stadt 969/16r)

Caché's second wife Anna, née Bartelmann was originally an actress by profession, but later seemed to have taken up a sideline, working as midwife. In this versatility she resembled her husband who in 1820 earned an additional income by performing mechanical artistic fireworks in his apartment for an entrance fee of one gulden Viennese currency.

Anton Caché and his second wife Anna on an 1830 conscription sheet of Leopoldstadt 510 (A-Ws, Konskriptionsamt, Leopoldstadt 510/38r)

Anton and Anna Caché ("Heb:[amme]"), registered as godfather and midwife on the occasion of the baptism of Theresia Kihnel's son Christian on 3 June 1832 (Pfarre St. Johann Nepomuk, Tom. 5, fol. 134). Anton Caché's signature is autograph.

Since she was living in the same house as the Steinkeller family, it was quite logical that Anna Caché served as midwife at the birth of Chopin's godson Alexander Steinkeller. On 13 May 1831 Anton Caché applied to the Vienna Magistrate to grant full legal age to his ward Paulina Hasenhut who at that time was 21 years and seven months of age.

The first page of Anton Caché's application to grant legal age to his ward Pauline Martina Hasenhut (A-Wsa, Mag. ZG, A3, 164/1831)

Caché argued that his ward had always behaved well and economically and "is living only for her art and her domestic duties". He explained that "she has prospects of a very advantageous marriage to Mr. Mattis, one of the most famous ballet dancers, an impeccable gentleman, as far as his art and his morality are concerned, who is able to provide his future wife with a splendid livelihood". And finally Caché stated that, "because Mattis has to travel from one engagement to the other and his wife will have to accompany her husband to Italy and France and close contracts with many theater managements", Pauline Hasenhut needs to be granted legal age. The request was granted on 31 May 1831.

The signatures of Anton Caché and his ward Pauline Hasenhut on the above application (A-Wsa, Mag. ZG, A3, 164/1831)

Dominik Mattis and Paulina Hasenhut got married on 11 July 1831 at Vienna's Augustinian Church. The bride's witness was her guardian Anton Caché. Chopin probably attended the wedding.

The entry concerning the wedding of Dominik Mattis and Pauline Hasenhut on 11 July 1831 (Pfarre St. Augustin, Tom. 10, fol. 131)

For a number of years Dominik and Pauline Pauline Mattis successfully toured Europe, but in the late 1830s their marriage seems to have fallen on hard times which was probably caused by Pauline's health problems. The couple separated. In June 1838 Mattis was already performing in Stuttgart with Hermine Elßler. When Pauline Mattis died of abdominal cancer on 9 October 1844 in Vienna, her husband was on tour in Italy. Concerning her husband a note in Pauline's Sperrs-Relation states: "Husband N. Mattis in Italy, details unknown." (A-Wsa, Mag. ZG, A2, 6150/1844).

Following a popular stereotype of the "utilized genius", Chopin is always depicted as having been taken advantage of by Mattis and Duport, because "he did not get paid for his performance". There is absolutely no proof to support this claim. On the contrary, it seems likely that Mattis gave a share of his revenue to Chopin, or even more probable, that Peter Steinkeller provided the godfather of his son with an honorarium.

A Few Unresolved Issuess

Concerning Chopin's second stay in Vienna a number of open questions and errors are still marring the literature. These unresolved issues, which have been caused by lack of archival research and by many authors' tendency to simply copy the work of their predecessors, are the following:

Chopin's Visits in Hietzing

Countless biographies of Chopin describe the composer as being a guest in December 1830 at Dr. Malfatti's villa on the Küniglberg in Hietzing. This country estate (Hietzing No. 159), which included a large piece of land, had been purchased by Malfatti in June 1830.

Dr. Malfatti's villa on the Küniglberg. Drawing by Milan Sunko after an oil painting by Alois von Saar. In his garden in Hietzing Dr. Malfatti conducted experiments concerning the prevention of Phytophthora infestans.

