Vienna. Let me tell you. Every classical musician should go to Vienna. Not only is there a wealth of concerts and historical sites, but the entire city celebrates music as a worthwhile profession. There are plenty of people in the world that don’t see music as a useful career, but in Vienna, musicians and artists are the life breath. Statues of composers are sprinkled liberally around where other cities venerate politicians or rulers, and Renée Fleming cds are proudly displayed in the main street shops.
While in Vienna, I visited the Shönbrunn palace and Tiergarten zoo, the Wien museum, Vienna State Opera, Mozarthaus, The Spanish Riding School, the Vienna Art History Museum, Stadpark, Karlskirche, the Haus der Musik, and a fantastic wurst stand. (Lesson 4: A little research goes a long way. I had a list of 14 things I wanted to do in Vienna which gave me a lot of options in how to spend my time. Before I left my hostel for the day, I circled them on my map to make sure I used my time as efficiently as possible. This worked really well because I had flexibility to add a ballet at the opera house, but kept me from spending all day on the underground – not that that wasn’t an adventure in itself.)
I loved the Shönbrunn palace and zoo. The austere, symmetrical beauty of the palace and grounds was highlighted by the light snow and grey skies. It was mighty cold in Vienna. There was a Christmas market at the palace, and I was grateful for the warmth of an orangepunch as I walked through the marble sculptures and frozen trees. The Tiergarten zoo is one of the most highly rated in Europe, and I was not surprised. I see myself as somewhat of a zoo connoisseur thanks to my family travels and found Tiergarten to be absolutely fantastic.
Another highlight of my trip was the opera house. I went on a tour of the building for 3.50e and returned three hours later with a hot bratwurst to get a standing room ticket to see Verklungene Feste for 3.00e.
My favorite museum was the Haus der Musik. The first floor has the history of the Vienna Philharmonic and a display of conducting batons from the likes of Mahler and Bernstein. The second floor is the Sonosphere which had fascinating exhibits such as a room that mimics the sounds of the womb. The last part of the Haus de Musik were rooms dedicated to several great composers including Haydn, Beethoven, and Schönberg. They even had a set of cards Schönberg used for writing 12 tone music. Two of the interactive exhibits were really entertaining. They had a serialist approach to creating a waltz where you’d role two dice that represented different voicings and use the resulting numbers to create a melody. The end of the museum is a chance to virtually conduct the Philharmonic orchestra.
Vienna was nerd heaven.