National Geographic : 1968 Jun
coats of arms, proudly and playfully. The cramped buildings don't look cramped. Ba roque, the embodiment of contradiction, the style that makes mass seem light, still prevails in the heart of Vienna. On the Josefsplatz, the prettiest baroque square in all Austria, an endless column of cars stops to let pass a single file of snow white stallions. The drivers don't scowl, they smile. I spot my wife, waiting there with our son Norby, and together we follow the stal lions into the colossal hall of the Spanish Riding School. Chandeliers brighten, horns resound. A thousand eyes fasten on eight stallions, on their scarlet saddlecloths trimmed in gold, on their riders in brown coats and breeches of white deerskin. Horses Dance a Graceful Quadrille The stallions move in incredible ways (page 745). To the slow part of a Mozart symphony. To a march. To a waltz-"Wiener Blut," by Johann Strauss. Their ancestors came from Spain in 1580. Their movements evolved from parading and warfare. And yet, as the school's director takes pains to explain, everything they do is in keeping with movements natural to a horse; this is the key to the haute cole, the epitome of the classical riding art that these horses so outstandingly represent. Now they perform a quadrille. Norby's comments are enthusiastic, but so loud that my wife has to take him away. I can't be an gry; he's only 3'/2. I stay, entranced, to see more of the unbelievable. For what is this if not contradiction triumphant-when a half ton stallion dances, looking light as a butter fly? Here is another expression of the baroque, and today it is strictly Viennese. Elsewhere it can be seen only in old prints.* I walked out of the hall with a couple from Minneapolis. She: "We really must take home some Vien na horses. You know, the famous Augarten porcelain?" He: "But dear, you just bought six hand bags with all that fancy embroidery on them!" No wonder the lady was so taken by the art of petit point. This stitching in silk of many colors, on bags or compacts or eyeglass cases, reflects exquisite patience. The designs, often taken from paintings, are plotted on graph paper, point by point. Each point becomes a stitch in what looks like a miniature tapestry -as many as 3,000 stitches per square inch. Thousands of elderly ladies do this work at home, as do some elderly men (pages 754-5). "They don't earn much more than my sales girls," a shopkeeper told me, "but they are proud to produce such nice things." Vienna has a history of craftsmanship. Leg end tells that Attila the Hun had a wedding outfit made here 1,500 years ago. Recently the master coachmaker Josef Klicmann in the Wurmsergasse built the gilded carriage or dered by the Shah of Iran for his coronation. My wife hinted about bargains in little alpaca knit suits in the Kiirntner Strasse, Vienna's Fifth Avenue. Alas, soon she would discover all the fine leatherwork, all the dazzling glass and crystal. KODACHROME(C) N.G.S. Gemiitlichkeit, Viennese call the relaxing atmosphere of a wine garden. A patron savors it as he refills his glass from a Weinheber. For anyone seeking an introduction to Vienna and the Viennese, an outstanding bar gain is a bus trip up the Kahlenberg (pages 778-9). Up there-five miles north of the cen ter of town, and 1,000 feet higher-you'll find a church, a restaurant terrace, and a view worth pondering. You see the Danube River, of course, an ancient west-east route of the salt trade. Here it bisects the ancient amber route, from the Baltic to the Mediterranean. You see into the Alps. Forty-five miles to the southwest a *See "The White Horses of Vienna," by Beverley M. Bowie, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, September, 1958.