Tag Archives: music

Bösendorfer pianos

30 Jul

Somehow I had missed the news that the Bösendorfer building in the 4th district of Vienna with the beautiful concert hall, as well as production floor, was going to be torn down. Last Wednesday I picked up a copy of the free newspaper in Vienna “Heute” and what should I see on page 13 but a photo of the building already half gone and a caption that says the site would provide room for 80 new apartments. The company will go on. There is a new Bösendorfer concert hall now in the Mozart House on Domgasse, and the showrooms with practice facilities and the factory in Wiener Neustadt continue to operate, but somehow it is not the same. Apparently someone in Vienna’s Office for the Preservation of Historic Sites said that the building was a classic case for a commemorative plaque only. Even in Vienna.

Vivaldi in Vienna

28 Jul

This morning I learned in the most pleasant way possible that Antonio Vivaldi died in Vienna. There is a very nice Vivaldi monument in the park around the Votiv Church.

Vivaldi Monument

This morning I noticed something that is not there every day.

Vivaldi Monument with rose

And this is a close-up of the rose …

The rose

In case you can’t read the heart-shaped tag it simply says “Antonio Vivaldi, 28 July 1741.” At first I thought the rose was to celebrate his birthday but when I got home I checked my music dictionary and found out that he was buried in Vienna on that day.

Wonderful to be remembered–and so beautifully–after well over 250 years!

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

Cell phones ringing in the Musikverein

20 Jan

This kind of interruption seems to be in the news at the moment. Someone’s cell phone brought a New York Philharmonic concert to its knees (so to speak), earned a mention in the International Herald Tribune, and triggered an orgy of angry blogging. The person responsible (in the front row, mind you) was identified and asked not to do it again. He also agreed to an (anonymous) interview in which he detailed the circumstances that led to the incident. I’ve become so cynical I’m not sure I believe him. I was at a song recital in the Brahms-Saal in Vienna’s Musikverein a few months ago when someone’s cell phone rang just as Angelika Kirchschlager was walking onto the stage. The person made no move to tend to the phone, seemingly hoping that it would simply stop ringing, which it did after a while. And then it started again, the caller apparently not willing to give up. Kirchschlager at that point did ask the person to take care of it, and it turned out to be a lady of about 70 in the fourth row, or so.

Now, Kirchschlager belongs to that select group of singers who are up to the Brahms-Saal (which has reduced some like Anne Sophie von Otter and Sylvia McNair to sweating, hand-wringing wrecks) and she has the stage presence to bring the audience back to the present, too. But it still isn’t fair to the performers or your fellow concert-goers.

I do realize it can happen. People can for various reasons forget to turn off their cell phones, or they may think they have and for some reason not succeeded. (I also realize, such are the ways of the universe, that my cell phone will now almost certainly ring when I am at the Mozart-Saal on Thursday evening.) Still, I think the least one can do in this situation is to take responsibility, pull out the phone, and turn it off, even if a few hundred pairs of eyes are watching.

The first story that appeared in the IHT:
And the follow up, with explanation:

“Ich atmet’ einen Lindenduft” (I breathe in the scent of the linden tree)

30 May

Linden blossoms

Schubert’s song about linden trees may be more famous, but it is the 100th anniversary of Mahler’s death this year so I quote Mahler (or, more precisely, Friedrich Rückert, but Mahler set the poem to music).

The linden trees are in blossom in Vienna already, their distinctive fragrance sweetening the air. They’re early this year, but then it’s been that kind of spring. At the end of March suddenly everything came out at the same time so that forsythia and lilacs, chestnut trees and daffodils were all jostling for attention at once. Now it’s the elderflowers, cherries (not the blossoms, the fruit!), and the linden trees all out together in slightly disorienting array.

Musical addenda

Thomas Hampson singing Mahler’s “Ich atmet’ einen Lindenduft”. Hampson has been singing a lot in Vienna the last few weeks so his name is rather hanging in the air.

Hermann Prey singing Schubert’s “Der Lindenbaum”. I’ve never been that much of a Fischer-Dieskau fan. I’ve always had a soft spot for Prey’s human vulnerability. And I had the great, great privilege of hearing him sing “Die Winterreise”  in the Golden Hall of the Musikverein in Vienna, a year or so before his death. He stood and sang the cycle as if it were an old, intimate friend, which I suppose it was. Absolutely extraordinary.

One reason I live in Vienna …

29 May

… is the music. I was just (evening of Sunday, May 29) at a song recital with Florian Boesch and Malcolm Martineau (http://konzerthaus.at/programm/), a Liederabend in the grand old tradition of Liederabende. The program was almost exclusively Austrian (Schubert, Zemlinsky, and Krenek, with Schumann the only German) with some very Austrian / Viennese points, like the wanderer in Krenek’s “Reisebuch aus den österreichischen Alpen” (Travel Book from the Austrian Alps) fascinated by how the farmers in a barren mountain village are buried (half standing to save room) and only a few songs later lauding the wine from “Wien, Gumpoldskirchen, Krems, the Wachau, Baden, Soos, and Pfaffstätten”.

But it isn’t just the program and the quality of music-making on stage. It is also the audience. Although there were a number of foreigners in the audience it felt very much like an evening of Viennese “unter sich”–among themselves. The responses to the humor or pathos in the songs were immediate, the response of a knowledgeable, experienced audience. And when it came time for the encores the interaction had a certain intimacy, like the elderly gentleman in the front row who, after Boesch had finished a beautifully nuanced rendition of Schumann’s “Die Lotosblume,” breathed in reverence “Sehr schön” to which Boesch responded by looking pleased and saying, “Danke.”

A very Viennese evening.