European History/London and Paris, yes, but Vienna?
I have just completed a community theatre run of "Calamity Jane" and one of the lines in the play had had me scratching my head. When discussing her European tour, Adelaide says that she wants to go to London and Paris (understandable given that in 1876, Gilbert and Sullivan were ruling the roost in London and the Moulin Rouge was well established) but also Vienna. My question is why? I have been led to believe that Vienna's high point was the late 18th and early 19th century.
Thank you for your question.
Indeed, Vienna was culturally and intellectually dynamic during the late 19th century, and until WWI.
The engine of that dynamism was its multiculturalism. As capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Vienna's streets were evident with the diversity of the Empire's constituent parts, with a dozen languages being spoken. At the turn of the century, Vienna's population was about 2 million, but less than half were native born. Like with any large city - especially a national (or indeed imperial) capital, ambitious, talented people flocked there.
Vienna developed a small but vibrant intellectual community, which fostered cultural exchange, given the diversity of residents' backgrounds. It's interesting to note that prior to WWI, Trotsky, Stalin, Freud, Hitler, and Tito all lived in Vienna at the same time.
Late Victorian Vienna is perhaps best represented by the "cafe culture" that flourished there at this time. People gathered at cafes to discuss politics, art, science, society, literature, and how to change the world. Anyone with something to say, or who wanted to learn, spent time at the cafes. The intercourse of ideas, the diversity of the people, and the centrality of its location, made Vienna an attraction throughout Europe. It's this Vienna that appealed to Adelaide!
I hope that this is helpful, Harry.