Vienna is not only the capital of Austria but also the world capital of music: here the greatest composers in history lived and worked, from Mozart to Beethoven, from Schubert to Strauss. Here is an itinerary in the city to get to know them.
Who has never dreamed of twirling on the notes of Beautiful Blue Danube, The waltz most famous of all Johann Strauss son and inevitable song played by Wiener Philarmoniker in golden room of the Musikverein from Vienna? A melody that every time makes the mind travel between baroque rooms, princely scenes and fairytale places, obviously with a wonderful long dress moved by continuous and romantic twirls. Son of the famous and homonymous Johann Strauss, composer of the equally inevitable piece with which the Viennese New Year’s Concert, or the March of Radetzky in 1848, built to celebrate the Austrian reconquest of Milan after the revolutionary uprisings of that year, Johann Strauss son also had music in his DNA and it was his mother who helped him because his father was against his son starting a career. In fact, he began to take lessons from the first violin of his father’s orchestra. However, his tenacity was well rewarded given the great success of audiences and critics that he obtained, especially starting from the year of composition of the Beautiful Blue Danube, 1866. In that year the director of the Wiener Männergesang-Verein, the Vienna Men’s Choral Association, invited him to compose on the occasion of the Sommer-Liedertafel, or the Summer Singing Festival, a new piece for his choir: initially he refused the proposal, but then following repeated requests from the Association he began to compose his first choral waltz, still much loved by the public today. The first performance was held in 1867.
If Johann Strauss father and son are mentioned, one cannot fail to mention the other greats composers linked to Vienna: Ludwig van Beethoven, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Franz Schubert, Gustav Mahler, Franz Joseph Haydn. For the great wealth of composers that Vienna saw in the nineteenth century, who elected it as their adopted city, and for the magnificent places related to music, Vienna can be considered world capital of music.
Strolling through the Austrian capital can still be found today traces of well-known composers. Beethoven spent thirty-five years of his existence in Vienna: born in Bonn in 1770, where he began his career as a pianist, he came to Vienna at the age of twenty-two to become a pupil of Joseph Haydn, and remained here until his death in 1827 at the age of fifty-seven. It was in Vienna that he composed his most famous works, his revolutionaries Symphonies. One of the apartments where Beethoven lived in the Austrian capital can still be visited: the Pasqualati’s house, located at the corner of Mölkerbastei and Schreyvogelgasse, is now part of the Wien Museum; is named after Johann Baptist Freiherr von Pasqualati, the composer’s great patron, and Beethoven lived here for nearly eight years. In fact, he worked in the apartment at the Fourth, Fifth, Seventh and Eighth Symphonies, found inspiration for his only opera, the Fidelio, and wrote his famous For Elisa. There Ninth Symphony it was performed for the first time in Theater am Kärntnertor in Piazza Albertina in May 1824, but today there is no trace of the theater since it was demolished in 1870. Nel Secession building is kept on Beethoven frieze, a masterpiece by Gustav Klimt made in 1902 on the occasion of the seventy-fifth anniversary of the composer’s death: with the Frieze, Klimt represents Richard Wagner’s interpretation of the Ninth Symphony of Beethoven, or the human pursuit of happiness. The work had been done specifically for the exhibition to then come to its conclusion; instead it came from the Republic of Austria and since 1986 it can be admired in the building with the golden dome. In Probusgasse 6 you can also visit the Beethoven Museum, which recounts all aspects of the composer in six chapters. The museum was created in the neighborhood where Beethoven wrote his in 1802 Heiligenstadt Testament, a letter addressed to his brothers in which he shows his concern for increasing deafness, but was never sent; here he also completed his Third Symphony, L’Heroic, and subsequently worked on the Ninth Symphony. Continuing the walk in the footsteps of Beethoven, the Theater an der Wien, where the Fidelio, the House of Music, where you have the opportunity to find out more about his figure and his works, and finally the Central cemetery in Vienna, where his grave is.