Chopin did not stay in Hietzing at Christmas of 1830. On Sunday, 26 December 1830 he writes to Jan Matuszyński:
Next morning I was awakened by an invitation to dinner at Mme Elkan's, the Polish wife of a banker. I got up, played a little in a gloomy mood. Then Nidecki came with Leidenfrost and Steinkeller and when we separated I went off to dine with Malfatti. Szaniasio (a Pole who has since been killed) ate as much zrazy and cabbage as, I guarantee, any Carmelite priest; and I was quite a match for him. I must tell you that that rare man (a man in the full sense of the word), Dr. Malfatti, is so thoughtful in every way that when we go to dinner with him he takes care that we have Polish dishes. Wild, the famous and indeed the leading German tenor of the day, came after dinner, I accompanied him from memory in an aria from Otello which he sang in masterly fashion.
It is clear from his account that Chopin had dinner at Stadt 863 at Mrs. Elkan's and, after leaving his friends Nidecki, Leidenfrost and Steinkeller, immediately went to Malfatti's apartment at Stadt 65. It is obvious that the singer Franz Wild also came from somewhere nearby. During the winter time Malfatti lived in a ten-room apartment in the city where since 1824 he owned the houses Stadt 65 and 66 (today Teinfaltstraße 5 and Rosengasse 8). In 1826 the value of these two houses was estimated at 69,000 gulden (A-Wsa, Mag. ZG, A2, 469/1826).

A page from Johann Malfatti von Monteregio's 1859 probate file, showing the estimated value of his two city houses still at 67,830 gulden. Owing to fire damage this document is not accessible to ordinary researchers (A-Wsa, LG f. Zivilrechtssachen, A4, E 233/1859).

Only in spring 1831 Malfatti and his two daughters moved to Hietzing where on Saturday, 7 May 1831 he was visited by Chopin and (allegedly) Hummel. In his letter of 14 May 1831 Chopin refers to Malfatti's move to the country and his visit in Hietzing as follows:
Perhaps Malfatti's soups have instilled into me some soothing medicine which has eliminated any tendency towards illness. If so, I am sorry that our regular banquets came to an end last Saturday, for Malfatti has gone off to the country with his children. You can't imagine what a pretty place he lives in; a week ago today I went to see him with Hummel. He showed us over his property, pointing out all its beauties as we went along, so that when we reached the top of the hill we had no desire to come down again. The Court honours him with a yearly visit, for Princess Anhalt is his neighbour and I am sure she envies him his garden. From one side you can see all Vienna stretched out at your feet so that the town seems joined to Schönbrunn; on the other side are high hills over which are scattered villages and monasteries, making one forget the splendour, tumult and bustle of the town.
Chopin's claim that Hummel accompanied him to Hietzing "a week ago", i.e. on 7 May 1831, cannot be correct, because at that time Hummel was not in Vienna anymore. According to a note, published in the Wiener Zeitschrift on 12 April 1831, Hummel had "recently left Vienna to spend the next four months in France and England". On 14 May 1831, the day on which Chopin wrote the above letter, the Wiener Theaterzeitung reported: "Capellmeister Hummel has arrived in London on 24 April and has announced that he will give a concert before Paganini's arrival." After March 1831 Chopin and Hummel never saw each other again in Vienna, because Hummel stayed in London, where he gave his last concert on 22 June1831. Did Chopin misremember the date of his visit? Or more intriguing: was it Hummel's son Eduard Hummel who on 7 May 1831 accompanied Chopin to Malfatti's country estate?

The Tale of Mrs. Malfatti Serving Polish Dishes

It is generally known among Chopin biographers that Dr. Malfatti's wife was a Polish countess. This fact – which is basically the only thing these authors know about Malfatti's married life – has led to the repeated presentation of cozy family lunches with Malfatti's Polish wife serving Polish dishes to Chopin that she prepared especially for her fellow countryman. Even Kornel Michałowski and Jim Samson in their Chopin entry on Grove Music Online refer to a "Malfatti family" which suggests that Malfatti's wife was still alive and made Chopin's personal acquaintance. Samson (1996) writes: "He made the acquaintance of the imperial physician Dr. Malfatti. The Malfattis befriended Chopin and kept an affectionate eye on him throughout the eight months in Vienna. He spent some happy hours with them eating bigos prepared by Dr Malfattis Polish wife." Likewise Eva Gesine Baur, whose hasty way of writing makes her books reliable dragnets for all kinds of misinformation, in her Chopin biography muses about Mrs. Malfatti, serving Chopin "Fleischküchlein mit Kohl".

