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Greetings from Vienna, #9

February 16th, 2004

 

Dear Friends,

This is the first full-length (almost) newsletter on the new schedule, and we have lots of catching up to do. So on with the show! In this issue:

Really Old Business

Web browser, web browser, find me a match[2usa]
Mea maxia culpa. The recorder picture has been fixed. Really. It was a really stupid mistake: the picture file ended with ".JPG", and my link ended with ".jpg". Doh! The link now works (and should've been working since the middle of last week). On the other hand, I now know for certain that many of you actually go and check out the pictures, judging by the number of emails I got about the broken link. Also I've heard from folks using AOL that they can't get to my site. I'll have to run some tests from this end and see what's going on.

 

Greetings from Vienna
Part the Ninth, It's Just a Jump to the Left

I Could Have Danced All Night - 2004 Vienna Dance Week
First, the pictures. If you go to: "http://www.meteorplum.com/Vienna/Dance_Week_2004/", you'll see the first of two pages of thumbnails. I've omitted the circles and arrows, and the paragraphs are, of course, in this newsletter. As we had done last year, the majority of the participants met for a little art, culture, food, and music on the Sunday before the Dance Week. In 2003, we started at the Lehár-Schikaneder-Schlößl;[3] this year, we met at the Strauss Museum. There were many ball cards on display:
IMG_4072_ballcards_case
as well as original scores, photographs, and paintings of the Strauss family. It is interesting to me that the person most Americans might refer to as "Johann Strauss, Jr." is usually known as "Johann Strauß"[4] here in Austria, as he is considered to be more famous (or important) than his father, who is known as "Johann Strauß, Vater".[5deu]. While not the largest museum in Vienna—about the same square footage as a small house—there is a lot to see there for the discerning museum goer. Plus, it is easy walking distance from the Prater, home of the ferris wheel made famous by the film "The Third Man". Two thumbs up for me.

Next, we headed over to the 9th District, where we dined at the Gasthaus Reznicek: a traditional Viennese "Wirtshaus." My dictionary translates "Wirtshaus" to "pub", which is somewhat accurate if we are talking about the old English version of a "pub" or "public house". As Karin explains it, Wirtshauses (more correctly "Wirtshäuser") were only in the countryside, catering to farmers, drayers,[6eng] and anyone who worked the land for a living, serving food and drink, as well as offering a room for the night for travellers. The old Wirtshauses in Vienna were all originally outside of the city boundaries. As the city grew, these places were pulled into the urban landscape. However, unlike the English and their pubs, where people of different classes were more likely to mix, the urban Austrian (read Viennese, I believe), and in particular the middle and upper classes, would not have gone to a Wirtshaus by choice. Luckily, none of the dance week participants held this view, or they would've missed the chance for a fine meal and Viennese folk music.

Now, I should mentioned that my acquaintance with the Reznicek is more than a passing one. In fact, I go there on every second Tuesday of the month to hear my sweetheart play with the Liechtenthaler Quartett, a group specializing in the Viennese folk tradition known as "Schrammelmusik", named after the Schrammel brothers, Johann and Joseph, whose trio and quartet ensembles were, according to Grove's Encyclopaedia of Music, favorites with Brahms, Strauß, Lanner, etc. The more traditional configuration has two violins, accordion, and clarinet. The Liechtenthaler has a 15 string guitar (regular guitar plus a second neck holding nine bass strings) in place of the accordion, and flute/piccolo in place of the clarinet. If you go to their website at: http://www.schoebitz.mysite.at/liequar.html, you can download mp3 samples of their music. To see the Quartett themselves, check out this picture (for you musical geeks out there, Eva is playing a "military" flute.):
IMG_3444_liechtentaler_quartett

Sadly, the Liechtenthaler Quartett was unable to perform for the dancers on Sunday. Instead, Hannelore Unfried, the main organizer of the Week, assembled an ad hoc group of her dance and music students to give us a sample of Viennese music, with works by Schrammel, Schubert (who played in a church around the corner, and was born not five minutes from the restaurant), and others. For their final number, Karin volunteered to play second fiddle (literally) so that our singer could get up and wander around while singing:
IMG_4179
We were able to create a dance floor of about 10 square feet (about 1 square meter), and two couples squeezed in for a polka that resembled railroad cars in a switchyard. You can see me dancing with one of the Viennese ladies, Eike. You can see part of Barbara Pugliese on the right side of the picture.
DSCF0777_eikeK_ptsl_barbaraP

Unlike most American vintage dance weeks, we did not have events scheduled every night, which was just as well since we were all trying to learn a newly discovered mazurka quadrille choreography from 1860, review two other quadrilles which Hannelore taught at last year's dance week, review/learn a new version of the venerable "Sir Roger de Coverley", as well as work on 19th century American couple dance variations (taught by our own Patri and Barbara Pugliese). We had a much needed Wednesday afternoon off, and our next group event was the Friday afternoon Tea Dance. You can see Patri and Barbara dance at[7]:
DSCF0917_clarissa_roland_patri_barbara_bogie_alex_dolly_vincent
Did I mentioned that Karin & I hosted the Puglieses in Karin's "flat"?[8] Much fun was had by all, but we probably got less sleep than we needed. Oh well.

After the Tea Dance, most of us went to another Wirtshaus, the "Witwe Bolte", or "Widow Bolte". A note to my Austrian readers: while there are places in the States with names like "Mom's Diner" or "Granny's Kitchen", one would be hard pressed to find a restaurant, or any eatery, for that matter, which might have the word "widow" in its name. Americans are more likely to wonder if the "widowhood" was a result of the cooking. But I digress. As you can see from these two pictures:
P2060058_hanneloreU_gottfried_regina_florian_christiane_??_bogie_andrea P2060059_ptsl_patriP
some of us are just not capable of getting out of our costumes. Though to be perfectly fair, the unseasonably warm weather during that week perfectly complemented what we were wearing.[9] More great food was had by all, and an early night meant that we would all rested up for the closing ball.[10]

And finally, we returned to the Palais Pallavicini for our closing Ball, a process made most amusing by the fact that we were mostly in costume:
IMG_4318_karinN_??_patriP_barbaraP
I have to wonder what the guy behind Patri is thinking, especially considering that behind the camera, I'm wearing white tie and tails. I think Karin was amused.

Unfortunately, we were not able to dance in the Grand Salon ("Festsaal") this year. They made and exception last year as the Vienna Philharmonic had booked the neighboring rooms on the same night, and the management thought that we might "disturb" them with our music and dancing. This year, the buffet and dining tables
P2070080 DSCF0972
filled the Grand Salon and we danced in the much smaller "Clock Salon" ("Uhrensalon"), which you can see a corner of in this picture:
DSCF0998

Much fun was had by all. And I got to do a costume change. As you might have seen in the photos from the last newsletter, I wore tails at the beginning of the night:
IMG_4337_karinN_ptsl
This is, in fact, our "wedding" photo, as Karin is wearing her wedding dress. (We are not wearing this on the 25th.) However, since Patri brought his Salem Zouaves uniform, and I and spent all that time making it (more on this in the next issue), we agreed that we'd have to wear it to the same event. I had no problems wearing mine a second time, so at the start of the dessert break, I changed into my Zouave's uniform. I thought that we looked pretty darn spiffy:
IMG_4340_patriP_ptsl_zouaves

The Ball ended some time after midnight, and we had quite a wait for a night bus home. The temperature had dropped rather significantly between the start and the end of the ball, so we retreated to the arcade below the Vienna Opera House. And of course, we had to get a picture of Barbara in front of the famous "Opera Toilet" ("Mit Musik!"):
P2070125

How much is that dowery with the Widow?[11usa]
The other American to attend this dance week, Mr. Michael Bergman of Boston, suggested that one needed to take in some culture while in Vienna, as the vintage dance week and balls were just not cultural enough. We (Michael, the Puglieses, Karin and I) decided to catch the Sunday matinee show of "The Merry Widow" by Lehár at the Volksoper. (Musical interjection: I'm writing this at an internet cafe in Schwedenplatz, and the radio is playing "China in Your Hand", by the nearly One Hit Wonder[12eng] "T'Pau". I'm not sure which more scary, the fact that I know this song (and own two of their albums) or that it's on Austrian radio right now.) I was surprised by how much of it I could understand, as my German is still sub-elementary (possibly even sub-kindergarden). As Patri and Barbara noted, so-so dancing (the baritone lead didn't really waltz that well, which is a shame given the music...

(Musical interjection, part 2: Arrrrrgggghhhhh! Now it's Barry Manilow and "Mandy". I'd almost prefer the David Boreanaz version on "Angel".[13])

...of Lehár, especially the Merry Widow Waltz), nice costumes, and great shoes. And the singing was pretty good, too.

…After the Ball
The Puglieses left on the 9th, just ahead of a snow storm. Karin and I have been slowly getting back to our routine, which has not been helped by a week-long workshop that she was teaching, for which she was getting up at six. I'd get up with her, and stay awake long enough to make her lunch/snack, then go back to sleep. Karen is definitely in that many small meal stage, so I'm on sack lunch duty for the next couple of months. Works for me.

 

Till the next issue.
Tschüß (and Tschüss).
-paul

 

 

[1] This is a quote from the song "Alice's Restaurant Massacree" by Arlo Gutherie.

[2] This is a parody of the "Matchmaker" song from the Broadway show and movie: "Fiddler on the Roof".

[3] As in Franz Lehár, composer of the operetta "Merry Widow", and Emanuel Schikaneder, actor, composer, theatrical director; best known for his libretto for Mozart's "The Magic Flute."

[4] This "Strauß" family spells their last name with the "s_zet". Not to be confused the family of Richard Strauss, which uses the double "s". There will be test later on this.

[5] We don't need a translation for this, do we?

[6] This is a fairly archaic word. Drayers are people who hauled things from one place to another using animals and or wagons. The modern equivalent would be teamsters or truckers. [Update] I can't seem to find any dictionary online that has this word. It is a last name, and there are a number of doctors and their works that come up when I do a search. How I wish for my electronic OED. Sigh.

[7] I believe that they are dancing the second figure here.

[8] Which, ironically, is up six flights of stairs. No wonder I'm losing weight.

[9] The Föhn returned and temperatures were in the mid-teens, Centigrade (mid-fifties, Fahrenheit).

[10] This was not quite true for Patri and Barbara, who with Hannelore taught a ball preparation course to a bunch of folks coming to the closing ball but weren't able to attend the dance week (plus some folks from the course who wanted one last chance for a review). Since the Puglieses also wanted to go to the Vienna Flea Market ("Flohmarkt"), I got up with them early Saturday morning and played tour guide and translator. It's amazing how useful a flea market skill is to be able to count in German up to a hundred.

[11] A parody of "(How Much Is) That Doggie in the Window", by Bob Merrill. There is a fascinating article about the song and it's composer at Slate.com: "http://slate.msn.com/id/2898/".

[12] A "One Hit Wonder" is a person or group who has one hit song (at least in the Billboard Top 10), and then is either never heard from again, or never duplicates this success.

[13] American television show. A spin-off of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer".

 

 

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.
 
"†" Image(s) © Patri & Barbara Pugliese, 2004.
 
"‡" Image(s) © Michael Bergman, 2004.