Previous Newsletter | Next Newsletter | Complete Archives

Greetings from Vienna, #7

January 30th, 2004

 

A very much abbreviated issue this week. Really. My apologies in advance to those new readers who might've expected a massive missive[1], given the expectations created by previous issues forwarded by various friends. I must also warn people that the next issue, #8, might be similarly short due to the upcoming dance week here in Vienna. So without further ado (which I often a-don't)....

 

In this week's issue:

 

Old Business

Many Thanks
Thanks to all of you who have sent your congratulations on our upcoming wedding. I apologize for not having written personal responses to all the emails, but it's been one of those weeks. For those who will not make it out our way, we hope to see you when we are Stateside.

Karin & the Great Consonant Shift
As some of you may have noticed, Karin contributed directly to the last issue in several places. We expect this to continue, schedules permitting. Normally, these newsletters end up going out on a day when she is not in Vienna, and so can't just add her comments directly. But this shifts no vowels. We have been asked what she meant by "Pfiat Euch" in the last issue. The short answser is that it means "(may God) watch over you (plural familiar, accusative)" in Austrian dialect. The long answer[3] is that the original phrase is "Behüte dich Gott"[4], which is High German for "(may) God protect/watch over you (singular familiar, accusative)". This evolved (or possibly devolved) into "Bhiat di",[5ost] which further transformed, via the abovementioned[6eng/eng] shift (and compression) to "Pfiati". Karin then just extracted "pfiat" and added the appropriate pronuoun.[7eng] There will be a quiz in the next issue.

Modernist Recorders
Check out the square cross section recorders. Wacky looking, eh?
paetzold_blockfloeten

 

Greetings from Vienna,
Part the Seventh, "I'm late, I'm late."

Saving the Best for Last
The final concert of the Resonanzen was by the group "Les Arts Florissants", performing extracts from two operas by Mar-Antoine Charpentier: "Les Arts Florissants" and "La Descente d'Orphée aux Enfers". The title of the concert was «Auf der Suche nach der verlorenen Zeit»[8], and it celebrated both the 300th anniversary of Charpentier's death, and the 25th anniversary of the founding of "Les Arts Florissant". Karin & I both agree that it was the best concert of the three we were able to see. Not only did the instrumentalists always looking at each other and seeming feed off of each other's energies, but they reacted to the singers both as co-performers as well as listeners. The singers acted out their lyrics (these were operas, after all), and were always in character while they were on stage. The part of Orphée was sung by Paul Agnew, who was listed in the program as "Haute-contre", or "counter tenor". However, both Karin & I thought that while he was very good, he just didn't sound like a counter, but more like a regular tenor.

The staging was also very nice. The women were in white, quasi baroque style dresses, uncorsetted but fitted, with splotches of florescent yellow, pink, and green. The men were in plain white buttoned shirts, similarly splotched, wearing suit jackets and trousers, without ties. They all had great shoes. The stage had artificial flowers lit by LEDs from within, on heavy, hemispherical bases, which allowed them to right themselves whey they were invariably tipped over by the moving singers. For the first opera, the "Arts" sat at chairs with music stands holding folders, as if they were in a classroom; in "Orphée", only the flowers remained. It seems thematic to Resonazen performers to update every aspect of the pieces they chose, except the musical ones. In some ways, this is a kind of "living tradition" for early music, making it quite a bit more accessible to people who might otherwise not be terribly interested in seeing powdered wigs and big dresses.

A Real Austrian Ball
Karin got tickets for the Burgball in Wiener Neustadt, which is held in the "Theresianische Militärakademie" or "Theresian Military Academy". It was established by Empress Maria Theresa to train officers for the Austro-Hungarian army, and is a very interesting place, loud party music notwithstanding. As is the case for most balls in Austria, there are actually multiple music and dance venues. While the largest is usually reserved for the dance orchestra and/or the "big" band, smaller halls have everything from pop to techno to jazz and blues. At the Johann Strauss Ball at the Vienna Rathuas last year, there was even a string quartet playing chamber music in one of the dining rooms. I brought my camera, but didn't really feel up to taking pictures. (I know, I must be ill or something.) However, Armin, the leader of Karin's folk music group, got a picture of us, which I'll put online when I get a copy. We got their late (see below), and ended up staying until 4 am, which is when these things normally last. We went back to her parents' house where we had a late snack, and then I took the 5:30 train back to Vienna so I can get a little sleep before I had to go to my 9 am German class. This is the main reason why this newsletter is shorter than usual. I will write more detail about the ball in the next issue, but you should be able to find pictures online at "www.kaiserjaeger.at".

A Stitch Not In Time
And the reason we were late going to the ball was that I was madly sewing my uniform. Those of you who know me from the California vintage dance events might know that I collect British military uniforms to wear. When I first went to my first Newport Vintage Dance Week back in 2002, I was introduced to the Salem Light Infantry, also known as the Salem Zouaves, a historical unit which performed precision rifle and bayonet drills. Staying with the Pugliese family, the nominal home of the Zouaves, I let myself get talked into doing drill with them, and then I decided to make a Zouave uniform in time for this year's Vienna Dance Week. Well, the Burgball was just too good an opportunity to not wear this historical uniform, and it was almost finished, right? Well, that "almost" hid a lot of details, including the difficulty of putting trim on fabric in intricate shapes. I must've used 50+ pins just for a couple of loops. Needless to say, the last minutes sewing, including side trips to replace broken sewing machine needles and thread (I ran out of red and had to make a second trip, arrgh), ate up most of Thursday, and I still had to catch a train down to Wiener Neustadt for the Ball that night. Well, the uniform was worn, but safety pins were required. While I did put all the trim on, as well as all the vest button, I had to make do with a minimum of trouser fly buttons (and a lot of keeping my hands in my lap while sitting). I have also lost enough weight that the back strap for the trousers were not tight enough. So more safety pins and a minimum amount of polkas and other bouncy dances. But I looked good. :-) Again, pictures will go up for next week.

Dance Week
Last but certainly not least, the Vienna Dance Week is happening next week, marking the first anniversary of Karin and my meeting. This year, Patri and Barbara Pugliese (of the Zouaves above) will be staying with us in Karin's apartment. Much merriment is expected, and some sleep is hoped for. Again, more news in the next issue.

 

Bis dann,
Tschüs!
-Paul

 

 

[1] A large letter? An enormous email? Lots of alliterations leverages literary license loquaciously.

[2] I claim no credit. I got this pun from Mr. Peter Schikele, on one of his "P.D.Q Bach" albums.

[3] And did you readers think that I could ever pass up the opportunity to include the long answer?

[4] "B-e-h-u_umlaut-t-e".

[5] There is a lot of dropping of the terminal "-c-h" in dialect. "Ich" becomes "i", "dich" to "di", "mich" to "mi", etc.

[6] This is only one of a handful of English words which might be recognizable to German speakers as relatives of the separable verbs ("trennbares Verben"). "Upcoming", "upstanding" are some others off of the top of my head. But unlike German, where they function as actual, two-part verbs, usually with the first part being put at the end of sentences, they are often adjectives or adverbs in English, and aren't conjugated.

[7] In a recent issue of the Economist, there was a report on linguistics research, and it put for the notion that some linguist believe that modern English, except for pronouns, only has two real cases: genitive and everything else, and that the genitive isn't even really a case, since there is a relative simple rule for almost all nouns.

[8] "In Search of Forgotten Times" is how I loosely translates this.

 

 

Except where otherwise noted, all contents © 2004, Paul T.S. Lee.
Creative Commons License See my copyright page for specific permissions granted under the Creative Commons License.