36 Years Ago

36 Years Ago, Vienna 1971—A Student Journal

Day 051: Standing room at the Staatsoper, friendly letters


Vienna 1971—A Student Journal
A year of music, study, travel, sightseeing & friends.

Day 51 — Standing room at the Staatsoper, friendly letters
22-September-1971 (Wed.)

Vienna State Opera


More busy work. Not getting as much work [done] as I should. Decided to try for composition exam—developing an ulcer over it.

I am getting quite a few letters from friends. I really enjoy keeping in touch with everyone. I enjoy writing funny letters and also reading what’s happening to everyone. Satisfying.

The King and Queen of Belgium have been here the last couple of days. And wherever they go, there is an entourage of ambassadors, police, etc. All in all, it's very impressive.

Went to another Staatsoper concert—for a student discount of 1s [actually 10s or about $1]. It's unbelievable when you think about it. Went with Mike—Canadian musician who is a great opera fan. He showed us the "ropes" for standing-room techniques. (Good kid. Very musical.) — A lot of waiting in line. But when you enjoy the opera, it's worth it.


Going for composition. I decide to focus on studying [music] composition for this year and to take the entrance exams. I am not certain if I will be qualified for this study since I have only taken one previous composition course. We’ll see.

Letters from friends. Finally, I am getting letters from friends to whom I have written. (Otherwise they wouldn’t have known my Vienna address.) I enjoy the contact and reading about their adventures. Being away from home and your friends is not easy, and so receiving letters from them is enjoyable. Letter writing makes it easier. It’s also fun to write back and tell them your new adventures.

2007—email is it. If you own a computer, I suppose that almost none of us write personal letters anymore (on stationery). Sure, we buy Hallmark cards for occasions and scribble a few words, but letter writing? When is the last time you remember writing a true personal letter? I can’t. [Business letters don’t count—too boring.]

Letter writing for most people, at least those with computers, has been replaced by email. It’s easy, free, faster, reliable, and searchable. There is a disadvantage—it’s electronic. Thus, you get hundreds of them (many of which you don’t want, some referring to male body parts), they clutter your email program, you easily erase them, forget them, store them and never look at them again, and best of all, they all disappear when your computer or hard drive crashes.

What’s nice about letters? You can hold them in your hand years later and re-read them, remembering fond memories.

Forget email—it’s social networking, instant messaging. If you’re young, email is dead. Young people don’t email anymore—they do MySpace, Facebook, BeBo, Ning, Virb, Twitter, Jaiku, and many other Internet, social-networking, and instant-messaging based platforms to communicate with each other. I think it’s great. It’s not letter writing, but at least it’s writing. You may disagree if you see the arcane abbreviations of those youngsters. OMG is one of the few I understand.

That’s still fine, it’s the “communication” that’s important. And it is writing.

Belgium royalty. I didn't get to see the King and Queen of Belgium personally, but it was all over the news and there was plenty of traffic.

Standing room at the Staatsoper. I mention a new friend, Mike, who will be studying music at the academy this school year. He is an opera buff and shows us the ropes on how to see the opera in the cheapest manner possible—standing room.

I believe I made a mistake in the price I mention (or I'm misinterpreting). The price of standing room at the opera is NOT 1s (1 schilling) but 10 schillings, or about 1 dollar. Still that's a bargain and it will help me see many operas this year. One day, I'll elaborate on how standing room "works." It was amazing.

Take care.


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