Austria is renowned worldwide for its rich cultural past and present. Its artistic achievements are represented in architectural monuments, such as the Stephansdom (Saint Stephen's Cathedral), Schönbrunn Palace, Hofburg Palace, the "Goldene Dachl" in Innsbruck, Melk Abbey, the "Loos-Haus", and the "Hundertwasser-Haus." An extensive offer of art exhibitions, theatre plays, concerts, festivals, and folklore events constitute the heart of Vienna's cultural wealth. World-renowned choirs (Vienna Boys' Choir, Arnold-Schoenberg-Choir) and orchestras, such as the Vienna Philharmonic, the Wiener Symphoniker, the Camerata Academica Salzburg, the Concentus Musicus and the Vienna Art Orchestra represent Austria's exquisite world of music.
Culture has the power to shape any nation's image in the world. For the purpose of illustrating the cultural diversity of Austria, active international cultural policies are thus a vital interest of Austria. For more information on this topic, please see International Cultural Policy.
Austrian literature covers nine centuries. Its first great masterpiece was the "Nibelungenlied" ("The Song of the Nibelungs"), which dates back to the 13th century.
Austria's nineteenth century dramatists include Franz Grillparzer, Adalbert Stifter Ferdinand Raimund, and Johann Nestroy. More recent Austrian writers of international renown are Arthur Schnitzler, Stefan Zweig, Joseph Roth, Robert Musil, Ingeborg Bachmann, Thomas Bernhard, and Peter Handke.
"Viennese Classicism," the era of Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Ludwig van Beethoven, is regarded as one of the great achievements of European music culture. In comparison to these three composers of the Classical period, the Viennese composer Franz Schubert's chamber music represented a highlight of the Romantic period. The outgoing 19th century was characterized by the works of Anton Bruckner, Hugo Wolf, and Johannes Brahms, the epitome of Classical-Romantic music. Gustav Mahler can be regarded as one of the great symphonic composers at the onset of Modernism. The Vienna Operetta was most fervently represented by Johann Strauß and Franz Lehár, and the music of the brothers Schrammel is inseperable from the "Heurigen" (i.e. a typical Viennese wine tavern).
After the Second World War, Austrian theatre soon found its way back to international levels. The Wiener Burgtheater ranks among the most prominent stages in Europe. The Vienna State Opera is regarded as one of the best operas in the world, as is the Wiener Volksoper. The traditional Theater an der Wien has been a musical house since 1965 and also serves as a stage for performances during the annual Vienna Festival. Countless festivals are held all around the country, including the Bregenzer Festspiele at Lake Constance, the Schubertiade, the prestigious Salzburg Festival, which was founded in 1920 by Max Reinhardt and Hugo von Hofmannsthal, the Carinthian Summer, the International Bruckner Festival, the ars electronica in Linz, the Haydn Festival in Eisenstadt, and the Mörbisch Festival on the Lake.
The Visual Arts and Architecture
The Jugendstil movement, pioneered by Gustav Klimt, flourished in Vienna around the turn of the century. Other important twentieth-century artists from Austria include Egon Schiele, Oskar Kokoschka, Anton Lehmden, Ernst Fuchs, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, Hermann Nitsch, Günter Brus, and Arnulf Rainer. The sculptors Fritz Wotruba and Alfred Hrdlicka have also established international reputations. Above all, three names were significant for Austrian architecture at the beginning of the twentieth century: Otto Wagner, Josef Hoffmann, and Adolf Loos. The famous "Kirche am Steinhof" (a church) and the Postsparkasse (a bank building) are Wagner's most important buildings of the Vienna Jugendstil era. Josef Hoffmann, the architect of the "Palais Stoclet" in Brussels, was a co-founder of the Wiener Werkstätte (Vienna workshop - a production community of visual artists). Modern Austrian architects include Clemens Holzmeister, Gustav Peichl, Hans Hollein, and Coop Himmelblau.
With just under 6%, the share of Austrian films in the domestic cinemas is relatively low. Despite the predominance of US productions, there have been a number of successful Austrian films in recent years, such as "Indien" (1993) by Paul Harather, "Freispiel" (1995), "Hinterholz 8" (1997) both by Harald Sicheritz, and "Komm, süßer Tod" (2000) by Wolfgang Murnberger. Film-makers like Michael Haneke ("Funny Games", "Code unbekannt"), Stefan Ruzowitzky ("Die Siebtelbauern", "Anatomie"), Goran Rebic ("Jugofilm"), Florian Flicker ("Suzie Washington", "Der Überfall"), and Barbara Albert ("Nordrand) illustrate that Austrian movies are enjoying an upwards trend because their works are often nominated at international film festivals. The memorable director Axel Corti ("Welcome to Vienna") was the first laureate of the Austrian State Award for Cinematics in the seventies. Internationally renowned Austrian movie stars include Oskar Werner, Romy Schneider, Helmut Berger, and Klaus Maria Brandauer. Arnold Schwarzenegger rose to fame in Hollywood.
For further information, please visit: