Entries in Vienna (3)


Mozart's Piano Returns Home to Applause

Hemera/Thinkstock(VIENNA, Austria) -- Like a symphony, all the dramatic elements came together.

The piano that Mozart used for the last 10 years of his life and which he used to compose much of his music was returned to his former home in Vienna for a performance of his music.

"A big, positive shock was how good the instrument is," said Russian pianist Alexander Melnikov after the concert Wednesday. "One can't experience something more overwhelming as a pianist than this."

"It was played as Mozart heard it," says Isabelle Hackenberg, a music lover who attended Melnikov's performance. "The concert was electrifying and rhapsodic. Can it ever get better?"

Mozart's piano, used throughout the last decade of his life to compose all of his piano concertos, temporarily returned to composer's former home, on Domgasse, now the Mozarthaus museum, in Vienna for the first time since Mozart's death in 1791.

The instrument is permanently housed in the Mozarteum museum in Salzburg.

The piano spent two weeks in Vienna and was returned to Salzburg Thursday.

The piano was originally made by Anton Walter, who is said to be the most famous Viennese piano maker of Mozart's time. It has two octaves less than a modern piano, and is much lighter and smaller than modern pianos, weighing just 187 pounds (85kg), and is three feet wide and a bit more than seven feet long (one meter by 2.23 meters.)

"Wolfgang Amadeus would carry it around to all concerto venues in Vienna," said Dr. Alfred Stalzer of Vienna Mozarthaus. "He bought it in 1782 and used it till the end of his life."

"As a born pianist," writes Eva Bandura-Skoda, an Austrian musicologist and an expert on the history of fortepiano, "Mozart understandably wanted to own the very best concert grand available. His instrument still remains the best fortepiano of the period, an excellent concert grand, precious not only because Mozart gave his many subscription concerts on it, but also because of its quality."

By the time of his death, at age 35, Mozart produced more than 600 compositions: symphonies, operas, concertos, quartets, cantatas. He is regarded by many as the world's greatest natural musical genius.

Melnikov played two sonatas and two fantasias Mozart wrote on his piano in Vienna, when he was in his thirties.

"These works (K. 475, K397, K457, K332), they bubble over with playful finales, a demonstration of the composer-pianist's invention and wit," Stalzer said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Former Libyan Oil Minister Found Drowned In Vienna

MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Libya's former oil minister, one of the most prominent officials to defect from the Gadhafi regime, died by drowning in the Danube River, an autopsy concluded Monday amid questions as to whether it was an accident, a suicide or the result of international payback.

Shukri Ghanem, 69, who was the country's prime minister between 2003 and 2006 and the oil minister from 2008 to 2011, was discovered fully clothed, floating in the Danube at 8:40 a.m. on Sunday morning.

Vienna police spokesman Roland Hahslinger told ABC News there was no indication of violence on Ghanem's body and no indications suggesting he had committed suicide. He added, however, "There would be no signs of violence if someone pushed him."

Hahslinger said no suicide note has been found and there was no evidence Ghanem was under threat, but "all options are still open."

The former prime minister apparently left his apartment sometime during the night for unknown reasons and without his 28-year-old daughter Aya noticing. Ghanem's daughter eventually noticed he was missing around 10 a.m. Sunday, by which time the body had already been found.

Police also said they had no indications that Ghanem was in a suicidal mood.

Ghanem had created a new consultant firm based in Vienna on Feb. 20. His associates in this energy consultant firm are all former oil ministers of OPEC countries: Iraq's Issam Chalabi (1987 – 1990) Algeria's Chakib Khelil (1999- 2010), and Rilwanu Lukman (1986-1990) from Nigeria.

He was said to be one of very few ex-Gadhafi technocrats who could still trade oil with Libya. The country exports 1.2 million barrels a day, compared to 1.8 million barrels before the civil war.

The police spokesman said the results of toxicological tests are expected later this week as part of the investigation into the drowning.

On May 18, 2011, hours after ICC chief prosecutor called for the arrest of Gadhafi for mass murder, Ghanem quietly crossed by car into neighboring Tunisia. For some time after his defection Gadhafi found it impossible to believe that someone so loyal defected. For days government spokesmen insisted that Ghanem was travelling abroad for business.

At the time Ghanem criticized the bloodshed in Libya, saying the violence meted out by the regime had become "unbearable" and made his position untenable.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


London Has Worst Traffic in Europe

File Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LONDON) – London is the most congested city in Europe, according to traffic provider NAVTEQ.

The company released a list of Europe’s 10 most congested cities in regards to traffic, based on the duration of rush-hour delays in cities with more than one million people.

Paris came in second on the list, followed by Dublin, Berlin and Stockholm. Others cities on the list include Hamburg, Manchester, Lyon, Vienna and Marseilles.

According to NAVTEQ, traffic congestion can be caused by a combination of topographical characteristics, population and transportation systems.

"These circumstances and many others intersect with time to produce traffic," said Andreas Erwig, Director of NAVTEQ Traffic Europe. "Because the fascinating complexity of traffic is that it's not only about movement from here to there, but from now to then."

GPS, sensor data and information from police and emergency services were used to gather information for the study. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio