|Our apartment house in Vienna|
During our last week in Vienna, we continued to go to museums. The School for Fine Arts has their own small gallery called the Gemalde. Their prize, at least in our opinion, is The Last Judgment by Hieronymus Bosch. Bosch much preferred painting the consequences of sins than the joys of heaven. It was a small, classically laid out gallery, and included a few works from Rembrandt and Titian as well. Almost every painting was worth looking at, and there was a good mix of religious art, portraits, and landscapes.
|Venus of Millendorf|
We spent an afternoon at the Natural History Museum. Primarily we went to see the “Venus of Willendorf”, which was dug up near Krems on the Danube. It is one of the oldest human art works found, about 28,000 years old. They have a number of old pieces, including one on display that is about 35,000 years old.
We did not get as good a picture of it, unfortunately, so I have included this Lion man, also about 30,000 years old. I was also very interested in their entire Paleolithic exhibit. They had a great display of stone tools showing the development of different knapping techniques. Since I was an anthropology student, I find this stuff really fascinating.
We looked at rooms full of stuffed bird and monkeys. The museum also has a couple of rooms devoted to dinosaurs, including an animated Allosaur, which fascinated the small children. Although the exhibits seem old fashioned, the science seemed pretty up to date, with information about feathered dinosaurs, and the meteor hit which precipitated their extinction.
In another hall they had displays about the 6 major extinction events that have characterized evolutionary history, and said that our human caused extinction event looks like it will rank right up there among the majors.
We also went to the Folk Art Museum, a quirky little place with furniture, wood carvings, farm implements, fabrics, miniatures, and many other things packed into small rooms.
Finally we went to the Leopold Museum, which features mostly modern art from the 19th century onward. They also have an exhibit of Klimt and Schiele, and some Cezanne and Impressionists, and a good range of 20th century art. I most enjoyed their exhibit of Japanese art – woodblock prints by Hokusai and Hiroshige and brushwork paintings also. It included some modern Japanese photography and some works by contemporary Europeans influenced by Japan that was interesting.
We had recently seen an exhibit in Washington of the 100 views of Fujiyama, so we had a background for looking at the prints. One of the curator’s notes was about authorship. The artist, for example Hokusai, would have a commission from a printer to create a set of pictures. He would paint a scene and then the woodcutter would tack it to the print block and cut out the painting onto the block, thereby destroying the original work. Then the printer works on the colors that go into creating the final print. Only Hokusai’s name actually goes on the print though!
|Family Irish Pub|
For concerts this week, we heard The Vienna Akademie Orchestra do Wagner songs with a soprano soloist, Siegfried’s Rhine Journey, and 3 Liszt symphonic tone poems, which impressed me very much. In the Konzerthaus Grosser Saal, we heard the Vienna Symphony Orchestra do a Schumann Piano Concerto and Bruckner’s 4th Symphony. Both were splendid. This concert hall is impressive both with its big concert room, but it also has 3 side rooms for smaller chamber pieces and soloists. Two of those rooms also had performances happening at the same time.
|Prater Ferris Wheel|
We also continued to enjoy wandering around the city and parks, eating lunch at the Palmen Haus, which also has wireless internet, and finding a couple of Irish pubs. We have also eaten a lot of Asian food, from India, Thailand and China. One afternoon we went out to the Prater, which is an amusement park that has been around for a century; the Ferris wheel is famous. The park reminded me of one my family used to go to in Chicago. We have been to St. Stephansdom, the central cathedral, a number of times, finally getting into the main area this week. Other times they have been having mass. We actually had a nice little Quaker meeting for worship there on Sunday, sitting in a side chapel while mass was going on.
We also finally did a tour of the Opera House, which was quite enjoyable. They were setting up scenery for that night’s performance. They do a different opera every night, so the logistics of breaking down and setting up are very impressive. We could not afford to go to a performance as only seats costing 200 euros or more were still available. They have 500 standing room tickets available for 1-3 euros, but we don’t think we are capable of standing through an opera any more.
|Inside St Stephansdom|
The Opera also has its own little museum with costumes and photographs of the last 130 years, and a little history of each musical director. The most famous are Gustav Mahler and Herbert von Karajan. Mahler is famous because he made everyone take the opera performance seriously. Before him, all the lights stayed on, people milled about talking and eating and going in and out. He had the doors shut and the lights turned down when the opera started. He had to allow for intermissions though, because people still needed to get up. The emperor thought he was taking all the fun out of going to the opera!
|At the Opera|
|At the Opera|
On Saturday October 20, we left Vienna and took the train to Munich to stay for a week. I could easily go back to Vienna and Austria in the future, if possible.