skip navigation | text only | accessibility | site map

The Music of Budapest, Prague, and Vienna. (Royal Palace in Budapest, Hradčany Castle in Prague, & Hofburg Palace in Vienna)

Javascript must be enabled to view the videos
A cropped map of Europe, highlighting Hungary's city Budapest, the Czech Republic's city Prague, and Austria's city Vienna. click to watch the video

A popular destination of Central European tour groups, these three beautiful cities contain a great deal of European history within their walls. Part of the same empire until 1918, they are now the respective capitals of three different sovereign nations. After belonging to opposite alliances for much of the second half of the 20th century, all three are now friendly partners in the European Union.

The present-day tourist cannot help but feel these deep historic ties while roaming the Mariahilferstrasse, the Andrássy út or the Václavské náměstí. The modern faces of all three downtown areas were shaped by the same neo-classicist architectural style in the 19th century (compare the three national opera house buildings!), yet all three cities have preserved their old selves in the Castle District in Budapest, the Staré Město in Prague, and much of the First District in Vienna.

Thus, one may well think of these three cities as three sisters who shared a similar upbringing, whose lives diverged after they had grown up, and who reconnected again as mature adults. Each had its share of conflicts and even fights, now finally laid aside as their relations (economic, political and cultural) are thriving more than ever.

The common history these three cities share shows how misleading the old division between "Western" and "Eastern" Europe really is. Although temporarily separated by a 40-year Communist intermezzo, their close cultural ties cannot be denied. And a quick look at the map reveals that Prague, once the capital of Socialist Czechoslovakia, is actually 150 miles West of Vienna!

Of course, there was a time when Vienna was the center, and Prague and Budapest were on the periphery. (Actually, for the period before 1873, one should speak of Pest, Buda and Óbuda, three separate cities that merged in that year to form the modern capital of Hungary.) German being the official language of the Habsburg monarchy, Prague and Budapest were predominantly German-speaking cities throughout the 19th century, until a nationalist revival began on the "periphery," ultimately leading to the creation of independent Hungary and Czechoslovakia after the collapse of the Habsburg Empire in 1918.

Since the cities in both countries had long been predominantly German, writers, artists, composers, like nationalist politicians, looked to the countryside to find values that could be considered authentically Hungarian or Czech. The influence of folk poetry and folk music began to make itself felt in the work of city artists—a development that, incidentally, was not restricted to the "periphery" but to Austria itself as well.

Nowhere was the influence of Austria on other countries greater than in music, where the great Viennese classics—Haydn, Mozart, the German-born Beethoven, and Schubert—set the tone for all of Central Europe. Their style was not seen as specifically "Austrian" (although, of course, it was); rather, it became a universal frame of reference for composers everywhere. In the 19th century, Hungary and the Czech lands found their musical voices to a large extent in opposition to the Austro-German "mainstream." The Czech Antonín Dvořák may have been friends with (and was influenced by) the German-born Viennese Johannes Brahms, but in his large-scale works, Austrian ländlers and waltzes were replaced by Czech furiants. His younger colleague Leoš Janáček, a Moravian who spent most of his life in the city of Brno, made a point of looking to Russia for cultural and musical inspiration—as far away from Vienna as possible.

Franz Liszt, Hungarian by ancestry, grew up speaking German but spent his formative years in France. For his entire career, he balanced German and French influences but, an ardent supporter of the cause of Hungarian national revival, he had little contact with Vienna as a mature artist. Béla Bartók likewise spent time in Vienna mostly as a young man and not so much later on, although he was receptive to the music of his Austrian contemporaries, above all Arnold Schoenberg. Yet it was only in the 1960s that the new music of Vienna (the Second Viennese School of Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern) began to make some headway in the former provinces of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy.

Castle District in Budapest, but in the past, it was also called Royal Palace.

Budapest 1800

The buiding of the Court Theatre of Buda in the 18th century: Nemzeti Táncszínházban (US public domain)

Ludwig van Beethoven arrived in Buda to perform a concert at the Court Theater on May 7, 1800. It was not his first visit to Hungary; he had playe there four years earlier. His 1800 concert was followed, the following day, by the Hungarian premiere of Haydn's Creation. At the time, the three towns Pest, Buda, and Óbuda had a combined population of about 54,000 people (up from 35,000 just twenty years earlier). The era of economic growth that would continue throughout the 19th century had just begun. Some of the best known landmarks of Baroque architecture in Pest, such as the Inner City Parish Church (Belvárosi templom) and the Franciscan Church (Ferences templom) had been completed a few decades prior. Yet the future main architect of Pest, József Hild (1789-1867), who was going to shape the image of the city in the 19th century, was still a schoolboy. Pest, Buda and Óbuda were still somewhat sleepy (and predominantly German-speaking) provincial towns; the Hungarian Parliament held its sessions not there but in Pozsony (the present-day Bratislava, Slovakia), 100 miles to the north-west, closer to Vienna.

