Vienna – music capital of the world and I needed to make sure that our trip to Austria included a trip to Vienna. We considered taking the train from Innsbruck but as our time was becoming limited before we had to return home, I splurged on two flights out of Innsbruck. An early departure from Innsbruck and a late departure from Vienna would give us nearly two full days. And when I found that there were tickets available for a live performance of the Vienna Chamber Orchestra, my decision was sealed.
Despite losing our simple-to-navigate tourist map my cousin gave us to use at the first museum we toured, we managed to make our way around the city learning to navigate the subway and the city rail that circled the city with great help from the occupants of this metropolis. My mom’s wish was to see the world famous Lipizzan Stallions but unfortunately there were no seats available to view the morning training session. We did however get to enjoy a tour of the stables and believe me…I’ve never seen stables quite like these and the performance arena was absolutely beautiful. We also toured the Opera House as well as what was once the living quarters of the royal families of Austria and the Sisi Museum, though few cameras were allowed.
Because it was such a monumental experience for me, I must tell you about the performance by the chamber orchestra. I grew up playing the piano from the age of 5; took lessons til I was 18 and then another 5 years of and on as an adult. As we entered the Wiener Konzerthaus, the excitement began to well inside me. Here I was, attending a live performance of the Vienna Chamber Orchestra in this world famous concert hall. Unaware of the energy I was absorbing, I sat next to my mom in our balcony seats and watched the hall fill up with patrons. How many were first timers like ourselves?
The orchestra took their seats, the maestro ascended his riser and raised his baton, the first violinist raised his bow, hovering over the strings, waiting for the downbeat from the conductor. When he drew his bow upon the strings and played that first note – I lost it. The tears began to flow just as surely as the horsehair slid across the violin’s taut strings. I was engulfed in the sheer history of the music being played, the spirit of past composers transposing music they could hear in their mind to notes on a page, the spirit of my father’s sister who herself played the french horn in the Philadelphia Philharmonic, and the spirit of my dad, long passed 28 years prior but whose love of music was passed on to me. As a child, I remember standing on my parent’s bed, listening to Beethoven or Mozart and waving my imaginary conductor’s baton at my orchestra before me. All of that resounded deep within my soul during the performance in Vienna. I sobbed, stifling sounds coming from within but the tears came unbeckoned. The second piece was met with fewer tears, but still they continued to fall down my cheek. I was so moved emotionally by the energy in that breathtakingly beautiful venue that it was only during the final piece that the tears subsided. As I write about this moment, two years later, I hope that I have conveyed not sorrow but rather a moment in my life in which I was so unbelievably connected to all that have passed before me that there was no other outlet, short of a “bring-the-house-down WOOT! WOOT!”, then to just let the tears flow in honor of the music that is, quite honestly, me.
Author’s note: I have a fair amount of tremors so when using my iphone to capture images in a low light setting, as in the concert hall, the images are not as sharp or balanced as I’d like. But the experience was such that I wanted to share regardless.