A clip from p. 104 of Eva Gesine Baur's book Chopin: Oder Die Sehnsucht, where Baur fantasizes about Malfatti's wife Helena, serving Chopin Polish dishes. Chopin was not served pierogi at Malfatti's, but zrazy. The false information that Szaniawski was present at this dinner and was "ein versessener Pole" (an obsessed Pole) is based on an often copied mistranslation by Bronisław Edward Sydow.

The fictitious notion of Malfatti's wife preparing Polish specialties is essentially false. Chopin never made Helena Malfatti's acquaintance, because when he arrived in Vienna in 1830, she had already been dead for more than four years.

Johann Baptist Malfatti von Monteregio. Engraving by Joseph Kriehuber 1839. Malfatti, who, contrary to repeated claims in the Chopin literature, was never "the Emperor's court physician", was one of the greatest hypnotists of his time, but he could not openly practice this healing method, because with a personal memorandum of 3 March 1815 the Emperor had strictly banned it for religious reasons.

Johann Baptist Malfatti and Countess Helena Ostrowska got married on 30 December 1821 at Vienna's St. Michael's Church. The previously unknown entry in the Eheverkündbuch concerning their banns, which were published on the previous day, documents the couple's parentage and dates of birth.

The entry concerning the publication of the banns for the wedding of Johann Malfatti and Helena Countess Ostrowska (A-Wsm, Verkündbuch 29, p. 28)

N 53 / den 29 Dez / 821 / cop. den 30 / Dezembr. / 1,2,3. / sub 28 Dez / GZ 60846 / von 2 Aufg.[eboten] / disp.[ensiert]
Herr Johann Baptist Malfatti, der Arzneykunde Doctor, zu Lucca / in Italien gebürtig (des Herrn Alexander Malfatti Kauf- / manns zu Luca, und dessen Gattin A.[anna] M.[aria] geb. Fornagieri / beider seel. Sohn) am Graben N 1121
kath. l. St. / [born] 15 Juli 775 / 46. [years of age]
Mit dem Hochgb.[orenen] Fräulein Helena, Gräfin Ostrowska, zu / Warschau geb. d[es] Hochg. Herrn Thomas Grafen Ostrowski, / Kön. Pohl Groß-Schatzmeister, u. Senator, Ritter ds weiß. Adler= / u Stanislai Ordens, u dessen Hoch. F. Gemahlin Apollonia, gb. / Gräfin Ledochowekie[sic], beide seel. ehl. Tochter, N 1137 / Ob. Breunerstrasse.
kath. l. St. / 4 März 794 / 27 J.
Malfatti's best man (not given in the above entry) was the merchant Giuseppe Antonio Bridi (1763-1836), a noted amateur singer and close friend of Mozart. Helena Malfatti was a daughter of Count Tomasz Adam Ostrowski and his second wife Apolonia Ledóchowska.

Johann Malfatti's father-in-law, Count Tomasz Adam Ostrowski

The fact that Malfatti was a son-in-law of Count Ostrowski, explains the fact that Malfatti had already been informed of Chopin's arrival by his brother-in-law Władysław Ostrowski. Another one of Malfatti's brothers-in-law was Count Antoni Jan Ostrowski, general and commander of the Polish National Guards and a major figure in the November Uprising of 1830. In his letter of 1 December 1830 Chopin refers to Malfatti's Polish family relations:
Dr. Malfatti welcomed me as if I had been his cousin, most warmly and cordially. As soon as he read my name he embraced me and said that Mr Wladyslaw Ostrowski had already written to him about my coming, and that he would do all he could to help me. He added that he will bring me to the notice of Mme Tatiszczew, the ambassador's wife, and will procure for me all necessary acquaintances, even at Court. He doubts, however, whether it will be possible to do anything there, since the Court is in mourning for the King of Naples; but he will try to be helpful. He has also promised to introduce me to Baron Dunoi, president of the local music society who will, it seems, be a most desirable acquaintance.
The mysterious "Baron Dunoi" that Chopin mentions in this letter, is of course Eduard von Lannoy, a representative of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde. Dr. Malfatti and his wife had two daughters:
  1. Maria Beatrix Apollonia, b. 22 December 1822 (A-Wsm, SP 2, p. 478), a goddaughter of her father's employer Archduchess Maria Beatrice d'Este. On 5 April 1853 (A-Ws, 47, fol. 94) Beatrix married Count Constantin Michael Plater-Broel (b. 18 February 1828 in Belmont, d. 18 December 1886, Hietzing Küniglberg 1), with whom she had two sons a) Constantin, b. 26 January 1856 Linz) and b) Johann Baptist Ignaz Anton (b. 19 May 1858 Vienna, d. 2 January 1935 Graz). Maria Beatrix Plater-Broel died on 10 July 1887 at her father's villa in Hietzing. 
  2. Hedwig Ludovica Maria, b. 17 October 1825 (A-Ws, 49, fol. 3), d. unmarried on 27 May 1889 in Hietzing.

