I’m playing in Mahler 9 in a concert soon, and am fortunately sitting next to a fellow Mahler nut (the rest of our section have yet to be converted, and I’m guessing the difficulty of playing the music won’t do much to help the cause). We’ve been chatting about our love for Mahler in rehearsals, and he’s the first person I’ve met who was as excited about seeing Mahler’s hat as I was! He hadn’t been to Vienna himself, so cue me whipping out my phone to show him the artefact in all its glass-cased glory. I took this picture on a visit to the Haus der Musik in Vienna, and I got the tip from friends who’d been before – they’d recommended it because of the artefacts. Alongside this celebrity hat, there were also celebrity glasses (Brahms,
Schubert), scores, batons (Richard Strauss, Furtwangler, Toscanini, Bohm) and keepsakes, such as this little Wagner matchbox that belonged to Bruckner.
Clearly musician-hero-worship has been around for a long time.
Many of these artefacts are on the first floor within the Museum of the Vienna Philharmonic, which in itself is within the apartments that previously belonged to the orchestra’s founder, the composer Otto Nicolai. There’s a great deal of information including posters, programmes, playbills, alongside these cabinets with these belongings of composers associated with the orchestra.
The third floor has a series of rooms each dedicated to a composer with a Viennese connection – Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Johann Strauss, Mahler, and the Second Viennese School. Personally I liked the Mozart, Beethoven and (you guessed it) Mahler rooms best. Each room is decked out in the contemporary style to put them into context and display something of their daily lives. The rooms have information about Vienna as they would’ve known it, as well period instruments, posters from their concerts, and even the door that Beethoven supposedly died behind. The Mahler room (picture at the top) is full of trees, reflecting his love of nature. There’s something about remembering these musical giants as real people that makes them more appealing – and probably more impressive too.
The rest of the museum is a little gimmicky and, I suspect, not aimed at me (judging by the glee experienced by the Italian school-trip on the piano staircase, it hits its target audience). There are interactive exhibits where you can have a go at conducting the Vienna Phil or step in a pod to make an opera. Not my cup of tea, though the interactive bits about the science of sound did look interesting.
But to get to know more about the lives of these composers, this is definitely a place to visit!
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- Haus der Musik