Vienna (Austria/Germany) Trip!

June 23, 2016, 9:46 PM · I am just returning from my family's 10-day trip to Europe, traveling to Austria and Germany! The main place we visited was Vienna, but during the entire trip there were plenty of musical and violin things for me to see, so I hope to go over most of them here, just as I did during my Italy trip.

I think the main exciting violin thing was getting to see the Mozart residence in Salzburg. We saw Mozart's original pianoforte (1782), from Vienna, his violin that he owned in Vienna (1764), and a painting commissioned by Leopold of the family, with the father holding his own violin. There were plenty of various facts on the Mozarts there as well, and clips from his most famous pieces. (I also got a copy of Leopold Mozart's book, The Art of Playing the Violin (1769)! Not only is it a cool historical relic, I think it can also be helpful for me in my own playing when I get home and pick up my violin again.) At the art museum in Vienna, there was a violin in a glass case by Anthony Posch, who made it in Vienna in 1720. (There were lots of old instruments at various exhibits showcasing the history in some of the cities and villages we visited as well, like Baroque trombones, trumpets, and clarinets, a serpent, and a bugle - there was one bugle made around the 14th-century!) There was even an 18th-century viola at the Hallstatt Museum we visited.

Besides looking at instruments, because Vienna was the main part of our trip, I of course went to a couple concerts. The first was a smaller afternoon harpsichord recital in Salzburg, and as I've never heard this instrument live before, it was very cool to go and check it out. She played a Muffat (1653-1704) Partita in d and several Mozart works, like his K1 and K25, and a couple variations on themes Mozart did. It was really cool hearing a harpsichord live! For the quieter sections of the Mozart, playing staccato makes it sound like lots of plucked violins, which brings out a cool sound the harpsichord can do that I've never heard before - I've mostly only listened to the instrument accompanying a Baroque orchestra. The really cool concert I went to was just last night in Vienna, the finale of my whole trip - a 2-and-a-half hour concert by the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra (ORF Radio-Symphonie-orchester Wien)! About half of the pieces they played I already knew, but some of the stuff I haven't heard before was cool as well. The orchestra was phenomenal! I'm not sure I got the best seat, as some of the sound didn't always carry well, and the balance at time would be off. But it was a beautiful concert hall, with chandeliers coming down from the ceiling. The theme of the concert seemed to be expressionistic music, or music that was just beginning to bend the rules of tonality - starting with Wagner, with the popular "Rise of the Valkyries," that popular piece everyone knows. The Bruckner they played was interesting as well. The second half of the concert was the best - they opened it with Tchaikovsky's "Romeo and Juliet," which is a piece I know very well, since the spring of 2012 really when I was obsessing over it. The following Sibelius piece (and I never got a program, so I don't have the names of any pieces I didn't know!) was dark and ended with a deafening silence, just as I would expect, that was very incredible - you could only get that experience by hearing it live. And there is no better way to end my stay in Vienna with a Viennese orchestra playing Ravel's La Valse, the apotheosis of Straussian waltzes! I've been waiting to hear more Ravel live, and I was almost jumping out of my seat at the big climactic moments. I am very inspired now to take all my composition sketches from this trip and begin compiling them into actual pieces now!

Speaking of composition, I did get some sketching for compositions done as well, especially when we hiked up a trail in the Alps in the small village of Berchtesgaden - that was very inspirational! Being close to European nature, and just truly relaxing in it as a break from being in the city.

Overall, it was a fantastic trip, and I am so glad I was able to catch some music during - of course, there were several street musicians as well, with lots of interesting combos - one was a dulcimer, an accordion, and a bass guitar playing Vivaldi's "Winter," the first movement! I would love to return to Vienna in the future to hear more and visit more places, like the House of Music, for example. The entire visit was full of history and made me very excited not just about music, but about our world in its entirety, and how great it is that we are all a part of it.


June 30, 2016 at 01:45 PM · I hope you visited the Haus der Musik in Vienna. It is a fabulous music museum which has lots of artifacts from Mozart, Beethoven, etc., and very interesting exhibits.

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