The Richness of Everyday Life
With the exception of July, when the Court Opera was closed and the concert season well and truly over, Vienna offered plenty of choice for a music critic, even more so in the coldest months of the year when audiences braved the elements to attend concerts. A look through the specialist music journals from November to April demonstrates the overwhelming amount and variety of musical activity in the city which was believed by its residents to be the centre of the musical universe. There were important anniversaries to keep, great men to bury, a resident opera company with a wide repertory, and a seemingly endless procession of singers, instrumentalists, and ensembles, some local, some visiting. All this went on in the capital of an empire where the protocols and rituals of civic life filtered through to all forms of public activity. The Viennese knew how to make a fuss of someone and most especially had an amazing talent for funerals. They had a proud sense of history, of a cultural tradition to which each generation would seek to add its own chapter. The period from October 1896 to the end of 1897 probably contributed a page or two to one of these chapters. When viewed very closely, however, like a drop of pond water through a microscope, Vienna can be seen to be teeming with life and activity. The journalism of the day provides an ideal tool for the reconstruction of 'the richness of everyday life'.1
This chapter represents an attempt at recording the most significant details of the musical activities in this period. It is divided into three main sections, dealing with commemorations and funerals, concert life, and operatic and theatrical musical life. It will also include critical assessments of performers, since Chapters 3 to 6 are more concerned with musical compositions.
Franz Schubert was born in Vienna on 31 January 1797. The hundredth anniversary of his birthday was celebrated in grand style. On 20 January, the emperor himself opened a Schubert exhibition--a display of portraits, letters, musical manuscripts, furniture, even the original house number____________________