Vienna! Wherever you look there is something astonishes you!
In the old town, every building is fabulous. In Christmas, it is even more beautiful with the small Christmas markets in every square and a big one in front of the Rothaus.
However, when you come to this city, you shouldn't just walk by the streets and touristic buildings; city has much to offer: Music! This city is the heart of the classical music. This time I went to the city, I did the musician walk recommended by the visit Vienna Info website. Here are the things you should do and visit!
Hint: I recommend that you either travel alone or with a classical music enthusiastic like you!
First thing before you bought your plane/train ticket is to check the concert and opera schedule of course! You should never postpone doing it because tickets are sold out immediately. Also, if you plan to visit on summer, since the season will be over, it will be much harder for you to find a concert.
Buying an Opera Ticket
First you should check the program. Once the program is published, you could pre order a ticket by mailing them. Also, while you're choosing for an opera, you can see if the tickets are available still or not.
How to choose?
If you are not that interested to opera, and you do not know how to select an opera you can read my opera cards for brief information from here.
My recommendation if you're not a true fan, try to buy a ticket for the classics; Verdi, Puccini, Bizet, Mozart, Donizetti, Bellini, Rossini are the composers you can always rely on. If it is you're first time and you watch a twelve tone opera, you will probably be bored.
Once you want to buy a ticket, you can't just buy it, but you choose the date, the opera and the price range you are willing to pay. After this, you wait for confirmation. So there is a chance you don't get confirmed, unfortunately.
My tickets were confirmed one or two weeks later. Even though my category was not the last (cheapest) category, I had very limited view, so be careful of that. My box had a very good view, but since I was in the third row, I could only see part of the stage.
If there is an opera you definitely want to see but is sold out, or if you decide to attend to the opera last minute (well, let’s say a day beforeJ); you can buy a standing ticket. It costs like 3 or 4 Euros, so it is very cheap. Standing area is directly in front of the stage and has a wonderful view. But also there are standing areas at the back of the some boxes, these are probably limited view.
These tickets only sold at the day of the performance. You should get into the line like three hours before the beginning time; also if there is a famous star, line starts in the morning. So you have to wait hour in the line, once you leave it you have to go to the back again. As a tourist maybe you don’t want to spend hours waiting instead of visiting other places, so buying a ticket can be better option.
Be careful though! It can be hard to stand during the 4 hours of Berg’s Lulu, for example :)
Be sure collecting the ticket is one of the things you do once you arrive to make sure everything is fine. You can visit the opera building with a guide. English guided tours are at 13.00, 14.00 and 15.00 o’clock. There are other language options, also. What will you see during the tour? First of all, you will be seeing the intermission areas; guide will give you wonderful information about the architecture and design, things you can miss by your own.
The designs you see around the building are the scenes from the Mozart’s Zauberflöte.
There are seven muses around the main entrance stairs; some of them are; architecture, music, sculpture, dance and literature. In the two sides of the stairs, there are the monuments of the two architects who designed the opera building. Again, in both sides, there are cravings of the repertory of the house; opera and ballet.
This room is dedicated to the famous composers whose works are part of the repertory in the opening times, some of them are unfamiliar today, they are not staged in the house anymore. Above the name and the bust of the composer, there are paintings representing their operas. Rossini represented by The Barber of Seville, Beethoven with Fidelio for instance.
You got to see the intermission room once belonged to the aristocrat family. Now, you can rent it for yourself during a performance. Although it costs like 5000 euros to do that only for once intermission and twenty minutes :)
Here you can see the auditorium empty. Probably there will be a stage preparation on the stage. So if you had an opera ticket, I would suggest you to do the guided tour the same day, because you got to see a little preparation for the stage you will see in evening. There you will be informed about the acoustics of the room, and more importantly the backstage.
The other areas actually can be seen if you had a ticket, you can’t see the offstage. Since this part of the building is very old, they don’t have many space on the offstage. It is wide and big, but not huge enough compared to the Metropolitan opera, for example. In Metropolitan opera, there are five different stage. But in Vienna, since they don’t have space, they store the stages and decors in some other place that is twenty minutes away. Every morning the stages arrive by the tracks. You can see the tracks arriving in the morning.
You should definitely check the concerts before you go. Vienna Philharmonic’s New Year Concerts take place in the Golden Hall. Even if you had a ticket, I strongly recommend that you should attend to the guided tour here. It is at 13.00 o’clock, every day. You can see the Brahms Hall and the Golden Hall – if there is no rehearsal. When I was there, there was a rehearsal at the Brahms Hall and we couldn’t see it; instead we saw the rehearsing room: The Glass Room.
The Golden Hall is famous with its acoustics. The interesting thing is, when they first building the hall in order to be able to remove the chairs very quickly, architecture added a whole empty space just below the hall. So when the chairs are in the hall during concert, there a huge vibration space below the hall and they say it helps the acoustics. It was not deliberately built for the acoustics but they were lucky enough.
