A tram passes the Vienna State Opera at night. The city’s tram network is one of the world’s largest but was extensively damaged during World War II bombing – leading to the introduction for a time of replacement tramcars from New York under the post-war Marshall Plan.
Vienna – Been There

A man on a balcony playing Liszt – just another night in Vienna

Photo by Catherine Karnow

Vienna – Been There A man on a balcony playing Liszt – just another night in Vienna

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.

Tara Isabella Burton
Tara Isabella Burton Travel Writer

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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Every year, on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday, the Vienna State Opera becomes the setting for the Vienna Opera Ball – a major event in the Vienna Carnival season. First held in 1935, it has been a feature of the social calendar every year since, apart from a break during World War II. It is now twinned with a similar event in Dubai. Photo by Martin Schalk / Getty Images

Martin Schalk

Martin Schalk

NIKON D3S

Agency
Getty Images
Aperture
ƒ/5
Exposure
1/250
ISO
3200
Focal
14 mm

Every year, on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday, the Vienna State Opera becomes the setting for the Vienna Opera Ball – a major event in the Vienna Carnival season. First held in 1935, it has been a feature of the social calendar every year since, apart from a break during World War II. It is now twinned with a similar event in Dubai.

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