Monday, October 29, 2012

Vienna: The Grand City of Music and Coffee Houses

Since Vienna has more concert stages and coffee houses than any city in the world, I was bound and determined to attend a concert and enjoy a coffee and pastry in the short time I was there.

We went to The Vienna Bourse (Vienna’s former Stock Exchange Building) to hear the Vienna Residence Orchestra play music from Mozart and Strauss, two of Vienna’s favorite former inhabitants. We were lucky to get a front row seat which was close enough to watch the fingers of the lead musician dance on her violin. On this particular evening, there were 10 musicians performing and it was a real joy to listen to them. In addition to the music, we had the pleasure of hearing singers perform Papageno-Papagena, a duet from The Magic Flute and Cherubino’s aria, “Non So Piu,” from The Marriage of Figaro. And, a couple of dancers waltzed in harmony to The Blue Danube.

One of the pieces began with the concertmaster asking a couple of the musicians to play the triangle. After expressing her disappointment with them because they didn’t quite get the beat, she asked a woman from the audience to come up on stage to give it a try. I was amazed at how eagerly the woman got with the program. She played the triangle until the end of the piece and then took a bow. Was she perhaps thinking of a career change in the back of her mind?

I had read that the Vienna Residence Orchestra was known for bringing great pieces of classical music to a wider audience that wouldn’t normally go to classical concerts. Judging by this performance, I would say they are succeeding.

Before arriving in Vienna and largely due to the movie Amadeus, I knew more about the life of Mozart than I did of Strauss. But after listening to our tour guide, it seems that Johann Strauss was a very handsome man who had a lot of female admirers and many of these ladies wanted a lock of his thick curly black hair. Fearing that he would go bald if he gave in to these pleas, Strauss adopted a black poodle and proceeded to give his fan club curls off his poodle’s back.

The next day, after admiring the grandeur of Vienna’s monumental buildings, our group of eight was ready to indulge in a Viennese pastry at the Café Mozart, located next door to the Hotel Sacher. Although there were many luscious looking desserts with names like Schokomousse-Törtchen (Chocolate mousse tartlet) and Apple strudel 'Hofbackstube,' I couldn’t resist ordering the Sacher Torte, a classic Austrian cake invented by Franz Sacher for Klemens Wenzel von Metternich, a famous Austrian politician.

The Sacher Torte consists of two layers of dense, not overly sweet chocolate dough with a thin layer of apricot jam in the middle and dark chocolate icing on the sides and top. Although I don’t normally eat whipped cream with anything, it is an absolute must with the Sacher Torte because the cake is too dry without it. Although I enjoyed it, I don’t think it would ever become one of my favorites even if I lived in Vienna. It just doesn’t compare to the Melting Chocolate Soufflé
offered at Roy’s.

More photos of Vienna.


  1. You've accomplished two things on our yet to-do travel bucket list. Continue enjoying your trip!

    1. Thank you. Given all the traveling you do, I'm surprised you haven't yet visited Vienna. But the world is a big place after all!