The Brothers Josephu

The Brothers Josephu
Young Josef at work...circa 1917

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Trip - Day 9

Tuesday,  June 7th

Our day began with another cozy breakfast together. George drops me off near the top entrance to Upper Belvedere. He's off on a few errands and we'll meet up later. As I enter the gates I immediately recognize to statues overhead from the photo book we looked at during our family reunion. These were two pieces restored by Florian. I walk through the gardens and exit Lower Belvedere on Rennweg...then walk up to the Waisenhauskirche Pfarre Maria Geburt, a church that dates back to the 1600's where works of Josef have been reported. It took a bit of effort to find a way inside, but once there I was given access to the closed church to photograph a statue of Mary, and an altar, both made by Josef.

From here I continue up Rennweg looking for the where Josef, my grandmother Olga and my mother had lived before leaving Vienna in 1939.  I recall visiting the building 14 years ago with my mother (an emotional moment for her). However, sadly, the building is gone and an auto dealership stands in its place. Disappointing.

I get call from Herbert Fischer that a researcher at the Israelitische Kultusgemeinde Wein, mag. Wolf-Erich Eckstein, has made himself available for a visit. The office  was closing early so I needed to move quickly. Herr Eckstein has found some entries regarding my grandmother, Olga, and her father Moritz Kohn. Herr Eckstein is a popular and busy man - while he explained the entry  to me he would need to take many phone calls. He allows me to photograph the pages, and asks me to send him a photo of the grave of Mortiz (the one we could not find sculpted by Josef). He hopes that perhaps he may find some hidden clues.

After my visit I had some time to simply play tourist and enjoy the beauty and history that surrounds me in the First District. I head over to a concert hall adjacent the Künstlerhaus called the Gesellschaft der Musickfreunde (The Society of Music Friends in Vienna). According to some notes by Florian and his daughter, Johanna, there is a bust of Alfred Grünfeld here. It's confirmed! However, it is located in their library which is not open today. So, I'll schedule a revisit for another day. (You can hear a recording of Grünfeld by clicking here).

Back through the Graben where I pick up a very large, slightly spicy hot dog for lunch. George calls that his errands are complete, and I leave via the nearby U-bahn.

We visit an apartment building where Florian had lived many years - where George had visited him in younger days - and where Josef had once lived, as well as their sister Mitzi. We head off to another cluster of buildings searching for a mosaic by Florian titled "Mittag." It's apparant these buildings have had work done to the exterior, and we have no luck in finding the mosiac. George asked a few residents but they were none aware of the work. At one point a young boy of perhaps seven to eight years old overhears the conversion and states how he liked that mosiac and misses it. He described it correctly, a freindly smiling sunrise.

From here, George takes me to Schönbrunn - but before we wenter we stop for coffe and topflenstrudel at Cafe Dommayer. Dommayer goes back to the 1830's, and Strauss would lead performances of his waltzes here. The strudel, coffe and service were excellent. We walk to the entrance of Schönbrunn and enjoy the grounds and gardens, then hop on a litte 'train' that takes you throughout the grounds. At one point we stop at an overlook near the Gloriette. The view is spectacular, looking down over the gardens to the palace and Vienna in the background.

On our way home we revisit the relief by Florian we found on the evening of the concert by Yussuf Islam. Nightfall prevent us from getting good photos on our first visit.

Another full and rewarding day in Vienna.

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