Music

Vienna has long held a pre-eminent place in Europe's musical life, being home to the musical giants Joseph Haydn (1732–1809), Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791), Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827), Franz Schubert (1797–1828), Johannes Brahms (1833–1897), Gustav Mahler (1860–1911) and Arnold Schoenberg (1874–1951).

Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, occasionally designated as the First Viennese School, belong to the Classical period in Western music, which extends from the early to mid eighteenth century into the early nineteenth.

ColApImg_EXHI014617
Unknown
Mahler's unpleasant adventure in the Secession 1902
Illustration in the magazine Kikeriki No. 33 of 24 April 1902 last page
Photo: Imagno
IMAGNO/Austrian Archives

Yet the term 'First Viennese School' is misleading – strictly speaking there wasn't one. While Mozart and Haydn knew and admired one another (and there was much cross-pollination of musical ideas and invention) and Beethoven took lessons in composition with Haydn for a shorttime, they were all independent of one another.

While Beethoven straddles the Classical and Romantic periods, Brahms and Schubert, the 'inventor' of the Romantic Lied, are central to the Romanticism of the nineteenth century. Mahler stands as one of the great late Romantic composers while pointing the way to modernism in the twentieth century.

ColApImg_EXHI014616
Unknown
Gustav Mahler conducts his Symphony No. 1 in D major
Cartoon from Wiener Illustrated Front Page of 25 November 1900
Photo: Imagno
IMAGNO/Austrian Archives

Schubert was the only one of these composers born in Vienna. Brahms, born in Hamburg, settled permanently in Vienna in 1868. He was appointed artistic director of the famed Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde (Society of Music Lovers) from 1872 to 1875, introducing the Viennese to some of the great baroque music of Bach and Handel.

From mid century, Vienna was in the grip of the Viennese waltz which found its greatest expression through Johann Strauss II, the 'waltz king'. His operettas were also extremely popular along with those of Lehar and Offenbach.

ColApImg_EXHI013663
Richard GERSTL
Arnold Schönberg c.1907
Oil on canvas
Wien Museum
Licensed by VISCOPY, Australia

The Second Viennese School evolved around Arnold Schoenberg (1874–1951) and his two most well-known students Alban Berg and Anton Webern.

Initially the music of Schoenberg – and to some extent his pupils – used late-Romantic tonalities and chromatic expression (indeed Mahler championed Schoenberg's music during his lifetime).

The evolution of dissonance and atonality into the twelve tone system of composition was not evident until the early 1920s, but it is the uncompromising individuality of these composers and their formal rigour that distinguishes this Second Viennese School.

Explore the music of Vienna

Lorraine Milne, a composer and music educator, and Elizabeth Cross, Senior Researcher in International Art at the National Gallery of Victoria, discuss aspects of Gustav Mahler's life and work as a composer and as the Director of The Court Opera in Vienna early in the Twentieth Century.

Loading the player...

Video playlist

ColApImg_music1
Vienna – a cultural hothouse
3:58
Download: MP4 OGG
16.9 MB
At the turn of the twentieth century, Vienna was embroiled in a collision between ultra-conservatism and radical new ideas in music, art, design and writing
At the turn of the twentieth century, Vienna was embroiled in a collision between ultra-conservatism and radical new ideas in music, art, design and writing
ColApImg_music2
A new song cycle and a first symphony
8:29
Download: MP4 OGG
19.2 MB
Driven by a failed love affair, Mahler composed his first mature work (Songs of a Wayfarer) between 1883 and 1885. When he completed his first symphony in 1988 he was still only 28 years old. These two master works are closely linked.
Driven by a failed love affair, Mahler composed his first mature work (Songs of a Wayfarer) between 1883 and 1885. When he completed his first symphony in 1988 he was still only 28 years old. These two master works are closely linked.
ColApImg_music3
A children’s song turned funeral march and Wayfarer song 4
14:56
Download: MP4 OGG
65.1 MB
In 1899 Mahler conducted the world premiere of his First Symphony in Budapest to mixed reception from warm applause to a 'spatter of boos'. The change came with the opening bars of the third movement.
In 1899 Mahler conducted the world premiere of his First Symphony in Budapest to mixed reception from warm applause to a 'spatter of boos'. The change came with the opening bars of the third movement.
ColApImg_music4
Kindertotenlieder – Songs on the Deaths of Children
10:23
Download: MP4 OGG
27.9 MB
When Mahler’s daughter Maria died in 1907, he wrote to Guido Adler: '…I placed myself in the situation that a child of mine had died. When I really lost my daughter, I could not have written these songs any more.'
When Mahler’s daughter Maria died in 1907, he wrote to Guido Adler: '…I placed myself in the situation that a child of mine had died. When I really lost my daughter, I could not have written these songs any more.'
ColApImg_music5
Mahler ‘s last complete composition – Symphony No. 9
12:01
Download: MP4 OGG
51.3 MB
Mahler’s compositions are full of his life experiences and observations, from the sounds of nature to rustic dances to military marches. Irony and parody are juxtaposed with lyrical themes, cataclysmic explosions and moments of exquisite resolution. His 9th symphony is one such masterpiece.
Mahler’s compositions are full of his life experiences and observations, from the sounds of nature to rustic dances to military marches. Irony and parody are juxtaposed with lyrical themes, cataclysmic explosions and moments of exquisite resolution. His 9th symphony is one such masterpiece.
ColApImg_music6
The Beethoven exhibition at the Secession
7:26
Download: MP4 OGG
28.6 MB
In 1902 artists of the Secession mounted an all-Beethoven exhibition. At the opening, Mahler conducted a section of Beethoven’s 9th re-orchestrated for wind and brass only.
In 1902 artists of the Secession mounted an all-Beethoven exhibition. At the opening, Mahler conducted a section of Beethoven’s 9th re-orchestrated for wind and brass only.
ColApImg_music7
The Second Viennese School
6:02
Download: MP4 OGG
25.8 MB
While Schoenberg’s early compositions are firmly positioned in late Romanticism, he soon moved away from traditional harmony and into atonality. His Twelve-Tone technique rang in the most radical change to musical ‘language’ and profoundly influenced composers of the twentieth century.
While Schoenberg’s early compositions are firmly positioned in late Romanticism, he soon moved away from traditional harmony and into atonality. His Twelve-Tone technique rang in the most radical change to musical ‘language’ and profoundly influenced composers of the twentieth century.

Film and music credits
  • To download full credits (RTF) click here.
  • To purchase this and other Sydney Symphony Mahler recordings conducted by Vladimir Ashkenazy, click here.
  • Mahler's 9th symphony with special thanks to Philharmonia Orchestra, London. Click here for more.
  • Kindertotenlieder (Rückert): V: In diesem Wetter, in diesem Braus by Gustav Mahler. Performed by Dame Janet Baker and Hallé Orchestra. Conducted by Sir John Barbirolli. Licensed by EMI Music, Australia.
  • Ode to Joy from Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op.125. Music by Ludwig van Beethoven. Words by Friedrich Schiller. Performed by Sydney Philharmonia Choirs and Orchestra. Conducted by Antony Walker. Licensed by Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Australia.
  • Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (Songs of a Wayfarer) by Gustav Mahler. Performed by Sydney Symphony Orchestra. Conducted by Vladimir Ashkenazy. Licensed by Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Australia.
  • Symphony No. 1 in D major 'Titan' by Gustav Mahler. Performed by Sydney Symphony Orchestra. Conducted by Vladimir Ashkenazy. Licensed by Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Australia.
  • Symphony No. 9 by Gustav Mahler. Performed by Philharmonia Orchestra, London. Conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen. Licensed by Philharmonia Orchestra, London.
  • Kennedy, Michael. The Master Musicians - Mahler J M Dent and Sons Ltd, 1974
  • Mahler, Alma. Mitchell, Donald and Martner, Knud, eds. Gustav Mahler: Memories and Letters. Cardinal, 1990
  • Lebrecht, Norman. Why Mahler? How One Man and Ten Symphonies Changed the World. Faber and Faber, 2010
  • Ross, Alex. The Rest is Noise. Listening to the Twentieth Century. Picador 2007
  • La Grange, Henry-Louise de, Gunther Weiss, Knud Martner, eds. Gustav Mahler Letters to His Wife. Faber and Faber, 2004
  • La Grange, Henry-Louise de, Mahler-Symphonies-Notes: Henry-Louis de La Grange - Symphony No. 9.

Exhibition highlights

ColApImg_EXHI013493
Egon SCHIELE
Austria 1890–1918
Self-portrait with hands on chest 1910
charcoal, watercolour and gouache
44.8 x 31.2 cm
Kunsthaus Zug, Stiftung Sammlung Kamm
ColApImg_EXHI012197
Gustav KLIMT
Austria 1862–1918
Fritza Riedler 1906
oil on canvas
152.0 x 134.0 cm
Belvedere, Vienna
ColApImg_EXHI013492
Egon SCHIELE
Austria-Hungary 1890–1918
Portrait of the painter Hans Massmann 1909
oil and metallic paint on canvas
120.0 x 110.0 cm
Kunsthaus Zug
Stiftung Sammlung Kamm
ColApImg_EXHI013309
Koloman MOSER (designer)
Austria-Hungary 1868-1918
WIENER WERKSTÄTTE, Vienna (manufacturer)
Austria-Hungary 1903-32
Flower basket (Model no. S 781) 1906
silver
21.3 x 7.2 x 4.3 cm
Asenbaum Collection
ColApImg_EXHI014746
Josef HOFFMANN (designer)
Austria-Hungary 1870–1956
WÜRBEL & CZOKALLY (CARL WÜRBEL), Vienna (manufacturer)
Austria-Hungary 1892–1913
VINZENZ MAYER’S SÖHNE, Vienna (retailer)
Austria-Hungary 1810–1922
Sports trophy 1902
silver, gilt, malachite
26.0 x 7.1 cm diameter
Private collection
© Josef Hoffmann Estate
ColApImg_EXHI012867
George MINNE
Belgium 1866-1941
Kneeling youth 1898
plaster
79.5 x 19.4 x 44.3 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, NGV Women’s Association to commemorate their 50th Anniversary and the 150th Anniversary of the NGV and with the assistance of the proceeds of the National Gallery of Victoria Annual Dinners, 2011 (2011.10)
Licensed by VISCOPY, Australia
ColApImg_EXHI014728
Egon SCHIELE
Self-portrait with peacock waistcoat, standing 1911
gouache, watercolour and crayon
51.5 x 34.5 cm
Private collection
ColApImg_EXHI014224
Oskar KOKOSCHKA
Austria-Hungary/Czechoslovakia/England 1886-1980
Conte Verona (1910)
oil on canvas
70.6 x 58.7 cm
Private collection, New York
Approved: Licensed by VISCOPY, Australia
ColApImg_EXHI012902
Otto WAGNER (designer)
Austria 1841–1918
Alexander ALBERT (manufacturer)
Austria active c.1904
Chair for Dr Karl Lueger 1904
Rosewood (Dalbergia sp.), mother-of-pearl, leather
98.5 x 63 x 59.5 cm
Wien Museum, Vienna
Estate of Karl Lueger, 1910
Enver Hirsch
ColApImg_EXHI014616
Unknown
Gustav Mahler conducts his Symphony No. 1 in D major
Cartoon from Wiener Illustrated Front Page of 25 November 1900
Photo: Imagno
IMAGNO/Austrian Archives
ColApImg_EXHI012199
Gustav KLIMT
Austria 1862–1918
Johanna Staude 1917–18
oil on canvas
70.0 x 50.0 cm
Belvedere, Vienna
ColApImg_EXHI012200
Koloman MOSER
Austria 1868–1918
Self-portrait c.1916–17
oil painting on canvas on cardboard
74.0 x 50.0 cm
Belvedere, Vienna
ColApImg_EXHI012201
Oskar KOKOSCHKA
The painter Carl Moll 1861-1945 1913
oil on canvas
128.0 x 95.5 cm
Belvedere, Vienna
Approved: Licensed by VISCOPY, Australia
ColApImg_EXHI014409
Koloman MOSER (designer)
Austria 1868-1918
Plate from Flächen Schmuck series, published in Die Quelle 1901
26 x 30
National Gallery of Australia Research Library
ColApImg_EXHI014461
Koloman MOSER (designer)
Austria 1868-1918
Plate from Flächen Schmuck series, published in Die Quelle 1901
26 x 30
National Gallery of Australia Research Library
ColApImg_EXHI013996
Dagobert PECHE (designer)
Austria 1887–1923
WIENER WERKSTÄTTE, Vienna (manufacturer)
Austria 1903–1932
Jewel box (S 4880) 1920
silver-gilt
38.4 x 19.7 x 12.7 cm
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Purchase, Anonymous gift, 1978
© The Metropolitan Museum of Art/Art Resource, New York