The most recent political event of any significance was the execution, in 1795, of Ignác Martinovics and six others, accused of mounting a conspiracy to introduce and propagate the ideas of the French Revolution in Hungary. Emperor Franz I did not tolerate any political movements that threatened to destabilize his rule.

Yet the voices calling for change could be silenced only temporarily. The first quarter of the 19th century was an era of a great political and cultural revival in Hungary. The revival started with a major linguistic reform that had been underway since the 1770s. Thousands of new words were created, and the (notoriously difficult) grammar of the language was codified (1795). Concurrently, a golden age dawned in Hungarian letters: Mihály Csokonai Vitéz (1773-1805), a multifaceted talent, absorbed various Western influences while being uniquely sensitive to Hungarian folk poetry as well, while Dániel Berzsenyi (1776-1836) wrote Classical odes addressing his fellow countrymen in ancient Greek poetic meters. (Both men are important living classics, remembered and appreciated to this day.)

Budapest 1900

Portrait of Pál Szinyei Merse, oil on canvas: By Wilhelm Leibl, 1869

spoke Hungarian as their first language. Since the 1867 Compromise, Hungary had become an almost equal partner with Austria and was enjoying broad autonomy in all areas, except foreign affairs and defense. Industrialization was proceeding apace, and the city had begun to attract international visitors in significant numbers. The year 1896 marked the 1000th anniversary of the Magyars’ arrival in present-day Hungary, an event celebrated in a most lavish manner, with a major miltary parade, a world fair in the newly completed City Park, the inauguration of Continental Europe’s first electric underground train, and more. Hungary had clearly come of age. One small sign of its cosmopolitan character is that one of its elegant cafés, frequented by writers, artists and bohemians of all stripes, was christened "New York," another one "Japan." (This vibrant scene is the subject of an excellent book by the Hungarian-born American historian John Lukacs: Budapest 1900: A Historical Portrait of a City and Its Culture. New York, 1988.)

Around the same time, the cultural life of the city (and the entire country) underwent a profound transformation. A new generation of writers and intellectuals was making its presence felt, first and foremost among them the poet Endre Ady (1877-1919), whose first revolutionary book of poetry, Új versek ("New Poems"), was published in 1906. A number of new artist groups were formed, starting with the Nagybánya school (1896), to connect Hungary to the latest international developments in painting, from naturalism to impressionism and beyond. The efflorescence of the fine arts may be seen in the multiplicity of styles living side by side, from the plein-air portraits of Pál Szinyei Merse (1845-1920) to the visionary canvases of Tivadar Csontváry Kosztka (1853-1919) and the József Rippl-Rónai (1861-1927), a representative of art nouveau. The two most important modern Hungarian composers, Béla Bartók (1881-1945) and Zoltán Kodály (1882-1967) started their careers in the midst of this ebullient period in Hungarian culture.

Budapest 2000

Iván Fischer: Photo by Budapest festival Orchestra

With about 2 million inhabitants, today’s Budapest is the largest city in the region. Forty years of Communist/Socialist rule ended peacefully in 1989, and Hungary is now a member of both the European Union and NATO. The statues and monuments of the Communist era (1949-1989) are now relics of the past, on display in a Memento Park on the outskirts of the city.

Yet there is one thing that has never changed. Even as Hungary is in the throes of an intense political debate between right and left-wing ideologies, it is still, as it was 100 or 200 years ago, a country that prides itself on its unique culture more than any other manifestation. In 2002, novelist Imre Kertész (b. 1929) was awarded Hungary’s first Nobel Prize in Literature, becoming only the second person, after Albert Szent-Györgyi (medicine, 1937), to receive this honor for work completed in Hungary. Other writers like Péter Nádas (b. 1942) and Péter Esterházy (b. 1950) have also successfully broken through the language barrier.

