Student Adventures Around The World

Jessica, Vienna

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Jessica is spending the summer immersed in music at the Bosendorfer International Piano Academy in Vienna, Austria. Art and culture have a long history in Vienna – it is the birthplace of Johann Strauss and Wolfgang Mozart lived there for several years.

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June 6, 2006: first week

The first real day has begun!  Figuring out the train systems in the morning was interesting as we all tried to learn and figure out the times when they would all come.  People were everywhere, from those going to work, school, or traveling the city. 

Today was the first day of going to Bosendorfer International Piano Academy where we would be doing our daily practicing.  This is where the famous Bosendorfer pianos are also made.  My Monday-Thursday practice times are 9-11am and 1-2pm and Fridays are 10:30-12:30pm.  Practicing on these pianos was absolutely amazing—we were able to practice on grands and the sound these pianos make can be a bit deceiving.  Fortunately, the first day of practicing was very productive as we all are preparing for our first lessons for tomorrow.

June 5, 2006: First Week

After about 24 hours of flying (boarding, waiting, transfers), I finally arrived in Vienna.   The flights were so uncomfortable, but I am so glad we are finally here (experienced a bit of motion sickness).  Luckily my baggage all came and we are on our way to the hotel/apartment.

So, for the next few weeks, my group and I will be staying at the Derag Hotel Kaiser Franz Joseph-Wien. This place is very nice. It is a hotel that also has apartment style living.  What we are staying in is the apartments—it comes with a kitchen.  So, there will be 2 to every room.  The group consists of about 20 people this year, supposedly one of the biggest.  The professors teaching in the program are Dr. Carol Leone from SMU, Krassimira Jordan from Baylor, and Wolfgang Watzinger from the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna.  The students come from SMU, Baylor, TCU, China, Portugal, Korea, Ohio, Montana, and Dallas and range from 10 year-olds to 29 year-olds.  Pretty much everyone on the program was invited by one of the professors either through their studios, or through meeting of masterclasses.  An interesting batch of youngens, undergrads, masters students, all of which are music lovers!

The first day here is a bit rough because of jetlag and settling in a new city can be a challenge also.  For me, adapting to a new environment is not rough; it is just a matter of knowing where everything is and how you will function and survive for the next month.  The weather was a bit cold, in the 40s. 

My room was a lot smaller than I had expected.  2 tiny beds, 1 kitchen, desks, closet space, and bathroom were pretty much all together-  basically an efficiency.  Very homey and doable!

We were able to meet the rest of the group as well.  Ms. Jordan had arranged for a get-together of all the students and professors for a brief tour of the city and dinner.  Our daily use of the ubahn (train) and schnellbahn (fast train) had also begun.  Learning your routes on the 1st day is not such a great idea.  After a couple hours, my body was literally ready to collapse.  1st day was pretty much over and starting tomorrow, practicing and music learning would begin!  Until then, sleep is the first priority.

June 3, 2006: Getting ready

Before leaving for Vienna, several things needed to be taken care of.  I needed to make sure I was well packed for all situations, excursions, etc.  From my experience in going to Europe 2 years ago, I knew that weather could change drastically, which means I needed to pack for the somewhat cold, the rainy, and the hot.  Also, since we would be attending concerts, operas and giving an ending concert performance, I needed to bring some nice and appropriate outfits.  Surprisingly, packing was and always is stressful.  However, I managed to get everything I needed: all types of clothing, rain jacket, breakfast bars, converters, all the shoes I will need, my tour books, my German language book, my music scores, and most important—my metronome!

I am very anxious and excited about this experience—since it will be a nice break from graduating college at SMU and also knowing that my music studies will be greatly improved.  I will be bringing 4 pieces to this summer program:

  1. Rachmaninov Elegy in e-flat minor, Op.3, No.1
  2. Scarlatti Sonata in D Major, K 96, L465
  3. Schumann Fantasiestucke Op.12, Aufschwung
  4. Benjamin Lees, Fantasia

A few of these pieces are not thoroughly completed, so the program will provide ample ideas and room for improvement.  Since I will also be giving a recital at the end of July, these 4 pieces will be on my program.  I will be working on one of my own compositions for piano on this program as well.  Perhaps being in the musical city of Vienna will provide me some inspiration to finishing my piece (as this is intended to be played on my recital).  I have had some trouble completing the piece at the end of this semester, so I hope I can finish it in Vienna.

I am now completely ready for Vienna, physically and mentally.  I enjoy new experiences and how they shed new light into my life.  So, I anticipate that Vienna will be a lot of fun and exactly the experience I wish to have—full of exploration in a new and challenging environment.

June 1, 2006

Destination: Vienna
I was introduced and recommended to this program by my piano professor at SMU, Dr. Carol Leone.  She had told me this was a great program and great experience and I was immediately intrigued. I will be having lessons about three times a week, maybe attending some master classes and indulging in the music festivities going on in Vienna. I will attend recitals and practice four to six hours each day.

 Getting ready
I have been working and practicing daily on the four to six pieces I will be bringing to these professors in Vienna. 

The music capital of the world
I am hoping for a lot of new insight and inspiration given that I will be surrounded by the abundance of music appreciation at one of the music capitals of the world (Vienna).  I am doing this out of leisure to learn more and have a very rewarding experience in music and travels.  Music learning is never-ending and this is another amazing opportunity in another country.