Viennese Inspiration

Mozart 2

I feel the music behind Mozart’s eyes in this portrait: long scale runs intensifying his gaze, trills creating a little arch to his brow. Mozart was born in Salzburg, but Vienna is where he flourished, where he composed the Sonata in C Major I so loved to play as a piano student. Known as the center of the classical music world and nurturing not only Mozart but also Haydn and Beethoven (a good third of the complement of little composer statues I earned taking those piano lessons), Vienna deserves our attention.

What made Vienna so inspiring? A few possibilities:

  • Culture. Thanks to the Danube, Vienna has been a cultural crossroads for thousands of years, providing all that diversity and creating a demand for entertainment.
  • Coffee. Apparently the Turks invaded Vienna and left behind a bunch of coffee beans in the 1600’s and ever since Viennese people have gathered in the kaffeehaus, listening to music and discussing ideas over creamy cups of kaffee.
  • Support. Vienna was the capital of the Hapsburg royal family who were music-lovers and players as well as patrons.
  • Magic. Foehn, or dry, warm winds blow down the mountainsides of the Alps and change the atmosphere, sometimes making people sick and even a little crazy. Ill winds—literally.

Also, I think you can’t underestimate the value of having all that talent in one place. Hanging out with folks who are good at what you aspire to do may seem like it would be discouraging, make you feel like you can never measure up. It provides motivation however, respect and ideas; it triggers sparks, illuminates, expands.

I picture Papa Haydn welcoming Mozart to Vienna and then a young Beethoven coming later with hopes of taking lessons from Mozart. I imagine how they learned from each other’s music. I can just see them there, working on their compositions, gazing out beyond the Viennese Woods up the Northern Limestone Alps, breathing in the magical foehn winds and going a little crazy.


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