Thursday, October 25, 2007

Lessons with Alois Posch

Well, I officially got my butt kicked yesterday for the first time by my teacher here, Alois Posch. I have now had 3 lessons with him. Apparently, the introduction is over, and it is now down to business. The first two lessons dealt mainly with some of the major technical changes I would have to make, studying here in Vienna. This mainly involves the bow. Not only have I just recently switched to playing German bow, after having played French bow my entire life, but now I must adapt specifically to the Viennese style of German bow playing. This has actually been a much easier transition than I originally anticipated. I will go into more detail about this change in the future. Other changes have included some meticulous left hand refinement, and beginning with the Ludwig Streicher method books, which I have never used before, but seem to be treated like the Bible amongst bass players here in Vienna. It must work. The technical facility of all the players in the studio here is absolutely astounding.

Another big difference with my lessons out here is that they are open to the whole studio. Anyone can listen to anybody else's lesson. This was something I first experienced this last summer at the International Festival at Round Top in my lessons with Barry Lieberman. It really makes the lesson feel like more of a performance, or a master class, since there will often 5 to 8 people in the room. I think there are both advantages and disadvantages to this concept. The personal relationship between the student and teacher is somewhat sacrificed, it seems, but on the plus side... I basically get 6 lessons a week, being able to listen to other peoples. Being here for the limited amount of time that I am, that is definitely an opportunity for me to get the most out my time with Posch as possible. I will soon be posting some more thoughts about specific technical and conceptual adjustments that I have been making.

Mr. Posch is currently the principal bassist of the Vienna Philharmonic and the Vienna Staatsoper. He has been in the orchestra since 1977, and has been teaching at the Universität für Musk und Darstellende Kunst since 1993.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Why I love this city...

So as I was approaching my building on the way home from the park today, I noticed out of the corner of my eye a restaurant called the 'Ludwig van.' Now, since the name sounded, well, a little familiar to me.... I decided to investigate, in hopes of perhaps finding a new restaurant for dinner, to take the place of the dozens of tuna on rye sandwiches I've consumed in the last several weeks. To my surprise, it turned out to be a restaurant occupying a building where Beethoven once lived! From 1822 into 1823 to be exact. It was well marked with a beautiful carved plaque above the door.

I find it amazing to be continually discovering little places like this EVERYWHERE I go in Vienna. This place is literally one block from where I am living. Just another reason why I love this city..

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Clip from the Staatsoper

TJ Grasch, who is studying in the nearby city of Linz, came up the other night for a visit. TJ, myself, my roommate, Alex, and friend Karin all went to a Staatsoper performance of Puccini's 'Manon Lescaut.' The modern staging was a bit eccentric, though it was an amazing performance overall. I snagged this short clip of the amazing soprano aria at the end of the last act...though this clip does not do justice to the overall performance.

TJ is from Illinois, like me! Alex is from Ethiopia, and Karin is from Sweden, so we were quite the international group for the evening!

Michaela's Visit

Michaela came down to visit from Germany last week. We had an amazing time, and were able to really see a lot of the city, though, there is still so much. Some of the highlights of her visit were the Staatsoper (Barber of Seville), the Riesenrad (Vienna's famous old ferris wheel), tours through St. Stephen's Cathedral, Karlskirche, and an amazing day-trip to Graz. Here are a few of the pics!

The 2-hour train-ride through the Austrian counrtyside to Graz was absolutely astounding.

We climbed to the top of the "Schlossberg," a random hill/mountainish thing right in the middle of Graz. The view from the top was amazing!

(in Vienna)

St. Stephen's Cathedral
(Very important to pronounce it exactly like my last name...)
Possibly the most impressing structure I have ever seen in my life. It is near impossible to capture good photos of it, because it is so massive.

St. Stephen's is basically at very center of the entire city. We climbed the bell tour, and we also took the tour of the catacombs underneath the cathedral. We saw the tombs of all the Cardinals and Bishops, as well as the urns containing various organs of various members of the Habsburg dynasty. The most interesting, and freakiest, however, were the pits filled with bones, where they dumped the bodies of the 40,000 Vienese who perished as a result the last plague. Since then, in order to save space, many of the bones were at one point cleaned and neatly stacked like books in several other large stone rooms. Creepy...

The Riesenrad!

The Riesenrad is a ferris wheel that was built in 1896. The cars are massive! Like the size of a small train car. They fit about 15-20 people! It is in the Prater Park, which used to be directly across the street from my last building. I am now in a different one...and there will surely be more info to come on my new building...

I couldn't get this picture to straighten out... oh well.

Overall, it was an amazing visit. I can't wait to go and see her in Köln!!!

The desperate things we do for a good music stand...

The title explains itself....

Ingredients: 1 night stand (turned upside down), one kitchen chair, 1 pillow, one bedsheet, love.

Ingredients: 1 table, 1 chair, one pillow, 3 metronomes, one can of beer.

Tentative Schedule

So I'm falling way behind in the amount of stories and pictures I am getting up here. I have done sooo much in the last couple weeks. Most likely things will slow down soon, now that classes are finally beginning... slowly but surely. As of right now, my schedule appears to be something like the following:

M- 8:30am -10am - German class @ Universität Wien
11am-12pm - Bass Lesson @ Universität für Musik
1:30-4 - Orchestra II
4-6:30 - (Potential Orchestra I)

T- 12:15-1:45 - History of Orchestra Lecture Class @ Universität für Musik

W- 8:30am -10am - German class @ Universität Wien

Th- far

F- 8:30am -10am - German class @ Universität Wien

So my schedule is slowly being added to, but I will still definitely have plenty of practice and 'see Wien' time.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Concert Round-Up...

Musikverein, Vienna

I have now been in Vienna for three weeks. I have also attended many of the best concerts and performances that I have seen in my entire life. Not to mention, for the lowest prices I have ever paid. I just wanted to give a list of what I have experienced in the last couple weeks:


I Puritani - Bellini
@ Staatsoper
Price: 2 EUR

Barber of Seville - Rossini
@ Saatsoper
Price: 2 EUR

Otello - Verdi
@ Staatsoper
Price: 2 EUR

I will probably also see Puccini's Manon Lescaut tomorrow...


Romeo and Juliet - Prokofiev
@ Staatsoper
Price: 2 EUR


Wiener Symphoniker
@ Musikverein
Brahms Choral Lieder & Beethoven 5
Price: 5 EUR
( I saw this concert twice )

Rehearsal of Wiener Philharmoniker
@ Musikverein
Beethoven 6
Berg (I can't remember the name of the work)
Price: FREE