Aug 30 2011
Pittsburgh Symphony players fanned out all over the city after arriving this afternoon on a Nike Air flight from Vilnius. The airline has partnered with the famous Demel’s delicatessen in Vienna. Our charter flight featured an elegant cheese sandwich on Bauernbrot, or brownbread, with thin slices of green pepper. The stewardesses wore fashionable uniforms with hot pink accents including a hat which they removed once the flight got moving.
I bumped into the PSO’s Principal Piccolo, Rhian Kenny, who is looking forward to connecting with one of her daughters in Europe.
I bought a copy of Marvin Hamlisch’s soundtrack for The Spy Who Loved Me – the Italian version, La Spia Che Mi Amava – from the used-record bin at the Vienna State Opera. Marvin has promised to join us for RADical Days in QED’s downtown Byham Studio in October.
He’s been a great sport to join us live for the last five years. The checkout lady recommended the Cafe Frauenhuber when I asked for her favorite coffee shop. It’s just a block from the most famous Viennese landmark, the Stephansdom, which was dark on Tuesday night except for the hundreds of votive candles in the outer lobby. The distant altar was dimly lit. Outside, the façade was under massive scaffolding for reconstruction.
The Cafe Frauenhuber, located on Himmelpfortgasse, is one of the older cafés in Vienna. The Kaiserschmarren was terrific. Pancakes with raisins, chopped up and covered with powdered sugar and raspberry sauce. The Vienna mélange features coffee and steamed cream.
Newspapers from all over the German-speaking world were available, kept in the ingenious paper holders that have been in use for a century. Vienna’s Die Presse featured a large photo of Einstein with an article about why more women don’t go into the sciences. I thought of a similar recent conversation I had with Rebecca Lucore of our sponsor, Bayer Corporation. Getting women into the world of science research has been a major agenda item at the company for decades. You can look up the interview as audio-on-demand at wqed.org
The TV listings in Vienna’s Der Kurier featured a special box on Charles Bronson, who died on August 30, 2003. He was born near Johnstown and went on to star in Death Wish and dozens of famous tough-guy films.
An amazing scene surrounded the grand opening of the fashion retailer Peek & Cloppenburg just a few steps down the Kaertnerstrasse. TV crews followed the arrival of model after model along with German and Austrian TV and film stars. Hundreds of folks stood around to watch.
The streets were crowded with tourists and Viennese regulars enjoying a beautiful evening. Some stopped for a sausage at one of the many wurst stands.
Heading back to the hotel, I found Principal Percussionist Andrew Reamer and his wife, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist Ruth Anne Dailey, who has a few weeks free from deadlines. She told me it’s her first time in Vienna. I asked her what recent column had provoked the most response. It was the item she wrote on the privatization of the PA State Store system. Johann Strauss II immortalized Wine, Woman, and Song in one of his waltzes. The Viennese, with their convivial heurige (wine taverns) producing and serving new wines just a few blocks away in the suburb of Grinzing, provide evidence here in Austria of how privatization can aid the economy.
One of the last new CD stores standing, the EMI store here in Vienna, featured new releases by Amy Winehouse, and British actor Hugh Laurie, who stars in the TV series, House. I considered a box set of Franz Kafka stories, but the fine points would be lost with my rudimentary German … as appealing as the idea is to be listening to Kafka while stuck on the Parkway. And why would I do that anyway, when I can listen to QED 893? In the window at the Opera was a new DVD of the opera Anna Nicole, by Mark Anthony Turnage, packaged with six postcards of the Royal Opera production. Among the books in the opera shop on Herbert von Karajan Platz was The Mahler Letters by Stephen McClatchey, published by Oxford University Press, containing letters from Budapest, Vienna and Hamburg during the composer’s years at the opera houses in those cities. Gustav Mahler is buried nearby in Grinzing, and the Pittsburgh Symphony will keep his spirit alive by playing his Fifth Symphony at the Grafenegg Festival on Friday night, one hundred years after Mahler’s death in 1911.