This Blog has been written by Fin Casey.
After breakfast, we went off to the House of Music or the Haus der Musik. On the way, Ivana treated us to a map reading lesson, ready for our free time that afternoon.
As we were entering the museum we were treated to Steve playing the grand piano in the foyer. As I went through the first level I learned about the fundamentals of sound including what overtones were and what white noise was. Then there was a room that simulated what it sounded like in a mother’s womb and there were many simulations of music concrete. The was also a series of rooms dedicated to the lives of famous composers including Johan Strauss, Bach, Haydn, Beethoven, Mozart and many others. But by far everyone’s favorite thing to do was to conduct the Vienna Philharmonic orchestra. It was a simulation, but a very realistic one with a real baton. It responded to your change in tempo and dynamic and it even had a score to follow. As well as this it told you which sections were getting annoyed by your conducting (it was usually the irritable violas) and if you were bad enough a member of that section would stand up and yell something like “ Enough, aimlessly waving a stick around in the air is not conducting, we cannot do this get off the stage,“ this was usually followed by a round of applause. This went with a live interactive screen with the recordings of the orchestra that sped up and slowed down according to your actions. I’m sure these made us all feel what it was like to be Mr. Scott.
After this we embarked on a guided tour of the city ‘off the beaten track style’. The highlight was going to the biggest cemetery in Vienna and as the gloomy fog rolled in and graves were all that could be seen it was quite picturesque. Here we visited the graves of Brahms, Beethoven and Strauss (Haydn being buried in Eisenstadt). We also stopped at the Hundertwasser House, a house designed by Austrian artist/architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser. This colourful building stands out amongst the other apartment buildings and was built in the 1980s.
After this Dom and Steve left to have lessons with ex-philharmonic players and the rest of the rabble had free time to roam around the museum quarter, markets and long shopping strips.
A small group of senior boys and players were fortunate enough to attend a Vienna Symphony rehearsal to hear them working on Tchaikovsky’s 6th Symphony. By all accounts it was a valuable and enjoyable experience seeing such incredible players in a rehearsal situation.
After our free time, we went to a concert in a palace hall with everyone in their most causal smart and their smartest causal. We were audience to a Mozart and Strauss medley, which was an experience for all with Erol being called on at the last minute to valiantly play the triangle with the performers.
After the concert, we went to another Christmas market, in front of the massive Vienna town hall, the biggest market we’ve been to yet. Geordie bought an affectionately named ‘heart attack on a bun’ and by the end everyone had finally had enough of Christmas markets.
A delightful end to an inspiring city.