Vienna and music – an almost inseparable union – millions of tourists visit the city every year, dedicating their trips to this art form. And the Viennese?
They also like music – in all its facets – as visitor numbers recorded at Haus der Musik clearly demonstrate.
I look up the address on my black and white WIEN PRODUCTS city map and make an appointment with Nathalie Stromski from the Marketing Department to find out what Haus der Musik (HdM) has to offer and take a look behind the scenes.
Haus der Musik has a total of three entrances – you can access the former Palais Erzherzog Carl and residence of Otto Nicolai – composer of the opera “The Merry Wives of Windsor” – via Krugerstrasse and Annagasse and, last but not least, via its main entrance on Seilergasse.
There are many stories to tell here – such as the initiating of the first philharmonic concerts by Otto Nikolai in 1842, which is the reason for the close relationship between HdM and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and why the orchestra’s museum archive is part of the exhibition at HdM. Highlights from the orchestra’s best-known annual performance – the New Year’s Concert – can be watched and listened to at HdM every day.
Music can be experienced with almost all the senses here – HdM will celebrate its 20th anniversary next year and preparations for the jubilee are already in full swing. Nathalie Stromski will not give away much – only that Ludwig van Beethoven’s 250th birthday is likely to play a major role in the festivities.
We are sitting in the building’s atrium and guests are flocking in from all sides. We can hear enthusiastic chatter – a group of kindergarten children are coming around the corner and all of them seem to be really excited by this experience, in addition to the voices of a group of music aficionados from Japan. So, I want to know who the average visitor to HdM is and how many staff look after the guests.
She laughs and tells me – not without pride – that the house welcomed 260,000 visitors, who came to see the museum and concerts here, during 2018. That is quite a large number of people, I think to myself, and find out that 1,157 kindergarten and school classes, with a total of 26,955 children visited the Sound Museum and that there were 379 guided tours for all age groups.
“We are all music crazy here,” Nathalie Stromski tells me. “Everyone has his or her very own musical preferences – many of our guides are musicians or actors and musicologists, who have their own projects or play in bands.”
This sounds all very exciting. The installations and interactive tools are true wonders and very popular with both children and adults alike. The almost daily concerts and guided tours for children at weekends sell out fast. If you take a closer look at the installations, you might ask yourself how they actually work … I am lucky to be able to take a look behind the scenes and, together with the well-versed technician Dejan Milutinovic, we are on our way. The oval-shaped polyphonium is located on the second floor. It is used to demonstrate the potential of high-end music productions using a 7.1 sound system. This is a sensational sound experience and feels as if you are bathing in music. We enter a utility room through a concealed door, where lots of technical equipment, servers and cables are connected to each other and the walls, and I learn that the music is converted here from digital to analogue form, using specific software and then transferred to high-end speakers to create this impressive sound experience. Wow – it is hard to believe how much technology is used behind the scenes so we can enjoy music of this brilliance. We move on to the third floor and take a look behind what is going on there. Just then, a school class starts trying out virtual conducting. The musicians of the Vienna Philharmonic react promptly to the movements of the young conductors, who are quite impressed by what is happening.
Behind this feature lies a sophisticated combination of technology, motion cameras, special projectors and software that processes data within fractions of a second.
Really impressive – especially because the young music lovers here are also learning how to behave at a concert …
There are so many other things that should be mentioned – from the daily opening hours between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m., festivals – such as the Sinnesrauschen in March and the choir festival – a membership card and the many plans and projects that are up and running or being developed.
Time has passed quickly, and I bid farewell to my two friendly guides and leave HdM. The quality offered by this house is definitely worth a walk to the Music!