Wednesday March 21: Vienna

Happy Birthday to my Mom!

Today was a busy day, with two performances on the schedule. In the morning I didnít try to do very much except sleep late (after a very late night Tuesday), and organize things for the day. But you know me, I canít let a day go by without doing something extra! So I went out before noon to see the famous Anker mechanical clock at Hoher Markt. This is a very special clock, mounted on the archway over the street, with mechanical figures, chimes, and mechanical organ. Each hour an important Austrian figure moves across the face of the clock Ė starting with Marcus Aurelius at 1:00 and ending with Franz Haydn at 12:00. And at noon, all the figures parade across one by one, each with his or her own special piece played by the organ. Marcus Aurelius had something rather Medieval sounding; Haydnís was part of a chorus from his oratorio The Creation. The whole parade takes more than 10 minutes, so itís quite a display! The clock was built early in the 20th century. Really fun to see!

In the afternoon we had a performance at Haus Prater, in a different part of town for us, over past the Prater, a big amusement park (they recently added a gigantic ferris wheel which has become something of a city icon). Good stage, decent acoustics, nice audience, terrible piano. But at least Michelle sounded great. Afterwards they served us a wonderful cake, a white layer, then whipped cream, then a chocolate layer, then an inch-thick layer of raspberries on top Ė really delicious. Iíve seen it around town but donít know the name.

Then we made our way across town to IES: Institute for the International Education of Students, which is housed in an incredibly beautiful baroque palace in the heart of the city center. By far the most gorgeous space weíve had for our concerts Ė all sorts of baroque decoration, gilding, mirrored walls, frescoed ceilings, etc. Incredibly live space, too, and a very nice grand piano. Our audience was students and faculty from IES, and they were very appreciative Ė these are American students, music majors, who are studying abroad for one or two semesters, so for once we could talk in English without need of a translator. We talked a bit more than usual, per their request and since it was easy for us to do so, and everyone seemed to genuinely enjoy it. I suspect the recording there may be too echo-y, but it sounded wonderful live.

Afterwards two of the faculty took us to dinner at a very nice Austrian restaurant nearby Ė I should write down the names of the dishes I have, because I canít remember them now, but the soup was a delicious beef broth with thin strips of crepe (thin pancake); my main course was vennison filet, breaded with hazelnuts and fried, served with lingonberry sauce (much like cranberries in flavor, but the berries are about currant-sized, very small). Wonderful desserts too, but again I canít recall the details. All in all a wonderful meal, and an interesting evening of conversation as well. There are two main music faculty for the program, one an American pianist/vocal coach who's been here for the past 30 years, the other an Austrian flutist/musicologist, supplemented by a wide range of local musicians Ė from the Vienna Philharmonic, from local universities etc., to handle specific areas of instruction. Looks like quite a good program, with a lot of effort to be sure the curriculum will satisfy needs of the American universities. Also with us was a Grinnell professor, a conductor/composer, who is Grinnellís new advisor for the program, over checking things out.

And that pretty thoroughly filled the day! Home around midnight, ready to sleep!

Love to all,


Last updated 12/07. Copyright 2007 by Richard C. Morenus. Questions? Send email to