Shining a light on a musical ‘blind spot’ in Vienna

One hundred years of music from the Hapsburg Court

By Peter Alexander

Vienna’s rich musical heritage of the Classic-Romantic periods is very familiar to audiences. But for a full century before Haydn or Mozart ever set foot in Vienna, the Austrian capital had a musical culture that scholar/performer Mario Aschauer calls “a phenomenon unique in music history.”


Scholar/performer Mario Aschauer uncovers the forgotten music of Vienna with the Boulder Bach Festival

Between 1637 and 1740, four consecutive Hapsburg emperors were trained musicians and composers. “They had an amazing court (music establishment),” Aschauer explains. “They had international personnel and produced an unspeakable amount of music in pretty much every genre that was popular at the time.”


Zachary Carrettin playing the cello da spalla

To open the door on these riches of the Baroque era, the Boulder Bach Festival has invited Aschauer to present “A Journey to Vienna with Mario Aschauer,” a concert of music from the Austrian court, to be presented Thursday in Boulder and Saturday in Longmont. The program features both operatic and instrumental selections, performed by Aschauer on harpsichord; the Bach Festival’s director, Zachary Carrettin, on Baroque violin and his recently revived cello da spalla; and by soprano Jennifer Bird-Arvidsson, who performed with the Bach Festival in last season’s performance of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion.

Works on the program include music by one of the emperors and court composers of different generations. There are pieces for keyboard alone, a sonata for violin and keyboard, and several arias with an obbligato instrument—an instrument that becomes a duet partner with the singer.

Read more in Boulder Weekly.

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Soprano Jennifer Bird-Arvidsson

Journey to Vienna, with Mario Aschauer, harpsichord
Zachary Carrettin, Baroque violin and cello da spalla
Jennifer Bird-Arvidsson, soprano

Music by Emperor Leopold I, Georg and Gottlieb Muffat, Atonio Caldara, Attilio Ariosti and Johann Joseph Fux.

7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 8
Grace Lutheran Church, 1001 13th St., Boulder

7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10
Stewart Auditorium, 400 Quail Rd., Longmont