Austria’s past as a major European power and its cultural environment have contributed greatly to various art forms, including music. Austria was the birthplace of many famous composers such as Joseph Haydn, Michael Haydn, Franz Liszt, Franz Schubert, Anton Bruckner, Johann Strauss Sr. and Johann Strauss Jr. as well as members of the Second Viennese School such as Arnold Schönberg, Anton Webern and Alban Berg. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg, then an independent ecclesiastical principality of the Holy Roman Empire, although culturally closely linked to Austria, and much of Mozart’s career took place in Vienna.
Vienna has long been an important centre of musical innovation. Composers of the 18th and 19th centuries were attracted to the city by Habsburg patronage, making Vienna the European capital of classical music. During the Baroque period, Slavic and Hungarian folk forms influenced Austrian music.
Vienna’s status as a cultural centre began to develop in the early 16th century and focused on instruments, including the lute. Ludwig van Beethoven spent most of his life in Vienna. Today’s national anthem of Austria, attributed to Mozart, was chosen after the Second World War to replace the traditional Austrian anthem by Joseph Haydn.
Austrian Herbert von Karajan was principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic for 35 years. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest conductors of the 20th century and was a dominant figure in European classical music from the 1960s until his death.
Art and architecture
Austrian artists and architects include the painters Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller, Rudolf von Alt, Hans Makart, Gustav Klimt, Oskar Kokoschka, Egon Schiele, Carl Moll and Friedensreich Hundertwasser, the photographers Inge Morath and Ernst Haas, and architects such as Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach, Otto Wagner, Adolf Loos and Hans Hollein (winner of the 1985 Pritzker Architecture Prize). Contemporary artist Herbert Brandl.
Cinema and theatre
Sascha Kolowrat was an Austrian film pioneer. Billy Wilder, Fritz Lang, Josef von Sternberg and Fred Zinnemann all came from Austria before establishing themselves as international filmmakers. Willi Forst, Ernst Marischka and Franz Antel enriched popular cinema in the German-speaking world. Michael Haneke became internationally known for his disturbing film studies before winning a Golden Globe in 2010 for his critically acclaimed film The White Ribbon.
The first Austrian director to win an Oscar is Stefan Ruzowitzky. A number of Austrian actors have been able to carve out careers that have had an impact beyond the country’s borders. Among them are Peter Lorre, Helmut Berger, Curd Jürgens, Senta Berger, Oskar Werner and Klaus Maria Brandauer. Hedy Lamarr and Arnold Schwarzenegger became stars of American and international cinema. The latter also became the 38th Governor of California. Christoph Waltz achieved international fame with his performance in “Inglourious Basterds” and won the Best Actor award at Cannes in 2009, the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 2010 and two Oscars. Max Reinhardt was a master of spectacular and clever theatre productions. Otto Schenk excelled not only as a theatre actor but also as an opera director.
Science and philosophy
Austria was the birthplace of many internationally renowned scientists. Among them were Ludwig Boltzmann, Ernst Mach, Victor Franz Hess and Christian Doppler, all renowned scientists of the 19th century. In the 20th century, the contributions of Lise Meitner, Erwin Schrödinger and Wolfgang Pauli to nuclear research and quantum mechanics were crucial to the development of these fields in the 1920s and 1930s. Today’s quantum physicist is Anton Zeilinger, who was the first scientist to demonstrate quantum teleportation.
Besides physicists, two of the greatest philosophers of the 20th century were born in Austria: Ludwig Wittgenstein and Karl Popper. In addition to them, the biologists Gregor Mendel and Konrad Lorenz as well as the mathematician Kurt Gödel and engineers like Ferdinand Porsche and Siegfried Marcus were also Austrians.
Medicine and psychology have always been at the centre of Austrian science, beginning with Paracelsus in the Middle Ages. Important physicians such as Theodore Billroth, Clemens von Pirquet and Anton von Eiselsberg took up the achievements of the Viennese Medical School in the 19th century. Austria welcomed Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, Alfred Adler, the founder of individual psychology, the psychologists Paul Watzlawick and Hans Asperger, and the psychiatrist Viktor Frankl.
The Austrian School of Economics, recognised as one of the main competing schools of economic theory, is associated with the Austrian economists Carl Menger, Joseph Schumpeter, Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk, Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek. Other emigrants of Austrian origin are the management thinker Peter Drucker, the sociologist Paul Felix Lazarsfeld and the natural scientist Sir Gustav Nossal.
In addition to its status as a land of artists and scientists, Austria has always been a land of poets, writers and novelists. It was the home of the novelists Arthur Schnitzler, Stefan Zweig, Thomas Bernhard and Robert Musil, the poets Georg Trakl, Franz Werfel, Franz Grillparzer, Rainer Maria Rilke, Adalbert Stifter, Karl Kraus and the children’s author Eva Ibbotson.
Among the best-known contemporary playwrights and novelists are the Nobel Prize winners Elfriede Jelinek, Peter Handke and Daniel Kehlmann.
