Muerzzuschlag. Early Music.

Miracles happen when you least expect them.

Would you join us for an evening of some baroque music? – ask friends.  Of course. When? Second of November. Where? Muerzzuschlag. Not that I’ve ever heard the name of that place.  Who is playing, what is the programme – I don’t know why we didn’t ask. Maybe, because we trust their taste? Maybe, because there were other things to talk about?

An hour drive. Chilly November evening. A modern building – art centre, or what they say in Austria – Art House (Kunsthaus). Tickets a bit more expensive than what you would normally expect, but not to the point that you start thinking “why?”. We get the programme. We keep talking, I don’t look at it.

And then – Rolf Lieslevand and Lorenz Duftschmid

Muerzzuschlag  ( )is now my favourite place on Earth. At least when it sounds like the music below.



I talked to the neighbour. It is his last year at the university. He is very bright and very much into hospitality business (that’s his degree, which I am sure will be with distinction when the time comes next year). “What are you doing this weekend?”, – he asks.

“Oh, do you know Hugo…” – I start.

“Of course!” He looks at me with disbelief. “The number one cocktail last year. Still popular”

Hugo Wolf, I mean”

After a bit of confused silence: “That friend of your husband who…” (Sorry, Hugo, if you are reading this. Some sentences better left unfinished. You know the boy ).

Hugo Wolf is another Austrian composer who is not necessarily totally forgotten but  is not really known today either.  He was famous for his revolutionary use of tonality to underline meaning. One of his most famous works is “Italian Serenade”.

What we are going to on the 15th of October is the concert at Burg Perchtoldsdorf.  The title is “Hugo-Wolf-Serenade”. Matthias Fletzberger on piano. And Andreas Schager – wonderful voice.

Wagner, Smith’s aria from “Siegfried”.


Easy and beautiful

We’ve got an email which requires an answer.

“I love classical music. But Shoenberg … He simply doesn’t speak to me. There should be some austrian music which is pleasurable to hear. Legar (SIC!), for example”

Of course, there is always Franz Lehár. And his “Merry Widow”.

But how about Benedict Randhartinger? Less known, but extremely beautiful. You can even sing along after listening to it a couple of times.

The concert in Laxenburg on the 22nd of October, featuring Randhartinger, Schubert, Schumann and Strauss should be just the thing. Well, it is a bit early. At 11 am. But worth getting up for.

Frau Luna – a premiere. Ybbsfeldhalle.

Ybbs is a river in Austria, 81 miles long. They say the name has pre-Celtic roots. Ybbsfeldhalle is an impressive venue in a town of Blindenmarkt, which literally means “Blind Market” or the market for the blind (?). I haven’t found yet why. But I am sure there is a story behind. I keep searching.

This year Ybbsfeldhalle is the venue for a premiere. An old operetta was given a new life. Paul Lincke is a German composer. Berliner, to be precise. Born in Berlin in 1866.

The premiere is on the 6th of October. And then runs most of the month, with some matinees available too.

Frau Luna (Ms Moon in a very free translation) is a burlesque. “Castles in the air” is possibly the best-known melody. But somehow I like the march “Berliner Luft” too. Well before all the world wars, good old Berlin where the air (Luft) makes people laugh and dance.


Schoenberg – serenades

Moedling is not far from Vienna. By London standards, it is part of it.

“Arnold Schönberg’s residence in Mödling (1918 – 1925), where he conceived a new method of composition, is being called the “birthplace of twelve-tone music.”

This coming Sunday, on the 24th of September Cornelia Horak and Koehne Quartett, offer you Serenades by Schoenberg.

Not necessarily those below, we haven’t seen the exact programme, but as they say “if you like this, you might like that”.

Pleyel. Pianos and more.

If I say “Pleyel”, many people would think “Chopin”. Because Pleyel is most famous for his pianos. An early piano, which still sounded a bit like a harpsichord, was loved by Frederic Chopin. The was only one concert in Paris performed by Chopin – it happened in Pleyel Hall. Haydn was Pleyel’s mentor. Like Haydn, Pleyel was very successful in London.

We are also grateful to Pleyel for the scores he published: i”n 1797 he set up a business as a music publisher (“Maison Pleyel”), which among other works produced a complete edition of Haydn’s string quartets (1801), as well as the first miniature scores for study (the Bibliothèque Musicale, “musical library”). The publishing business lasted for 39 years and published about 4000 works during this time, including compositions by Adolphe AdamLuigi BoccheriniLudwig van BeethovenMuzio ClementiJohann Baptist CramerJohann Ladislaus DussekJohann Nepomuk Hummel and Georges Onslow.”

But Ignace Pleyel is an accomplished composer and musician on his own. A rare case of a composer famous during his life and hardly played or even known now. 41 symphonies, 70 string quartets and several string quintets and operas.

Ignace Pleyel was born in Austria, in 1757, in Ruppersthal. Now Pleyel’s museum there is not only a museum clearly worth visiting but also a concert hall.

Pleyel’s works on Pleyel piano.

Gaming. And this is not what you might think of…

Gaming is not about gambling. Although I did expect a casino or two around the corner when I first saw the road sign. But no. Betting is not what Gaming in Lower Austria is famous for. By the way, it is pronounced G’ah-ming. Or something to this effect.

There is a famous old monastery,   the Kartause Maria Thronus Iesu and Franciscan University based there. Many young students, picturesque town and a typical Austrian restaurant in the old building of the monastery.

But there is also something else in Gaming, happening once a year and attracting people from all over the world.  Chopin Festival. This year – from the 11th of August till the 13th. Prices are much higher than for other festivals in Austria, but if you like Chopin – it could be worth it.

And this is how the festival looks and sound like. My favourite part starts around 5’07: