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The Sound of Magic (Vienna)

Vienna sways to the sound of classical music spring, summer, autumn and winter. Never does the city cease to vibrate to classical measure or melody. Vienna is a harmonious symphony. It is rarely boisterous and lacks the cacophony and pandemonium that is New York. No, Vienna does not jive or swing. As Cliche-ridden as it may sound, Vienna waltzes and in perfect tact, most especially in winter during the Ball Season. Imagine the luxury of not just listening to but also dancing to the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra at the Vienna Philharmonic Ball in the Musikverein! It can only be described a pure beauty in motion. Then of course there is the New Year's Concert at the Musikverein. Need I say more?

Vienna welcomes Spring mid of May with a colossal concert entitled A Mid Summer Night Concert. It is set in the palace gardens at Schönbrunn and like the New Year's Concert, televised throughout the world. The concert is an extraordinary event and a unique opportunity to experience the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra free of Charge. Anyone and everyone is invited and everybody who is anybody and many others who are not, fill the Palace grounds to pay head to one of Vienna's greatest musical treasures. Everything is meticulously prepared and nothing is left to chance, nothing that is except the weather. It is not unusual to see the audience clad in raincoats, umbrellas and mittens as temperatures drop and clouds burst. But if the weather holds it is a rare treat indeed to experience such romance underscored by such high musical quality in such a spectacular setting on mild day in May.

Granted, the Vienna State Opera does jam to jazz both hot and cool in the Summer. During the July Jazz Festival, Bee-bop, blues, Dixieland, Pop and Soul spill out of "Das House am Ring" and into public squares, city streets and other stages large and small. But by no means does the classical disappear. It is simply taken out of doors to escape the confinement of overheated buildings. Arias are sung beneath the stars and musical artistry is created under the cover of night in the former Stone Quarry at St. Margarethen and in Mörbish on lake Neusiedel in Burgenland, as well as in the courtyard of the Klosterneuburger Abbey and the gardens of the Palace at Grafenegg in Lower Austria. Next year Tosca will be performed in St. Margarethen and A Night in Venice in Mörbish. But If you want to hear the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in Summer then you need to go to the Salburger Festspiele in Salzburg or book a Sea and Music cruise on the Philharmonic Ship.

Traditionally, July and August are dedicated to the "Sommerfrische". The Viennese escape soaring temperatures and take to the countryside, seeking refuge and relief in the tranquility of the Styrian mountains, the shade of the Vienna Woods and the coolness of the Salzkammergut lakes. They leave and take their music with them. The sultry city is left to the international masses and for a couple of months the Musikverein is handed over to aspiring musicians in historical costumes, and tourists in t-shirts and sneakers in search of a bit of Mozart mixed with a touch of Strauss, Johann, Jr. Although the content may be light, the quality is surprisingly good. Yes, of course it lacks the finesse and the unparalleled skill, as well as the seemingly effortless ability with which the Vienna Philharmonic is able to enchant, seduce and transport an audience by interpreting notes, both played and unplayed, at such an incomparable level of mastery that you are left dumbfounded. But nevertheless, the Vienna Mozart Concerts are not bad at all, as far as tourist attractions go you could do worse...much worse.

However, if you want to experience the dexterity,the proficiency, the virtuosity, the sublime gift which is the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra (and which discerning admirer of the classical would not) then come to Vienna in the late Summer and early Autumn. In September, the days are warm and the nights are cool. The "Heurigen" are at their best, serving sturm and new wine, wild mushrooms and game. The masters, Puccini, Verdi, Wagner and Strauss, Richard return to Herbert Karajan Platz and once again the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra fill Opernring 2 with the sound of magic everyday of the week throughout the Autumn and Winter months into the Spring and early Summer before breaking again in July and August.

By Yolanda Reischer-Bohanec