Modling, one of Beethoven’s favourite summer resorts (see Beethoven), remains high among the most pleasant Viennese suburbs or satellite regions. There, in a house on a hill behind the church of St Othmar, in a parkland setting on the edge of the town, its peace undisturbed save by the sound of birds, the poet and theatre director Anton Wildgans came to live in 1918; he was there until his death in 1932. His son Friedrich, born in 1913, the composer, writer on music, clarinettist, teacher at the conservatories and a central figure in Viennese musical life in the post-war era, lived there in his later years; he died in 1965.


The house is now a national cultural site, which means that certain of its rooms must be maintained in their present condition as memorials to their distinguished former occupants. Primarily, then, it is Anton who is remembered here, and it is his study and library that has the strongest sense of artistic presence. But the drawing-room, elegantly and traditionally furnished, with its Bosendorfer grand, its musical portraits and graceful music stands, has atmosphere too and betokens a way of life. Friedrich Wildgans worked here, using the balcony with its attractive panorama of Modling and the country beyond, in the summer months. His papers and correspondence, including music – many of his works were left unfinished – and some of the caricatures he drew (and which had to be hidden away in politically difficult times) are preserved at the house but will in due course pass to a national collection; they are available for consultation by scholars. At present the house is lived in and cared for by the widow of Friedrich’s younger brother, Gottfried (himself a keen musician).

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