Hundred Trip to Vienna

Friday 28th June 2024

We arrived in Vienna around lunchtime and were soon in the heart of the magnificent city. Accompanied by Mr Moule and Miss Brown, we made our first exploration of the Innere Stadt, which is a central and older part of the city. A catchphrase we all heard frequently from Mr Moule was ‘If there is a church door open, go and have a look inside!’, and so we visited many churches, most of them Baroque! Part of the ‘reading’ of the city entailed identifying different types of architecture, whether Gothic, Baroque, Renaissance, Historicist or Secession. We soon understood the different design and building methods used in Vienna throughout history and understood its old position as one of the cultural capitals of Europe.

On Tuesday morning we had breakfast at the famous Café Pruckl, where we enjoyed excellent food in a stimulating setting, which fuelled us for the exciting day ahead. Many of us tried the Melange coffee, deriving from the French word ‘to mix’ and consisting of espresso with steamed milk with a bit of foam on the top; this is a staple in Viennese coffee houses. We then visited MAK, the Museum of Design, where we could sit on an enormously large sofa! Not just that, but we saw works by Gustav Klimt, and examined the evolution of the design of chairs, by Michael Thonet; a few of us sketched some of his elegant designs.

After lunch, we went to the apartment twice inhabited by Beethoven, and saw the rooms in which he composed several of his greatest works. We listened to some of his music and saw some objects and artefacts from his time.

More pupils arrived in the afternoon, accompanied by Mr Triggs; they were eager to start learning about the city and soon were tucking into Schnitzel in Freud’s favourite café, the Landtmann. We all toured the spectacular Hofburg Library, built by the Baroque architect, Fischer von Erlach, which for most of us was the most impressive building yet. It was filled with astonishing refined and yet exuberant detail, as well as a good exhibition on the composer Bruckner.

On Wednesday, we enjoyed a superb tour of Mozart’s house, and having seen Beethoven’s the day before, this proved an interesting contrast since it was far more ‘museum-ised’, with fun installations and plenty of rich information. Mr Moule, who loves both composers, wondered why Mozart got all the glory in Vienna; Beethoven is rather in the background without even a cake to his name. When touring around, we were moved to see Mozart’s study, where he composed Figaro and other works; exciting because later in the evening we were due to go to the Opera. That afternoon, we visited the Kunsthistorisches Museum, where we saw paintings from the likes of Bruegel, including his Tower of Babel and Hunters in the Snow. There are twelve of his works in one room – by far the best collection in the world.

Our time at the State Opera House that night was the most remarkable thing. Being the second evening of a new, rather modern production of Mozart’s Cosi van Tutte, we were interested to see what it would be like. Directed by Barrie Kosky, the Opera House experience as well as the opera singing itself was a first time for many. It felt particularly appropriate seeing that specific opera, having visited Mozart’s house that morning.

We had a short trip to the Upper and Lower Belvedere Palaces and galleries on Thursday morning, understanding its reasons for being built, and seeing how they used to be lived in. Inside the Upper Belvedere we saw works by Gustav Klimt, which we could contrast with those of Egon Schiele; and though some seemed pretty controversial, we acknowledged their significance in an evolving period.

We journeyed further from the city centre in the afternoon, through the Swiss Park, and reached the Museum of Military History, where we saw what was known as the arsenal of the city, built as a huge military base after the threatening revolution of 1848. We saw the Pumhart von Steyr, the broadest bombard in the world (nearly 85 cm wide barrel), of c. 1440, as well as the car in which Franz Ferdinand and his wife were assassinated in Sarajevo in 1914. There were also captured Turkish flags from the siege of 1683, and splendid towers of pikes and ordered displays of great cannon.

On Friday, it was time to pack our bags, but another museum was in store for us! The Leopold Museum had several Klimts, notable his painting Death and Life, which some of us found particularly interesting, considering its hidden meanings.

After our final lunch, we left Vienna. The insight and passion from Mr Moule fuelled the huge amount of information and knowledge we picked up about the city. Many thanks must also go to Miss Brown and Mr Triggs, for dedicating their time and effort to the trip to make it possible for us.

Review by Theo S

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