In Vienna we went to a Schubert concert at Schubert’s birthplace. This was our first use of the underground and trolley system and we found that we could figure it out after all. We took a tour of the home and then settled onto bench seats in the terrace. The concert was 2 brothers – Edward and Johannes Kutrowatz playing at 1 piano (four-hand).
Waiting in the Courtyard for the Concert in the "cheap" seats
They played Mozart, Schubert, Brahms and of course a delightful Strauss waltz. We sat in the terrace since the inside hall was sold out weeks ago. Really quite fortunate, since it was so hot. Claudia (the Untour rep) had told us about this concert series and said just to get there when the doors opened and you could sit in the terrace and enjoy the concert for a fraction of the regular ticket cost. She was right. The piano they played was a special Dussendorfer – made in Vienna (it does not have as grand a sound as the Steinway). The brothers played two encores and even came out to bow to the people on the terrace. It was really a grand evening. Another Idyll couple joined us for the concert and we returned to the apartment with them.
Purstner Restaurant and the Dalmatia were next door to our apartment and both served excellent meals. Our apartment was surprisingly quiet – in fact silent. We were right in the center of the action – about 3 blocks from St. Stephan's and 2 blocks from an underground station. Don't know if Untours still uses this wonderful old apartment - but it had an old-fashioned elevator that looked like it came from a noir movie. Glass and wood and open and small - and if you left the door open on your floor no one else could use it!
The Kunsthistoriches Museum. We arrived in time to catch the English speaking tour. It was excellent. Our guide was very knowledgeable about art history and she took us to many of the old masters, concentrating on a painting that would illustrate a particular school or group of paintings. The Hapsburgs started this collection and so it reflects their tastes – many Dutch, German, Italian and Flemish paintings from the 15th through the 18th centuries. We started with Titian, then Tintorello, Rubens, Rembrandt, Michaelangelo and ended with Bruenghel. Peter Bruenghel was not a prolific painter and this museum has 13 or one-third of all his paintings. He did “The Tower of Babel” and a wonderful series of paintings based on the seasons of the year.
In Stadtpark we heard and saw the Strauss concert – we sat at the edge and did not have to pay. We heard several marches and the lovely Blue Danube danced by a professional couple in formal wear and ballet slippers. They looked like the couple that you often see on music boxes.
The Hundertwasser-haus is a must.
What an interesting artist and architect. He believes straight lines are uninteresting and out of harmony with nature. The floors of his museum building undulate but one does not seem to have to worry about tripping. The housing development that he designed in Vienna is very controversial – and the buildings are multi-colored – the windows drawn in at odd angles and plantings on the roof-tops and next to the windows. He is an ecologist and his philosophy can be seen in his writings, in the museum and of course in his art and architecture. He wrote one whole paper on the benefits of trees. Colored stones are embedded everywhere and there are many fountains. Sometimes three big planters tied together with water dripping into the first planter and then dripping on into the next and so on to the bottom where it is recycled back to the top again. On the top two floors of the museum was a special exhibit of Picasso’s pencil drawings and crayon drawings that he had left to his caretakers – they had never until this exhibit been seen in a public viewing. They were mostly “erotic” art. There is also an excellent restaurant on the grounds - so plan on having lunch there.
The Sperl Coffee House – which has been named one of the top ten in Europe – had lunch sitting outside. We also read a newspaper and Time magazine which they provided. It was very relaxed and you are encouraged to stay as long as you want.
The outdoor Opera stage at the Palace on the edge of the city is near the fake Roman ruins that the king had built on the Palace grounds. We had wonderful seats (again, we were advised by Claudia
to get seats on the side at the cheaper prices) for the outdoor production of Mozart’s “The Abduction from the Seraglio (palace).” The production was excellent. The intermission was shortened because of the threatening weather (thunder could be heard) and sure enough soon the rain drops came – just a scattering at first and then during the last half hour of the opera a steady rain.
Note the reflections of water on the stage from the rain!
The cast kept on with the Opera and we put on the rain gear Pete had carried in his backpack and we covered our legs with our umbrella. Most of the audience did the same and when the curtain call came we all stamped our feet on the wooden flooring to show our approval of their talent and tenacity.
For sure - you will never run out of things to do in Vienna. We had a lot of fun, despite the fact that it was July and hot hot hot! A good excuse for ice cream!
That's Pete in front of the world's oldest continuously running move house - the Erika in Vienna - couldn't resist since
Pete used to teach film in another life
Those are some of our impressions of Vienna from the summer of 1998. A few years ago - but some things never change!