Monthly Archives: March 2010

Schoenberg, Boulez, Jazzland.

I haven’t posted in a few days, so I’ll have to do a good one.

I’ve been to some fantastic concerts in the past week. First, I saw Schoenberg’s opera Moses and Aron, which was really outstanding. Most of the people I was with really hated it, but I have a pretty good ear for serialism. I had an interesting conversation with Prentiss about Schoenberg’s contribution to aesthetics in music, and whether his impact in music was only in theory and composition, or if he really made music that was beautiful and that people enjoy listening to. I suppose that debate has been around for quite a while, but it’s exciting for me to get to see a work like this, and to have someone to speak intelligently with about it.

Then, on Friday night, I had the pleasure of seeing Pierre Boulez conduct the Vienna Philharmonic. This is as good as it gets. The concert was unbelievable, and the program was wonderful. He chose to conduct Szymanowski’s Symphony No. 3, “Das Lied in der Nacht”, Debussy’s Jeux, and some of his own Notations. Boulez, considered probably the most important living musician, did not disappoint as a conductor. His subdued yet potent style really affected me, and clearly drove one of the best orchestras in the world to play difficult music beautifully. This was a great concert. I have tickets for next weekend to see him again, this time conducting Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms and Symphonies of Wind Instruments. To say the very least, my time here is being well spent.

After the Boulez concert, I went to an old jazz club called Jazzland. It was in the basement of an old building. There,  I had some good beer and watched old Austrians play Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong. On the wall, there were pictures of famous musicians that had played there. It was a pretty cool experience.

Tonight, I’m planning to go see Die Walküre. I’ll have to go pretty early to get in line for the standing room, but I feel like it’ll be worth it. I’ll need to get some work done today, though, before I can spend the whole night at the opera house.

Despite what you may think, I HAVE been doing some things that don’t involve music. Yesterday, I went to the Nachmarkt again, where I bought some olives, eggplant, pita, almonds, dried fruit, grapes, and a falafel sandwich. This week, I’ll be eating like a champion. In fact, I’m about to go make some pasta.

I haven’t done too many sightseeing things yet. I really would like to go to some art museums soon, and visit the graveyard where Beethoven et al. are buried. I’ll probably get to Salzburg sometime soon as well. I’ve never been one of the tourist types, but I’m going to try to figure out some things to do that don’t involve music or food.

I miss everyone in the US, and I’m looking forward to seeing everyone in a few months. Skype has been a great asset to me here, which I didn’t expect. I’ve also been chatting on Facebook quite a bit.

This blog has a spell-checker built into it, and it doesn’t recognize the words ‘serialism’ and ‘Facebook’. Maybe I need to find another website to run this blog!

Nachmarkt, Harnoncourt, String Quartet Concert.

I woke up early Saturday, and went with some friends to the Nachmarkt, which is a huge outdoor market in the city. It’s like Soulard, but way way bigger. They had fresh fish, meat, cheese, olives, hummus, wine, coffee… pretty much any food you can imagine. That part was cool, but once you get past that, there’s a flea market that is like a quarter mile long. It was so cool, I found a lot of neat things. I didn’t spend a cent there, but it was a good time.

At one of the antique stands, I found an original (maybe) piano/voice reduction of Parsifal by Wagner. It was a pretty amazing artifact, I really wanted to get it, but it was like €25, so I had to skip it. In the front of the book, there were pictures of the set designs, probably by Wagner himself, as well as a list of leitmotifs, which is super cool. I’m already learning such an enormous amount here, just by walking around.

Over the course of the morning, though, I was starting to have pretty bad social anxiety. For those of you that know me, which is everyone that reads this probably, you probably are aware that I don’t really like being in public, or around a lot of people, for a long period of time. By the time we were leaving the market, I was feeling pretty horrible. My friends were wanting to continue on to an art museum, but I couldn’t do it. I went back to the dorms and hung out alone for a while. Then, I met up with another friend, and we ate a bite for dinner.

