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Vienna: City of Music

17 February 2021

Exterior of the Hofburg Palace, Vienna

Professor David Wyn Jones recently joined presenter Tom Service in Vienna for a special edition of BBC Radio 3’s Music Matters.

The programme follows the recent publication of Professor Jones’ new book, Music and Vienna: 1700, 1800, 1900, which covers the city’s musical and political histories through those three eras. The book, published by Boydell & Brewer, is the first major study of music in the Austrian capital.

Professor Jones said: “Many composers from Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven to Brahms, Johann Strauss, Bruckner and Mahler made Vienna their home and produced many of their finest works there and, of all the art forms, music is the one that is most readily associated with the city. I’ve always found it surprising, therefore, that there is no major study in either English or German of music in Vienna. Understanding of Vienna as a musical city is, instead, largely derived from biographies of composers who worked there, often patchy or misleading in detail.”

Professor Jones’ book fills this gap and opens up new outlooks on music in Vienna by focussing on the role and function of music in the city, as well as the relationship between music and wider political and social developments.

For Music Matters, Professor Jones and Tom Service visited the Hofburgkapelle, the Theater an der Wien, and the Musikverein, tracking the history of music in Vienna through often turbulent times and following the fortunes of the Hapsburg Empire. This historical tour returns to the present to take a look at music in the city today in relation to the social, political and economic landscape.

The programme will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 at 12.15pm on Saturday 5 November and repeated at 10pm on Monday 7 November. It will also be available on BBC iPlayer shortly after broadcast.

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