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Vienna for the Music Lover: The Complete Guide to Vienna's Musical Sites and Performances Today Paperback – 1 Sep 2009
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All things considered, this is a better book than another recent publication, Guy Hartopp`s `Vienna: A Complete Musical Guide'. It is more professional (published in Austria by Christian Brandstaetter, a firm renowned for quality), more attractively presented, has fewer errors, but is perhaps not as detailed in its street-by-street investigation.
David Nelson's book opens with a concise but reasonably detailed twenty-four-page survey of the history of operatic institutions in Vienna, and then follows with a history of its orchestras and concert-halls and other institutions. He looks at the eight museums in the city devoted to composers, and also features the grave sites of the masters.
He adds seven walks around the city, each accompanied by a colourful map that is pleasing to the eye, but be warned that it is Mozart, Mozart, and Mozart that seems to dominate these, due largely to his constant changes of address. But did not Beethoven have more? But at least fans of the latter have one walk almost to themselves, out to suburbs at the foot of the Vienna Woods from Heiligenstadt and Nussdorf to Grinzing.
The section headed `Music History on Every Street' boasts of 419 musical addresses in and around the city, from Agnesgasse 9, where Flotow composed his opera `Martha', to the site of Hugo Wolf's 1894 home at Zentagasse 20. This demonstrates that this volume is by no means restricted to the greats of Viennese musical history: as well as the likes of Schoenberg, Webern and Berg, many lesser-known persons are featured - the book's `Who's Who in Musical Vienna' runs from Johann Georg Albrechtsberger (eighteenth-century music theorist and composer) to Carl Michael Ziehrer (composer and conductor of operettas and dance music). (By the way, Mozart's twenty and Beethoven's sixty-seven Viennese addresses are given as an appendix.)
As if all this is not enough, details are given of the locations of the stars fixed into the pavements of the city, its own `Musik Meile'.
The illustrations throughout the book are in colour and well-chosen, although it is a shame that some are too small for full appreciation. There is, however, one inexcusable omission for a book of this kind: there is no index!
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Photographic quality is good and the maps are reasonable.
Some trivia verges on minutia.
The work is of an appropriate size and weight for travel.
Perhaps, if ever again released, it might merit production in some e-format tied into GSM for smart phone or tablet computer where its strengths would be greatly enhanced by web links.
Also, this book is heavy in terms of physical weight. I probably wouldn't bring it with me to Vienna in my carry-on bag. You might want to photocopy a few pages and tuck them into your backpack if you are heading to Austria.