The soul of the City

I have not read novels by Austrian writers, nor do I remember seeing movies about Vienna. Vienna? There was a blank in my mind.

Vienna. The only person who led me to imagine Vienna was johann strauss, The Emperor Waltz and The Blue Danube. They were spinning, spinning, spinning, and the melody was getting stronger. In the early years of the ” cultural revolution” in Shanghai under the eaves eavesdropping over and over again, the old-fashioned record is also so sparkling, hissing, inner visual hybrid movie in the old Russian court dance scene, began to unfounded and vividly imagine why Vienna is Strauss, rather than the 19th century flocking to Vienna’s other musicians?

” In Europe, there may not be a city so keen on cultural life as Vienna. For centuries, Habsburg Austria prospered because it had neither political ambition nor military action. That kind of national pride is most strongly reflected in the pursuit of artistic excellence. ” Zweig was born in 1881. He described Vienna at the end of the 19th century as follows: ” Every morning when reading newspapers, ordinary Viennese citizens first see not parliamentary debates or world events, but programs performed by the Royal Theater.” According to him, passers-by would not look up at the gentry or prime minister strolling in the streets, but ” every saleswoman or coachman would recognize a royal theater actor or an opera actress as they walked along the street.”

Let’s look at this family memory.

One day, my cook stumbled into the room with tears in her eyes and told us that she had just heard that Charlotte Walter (the most famous actress in Castle Theatre) was dead. This extreme sadness is puzzling. The semi-illiterate old cook has never been to the noble castle theatre, nor has she seen Charlotte on the stage or in her daily life.

Like Zweig, Gombrich’s family is also a middle class of Vienna Jews, born in 1909. His music mother knew Freud and Mahler well, while his sister was a regular in Schoenberg’s circle. How did Viennese value artistic upbringing in the early 20th century? He said: I cannot deny that there is something arty here. However, if one does not get involved in this cultural atmosphere and music, literature and art, others will look down on him and society will not accept him. It is a mistake to know nothing about these fields.

The tragedy of people and cities always reminds me that Gombrich witnessed Vienna’s long-term economic decline after World War I and the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Some teachers in the school starved to death. Grandfather went bankrupt. Bread and milk are rationed and families have to run the black market. He and his sister were once placed in foster care with the coffin maker and the local police respectively.

Zweig’s childhood memories seem to remain in Vienna’s golden age, and later exile began in the city. The University of Vienna, from which Gombrich graduated, is still the same. Across the street is Beethoven’s former residence. Most of Europe’s capitals have been destroyed by two wars. No matter they are caught in the flames of war or are updated by what China calls ” historical opportunities”, every European city-state is unwilling to turn its back on its memory. Zweig wrote that when the castle theatre that premiered ” The Marriage of Figaro” faced demolition, ” the entire Vienna society seemed to attend a funeral”; When the Berthendorf Concert Hall was to be demolished, the final performance was over. The audience applauded and cried. After the lights were turned off, no one left their seats. ” When we were college students, we used petitions, marches and articles to fight against the demolition of Beethoven’s deathbed apartment. In Vienna, the demolition of every house of historic significance is like taking a part of our souls. ”

The soul of the city. Besides place names, our city cares about the soul?