Oettingen Press


As an online introduction to each city featured on our tours, we provide excerpts of music, literature, art and film.

For Vienna the selection is Woman in Gold (2015) which recounts the story of Maria Altmann (Helen Mirren) whose family's art - including a portrait by Gustav Klimt - was stolen by the Nazis during World War II. The film traces the efforts to restore rightful ownership of the portrait and in the process retraces the family's history in Vienna and Maria's journey to the U.S. as a Jewish refugee.

Watch the trailer:


Read Adam Kirsch's review of Marjorie Perloff's new book Edge of Irony: Modernism in the Shadow of the Hapsburg Empire. If you're not familiar with the New York Review of Books, the reviews are as much essays on a topic as they are reviews of new publications. Kirsch's discussion of modernism definitely fits this bill and serves as an excellent introduction to turn-of-the-century Viennese authors.  

In keeping with our focus on modernist art, literature and music for the course, our first musical selection for Vienna is Alban Berg's Piano Sonata, Op. 1. Known as a member of the Second Viennese School as a student of Arnold Schoenberg, Berg embraced the atonal and later twelve-tone practices of his teacher but always with a nod to tonal sensibilities. This piece is the perfect window onto Berg's early style as it explores meandering melodic lines that never quite resolve (the opening melody is an exception) and rich, seemingly dissonant harmonies that can also be linked to the late Romanticism of Wagner, Mahler and others. A brief perusal of online recordings yields wildly varying interpretations. This is primarily due to Berg's carefully notated rubato with constant, proscribed tempo fluctuations, leaving it impossible for any given performer not to have a unique, personal interpretation of his instructions. We offer two YouTube links, one by Maria Yudina with score to follow (click here), and the other by Helene Grimaud (click here). Enjoy!