With Berlin going dark, how long can Vienna stay open?

With Berlin going dark, how long can Vienna stay open?


norman lebrecht

October 29, 2020

The latest Covid graph from Vienna (search ‘Vienna Covid’) shows exactly the same infection spike in the past week as the one that prompted Chancellor Merkel to switch off the lights on Germany’s arts.

How long can Vienna keep its opera open? Does the city still regard itself as a special case?


  • Gustavo says:

    Churches are not closing in Germany.


    Why is religion still a special case as opposed to culture?

    And further, how can these anthropocentric health measures be justified given the global biodiversity crisis?

    Isn’t it time to discard belief in Genesis 1.28?

    “It is absolutely clear to me that the German nation can only gain new energy through liberation from Christianity. Are we really any further than at the time of the political union of Charles V and the Pope?”

    – Richard Strauss –

    • Garech de Brun says:

      Culture is mere entertainment. All music except that composed for the church is mere entertainment. We need to keep churches open to keep hope alive.

      Man does not live on bread alone.

      Under the Nazis the churches had to toe the line or go underground. Those that spoke out like Niemoller ended up in a Camp or worse like Bonhoeffer.

      The Nazis wanted to turn the clock back to pre Christian pagan savagery your comment supports this viewpoint.

      Strauss was a Hitler supporter and “approved” composer to the Nazis hardly has much weight at all, besides unlike his namesake Johann he could not compose a tune to save his life.

      First they came for the Jews, but I did nothing because I’m not a Jew. Then they came for the socialists, but I did nothing because I’m not a socialist. Then they came for the Catholics, but I did nothing because I’m not a Catholic. Finally, they came for me, but by then there was no one left to help me. Martin Niemoller.

      • Doc Martin says:

        Garech you are quite correct, concerts are classed as entertainment as you have to pay to attend them, unlike the church.

      • Dander says:

        Not sure whether Strauss actually supported Hitler, he certainly benefited as being approved by the Nazis and did not do vey much to help anyone.

        Agree Johann Strauss has the tunes!

        • The Gaffer says:

          Blue Danube yes, but it is really brown!
          The steeplejack Fred Dibnah used to play Johann Strauss records on his show.

      • Gustavo says:

        “All music except that composed for the church is mere entertainment.”

        If that is your true conviction then you are a very poor sole.

        I think Beethoven, Wagner, Bruckner, Mahler, Richard Strauss and Shostakovich can do more to free your spirit than functional church music written to promote blind faith and nourish autocratic ecclesiastical institutions that perpetuate the unnatural gulf between human and animal life.

        • Marfisa says:

          ‘functional church music’ – So much for J.S. Bach, Heinrich Biber, Samuel Scheidt, Palestrina, Josquin des Pres – they free my spirit as much as do Beethoven (who I believe did write a Mass), Bruckner, Mahler, Richard Strauss and Shostakovich, and far more than Wagner!

          • Gustavo says:

            You have a universal taste.

          • Larry D says:

            Bruckner might be surprised at being put in the anti-church music category, considering all the masses and psalms he wrote, not to mention being organist at St. Florian monastery, under which organ he is buried. But then he worshipped Wagner, which for you must deprive him of all spiritual leanings.

          • Marfisa says:

            It was Gustavo who put him into an anti-church music category. Let us hope God forgives him for worshipping Wagner (Commandments 1 and 2)!

          • Marfisa says:

            But thank you, Larry D., for clarifying for me why Wagner does not ‘free my spirit’ – his magnificently overpowering music does indeed demand absolute adherence to his cult.

      • Golaud says:

        We need to keep churches open to keep hope alive.

        Thank you but no thank you!
        I find hope elsewhere not in a church that abuses children and tries to cover it up.

        You can keep your beliefs for yourself and allow me to decide how i want to live my own life.

        Thank you very much

      • McBreen says:

        Not everyone likes the same type of music, especially if its German.

        Strauss and Wagner do not have universal appeal to many as they sound dull and boring and have no tunes. Many folk in Germany I know have never been to a classical concert, they prefer the Dubliners!

      • Tiredofitall says:

        There is a big difference between suppression and the separation of church and state.

      • Her Royal Snarkiness says:

        “Mere entertainment?” Die Brücke was mere entertainment, it’s artists mere entertainers? The Nazi’s thought art so powerful, they attempted to rein it in. Ernst Ludwig Kirchner would beg to disagree with you.

      • Dan says:

        Aren’t we dramatic, comparing measures to counter the spread of a dangerous and unpredictable disease to Nazis?
        If already, religious gatherings are one of the greatest sources of coronavirus infections.
        They should indeed also be closed, or moved to the outside.
        In any case, you sound like a right-wing asshole who abuses other people’s tragedies to make a superficial political point.

    • McBreen says:

      Sitting in Church, with a face mask observing SD and completing a tracking form should not pose any risk as long as there is no singing or hand shaking or sharing Communion wine.

