Music pavilion at the 1873 World's Fair

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Playlist: Music of the 1873 Vienna World's Fair

With this playlist, we take you back to the year of music 1873: All these pieces were composed in Vienna in 1873. Close your eyes and imagine the rousing parties in the rotunda, in front of the music pavilion or in the Golden Hall of the Wiener Musikverein. Many of these pieces were also performed in precisely this hall in later New Year's Concerts of the Vienna Philharmonic.


May 1, 1873, rotunda in the Prater: Conductor Johannes Brahms festively opened the Vienna World's Fair with the orchestra and the choral society of the Society of Friends of Music. They performed the Kaiserhymne (Emperor's Hymn) by Joseph Haydn.

The music of the World's Fair

However, the World's Fair mainly featured Johann Strauss Jr.. His work had a lasting influence on the entire world of music and still stands for Viennese joie de vivre. With the official World's Fair band, he entertained audiences across the city. He composed the Rotunda Quadrille specially for this unique event. Other pieces specially composed for the World's Fair are the World's Fair Waltzes by Phillip Fahrbach the Younger and Carl Michael Ziehrer.

At the time, music was performed not only in the concert halls, like the recently built Golden Hall of the Wiener Musikverein or in the Academy of Sciences, but above all in the larger cafés and dance venues. Some of these establishments, like the Bösendorfer Hall in Palais Liechtenstein or Gasthaus Sperl, no longer exist. Another, Casino Zögernitz, will radiate in new splendor in 2023 with the opening of the House of Strauss cultural center. 

Celebrities in Vienna

The most prominent regular guests on the site were, of course, Emperor Franz Joseph and Empress Sisi with other members of the house of Habsburg-Lorraine. Someone how traveled from afar was the Persian Shah Nasir al-Din. He resided at Schloss Laxenburg, just south of Vienna. This visit was something so special that Johann Strauss (Jr.) composed a lively Persian march in the ruler's honor. 

Music away from the World's Fair

The year 1873 in Vienna also gave rise to a lot of important music that had nothing directly to do with the World's Fair. Above all, Johann Strauss (Jr.) created perhaps his second-best known waltz "Wiener Blut" and the operetta "Die Fledermaus", his youngest brother, Eduard Strauss, wrote the waltz "Die Hochquelle" for the opening of the still impressive high-jet fountain on Schwarzenbergplatz, and Anton Bruckner completed his 3rd Symphony – to name but a few examples. 

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