Saturday April 16, 2011
For the most part, Friday was a free day, allowing people to follow their Viennese bliss. Susan, an avid equestrian, had purchased her tickets for the celebrated Lipizzaners back in January. By the time Friday morning rolled around she would she accompanied by three quarters of our group. Most of the remaining travelers, including Trudy, Benla, Irene and Chuck took in the Hofburg Schatzkammer (Treasure Chamber) collection of the Hapsburgs and the Fine Arts (Kunsthistorisches) Museum. During the early afternoon many took in a tour of the opulent Schoenbrunn Palace, modeled after Versailles.
The Vienna Philharmonic at Theatre an der Wien – Death and Dinner
Friday night we attended a concert by the Vienna Philharmonic at the Theatre an der Wien, a hall primarily known as a home for opera. The orchestra, led by Peter Schneider, presented its opening program in the Easter Sound Festival: Dvorak’s Ten Biblical Songs (with mezzo-soprano Dagmar Pickova filling in on less than 24 hours notice for Magdalena Koczena) and the orchestral rarity Symphony “Asrael” by Josef Suk. Named for the angel of death, this symphony is an expression of grief over the loss of Suk’s mentor Dvorak, followed quickly by the passing of Suk’s young wife Otilka – Dvorak’s daughter. This is a powerful, pained yet hopeful work dealing not only with death but with its effect on those left behind.
And it was to be another late night, with dinner at the Restaurant Korso at the fashionable Hotel Bristol following the concert. We found our way back to our hotel rooms at midnight or so. The sound and the intensity of the Suk symphony stayed with one during the meal, afterward and in the silence and darkness in bed as sleep approached.
Saturday has been a day of travel. We motored the 300 kilometers from Vienna to Salzburg with a visit to the church at St. Wolfgang via a private ferry ride on the rustic mountain lake named Wolfgangsee. Tomorrow night we’ll attend a concert by the Berlin Philharmonic as part of the Salzburg Easter Festival. The conductor for that concert will be – can you believe it – a young fellow named Gustavo Dudamel. Sure it’s ironic that we’re journeying several thousand miles to hear the hometown boy at work. On the other hand, the traffic and parking should be a lot easier here.
– Rich Capparela