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2.110331 - MUSICAL JOURNEY (A) - VIENNA: Austria's City of Music (NTSC)
English 

A Musical Tour of Vienna
With music by Johann Strauss II

 

CHAPTER 1

City Scenes and State Opera

Scenes of Vienna show the traditional houses and narrow streets, St Stephen’s Cathedral, the Neues Rathaus (New City Hall), with a brief glimpse of the Palace of Schönbrunn and the Gloriette at the end of the park.

Music Johann Strauss: Wiener Blut, Walzer, Op 354

The waltz Wiener Blut (Vienna Blood) was first performed on 22 April 1873 at a concert given to open a ball at the Vienna Musikverein in celebration of the wedding of the Emperor’s daughter Gisela to Prince Leopold of Bavaria.

CHAPTER 2

Stadtpark and Volksgarten

The Ringstrasse was built under the Emperor Franz Joseph in the second half of the 19th century, after the demolition of the city walls, earlier initiated by Napoleon. The Stadtpark was laid out at the same time, in English style. There can be seen the gilded statue of the younger Johann Strauss, with his violin, and statues of other composers include one of Schubert. The Volksgarten was laid out in 1820, making use of space made available by Napoleon’s destruction of the city walls. It includes formal beds, a famous rose-garden and a Temple of Theseus, originally designed to hold a statue of the god by Canova.

Music Johann Strauss: Frühlingsstimmer, Walzer, Op 410

Frühlingsstimmen (Voices of Spring), written in 1883, was first heard as a song for the coloratura soprano known as Bianca Bianchi, her stage name concealing the original family name of Schwarz. It appeared in its orchestral form on 18 March 1883 in a concert at the Musikverein and also won popularity in a piano arrangement.

CHAPTER 3

Coffee-Houses

Coffee is supposed to have come to Western Europe after the defeat of the Turkish armies besieging Vienna in 1683. The drink, which earlier travellers to Turkey had often found unpalatable (‘most like unto soot’, was the verdict of one such), gave rise to coffee-houses, places for social intercourse, in Vienna and then in other cities and towns in Europe. Vienna is particularly famous for its coffee-houses, including the magnificent Central, the Frauenhuber, the Hawelka, the Café Demel and many others.

Music Johann Strauss: Künstlerleben, Walzer, Op 316

Künstler-Leben (Artists’ Life) was designed for the carnival season of 1867 and celebrates the life of Vienna’s artists, particularly at this time of the year.

CHAPTER 4

Street Life

The streets of Vienna offer a busy scene, whether in the lanes and alleys of the old city or in the arcade connecting the Freyung with the Herrengasse. Various portraits of members of the Strauss family survive, as well as sketches and caricatures from the period.

Music Johann Strauss: Perpetuum Mobile, Op 257

Perpetuum Mobile dates from 1861, the year in which the three Strauss brothers appeared at a carnival ball at the Sofienbaadsaal. Described as a musical joke, the non-stop piece was first heard at an April concert, before Strauss left Vienna for his annual season at Pavlovsk.

CHAPTER 5

The Prater

The Prater was originally an imperial hunting-ground, but became open to the public under Joseph II in 1766. It includes a golf course, tennis courts and a race-track, as well as a funfair, this last dominated by the giant Ferris wheel, built in 1896 and offering views over the city. The wheel was a notable feature of Carol Reed’s film The Third Man.

Music Johann Strauss: Bitte Schön, Polka, Op 372

The French polka Bitte schön was arranged from the operetta Cagliostro in Wien (Cagliostro in Vienna), staged at the Theater an der Wien in 1875.

CHAPTER 6

An Evening at the Opera

The Vienna State Opera-House has its origins in the 19th century, with the development of public buildings on the new Ringstrasse. It was badly damaged in 1945 but rebuilt during the course of the following decade. The interior offers a fine grand staircase and a spacious foyer, decorated with pictures of scenes from opera. The building was designed, in neo-Renaissance style, by the architects August Siccardsburg and Eduard van der Nüll.

Music Johann Strauss: Leichtes Blut, Polka, Op 319

The quick polka Leichtes Blut (Light of Heart) was first heard at carnival in 1867.

CHAPTER 7

Vienna by Night

The buildings of Vienna have a new magnificence by night. Among them the Karlskirche, a church dedicated to St Charles Borromeo by the Emperor Karl VI in 1713, after a serious epidemic of the plague, has a particular place. Above the main entrance, with its columns and classical pediment, rises the great dome, while to each side are two curious columns, imitations of Trajan’s Column in Rome, but here ornamented with scenes from the life of the saint. The new Rathaus, the City Hall, completed in 1883, is dominated by its tall central tower, with its clock, and, on the very top, the figure of a knight in armour, the Rathausmann.

Music Johann Strauss: Wo die Citronen blüh’n, Op 364

Wo die Citronen blüh’n (Where the lemon-trees flower) takes its title from the gypsy waif Mignon’s song in Goethe’s Wilhelm Meister novel. It replaced the original title Bella Italia, which expresses much the same sentiment, when it was heard in Vienna, but was first played in Naples by the Langenbach Orchestra under Johann Strauss during a tour of Italy in the summer of 1874.

CHAPTER 8

Concordia Hall

The Press Club Concordia Ball, an important formal social occasion, is held in the new Rathaus, with its spacious Festsaal, 233 feet in length, on the second Friday in June.

Music Johann Strauss: Die Fledermaus: Overture

The operetta Die Fledermaus (The Bat) belongs to the same year and was given its first performance at the Theater an der Wien in April. Its plot of amorous intrigue seems to epitomize Vienna, much as the overture seems to summarise, in a medley of melodies, the operetta itself.


Keith Anderson


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