In 19th century Vienna, the enjoyment of music was not reserved for the elite educated bourgeoisie. Rather, a diverse music scene existed in the public sphere. Bands played in the parks and gardens, and beggar musicians provided acoustic background music in the backyards. Barrel organ players were part of the street scene – and even provided orchestral music thanks to their instruments. (Full text on ORF Topos)
“I was born on the first of March 1865 in Hernals near Vienna as the son of a simple craftsman,” the Viennese zither teacher Eduard Johann Nikl (1865-1922) formulated autobiographically. Nikl was “descended from Sudeten Germans” on his father’s side and “from a Waldviertel farming family” on his mother’s. “Intended by his parents to be a sculptor” (Eduard Nikl himself describes the profession as “wood sculpting”), he “broke away” from this profession due to “poor business” and turned to the zither.
“Wirthausmusik” (Pub music)
Around 1800, Franz Anton de Paula Gaheis described the suburb of Neulerchenfeld (today part of Vienna’s 16th district) as “the largest tavern in the Holy Roman Empire”. Of the 155 houses, 83 possessed “Schankgerechtigkeit.” 16,000 people from the city would have sought recreation there on a Sunday. The frequency of visits to the innumerable taverns in the suburbs increased even more from 1829, when the Linienwall (today’s Gürtel) was declared a customs border. Due to the consumption tax that had to be paid, food and drink inside the “Lina” were more expensive, which is why the Viennese population migrated to the suburbs for consumption on Sundays and holidays.