Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Three Little Devils

In ancient times three little devils played their mischievous tricks on the Viennese in and around St. Stephen’s church.

They were called Luziferl, Spirifankerl and Springinkerl.
They teased the prayers, frightened the penitents, extinguished the candles and hid the craftsmen hammer and chisel.

Luziferl was the meanest and most dangerous among them. He was the one who was responsible for the death of the architect who worked at the Northtower of St. Stephen’s.

People were pursuing the evil Luziferl till they get hold of the demon.
Soon Spirifankerl and Springinkerl were caught too.

The Three Little Devils
The three evil spirits were put into a cage on the church wall from which they couldn’t escape any more.

For a long time they raged in the cage then they turned slowly into stone.

Today you can still see relics of the three little devils but with every day they vanish more and more.

Copyright © 2011 Ingrid Prohaska

Special thanks to JRD Skinner and the Flash Pulp Crew for putting the legend on their 'FlashCast 28 - Death of the Weebinax' !


Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Basilisk

What a big turmoil it was in the house of baker Garhibl in Schönlaterngasse 7 in the early morning of June 12th, 1212.

Kathrin the maid was sent to bring water from the well.
Now she stood there and babbled something about a monster at the base of the well with bestial stench; and she also mentioned very strange sounds.

Baker Garhibl was furious about the alleged imaginations of the girl. But even he couldn’t deny that there was an unpleasant smell in the air.

“I’ll have a look,” said journeyman Heinrich. He took a torch; let him tie at a rope on which he could be hold by the baker and the other journeyman Hans.
Then he climbed down into the well.

Suddenly he screamed that it set someone’s tooth on edge.
The light from the torch was extinguished in the well. Baker Garhibl and Hans pulled him up quickly.

Heinrich was unconscious.
They opened his shirt and fanned fresh air to his face. Finally he awakened.

"A monster," he babbled. "Disgusting! ... The head of the cock ... the body of the toad ... a tail soooo long and scaly ... and it wears a crown of bright red stones ... and it stinks!"

Then he fainted again.

“In this case we must call the town magistrate,” baker Garhibl said to his folks and so he sent the maid Kathrin for the town magistrate Jakob von der Hülden.

It took about an hour, until the honourable Jakob von der Hülben, escorted by guards and a crowd of bystanders arrived at the baker’s house.

Gratefully and relieved the baker Garhible told him what had happened.

The town magistrate considered but he had no idea. There stepped a man out of the crowd – his name was Doctor Pollitzer, and it was known that he was well versed in all natural phenomena.

“I suppose it’s a basilik.” he said.

“A basilisk? What’s that?” Kathrin asked.

"When a rooster lays an egg," explained the man, "and the egg is hatched by a toad, and the offspring is reared by a snake, then the result is such a monster. Its breath stinks of decay and its vision is profoundly ugly. Who sees it, is doomed to death. No spear, no sword, not even fire can harm the basilisk."

The astonished crowd of people were horrified.

"Is there nothing which can destroy the monster?" Garhibl asked, already afraid that he had to give up his house.

"Hmm, yes, there is a possibility," replied the doctor. "One must dare to climb down with a mirror. When the beast is confronted with its own ugliness it will explode."

There was dead silence. Finally journeyman Hans said, “Let me try it,” he turned to the baker and continued, “and if I can make it would you allow me to marry your daughter Anna?”

Well, Garhibl knew that they both were in love but he couldn’t give his agreement so far because a journeyman wasn’t an adequate marriage for his daughter. But under these circumstances - so he nodded.

Quickly the wall mirror was brought out of the baker’s house. Hans was tied to a rope, Anna put a little wax in her fiancé’s ears; then the brave climbed down into the dark well, like a shield he held the mirror in front of him.

Suddenly the folks heard a horrible heartrending scream let out by the basilisk. And then a deafening bang.

“It’s dead!” Hans’ voice echoed out of the well.

Safely although a bit hard of hearing in spite of the earplugs Hans to the cheers of the crowd climbed out of the well.

Unfortunately Heinrich the journeyman who had seen the basilisk died the same day.

Garhibl and his folks filled the well with stones and earth.

And pretty soon the brave Hans married Anna.

Copyright © 2011 Ingrid Prohaska

Special thanks to JRD Skinner and the Flash Pulp Crew for putting the legend on their 'FlashCast 27 - Exploding Basilisk' !


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Mystery of Wind and Rain around St. Stephen’s Cathedral

You can imagine that the devil wasn’t pleased to see how the skilled and busy craftsmen constructed St. Stephen’s Cathedral.

So he made an alliance with the wind and the rain and asked them to hunt around the building. In that way he thought he could keep the workers away from their eagerly doing.

But cheerfully and with devout prayers the builders continued their work.

