36 Years Ago

36 Years Ago, Vienna 1971—A Student Journal

Day 039: Der Freischutz—my first opera in Vienna


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

Day 39 — Der Freischutz—my first opera in Vienna
10-September-1971 (Fri.)


Normal day.

Spent a lot of time practicing. Sometimes satisfied, but mostly not. Still, there isn’t enough time to do everything I want.

Der Freischutz. [Opera] Performance at the Volksoper. Excellent, I really enjoyed it and will continue to go a lot. The horns were really good but sometimes I wonder (whether) I like the Vienna Horn sound and also the playing. For example, the horn seems to be very easily overloaded (brassy) when played loud. The playing style (if it has anything to do with technique) seems to be good, but sometimes in soft spots, the attack seems too strong.

Well, anyway, I shouldn’t be so critical—because of my own playing.

Very enjoyable.


During the day, business-as-usual—practicing.

Der Freischütz. Yay! My first opera in Vienna [Opera 01]. Der Freischütz, a German opera by Carl Maria von Weber, was performed at the Volksoper (folk opera). I really enjoyed the performance. What a change in my life! In my entire life, I had only gone to a small number of professional concerts over many years (the exception being concerts at my college, Montclair State). In Vienna, I am able to go to a lot of concerts and operas at reasonable cost, conveniently, and within easy reach. It’s like going to the Metropolitan Opera and Lincoln Center in New York every few nights (or so).

I’m in heaven.

If you want to read about
Der Freischütz, here is an article from Wikipedia.

[You may have noticed that I added a Music page and a Sightseeing page to the website. For now, these will only be chronological listings of the music I’ve heard and the places I’ve seen. I hope to expand them in to being good resources of additional information.

It would be great to get user-submitted content (from you guys) at some point.]

Volksoper. The Volksoper is the “people's opera” house in Vienna, second only to the Vienna State Opera. The Volksoper performs operas, operettas, light operas, musicals, and other music that is considered more “popular” in nature. Don’t be misled; many of these operas are performed in many major opera houses around the world. These are operas. They are immensely enjoyable. Later, I learn that my horn professor at the Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, Professor Frederick Gabler, was first hornist in the Volksoper. Here is a Wikipedia article on the Vienna Volksoper.

Vienna Horn. I comment on the [French] horns because I am a French Horn player. The playing is great. I also note that the sound of the Vienna horns can be brassy in loud passages. I believe that is characteristic of the Vienna Horn due to its smaller bore size. I also believe that Vienna Horn is more difficult to play than the traditional F/Bb double horn. I only became aware that the Viennese had their own version of the “French” Horn called the Vienna or Viennese horn, just before going to Vienna. Here’s an interesting note for horn players: the Viennese also occasionally play the F-natural Vienna horn, which has NO VALVES. The performer plays the notes of the horn by mostly using the notes of the “harmonic series” (sounds that can be made on any set of open tubing—think “Ricola” cough-drop alpen horns)—and by also “stopping” their hands in the bell. Now, that’s tough to play. That’s how horn playing started—with open tubing, no valves.

For those of you who didn’t understand this last part, don’t worry. Here is a Wikipedia article on the
Vienna Horn.


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