Tag Archives: events

VCM 2020

19 Apr

The Vienna City Marathon (VCM) 2020 has, of course, been canceled. It would have been held today, and the weather would have been good for it–not too hot or sunny and not much wind.

A few years ago I started writing the VCM date in my calendar so that I could set aside time to watch it undisturbed. This was after a number of years of having it on the TV in the background but not planning to really watch it. At some point I had to accept that it was oddly absorbing and enjoyable to watch people run for hours and that there was no point in trying to get anything else done while the VCM was on.

I still watch on TV but there is a point at which the runners pass about 10 minutes from my flat so I have taken to walking down there and cheering on the front runners: first man, first Austrian man, first woman, first Austrian woman. (I have never gotten the sense that they took in that we were there cheering, but I like to cheer them on nonetheless.)

There is a hole in my calendar this year where the VCM would have been. I’ll especially miss seeing Valentin Pfeil, a gifted and personable Austrian marathoner, and Nancy Kiprop, the Kenyan teacher who runs to earn funds for her school and has been the winner among the women three years in a row. I’ll miss the shots of this beautiful city I live in, the streets cleared of cars but lined with fans. I’ll miss the people who run it with a sense of fun, dressed up in silly costumes and not looking at the clock. I’ll miss the ORF commentary. And I’ll miss the stories of the runners and how they came to be in the VCM.

This, too, is a part of Vienna in the times of coronavirus.


NYTimes: Gowns, Wurst and Protesters: It’s Ball Season in Vienna

9 Feb

We made the New York Times! (Doesn’t happen all that often.)

Gowns, Wurst and Protesters: It’s Ball Season in Vienna https://nyti.ms/2GL8Fkl

In Düsseldorf

19 Jan

Am waiting to board the last plane to Vienna this evening and am interested in the information about Vienna they are showing on a screen–that there are more people buried in the main cemetery (2.5 m) than live in the city (1.8 m) and that there are over 300 balls a year. Fun to have another perspective!

And news from another prominent Viennese hotel

14 Sep

Just a quick note: the Hotel Bristol will be hosting Afternoon Tea with Opera Stars (and, yes, that they’re calling “Afternoon Tea” not “Nachmittagstee”). To celebrate various premieres they are offering a traditional (English, I suppose) afternoon tea with Sekt (or sparkling wine) and a chance to meet (see?) the singers, conductors, and stage directors of the current premiere at the State Opera just across the street.

It costs EUR 49 per person and can be booked by calling +43-1-515 16 555 or by writing to groupsevents.bristol[at]luxurycollection.com. The one of the first opera stars at this Salon Operá is Michael Schade, appearing on 26 September 2014.

Eurovision song contest 2014

10 May

From today’s International New York Times (the new incarnation of the International Herald Tribune): “Over the years, Eurovision has reflected Europe’s social and political changes, and this one is no exception. Along with the requisite scantily clad women and hunky men, an Austrian transgender singer, Conchita Wurst, advanced to this year’s finals, to the consternation of Eastern European social conservatives who have called Eurovision the epitome of the morally corrupt West.” There was a photo of Conchita on the front page of the print edition of the International New York Times . Fame indeed! The Austrian media I have seen seem to be simply pleased that Conchita made it to the finals, is representing Austria, and has a chance of winning, so don’t seem to share the opinion of the stated “Eastern European social conservatives”.

One point to clarify, though, I’m not sure that Conchita Wurst is transgender, as reported in the article. My source for that statement is German Wikipedia, so I don’t know how reliable or up-to-date the entry is, but there it is stated that Conchita Wurst is the stage name of Thomas Neuwirth, a cross dresser. Apparently as a homosexual from a small town in the province of Styria, he suffered a lot of discrimination and created the figure of Conchita Wurst to make a statement against discrimination of what is different. The first name was given to him as a nickname by a Cuban friend of his. The last name “Wurst” comes from the expression in German “Das ist wurst”–in other words “that doesn’t matter”. He wanted to express with it that it doesn’t matter where one comes from or what one looks like.

The whole INYT article can be found at: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/10/arts/television/eurovision-splashes-into-2014-finals-to-rapt-audiences.html?hp&_r=0


13 Apr

Good weather for the marathon today, dry but not too hot.

Last day of February already

28 Feb

How did that happen??? And yesterday evening on my way to dinner with friends I saw a young man in tails on the tram. In Vienna this almost always means the same thing–the young man in question is on his way to a ball. When you see him at 7 p.m. that is a sign that he is opening the ball. I was mildly surprised to see him on a Thursday evening–there are balls every night of the week in Vienna during ball season but the bigger balls, the ones where you are required to wear tails, tend to be on the weekend. Too late in the year for the Philharmonic Ball, which is the only other major ball that is on a Thursday. With a mild shock I realized that it could only be the Opera Ball, that event which for decades has signaled the approach of Lent in this Catholic country. Sure enough, next week on Wednesday the revels end for 40 days.


16 Sep

I had the great privilege this evening of participating in a very Viennese event–a concert in the Golden Hall of the Musikverein. It wasn’t just any concert. It was a reunion of two exceptional Italian, or more precisely Milanese, musicians, Claudio Abbado and Maurizio Pollini, with two of the greatest Austrian composers on the program, Mozart and Bruckner (Mozart’s Piano Concerto in G major and the Viennese version of Bruckner’s Symphony Nr. in C minor). The audience consisted of well-dressed, but not necessarily well-heeled, Viennese and a mixture of others–the usual music students in standing room, the Asian (no longer exclusively Japanese) tour groups, diplomats, politicians, and elderly concert goers with a lifetime of such experiences and in some cases grandchildren to ensure a future of concert going in this city of music.

The Mozart was first. It lacked some clarity (perhaps Pollini was playing a Bösendorfer instead of a Steinway?) but was tenderly and fervently played, and was beautiful. The Bruckner was almost overwhelming, in a wonderful way. Like the ocean it had many moods and paces, great calm and small waves and then overpowering tidal waves of sound, concentration and energy. The orchestra (the Lucerne Festival Orchestra) got better and better, swept up in the music they were making. I think they’ll forgive me for not mentioning them until now as they themselves repeatedly refused to stand for applause, partly sensing that the audience had come to pay tribute to and enjoy once again two greatly loved and respected musicians and apparently also wishing themselves to honor those great musicians.

The applause after each piece was as overwhelming as the most intense moments of the Bruckner, expressing gratitude and recognition not only for the wonderful performances this evening but also for two lifetimes of exceptional music making–although  the two gentlemen (70 and above) themselves would almost certainly say, “Not yet a lifetime.”

My first year in Vienna

10 Jun

Recently I came across my collection of opera tickets from my first year in Vienna. I couldn’t resist creating an annotated inventory of my experiences.  The results of my labors:  Operas I went to my first year in Vienna