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Monday, 01 May 2017
 A city of genius – Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert –
Vienna despises talent whilst alive and honours it after
 Romanticism. Beethoven leads the way.
 Schubert follows.
 Authority unsettled by the rise in private performance
and respect for the individual.
 An autocratic imperial power must face the rise in
popular opinion and culture.
 A decade or so after the French revolution – authority
feels threatened.
 Emperor rules Austro-Hungarian Empire and sits at
the top of a plutocratic power pyramid.
 Taste is generally conservative and non-innovative.
 All things new or “foreign” are discouraged.
 City lapses into comfortable mediocrity…
 The music of social gatherings.
 Intimacy is allowed in strictly regulated conditions.
 The soundtrack is that of the Strauss family, seen today
as embodying Viennese culture as the 19th century
 Vienna is bloated, living in the past and decaying.
 Young artists are inspired by what they see and by the
rise of Freudian analysis to challenge the authority of
the state-run art schools and galleries.
 They found a new movement in Café Sperl (Hitler’s
favourite coffee house, by the way).
 The Secession, or
 “break-away” is
 born.
 KLIMT is among
 the more
 prominent artists
 involved.
 “We desire not art enslaved to foreigners, but at the
same time without fear or hatred of the foreign”.
 Meaning?
 “To every age its art. To art its freedom.” (secesion
 In this deeply anti-Semitic city, it was possible for one
authority figure to declare: “Science is what one Jew
copies from another”.
 The new arts movement (JUGENDSTIL) numbered
many Jews amongst its members. Hostility was
evident within “nice” society.
 The hostility between Alt-Wien and the modernists
forced a break.
 Freud, Klimt, Mahler are all treated poorly. Klimt as a
pornographer and Mahler, although working as
director of the Staatsoper, hounded from office by the
wealthy and powerful.
 Women still wore fashions dictated by men: wasp
waists, large busts, collar to toe coverings. Klimt and
Freud began to remove the outer layers and show the
sexuality that lurked beneath.
 Fatalism and a fascination with death are evident in
much of the poetry and music of the time.
 Kidertotenlieder – Mahler sets songs that would
presage the deaths of his own children.
 A building was designed by Otto Wagner to hold the
Secession exhibitions:
 At odds with the Baroque buildings around it, this was
an immediate statement of intent.
 !4th exhibition was the most famous. Devoted to
Beethoven it featured the Beethoven Frieze of Klimt…
 The movement begins to fragment and the artists
begin to go their separate ways.
 Music takes over…
 A new language for a new time.
 Fibonacci based Western music is altered to achieve a
new language.
 12 note strings…
 I’ll explain briefly.
 Schoenberg, Webern, Berg.
 Hated by society, helped by Mahler.
 Art survives and is enriched by the debate…
 Is this true of all areas of knowledge? Why?
 Busy girl, Alma:
 Zemlinksy (composer)
 Klimt
 Gropius (architect and artist)
 Kokoschka
 Werfel
 All in addition to Gustav Mahler, probably the greatest
musician of his day.
 Leading figure of
 Sensual
 Visionary
 Forced to withdraw
certain paintings which
caused too great an
offence: University
 Director Staatoper
 Renowned composer
 Fatalistic outlook on life.
 Jewish
 Took music to the edge of the new ideas.
 Supported Schoenberg and others.
 Died 1911 after “exile” in New York.
 Had affair with Alma after Mahler’s death (unlike
Gropius who didn’t wait).
“Consciousness is the source of all things and ideas,
it is a sea with visions as its only horizons.
Consciousness is a tomb for all things, where they
cease to be, the hereafter in which they perish.”
 Composer supported by Alma.
 Wrote in 12 note style.
 Violin concerto dedicated to dead child of Alma and
 Works embody the fatalistic death obsession of
Viennese art at this time:
 Wozzeck
 Lulu
 Misfit poverty stricken
 Prostitute has a variety of
soldier abused by
authority figures
 Wife unfaithful –seeking
 Murders her
 Commits suicide
 Expounds theory of life
and death
 Meets Jack the Ripper.
 …
 The city of Schmaltz and whipped cream.
 Strauss waltzes and carriage rides around the Ring for
the wealthy.
 In reality a hotbed of innovation and the centre of
artistic change for the twentieth century.
 Bigoted, deceitful, charming, beautiful, imaginative,