Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Fine Fine Arts of Vienna

{News Flash: Erin is pregnant. Grandchild #3 due in May. Yippee! And in honor of his impending big brother status, here’s Colin, a Halloween bee.}

Colin the Bee
I came to Vienna with no preconceptions other than that it was a beautiful city renown for its arts, Wiener schnitzel and tortes. Of all of these, the arts bestow world-class status upon this relatively small city (fewer than 2 million inhabitants) sitting a bit isolated on the furthermost edge of Western Europe. Without the classical music, the elegant architecture, and the provocative works of such artists as Klimt and Schiele, Vienna would be a sad has-been city hardly worth a second glance. Fortunately, even embedded in the gloom of its history and glumness of too many of its denizens, the fine arts of Vienna shine through every single day. I simply have to look out my windows and behold.

Seeing Vienna 
Understandably given our individual bents, we three have experienced the arts of Vienna in various ways. Jim and I have written about our tours ala Duncan Smith’s fine guides and hopefully communicated our continuing amazement at the architectural details (Look up! Look up!). 

When we raved about our favorite statue, the bronze reclining woman in the Palais Kinsky courtyard, our friend Jennifer remarked that even looking at the photo made her feel like a voyeur; the aura of intimacy that surrounds the woman in a mere photograph is palpable in reality – when we visit her, we whisper.  

Still Sleeping
Much remains that we haven’t yet explored, including palaces, art museums, operas, and concerts. Tickets to the grandest venues are pricey, and that’s as it should be; excellence rarely comes cheap. I hope I never live in a society that doesn’t generously support the arts because without them, we might as well return to picking lice out of each other’s fur or slink back into the murky water.

Before we leave Vienna, we will devise a way to partake of the many offerings without buying standing-room only tickets, a perfect alternative for the young but not for the decrepit old. What is German for “rob a bank”?

Keir, who doesn’t accompany us on many of our outings, and who will turn 18 on Friday (18!) has experienced the arts of Vienna both on his own and as a student.

Of his seven classes, his Fine Arts class is the one I most covet. Keir and his classmates have toured the extensive crypts under St. Stephansdom (the fine arts are mostly above ground in the cathedral itself, but the placement of those thousands of skulls constitute an art form in itself), attended a rehearsal of the Vienna Boys Choir, and seen a contemporary whodunit at the city’s British theatre.  These venues are available to the rest of us in some form, but because of his school, he saw more of the skeletons and bones in more of the crypts than most visitors are allowed and was actually invited to sit amidst the famed boys during rehearsal. According to Keir, his and his classmates’ reaction after hearing those dulcet tones was, “We’re all a bunch of losers.”

In honor of his birthday, today’s blog features Keir’s photographs of the city which is and isn’t his home.

Vienna Opera House
Look Up


Winter Returning

The Bubble
The Organ 
By the Canal

The Saints


  1. Love "The Bubble!"

    Why doesn't 'renowned' have a 'k' ==> 'reknowned'? Oh, English, you fiendish language!

    Now I know why I can't go to Vienna. I have a bad neck.

  2. Because if we open the blog and edit it, all of the pictures will go away. So, the first draft is what you get, errors included. -- Jim

  3. It seems like the city is full of endless treasures to be discovered!