Postcard from Vienna
Vienna has often been considered the capital of classical music. It's a strong claim, as many of the great composers were drawn there. So hop into a Fiaker by St Stephen's Cathedral and join us for a musical tour around the city.Read more…
After leaving his Esterházy employment, pursuing a freelance career, Joseph Haydn moved to Vienna where his late works included his "Emperor" String Quartet. It was in Vienna that he and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart met to play string quartets – along with fellow composers Vanhal and Dittersdorf. According to the Irish tenor Michael Kelly (the original Don Curzio in The Marriage of Figaro), "the players were tolerable; not one of them [except for Dittersdorf] excelled on the instrument he played."
Mozart lived in Vienna from 1781, composing some of his greatest works. In the final months before his death, he wrote his Clarinet Concerto (for his friend Anton Stadler), and 'Die Zauberflöte'.
Young firebrand Beethoven, bristling with revolutionary fervour, lived in Vienna from 1792 . He planned to dedicate his Third Symphony to Napoleon, but on hearing that the Frenchman had declared himself emperor, he furiously scratched out the annotation, renaming it the Eroica.
Vienna is inextricably linked to dance music. Joseph Lanner was one of the earliest composers to refine the waltz from a simple peasant dance (the Ländler) into something high society enjoyed. His great rival was Johann Strauss who fathered a dynasty of dance composers, the most famous being "Waltz King" Johann Strauss II.
The Ländler itself often appeared in symphonies by Bruckner and Mahler, and by Mahler's one-time room, the little-known Hans Rott whose Scherzo in his sole symphony bears more than a passing resemblance to music by Gustav… except Rott composed his first!
Fin-de-siècle Vienna was a golden age for the arts: Gustav Mahler, Alexander Zemlinsky, Gustav Klimt, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Arnold Schoenberg, Oskar Kokoschka and Egon Schiele all rubbed artistic shoulders. Alma, Mahler's wife (and lover of Zemlinsky and Kokoschka), composed a number of songs. Indeed, Kokoschka illustrated the cover of her 1915 set heard here. Erich Wolfgang Korngold – like Mozart – was a child prodigy, son of a prominent music critic. 'Der Schneemann' was premiered at the Vienna State Opera when he was just 13.
And no celebration of Viennese music could end with anything but the Radetzky March!