VIENNA–JULY 16, 2015 21:14
Have you ever seen a news broadcast of an important event? During the broadcast, as the reporters and journalists are interviewing the principals of the event, have you ever seen the tourist kibbitzers? Rubberneckers? Gaping gawkers? I think I was one of those today.
My first order of business today was to visit Vienna’s Zentralfriedhof, or Central Cemetery. This sprawling complex is Vienna’s main resting place for its deceased residents, rich and famous or poor and penniless. Among the permanent residents of the cemetery are many (many) famous composers, philosophers, scientists, and other thinkers connected to Vienna. I wanted to get out there to pay my respects to some of my musical heroes, so I caught the tram and made my way to the cemetery.
Much of my cemetery research came from visitingvienna.com, thanks for the great guide!
This cemetery was just as large as advertised; acres and acres spread out from the tram stop. Thankfully, most of the (former) heavy-hitters are in a few concentrated areas near the central church.
I visited the graves of Beethoven, Brahms, Strauss (many of them), Wolf, Czerny, a memorial to Mozart (his body is not here), and many more. I also took some photos of other interesting (and sad) memorials like the stuffed bunny cradling the dead baby. When I was in one of the large chapel buildings with rows of funeral chapels, I listened to someone tuning the organs in each of the small sanctuaries.
After the cemetery – and its main church, New Arcades, and checking to see if the attached museum was free (it wasn’t) – I went back to town to check out the Kunsthistorisches Museum, the trio of museums in Vienna’s Hapsburg Palace campus, featuring a collection of historical musical instruments, arms and armor, and an impressive stash of ancient Greek artifacts from the ruined city of Ephesus.
I spent the rest of the afternoon in this great museum, listening to the (free) English audio guide entry for almost everything. As I was working through the Historic Instruments collection, I noticed some hubbub in one of the piano displays. The museum curator was in a sharp suit, talking to reporters as cameras rolled. A crew of white-gloved workers were unpacking a grand piano (once owned by Franz Liszt), and were carefully putting it into the display area. I watched from my safe distance, but I’m sure I was captured by the television and still cameras covering this historic event. I can imagine the Austrian families watching the news tonight, laughing at the guy in shorts and the baseball cap rubbernecking behind the museum curator to get a look at the goings-on, which were all in German and completely incomprehensible to me.
I learned much in all three museums (like the fact that the jaw harp was once a respected art music instrument, and had concertos composed for it), and captured many photos. Below is a sample of what I captured, paying particular attention to unusual instruments, armor, and the faces of Greek statues.
After the museum, I stocked up on picnic supplies for our big bike ride tomorrow and called it another early night. Have to rest up for 25 miles in the Wachau Valley tomorrow!