Location/Culture Reports

Location Report - Vienna

Vienna is famous for many things from Freud to waltzes. Three highlights of Vienna are music, horses and food.

Vienna is well known for its music including the Vienna Boys Choir and the Wiener Festwochen. Vienna can count among its famous residents Mozart and Beethoven. Wolfgang Amade Mozart was born in Salzburg Austria and made his Vienna debut at age 6 when he played for the Austrian Empress at her court. He later moved to Vienna and made his living by selling music, giving public performances and music lessons. However, this was not enough to support his family and he died in poverty in 1791 before his 36th birthday. Ludwig van Beethoven was born in Bonn Germany in 1770 and first visited Vienna in 1787. While in Vienna, he played for Mozart and probably took a few lessons from him. In 1792, the ruler of Cologne sent Beethoven to Vienna where he lived until his death in 1827.

If course, the best way to appreciate Mozart and Beethoven isn’t by reading about them on a website. It is by listening to their music – either by buying a CD of their music or even better, seeing a live performance. I would also recommend seeing Amadeus and Immortal Beloved. Amadeus, the winner of eight Oscars, including Best Actor, Director, Screenplay and Movie, is a fictionalized account of Mozart's life. Trivia fact – Simon Callow, who plays Schikaneder, originated the role of Mozart in the original stage production. And Sex and the City fans, Cynthia Nixon has a small role at Mozart’s maid. Immortal Beloved, starring Gary Oldman and Isabella Rossellini, is the story about the mystery woman whom Ludwig van Beethoven once identified in a letter as his "immortal beloved.”

Lippizaner Stallions
Vienna is also famous for the Lippizaner Stallions at the Spanish Riding School of Vienna. Here the white stallions and their riders demonstrate the art of classic dressage.

Lippizaner Stallions are a crossbreed of Spanish thoroughbreds and Karst Horses and are regarded as the older classic horse race in Europe. Lippizaner mature late and live long lives. Most live to be between the ages of 28-32. Foals are born dark or black brown and become white between 4 and 10 years. All of the Lippizaners at the Spanish Riding School can trace their lineage to one of 6 lines of stallions. It takes an average of 8 years to train a horse and 10 years to train a rider.

Vienna is also well known for its food from Tafelspitz to coffee. Tafelspitz was a favorite of Emperor Franz Joseph. It is beef boiled to a tender delicacy and flavored with a variety of spices including juniper berries, celery root and onion. Tafelspitz is served with apple and horseradish sauce and fried grated potatoes. Coffee in Vienna is made 20-30 different ways from Weissen Ohne (with milk) to Mocca Gespritzt (black with a shot of rum or brandy).

But probably Vienna’s most well known food is Sacher Torte. Sacher Torte is a rich chocolate cake with a layer of apricot jam (the other ingredients are eggs, sugar, butter and flour). Both the Café Demel and the Hotel Sacher have been fighting for years over who has the right to sell the cake. The courts decided in 1965 ruling in favor of the Hotel. The Hotel Sacher says that the original dates back to 1832 when a 16-year old apprentice Franz Sacher, who was filling in for a sick chef, created the dessert for demanding guests. Each year 270,000 cakes are produced. According to the official website, the best way to eat Sacher Torte is with unsweetened whipped cream and a cup of Sacher Café or tea.