After dinner, I traveled back to the city to see the concert that I had planned to go to. It was Nikolaus Harnoncourt conducting a Beethoven cantata and an oratorio. The concert was just amazing, the venue was really indescribable. It makes Powell Hall look like a 7-11. The music was incredible, and it was really exciting to see Harnoncourt- he’s one of the best and most famous conductors in the world. Clearly, this is not something that I could have done in St. Louis.

Yesterday, I slept in and then went to the Prater with Sarah. It was really cool to see the ferris wheel from The Third Man, and some of the other things there as well. I stopped and got a falafel, which was excellent. All the food here is wonderful. Even now, as I write this, I’m eating some applesauce, a baguette, and some amazing cheese.

After the Prater, I continued on alone, back to the Musikverein, where I saw a string quartet concert of Beethoven’s G Major quartet and Brahms’ A minor quartet. The program was pretty incredible, but the encore was what really blew my mind- they played the 2nd movement from the Ravel, which is pretty much my favorite movement of my favorite string quartet. I hadn’t heard of the ensemble, TinAlley Quartet, but they were really world class. All in all, the concert blew my mind and was one of the best that I’ve ever seen.

Tonight is Cecilia Bartoli, who I’d really love to see. I haven’t decided yet if I’m going to go. I already have a ticket to see Boulez conduct this weekend, and also one for the string quartet on Thursday, where they’re doing Milhaud, Shostakovich, Zemlinsky, and Schoenberg. This must be what heaven is like.

Well, this post is pretty long. I gotta get ready to go to class- I have my first Opera class today from 1:30-3:30, which I’m really looking forward to. I hope I meet some cool people there. Maybe I’ll talk to someone who wants to see Boulez with me- I feel like it’s probably a crime to go alone.

Cheers,
Adam

Live from Vienna.

I made it to Vienna without a scratch. Some of my planes were delayed, and it was a long journey, but I arrived this morning and have been having a great time so far.

When the plane landed, there was a driver waiting to pick up the two of us that were on the flight from Frankfurt. We drove to the dorm, and were shown to our respective quarters. My roommate is a really cool guy from Azerbaijan, which is near Russia. He has been going to this Webster campus for a few years, and will be graduating soon. He plays a lot of video games and likes computers, so we will get along pretty well. There are far worse living arrangements than having a roommate who wants to share a beer with you while he shoots Nazis on a computer screen.

I met up with Sarah and our other two friends that we know, and we walked around town. We didn’t go downtown, but we did explore the neighborhood quite a bit. If there are any times in the next 8 weeks where I need to get a kebab, a falafel, or go marketing, I will not have a problem- there are places for all three of those on literally every corner.

For lunch, we went to a small market near the dorms, and picked up some fresh bread, cheese, and Austrian beer. It really was a tasty feast; the fresh bread was amazing. The cheese and beer were both fair. The company was good.

Then, we explored more of the city. We walked for a very long time, and found some more markets, and more stores. There is definitely a lot to see here, and we’re only in the suburbs. Between the three airports and all the walking today, my feet are definitely sore.

This evening, Sarah and I ate dinner at one of the falafel stands. I have to say, with my considerable experience in the field, that it was the best falafel that I’ve ever had. It was also only €2,50, which is about $3.40 US. You really can’t beat that.

I began writing this email yesterday before I went to bed, but now it’s 5 a.m. and theres an orientation at 9 a.m., which is really crazy considering that everyone probably has jet lag. I had wanted to sleep until 8, which should have been easy because I went to bed at 11, but I guess jet lag has gotten the best of me… plus the fact that my roommate snores unbelievably loud. If it prevents me from sleep later in the week, I may try to see if I can find a vacant room here.

After the orientation, Sarah and I are going to go to the city center, which I hear is a pretty cool place. I don’t know if it’s downtown or not.

If you’re even still reading this, I have a bit more information. I got my address today, which is:

Adam Rothbarth
Donaufelderstrasse 54/Room 3225
A-1210  Vienna

Anyways, I’m gonna try to go lay down for a while before this meeting. My email account hasn’t been working that well, so I tried to use my GMail account, but they froze it… I guess because I’m out of the country. I sent them an email, so if they are able to turn it back on, and my Webster account is still having problems, I may start emailing from GMail. We will see what happens.

Cheers.