Stage all set for fun in Vienna

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 26 October, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 26 October, 1996, 12:00am

Austrians are celebrating a thousand years of sometimes turbulent history - and they are doing so with a vengeance.

The nation, founded in 996, is marking its millennium with concerts, exhibitions, festivals and events reflecting its rich history and culture.

Austria's anniversary is being celebrated in Vienna, the world's capital for indulgent snacking, with 45 cafes and pastry shops featuring a different traditional Viennese specialty every month.

Participating establishments are displaying a 'Viennese Cuisine '96' poster - and inside serving mounds of whipped cream scooped on cups of hot chocolate, crusty apple strudel, lavish helpings of chocolate cakes and cream-filled fruit tarts.

Vienna has enjoyed a thriving coffee-house or cafe culture for three centuries since fleeing Turkish invaders left behind sacks of coffee.

The cafes tend to be packed year-round - both by the Viennese and tourists.

An integral part of Vienna's social life, many of the old coffee-houses are themselves historical attractions.

Though the 200th anniversary of Romantic composer Franz Schubert's birth is not officially until January 31, Austria is also counting the 14th Vienna Schubert Festival as a highlight of millennium celebrations.

On November 19, the day Schubert died, the two-week festival will open at the Musikverein and feature the composer's last works as a prelude to Schubert Year concerts next year.

A spectacular 'Summer of Music' festival recently featured such great operas as Carmen, Madam Butterfly and Mozart's The Magic Flute performed against the magical backdrop of an open-air stage.

Now, an exhibition called, 'The Message of Music - 1,000 Years of Music in Austria', will run until the end of the year.

It will display the world's largest collection of musical instruments, portraits of musicians and scores at the Museum of Fine Arts.