Johann Malfatti, his wife and his daughters on a conscription sheet of Stadt 65, dating from between 1822 and 1826 (A-Wsa, Konskriptionsamt, Stadt 65/3r)

In June 1826 Helena Malfatti suddenly fell sick with a malignant fever that not even her husband and his renowned colleague Dr. Franz Wirer were able to cure. When on 24 June 1826 Helena Malfatti signed the will, that had been drawn up by her husband's lawyer Dr. Johann Baptist Engert, she was already unable to write and signed only with three Xs. In this will Helena Malfatti appointed "her beloved husband" universal heir and bequeathed legal shares to her daughters.

Helena Malfatti's will, signed by her husband's friends Wilhelm von Droßdik (Therese Malfatti's husband) and Franz Wirer (A-Wsa, Mag. ZG, A10, 624/1826)

Helena Malfatti died on 23 July 1826 of what the parish records describe as "Zehrfieber" (consumptive fever). Soon after her burial her husband left Vienna for Karlsbad.

The entry concerning the death of Helena Malfatti ("geborne Gräfin Ostrowska, Arzneÿkunde Doktors Gemahlin") on 23 July 1826 (Pfarre Maria Hietzing, Tom. 2, fol. 51)

The estate of Helena Malfatti, which mainly consisted of certificates of debt from Count Ossoliński and her brothers and shares of her husband's real estate, amounted to 90,648 gulden of which her husband gave 50,000 gulden to his daughters. The coat of arms of the Ostrowski family was the so-called "Rawa coat of arms" which was borne by several noble families that traced their families to the Rawici clan. It shows a crowned woman dressed in red, sitting on a bear.

This coat of arms also appears on the seal that was used to close the envelope of Helena Malfatti's will.

Helena Malfatti's seal on the envelope of her will

The Chopin Portrait of December 1830

On 22 December 1830 Chopin writes to his family:
I met there also the nephew of Mr. Lampi whom Papa knows; a handsome, friendly boy who paints superbly. Speaking of painting, Hummel came to see me yesterday morning with his son who has done a portrait of me, so lifelike that it could not be bettered. I am seated in my dressing-gown on a piano-stool with an inspired look on my face where that comes from I don't know. It is a pencil or rather crayon drawing in quarto and it looks like an engraving.

Frédéric Chopin in late December 1830. Coloured pencil drawing, oval, approx. 278 x 220 mm. Collection Jan and Tomasz de Tusch-Lec, Warsaw; deposit: Muzeum Fryderyka Chopina, Warsaw (D/73)

This portrait is universally attributed  to Hummel's younger son Carl Hummel who was to become a  renowned landscape painter. I do not think that this drawing is a work of Carl Hummel. I have come to the conclusion that this drawing was done by Carl's elder brother Eduard Hummel and my reasons for this attribution are the following: In 1830 Carl Hummel was only nine years old. His father had absolutely no reason to take this child to Vienna where he planned to conduct business negotiations with his publisher Tobias Haslinger. Therefore in my opinion Carl remained with his mother in Weimar. On the other hand, Hummel had very good reasons to take his elder son Eduard to Vienna, who, having been born on 9 May 1814, was almost seventeen years of age. It seems that Hummel had Eduard accompany him to Vienna to show him the musical life of the city and to make him acquainted with the music trade, a business that Eduard in 1832 would begin to dedicate himself in Haslinger's publishing firm. Eduard Hummel was obviously not only a musician, but also a very talented painter. His somewhat restless character, which made it difficult for him to really cultivate his talents, made him become the "wayward son" of the family. Carl, on the other hand, was not the child prodigy that Chopin biographers always want to see in him. When he was not yet fourteen, Carl Hummel drew a portrait of his father on whose backside in 1889 he wrote the following: "Das Porträt ist von mir in meinem vierzehnten Lebensjahr gezeichnet. Demnach[!] ganz schlecht gezeichnet, aber jedenfalls ähnlich." ("The portrait was drawn by me in my fourteenth year. Hence[!] it is drawn very badly, but at least resemblant."). This is not how a painter, whose drawing skills were extraordinarily advanced when he was a nine years old, describes one of his childhood works.

 Carl Hummel. Portrait of his father (1835), black chalk on paper, 136 x 163mm (Goethe-Museum Düsseldorf, Katalog der Musikalien 2892). Hummel's note on the back of his drawing was badly mistranslated by Kroll (2007).

This rather clumsy drawing was certainly not done by the same person that five years earlier in Vienna had drawn the portrait of Chopin. Mieczysław Tomaszewski (unintentionally?) got it right when in 1990 he attributed the portrait of December 1830 to "E. Hummel".

Chopin's Alleged Concert on 4 April 1831

Biographies of Chopin still do not agree on how many public concerts Chopin in 1831 gave in Vienna. The most commonly held view is that Chopin appeared twice in public: on 4 April at the great Redoutensaal and on 11 June 1831 at the Kärntnertortheater. This chronology dates all the way back to Hanslick's Geschichte des Concertwesens (p. 329). Szalsza (1986) already made a very good case for the presumption that the concert in April never took place. What follows is a summary of the printed sources, the presentation of a number of original announcements and the publication of a previously unknown document that proves that Chopin's concert in the Redoutensaal was cancelled. More than two months after his arrival in Vienna Chopin was desperate to finally give a concert. On 29 January 1831 he wrote to Elsner:
Nevertheless I hope that somehow all will turn out for the best and that before the Carnival is over I shall produce my first concerto, Würfel's favourite.
In late 1830 the famous opera singer Lucia Elizabeth Vestris (continuously misnamed "Garcia-Vestris" in the press) left Paris and began a tour that was to take her to Germany and Austria. In December 1830 she gave a concert at the court theater in Stuttgart (AmZ, 31 March 1831, col. 192), where she performed a cavatina (probably "Ferma, costante") from Torvaldo e Dorliska, a duet from Mosè with the tenor August Karl Hambuch, "Una voce poco fa" from Il barbiere di Siviglia and variations on "Nel cor più non mi sento".

Lucia Elizabeth Bartolozzi Vestris (US-NYp, Joseph Muller Collection 1947230)

In January 1831 Vestris was in Munich, where on 6 January she gave her first performance as Rosina in Il barbiere, together with Giulio Pellegrini as Figaro (the other male roles were sung by Aloys Bayer, Georg Mittermayr and Joseph Staudacher). The Münchner Politische Zeitung of 7 February 1831 praised Vestris's personality, her singing method and acting skills, but described her as having been "not in fine voice". During her stay in Munich Vestris soon faced bigger vocal problems. According to a note in the Bayerischer Volksfreund of 29 January 1831 she had to cancel a performance of Il barbiere because of "sudden hoarseness". This cancellation was reported in Vienna on 15 February 1831:
The theater life in Munich is currently a little quiet. Especially the opera has been stagnating since Madame Sigl-Vespermann departed for Paris and Demoiselle Schechner has declared herself to be continuously unwell, so that even the recent performance of La vestale had to be interrupted. Mad. Garcia-Vestris, who is present there, was supposed to appear in "Barber of Seville", but this opera was also cancelled due to a sudden hoarseness of hers.

The report in the Wiener Zeitschrift on 15 February 1831 concerning the cancellation of "Barber of Seville" in Munich. The journal L'Eco described Vestris's problem as "un fortissimo raffreddore".

