June in Vienna: Remembering WWI and a Music Festival

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Donauinselfest / via

June 28 Remembered

A headline read around the world: June 28, 1914—The heir to the Austrian throne Archduke Franz Ferdinand assassinated!”

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The famous Wiener Philharmoniker (Philharmonic Orchestra Vienna) conducted by Franz Welser Möst gave a “concert for peace” on the evening of the Vidovdan (day of St. Veit), the 28th of June, in the National Library—Vijecnica—at Sarajevo:

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The assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria
A shot heard ’round the world:
The assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, originally published in Le Petit Journal, July 12, 1914

On the morning of the 28th in 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand received the officials of Sarajevo to report. On the way to the Vijecnica, the town hall, a bomb had been thrown at his car.

“Mayor! I come to Sarajevo to welcome the people – and bombs are thrown at me. This is outrageous!”

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The archduke continued his ride after having calmed down. For a few seconds his car had to stop to shift into reverse in front of a coffee house. Gavrilo Princip just stood up from his table and shot…

Serbian top politicians boycotted the June concert in Sarajevo to protest against a plaque put up recently. They had a commemoration of their own in Andricgard, a part of Visegrad. Why?

“The shots of Princip were not directed against Europe, but instead they were shots for freedom and liberty.”

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In the eyes of the Serbs Gavrilo Princip is a hero. A mosaic unveiled on Vidovdan on the 28th of June quotes the words which Princip had scratched with a spoon into the wall of his cell at Theresienstadt:

“Our shadow will walk in Vienna, will wander in the court and will terrify the power!”

Theresienstadt (Terezín, Czech Republic) had been built by Emperor Josef II as a garrison—the Nazis built it into a concentration camp.

As for Vidovdan’s history: in 1389 an army of Serbs and Bosnians won the Battle of Amselfeld (Battle of Kosovo) and defeated the Ottoman army on the 28th of June. This battle represents both myth and history of the Serbs.

By the way, the bloody shirt of Franz Ferdinand was shown last year at the Heeresgeschichtliche Museum (history of the army) at Vienna—for ten days only. It is kept safe by the Austrian Department of the Jesuit Congregation, SJ. At that time they thought to exhibit it in a primary school at Sarajevo.

Here Life is Beautiful

Joel Gray in Cabaret
Joel Gray in Cabaret

You remember Joel Grey and his “Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome/Fremde, etranger, stranger”?

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Let me alter his song in Cabaret in view of Vienna 2014:

Life is disappointing? Forget it!
We have no troubles here. Here life is beautiful.
The politicians are beautiful.
Even the scandals are beautiful…

And Vienna has its scandals: The ongoing Burgtheater—the Bundeshymne (national anthem)—the income tax:

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– The Austrian Court of Audit picks to pieces the Burgtheater and the holding company with its financial behavior: The internal audit of the Bundestheater-Holding, controlling the Burgtheater, Staatsoper, Volksoper, with a global budget of about €100 million consists of two employees.

– The entertainer Andreas Gabalier disavowed the Austrian national anthem when the Formula1 racing started at Spielberg. He sang the old version valid until 2011. It was changed in Parliament and came into force on January 1, 2012. And Gabalier caused a “shitstorm” on those politicians who criticized him. Why? The old version only mentioned “great sons”—the new version claims “daughters and sons.”

– This a surprise more than a scandal: Austria’s rich have called for increasing their taxes! Just this week, according to the weekly magazine Profil, “a dozen or so bankers, CEOs, real estate moguls and inheritors say they have a civic duty to give back to a country that’s allowed 70% of its wealth to concentrate in the hands of the top 10%.”

And Look What Makes Vienna Even More Beautiful!

Pearl Jam with Eddie Vedder, Eric Clapton, Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan: all the heroes of the last 20, 30 years appeared in a never-ending stream!

And: let’s have a party!

Donauinselfest / via
Donauinselfest / via

“Wien leben! Wien lieben (Vienna living, Vienna loving)!” Under the roof of this official motto of the 31st Donauinselfest (festival on the Danube-isle) from the Nordbrücke to the Reichsbrücke called “The Lido of Vienna”—about 3 million people gathered for 3 days at the end of June, having fun, music, love. Project manager Thomas Waldner took stock of the festival: a younger public than last year and unfortunately more arrests and reports and over 200 mobile toilets….

And a Further Look Back

See how 400 years ago the Austrian Archduke Leopold Wilhelm was born: a multiple Catholic bishop and leader of the army during the Thirty Year’s War. He is one of the founders of the Kunsthistorische Museum (Museum of Fine Arts). The museum proudly presents one of his famous pictures done by David Teniers der Jüngere (the younger) who also advised the archduke on shopping for fine arts.

And 150 years ago the famous composer Richard Strauss was born at Munich. More about him and the exhibition in the Theatermuseum in my next edition of Pocket Vienna—so “keep your hands on the plough, and hold on!”