Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Frankly first class

Generalmusikdirektor of the Wiener Staatsoper Franz Welser-Möst was at the palace today to pick up a gong, the palace being the Hofburg and the gong the Austrian Cross of Honour for Art and Science, First Class. It’s the second highest honour musicians can receive after the Austrian Decoration for Science and Art (Ehrenzeichen), which has gone to the likes of Ligeti, Kurtág, Kleiber and Boulez. Previous recipients of Welser-Möst’s Ehrenkreuz have included Frank Sinatra and (the real) Maria von Trapp. Many of the other cross holders prove that there’s as much honour to the Austrian honours system as the British (a red or black party card helps grease the wheels), though W-M seemed more flattered than most and blew the necessary hot air about this award showing that Austria places real value on ‘high culture’. More warm words were spoken by his Liebslingsregisseur Sven-Eric Bechtolf and Austrian President Heinz Fischer. Making a neat Vienna/Cleveland reference, the Steude Quartet (all members of the Wiener Philharmoniker) performed Schubert’s Quartettsatz and the first movement from Dvořák’s ‘American’ quartet.

Welser-Möst with his wife Angelika and Bundesheinzi
Image credit: APA / Herbert Pfarrhofer

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