It seems that Vestris could not overcome her increasing voice problems. On 3 March 1831 the Theaterzeitung reported her arrival in Vienna:
Madame Garcia-Vestris, one of the best singers of Italian opera  in Paris, has arrived in Vienna and will let herself be heard at a concert. This concert will take place on 6 March in the I. & R. great Redouten-Saal around noon.

The announcement in the Theaterzeitung of 3 March 1831 (p. 107) concerning Madame Vestris's arrival in Vienna and her upcoming concert

On the same day the journal Der Sammler published a more detailed announcement which included Chopin's name. The very high ticket prices and the announcements on the posters of the court theaters show that Vestris's concert was counted among the most prestigious musical events of early 1831.
On Sunday, March 6th, Signora Garcia-Vestris, first singer of the Italian opera in Paris and Milano and Kammersängerin of His Majesty the King of Spain will give a concert around noon at the I. & R. great Redouten-Saal where she will perform an aria from La gazza ladra, variations on a theme from La Molinara and variations from the opera La Cenerentola. The other pieces consist of the first movement, the scherzo and the Marcia funebre from Beethoven's Sinfonia eroica, Mr. Friedrich Chopin will play a a fortepiano concerto of his own composition. Tickets for the gallery are 1 fl. 36 kr., those for the orchestra 1 fl. 12 kr. CM. Tickets can be bought  at the box office of the I. R. Court Theater at the Kärntnertor and on the day of the concert at the entrance of the great Redoutensaal.

On 5 March 1831 the poster of the Kärntnertortheater contained the first part of this announcement. Chopin's participation was not mentioned.

The announcement of Vestris's concert at the Redoutensaal on the poster of the Kärntnertortheater of 5 March 1831

On Sunday, March 6th, the day it was supposed to take place, Vestris's concert was cancelled "owing to arisen obstacles". This was again announced on the poster of the court theaters.

The announcement of the cancellation Vestris's concert on the poster of the Kärntnertortheater of 6 March 1831

On 2 April 1831 the Allgemeine Theaterzeitung and Der Sammler published the alternate date of the postponed concert. It was to take place on Easter Monday, April 4th, and the ticket prices had been reduced, although the number of performers had been increased with some prominent local musicians that had not been a part of the original program. Since the program of 6 March 1831 (published by Szalsza as "Anschlag" without any bibliographic information) only consisted of three movements of Beethoven's Eroica, three arias sung by Vestris and Chopin's piano concerto in e minor, the additional performers could be a sign that Vestris had already decided to sing only one aria. It is not known what the additional musicians intended to perform. In any case, it was an absolute privilege for Chopin to appear together with four singers of international fame and some of Vienna's best musicians, such as Leopold and Joseph Böhm, Hellmesberger, Merk and the brothers Lewy. His involvement in this projected concert shows that his colleagues held his artistic significance in very high regard. The announcement in Der Sammler addressed the participation of these musicians as follows:
To lovers of music this concert should offer even more interesting pleasures, since, aside from the main performer, the estimated talents of the Misses Sabine and Klara Heinefetter, Mr. Wild, the fortepiano player Mr. Chopin, the Messrs. Böhm, Helmesberger, Merk and the brothers Lewy will take part as well.

The announcement in Der Sammler on 2 April 1831 concerning the new date of the postponed concert

The announcement in the Wiener Zeitschrift, which has never been published, is interesting, because it contains the typo "Chopie".

The announcement in the Wiener Zeitschrift on 2 April 1832 (p. 320) concerning the new date of the concert at the Redoutensaal and the participation of the pianist "H. Chopie"

On 4 April 1831, the day of the concert, Vestris cancelled for a second time. Her voice problems were clearly the cause for the repeated posponement. She was the main attraction of the concert and without her the whole enterprise economically would have made no sense. Owing to the short time notice, the cancellation again had to be announced on the daily poster of the court theaters.
Owing to arisen obstacles the concert, that was announced to take place today at the great Redoutensaal, has been postponed to April 17th. The honorable owners of tickets will at request be refunded the paid amount at the box office.