The only home of Mozart that has been preserved in its original form is instead at number 5 of Domgasse, today Mozarthaus. Here the composer lived for many years and here he wrote of his most famous works, such as The Marriage of Figaro. in Stephen’s Cathedral married his wife Constanze Weber and baptized his children while in the Jahn’sche Konzertsaal, now a typical Viennese café, Mozart gave numerous concerts as a pianist. Mozart is also remembered in the Central Cemetery, where there is a large one commemorative plate, and he too, like Beethoven, is linked to the Theater an der Wien, specialized since 2006 in Baroque opera, contemporary opera and Mozart’s works. The Theater was founded by Emanuel Schikaneder, librettist de The magic Flute and a friend of Mozart, in 1801. The composer spent the last years of his life in Vienna, but the little one enfant prodige did his first concert just six years before the Empress Maria Theresa in Hall of Mirrors of the Schönbrunn Palace. On his death, however, he was buried in San Marx Cemetery in a pit together with other deceased; the first funeral monument in his honor was erected 68 years after his death, in the place where his tomb is thought to have been.
Franz Schubert, “the most poetic musician who ever existed”, as Franz Liszt called him, as he was able to transform poetry into music, as in the case of Der Erlkönig (The King of the Elves) by Goethe e Gretchen am Spinnrade (Margherita at the spinning wheel), died prematurely at the age of thirty-one. In nineteenth-century Vienna they became fashionable Schubertiadi, that is musical evenings in which a small restricted group of friends listened to the Lieder by Schubert: the first Schubertiade was held in Vienna on January 26, 1821 in the apartment of the von Schober family. Even today, Schubertiade means an intimate concert or festival: the most famous is the festival held in Vorarlberg. There are also traces of Schubert in Vienna, a beginning from the house where he was born, in the ninth district, now known as Schubert Geburtshaus. He received baptism in the church in Marketgasse, which was later named Schubertkirche: here he sang in the choir, played the organ and composed various works especially for the church. At eleven he entered the Kaiserlichkönigliches Stadtkonvikt to become a court chorister; the building is located in Doktor-Ignaz-Seipel-Platz. He probably died of typhus in his brother Ferdinand’s apartment in the house Auf der neue Wieden N ° 694: today it houses a small museum where a lock of his hair, a piano from his brother’s time and various reproductions of original scores, such as that of his last song, the Taubenpost. He found burial next to Beethoven in Währinger Ortsfriedhof, now a public park. In 1888 his remains were moved to a tomb of honor in the Central Cemetery. A statue of him is also visible in the Stadtpark: he is represented here seated and thoughtful, waiting for the right inspiration. Finally, in the Wienbibliothek the Schubert collection is preserved, the largest of its kind in the world: this includes about 340 autographs, first editions of almost all compositions, many later editions and personal documents, as well as an extensive international literature on Schubert.
Finally, to get to know Vienna as the capital of music you cannot miss a concert at the Musikverein, considered one of the most elegant concert halls in the world, home to the Wiener Philarmoniker. The Musikverein was inaugurated in 1870, but the construction is due to the Emperor Franz Joseph, who in 1863 gave as a gift to the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde, the Society of Friends of Music, an area in front of the Karlskirche. Several architects presented their designs, but the building was eventually designed by Theophil Hansen. It consisted of sale due, of which even today the most famous and prestigious is the so-called Golden Room, where the New Year’s Concert is held, so to speak. Extremely elegant, with a carved and painted coffered ceiling and precious crystal chandeliers, the room is also decorated with sculptures and caryatids that refer to Greek architecture. It welcomes two thousand people and everyone can enjoy extraordinary acoustics: thanks to the very shape of the room, cuboid, the environment guarantees an optimal acoustic system in all points.
From the places where concerts are held (over 15 thousand events a year) to the places linked to the greatest composers, Vienna has a very strong and indissoluble relationship with music, which will never fade over time, thanks to the tradition and the excellent quality of its protagonists.
To know the places and the protagonists of Vienna, the world capital of music, visit the site austria.info
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