Angrily and without achieving his goal the devil moved back to hell.
But he forgot to take the wind and the rain with him.

St.Stephen's Square,1794

So since that time the both roar loudly lamenting around St. Stephen’s Cathedral.

Soon the Viennese had a little rhyme on their lips:

“Even when in the entire country the weather is fair
you can be sure that it’s windy or rainy at St. Stephen’s square.”

Copyright © 2011 Ingrid Prohaska

Special thanks to JRD Skinner and the Flash Pulp Crew for putting the legend on their 'FlashCast 26 - Illegal Fireworks' !


Monday, July 18, 2011

Interlude #4: "The Harry Lime Theme"

I feel very proud to annonce that now the Viennese Legends have their own intro for FlashCast.

Jessica May, audio producer of the FlashPulp Crew, did a fantastic job and underlaid the words "Curious Tales of Vienna" with a short sequence of "The Third Man Theme" that let me feel very special.

Anyway suddenly I had the background story of this theme on my mind. I did a bit of research to complete my knowledge and so I can tell you know the following:

The Harry Lime Theme

It was in October 1948 during the shooting for "The Third Man" in Vienna when Director Carol Reed met Anton Karas the first time. Carol Reed was still searching for an adequate sound for the film. It should evoke the Viennese atmosphere but it shouldn't be a waltz.

That time Anton Karas earned his living with playing the zither at a Heuriger (some kind of wine bar typical for Vienna and the east of Austria) in the 19th district of Vienna.

It is not known where they actually met each other the first time but I think it's quite obvious that it was at the Heuriger where Karas played his zither. Some sources also confirm that.

It is said that Carol Reed was fascinated by the sound of the zither and the performances of Anton Karas.

Composing of the film music
"Slightly before the end of the shooting Carol Reed invited Anton Karas to the Hotel Astoria in Vienna and Karas was asked to play for the film crew hours and hours. Back to London Reed experimented with different pieces for a film music but nothing was satisfying and therefore he invited Anton Karas to London. Karas started composing the complete film music on June 1st, 1949, the recording was finished within 12 weeks. Karas composed and improved about 14 hours per day. Unfortunately he felt extremely homesick and was more than one time to go back to Vienna without finishing his work. But Reed didn't "surrender" and assisted him and kept him in London like a prisoner. When he finished recording the film music, a fire in the cutting room destroyed more than the half of the completed film material including the sound column. Anton Karas had to record the complete sound column once again. When the film was completed just one week before the scheduled premiere, Carol Reed and Anton Karas went to the Westminster Abbey to light thankful a candle!" source:

"This song was originally released in the U.K. in 1949, where it was 'The Harry Lime Theme.' Following its release in the U.S. in 1950 (see 1950 in music), "The Third Man Theme" spent eleven weeks at number one on Billboard's U.S. Best Sellers in Stores chart, from April 29 to July 8. Its success led to a trend in releasing film theme music as singles." source: wikipedia

"The Harry Lime Theme" was the first #1 in the USA for an Austrian.


Facts & History #2: Christ with a Toothache

Just a few facts as a late addition to the legend "Christ with a Toothache"

The legend is about a figure of Christ, a "Man of Sorrow" which is represented twice today.
In 1960 the original moved inside the Cathedral. On the outside you find a copy today.

wikipedia says about this Fixture on the outside walls,
"A figure of Christ ... affectionately known to the Viennese as "Christ with a Toothache", from the agonized expression of his face, various memorials from the time the area outside the cathedral was a cemetery and a recently-restored 15th century sundial, on a flying buttress at the southwest corner ... can be seen."

In the middle age it was a daily tradition to adorn such figures with fresh flowers. And it is fact that people used a piece of cloth to secure these flowers because it was and still is always windy around St.Stephens.

Unser Stephansdom


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Theophrastus Paracelsus and the Devil

It was in 1510 when Theophrastus Paracelsus lived in Vienna to study medicine.
He used to walk through the forests to collect all sorts of medical plants and herbs.

On one of those days – he was already on his way back to town he had a rest under a huge fir tree.

Suddenly he heard a groan and a heartrending voice crying, “Help me! Oh help me!”

Paracelsus jumped up, he looked around but he couldn’t find the caller.
“How can I help when I can’t see you?” Paracelsus said impatiently, “I don’t know where you are and I even don’t know who you are!”

“I am the evil,” the voice replied, “an exorcist squeezed me into a hole of this tree trunk and closed it with a plug. I can not get out! Free me, oh free me! I don’t want to stay here till the last day.”

“For my part you can remain trapped for an eternity; at least you can’t cause harm anymore.”

“Free me, oh free me,” lamented the devil, “I’ll give you everything you ask for; I’ll fulfill you all your wishes; and you even don’t have to give me your soul!”

