1. Hearing Mahler's First Symphony at the Musikverein
Mahler's First Symphony is, simply, pure genius. It is engaging, clever, and enjoyable for even causal fans of classical music. I think it is Mahler's best, though "Das Lied von der Erde" is a close second. The orchestra playing this symphony was made up of some of the best young musicians in Europe. The Gustav Mahler Judendorchester (youth orchestra) is selected every year based on intense competition among younger musicians from more than a dozen countries. The result is impressive. I don't think another orchestra could have played the First Symphony any better. Of course, the concert was enhanced by its setting: the Musikverein is Vienna's premier venue for music featuring gilded baroque and great acoustics.
2. Drinking heuriger (new wine) in the restaurant gardens of Nussdorf and Grinzing
|Heuriger in Nussdorf|
For more photos see https://picasaweb.google.com/dan.birchbay/Grinzing2011#
3. The art at the Kunsthistorische Museum and the Albertina Museum
One day was spent at the Vienna Art History museum, located on the Ring, viewing old masters. My favorites there are the early Flemish painters, including Breughel.
The next day was devoted to a grand tour of modern art at the Albertina Museum, highlighted by a special exhibit called The Blue Rider. The exhibit starts with impressionist masters, including several by Chagal and Monet, then moves quickly to expressionist schools and the various other forms of modern art from Klee to Picasso to Pollack to Bacon. The highlight (?) of the most modern modern painting was entitled "Black on Black," which is truly black.
|Breughel, The Wedding Banquet, 1568|
4. Buying "treasures" at the Saturday flea market at Naschmarkt
This hot, crowded agglomeration of temporary booths is a challenge to negotiate, but if a buyer is patient enough, he or she can find some rare items and bargains.
|Flea market photo|
I will definitely miss going to this flea market.
5. Three way tie: Great pastry, a tasty meal on Kahlenburg, and buying postcards at the Dorotheum
The fifth most enjoyable activity during my stay is Vienna is a a three-way tie. (I know, I'm cheating.)
I really enjoyed eating the fresh semmeln (small bread rolls baked daily) and pastry (mainly schnecke) for breakfast every morning. I would not do it in the U.S. because of the calorie count, but eating these is a treat while in Vienna. My apartment was within a few blocks of four or five bakeries selling fresh bread and pastry, so these treats were always fresh.
|Tapfelspitz with horseradish|
One of the lots I bought consisted of political cards and photos from the 1930s in Austria (a period of research interest to me). Right now, thanks to the Dorotheum and my credit card, I have a large number of cards and other other memorabilia about the assassinated Chancellor, Englebert Dollfuss. Go ahead and envy me for my treasure!
April in Vienna was a great month. I look forward to returning the city next year.