The museum quarter in the seventh district of Vienna is the eighth largest cultural area in the world, home to a number of stunning art museums, dance centres and production studios. With over 70 facilities it is a serious hub for art and production in Europe. The quarter also acts as an ‘urban living room’, an oasis of tranquillity in the centre of the capital. It has many courtyards and cafés amongst its humble alleyways and streets, lending an air of recreation and relaxation to the people of Vienna.
For four months of this year, MQ Summer of Sounds will take this area and transform it into a musical platform and a creative musical centre on the streets. The Museum Quarter has selected the theme of musical expression for 2014, and taken on board the hugely productive and dazzling experience that was MQ Summer of Fashion in 2012. The idea is to have a shared focus in the museums quarter, and allow cultural institutions to promote interdisciplinary collaboration to create an array of programs that will educate and wow audiences. The Summer of Sounds sets to feature a variety of exhibitions, concerts, workshops and performances by institutions and companies from all over the city.
Vienna is the perfect host for such an event. It is a city that has bound the gap between its past and its present, and what a past at that. Settled by the Celts in 500 BC and then in the following centuries becoming the capital of several dynasties and empires, including the Habsburgs, the Holy Roman Empire and later the Austro Hungarian Empire. It is often said to be ‘The City of Music’, or the ‘world’s music capital’, due to its classical heritage from these Imperial periods. Music is one of the city’s legacies, with prodigies including Schubert, Beethoven and Mozart all working in Vienna. The MQ Summer of Sounds is an event moulded into and around the City’s heritage, history and culture.
Just a ten minute walk from the museum quarter is the Ottakringer Brewery. Each year in the summer months the brewery opens its doors to offer an exciting variety of beers, inviting other breweries to set up and offer their beers too. Every week there is a program of guided tours, live music and the presentation of a new brewery. The Ottakringer Culture Weeks attract thousands of visitors; it is a wonderful event full of colour and culture. The brewery’s modern mechanical rough surfaces, steel beams and industrial lights blend with the old wooden interiors and bars, creating a unique atmosphere within the brewery. When it opened in 1827 Vienna had 44 other breweries in the suburbs, they were small and the locals would call them ‘dance floors with a brewery attached’. Ottakringer is now the last large brewery in Vienna, it has been in business for 175 years producing high quality beer, and prides itself in continuing the joyous tradition of brew making, now being a ‘brewery with dance floors attached’. This composition of fresh ideas mixed with the timelessness of tradition is also a clear driving force in the taste of the famous Ottakringer beer.
Austria has a remarkable ability to charm all throughout every season, with its misty green mountains and bounding untold forests. Yet, the charms of its summers seem to fall most pleasantly in its capital city, Vienna. Sitting in its lively courtyards drinking its smooth freshly tapped beer, one feels that same warm feeling of nostalgia, like remembering a summers day as a child. The heritage of classical music and the tradition of producing a satisfying beer are just two strings in the knitted jumper that is Vienna’s culture, but these two elements are more than enough to see how much of a wonderful time can be had here.
What is your favourite beer or piece of music from around the world?