Go out and listen to something…

July 3, 2006


Filed under: music, travel, Vienna — burnett @ 7:30 pm

I am traveling to Vienna later this week.� I was last there for the summer of 1977, and prior to that from 1972 -1974 as as student at the Hochschule fuer Musik.� It is hard to believe that 30 yrs have gone by, more since student days.� I have very little expectation as to what to expect, except that it is a city with a blend of enormous gravitas and charm.� I hear that the city is now “posh”, as opposed to being in a recovery from WWII as it was in 1972.�

� I arrived in Vienna in September of 1972, intending to stay for a couple months.� I wound up enrolling in the Akademie of Musik, and stayed for almost 3 yrs.� I quickly realized that to learn the language, I had to stay away from the American ex-pats and wound up hanging out with an unusual array of Viennese and German friends.� At that time, communes were big in Vienna:� Freud commune, Willi Reich commune, Jung Commune, Primal Scream commune, LSD commune, Ascetic commune, Shave your Head commune, etc. The members of the communes tended to converge at Hellas Cafe, Kleines Cafe and Hawelka, although the latter had already become trendy.� Of course most of the participants were refugees from the Viennese upper classes, trying to deny all sorts of things about themselves.� Which made them great fun.� � The notorious Paulanergasse group had federal funding to produce a film on the subject of drug abuse.� They were experts on the subject, and their timing could not have been better.� Timothy Leary was on the lam at the time, and arrive in Vienna in December, 1972.� Sure enough, he wound up at Paulanergasse, and lent some undeniable heft to the movie.�

Musically, Vienna opened up the world for me.� Emil Gilels, Sviatislav Richter, Nathan Milstein, David Oistrakh, Arturo Benedetto Michelangelo, Alfred Brendel, Karl Bohm, Claudio Abbado, Maurizio Pollini…the list is endless.� Austria, like other European countries, makes the university days a great education.� School is free, the concerts, galleries and travel were almost free with student card.� We went to concerts almost every night, and spent hundreds of hours in the art galleries.� (And the cafe’s.� It is easy get hooked on the local new wines and the espresso.)�

As far as composers were concerned, the biggest revelation for me was Anton Bruckner.� The 1973 Festwochen featured Mozart and Bruckner, so a Bruckner symphony appeared in every orchestral concert, and the masses were performed at Augustinerkirche.� Ultimately, I listened for 100’s of hours to recordings of the symphonies back in the States.� But it began in Vienna, and every note of Bruckner makes me think of the mood of Vienna.�

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