The announcement concerning the postponement of the concert on 4 April 1831 at the bottom of the poster of the Kärntnertortheater

Szalsza (1986) made the point that, because she is not listed among the "arrived persons" in the Wiener Zeitung, Vestris never actually came to Vienna. This hypothesis is not tenable. The two postponements of her concert prove that Vestris was in Vienna and for some time hoped to overcome her voice problems. It seems likely that after her cancellation in Munich she never fully regained her vocal powers which is also corroborated by the fact that she did not do what touring prima donnas usually did in Vienna: appear as guest in an opera performance at the Kärntnertortheater. The guest singers in March 1831 were Sabine Heinefetter and the retired Anton Forti who in April were joined by Wilhelmine Piehl-Flache from the theater in Breslau. The failure of Vestri's voice in spring of 1831 marked the beginning of a significant hiatus in her 1831 tour. One of Vestris's appearances in Milano, which was reviewed by the Italian newspaper L'Eco, took place but on 9 December 1831. Vestris soon returned to London, where she had leased the Olympic Theatre, and began her successful career as the first female actor-manager in the history of London theater.

There is one archival document that conclusively proves that Vestris's and Chopin's joint concert never took place. Anybody who in Vienna staged something for which he charged admission, regardless of whether it was a concert, a crib exhibition, fireworks, or the exposition of a girl from Lapland, had to pay a fee to the so-called "Strafhausfonds" (jailhouse fund). Because these payments were recorded in the books of the "Hauptregistratur" (main registry) of the municipal administration, the names of most performing artists show up in these records. Here is an exemplary page from 1814, containing the names of Beethoven, Ignaz Schuppanzigh, Johann Simon Hermstedt and Louis Spohr, all of whom had to pay the jail fee in connection with one of their concerts.

Beethoven, Ignaz Schuppanzigh, Johann Simon Hermstedt and Louis Spohr as taxable performers in an 1814 register of the Hauptregistratur. The first entry refers to the use of the "Sparherd", an invention of Paul Sirbeck, who is dealt with in another post on this blog (A-Wsa, Historische Registraturen, HReg. B1/142, fol. 182r).

There is also such an entry in the municipal records concerning Madame Vestri's cancelled concert of 1831. This entry shows that Vestris paid a fee of eight gulden in advance for her concert on March 6th, but then, after her cancellation, requested a refund and was paid back the money by the municipal "Oberkammeramt" (superior chamber office).

The entry concerning the refund of Vestris's payment of 8 gulden to the municipal jail fund (A-Wsa, Historische Registraturen, HReg. B1/404, p. 121)
Gegenstand. 1831
Strafhausfondszahlungen:              [Nummer der Registratur.] R 5
Vestris Garcia für ihr Concert am 4. April [Nummer des Einreichungs=Protocolls.] 11796
– Intimat:[ion] ans O.[ber] K.[ammer] A.[mt] u an Vestris pct 8 fm Rückzahl:[ung]
– Ref[erats] Bogen über das Rückvergütungsgesuch                              18748
None of the files concerning the payment and the refund is extant. Because such files were of minor importance after the payments were receipted, most of them were destroyed (recycled) already in the 19th century. From the time between 1826 and 1831 only one file related to a concert survives: HReg. R5, 46141/1831 which, on the occasion of the opening concert of their new hall on 6 November 1831, deals with the fact that the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde was exempt from the fees to the jail and poorhouse funds.


Regarding Chopin's second stay in Vienna two things can be noted: Chopin was not ignored or underestimated in Vienna. On the contrary, he was granted opportunities that other touring musicians were not given. The violinist Stanisław Serwaczyński, who on 19 April 1831 gave a concert at the Kärntnertortheater, performed as a support act to Gyrowetz's old ballet Das Schweitzer=Milchmädchen, while Chopin appeared before a premiere of a new ballet. Chopin did not go to Paris, "because the Viennese did not appreciate him". He went to Paris for the same reason as Liszt, Hummel and Blahetka left their home country: in the Biedermeier era Vienna was the center of European piano culture, where hundreds of piano virtuosos vied for the favor of a cosseted audience and therefore none of them could make a living by giving concerts.

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This post is dedicated to the friends of this blog whose donations made it possible to finish this long deferred Chopin project. The Internationale Chopin-Gesellschaft in Wien, the Chopin Society UK, the Chopin Foundation of the United States and The Vancouver Chopin Society ignored the invitation to support my research. The Chopin-Gesellschaft in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland replied, but claimed it had no money.

© Dr. Michael Lorenz 2015. All rights reserved.