# Rushing The Charles Bridge English Language Essay

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For me, Vienna was the cultural highlight of our trip. This does not imply that I did not enjoy the three other major cities we visited, nor that I think that my excursion to Slovenia was culturally deprived. But, to quote out scientific supervisor on arriving in Vienna: The cultural aspect of this trip is still rather unexplored: we have not seen a single painting.'' The cities we visited before Vienna had many beautiful buildings, we enjoyed the local cuisine of the countries we visited and we tried to meet with the local population. This was very enjoyable, however, it is a kind of \emph{passive} culture. This is culture that just happens to you (provided that you are bold enough to order that strange dish or talk to that unknown person). What our supervisor rightly pointed out is that there is a second kind of cultural experience. These cultural activities demands something beyond mere be\"ing there. For me, Vienna was the city that offered the broadest range. In this report I want to share two of the things I have seen in Vienna although I will start with something that happened in Prague. Instead of explaining the bare facts of my experiences, I want to relate the parts that required the active cultural immersion.

\section{Rushing the Charles Bridge}

Although I said Vienna was for me the most interesting city, I hope you, the reader, will indulge me if I first relate a story from Prague. This wonderful place has a very well known bridge that connects the city old centre with out lying regions. I am sure that a different part of this review will speak of it's history and current importance \footnote{referentie naar ander reisverslagstukje: cultuurstukje Praag. Cie kunnen jullie dit fixen of doorgeven welke chapterref ik moet gebruiken?}, I will however speak of a game that can be played on the Charles Bridge. Since our Hotel was on the other side of the river, crossing this bridge was something we did quite often. Spanning more than half a kilometre and packed with people, it is quite hard to get to the other side fast. You were constantly moving about to make sure you didn't bump into anyone and lose momentum. Hence it became a game to cross the bridge as fast as possible without any running. It felt like playing space invaders, the old computer game. You had to switch lanes, dodge arms and, the hardest part, make split second manoeuvres if a child suddenly jump up before you. My best time was 3 minutes and 21 seconds. This was at peak hour, just after diner, and involved much acrobatic jumping around. An active approach to culture if you ask me!

\section{Romeo and Julia; Shakespeare and Prokofiev}

In Prague there were many music halls that offered live concerts at good prices. However, since we were on a tight scientific schedule, most of the performances started to early for us to enjoy. Luckily for us, Vienna make everything all right. Together with Esther, Robert and Laura I visited the ballet of Romeo and Juliet in the Wiener Staatsoper (Vienna's State Opera House). It is written by Sergei Prokofiev based on the play by William Shakespeare. It is well known for one of the musical parts Dance of the Knights'', a piece that is used in many items in popular culture. For me, it was the first time I visited a ballet performance. At first, I mainly went for the music but I was very much surprised by the ballet itself. Its narrative power was much stronger than I imagined. The choreography was very well suited for the the music.\\

The play itself was written between 1594 and 1597 \cite{engelse_letterkunde} by Shakespeare. Be\"ing born in 1564 in Stratford-on-Avon he moved to London in 1585. At the age of 28 he had a name as an actor and playwright. Romeo and Julia is one of his early plays since Shakespeare was productive until 1611, leaving us with over 37 plays. Romeo and Julia was highly successful and helped Shakespeare to become independent, both intellectually as financially. Because of this position, he was able to write plays that commented on the political reality of his time. The best example is the play \emph{Richard II}, which deals with the question if it is allowed to depose ones king if he is a tyrant. The piece was written at the end of the reign of Elisabeth the first. She lost much of her popularity by then and was target of several assassinations. Shakespeare explores the relation of the need for fair government and murdering the king chosen by God. Elisabeth herself knew about the meaning of the play and and once said, commenting of the number of performances, I am Richard II, don't you know that?''. Like in previous example, Shakespeare investigated the attitude of man to contrasting items, such as the struggle between good and evil, order and chaos, reason and foolishness. His skill in combining these fundamental concerns with contemporary issues made him the most famous playwright we now know.\\

In 1935, Sergei Prokofiev wrote a ballet on the play \cite{prokofiev}. It first had a happy ending, in contrast to the play, but that was changed later on. Its first performance was in 1938. Prokofiev added a tenor saxophone to the standard musical lineup. In the version that we enjoyed, the choreography was done by John Cranko. This version of 1969 made the piece famous.

In the performance we saw, the title roles were played by Roman Lazik (Romeo) and Olga Esina (Julia) \cite{RandJ}. What I found particularly interesting was the alive background'' in some scenes. Besides the main characters and the decor, there were many other people giving the stage much life. I this way a certain mood was given to a scene. I liked the way the actors used the stage fully but were never in the way of the story. Although it may be just basis choreography, for me it was a surprise to see it in action.

