My favorite things Austrian

I will restrict myself to the current borders:

Novel: Thomas Bernhard, Wittgenstein’s Nephew.  This book, set in an insane asylum, is hilarious and is perhaps the least known of the Continental masterpiece novels of ideas.  Der Untergeher [The Loser] is another brilliant book by Bernhard.  Yes I will put these over Musil and of course Kafka worked in Prague and doesn’t count.  Broch’s The Death of Virgil is a dark horse pick.

Music: This combination of category and place is a bit ridiculous, no?  Just to mix it up, let’s pick Schoenberg’s Op. 31, Variations for Orchestra, or Webern’s Symphony in C, or Piano Variations, Op. 27, played by Pollini or Uchida.  For Berg I’ll pick the Violin Concerto in A minor, or perhaps "Lyric Suite."

If we must look elsewhere, my favorite Mahler is the 9th, the live Karajan version.  Favorite Bruckner is the 8th, the first Karajan version and the Bruno Walter recording of the 4th.  Capriccio and Metamorphosen might be the most underrated Richard Strauss.  My favorite Schubert CD stars Ely Ameling and Jorg Demus, and then Schnabel or perhaps Clifford Curzon doing the last Piano Sonata in B flat.  The Hollywood does an amazing version of the String Quintet in C.  Britten and Pears recorded the ideal Die Winterreise.  I’ve yet to find the perfect version of Schubert’s 9th but I love Furtwaengler’s interpretation.  Favorite Haydn, if we can count him as Austrian, would be the last six piano sonatas and the String Quartets, Op.76.  Mozart I’ve already blogged.

Book about: How about Stefan Zweig’s The World of Yesterday, a beautiful portrait of declining Vienna by a man who killed himself?  Another good pick is Toulmin’s Wittgenstein’s Vienna.  Carl Schorske is not to be forgotten either.

Draftsman: Egon Schiele did incredible drawings.  Try this one.  Here is a beautiful painting by Schiele, who died at age 28.

Movie, set in: It is hard to go against The Third Man, starring Joseph Cotten and Orson Welles.

Movie: What is the best Austrian movie?  Here is a list, good luck.  I’ve never seen one all the way through.

Movie star: Duh.

Here is an impressive list of Austrian scientists, including economists.  Karl Pribram and Rudolf Hilferding remain underrated as economists.  Mises is underrated as a theorist of public choice.  Hayek was arguably the first neuroeconomist.  Wieser anticipated much of modern "social economics."  Freud was a brilliant literary analyst.

The bottom line: There are gobs and gobs and gobs.  We haven’t even touched upon design.  But the overall trajectory is not exactly positive once you crack the mid-1930s.


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