Monthly Archives: March 2012

Brief Summaries of Rudolf Habsburg’s Contemporaries/Family Members for the Book Discussion of Morton’s: A Nervous Splendor

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) (wife, Martha, and daughter Mathilde) : Neurologist, struggled for years and founded the discipline of psychoanalysis movement, and theories about repression, dreams and the unconscious mind; born to a poor Jewish family in the area of Czech Republic today. Had an apartment on Maria Theresienstrasse 8, where the Ring Theatre stood, burned and 100s were killed. (88)

Gustav Mahler (1860-1911)-Composer and conductor, “sloppy, harrying, satanically intense, stormed in and out of opera houses”  (30-31) – Totenfeier:

Hugo Wolf (1860-1903)Austrian composer, wrote many Lieder and wrote music to accompany Goethe’s poetry (146), most productive period was 1888-89; Works:

Theodor Herzl (1860-1904) – Father of modern Zionism ; born in Best Hungary; Paris correspondent for Neue Freie Presse

Gustav Klimt (1862-1918)Austrian Symbolist painter, works including paintings, sketches and murals; received Golden Order of Merit from Emperor for his murals at the Burgtheatre in 1888. (91-92)

Sarah Bernhardt (1844- 1923) famous well respected French actress, performs in Vienna (151-56)

Arthur Schnitzler (1862-1931) Austrian author and dramatist, works known for strong sexual material and strong stand against anti-semitism; Keeps track of his relations with Jeanette (94. . .)

Anton Bruckner (1824-1896)Austrian composer, Lived in the building facing Freud; teacher at Vienna Conservatory and wrote many symphonies and masses. Caresses Beethoven’s head when exhumed and was present for Franz Schubert’s but restrains himself (97) Works:

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)-German composer and pianist, originally from Hamburg, calm, easy going, well established and admired during lifetime, spent professional life in Vienna and a leader of the musical scene there (161-163). He’s one of the 3 greats – Bach, Beethoven and Brahms. He worked with Clara Schumann and Joseph Joachim. Listen to some of his works here:

Jack the Ripper – unidentified serial killer in London actively killing women in 1888 in Whitechapel district of London

Crazy Ludwig II of Bavaria (1845-1886) – good friend of Wagner’s ; Mysterious death – ruled drowning suicide

Edward, Prince of Wales (1841-1910) –good friend of Rudolf, introduced him originally to Mary

Wilhelm II, German Emperor (1859-1941)- grandson of Queen Victoria, crowned in 1888; visits Russia first then Austria (102-110); attacks Rudolf in papers (177) asked not to attend Rudolf’s funeral

Crown Prince Rudolf Habsburg (1858-1889) arch-duke of Austria and Crown Prince of Austria, Hungary and Bohemia and heir apparent of Emperor Franz Joseph

Stephanie of Belgiummarried 1881 was loved by Rudolf but Empress considered her a “clumsy oaf”; grew apart

daughter Elisabeth (born 1883)

Mistresses of Rudolf:

Countess Marie Larisch – mistress who introduces Rudolf to Mary

Baroness Marie Vetseracalled herself Mary, fashionista, began affair with Rudolf when she was 17; created a suicide pact with Rudolf, he killed her first and then himself in 1889 at Mayerling Lodge

Mitzi Caspar – his “Sweet girl” ; commoner and actress; Rudolf asked to create a suicide pact with her but she didn’t take him seriously. He spent last night of his life with her. (115-117)

Emperor Franz Joseph Habsburg (1830-1916) “Franz Joseph was born in the Schönbrunn palace in Vienna, the oldest son of Archduke Franz Karl (the younger son of Holy Roman Emperor Francis II), and his wife Princess Sophie of Bavaria. Because his uncle, from 1835 the Emperor Ferdinand, was weak-minded, and his father un-ambitious and retiring, the young Archduke “Franzl” was brought up by his mother as a future Emperor with emphasis on devotion, responsibility and diligence. Franzl came to idolize his grandfather, der Gute Kaiser Franz, who had died shortly before the former’s fifth birthday, as the ideal monarch. At the age of 13, young Archduke Franz started a career as a colonel in the Austrian army. From that point onward, his fashion was dictated by army style and for the rest of his life he normally wore the uniform of a junior officer.