Hungarian musicians also continue to be present on the major concert stages of the world. Composer György Kurtág (b. 1926) won the Grawemeyer International Music Prize, the music world’s "Nobel," in 2006, and the operas and orchestral works of composer-conductor Peter Eötvös (b. 1944) are being performed all over the world, from Glyndebourne to Salzburg and from Boston to Los Angeles. Conductor Iván Fischer (b. 1951), the music director of the Budapest Festival Orchestra, served as Principal Conductor of the NSO from 2007 to 2009.

Hradčany Castle in Prague

Prague 1800 (Pop. c. 90,000)

Elfriede Jelinek

Although the rich musical life in Prague at the end of the 18th century is today a source of pride for Czechs, Prague in 1800 was—at least on cultural and linguistic terms—a predominately German city. Czech was generally considered a peasant language unsuitable for educated circles and it was mostly spoken in the city by the lower classes, especially recent arrivals from the countryside. However, scholars such as the brilliant linguist and philologist Josef Dobrovský (1753–1829) were already promoting the Czech language as a lost cultural heritage of the medieval Bohemian Kingdom. In the early 19th century, Josef Jungmann (1773–1837) continued Dobrovský 's work in a more political direction, promoting its broader use and encouraging the use of Czech for intellectual and artistic pursuits. However, the aristocratic patrons who sponsored the work of Dobrovsky, Jungmann and others were rarely interested in learning Czech and certainly had no interest in the revolutionary political reforms later made in the name of nationalism. Rather, their so-called Land patriotism supported cultural life centered around Bohemia to defend their feudal legal prerogatives against the absolutist consolidation of power by the Habsburg monarchs such as Maria Theresa and Josef II. One of the most important of these Bohemian patriots was Franz Anton Nostitz-Rieneck, or František Antonín Nostic-Rieneck (1725–1794), who built Bohemia's first public theater. This splendid "National" theater (today's Estates' Theater) opened in 1783 bearing a Latin dedication "to the Fatherland and the muses." However, no drama or opera was performed in Czech, but usually German or Italian. It was here, in 1787, that Mozart conducted the premiere of his Don Giovanni a few months after giving the first performance of a revised Marriage of Figaro that received a much more positive reception than the Vienna premier of the earlier version. Mozart appreciated his popularity in Prague, remarking, a propos of Vienna's indifference, that "my Praguers understand me." A quote beloved—if perhaps misused—by later generations of Czechs.

There was no shortage of excellent musicians to fill the orchestra of the theater, nor of talented Bohemian composers. A few years before Count Nositz built his theater, Charles Burney travelled through the area and famously described Bohemia as the "Conservatory of Europe." Of course, this was due not only to producing skillful musicians, but exporting many of them to major musical centers throughout Europe. Jan Stamic (Johann Stamitz, 1717–1757) found great success at Mannheim as one of the most important stylistic precursors to Viennese classicism. While working at prominent German and Italian courts, Jíŕi Benda (1722–1795) and Josef Mysliveček (1737–1781) forged the genres of melodrama and Opera Seria, respectively. In fact, Mozart's works in these genres are strongly influenced by these composers. Indeed the young Mozart had a memorable meeting with Mysliveček, and the man known in Italy as simply "il Boemo" is one of the major influences on Mozart’s early works. Jan Ladislav Dusík (or Dussek, 1760–1812) was a predecessor to Liszt as one of the first piano virtuosos to travel widely throughout Europe and a technical collaborator in the development of the piano (he is thought to be the first to turn the piano sideways on stage). There were also important Bohemian composers living in Bohemia at the dawn of the 19th century, including Václav Tomášek (1774–1850) and Jan Václav Voŕíšek (1791–1825), a friend of Schubert's who also met an untimely demise.

Finally, the musical patronage of the Bohemian nobleman Prince Joseph Franz Maximilian Lobkowicz (1772–1816) must be mentioned, even though it contributed less directly to Prague itself. Prince Lobkowicz supported numerous famous composers, but he is best remembered as a patron of Beethoven (he is the dedicatee of symphonies 3, 5, and 6). In the years around 1800 he commissioned the Haydn opus 77 quartets, the Beethoven opus 18 quartets, and also Beethoven's Third Symphony. In fact, the Eroica was first performed in 1804 at the Lobkowicz's Eisenberg castle in Northern Bohemia.

