Music permeates the air in Vienna, wafting from ancient churches and flowing from performers on the street. The Opera House stands as the grand dame in the middle of the city, demanding respect and attention. From the opulently papered walls of the Viennese coffeehouses to the stuffy ballrooms of Hofburg palace, there is a history of music that moves fluidly through the city.
Mozart’s house remains as a museum in the city’s hub. His apartment is nicely preserved with modern, interactive displays in each room telling the story of the musician’s time in Vienna in the late-1700s. It was here that he composed some of his greatest pieces, living in typical Viennese style with lavish furnishings and an extravagant lifestyle.
Arias from the great Operas echo as you walk up the narrow alley leading to Mozart’s house. Once inside the walls, you can feel the music. It’s easy to imagine the grand parties that must have happened in those walls, Mozart at his peak of popularity, with visits from other iconic contemporary composers like Joseph Haydn.
Vienna is glimmering, rich and almost overwhelmingly opulent. We wanted to experience a concert, but something more intimate than the large-scale production being pushed by our hotel. We wandered by an unassuming Baroque church one night and found just what we were looking for. St. Anne’s Church – humble on the outside but glorious on the inside – holds small concerts regularly and we were lucky to come upon a string quartet featuring music of Mozart and Beethoven. It was the perfect way to immerse in Vienna’s musical history and charm.
On our last night in Vienna, we ate at an Italian restaurant to take a break from schnitzel for a night. An older man sat alone at the table next to us drinking an espresso and tapping his fingers as if playing an imaginary piano. In the midst of the loud, smoky restaurant, he was immersed in his own symphony. Getting lost in one’s imagination is an easy thing to do in a city like Vienna.