You can't escape classical music here. Its history hits you almost from the moment you step out of the City Air Terminal: the bust of Bruckner at the lovely Stadtpark and, around the corner from there, a full-size gold statue of Johann Strauss, the waltz king. In the city center, the Staatsoper, the city's famed opera house that gives Vienna its geographical and cultural bearings. It is the city of Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Strauss, Bruckner, Mahler, Schoenberg, Berg and Webern, and their work has created a pervasive cultural soundtrack in a city whose historic splendor and beauty are second only to Paris among European capitals. But the old is giving way to the new. Vienna is on the verge of becoming a modern, multicultural city. After decades of postwar cultural conservatism and a recent spell of political extremism, Vienna is trying to steady its bearings as a 21st century city, a crossroads between Western and Eastern Europe, an intersection between past and present. -- Mark Swed Pictured: Musikverein concert hall.
Samuel Kubani / For The Times
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