      I bring my own noggin of Holy water (John Jameson Green spot), in a hip flask for Communion services. Hennessey is also very good especially at a Wake, which often lasts 4 days in Ireland.

      • Larry D says:

        Being half-Irish myself, I can’t help wondering why you paint yourself as a drunken Irish stereotype. But we’re all proud of different things, I suppose, whiskey guzzling in church being yours.

    • Nigel Fromage says:

      Well Strauss must be spinning in his grave. The EU has effectively replaced both the Pope and Charles V. Maybe Germany needs to follow UK and leave.

      • Gustavo says:

        What, leave federal democracy?

        We have no monarch.

      • Geezer says:

        Well Germany will soon have more immigrants than Germans as Merkel let them all in.

        According to statistics from Bundesagentur fur Arbeit, at least 7.9% of working age Syrians resident in Germany live entirely or partially from the welfare system Hartz IV.

        • Gustavo says:

          The USA is based on immigrantion. So what?

        • Brettermeier says:

          “According to statistics from Bundesagentur fur Arbeit, at least 7.9% of working age Syrians resident in Germany live entirely or partially from the welfare system Hartz IV.”

          I’m too lazy right now to check the exact numbers. But let’s say there are 1 million refugees here. For the sake of the argument, let them all be Syrians and of working-age:

          You’re talking about 79.000 people in addition to our 5.600.000 who rely on our welfare system. Yeah, we can manage that, thank you very much.

    • McBreen says:

      Watch the great Irish raconteur Dave Allen and maybe you will change yer mind pal.


    • Geezer says:

      Johann Strauss is miles better than Richard Strauss, the former has tunes, the latter would not cheer you up on a month of Sundays, complete shite.

    • St Patrick's Aunt says:

      Richard Strauss is very dull and boring and has no tune at all. I would not want any of his stuff on my desert island discs.

      • Larry D says:

        Now it’s old “Auntie” clamoring for those marvelous old TUNES! (Using the word “tunes” in place of “melody” is a dead giveaway to these people’s tastes, but what are they doing on a classical music site? Were they googling “lumbago” and came across “Slipped Disc”?)

      • Fernandel says:

        The Aunt goes Benny Hill. And it’s lovely.

    • Dave says:

      Your idea of “Culture” may not appeal to others in other countries mate. Remember Germany caused two world wars and let’s face it, classical music is not Pop music. It does not relate to us in 2020.

    • Mossy Flood says:

      There is more to life than entertainment. Listen to what is happening in rural Ireland.


    • McBreen says:

      Strauss is not an authority I would believe or value, his music is monumentally dull and boring.
      Remember many non-Germans do not like his stuff at all or agree with him, we are not Germans thankfully!

  • Matthias says:

    No doubt, Austria will soon follow Germany‘s example and have some sort of medium lockdown – including shutting down cultural events. There are more Covid-19 cases in per capita terms in Austria than in Germany. Won‘t be a decision taken by the city of Vienna.

  • Doc Martin says:

    ECDC Data for AUSTRIA as 29.10.20

    Sum of Cases: 91,895
    Sum of Deaths: 1040
    14-day cumulative number of COVID-19 cases per 100 000: 367.2
    14-day cumulative number of Cov-19 deaths per 100,000: 1.7

    In comparison with UK and Ireland

    Sum of Cases: 942 275
    Sum of Deaths: 45 675
    14-day cumulative number of COVID-19 cases per 100 000: 431.6
    14-day cumulative number of Cov-19 deaths per 100,000: 3.8


    Sum of Cases: 59 434
    Sum of Deaths 1 896
    14-day cumulative number of COVID-19 cases per 100 000: 289.4
    14-day cumulative number of Cov-19 deaths per 100,000: 1.2

    The figures for Austria show an increase for 14 day cumulative number of cov-19 cases/100,000 and for 14-day cumulative cov-19 deaths/100,000, cumulative deaths a wee bit lower than Ireland, but pending test results not included at present will make it larger.

  • Earl Grey says:

    The lights are going out in concert halls and opera houses all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our life-time.

    • Gustavo says:

      Don’t worry!

      You’re just missing a bit of entertainment.

      Culture is a luxury problem, you know.


    • Le Křenek du jour says:

      Haven’t you been using this very same line here recently?
      Da capo doesn’t make it any truer.
      And, small point of historical accuracy, the Grey you’re paraphrasing was a Viscount, not an Earl.
      Edward Grey, 1st Viscount Grey of Fallodon, not Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey (=THE “Earl Grey”).

    • Stanley says:

      I think you may well be right. The days of the over subsidised state Arts gravy train is over.

    • Peter Phillips says:

      Barbirolli used to quote Lord Grey’s original words of 1914 before playing Elgar’s second symphony.