%http://www.wiener-staatsoper.at/Content.Node/home/spielplan/Spielplandetail.php?eventid=1314713&mode=current

\section{The Vienna of Gustav Klimt}

There are numerous museums in Vienna. For me, the Belvedere museum \cite{belvedere} was definitely the place to go. This baroque building from the start of the eighteenth century houses many interesting exhibitions. At the time we visited Vienna, an exhibition on 150 years of Gustav Klimt was shown.\\

%\begin{figure}[hbt]

%\centering

%\includegraphics[width=\textwidth]{belvedere.eps}

%\caption{A view on the Upper Belvedere. The building is part of a Baroque palace that belonged to prince Eugene of Savoy, It was build in 1717. The interior was highly decorated with fully painted walls depicting scenes from mythology, battles and elaborate plant designs. Picture from \citep{belvedere}.}

%\end{figure}

\placefigure[][fig:belvedere]

{A view on the Upper Belvedere. The building is part of a Baroque palace that belonged to prince Eugene of Savoy, It was build in 1717. The interior was highly decorated with fully painted walls depicting scenes from mythology, battles and elaborate plant designs. Picture from \cite{belvedere}.}

{\externalfigure[belvedere][width=\textwidth]}

Klimt (1862 - 1918) \cite{klimt} was an Austrian painter associated with the Jugendstil (or Art Nouveau, the two terms are interchangeable) art movement. At the age of 14 he was admitted to the art school in Vienna where he stayed for seven years. His two brothers Franz and Ernst were also students there and the trio worked closely together. They mastered many techniques in the arts which helped them from early on to acquire contracts. The early style of Klimt was academic and followed classical themes. The early death of Viennese painter Hans Makart, one of Klimt's artistic inspirations made him reflects on his own work. His style of painting evolves to a more stylistic approach and also the themes tone of the paintings change. \\

In 1997, Klimt is involved in the start of the Wiener Secession''. A group of artists declares independence from academic form and appeal, Klimt is the first chairman of this Austrian birth of Jugendstil. He denies any government funding to be completely free in his paintings. Commissions by private investors became his main source of income. His portraits of Viennese bourgeoisie women were famous and and high demand. \\

Klimt's main item of interest are women. Contrary to the painters before him, these are not classical'' women like Greek gods, religious heroins or idyllic farmers. Instead Klimt searches for the essence of women in there full naked form. The women of Klimt can be viewed as \emph{femme fatale}. The are the main characters in the work, not subordinate to other persons or even narrative of the painting. His women have an erotic appeal that was completely new to the art world of his age. His works outraged older art critics and the public and produced many scandals. In 1901, politicians in the Habsburg parliament ask questions about the painting medicine'', complaining it to be pornographic and perverse. Klimt himself was not impressed by the critics. He wanted to criticise the ethical framework of a decadent society. Even now, almost a hundred years later, his works challenge those that visit the musea. The works are highly symbolic and have strong focus on the weakness of man (as well as in humans'' as males'') and the continuous struggle between lust, life, decadence and death.

%\begin{figure}[hbt]

%\centering

%\includegraphics[height=\textheight]{nuda_veritas.eps}

%\caption{The painting \emph{nuda veritas} 1899. Klimt's focus on the pure nude was a shock to the Viennese public. The fact that the depicted woman has visible pubic hair shows Klimt's deviation from the classical form. The stylistic frame is also part of the work. The phrase at the top reads \emph{Kannst Du nicht allen gefallen durch Deine Tat und Dein Kunstwerk, mach es wenigen recht, vielen gefallen ist schlimm.''}, translated : If your deed and your art do not please everyone, do it as well as you can; pleasing everyone is bad.'' a phrase from the German poet Friedrich Schiller.}

%\end{figure}

\placefigure[][fig:nuda_veritas]

{The painting \emph{nuda veritas} 1899. Klimt's focus on the pure nude was a shock to the Viennese public. The fact that the depicted woman has visible pubic hair shows Klimt's deviation from the classical form. The stylistic frame is also part of the work. The phrase at the top reads \emph{Kannst Du nicht allen gefallen durch Deine Tat und Dein Kunstwerk, mach es wenigen recht, vielen gefallen ist schlimm.''}, translated : If your deed and your art do not please everyone, do it as well as you can; pleasing everyone is bad.'' a phrase from the German poet Friedrich Schiller.}

{\externalfigure[nuda_veritas][heigth=\textheight]}

%\clearpage