Yannick Nézet-Séguin on the Musical Mecca of Vienna

Aug 22, 2016

Mention the music of Vienna, and some of us automatically think of a waltz. But as WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, the city was a musical magnet for composers, especially from the late 18th century through the 19th and beyond.


Join us on Sunday, August 28, 2016 at 1 pm for a Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert re-broadcast featuring Yannick Nézet-Séguin leading The Philadelphians in the first of three programs celebrating Vienna. The first broadcast features music by Johan Strauss, Jr., Ludwig van Beethoven, and Heinz Carl (HK) Gruber. 

Radio script: 

MUSIC: Tales from the Vienna Woods,  J. Strauss, Jr.

Susan Lewis: The waltz is just one of Vienna’s many musical treasures.

Yannick Nézet-Séguin: Vienna is maybe the richest city in terms of the scope and length and the number of composers who have been living and creating there. 

SL:  Among the many composers in the 18th and 19th century? Haydn, Mozart, Schubert, Brahms, and of course, Beethoven.

MUSIC: Piano Concerto No. 4, Beethoven

YNS: Beethoven was central to the first influence of Viennese—the symphonists, Viennese creating forms, the sonata form, also the exploration of the concerto form.

SL:  And while many Viennese melodies are light, there’s also a darker, more serious side—from Beethoven’s quartet "Serioso"—orchestrated in 1899 by Gusatv Mahler.

MUSIC: String Quartet No. 11 (“Serioso”), Beethoven (arr. Mahler)  

SL:  To late 20th century compositions, such as HK Gruber’s satirical piece, Charivari

MUSIC: Charivari, Gruber

YNS: HK Gruber is of a generation reacting to the so called "Gemütlichkeit" of the Viennese, which is that everything is always okay. His take on it is that it's hiding the real, cruel truth.

SL: In music history, the Second Viennese School refers to early 20th-century composers, such as Arnold Schoenberg, Alban Berg, and Anton Webern, whose music evolved from late Romantic to modern expressionism and 12-tone technique.