Following the resignation of the Chancellor Prince Metternich during the Revolutions of 1848, the young Archduke, who it was widely expected would soon succeed his uncle on the throne, was appointed Governor of Bohemia on 6 April, but never took up the post. Instead, Franz was sent to the front in Italy, joining Field Marshal Radetzky on campaign on 29 April, receiving his baptism of fire on 5 May at Santa Lucia. By all accounts he handled his first military experience calmly and with dignity. Around the same time, the Imperial Family was fleeing revolutionary Vienna for the calmer setting of Innsbruck, in Tyrol. Soon, the Archduke was called back from Italy, joining the rest of his family at Innsbruck by mid-June. It was at Innsbruck at this time that Franz Joseph first met his cousin Elisabeth, his future bride, then a girl of ten, but apparently the meeting made little impact.

Following victory over the Italians at Custoza in late July, the court felt safe to return to Vienna, and Franz Joseph travelled with them. But within a few months Vienna again appeared unsafe, and in September the court left again, this time for Olmütz in Moravia. By now, Alfred I, Prince of Windisch-Grätz, the influential military commander in Bohemia, was determined to see the young Archduke soon put onto the throne. It was thought that a new ruler would not be bound by the oaths to respect constitutional government to which Ferdinand had been forced to agree, and that it was necessary to find a young, energetic emperor to replace the kindly, but mentally unfit Emperor.

It was thus at Olmütz on 2 December that, by the abdication of his uncle Ferdinand and the renunciation of his father, the mild-mannered Franz Karl, Franz Joseph succeeded as Emperor of Austria. It was at this time that he first became known by his second as well as his first Christian name. The name “Franz Joseph” was chosen deliberately to bring back memories of the new Emperor’s great-granduncle, Emperor Joseph II, remembered as a modernising reformer. “(Wikipedia)

Empress Elisabeth(Sisi)non-conformist, free spirited, murdered in 1898, considered a great beauty of Europe, tall and very slender, very long beautiful hair; she married in 1853 at the age of 16 to Franz Joseph

Katarina Schratt – Franz Joseph’s mistress, recognized officially by his wife


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Discussion Points for Frederic Morton’s: A Nervous Splendor: Vienna 1888/1889

1. Explore the similarities and differences between the Crown Prince Rudolf and the several ingenious young men of Vienna who were his contemporaries. Why was Rudolf’s situation more difficult? They were all frustrated in 1888 but they achieved success ultimately. Could Rudolf have, if he hadn’t died?

2. Why were there so many suicides in Vienna at this time particularly among the bourgeois? (64)

3. Discuss the relationship between Rudolf and Wilhelm (102-112)

4. Discuss the love interests of Rudolf (127-130)

5. Discuss Rudolf’s double suicide and the events that led to it and afterwards(215-264)

6. Discuss the foresights of Rudolf, including, the political tensions that led to WWI and could he have made a difference, if he lived.(15, 34-39, 54 . . )

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Roger’s Wine Corner: California Chardonnays

Proceeding without our Beverage Director at the last meeting, in honor of Steve Jobs, we compared 2 California Chardonnays. The first was a 2009 Mendocino Vineyards Chardonnay (Made with Organic Grapes) rated around 88 points and priced at $7.99 at the Doylestown Wine and Spirits store. We all agreed it tasted of pear and citrus and spring and had a crisp start and pleasant finish. The more expensive 2010 Kenwood Vineyard’s Sonoma County Chardonnay on sale for $9.99 from $15.99 and also rated around 88,  we found to be more mellow and not as rounded in flavor.

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