Two of the Imperial balls that took place during the Winter season of 1889, captured by Mihály Zichy. The famous “Bal Noir” is one of them. When the Empress Maria Fyodorovna learned of Austrian Crown Prince Rudolf´s sudden death, she refused to call off the ball scheduled for the evening, as a small revenge on the Austrian court, who had refused to go into mourning for a Russian official some time before. Still, to show herself not completely unfeeling and un-diplomatic, the Empress requested all the guests to wear only black dresses. The witnesses in years to come recalled the ball a splendid event, during which the splendid jewelery against the all-black costumes created the most peculiar, magnificent effect.
“i have trodden a different path from that of most of my relatives but i always had the purest motives. our age calls for new viewpoints. everywhere, particularly in austria, there is reaction, the first steps towards downfall. those who preach reaction are the most dangerous enemies.”
Crown Prince Rudolf, the only son of Emperor Franz Joseph I and Empress Elisabeth of Austria, was born on 21 August 1858. In 1889, he died in a alleged suicide pact with his mistress, Baroness Mary Vetsera at the Mayerling hunting lodge. His death had a devastating effect on the already compromised marriage of the Imperial couple and interrupted the security inherent in the immediate line of Habsburg dynastic succession. As Rudolf had no sons, his cousin Archduke Franz Ferdinand eventually became the heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne. The assassination of Franz Ferdinand lead to Austria-Hungary’s declaration of war against Serbia, starting World War I.
(And she’s back, with a fresh German musical obsession! Once again, I wrote these for an English friend who is brand new to Elisabeth, as anaccompaniment to the 2012 Gesamtaufnahme Live CD, which you can listen to here on YouTube. I think they’re a bit quicker and easier to follow along with than the English lyrics, so here they are, just in case any other new fans can find a use for them. My song summaries for Tanz der Vampire can be found here.)
ELISABETH - 2012 Gesamtaufnahme Live CD - Song Summaries
1. Prolog – Prologue Somewhere in the depths of purgatory, a derisive Italian anarchist named Lucheni is being questioned by an invisible judge about why he assassinated the Empress Elisabeth of Austria.
2. Alle Tanzten mit dem Tod – Everyone Has Danced with Death Lucheni insists that he merely gave the Empress what she wanted; she fell in love with Death, and Death returned the sentiment. The invisible judge scoffs at such an idea, but Lucheni calls on the spirits of Elisabeth’s dead relatives - and Death himself - to testify. The rest of the show is told in flashbacks, with Lucheni narrating.
The “White Lady” is a ghostly apparition of a woman dressed all in white, who is said to appear whenever a descendant of the House of Habsburg is about to die.
According to folklore, she was seen at the Hofburg Palace in Vienna the night before Marie Antoinette was executed. She was also reported to have been seen by some near Mayerling, where crown Prince Rudolf committed suicide, and by his mother, Empress Elisabeth, shortly before she was assassinated.
ON THIS DAY: 21 August 1858
- Birth of Crown Prince Rudolf
Prince Rudolf was born on this day 1858, in Schloss Laxenburg. The
labour was a long and difficult one, and Elisabeth is said to have
refused to have believed that she had given birth to a Habsburg heir -
“of course it is a girl”.
crown prince rudolf austria - letter /
Baroness Mary Vetsera
A collection of letters stashed for 90 years inside a bank vault in Vienna could finally solve the mystery of one of the world’s greatest love stories.
Baroness Mary Vetsera, who wrote the letters, famously committed suicide with her lover Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria in 1889.
But the mysterious circumstances of their deaths hit international headlines and sent ripples of curiosity across the world.
Hailed as one of the world’s greatest romances, the affair has inspired numerous films, novels, ballets and plays.
Her farewell letters, addressed to her mother, brother and sister, were discovered in the Vienna bank vault 126 years after her death, by bank employees having a vault clear out.
‘Please forgive me for what I’ve done, I could not resist love’, the Baroness wrote to her mother, Helen Vetsera.
‘In accordance with Him, I want to be buried next to Him in the Cemetery of Alland. I am happier in death than life.’
The Austrian National Library said in a statement: ‘An unknown person deposited a leather-bound folder containing numerous personal documents, letters and photographs of the Vetsera family, including the farewell letters of Mary Vetsera from 1889.’
The bodies of the Baroness and the Crown Prince, then aged 30, were discovered in January 1889 at his hunting lodge in the Viennese woods near the town of Mayerling.
But the exact circumstances of their suicide pact, known generally as the ‘Mayerling incident’, still remain unclear.
Dear Stephanie, you are now rid of my presence and annoyance; be happy in your own way. Take care of the poor wee one, she is all that remains of me. To all acquaintances, especially Bombelles [Count Karl Bombelles, head of his household], Spindler [Head Secretary Heinrich Ritter von Spindler], Latour [Count Josepf Latour von Thurmburg, Rudolf’s childhood governor], Wowo [Rudolf’s childhood nickname for his nurse, Baroness Von Welden], Gisela [his sister], Leopold [Gisela’s husband], etc., etc., say my last greetings. I go quietly to my death, which alone can save my good name. I embrace you affectionately. Your loving Rudolf.