ColApImg_EXHI013493 Egon SCHIELE
Austria 1890–1918
Self-portrait with hands on chest 1910
charcoal, watercolour and gouache
44.8 x 31.2 cm
Kunsthaus Zug, Stiftung Sammlung Kamm
ColApImg_EXHI012197 Gustav KLIMT
Austria 1862–1918
Fritza Riedler 1906
oil on canvas
152.0 x 134.0 cm
Belvedere, Vienna
ColApImg_EXHI013492 Egon SCHIELE
Austria-Hungary 1890–1918
Portrait of the painter Hans Massmann 1909
oil and metallic paint on canvas
120.0 x 110.0 cm
Kunsthaus Zug
Stiftung Sammlung Kamm
ColApImg_EXHI013309 Koloman MOSER (designer)
Austria-Hungary 1868-1918
WIENER WERKSTÄTTE, Vienna (manufacturer)
Austria-Hungary 1903-32
Flower basket (Model no. S 781) 1906
silver
21.3 x 7.2 x 4.3 cm
Asenbaum Collection
ColApImg_EXHI014746 Josef HOFFMANN (designer)
Austria-Hungary 1870–1956
WÜRBEL & CZOKALLY (CARL WÜRBEL), Vienna (manufacturer)
Austria-Hungary 1892–1913
VINZENZ MAYER’S SÖHNE, Vienna (retailer)
Austria-Hungary 1810–1922
Sports trophy 1902
silver, gilt, malachite
26.0 x 7.1 cm diameter
Private collection
© Josef Hoffmann Estate
ColApImg_EXHI012867 George MINNE
Belgium 1866-1941
Kneeling youth 1898
plaster
79.5 x 19.4 x 44.3 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, NGV Women’s Association to commemorate their 50th Anniversary and the 150th Anniversary of the NGV and with the assistance of the proceeds of the National Gallery of Victoria Annual Dinners, 2011 (2011.10)
Licensed by VISCOPY, Australia
ColApImg_EXHI014728 Egon SCHIELE
Self-portrait with peacock waistcoat, standing 1911
gouache, watercolour and crayon
51.5 x 34.5 cm
Private collection
ColApImg_EXHI014224 Oskar KOKOSCHKA
Austria-Hungary/Czechoslovakia/England 1886-1980
Conte Verona (1910)
oil on canvas
70.6 x 58.7 cm
Private collection, New York
Approved: Licensed by VISCOPY, Australia
ColApImg_EXHI012902 Otto WAGNER (designer)
Austria 1841–1918
Alexander ALBERT (manufacturer)
Austria active c.1904
Chair for Dr Karl Lueger 1904
Rosewood (Dalbergia sp.), mother-of-pearl, leather
98.5 x 63 x 59.5 cm
Wien Museum, Vienna
Estate of Karl Lueger, 1910
Enver Hirsch
ColApImg_EXHI014616 Unknown
Gustav Mahler conducts his Symphony No. 1 in D major
Cartoon from Wiener Illustrated Front Page of 25 November 1900
Photo: Imagno
IMAGNO/Austrian Archives
Gustav KLIMT
Austria 1862–1918
Johanna Staude 1917–18
oil on canvas
70.0 x 50.0 cm
Belvedere, Vienna
Koloman MOSER
Austria 1868–1918
Self-portrait c.1916–17
oil painting on canvas on cardboard
74.0 x 50.0 cm
Belvedere, Vienna
Oskar KOKOSCHKA
The painter Carl Moll 1861-1945 1913
oil on canvas
128.0 x 95.5 cm
Belvedere, Vienna
Approved: Licensed by VISCOPY, Australia
ColApImg_EXHI014409 Koloman MOSER (designer)
Austria 1868-1918
Plate from Flächen Schmuck series, published in Die Quelle 1901
26 x 30
National Gallery of Australia Research Library
ColApImg_EXHI014461 Koloman MOSER (designer)
Austria 1868-1918
Plate from Flächen Schmuck series, published in Die Quelle 1901
26 x 30
National Gallery of Australia Research Library
ColApImg_EXHI013996 Dagobert PECHE (designer)
Austria 1887–1923
WIENER WERKSTÄTTE, Vienna (manufacturer)
Austria 1903–1932
Jewel box (S 4880) 1920
silver-gilt
38.4 x 19.7 x 12.7 cm
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Purchase, Anonymous gift, 1978
© The Metropolitan Museum of Art/Art Resource, New York

Timeline

© 2011 National Gallery of Victoria

Loading...