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Beethoven Reference Site © 2010

 

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In 1824, there were 289,598 people living in Vienna, 49,550 of them within the city walls. As the imperial capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, there were many different nationalities found in the city - Hungarians, Poles, Serbs, Croats, Greeks, Turks. The Viennese were thought of as good-natured, honest and hospitable with a marked propensity for good living - principally good eating and drinking. However, the regime under the Emperor Francis l was quite strict, with an authoritarian secret police. Restaurants and cafes could stay open until midnight, but no later. Only during 'Fasching' - Carnival time, when the great balls were held was an exception made.

There were no brothels, but there were allegedly 20,000 women living by prostitution in 1827. The lower strata of society were generally very badly off, with many consequences such as a high mortality rate, often caused by epidemics of tuberculosis. The best houses were in the inner city and were inhabited by a prosperous middle class, who set great store by physical comfort. Property rents were determined by the proximity to the city centre. In the 1830's and 40's there was a decline in living standards with most working class families paying nearly a third of their income in rent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Tavern was the most popular place of escape on Sundays and holidays. The better off favoured walks and excursions in the countryside around the city. It was the Emperor Joseph ll who had opened the Augarten and the Prater (spacious parks adjoining the Danube) to the general public. The Prater was hugely popular with the Viennese. There were Restaurants, taverns, puppet theatres, swings, bowling alleys, circus gymnastics, impressive firework displays, coffee houses.

Above all, Vienna was a city of music and dance - with organ grinders on every street corner droning out melodies from the music hall and opera. Many dance halls sprang up and gradually became more extravagant - one of the most famous being the Apollo room which boasted artificial ponds, grottoes, waterfalls and flying eagles !

 

   

 

 

 

The passion for newspapers - Johann Christian Schoeller (1837)

(Historiches museum, Vienna)

 

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Aristocratic gathering in the drawing room - 1830

(Historiches museum, Vienna)

 

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Five cross dance 1829

(Historiches museum, Vienna)

 

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Day wear 1822

 

 

 

Day dress 1828

Evening dress 1828

Vienna's history spans a period of over 2000 years. The ancient town of Vindobona (the name is of celtic origin) was one of many fortified outposts guarding the frontiers of the Roman empire. After the Romans, the city was conquered by people from Asia. Under Charlemagne Vienna became the capital of the 'Ostmark', and in 1276 it became an Imperial city under the reign of the Habsburgs. From this time onwards, the policy was of annexing the surrounding nations into the empire. Geographically, Vienna was well placed for a meeting place between east and west and this fusion of German, Latin, Slav and eastern cultures has left its mark on the city. Vienna suffered two invasions by the Turks (1529 and 1683), but although they penetrated as far as the city walls, they did not succeed in conquering the city itself. From then on until the end of the 18th century, the Baroque flourished in Vienna and is reflected in the astounding wealth of aristocratic palaces, elegant middle class town houses, churches and chapels, monuments and fountains that adorn the city.

Thanks to a genuine interest and enthusiasm for all culture, the arts flourished - especially music, with many of the world's greatest composers living in Vienna - Haydn, Mozart, Schubert, Beethoven, Brahms, & Mahler being just some of the many illustrious names to the city's credit. In the 19th century the waltz became the rage with the Strauss family captivating Europe. Vienna boasts an ancient university and has actively contributed to science, technology and medicine; Freud laid the foundations of modern psychology and many important discoveries took place here. Between 1858 and 1865, the old bastions were demolished to make way for a broad avenue encircling the centre, known as the Ring, along which important and monumental buildings of great splendour were erected together with beautiful parks, luxuriant gardens and promenades. Today Vienna is a modern metropolis with a cosmopolitan character, an international centre of music and the arts - a meeting place of creative spirits.