Wien bleibt Wien, the first Wittgenstein program

Our first programme in the Wittgenstein Project is "Wien bleibt Wien”, in which we focus on the musical life in Vienna of the 19th century.


Music by Franz Schmidt, Richard and Johann Strauß, Johann Schrammel and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

This programme is based on the quintets by Franz Schmidt, the Viennese Late Romanticist who was famous in his time but fell into oblivion afterwards. Recently his music is gaining appreciation again, as concerts in The Proms by the Wiener Philharmoniker prove. He wrote no fewer than six works for Paul Wittgenstein; It is intense, colourful and highly personal music that takes you back to nineteenth-century Vienna.

Watch the trailer for a a first impression, or check Facebook

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Quartet for clarinet, violin, viola and cello, after violin sonata no. 26 in B flat

Franz Schmidt Intermezzo for piano left hand

Richard Strauss Variations for String Trio on the folk song  's Deandl is harb auf mi

Johann Strauss Jr. Wiener Blut

Johann Schrammel Wien bleibt Wien

Franz Schmidt Quintet in B-flat or Quintet in A

Vienna! Fun and melancholy, conservatism and avant-garde, chic and shabby.

With all its contradictions Vienna is an ideal place for artists. Mozart wrote his mature violin sonatas there, which were such a resounding success that fellow composer Johann André quickly arranged a version for clarinet and string trio.

Richard Strauss was not amused when asked if he was related to Johann Strauss, the Viennese King of the Waltz. Yet he had his own palace built in Park Belvédère, to write the opera buffa Der Rosenkavalier as counterpart to his serious operas; It is almost a parody of the Viennese Waltz with his play of attracting and repelling and became his biggest success. We can hear Richard Strauss at his lightest in his Variations for string trio over the folk tune ‘Das Dirndl is harb auf mi’; The girl is mad at me ...

About the B-flat Quintet of Franz Schmidt: Amid the turmoil surrounding the Second Viennese School of Arnold Schönberg et al. - not appreciated by all Viennese - Franz Schmidt remained true to a highly romantic idiom. He had a particularly good contact with pianist Paul Wittgenstein, who had just lost his right arm in the First World War. Wittgenstein ordered no fewer than six compositions from Franz Schmidt between 1923 to 1938. The chamber music works show how Schmidt treats the piano as an equal partner to the other instruments. No matter how complex the one-handed piano part is at times, nowhere is virtuosity an end in itself. The quintet in B-flat was created in 1932, the year in which Schmidt lost his daughter Emma. An atmosphere of mourning permeates the whole work. The last part has a Slavic-like main theme in which light finally seems to win. A compelling end to a great work that has become far too little known.

About the Quintet in A of Franz Schmidt: Apart from a Toccata for piano solo, this is the last work of Franz Schmidt. With a duration of more than 50 minutes it is quite a bulky piece. After completion, Paul Wittgenstein expressed his concern at Schmidt about the second part, an Intermezzo for piano solo. Could the fellow musicians and the audience appreciate such a solo in the middle of a chamber music work? Schmidt, at first somewhat offended, later adjusted and composed an Adagio for all five musicians as an alternative. The concerns of Wittgenstein later turned out to be unfounded, and the work was published as a five-part work. In this program you will hear the Intermezzo before the break and the other four parts of this special work after.

No, Johann Strauss and Johann Schrammel surely did not like bulky or serious pieces. Music is there for pleasure. Wien bleibt Wien!

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