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  • Print publication year: 1997
  • Online publication date: September 2011

1 - Denning home: Berg's life on the periphery

from Part 1 - Culture and environment


Old Hietzing natives were never in a hurry and others, like myself, who moved there later in life were drawn there because in Old Hietzing one never had to hurry

Soma Morgenstern

The effervescence of Vienna's turn-of-the-century culture, its spontaneous combustion of ideas, was an explosion of pent-up energies, of unstable ingredients long compacted under the pressure of Vienna's remarkably dense social, cultural and physical geography. Vienna's central first district was a magnet of extraordinary power, the centre, as it were, of a solar system around which its outer districts spiralled in uneven orbit. The sources of that power – the Hofburg and its bureaucratic appendages, the parliament and city hall, the banks and stock exchange, the university and academies, the Court Opera, Burgtheater and Musikverein – produced enough noteworthy activity, intrigue and gossip to fill the columns of the city's more than two dozen newspapers and tabloids, and to fuel agitated coffee-house debates on art, politics, philosophy and sex. But if the first district was the place where everyone met, only a few chose to live there. Peter Altenberg, of course, occupied a small hotel room in the Dorotheagasse, and Karl Kraus slept by day at his apartment in the Dominikaner-bastei, but such creatures of the first district were the exception. It was in the city's orbiting outer districts that the rumblings within Vienna's core found their resonating chamber.

The twenty-one administrative districts of early twentieth-century Vienna were established between 1850 and 1904 (see Map 1) and were part of a process, along with the removal of the inner-city fortifications, the construction of the Ringstraße and Gürtel, the canalisation of the Wien river and the construction of the Stadtbahn, that would forge the city's scattered communities into a single sprawling metropolis.

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The Cambridge Companion to Berg
  • Online ISBN: 9781139002288
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