Viennese Culture


  • Congress of Vienna

Wiener Kongress –
Congress of Vienna (1814 – 1815)

The Congress of Vienna was an international congress aiming to restore peace and to restructure Europe, which was in a mess after almost two centennaries of war and the monomanic attempts of Napoleon to conquer Europe. It was a quest for a balance of powers, so that future wars and revolutions could be prevented.
Decisions were made by the four superpowers Prussia, Russia, Austria and Great Brittain. Due to diplomatic skill France, too, was allowed to take part in decision making.

Representation was almost as important at the Congress of Vienna as diplomacy. Festivities, balls and dancing turned upper class Vienna into a frenzy for over a year. This gave way to the saying: ‘Le Congrès danse et ne marche pas.’

The differences which had to become where serious indeed. For a considerable time the aims of the congress seemed to fall through. Finally, compromise was hastened by Napoleon’s flight from Elba, the island of his captivity.

Klemens von Metternich –
the era of Biedermeier

Count Klemens von Metternich was souvereign to Austrian emperor Franz I and one of the main diplomats of the Viennese Congress. He backed up France’s claims to take part in the decision making process and supported the idea of a German alliance (‘Deutscher Bund’), an important step towards a unified Germany even though the internal independance of the various German counties was not questioned.

Apart from leading the Congress of Vienna Metternich was a very conservative politician. He strove to cement the Austrian monarchy by a strict rule of censorship and repression. Those measures lead to the era of Biedermeier. The masses were poor and even well-settled families enjoyed little personal freedom. Art was reduced to the portrayal of the idyllic, the theatre popular albeit heavily censored. Waltzing and operettas were harmless
and immensely fashionable pastimes. Strauss sr. and other composers competed for fame.

Results of the Congress of Vienna

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