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Visiting Vienna – a City of Culture

         by Daniel Schwarz
          ecently my wife Louise and I
      Rspent a glorious week in Vien-
      na (Wien), Austria enjoying the mu-
      sic, art, architecture, amazing foods,
      wines,  exquisite  cakes  (Sacher
      Tort), and pastries. On the top of our
      bucket list to do in Vienna was to
      see and hear the world famous Wie-
      ner  Philharmoniker  Orchestra  in
      their home concert hall, the historic
      Musikverein. This is also the loca-
      tion of the TV televised and narrat-
      ed  New  Year’s  Concert  each  year
      showcasing  the  orchestra,  and  the
      music of the Strauss family of Vien-
      nese composers. This facility, is in
      the  center  of  the  old  town,  and  is                                                       German places you should know:
      architecturally,  acoustically,  and
      just beautifully impressive.                                                                       St. Mary Magdalene Church /
         The  orchestra  performs  in  the
      1,800  seat  Grosser  Musikvereins-                                                                    Antioch Baptist Church
      saal (large concert Hall), where we
      were able to get terrific tickets, 4th                                                         by Martin Ederer             Rev. John Pfluger served a
                                                                                                     n the aftermath of the awful and
      row  center.  In  order  to  get  these                                                                                     long pastorate from 1916-
      tickets  we  became  Mitglieder  der                                                         Itragic shootings at Tops Market  1949, making his name
                                                                                                  on Jefferson Ave., Antioch Baptist
      Gesellschaft  der  Musikfreunde  in                                                                                         synonymous with St. Mary
      Wien  (Member  supporters  of  the                                                          Church became a prominent center
                                                                                                  of community gatherings – and sad-  Magdalene parish during its
      Vienna music organizations, which
      included the Musikverein). Classical                                                        ly, of funerals. This story hit home  most prosperous years.
                                                                                                  for me in several ways. First, I knew
      music concerts, opera, and ballet are
      so very popular in Vienna, and most                                                         how  much  Tops  was  a  neighbor- church. Pewholders were the parish-
                                                                                                  hood gathering place from members ioners who paid pew rent, a tradition
      of Europe, that to get good seats, or
      any seats for performances, season- emeritus of the music friend’s orga- ein  choir,  directed  by  Johannes  of  our  congregation  at  St.  Ann the German immigrants had brought
      al subscriptions or membership are nization  of  Vienna).  He  has  con- Prinz) added their beautiful voices  Church.  This  Tops  was  especially with  them  from  Germany.  Some-
      required.                      ducted  every  major  orchestra  in to the orchestra in the third move-  well-known  around  the  neighbor- times parishes in Germany went so
         The concert that we heard was Vienna,  and  worldwide.  The  pro- ment.                  hood  for  some  of  the  best  fried far as to assign seats by name plates
      conducted  by  the  famous  Maestro gram  began  with  Trois  Noctures,    During  the  Pause  (intermis-  chicken.        to  pewholders.  The  much  more
      Riccardo Muti. He is the Ehrenmit- Symphonisches  Triptchon  Für  Or- sion),  where  Sekt  (champagne)  I had family connections to An- practical  American  Catholics  sim-
      glied der Gesellschaft der Musikfre- chester und Frauenchor by Claude flowed like water, finger sandwich-  tioch’s  previous  incarnation,  St. ply  numbered  the  pews  and  made
      unde  in  Wien  (musical  director Debussy (1862-1918).  The Damen es  and  amazing  looking  pastries  Mary Magdalene Church. My moth- seat assignments from there. Buben-
                                     des  Singvereins  (Ladies  Musikver- were  enjoyed,  ended  when  the  er’s parents – immigrants both – got heim  laid  the  cornerstone  for  the
                                                                    chimes were heard to return to our  married there in the late 1910s. As new  church  designed  by  George
                                                                    seats. The program continued with  the story went, the priest had ripped Setter  later  in  1906.  In  1907  the
                                                                    Symphonie  fantastique,  op.  14,  by  through the wedding so quickly that completed church was dedicated.
                                                                    Hector  Berlioz  (1803-1869),  with  my grandparents often wondered if  Built of Medina sandstone at the
                                                                    the magnificent five movements of  the marriage sacrament actually had base  and  yellow  brick  above  that,
                                                                    musical  gems,  from  instrumental  time to “take.”          the  new  church  had  twin  towers,
                                                                    solos  to  grand  walls  of  orchestra  A  good  several  years  ago  I each 125 feet high, and a pillarless
                                                                    sound, under the baton of Maestro  stopped at Antioch for a visit before nave, a much-touted feature reflect-
                                                                    Muti.                         Sunday services began. After a ner- ing new suspended ceiling technolo-
                                                                      The adjacent photo shows Mae-  vous caretaker wondered why I was gies.  Leo  P.  Frohe  made  the
                                                                    stro  Muti  smiling  at  the  audience  sightseeing in an African American windows. Rochester’s Albert Prent-
                                                                    with the musicians and choir stand-  church, we got talking. I remarked iss Ward, a student of artist James
                                                                    ing,  accepting  the  appreciative  ap-  with  some  surprise  that  the  win- Whistler, executed the murals.
