Saturday, August 17, 2013

Europe Trip Travel Blog #3: Vienna, Austria

We only had one full day in Vienna and the main reason we wanted to go there was to see all the music history. We found a self-guided walking tour online (here) that took us around Vienna to different sites that famous composers and musicians lived in, worked in, or died in.

The first stop on the tour was St. Stephen's Cathedral (Stephansdom). It's the icon of Vienna. Locals call it "Steffl." Haydn and his brother sang there for 9 years, and he was married there. The deaths of Vivaldi, Gluck, Salieri, Schubert, and Mozart are all on the church's registry. Mozart also got married and had his children baptized in the church. Mozart was supposed to become the music director but then he died.

We didn't go inside but the outside was beautiful.

The next stop was the House and Church of the Teutonic Order (Deutschordenhaus), where Mozart lived for a few months. Brahms also lived there for a couple of years. 

We walked to Mozarthaus, which is Mozart's only surviving apartment in Vienna. It has been converted into a museum but we didn't go in. 

We saw this Jesuit Church (Universitatskirche because it is near the old University). 

The coolest part of the church was this "fake dome" mural. It is not a real dome, just an optical illusion. 
We also saw the old University and the Austrian Academy of Sciences, which is right by there. We went into the room where Haydn celebrated his 76th birthday, which is the same room in which Beethoven premiered his Symphony No. 7...but it is really lame looking now. It has a projector screen and is all "modern" because it is still used today.

In Stadtpark we saw lots of statues dedicated to musicians, which was cool. This is the Schubert statue.

and here is Mozart. We also saw Bruckner, Lehar, and Stolz. 

     Next, the two coolest things we did in Vienna. First, we went to the House of Music museum. (It was part of our walking tour, and also the only museum we wanted to go to in Vienna.)
     The museum is the former apartment of Otto Nicolai, who is the founder of the Vienna Philharmonic and its first conductor. 
     The first floor of the museum is dedicated to the Vienna Philharmonic, one of the best orchestras in the world.
     The second floor was the "sonosphere," dedicated to the science of sound, with information about how human ears work, and all sorts of different sounds to listen to and ways to listen to them.
     The third floor was the best. It was "The Great Composers", dedicated to composers from Vienna or who lived and worked there - Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert, Strauss, Mahler, Schoenberg, and Mozart. There was an audioguide and different rooms for each composer with lots of information and cool artifacts, including old instruments and scores of their music.
     One interesting thing I learned was that Viennese Classical Music is responsible for the shift of focus from the music expert to the listener. Before this period, composers only wrote for God or the king. During this period, composers wrote for their audiences, which meant anybody could enjoy the music, not just the "experts."
     My favorite part of the museum was on the third floor. It was an interactive exhibit that allowed us to conduct the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. There was a screen with video of the orchestra, and you could select a song to conduct with a special baton with a sensor and the orchestra responded to your movements of the baton, playing quickly or slowly depending how you moved. Stephen conducted "Blue Danube" beautifully. Then I tried to conduct "Can Can" but I was being silly, messing with them, changing the tempo, and finally they stopped playing in the middle of the song and one of the musicians said in German (with English subtitles), "Hold on! Don't take this the wrong way...we can put up with a lot, but this is too much! Let's try again from the beginning," and it reset. conducting was so bad I broke the orchestra.

     After the museum, we went to the Musikverein, which is a music hall. The Golden Hall inside is where the Vienna Philharmonic plays their New Years concert which is broadcast worldwide. We just wanted to look at the outside of the building. We knew before the trip that we wouldn't be able to see any orchestras or operas performing because they are all in the off-season in July. But when we went to the Musikverein we found out about a special summer concert by the Wiener Mozart Orchester. That night was the first night! So we were super lucky. The Mozart Orchestra is a travelling orchestra made up of members of the Vienna Philharmonic, and they would be joined by members of the Vienna Opera to perform Mozart's "greatest hits." We got tickets.

After supper we went back and got to sit in the beautiful Golden Hall to watch this amazing concert.

The Mozart Orchestra performs dressed in costumes from the time period. (or as I said, dressed as Mozart.)

They were joined by a male singer and a female singer from the opera.

The concert was great and along with the museum, it was my favorite thing we did in Vienna. 

I really enjoyed our day in Vienna. I learned a lot and felt that I saw a lot of the interesting buildings and mouments through our walking tour. If you're not interested in music history, I'm sure there are still lots of cool things to see in Vienna, but that's why we went and we definitely enjoyed it.

Check out my other Europe Trip Travel Blogs:

and my packing tutorial


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