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The Most Excellent Adventures of Professor Vladimir (Vladi) Chaloupka in Europe, July-September, 2010Notes and pictures from a six-week tour of Austria and Czech Republic, on invitation of Dr. Anton Zeilinger, Professor of Physics at the University of Vienna,to participate in a Workshop on “What exists in the quantum world?”to discuss the issues in Foundations of Quantum Physicsand to deliver lectures/organ demonstrations on Kunst der Fuge and Beyond.For a timeline and a summary of main events please see the last slide.

  • Note: the next (first) slide is the iconic view of Traunkirchen – I received the picture by EMAIL, and was unable to find out the author. Apart from slides 10, 11, 14, 16 and 34-36, all other pictures were taken by me, with the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-ZS7. The resolution of all pictures is downgraded for web use.

The village of Traunkirchen, on the lake Traunsee, with the Traunstein mountain in the background. The main church with its organ (red roof) and the Monastery where the Conference took place are closest to Traunstein. On the right is the Johannesberg chapel.


From left to right: the Pfarrkirche, monastery, the Johannesberg chapel and the Hotel Traunsee. This compact arrangement was very handy in the rainy weather.

Next slide: coming back at dusk.


View of the Traunsee from the wing of the monastery where the International Academy (venue of the Quantum Physics Conference) is located. The parking lot of the hotel is on the left.


My “quantum physics study” at the hotel (each room has a private patio like this one; I was lucky to be on the ground floor, with direct access to the lake).


The official group photograph of the Workshop on “What exists in the quantum world.”

I added an identification of selected senior participants – may a Nobel Prize soon comfort those I left anonymous!


The trio of quantum physicists on a boat trip:

left to right: Drs. Mike Horne, Danny Greenberger and Anton Zeilinger,

famous for (among other things) GHZ: the Greenberger-Horne-Zeilinger Theorem


The title of my quantum talk was “What’s wrong with this field.” With hindsight, it was not the best choice of subject (see the website for Powerpoint of the talk, if you are interested).

But now on to Bach’s Art of Fugue and the pipe organ.


Previous slide: Pfarrkirche at Traunkirchen: the Hochaltar, with the famous Fisherkanzel pulpit.

This slide: Details of the pulpit, with Peter kneeling by Jesus, and two apostles hauling in the catch. The picture on the left is by Wolfgang Sauber (


The pipe organ at Pfarrkirche: a fine 1999 tracker by Metzler, set in a pre-existing Baroque case.


Detail of a painting at the end of a long monastery corridor on previous slide, and another long corridor, with stained-glass window at the end.

Next slide: simple but lovely interior of the Johannisberg Chapel (the white church on the rock, visible on the first two slides of the slideshow)


With my hosts, Elisabeth and Anton Zeilinger, at a Gmunden Festwochen event celebrating the late Austrian poet Ernst Jandl.


Before the start of the Jandl event, a slide show of presenters at various Festwochen festival events.


Now a few pictures from the Czech Republic.

This restaurant is advertised as having “the best view in Prague” – and it is probably true.


Charles’ Bridge (building started in 1357, competed 1402 ) over the Moldau (Vltava) river, with the presidential Castle and St. Vitus Cathedral in the background.


Back to my brief afternoon tour of Prague: The Moldau river (recall Smetana’s My Country) from the Charles’ bridge. The yellow parasols of the restaurant I just left are visible on the left.


Charles bridge is crowded by tourists these days, with the inevitable stands with souvenirs. Among the various attractions, there was a pretty good Dixieland band.


The West end (just below the Castle; left) and the East end (leading to the Old Town; above) of Charles bridge.


Views from the Vrtbovska zahrada (the Vrtba Garden) are spectacular.

But Prague’s statues and spires can be very beautiful in mist and fog – see next couple of slides (with old pictures and no tourists, from Wikipedia and Corbis).


Two famous photographs I scanned from an old book by the late, great Slovak artist Karel Plicka.


And two historical paintings by the most famous painter of Prague vistas - Vincenc Morstadt (1802-1875)


My best friend (from high school and college; a long time ago) negotiated access to a very nice pipe organ, in a lovely church in the town of Hradec Kralove.