                                                                    plause. In Europe, standing ovations  dows, the murals and even a Catho-  Rev. John Pfluger served a long
                                                                    after even the best performances is  lic crucifix were all still there from pastorate  from  1916-1949,  making
                                                                    rare, but the applause for this con-  the church’s Catholic days. I’ll nev- his  name  synonymous  with  St.
                                                                    cert  did  not  stop.  Even  after  the  er  forget  his  response:  “You  can’t Mary  Magdalene  parish  during  its
                                                                    orchestra  was  off  stage,  the  audi-  do  too  much  to  the  place  without most prosperous years. All that had
                                                                    ence coaxed Maestro Muti back out  ruining it.” I remember wishing that changed by the late 1960s. St. Mary
                                                                    on  the  stage  for  several  grand  ap-  others  –  Catholics  among  them  – Magdalene, like many of the inner-
                                                                    plauses, and a standing ovation.  would  take  that  same  advice.  He city parishes, faced the demograph-
                                                                      The other photo shows the lit up  clearly had a heart for the place and ic shifts taking place as the neigh-
                                                                                                  its history.                   borhood transformed from German
                                                                    exterior of the magnificent Musikv-
                                                                    erein  building  after  the  concert.  Anyhow,  the  German  Catholic to African American.
                                                                                                  story: St. Mary Magdalene Church  St. Mary Magdalene got a new
                                                                    This concert of the Wiener Philhar-
                                                                    moniker,  conducted  by  Maestro  was founded in 1899, after German look  after  a  March  windstorm  in
                                                                    Muti,  in  their  home  grand  concert  Catholics  in  the  growing  Parade 1964  damaged  the  copper  cupolas
                                                                    hall was certainly an experience of  neighborhood  north  of  Genesee on St. Mary Magdalene’s steeples.
                                                                    a life time for us.           Street and east of Humboldt Park- This was the same windstorm that
                                                                                                  way had petitioned the diocese for a had damaged the steeples of St. Ann
                                                                                                  parish. By then the Parade had be- on   Broadway.   St.   Mary
                                                                                                  come a flourishing neighborhood.  Magdalene’s elaborate original cu-
                                                                                                     Bishop  James  Quigley  finally polas had to be removed, and were
                                                                                                  approved  the  new  parish  and  ap- replaced with shorter, less elaborate
                                                                                                  pointed  Rev.  James  Bubenheim  as cupolas.  The  1964  storm  damage
                                                                                                  St.  Mary  Magdalene’s  first  pastor. may  well  have  been  an  ominous
                                                                                                  Bubenheim celebrated his first par- warning   about   St.   Mary
                                                                                                  ish Mass on the second floor of the Magdalene’s future.
                                                                                                  Ignaz Woeppel grocery store at E.  By the mid-1970s the parish was
                                                                                                  Utica and Fillmore. As word spread in trouble. The school was demol-
                                                                                                  about the new parish, it grew. Soon ished  in  1976.  October  14,  1978
                                                                                                  Bubenheim needed the lower floor witnessed  the  church’s  final  Mass
                                                                                                  as well.                       and the parish was suppressed. St.
                                                                                                     By the end of October 1899, the Mary  Magdalene  was  one  of  the
                                                                        Tours available by        new parish broke ground for a brick first  parishes  to  get  closed  in  the
                                                                                                  combination church/school building inner city. Obviously, more closings
                                                                           appointment            designed by Carl Schmill. The fin- followed in the coming decades. In
                                                                                                  ished building was dedicated March early  1979,  the  Antioch  Baptist
                                                                      157 East Street, Buffalo    18,  1900.  The  3-story  building Church   purchased   St.   Mary
                                                                         New York 14207           housed the church on the first floor, Magdalene,  and  has  very  success-
                                                                                                  the  school  on  the  second,  and  an fully  maintained  the  building  ever
                                                                        More Information:         auditorium on the third floor. Two since.
                                                                                                  bells were added in 1901.
                                                                        Call 716.481.2350
                                                                                                     In June 1906 the pewholders of
                                                                                                  the parish proposed building a new
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