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  • Notes on the birthplace of Josef Strauss (1827-1870) by Susanne and Eduard Strauss

    The collection of transcripts of documents relating to the Strauss family published in 1965 by Hanns Jäger-Sunstenau under the title Johann Strauss, der Walzerkönig und seine Dynastie; Familiengeschichte, Urkunden includes the entry for Joseph Strauss in the baptismal register of the parish of Mariahilf under the date 20 August 1827 (No.40, p.115)  The place of residence is given as Mariahilf Nr. 39.  This has been checked with the original register and is correct.

    In his chapter on Strauss houses in Vienna Jäger-Sunstenau includes the following:   6., Mariahilferstraße 65 [the present-day address]; identisch mit Nelkengasse 8 (Mariahilf Nr. 865): Neubau [new building] aus 1898. Hier wurde Josef Strauß am 20. August 1827 geboren (Gedenktafel) (p.82).

    However, no commemorative plaque  (= Gedenktafel) could be found , either on house no. 65 or on house no. 71, or no. 71a – see below!  Hence we decided to unveil such a plaque for Josef Strauss (that is the correct spelling of his name) to mark the 180th anniversary of his birth in 2007.  But it was essential to put it on the right house and at the right address.

    The details given by Jäger-Sunstenau were obviously regarded as correct by all Strauss biographers, since they are reproduced in both older and more recent works (cf. Franz Mailer, Joseph Strauss – Genie wider Willen [1977],  p. 7;  Otto Brusatti and Isabella Sommer, Josef Strauss – Delirien und Sphärenklänge [2003], p. 11;  Frank Miller, Johann Strauss Vater – Der musikalische Magier des Wiener Biedermeier [1999], p. 77, this even including a reference to the commemorative plaque!).

    If you try to track down house Mariahilf  Nr. 39 in the Municipal Archive  (Wienarchiv, Wiener Stadt- und Landesarchiv, MA 8) you will find a list of all houses in the city which gives details of their various numberings entitled Verzeichnis aller in der kaiserl. köngl. Haupt- und Residenzstadt Wien mit ihren Vorstädten befindlichen Häuser mit genauer Angabe der älteren mittleren und neuesten Nummerirungen, der dermahligen Eigenthümer und Schilder, der Straßen und Plätze, der Grund= Obrigkeiten, dann der Polizey= und Pfarr= Bezirke. Verfasst und herausgegeben von Anton BehselStadt Wiener Bauinspektor; Wien 1829.  This register was published in 1829 and includes the following entry:

    That is to say house no.39 was named Goldenes Kreuz  (Golden Cross).  A coloured copy of a lithograph showing the building and dating from the second half of the nineteenth century can be found here in the Hotel Kummer.  There is also in the Bezirksmuseum Mariahilf (District Museum) a photo of the lithograph with the following text on the reverse: Wien VI. Mariahilferstr. 71a  Hotel Krenn (jetzt Kummer) Aufn. mit Front (Windmühlg. 40) Lith. 2. H. 19. Jhdt. Inv. Nr. 41.237 aus dem Bildarchiv der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek.  That is to say the original can be found in the picture archive of the Austrian National Library.

    According to Felix Czeike,  Historisches Lexikon Wien, vol. 3., p. 90, the houses in Mariahilf were first numbered in 1770, using the so-called  Konskriptionsnummern, and were renumbered in 1795 and 1830.  The manuscript of a lecture given by Dr. Karl Fischer on  4 June 2003 on these renumberings (Umrechnung der Konskriptionsnummern) makes it clear that Behsel did not include the changes made in 1829 and 1830, because a table showing these changes at least for parts of Vienna was subsequently bound into the volume.  And Behsel’s book does indeed include such a list for the suburb of Mariahilf.  This shows that the numbering 39 valid in 1827 when Josef Strauss was born was altered to 41 in 1830.  The new numbering is confirmed, for example, by a plan from the year 1847.  Hence it is necessary to establish which present-day house number corresponds to the address with Konskriptionsnummer 41 after 1830.

    According to a table of old and new house numbers published in 1863 (Vergleichungs-Tabelle der alten und neuen Hausnummern der Stadt Wien und deren Vorstädte) the house numbered Mariahilf Nr. 41 was renumbered as Windmühlgasse 40/Mariahilferstraße 71.  This is confirmed by the entry in the old land register using the new house number and dating from the same year.  This also gives one Josef Krenn (together with the heirs of Johann Kugel) as the owners.  And so we return to the lithograph of the Goldenes Kreuz and to the Hotel Krenn, later Kummer, with the address Mariahilferstraße 71a.  The numbering 71a was obviously the result of a later division of the plot.

    The house register of Vienna compiled by J. Wolfgang Salzberg in 1929 shows the current numbering and gives Hermine Kummer as the owner. The entry also includes the information that the house was built in 1870 and acquired in 1927.  That means that the house in which Josef Strauss was born no longer exists.

    Strauss family traditions are also unreliable on this point, as in his memoirs  (Erinnerungen [1906]) Eduard Strauss writes the following about his parents (p.10):  ‘The  first home of the young married couple was at 115 Lerchenfelderstrasse in the suburb of St Ulrich.  This is the house where the couple were cheered by the birth of three little children, namely two boys (Johann and Josef, 1825 and 1827 respectively) and a girl, Anna (1829).’  That is definitely not correct.

    The truth of the matter is that the house Mariahilf Nr. 39,  Zum goldenen Kreuz , in which Josef Strauss was born on 20 August 1827, stood on the site of the present-day house Mariahilfer Strasse 71a (Hotel Kummer).

    For more details visit the German version

    Translation: with the help of Leigh Bailey