Vienna is best known as The City of Music. When I visited with my husband in May 2015, we decided to capture the spirit of the Austrian city by attending a concert. We purchased tickets to the Vienna Residence Orchestra, a show playing at the Palais Auersperg, an 18th century baroque palace with pale pink and green marbled and magnificent sparkling crystal chandeliers.

The concert we chose was one of many options for live music in Vienna that evening. On our way there, we passed countless venues, where concertgoers gathered for various shows. The lights and the energy created a magical ambiance. Seeing their excitement, though, my husband had his doubts.

PC: @theviennesegirl (IG)

Classical Music for Beginners

He didn’t know much about classical music. I’m not an expert, either. My knowledge in classical music is very limited even though I listen to it more often than my husband. Frankly speaking, I am just a casual fan. I enjoy listening to it but don’t know much about the history. Glancing through the program, I recognized the names of certain pieces, mainly the show focused on Mozart and Strauss. This was relieving as I was most familiar with these two. I assured Jovian that he would enjoy the concert.

The program booklet also told me more about the venue we were in. It was not only a grand baroque palace with incredible concert hall. Many famous composers including Mozart had performed there. I was ecstatic to find myself sitting in a classic music venue with significant history in the Viennese music scene.

A Night at the Orchestra

The audience applauded as the musicians took the stage. The musicians dressed to compliment the elegant venue; the gentlemen wore tuxedos and the ladies wore soft pink and yellow evening gowns. It was a night fit for the baroque palace and imperial setting. I imagined myself in the same place hundreds of years ago when the music was performed on that stage.

Their first piece warmed up the audience. During the second and third piece, I could see some heads starting to nod gently along with the rhythm. Jovian was still a little lost, until Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s ‘Turkish March’ began. Then, finally, I could see that he was excited. Recognizing the song did wonders for his energy. Suddenly it didn’t matter that he was not a classical music enthusiast. All that mattered was that we were here, enjoying the local culture, doing as the Viennese have done for centuries.

The fast and dynamic rhythm of the piece was a highlight for many around us. The gypsy-inspired famous dancing tune, Johannes Brahms’ ‘Hungarian Dance No. 5’ came next. I could see feet starting to move, itching to dance. Unfortunately, the venue was too small for the audience to do so, but the inspiration was there.

As the orchestra moved on to the most beloved Viennese tune, Johann Strauss II’s ‘The Blue Danube Waltz,’ it was clear Jovian and the entire audience were drawn into the music. The room was excited and energized.

The performance closed with Johann Strauss I’s ‘Radetzky March,’ which soon became the crowd favorite. The marching and vibrant rhythm invited the audiences to clap in response to the song. It was unnecessary for the musicians to cue when to clap, the audiences intuitively knew the moment. We had so much fun and loved the interactions with the song.

Experiencing Vienna’s History Through Music

At the end of the performance, Jovian expressed surprise about how familiar many of the tunes felt to him. Even for someone who is not a fan of classical music, an evening at the orchestra is a necessary part of any Vienna experience.

The concert was definitely the highlight of our visit to Vienna. Outside the venue, we met another couple much like ourselves: the husband was not a fan of classical music, but he too enjoyed the night very much.

Classical music intimidates many people, for understandable reasons. But this music feels different when you are in Vienna. Listening to these tunes inside a baroque palace decorated with crystal chandeliers or in the palace garden surrounded by beautiful fountains and flowers is an entirely different experience. In Vienna, the music takes you on a journey back to hundreds of years ago when it was first written and composed. It’s much like viewing the works of Monet and classical painters in the places that inspired their work. In Vienna, the music presented is in its pure form and at its best.

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Featured photo taken by @lukaseliaswinkler (IG)