The Sound of Josefstadt

The 8th district is a great place to discover the countless musical treasures that Vienna has to offer. ‘Vienna Calling’ was a major hit of Austria’s pop superstar Falco in the 1980s – a call to the world from a city that enjoys a worldwide, and well-deserved, reputation as a capital of music.

Vienna’s musical spectrum is impressive, ranging from classical music, opera and operetta to the electronic downtempo boom of the 1990s to the recent pop and dialect renaissance, not to forget jazz and world music. The sound of this city is incredibly diverse. Join us in our exploration of Josefstadt summer sounds and hear for yourself!

‘All of my heart is yours! Where you are not, I cannot be. Just like a flower wilts if it’s not kissed by the sunshine!’ Today, these (directly translated) lines from the operetta ‘The Land of Smiles’ probably resonate particularly deeply with musicians everywhere who have been separated from their audiences by the Corona crisis.

But musicians are known for finding ways to play and to be heard even in difficult times. (Which does not take away from the fact that they need concrete political and social support.) The ‘veloconcert’ of singer Sandra Pires and guitarist Jonas Skielboe in the garden of a retirement home is one example – a cargo bike made it possible. And Peter Edelmann initiated the courtyard concerts, where young musicians can perform in beautiful settings and even earn some money: residents listen from their windows and balconies and are free to give donations.

Many musicians remain skeptical about streaming or other ways of making concerts available online. ‘It’s not what it could be,’ says Marco Kleebauer – top producer (Bilderbuch, Oehl) and one half of the pop duo Leyya, winners of two Amadeus Awards – referring to the varying quality of sound and vision.


Foto 1: Junge Frau mit Geige auf einem Sessel sitzend,  Foto 2: junger Mann mit Gitarre steht auf einem Dach, Dächer im Hintergrund

Jelena Popržanis und Gottfried David Gfrerer


Singer and guitarist Martin Spengler is in the privileged position of having a second income as a teacher: ‘I play guitar a lot, go through old stuff … that solo album is definitely coming!’ Spengler exudes an infectious calmness. Gottfried Gfrerer is equally unperturbed. He released his excellent fourth album ‘Polychrome’ in 2018 and is working on new songs without any pressure: ‘I’m merely singing to myself.’

Their fellow musician Andreas Fasching has reduced his ‘Kuchlradio’ activities and now sells handmade face masks via his website while working on an adaptation of Schubert’s ‘Winter Journey’ with a dialect text.

Schubert is also part of the repertoire of cellist and singer/songwriter Marie Spaemann, who recently released her impressive debut album ‘Gap’. Though she had 25 concerts cancelled, she also sees the crisis as a chance ‘to arrive in my life’.

Viola virtuoso and singer Jelena Popržan is always active, both as a solo artist and in bands. She enjoyed playing an online concert in the empty Porgy & Bess, but the non-communication with the absent audience felt odd.

Which brings us back to: ‘All of my heart is yours…’

issue 02/2020