Are you one of the millions of passionate fans of classical music around the world who has often wondered how and why Vienna became the unmatched world capital of great musical art over the centuries? Have you heard the story of the leading composer who was an equally talented artist? Or that several members of the Austrian imperial royal family were also highly-regarded composers?
If hearing these stories (and many others) told by friendly and knowledgeable expert guides, in the company of like-minded individuals from around the world, while making your way through the Austrian capital’s winding cobbled lanes, back alleys and quiet squares – the spaces where those sounds and techniques evolved down the centuries – sounds like a recipe for your perfect cultural and musical mix, then read on!
Our tour begins at the Vienna State Opera, one of the world’s truly great opera houses, with fascinating history (and perfect acoustics) oozing out of its every nook and cranny. The State Opera first opened its doors in 1869 with a performance of Mozart’s Don Juan(Don Giovanni). Musical sightseeing will be very much the order of the day, accompanied by myriad stories of famous (and less well-known) musicians including Ludwig van Beethoven, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Antonio Salieri, Pietro Metastasio, Joseph Haydn, Franz Schubert, Gustav Mahler, Johann Strauss and others – all of whom lived and worked in Vienna during their careers.
The Jesuit Church is widely viewed as one of the most beautiful churches in the Austrian capital. A true Baroque highlight, the building provides a breathtaking backdrop to a presentation by much-admired international organist Peter Frisée.
As anyone fortunate enough to have attended one of Artissimi’s beautifully designed high-end tours over the years will tell you, there is nothing we enjoy more than to show you sides of Vienna and its rich history the untrained eye would never see – the great city’s hidden treasures. With this founding principle in mind, we will be taking the church’s old stairs up to the Organ Loft, before sitting back, closing our eyes and allowing the exhilarating organ performance to wash over us. The organ itself is a fabulous French concert organ – one of the best in use anywhere in modern Vienna. More exciting still, we will be seated high up in the Baroque heavens. Finally, to bring the day to a fitting end, we shall have the rare opportunity to attend a private organ concert inside the church.
Jesuit Church, Vienna
Built between 1623 and 1627, and subsequently redecorated by Brother Andrea del Pozzo in 1703, the Jesuit Church is often cited as one of the most beautiful places of worship anywhere in the capital. Despite its simple external façade, the church’s interior is rich in allegorical ceiling frescos, many using trompe l’oeiltechniques. The Jesuit Church is a famous location for both live concerts and art presentations, and a lively part of the Viennese cultural mix; the church’s breathtaking beauty means it remains a huge favourite amongst young Viennese tying the knot.
Peter Frisée, Organist
Born in Graz, Peter Frisée studied under Ernst Triebel, Michael Kapsner and Roman Summereder. Since graduating with honours, he has complemented this training with a range of courses and master classes. Frisée has won prizes in a series of international competitions, worked as the organist at Vienna’s Erlöserkirche (Church of the Redeemer) Am Schüttel, and held the office of Choirmaster for the Deanery of the Second District of Vienna since 2004. Frisée launched Graz’s Mariatrost Organ Festival, founded the Culture at the Prater series, and began his continuing activities for the Concilium musicum Vienna and the Haydn Society of Vienna in 2008. He used to work as consultant for church music of the Archdiocese of Vienna, and has been artistic director of The Organ Festival in Vienna since 2012. Frisée’s activities are rounded off by concerts as a soloist and ensemble musician on both organ and harpsichord in Europe, Africa, Latin America and the Far East, alongside teaching work, publications and productions on recording media, television and radio. Frisée also works as a presenter for cultural trips and on Radio Klassik Stephansdom ("Orgel City Vienna”).
Photograph: Jesuit Chruch Vienna, Claudia Blake Photography