In Hradec, I stayed overnight in a very nice little hotel right next to the Cathedral on the main square. Unfortunately, there was an unadvertised feature: the clock on the tower beat every quarter hour, and then bigger bell on the hour – the whole night long! 


Back in Prague, the well known Czech organist Jaroslav Tuma took me to the recording of his improvisation on Smetana’s “My Country”. It was amazing what sound he managed to extract from this minimalistic (and very old) instrument (it really was an improvisation: he did two very different takes …).


Another friend secured access for me to try a large organ in a cavernous church – the titular organist looks over my shoulder as I demonstrate the Kunst der Fuge.


And for my final visit of Austria, I came to Vienna. My first trip was to Cafe Tirolerhouse where I met with the University Professor of organ and Vienna Court Chapel organist Martin Haselboeck – who had a gift for me: the key from the Court Chapel, for the duration of my visit.


My second visit in Vienna was to the “Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information” (or IQOQI). That was my “home” for the duration of the visit.


The Neue Burg: one of the two principal entrances to the Hofburg (the Imperial palace; now presidential residence, some offices, but mostly museums and other tourist attractions).


The core of Hofburg: the “Schweizerhof”; the Neue Burg is on the left, the Michaelerplatz on the right. And when you turn around, you can pass through the Schweizertor (next slide) to the small court and the Vienna Court Chapel.


Schweizertor: the gate from the Schweizerhof to the Burgkapelle.

The next slide shows the Chapel – it is not a free-standing building but it is “built-in”. The main entrance is on the right, the entrance leading to the organ loft is in the back (with the cross above it).

This is the oldest part of Hofburg


The Chapel is now used mainly for Sunday Masses (see the Calendar of Masses on the right), recordings and concerts, as well as for weddings (the next slide shows wedding guests leaving the court; the picture was taken from the anteroom of the organ loft.)


And finally, this is the interior of the chapel, as seen from the organ loft. It was an awe-inspiring experience to be there at night, alone, to play the magnificent pipe organ, and to contemplate the audiences that visited this place over five centuries.

The next few slides show the chapel under several illuminations. Strangely, there is a pronounced contrast between the original gothic nature of the front part of the chapel, and the various later additions of the balconies and loges.


And finally some Viennese miscellany:

First: the main organ at the church of St. Augustin


The “Bach Anniversary organ” at St. Augustin

Next slide: the Sunday morning Mass at St. Augustin, with priest officiating, organ filling the space with great music – and a total of about a half-dozen people in the pews …


Previous slide: the Vienna State Opera, where a young Adolph Hitler acquired much of his hatred, by watching rich patrons dismount from their carriages into the building to listen to his beloved operas, while he was shoveling snow, hungry, cold and miserable.

This slide: While exiting the “Oper” subway stop, you can purchase the services of an “Opera Toilet” – mit Musik of Mozart and/or Strauss


The ubiquitous horse-driven fiacres (and the special street-sweeper, most necessary but not always quite sufficient to deal with the consequences)


The equally ubiquitous peddlers of “Mozart and Strauss” concerts. There must be quite an industry in Vienna for the baroque-style uniforms.


Vienna summary: The precious keys. On the left, the key from the Vienna Court Chapel, giving me 24/7 access to the organ. On the right, the key from the Quantum Institute.



For Lecture Notes please

July 16/17: Seattle->Amsterdam->Munich ->Traunkirchen

July 20: delivered the Quantum Physics lecture, and a J.S.Bach lecture in the evening.

July 23: delivered a lecture/recital on “Kunst der Fuge: How real is Bach’s last fugue?”

July 27: delivered a public lecture on “J.S.Bach, complexity, simplicity and infinity”, followed by a KdF mini-recital

July 30 – Aug. 12: in Prague, preparing additional Bach lectures and quantum physics discussions.

July 13: back at Traunkirchen.

July 15: delivered the Festwochen talk on “From Bach to Einstein and Beyond”

July 18 – 29: back in Prague.

July 30: final visit to Austria: Vienna.

Sept. 2: final quantum discussions at the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information, followed in the evening by an organ mini-recital at the Court Chapel. And after playing all those organs in Europe, I finally decided where and how to record the complete Kunst der Fuge to accompany my book “Art of Fugue: Variations on Music, Science and Society” (work in progress – now the progress will accelerate, I hope).

Sept. 6: back to Seattle.