Prague 1900 (c. 600,000)

Portrait of Antonin Dvorak

By 1900, the Czech nationalist movement that was only nascent at 1800 had reached full maturity, at least in Prague. Only 60% percent of Bohemia identified themselves as Czech-speaking, but in Prague the number increased to 93%. In 1900, Antonín Dvoŕák (1841–1904) wrote his most famous opera, Rusalka, and it was premiered the following year, not at Count Nostitz's theater, but a new and emphatically Czech National Theater. During the 1880s, one hundred years after the Estates theater opened, several new musical venues were constructed, setting the stage—literally—for Prague's musical life circa 1900. The increasingly nationalist polarization of public life in the city led first, to the construction of a Czech National Theater on the banks of the Vltava just south of the Old Town district. This replaced the provisional national theater which, in fact, was physically incorporated into the new structure and is still visible today as the lighter colored rear third of the building. The construction of the provisional theater in 1861 encouraged Bedŕich Smetana (1824–1884) to return home from Sweden, and he became its director in 1866. His principal violist in the orchestra was none other than a young Antonín Dvoŕák. A few years after the Czech national theater was officially opened in 1883 with Smetana's Libuše (the mythical Czech founder of Prague), a New German Theater (today's Prague State Opera) was built in 1888 just off of the famous Wenceslaus Square, next to the iconic and imposing (Czech) National Museum, which was then still under construction. The German Theater countered the nationalist programming of the Czech Theater by choosing Wagner's Die Meistersinger, arguably his most nationalist work, for the opening of its new theater.

The 1880s also brought an excellent new home for instrumental music when the Rudolfinum concert hall opened in 1885. Also built on the banks of the Vltava, it stands within the old town, just downstream from the National Theater. In 1896, the Rudolfinum held the inaugural concert by the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra with Dvoŕák at the podium, conducting his own works in a hall that now bears his name. The orchestra became independent from the National Theater in 1901 and the Rudolfinum has been its home for its entire illustrious history.

In the decades surrounding 1900, Czech musical life in Prague was strongly divided between the supporters of Smetana and Dvoŕák. Although this was not based on personal enmity between the composers, intense factions among Prague's critics and conductors, performers and educators drew sharp distinctions between the two composers. Smetana's loudest supporter was the notorious Zdeněk Nejedlý (1878–1962), a young historian and music critic in 1900 who later became the first minister of education after the 1948 Stalinist coup. Nejedlý promoted Zdeněk Fibich (1850–1900), with whom he had studied composition, and Josef Bohuslav Foerster (1859–1951) as the proper direction in Czech music, while attacking the young composers associated with Dvoŕák and the Prague Conservatory, most notably Josef Suk (1874–1935), Dvoŕák's son-in-law, and Vítězslav Novák (1870–1949).

Although in 1900 Leoš Janáček (1854–1928) had already composed the first act of Jenůfa, he was hardly known in Prague. The opera was premiered in Brno in 1904, but it was not performed in Prague until 1914 due at least in part to personal differences with the director of the National Theater—a strong Nejedlý ally. However, the belated premiere was a great success and his famous later operas were all given in Prague soon after their Brno premieres, making the composer an important figure in Prague music during the final decade of his life

Prague 2000 (1,204,897)

Czech writer Jaroslav Hašek (1883-1923)

At the start of the new millennium, Classical music was flourishing in Prague. The Velvet Revolution of 1989 ushered in an optimistic decade pulsating with excitement and change. Economic development and historical restoration coexisted with vibrant youth culture and a famously hip scene for American expats, transforming the West's idea of Prague from a mysterious city in Eastern Europe to one of the top tourist destinations in Europe. The city's historical charm and wealth of excellent musicians—along with clever promoting and marketing—made Prague a center for Classical music tourism. During the 1990s, two new, more flexible orchestras joined the three fully professional concert orchestras that already existed in 1989. The Czech National Theater and the Prague State Opera perform operas and ballets at all three theaters mentioned earlier. Excellent chamber music is performed at multiple sites and a vast array of tourist-oriented concerts are held in historical churches and palaces (although these generally program somewhat pandering, "greatest hits" fare, the performances are often quite high quality). Numerous concerts can be found any night of the year, but the Prague Spring Festival (founded in 1946 and held annually for three weeks in May) deserves special mention.

