enter
close
vienna40

Photo Journal: The Sound of Music in Vienna, Austria

As a child, my mother always dreamt of being a classical pianist. Her head was filled with the lush melodies of timeless Austrian composers such as Haydn, Mozart, Strauss. But these hopes (and others) were shattered when China’s Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution purged her country of all forms of “elitism” including art, culture, education and music. Over the course of a decade, teachers, professionals and intellectuals were brutally persecuted while books, instruments and paintings burned in effigy. In short — to play the piano was punishable by death.

During this time China’s urban youth, which included my mother and her three sisters, were sent to the countryside for “re-education” where my mother’s eager fingers never met a single piano key. Instead they played a harsh staccato over grain and rice crops scattered across the endless acres of her farming commune.

By the time she escaped the constraints of communist China, she was already well into her 30’s and had her fingers full with the needy demands of her two small children. She never did fulfill her dreams of playing classical piano (well, yet) but her surviving cross-continental hopes were eventually distilled through to my brother and I when she scraped together enough money to buy a third-hand upright Baldwin and secure a teacher who accepted the $20/hour fee she proposed.

And at first, for the excitable 4- and 6 year-olds that we were, the piano was an amazing and novel thing; we marveled at how it could express the cacophonous energy that was inside us. We bounced our spry fingers up and down, left and right, over and under the aged wooden teeth to fill the house with our music. Though we each played that aging piano for eight years until high school, for my brother and I who never had to long for artistic freedom, it was easy for us to take this luxury for granted. Looking back now, I now wish I had fostered the drive and discipline to bring my mother’s own musical dreams to life.

By contrast, Vienna represented everything China wasn’t during the backward era my mother grew up in. Known as the “City of Music” and the “City of Dreams”, Vienna is a world capital for music, culture, innovation. And during our three day stay in this cultural oasis, I heard those same melodies my mother dreamt of playing as a child and was reminded of how fortunate my brother and I were to have had the political luxuries we grew up with. At the age when my parents carried my infant brother to a completely foreign country to escape the brutal persecution, I was comfortably vacationing through Europe — just because I could.

To this day, I’ll never forget the way her eyes danced (and still do) regrettably across the opalescent black and white keys of our piano, playing out the lost chords of her ghost generation. How an instrument we took for granted represents the childhood my mother never had. The image will always be a reminder of how the piano is more than just a wooden instrument. The sound of music that has been the loudest and most triumphant is the movement she created and allowed us to play out, through giving us freedom and a better life.

Hotel:

Palais Hansen Kempinski Vienna
Schottenring 24
1010, Vienna
Austria
+43 1 2361000

vienna9
vienna3
vienna5
vienna4
vienna2
vienna
vienna8
vienna7
vienna39
vienna38
vienna12
vienna13
vienna14
vienna15
vienna17
vienna19
vienna20
vienna21
vienna23
vienna48
vienna50
vienna53
vienna49
vienna24
vienna26
vienna27
vienna28
vienna29
vienna30
vienna31
vienna33
vienna34
vienna36
vienna37
vienna40
vienna44vienna42

3 comments

  1. I lived in Vienna for 6 months and this brings back so many memories. I miss Austria every day. Love the photos!

  2. Beautiful beautiful Austria. I have a friend who lives there and I love to see her photos. You make it even more wonderful than that. Thank you.

  3. Once again, such a powerful story backed by amazing images of your journey. Your words always draw me in more deeply so that the images are each like chapters of a story that’s being told. Beautiful!

Penny for your thoughts?

Posts by Date

April 2015
M T W T F S S
« Mar    
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
27282930  

Instagrams

Loving this view of the Imperial Palace from across the moat! #knockknock #letmeinplease #tokyo #japan #wanderandlust
Breakfast of champions #fishmarket #tokyo #japan #wanderandlust
こんにちは ! A beautiful lunchtime stroll through #meijishrine #tokyo #japan #sakura #wanderandlust
Last day to re-center before Monday rolls around! #weekenddontleaveme #wanderandlust
I 😻 Caturday! #notgettingupfornobody
Each individual seed was suspended on its own string to capture this ephemeral scene of fleeting butterflies from a dandelion #lifeisfleeting #artbasel #hongkong #wanderandlust
Street graffiti for HK Walls #streetart #sheswatchingyou #wanderandlust
Photo fun at the end of a looooong work week for @artbasel @shanghaitang
Looking for the light at the end of the tunnel #humpdayblues #siemreap #cambodia #wanderandlust
New Photo Journal: the Local Faces of Siem Reap #siemreap #cambodia #wanderandlust #beautiful
Peekaboo I see you #sneakysneaky #siemreap #cambodia #wanderandlust
A beautiful tree settling in within the ruins of Ta Prohm in Angkor #siemreap #cambodia #wanderandlust
Hitching a ride on one of these bird boats near #angkorthom #siemreap #cambodia #wanderandlust
New blog post: wanderandlust.com/siemreap Water lilies eagerly soaking up the sunrise #angkorwat #siemreap #cambodia #wanderandlust
New post on the blog! www.wanderandlust.com/siemreap #nofilter
新年快樂! Happy Chinese New Year of the 🐑🐑🐑 #cny #happynewyear #wanderandlust
A thirsty baby monkey having her fill on the steps of Angkot Wat 🙊 #siemreap #cambodia #wanderandlust
Harnessing my inner zen from the peaceful monks of Cambodia #coolasacucumber #wooosa #serenitynow #siemreap #cambodia #wanderandlust

Subscribe to Posts

Archives

open all | close all

Categories

open all | close all
%d bloggers like this: