Wednesday, January 22, 2014

What Can You Expect to See at the Essl Museum?

The Essl museum is considered to be an important part of Austrian heritage and cultural history. The main body of the not-for-profit collection is Post-War Austrian art, and in this striking, angular building you can find 7 galleries with over 7,000 pieces of artwork. A huge range of artists from Austria and elsewhere are displayed here, but the collections often show us much more of one artist than many galleries tend to, so if you find someone you like, you’re in for a real treat.

Founded by Karlheinz and Agnes Essl, the collection has become something of great international value. The couple have been collecting contemporary European art together for decades, much of which captures the tumultuous spirit of the second half of the 20th century. The collection has even expanded to include art from as far as Australia, South America, and Asia. New art and young artists are also accounted for in the ‘Emerging Artists’ exhibition.

Though the museum is privately owned, the entry prices really are extraordinarily low considering how much you see. The museum is purpose built and placed in a beautiful part of Austria, just outside Vienna on the banks of the Danube; the whole place is a treat to the senses, not to mention the restaurant! Enjoy a guided tour, have a look around the library, stroll through the landscaped surroundings, and even take a book home from the bookshop. 

The Essl’s are extremely passionate about contemporary art and their impressive collection; they want to share their excellent knowledge, and love of all things ‘art’ (especially paintings). That’s why the place is so reasonably priced, not to mention the free shuttle bus and free entry for students. The museum is also open relatively late, and is easy to reach by U-Bahn and public bus.


Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Vienna Boys' Choir

Vienna Boys' Choir

The Vienna Boys' Choir dates back to the middle ages, formally established in 1498 for the Viennese to accompany the church masses. It is now one of the most famous Boys' choirs in the world. Most of their 100 singers are Austrian, although some boys will be selected from countries across the world. They perform about 300 concerts each year before almost 500,000 people, and each of the four choir groups, named after famous Austrian composers, tour for several months a year.

Today, the Augartenpalais serves as a boarding school for the Vienna Boys' Choir and historically the choirboys receive a solid musical education. The choir has therefore produced many a famous musical personality, such as the composers Jacobus Gallus and Franz Schubert, and conductors Richter, Mottl, Tintner and Krauss. The Palace has welcomed dozens of esteemed visitors including Brahms, Wagner, and even Tsar Alexander II.

If you’re in the Austrian capital it’s often possible to see the choir sing. They perform regularly on Sundays at the Hofburg Chapel where you can hear their voices drift down from the upper balcony during mass. Understandably, the church mass can become crowded, and the performance is part of a general service. In order to see the Vienna Boys’ Choir in their full splendour, try and get tickets (well in advance!) to a show at their very own Music and Theatre (MuTh) concert hall right next to the Augartenpalais.

Vienna Boys' Choir

The boys choir tours the world and sends shivers down the spines of hundreds of audiences, but where better to see them than in their home town of Vienna, surrounded by their rich musical heritage and history. Even if you don’t usually enjoy music of this genre, these angelic and ghostly performances in the heart of Vienna are simply not to be missed. Enjoy!