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Music History in Austria

"The course, Music and Culture in Austria, presented opportunities to Nazareth College students that most of them could have never dreamed of. It is an experience of a lifetime, and has most certainly inspired its participants to dig deeper into the subject that they love most: music."

- Andrea Reece, Music Education

Recently, thirteen Nazareth College music students embarked on an adventure to Austria to study music history and culture for three weeks. Along with Dr. Marjorie Roth of Nazareth College, students were guided by Dr. Michael Malkiewicz of Universität Mozarteum through Salzburg and Vienna. Some students attended a post-course trip to Venice, as well.

Students had daily schedules that included access to libraries, archives, museums, cemeteries, churches, castles, and famous buildings and landmarks, many of which are not open to the public. Students viewed original manuscripts, facsimiles, and letters of composers such as Mozart, Beethoven, Mahler, Biber, Schumann, Schoenberg, Wagner, Chopin, and Vivaldi. These extraordinary documents were viewed at various libraries and archives, including the Universität Mozarteum Music Library, the Salzburg Cathedral Archive, St. Peter’s Monastery Library and Archive in Salzburg, the Theatre Museum in Vienna(Mahler Exhibition), the National Library in Vienna, and the Arnold Schoenberg Center.

In addition to looking at rare primary sources, students visited many cemeteries and churches. Students visited the graves of famous composers, such as Michael Haydn, Leopold Mozart, W.A. Mozart, and Gustav Mahler. The cemeteries visited include: St. Sebastian’s Churchyard and Cemetery, St. Peter’s Cemetery, and St. Marx Cemetery. In addition, students visited key churches, such as Holy Trinity Church, Dome Cathedral, and St. Stephen’s Cathedral.  At the churches, students discussed the different types of architecture, acoustics, and roles that each church had on the development of music at the time.

As students came to find out, music in Austria was very much affected by the political powers of the times. As such, many of the castles and other buildings are related to past archbishops and emperors. Dr. Malkiewicz, well-versed not only in Austrian music history, but Austrian history as well, showed students significant castles such as the Mirabell Palace, the Archbishop’s Residence, Leopoldskron Palace, Schönnbrunn Palace, the Hofburg Residence, Hermesvilla, Festung Hohensalzburg, and Castle Hellbrunn. Students learned basic information about the history of the line of archbishops and emperors in Austria. Students also had an amazing opportunity to have coffee and dessert at the private home of Hr. Andreas Stölberg-Stölberg, a direct descendant of Emperor Franz Joseph I.

Students were able to visit many well-known apartments and museums related to composers. Students visited Schuberthaus, the birth house of Franz Schubert; Mozart Birth House; the Mozart "Living House" in Salzburg (the site of Mozart’s original piano); Mozart's house in Vienna (the apartment in which Mozart composed Le Nozze di Figaro); Beethoven Museum in Heiligenstadt, the site in which Beethoven drafted the famous Heiligenstadt Testament and composed his Third Symphony; the apartment of Nannerl Mozart (Mozart’s sister); and the Magic Flute House, a small log cabin in which Mozart composed Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute).  In addition, students visited the Orff Institute, for a day of workshops on various topics within the realm of Orff Schulwerk. Students also visited Haus der Musik in Vienna, an interactive music museum; the Vienna State Opera House; and the apartment of Sigmund Freud.

A trip to Salzburg would not be complete without touring the famous sites filmed in the classic film, “The Sound of Music.” All of these sites are relevant to Austrian culture, in addition to their roles in this piece of American pop culture. Students visited the famous Mirabell Gardens and the adjacent Dwarf Gardens. Also, students visited Nonnberg Abbey to listen to nuns sing the vespers at the convent which was fused for the movie and still running today. Also, students received a tour of the Salzburg Festival Hall, and saw the very stage that Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, and the other von Trapp family members sang on.

Not only were students exposed to musicological artifacts, but they also had many opportunities to see performances and to perform, themselves.  Students were fortunate enough to see several student studio recitals, including a violin recital at Universität Mozarteum and a voice recital at Universität für Musik in Vienna. Students also attended a 20th-century opera at the Salzburg County Theatre, "The Passion of Jonathan Wade". Students received a unique opportunity to attend Die Zauberflöte, performed by the Salzburg Marionette Theater.

Students also were able to try out the acoustics in various performance areas, singing on stages at Hecken theater (the outdoor theatre in the Mirabell Gardens),  a recital hall in the Universität Mozarteum, the Stone Theatre in the countryside surrounding Salzburg (site of the first Italian opera performed north of the the Alps), and the famous Salzburg Festival Hall. In addition, the students were invited to sing a Haydn mass with the church choir at the Salzburg Dom Cathedral for Sunday services. Students received many opportunities to learn authentic Austrian dance, including an evening of schnitzel and folk dance at a local Viennese restaurant, and a lesson in Salzburg with a local folk dance troupe instructor.  They also performed two contradances on a  special "Baroque Night" concert at the Universität Mozarteum.

The course, “Music and Culture in Austria,” presented opportunities to Nazareth College students that most of them could have never dreamed of.  The journey was a first trip to Europe for many of the participants; even the first time on a plane for some! It is an experience of a lifetime, and has most certainly inspired its participants to dig deeper into the subject that they love most: music.

The participants of “Music and Culture in Austria” would like to express their most unending gratitude to Dr. Michael Malkiewicz and Dr. Marjorie Roth, without whom this experience would not have been possible.

Students that attended are:

  • Billy Colwell, sophomore, B.A. in Music, concentration in Music History
  • Jayde Gray, sophomore, B.A. in Music, concentration in Music History
  • Laura Isabella, junior, B.M. in Performance
  • Kristina Knowles, junior, B.M in Music Theory
  • Julia Natoli, sophomore, B.M. in Performance
  • Christine Power, sophomore, B.M. in Music Education
  • Stephanie Preece, sophomore, B.A. in Music, concentration in Music History
  • Andrea Reece, freshman, B.M. in Music Education
  • Tom Scahill, senior, B.M. in Music Theory
  • Amy Schniztler, junior, B.A. in Music
  • Corinne Shaffer, sophomore, B.A. in Music
  • Erin Smith, sophomore, B.A. in Music, concentrations in Music History and Music Theory
  • Emily Wingenbach, sophomore, B.M. in Music Education

 submitted by Andrea Reece

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