1873 HalleNsalon, salon
© 1873 HalleNsalon

Musical hotel history and stories

The chronicle of the Hotel Imperial is full of musical anecdotes. King Bhumibol of Thailand played saxophone here; tenor Luciano Pavarotti rehearsed a couple of songs at the grand piano in the 1873 HalleNsalon before his performance at the State Opera, much to the delight of the hotel guests.

Edward Stanley, 18th Lord of Derby (1918-1994), was once accommodated in a room between the two violinist David and Igor Oistrach. When they apologized for the rehearsals going on next door, the lord laughed, "I feel like a musical sandwich."

A piano man for the night shift

Billy Joel once had one last drink in the bar of the Imperial late at night. The bartender regretted having missed Joel's concert earlier. So without further ado, Joel had all the employees on the night shift assemble and then sat down – just for them – at the piano.

The Hotel Imperial offers a very special package for everyone who wants to own their own piece of music: Individual Archetype Music. The Viennese composer Emanuel Schulz (his works could be heard in venues such as the Musikverein) created very personal music in exchange with the guest, the musical presentation of their personality. Also for couples and family dynasties.

Regular musical offerings at the Hotel Imperial will probably start up again in autumn 2020: jazz concerts, Imperial High Tea with harp music, and champagne brunch to the strains of jazz.

The Hotel Bristol is situated next to the Vienna State Opera. So it's no wonder that it has nurtured the best of relations with its famous neighbor since opening in 1892. Former opera directors provide the names for all of the rooms and suites with a direct view of the State Opera, such number 269 (Gustav Mahler) or 469 (Herbert von Karajan).

Among the Bristol's illustrious guests: George Gershwin wrote on his composition "An American in Paris" at the Bristol, Catherine Deneuve filmed scenes in the bar, and Leonard Bernstein often ordered a grand piano up to his suite to prepare for appearances at the State Opera or Musikverein.

How "Peach Melba" came to Vienna

In 1900, the Australian opera singer Nellie Melba (actually Helen Porter Armstrong) brought the ice cream creation "Peach Melba" to Vienna. The head chef at London's Savoy Hotel, where the soprano lived for a while, had created the peach and ice cream dessert specially for her. She ultimately entrusted the recipe to the Bristol's chefs.

At the event series Salon Opéra, stars (singers, conductors, directors) provide interesting facts about the latest opera premieres at the Bristol's neighbor over afternoon tea with sparkling wine and the finest canapés.

Also a neighbor of the State Opera: the Hotel Sacher Wien. Music is in the hotel's DNA – evident in the suites named after operas: La Traviata, Tosca, Nutcracker, Don Giovanni, Idomeneo. On the walls of the Madame Butterfly suite, for example, are drawings of costumes and a cast list. The guests dive into the world of opera without having to leave the room.

Bagism in a Sacher sheet

The Sacher is a popular home for a while for musicians, singers and conductors of world stature, among them Christian Thielemann and Philippe Jordan. John Lennon and Yoko Ono got the whole world talking about the Sacher with their scandalous press conference on March 31, 1969. Covered entirely by a Sacher sheet they borrowed on the spot, the two of them declared that a person cannot be judged by their outward appearance when hidden inside a bag. Hence "bagism". While the reporters were left pretty speechless, John and Yoko enjoyed a piece of original Sacher Torte in suite 101. Their visit is immortalized in the Beatles hit "The Ballad of John and Yoko".

Hotel Bristol A Luxury Collection Hotel, Vienna - Marriott International Inc.

Kärntner Ring 1, 1010 Wien
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