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Students experience music history in Vienna

Published on June 10, 2024

Students experience music history in Vienna

Students from the Department of Music at Eastern Connecticut State University explored the history of classical music in Vienna, Austria, this May. The 10-day trip was conducted by music Professor Emily Riggs and Lecturer David Ballena as a part of the “Vienna: City of Song” global field course.

According to Riggs, the course explored of some of the most prominent figures in music history, including Beethoven, Haydn, Schubert, Strauss and Mozart. 

“The opportunity to learn more about the culture and other artistic movements that shaped the lives and works of these great composers impacted the students' performance and appreciation for this music going forward,” said Riggs, referring to the connections the music students made to the composers. 

“My time in Vienna was extremely worthwhile,” said junior music major Jocelyn Kirwan. “I loved getting to see a new country and getting to know people within my major.” 

Students bonded by exploring Vienna’s history while touring historic districts and visiting museums. According to senior music major Katelin Briere, sightseeing destinations ranged from museums dedicated to composers and artists to the various verdant gardens and zoos in the city.  

Exploring Vienna alongside my fellow music peers was a profound experience,” she said. “The Schönbrunn Palace was my favorite place to see, with its architecture, its wonderful garden work, the zoo and the maze. Seeing the artwork done by famous Austrian artist Gustav Klimt and others that we talked about in our class was truly breathtaking.” 

Briere said the group toured historically significant places outside Vienna related to their studies. “We also were able to explore other cities such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's birthplace in Salzburg and Melk Abbey in the town on the Danube river." 

According to senior music major Adam Benway, learning in a new country was made easier by learning the native language and attending a performance of Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro” with his peers. “I had to adjust to new cultural norms that I wasn’t used to and learn crucial pieces of the German language for everyday conversation,” he said. “Attending a professional opera performance was one of the most memorable moments while I was there.” 
Senior music major Amia Lott also highlighted the opera as the perfect way for the group to jump right into Vienna’s musical culture, along with it being a motivator to dive headfirst into the composers’ personal lives. 

“I got to experience so many things, like visiting a palace, going to an opera and riding down a mountain,” she said. “When the others and I visited the homes of Beethoven and Mozart, I was awestruck to be where they once lived, breathed and wrote some of the most famed musical pieces and compositions in history. This opportunity only fueled my passion to experience and enjoy every aspect of life."

Written by Elisabeth Craig

Categories: Study Abroad, Music