In contrast to ubiquitous Church performances of baroque and classical repertoire, or reverential performances of Mozart at the Estates theater and Smetana at the National theater, the recent opera Nagano provides a wonderful glimpse into contemporary Czech cultural attitudes and values. Composed by Martin Smolka (b. 1959) and premiered at the Estates Theater in 2004, Nagano depicts the cherished gold-medal performance of the Czech ice hockey team at the Winter Olympics in 1998. Ice hockey is something of a national sport and the stars of the 1998 team are beloved household names—even to the opera audiences. Striking a clever balance between humor and seriousness, as well as high and low culture, Nagano resonates with the characteristic Czech humor epitomized by Jaroslav Hašek's (1883–1923) Good Soldier švejk (both Hašek, who shares his last name with the team's legendary goalie, and švejk appear as characters near the end of Nagano) while examining the heroic mythology so integral to national opera traditions.

Although the Czech's triumph in Nagano occurred near the end of the 1990s, the opera was written and performed in the early years of the new millennium as the national optimism following the Velvet Revolution faded under increasing government gridlock and economic stagnation. If the creative and optimistic spirit of 1990s Prague is often culturally symbolized by their late playwright-president Václav Havel, his 2003 successor and political adversary, Václav Klaus, represents an era rather less concerned with promoting progressive culture. Although Klaus never shared Havel's interest in the cultural activity, he has not hesitated to become personally involved in public cultural politics. In 2007, the proposal from celebrated Czech émigré architect Jan Kaplický (1939–2009) won a juried competition but sparked an uproar from those who disliked the uniquely shaped green and purple building, nicknamed the octopus. The ensuing controversy became a power struggle in cultural politics rather than an aesthetic dispute, as even many artists and intellectuals who disliked the design supported the architect and the library leadership against the intervention by politicians. Klaus was particularly adamant in his distaste for the design and leveraged his power to ensure that it has remained unbuilt.

Another internationally famous Czech artist to draw Klaus's ire is the sculptor and conceptual artist David Černý (b. 1967). Since first achieving notoriety in 1991 for painting a Soviet tank pink at a Prague War Memorial, černý has produced a number of irreverent but iconic works around Prague. However, he provoked an international scandal with his Entropa (2009). The work, which was unveiled in Brussels when the Czechs assumed the rotating presidency of the EU, depicts each EU member state according to potentially offensive stereotypes arranged as snap-out pieces in a model kit. In the work, černý chose to depict the Czech Republic as an LED display flashing controversial quotations by Klaus, a notorious Euro-skeptic who describes the idea of global warming as a communist conspiracy.

Hofburg Palace in Vienna

Vienna 1800

Portrait of Mozart

Vienna has long been the Musikstadt, the City of Music to which countless musicians gravitated. When the new century dawned in 1800, Mozart had been dead for nine years, the elderly Haydn was writing his final works, Schubert was a toddler, and the new bright light on the scene was the brilliant 29-year-old Beethoven. During the 1780s, exactly the period of Mozart’s residency in the city, Emperor Joseph II had ushered in a remarkable period of liberalization by easing censorship, promoting religious tolerance, and making important advances in education and health.

After the emperor’s death in 1790 (which the 19-year-old Beethoven commemorated in an ambitious cantata, his first major work) a long period of political reaction ensued, complicated further by the Napoleonic wars. Censors delayed the premiere in 1805 of Beethoven’s lone opera Fidelio, which failed with the public in part because French troops were occupying the city, reducing the attendance of the composer’s usual supporters. The defeat of Napoleon a decade later prompted the Congress of Vienna, which met for nearly two years starting in September 1814. In a newly celebratory mood, audiences embraced the revised version of Fidelio.

But while the Viennese no longer had to worry about the French, they now lived under the increasingly repressive regime of the powerful Foreign Minister, Prince Klemens von Metternich. Franz Grillparzer (1791–1872), the leading Austrian writer of the day, remarked to Beethoven that the composer was lucky because, unlike with literature, pure music could not be censored. Part of music’s strong appeal was that it offered a realm of freedom in the individual listener’s imagination. With public assembly restricted, concerts were relatively limited and most music-making took place in domestic settings, exemplified by the gatherings Schubert enjoyed with his friends known as "Schubertiades" and that focused on intimate musical genres such as songs, dances, and piano music.

Vienna 1900

Sigmund Freud

Sigmund Freud (1856–1939) published his path-breaking Interpretation of Dreams in November 1899 but symbolically dated the first edition 1900—the dawn of a new century. This was a time of unusually brilliant intellectual and artistic activity in Vienna. As the rapidly growing capital of the multilingual Austro-Hungarian Empire, Vienna attracted many immigrants who vitalized the city. Both Freud and Gustav Mahler were assimilated Jews born to German-speaking families in the Czech lands who moved to Vienna.

