Photo by Catherine Karnow
In Paris, streets are named for famous writers. In Rome, they’re named for artists. But in Vienna, it’s composers who get all the glory. But they’re hardly relics of some vanished Viennese past: every night, an estimated 10,000 people attend a live classical music event in Vienna.
At the Orangery at Schönbrunn – one of the grandest Hapsburg palaces – there’s a concert of Mozart and Strauss. The Philharmonic, based in the rose-colored Neoclassical Musikverein off Karlsplatz, is so popular that tickets to its end-of-year shows are assigned by lottery; further along, off the Schubertring, the Konzerthaus is home to the Chamber Orchestra and Symphony alike.
The churches echo with Vivaldi and the sound of the Boys’ Choir. Even local coffeehouses, like Sperl or Mozart, have live pianists on weekend afternoons. In Vienna, it’s all but impossible to find silence; every street echoes with song.
As I cycle around Schwedenzplatz one afternoon, through the grand Hapsburg buildings of the Inner Stadt, my ears prick up. Passing an apartment block, I catch the strains of Liszt’s “Campanella”: reconfigured for violin.
I look up. The window is open. Inside, a man is playing, strolling back and forth onto his balcony. He catches sight of me eavesdropping below. He smiles.
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