    • Doc Martin says:

      Yes Cov-19 echos the start of the First World war. The Germans seem to think they have a monopoly on culture, they forget we have Shakespeare, Jonathan Swift,Tallis, Byrd, Purcell, Locke, Orlando Gibbons, besides they caused two wars last century, they forgot all about culture under Hitler. They have no sense of humour or irony.

  • Gustavo says:

    “Culture is not a luxury that we can either afford or delete at will, but the spiritual foundation that ensures our inner survivability.”

    Richard von Weizsäcker, Berlin 1991

  • Vienna calling says:

    Vienna does track and trace and not a single infection happened inside a distanced and mask-wearing auditorium. Of course, they are going to close down eventually. But for cosmetic reasons not because it is going to slow the spread.

    • Sandy says:

      Who wants to sit in Grossersaal Musikverein, wearing a mask with ticket prices 120+Euro? No way, besides I would rather wait until the bug has gone.

  • Dave says:

    Classical music for most folk is not relevant they would rather have U2, Genesis, Rick Wakeman, Stones, Motorhead etc. Sitting in silence po faced in a concert hall does not turn them on.

  • Gustavo says:

    I suggest Muti writes a letter to Kurz re the New Year concert.

  • David Singer says:

    Did someone say that Richard Strauss could not compose a tune? Please listen to the end of Rosenkavalier, What about his waltzes, Don Juan, Death and Transfiguration and many other works? Re Richard Strauss and the Nazis..his daughter in law was Jewish and Strauss worshipped her and his grandchildren. My teacher, Rudolf Jettel (formerly Principal Clarinetist of the Vienna Philharmonic) played under Strauss, knew him personally and told me stories about how Strauss actually disliked the Nazis. Prof Jettel is now known to have helped many Jews escape Austria during the War. Please everyone, make sure you have your facts straight before maligning anyone, esp in this age of misinformation. Thank you.
    David Singer

    • Gustavo says:

      Thank you for putting this straight.

      Richard Strauss’ tunes and motifs are unique in their own way, but perhaps some phrases are too long and interwoven for simple minds to grasp immediately.



      • Garech de Brun says:

        Dead dull and boring I completely disagree, I see nothing in his music at all. Bach, Handel, Beethoven, Schubert, Johann Strauss yes, Richard Strauss no, a turn off composer.

        I would rather prefer William Byrd and Thomas Tallis anyday.

        Music tastes are personal.

    • Doc Martin says:

      His music is not to everyone’s taste David, I find it rather tuneless stuff, compared to his namesake Johann, Verdi, Mozart, Puccini and don’t forget Strauss was an approved composer, his music was allowed while others was banned. Get your facts right before posting.

  • Austrian Inhabitant says:

    I live in Austria. The west is actually the worst hit with cases right now – the 7 day incident rate is much lower in Vienna (260 per 100,000 Vs 376 per 100,000 in Tirol). The situation has changed dramatically in the past few days though and cases are starting to escalate. Austrians are expecting a German style lockdown to be announced on Saturday.

    • McBreen says:

      ECDC data for Austria 30.10.20

      Sum of cases 96,200

      Sum of deaths 1064

      14-day cumulative number of COVID-19 cases per 100 000 400

      14-day cumulative number of COVID-19 deaths per 100 000 1.9


      Sum of cases 60 297

      Sum of deaths 1 902

      14-day cumulative number of COVID-19 cases per 100 000 282.8

      14-day cumulative number of COVID-19 deaths per 100 000 1.3

      Trend increasing for Austria, looking at 14-day cumulative cases cov-19/100,000 and for deaths, higher than Ireland.

      Yes the whole EU should be in lockdown till April 2021 at this rate.

      In Ireland we would rather have a “lockin”, in the Pub, and keep warm by the auld Turf fire, with wimin and Whiskey!

      • Austrian Inhabitant says:

        When I said the west is worst hit, I meant the west of Austria. The 7-day cumulative rate is much lower in Vienna than the average for Austria.

        I’m not trying to back up Vienna. I hate it here and most the Viennese are arseholes. I was merely trying to point out the misrepresentation of data. The average data for Austria was being used like it was data for just Vienna.

        A breakdown of data for different parts of Austria can be found here (although the site was down a moment ago) https://covid19-dashboard.ages.at

  • Mossy Flood says:

    Bruckner’s church music is not bad, but definitely not as good as say William Byrd or Thomas Tallis, but his symphonies are long, lugubrious and dead borin and they all sound the same, like havin a big brass band in your livin room.

    That other fella Beethovenon the other hand is able to say what he needs to say mostly in under an hour or so and he knows when to stop, while auld Bruckner runs on and on and on like the goods train from Kilrush.

  • Doc Martin says:

    I spotted this Mossy Flood video on his recent visit to county Leitrim for a bit of craic!


  • Doc Martin says:

    Well cov-19 has now gone ballistic, mainland Europe is real a no go area. Just look at the ECDC data.