The Glass Room built for the rehearsals since the empty Golden Hall had a longer vibration time, and it is harder for the performers to rehearse there. The Glass Room is the same size as the Golden Hall. There are different sized glass rectangle pieces. According to the ensemble type (choir, orchestra or ensemble), those pieces can be adjusted and tilted the way it serves the best acoustics for the performance.
There are start craved to the streets around the both Wiener Staatsoper and Musikverein. Make sure you see them all!
St. Stephen’s Cathedral
While you admire this church that is the symbol of the Vienna, keep it in mind that Haydn was a choirboy at age 8 here. At age 28, he got married to the sister of the woman she loves, here.
Walking through the sad life of Mozart.. Here is the house Mozart and Constanze lived. The Marriage of Figaro is written here. They give you an audio guide, and it has many interesting information. Usually I see people skipping these audios one by one, but here everyone was standing in the room and waiting for the audios to be completed. When the audio of Requem starts, be prepared to get tears..
The Sala Terrena
This is the oldest concert hall in Vienna where Mozart used to work for Bishop Colloredo in 1781. It has a baroque design that will really impress you. It is a very small hall. ‘’Concerts in MozartHaus’’ series are performed here. Do not go the museum Mozart Haus, but they will help you if you go there anyway. Here the Mozart Ensemble performs the works of Mozart and Haydn. It is a great atmosphere and very limited seats; book before your trip!
Here you can find the famous monument of Johann Stauss II – The King of Waltz. Johann Strauss Golden Statue is one of the most photographed monuments in the world. He’s ready to play his violin, surrounded by dancing and floating figures. He was the composer of famous Blue Danube waltz and Die Fledermaus operetta.
In the park, you will also find the monuments of Anton Bruckner, Franz Lehar, Robert Stolz and Franz Schubert.
There is a Beethoven statue before you arrive to the Stadtpark at the Beethovenplatz.
House of Music (Haus der Musik)
Well, I know the title really excites you, but I did go to this museum twice (because I forgot I already go there, yes, really) and I am not sure if I can recommend it. It is more suitable for children actually. If you have a small child with you, this will be very interesting for them, but otherwise there is not much to see, in my opinion.
The founder of the Vienna Philharmonic, Otto Nicolai resided in this house.
There is a monument here of Emperor Joseph II who was also a musician and composer. Imagine the great composers passing this square to go to the occasions for musical performances.
St. Michael’s Church
17 years old Joseph Haydn played organ in this church in 1749.
Mozart’s Requem is performed for the first time, during his funeral, here. Just after you enter the church, in your write there are two somber reliefs that says “A funeral service for Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was held in this church on December 10, 1791 during which parts of his Requiem were heard for the first time.”
Just sit there and imagine a Requem playing in this great composer, who hadn’t been appreciated at that time, at all. It is funny that now Mozart is a really touristic attraction of Vienna, chocolates, souvenirs..
The Imperial Court Chapel where the trained Imperial family members gave performances.
Collection of Historical Musical Instruments
Unfortunately, this museum was closed when I was there. They said it will be opened in the summer of 2018. But it sounds like a great museum, let me know your thoughts if you manage to go there.
Buggarten will amaze you.. And there is a Mozart monument there, you should definitely visit. They say there was a treble clef shaped flowers in the front, but since there was snow when I was there, I couldn’t see that. When you closely examine the statue, you can see a scene from Don Giovanni in the front, above there is a keyboard, masks, instruments etc. Pay your regards to this great composer, listen to his 40th symphony with fresh ears. At the last day of my trip, I get up early to walk around the city to say goodbye, and I come here again. Great place to drink your coffee one last time in Vienna…
At the Heiligenstädter Park, there is a Beethoven statue. They say this is how Beethoven looked like while wandering around. He would come this park with to hope of finding relief in therapeutic baths.
Haydn Haus is a museum where Haydn lived for twelve years. It is a little far from the center, so it is up to you if you want to see the house.
Central Cemetery - Zentralfriedhof
This is also a little far from the center. The composers Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Schubert, Johann Strauss senior, Johann Strauss junior, his brothers Eduard and Josef, Josef Lanner, Carl Michael Ziehrer, Johannes Brahms, Christoph Willibald Gluck, Antonio Salieri, Arnold Schoenberg, Robert Stolz, Emmerich Kálmán, Hugo Wolf, Franz von Suppé and Karl Millöcker are all buried here.
Goethe & Schiller Statue
Goethe and Schiller statues are looking towards each other.
You can go to the tourist information for concert tickets and information. There is a section dedicated to the concert information :) Keep in mind that some of these concerts are very touristic, so they may not be played by a very professional orchestra. You can find concerts with Mozart & Strauss accompanied by waltzes nearly everywhere. But do your researches before you go; usually the good programs and performances are in high demand and sold out months before!
This city breathes art. Have a great time there !