The cultural scene in fin-de-siècle Vienna offered much more than music. Enlivening the visual arts was the so-called Secession movement, united under the motto Der Zeit ihre Kunst, der Kunst ihre Freiheit (To the Age Its Art, To Art Its Freedom). Gustav Klimt (1862–1918), Josef Hoffmann (1870–1956), Egon Schiele (1890–1918), Oskar Kokoschka (1886–1980), and others explored new paths in painting, architecture, and design.

The novels and plays of Arthur Schnitzler (1862–1931) seemed to translate Freudian theories into disturbing fiction. Philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889–1951) grew up in Vienna (his brother Paul was a prominent pianist), physicist Ernst Mach (1838–1916) moved there from the Czech lands, and journalist Theodor Herzl (1860–1904) came from Budapest as a teenager and went on to found modern political Zionism. Adolf Hitler (1889–1945), long before he became Germany’s disastrous dictator, was a provincial art student who aspired to make it in the capital; he went regularly to hear Mahler conduct at the Vienna Court Opera and in so doing memorized Wagner’s operas.

Writer Stefan Zweig (1881–1942) characterized this time as the "Age of Security" in his memoir The World of Yesterday. In 1898, the beloved Emperor Franz Joseph I (1830–1916) celebrated the 50th jubilee of his nearly 68-year reign. And yet darker forces loomed. The year before Karl Lueger was elected mayor of Vienna on a platform with a strong anti-Semitic element. Historian Carl Schorske (b. 1915), in his fascinating and Pulitzer Prize–winning Fin-de-siècle Vienna: Politics and Culture (1980), notes how this event was emblematic of "politics in a new key," which helped lead to fascism. The great essayist Karl Kraus (1874–1936) quipped that while the situation in Berlin was "serious but not hopeless, in Vienna things are hopeless but not serious."

The assassination in Sarajevo of the Franz Joseph’s son and heir, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, in June 1914 helped spark the outbreak a month later of the First World War. A musical revolution came during this time as well, as the late Romantic tradition of Johannes Brahms, Anton Bruckner, and the lilting waltzes of Johann Strauss II were challenged by the Modernist adventures of Mahler, Arnold Schoenberg, Alban Berg, and others.

2000

Elfriede Jelinek

The rise of Adolf Hitler and National Socialism changed not only political life in Austria, as it did across Europe, but also dealt a crushing blow to Vienna’s illustrious cultural standing. Many leading artists and intellectuals fled before the Anschluss (Annexation) in March 1938. Others that could, like Sigmund Freud, left soon thereafter, while not all those that remained survived the war.

After the Nazi defeat in 1945, Austria was occupied by Allied forces and in 1955 was reestablished as an independent Republic. The small Austrian nation, with a total population today of 8.4 million (some 1.7 in Vienna) could hardly hope to recapture its imperial past when it was the gloried center of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Denial and nostalgia predominated for decades, bitterly portrayed in the brilliant novels and plays of Thomas Bernhard (1931–1989), perhaps Austria’s greatest post-war writer, and more recently in the writings of Elfriede Jelinek (b. 1946), who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2004.

And yet from drab post-war Vienna, evocatively captured in the celebrated film The Third Man (1949), a vibrant culture slowly emerged. Throughout all its trials, Vienna maintained its legendary orchestras, theaters, opera companies, and concert halls—culture always remained a priority. In the memoir The World of Yesterday,Stefan Zweig recalled his family’s cook appearing in tears with the news that a famous actress had died. What he found so strange "about her wild mourning was the obvious fact that this old, semi-illiterate cook had never once been in the fashionable Burgtheater." Although she had never seen the actress herself, she felt the loss of "the collective property of the entire city of Vienna."

Such cultural values and pride helped sustain Vienna’s magnificent past even as new ways were being found to revitalize the city after the catastrophe of war. One of the areas in which this has been most evident is in architecture, including the buildings by Friedensreich Hundertwasser (1928–2000) and the magnificent MuseumsQuartier Wien, which opened to great fanfare in 2001.

Read More +
Read Less -

 
Loading...
please wait, the content is still loading

Videos

You can also see these videos in the timeline.

Cultural Milestones

Artistic Creations

Political Evolutions