Willkommen in Österreich! Welcome to Austria – home of great skiing, Lippizaner Stallions, and a huge variety of music which is so diverse, from yodeling (yes, I like “The Lonely Goatherd,” too!) to Alpine Punk to Death Metal (Belphegor, anyone?) to the Vienna Boys Choir (which sings on Sundays at the Habsburg Palace) to the Vienna Philharmonic.
Throughout its centuries-long history, music has always been a center point of Austria’s culture. Its capital city, Vienna, catapulted to an arts and cultural center beginning in the 1600s thanks to traffic brought on by trade along the Danube and an influx of travelers from near and far. It is in the 1800s however, that Austria had made itself known as the premier city in Europe for the highest caliber of music.
If you can make it there, you’ll make it anywhere
A couple of centuries earlier and Frank Sinatra would have sung those lyrics about Vienna.
Perhaps a lesser-known composer (at least to those of us who never actually studied music in school) is Vienna native, Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf. I first heard his music a few months ago on my local classical music station, Classical 101. I also have to admit, I had fun just saying his name. (Go ahead and say it out loud. See? Told you!)
Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf (1739-1799)
Hometown: Vienna, Austria
Known for: Some of everything – concertos, symphonies, operas, chamber music and sacred music.
He was also a silvologist! Don’t worry if you had to look that up – I did, too. That just means that in addition to composing and playing the violin, Carl Ditters was also an environmentalist. He was a student of nature, forests and their ecosystems. Can you imagine a nicer setting for some of his music?
Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf composed a little bit of everything, but he also did a lot of performing. He spent several occasions playing in a string quartet with one of his composition students, Johann Baptist Wanhal, Franz Josef Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Hayden played 2nd violin, Ditters played 1st, Mozart played the viola and Wanhal the cello. How’s that for an impressive quartet?!
Unfortunately I don’t remember the pieces of his I heard on the radio, but I do remember that I enjoyed them all.
Keep in mind he wrote a little of everything, such as this beautiful Harp concerto, played by Jana Bouskova with the Südwestdeutsches Kammerorchester Pforzheim, Vladislav Czarnecki conducting. It’s great fun to listen to, though I’d love to hear Jude Mollenhauer play it live with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra (hint hint!)
How about his String Quartet No. 1 in D-Major. Can’t you just imagine seeing him with Haydn, Mozart and Wanhal? Wow!
Or Symphony No. 4 in F-Major – also known as “Die Rettung der Andromeda durch Perseus” (The Rescuing of Andromeda by Perseus).
He composed some rather wonderful music, don’t you agree? I hope you took a moment to listen to them – especially the harp concerto! My next profile will be later this month when we travel to Monaco!
From my trip there, way back when…this is a statue of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in a park in Vienna, Austria. I especially love the flowers in front!
And the home in which Mozart was born, his Geburtshaus, in Salzburg, Austria. I was lucky to be there on the 200th anniversary of his death, so small ensembles were playing everywhere. I didn’t get to see a full-fledged concert as I was only there a few days and spent my time wandering the city and visiting castles, but what I did hear was wonderful!
A friend once told me that art is anything you can get away with. Some may or may not agree, but I think he was just communicating how art is not limited to just one format or one outlet or one kind of design. It’s a very personal means of expression. Like a solo pianist creating a cadenza during a concerto, people from all over use art to express themselves – their thoughts, their emotions and most certainly, their passions. Beethoven himself is quoted as saying “To play without passion is inexcusable!”
Music is art and art can be passion in tangible form.
Expressing a love of music doesn’t have to be limited to that which is made with instruments or vocal chords. It can be shown in a variety of ways: e.g. a statue of a famous composer like W. A. Mozart in Vienna or the treble clef sign made with flowers in front of the statue of W. A. Mozart in Vienna. It can also be something like a hand knit blanket filled with musical symbols or musical note earrings or a concert ticket.
Another possibility is that a love of music can also be expressed via pictorial art.
Meet my friend, Daric Gill.
A self-described interdisciplinary artist, he specializes in oil painting, metal sculpture and robotics – a sort of triathlete of the arts! A graduate of both Columbus College of Art and Design and the University of Cincinnati, he’s nationally known for his exceptional paintings, sculptures and something a bit more fun: ToeHeads!
ToeHeads, you say? Sure! Illustrations of heads that are shaped like big toes – all painted on reclaimed lumber. Trust me. They’re fun!
Thanks to his light blond hair, Daric was called a “towhead” as a kid. Being really young, he naturally thought of the toes on his feet. The first actual drawing of a ToeHead though, can be traced back to 2008 when he started designing a table for a client who wanted a fun inlay. Unfortunately the stock market crashed and the table never made it out of a sketch book.
A couple years later, he drew a few ToeHeads as Christmas presents for his family. While illustration wasn’t his normal art form, his friends (and their friends) started asking about these whimsical figures as soon as he posted pictures of them on Facebook. All of a sudden, more and more people started wanting them for their own walls.
Daric told me that he’d been doing high-technical work, i.e. more difficult pieces of art that required a lot more technical prowess to complete, such as oil paintings and sculpted work. He already had art on display in museums and galleries, so this gave him an opportunity to work on something light and fun. He went on to say that as an interdisciplinary artist, making ToeHeads just added to the variety of his creations. His family loved them and through word of mouth, they just instantly took off.
His ToeHeads can be found on display in and around Columbus in various galleries and shops, including right here in Grandview at Stauf’s this holiday season from November 1 through New Year’s 2014.
The coolest part of ToeHeads, I think, is that he makes no more than three of any given illustration. Special orders are most welcome, but there’s still a limit of three – the original, plus two copies. Personally, I thought it was pretty cool when someone else wanted one of my knitting ToeHeads! Yes – I have two!
I love that he has a lot of musical ToeHeads – almost enough for his own orchestra, though he’s obviously missing the most important one: the clarinet. Sigh. Thats OK – you should see the sculpted work he does with repurposed instruments! While I’m saving those for another post another day, suffice to say, they’re fantastic! Gorgeous, even!
ToeHeads may have started as a bit of a fluke, but 560+ (and countless hours at the Idea Foundry) later, they’re still going strong. How strong? Well, Daric’s about to start up a new signature line called “SnackHacks.” Not sure what a SnackHack is? That’s OK. I don’t either since he hasn’t revealed them yet, but they’re sure to be fun!
To take a look at the ToeHead collection or to find details on how you, too, can order a ToeHead for your walls, visit his page on Facebook. He’s a night owl, so don’t be surprised when new pictures appear while the rest of us are sleeping!
For his paintings, visit Daric Gill’s Absolutes.
While I’ll take credit for the picture of Daric himself, I’d like to offer up special thanks for his having granted me permission to use all his ToeHeads pictures in this post. THANK YOU!