In the Rhythm of Vienna
The recent boom on the capital’s pop scene is a real phenomenon – this hotbed of creativity is making itself felt far beyond the limits of the city where new musical heroes dream of immortality.
Booming Pop Scene
Bands like Bilderbuch perform with the self-confidence of royalty. In a recent interview with Die Zeit, frontman Maurice Ernst confirmed that he is, in his own words, creating “new Viennese soul” while connecting with other areas of the capital’s creative scene. In the band’s music videos, he wears fashion by young Viennese designers such as DMMJK. Modesty is not really one of his strengths: Bilderbuch pop sounds sexy, with a generous dose of hubris: “Will you marry me, I’ll buy us a house made of gold and mother of pearl” he sings from the driver’s seat of a yellow Lamborghini in hit single Maschin.
The five musicians that make up Wanda are no less convinced of their own greatness: drenched in local Viennese color, glamor and excess, the lyrics tend to center on heartache. Hits like Bologna and Bussi Baby gave them their international breakthrough. Invitations to headline at various major festivals followed in 2016.
Indie to Electric
Lead singer Marco Michael Wanda does not hesitate to praise two colleagues who fit the indie bill through and through: Soap&Skin’s (aka Anja Plaschg) captivating minimalist melodies and electronic sounds send a shiver down the spine thanks to their melancholic undertones. The unashamedly outspoken Nino aus Wien treats his lyrics as catharsis – a way to express his frustration with the world. While neither are exactly everyday sounds, both add color to the shimmering Viennese music scene.
Deep grooves, fat beats and subterranean sounds pour out of the city’s clubs and late night joints in waves. Jazz, rock, pop, world music and electronica are all served up live or mixed, and always danceable. Even those not spending time in the city are bound to stumble across the authentic sounds of Vienna sooner or later – including those of local DJs such as Wolfram Eckert and Patrick Pulsing, both of whom are familiar faces on the international circuit.
Danube so blue
The idea of Vienna taking a leading role in the world of music is far from a new one: the capital has always been synonymous with musical creativity. The masters of Viennese classical music – Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven – created an extraordinary legacy. Their younger colleague, the waltz king Johann Strauss, was at the heart of a cult of celebrity. 150 years ago, on 15 February 1867, the sound of Austria’s unofficial national anthem rang out for the first time – the Blue Danube waltz is now an integral part of any Viennese ball, and the encore at the Vienna Philharmonic’s New Year’s Concert.
This and many other musical masterpieces are deservedly performed in the city on a regular basis, sometimes to the original score and sometimes with a contemporary twist. Vienna’s newest opera house, the Theater an der Wien, is famous for its inspired opera productions – 2017 will bring Werner Egk’s Peer Gynt and Henry Purcell’s The Fairy Queen.
The 15,000 concerts held in the city each year offer a truly varied program – extending from early music and Baroque at the Resonanzen festival, through to the greats of classical music and, finally, contemporary compositions at the Wien Modern festival. Johann Strauss and the no less fun-loving Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart would no doubt enjoy delving into Vienna’s present day music scene.
Text: Susanna Burger