People joining a ‘Music Tour Vienna’ are classical music fans who want more than sound. They love to learn that Empress Maria Theresa was a trained opera singer, and emperors such as Joseph II composed music themselves. And they want onsite stories about their favourite composers. I went on a private music tour through Vienna to gain that missing insight.
Yvonne, my local guide, kicked off behind the Vienna State Opera, on the terrace of the Albertina museum. The stories around Wiener Staatsoper were amusing, intriguing, and dramatic, like a good opera plot: There were tales of heavily digestible elephants and of suicide, of the Vienna Philharmonic’s relationship with Johann Strauss and of Gustav Mahler’s ground-breaking opera reforms.
First big insight during the tour: The music industry in the Habsburg Empire was no less important than Hollywood is today. Vienna turned into the queen of classical music, not because we had many native geniuses. The Habsburg Emperors’ just loved music and enthusiastically supported musicians and composers.
Even today, Vienna hosts 15,000 classical music events. Every evening, 10,000 people listen to live classical music in town.
Tracing Beethoven, Haydn And Mozart
We passed Lobkowitz Palace, which hosted an episode with Ludwig van Beethoven and his Eroica symphony. The Imperial Augustine chapel right next has been a hot spot for church music and stages lovely free organ concerts. As we progressed, Vienna’s well-trodden paths started to buzz with musical references I had no idea of: Emperor Joseph II, represented on Josefsplatz, was Wolfgang A. Mozart’s employer. The ‘Redoute’ ball rooms at Hofburg were connected with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Imperial chapel was linked to the Vienna Boys Choir.
The most bizarre tale Yvonne pulled out of her sleeve was how former choir boy Joseph Haydn’s skull was stolen around 60 years ago. Haydn died the same year when Napoleon Bonaparte stormed Vienna. He was a passionate Haydn fan and had his own way of paying tribute to the musical genius on his death bed…
Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, his mentor Antonio Salieri and Italian master violinist and composer Antonio Vivaldi were all regulars at Stephansdom (St. Stephen’s Cathedral). The city’s prime landmark was a major concert hall in those days.
We moved on to a less obvious musical place: the house of the Roman Catholic Order of The Teutonic Knights. We visited it thanks to Mozart’s fateful incident with a representative of his Salzburg employer there. It was so good to see that romantic courtyard with its historic ‘Pawlatschen’ galleries.
Music tour Vienna. The curtain dropped at Mozart’s most famous residence close to St. Stephen’s. “For many travellers this is an excellent drop off point, as they continue to visit the Mozarthaus”, she said, leaving me with tips for five other key composers’ residences across town.
Music Tour Vienna: Where To Get A Guide
There is a fantastic comprehensive private music tour that adds a visit to the graves of composers such as Ludwig van Beethoven, Johann Strauss, Johannes Brahms and Franz Schubert.
You will get to see all of what I’ve seen, visit the Mozarthaus and see Musikverein concert hall, the home of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. Find out more.
Other great private tours reviewed by Vienna Unwrapped: Imperial Vienna Tour, Sigmund Freud Museum and Tour, Secret Vienna Tour, Vienna Jewish Tour, Otto Wagner Church (Art Nouveau Tour)
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