Nov 02 2019

Vienna Waltz

Published by at 3:27 am under PSO 2019 European Tour

Manfred Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony have completed their diplomatic mission with triumphant success. The two concerts on Thursday and Friday night in the home of the Vienna Philharmonic, the Musikverein were sold out with standing room at the back  full. We see this famous concert hall every New Year’s  Day on WQED13. Christian Thielemann conducted last year. January 1 2020 will have the Music Director of the Boston Symphony , Andris Nelsons,  in the Golden Hall. Manfred Honeck’s brother Rainer is often the concertmaster for the event.  Almost every member of Maestro Honeck’s family were at the concerts to cheer him on in his homeland. It is a beautiful and large group.

The Musikverein, home of the Vienna Philharmonic

Wednesday morning the super fans of the Symphony, the patrons, toured the Kunsthistorisches Museum to see the exhibit of Caravaggio and Bernini as well as the permananent collection of Brueghel, Rembrandt, Tintoretto and dozens of other bold faced artist names.

Caravaggio’s David with the Head of Goliath


Caravaggio had a most exotic and colorful life. He was thought to be bi polar by some, windingup in a brawl or a love scandal with both men and women or stabing someone in a fight. Also in the exhibit are the contemporaries of Caravaggio with one of the few women artists of the baroque era, Gentileschi.



Artemisia Gentileschi’s Mary Magdalen in Ecstasy

Pianist Igor Levit painted a masterpiece with his interpretation of Mozart’s 22nd Piano Concerto on Thursday night playing a Mozart Piano Sonata K. 570 as an encore. Ater the Shostakovich Fifth Symphony Manfred Honeck conducted the Satie Gymnopedie No 1 .


Pianist Igor Levit taking a bow at the Musikverein in Vienna

After the rehearsal on Friday. Several musicians walked to a

Chines restaurant in central Vienna to enjoy Peking duck, a preparation that had been a tradition for long time board chair Richard Simmons. Pausing in front of the Musikverein the group posed with a gesture that is featured in promotional photos with Manfred Honeck in which he is telling the players to play more softly with his finger pressed against his lips.. The Musikverein is so sensitive to sound it has no doubt shaped what he hears as soft. Really soft.

The Pittsburgh Symphony musicians suggesting it should be more quiet in front of the Musikverein

After lunch I walked through the city with Manfred Honeck’s brother in law Florian Partl who took me to he Cafe Diglas with amazing pastry including a sacher torte and milchraumstrudel. here were pumpkins hanging from the chandelier in honor Halloween and a wide variety of newspapers which seem to still be hanging on spite of news being delivered on social media.

Milchraumstrudel at Cafe Diglas

It was all Anton Bruckner for the Friday night concert featuring the 65 minute Ninth Symphony which Bruckner did not live to complete and the Te Deum which he had suggested could be used as a grand finale. One of the world’s most famous choirs, the Singverein joined the Pittsburgh Symphony on a very crowded stage after intermission. Choir Director Johannes Prinz told me he was delighted to perform on the choir’favorite pieces with a conductor he had gone to school with.

Manfred Honeck conducts the Te Deum by Anton Bruckner with the Singverein Chorus based at the Musikverein

The soloists Julia Kleiter, Gerhild Romberger, Werner Gura and Florian Boesch turn to applaud the Sinverein after Bruckner’s Te Deum Friday evening

Manfred Honeck thanking the choir, soloists and Pittsburgh Symphony























At the Salm Brau after the concerts in Vienna.

Hops and malt God protects


The last stop of the evening was the Salm Brau, a restaurant and brewery in Vienna where Manfred Honeck invited to the entire tour party to be his guest for a terrific German buffet and the home brew in the Keller.