Vienna, the City of Music

cellist at a concert

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Wolfgang Becker and Franz Risavy, carpenters at the Wiener Konzerthaus
© WienTourismus/Gregor Hofbauer

Carpenter twins at the Konzerthaus

The two gentlemen are happy to talk with much pride about their activities away from the spotlight, which don't have much in common with normal carpentry jobs. Wolfgang Becker has been doing this one job for almost 30 years, Franz Risavy for over 20 already. Together, they are the "Twins of the Konzerthaus", because they work as a close-knit team of two: "You can't hang a door all on your own. Or lift the benches in the hall either."

450 doors and thousands of chairs

The Wiener Konzerthaus is home to musical variety: music from the Middle Ages to the present day, in several magnificent halls with first-class acoustics and an architectural experience to boot. Obviously, with all the audiences coming and going and the constant rehearsals, things are always getting knocked about a bit. That takes top priority for our two carpenters: they start repairing windows, doors and floors at seven in the morning. And continue until rehearsals start. And if there's a recording session as well, then the maxim is: don't disturb.

Apart from ad-hoc repairs, maintenance is a big issue. The Wiener Konzerthaus has over 640 rooms, and 450 doors have to be checked by the fire officer annually. A case for Becker & Risavy. Just as the seating has to be maintained and recovered – the historic halls contain chairs by the company Thonet that still date from the building's opening in 1913. They are not only beautiful and practical, but also support the special spatial acoustics. The chair sets the tone – this is also the title of the video including our carpenters and others.

Ice piano

Wolfgang Becker and Franz Risavy's eyes light up brightly when they talk about their creative projects. They are have a wealth of ideas, tinker away into their free time, and there's no such thing as "can't" with them. Two of their favorite stories have to do with Wien Modern, the festival of contemporary music: some of the artists' ideas are downright bizarre. Wolfgang Becker grins and breaks out with his "exciting story about the ice piano":

"The idea was to place a piano on the stage for Georg Nussbaumer's installation Eine Winterreise, overfill it with ice, play the piano and listen to the sounds it makes depending on the ice situation. Whether that was satisfactory, we don't know. These are interesting matters for us – knowledge of structural engineering is required. A thousand kilos of ice are lying on the instrument. Cladding with scales, installing film, building an optical floor for the piano, pumping out the thawing ice..."

The bull's head in the workshop

Mr. Becker's second Wien Modern story: "An actor walked around the Great Hall with a bull's head on a stick he is holding and knocked on the floor. At some point, he smashes this bull's head. I watched that from the gallery – and heard from the noise that the platform wouldn't last much longer. Thin pole – heavy bull's head – just when I'm sitting up there, it breaks: the floor falls through. I rush to make emergency repairs. They have to continue rehearsing, of course. Then they realized that they had to close off the first three rows – due to the splinters caused by smashing the skill to pieces. – A head also happens to hang in the joinery."

Playing mouse

The two men appreciate their working environment:

"We don't just go to the theater to pass the time. We go there with passion. In return, we experience incomparable moments that others can only dream of. It's exciting when we come up from the workshop downstairs and the Wiener Symphoniker are playing live. You take a quick look because your listening in on the rehearsal. You have to be very quiet ... play mouse for ten minutes ... Hardly anybody else has this at their place of work. Certainly not in a joinery, where the radio normally blares out. We also check the halls once a year – the chairs: for movement, broken parts. When the organ starts playing, we're asked whether that disturbs us. We have carpenter's headsets that mute the organ sounds and let them through just right. That's so cool."

When asked about their connection to Vienna, both of them say that although they live in the surrounding area, they both enjoying coming into the city. Wolfgang Becker also lived in Vienna for many years. His favorite place: Schönbrunn, the whole area including palace, park, and zoo. Other tips he mentions are the Lainz Game Reserve and Danube Island – green Vienna. And the water of the highest drinking quality that flows straight from the faucet. Mr. Risavy adds Belvedere Palace to the highlights of Vienna, because the cultural "can do something". Just like something fluid: Viennese wine, specifically the Gemischter Satz variety. His colleague says of the city's residents: "I would say that the Viennese are quite distinctive. A bit grouchy. That's just how it is."

Vienna Konzerthaus

Lothringerstraße 20
1030 Vienna
  • Vienna City Card

  • Accessibility

    • Main entrance
      • no steps (Automatische Schiebetüre 140 cm wide)
      • Ramp 435 cm long
    • Car parks Main entrance
      • 2 Parking spaces for people with disabilities
    • Elevator available
      • Door 90 cm wide
    • Further information
      • Seeing eye dogs allowed
      • Wheelchair accessible restroom available.
    • Special offers for people with disabilities

      "Klangberührt": 4 inklusive Konzerte im Schubert-Saal, Empfohlen ab 16 Jahren
 https://konzerthaus.at/abonnement/id/2670

    • Comments

      All halls accessible via elevator, inner ramp.

      2 elevators from ground floor (door width: 90 cm, cabin depth: 190 and 140 cm, cabin width: 94 cm).

      Wheelchair seats: 18 in the Grand Hall, 6 in the Mozart Hall, 3 in the Schubert Hall and 4 in the Berio Hall. Seeing-eye dogs permitted (by prior arrangement).

      "Klangberührt": 4 inclusive concerts in the Schubert Hall, recommended for ages 16 and up: https://konzerthaus.at/abonnement/id/2670