Food and drinks
Austrian cuisine is derived from the cuisine of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. Austrian cuisine is above all the tradition of royal cuisine (“court cuisine”) handed down over centuries. It is famous for its well-balanced variations of beef and pork and countless variations of vegetables. There is also the “Mehlspeisen” bakery, which has created special delicacies such as the Sachertorte, the “Krapfen”, which are usually filled with apricot jam or custard, and “Strudel” such as “Apfelstrudel” with apple filling, “Topfenstrudel” with curd filling and “Millirahmstrudel” (strudel with milk cream).
In addition to indigenous regional traditions, the cuisine has been influenced by Hungarian, Czech, Jewish, Italian, Balkan and French cuisine, from which both dishes and preparation methods have often been borrowed. Austrian cuisine is thus one of the most multicultural and cross-cultural in Europe.
Typical Austrian dishes are Wiener Schnitzel, roast pork, Kaiserschmarren, dumplings, Sachertorte and Tafelspitz. There is also Carinthian Kasnudeln, which are dumplings filled with curd cheese, potatoes, herbs and mint, cooked and served with a butter sauce. Kasnudeln are traditionally served with a salad. Egg mushroom dishes are also popular. The Pez sugar block dispenser was invented in Austria, as were Mannerschnitten. Austria is also famous for its Mozartkugeln and its coffee tradition.
The beer is sold in measures of 0.2 litres (a Pfiff), 0.3 litres (a Seidel, small beer or glass of beer) and 0.5 litres (a Krügerl or large beer or Halbe). At festivals, one litre Maß and two litres Doppelmaß are also served in the Bavarian style. The most popular types of beer are lager (known as Märzen in Austria), naturally cloudy Zwickl beer and wheat beer. Bock beer is also available on holidays such as Christmas and Easter.
The main wine-growing areas are in Lower Austria, Burgenland, Styria and Vienna. The Grüner Veltliner grape variety produces some of Austria’s most outstanding white wines and Zweigelt is the most widely grown red grape variety.
In Upper Austria, Lower Austria, Styria and Carinthia, cider, a type of apple or pear wine is widely available.
People drink schnapps, which usually contains up to 60 % alcohol, or fruit brandy, which in Austria is made from various fruits, for example apricots and berries. The production of the small private schnapps distilleries, of which there are about 20,000 in Austria, is called self-distilled or house brandy.
Local soft drinks like Almdudler are very popular throughout the country as an alternative to alcoholic beverages. Another popular drink is “Spetzi”, a mixture of Coca-Cola and the original orange Fanta or Frucade, which is better known in this country. Red Bull, the best-selling energy drink in the world, was invented in Austria.
Due to the mountainous terrain, skiing is a very popular sport in Austria. Similar sports such as snowboarding or ski jumping are also very popular. Austrian athletes such as Annemarie Moser-Pröll, Franz Klammer, Hermann Maier, Toni Sailer, Benjamin Raich, Marlies Schild and Marcel Hirscher are considered the greatest alpine skiers of all time. Armin Kogler, Andreas Felder, Ernst Vettori, Andreas Goldberger, Andreas Widhölzl, Thomas Morgenstern and Gregor Schlierenzauer are among the greatest ski jumpers of all time. Bobsleigh, luge and skeleton are also popular events. A permanent track in Igls was the venue for the bobsleigh and luge competitions at the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck. The first Winter Youth Olympic Games in 2012 were also held in Innsbruck.
Football is a popular team sport in Austria. It is administered by the Austrian Football Association. Austria was one of the most successful football nations on the European continent. It finished 4th in the 1934 FIFA World Cup, 3rd in the 1954 FIFA World Cup and 7th in the 1978 FIFA World Cup. However, Austrian football has not enjoyed any international success in recent times. It also co-hosted the 2008 UEFA European Football Championship with Switzerland. The Austrian Football League is the Austrian Bundesliga, which includes teams such as world champions SK Rapid Wien, FK Austria Wien, Red Bull Salzburg and Sturm Graz.
Besides football, Austria also has professional national leagues for most major team sports, including the Austrian Ice Hockey League and the Austrian Basketball Bundesliga for basketball. Horse riding is also very popular; Vienna is home to the famous Spanish Riding School.
Niki Lauda is a former Formula One driver who became Formula One World Champion three times: in 1975, 1977 and 1984. He is currently the only driver to have been champion for both Ferrari and McLaren, the two most successful manufacturers in the sport. Other well-known Austrian F1 drivers are Gerhard Berger and Jochen Rindt. Austria also hosts Formula 1 races (Austrian Grand Prix), which are held today at the Red Bull Ring and in the past at the Österreichring and Zeltweg airfield.
Thomas Muster is a former tennis player and one of the greatest clay court players of all time. He won the French Open in 1995 and was number 1 on the ATP ranking list in 1996. Other well-known Austrian tennis players are Horst Skoff, Jürgen Melzer and Dominic Thiem.