The Austrian composer Gottfried von Einem spent most of his years from the early 1950s onwards based in Vienna (he was born in 1918), and he finally had an apartment in the Inneren Burghof. But he latterly liked to escape to a rural retreat and for his closing years he bought a cottage in the village of Oberdurnbach, which nestles on a hill- side a couple of kilometres east of Maissau, itself some 65 km north-west of Vienna on the old road to Prague. The cottage, formerly the schoolhouse, lies next to the church, which is notable for its late medieval frescoes.

The front room of the cottage is the one in which Einem worked, lived and slept during his last four years, and it is here that in 1996 he died, tended by his second wife, Lotte Ingrisch. It has been kept exactly as it was. There are still wood shavings in the pencil sharpener, clothes in the cupboard, shoes by the bedside. The desk is undisturbed. The cat basket is still there. Einem’s immediate library is to hand. The visitor can share the long view of the hills across the valley that he enjoyed during these years. On the bed is a death mask, gold-sprayed.

EINEM MUSEUM Photo Gallery

In this room and the wood-panelled one behind it are a number of works of art by Einem’s friends and colleagues which together provide some portrait of the man himself, his taste, his relation to the world around him. There are Japanese watercolours (1959, used for the cover of his Japanische Blatter) and one by Avramidis showing Einem as the devil (presumably a reference to his controversial Jesu Hochzeit), a dedicated Figurenkomposition (1966) by Wotruba, a pair of Mistechnik pictures (1983) by Linde Waber, a view of one of Einem’s former country homes by Neuwirth (1981, with a grand piano perched in a cherry tree), and a woolly sheep rocking horse, a product of Einem’s stay in Glyndebourne. Freud and Mozart are among others present.

Down the corridor (lined with posters) is a large rear room, a true and quite extensive museum display in a series of showcases: from his childhood (he was adopted, the natural son of a Hungarian count) and his earliest attempts at composing, through his schooling, his family life, his early works – there are several facsimiles of manuscripts – his operas and their performances, his work for the United Nations (An die Nachgeboren), his fellow composers, to his various awards, the works left unfinished and his obituary.

This sympathetic museum to Einem was planned by his widow, who after his death presented the house to the Stadtgemeinde Maissau. It was opened to the public in 1998. There is a ‘Gottfried von Einem Wanderweg’, a favourite walk of the composer’s through meadows and forest, linking Maissau and Oberdurnbach.

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