For a moment Paracelsus thought about the devil’s offer then he replied, “So listen what I ask for. I want a drug which can cure every disease; and – I want a tincture which can turn everything I want into gold.”

“Very well then. Your wishes are fulfilled.”

Paracelsus took his pocket knife and scatched around the plug till he could pull it out easily.

A coal black spider crawled out of the tree trunk, which turned at the moment into a tall gaunt man with a red cloak, a sword and a hat with a red rooster feather.

“Come with me.” the devil said with grinning friendliness.

Paracelsus accepted the invite.

They stopped at a rock and the bad guy hit his sword forcefully against it.
The rock split and the devil went through the gaping hole. Soon he reappeared with two bottles.

“Here, the yellow liquid is the gold tincture, the other one is the miracle drug; both bottles will never be empty no matter how much you will use.”
The devil handed Paracelsus the bottles, ”So, and now I have to go to the exorcist, who brought me into this awkward situation.”

They walked back to the fir tree where Paracelsus freed the devil. The smart man used the time to think about how he could save the exorcist’s life.

Finally he said, “That exorcist must be a very clever guy and a master of the black arts. I mean he turned you into a spider and squeezed you in the hole of the tree trunk.”

“Pha,” the devil replied, “to turn into a spider is a very easy feat.”

“I bet the two bottles you just gave me that you can’t do this.” Paracelsus insisted.

“Okay – the bet is on!”

And in no time the devil was a black spider again and crawled into the hole of the fir tree.

Paracelsus reacted very quickly and closed the hole with the plug. Then he cut a cross in it to make the devil mute.

A couple of years later Paracelsus became one of the most famous physicians. He cured many patients with the miracle drug and helped many poor people with the gold tincture.

And the devil? - Well, if a lightning hasn’t split that fir tree I suppose the devil is still trapped inside.

Copyright © 2011 Ingrid Prohaska

Special thanks to JRD Skinner and the Flash Pulp Crew for putting the legend on their 'FlashCast 25 - Anonymous Donor' !


Friday, July 8, 2011

Christ with a Toothache

On the façade of St. Stephen’s Cathedral is a figure of Christ a so called “Man of Sorrow”.
The Viennese know this figure as “Christ with a Toothache”.
How it came to this name tells the following story.


Once upon a time three jolly fellows lived in Vienna. They often sat together and drank until late into the night and on their way home they used to play tricks on one or the other Viennese.

One night after the curfew of their favourite pub they strolled frolicsomely through the streets of Vienna. On their way they passed St. Stephen’s Cathedral.

In the lamplight they saw that the crown of thorns of the “Man of Sorrow” was adorned with fresh flowers. So that the wind couldn’t blow away those flowers they were tied with a cloth. This ranged from the vertex over the cheeks until under the chin where it was knotted.

It was Junker Diepold, somehow he was the leader of the troupe, who laughed, “Hey, this looks as if the Lord had a toothache! No wonder he definitely stands at a draughty place!”

For a while they continued joking. Finally they went to their homes.

But that night Junker Diepold couldn’t find a sleep. His cheeks began to burn and a short time later he got a very bad toothache.

He rubbed his cheeks, poked around in his teeth, rinsed his mouth with hard liquor – but nothing helped.

After the sleepless night he consulted a doctor. But that man couldn’t help him either. “Your teeth are fine,” the doctor said, “But it’s an odd thing – you are already the third patient today who’s complaining of a toothache without any particular reason.”

With these words Junker Diepold recognized that he was punished by the “Man of Sorrow” for his sarcastic remarks; and he decided to apologize immediately.

Ruefully and head bowed he tied a cloth around his head and went to “Man of Sorrow”.

Actually he was not surprised that he found his buddies there. He knelt down beside them and begged tearfully for forgiveness.

The penitents were answered and the tooth pain disappeared even in the same hour.

The three fellows had their lesson.

But since that incident this “Man of Sorrow” is known as “Christ with a Toothache”.

Copyright © 2011 Ingrid Prohaska

Special thanks to JRD Skinner and the Flash Pulp Crew for putting the legend on their 'FlashCast 24 - Fade Haircut' !


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Interlude #3: The Danube in Vienna

Regarding to the latest legend post "The Danube Maiden" I thought I show you a few pictures and some information of the Danube in Vienna today.
I hope you'll enjoy!


Friday, July 1, 2011

The Danube Maiden

Many, many years ago the river Danube was split into several arms.
In this beautiful wild landscape the Viennese fishermen lived in their simple wooden huts.

When the Danube was frozen and the fishermen couldn’t do their work they sat together close to a warming oven and told their stories.

So it came on a cold evening that a young handsome fisherman listened to his old father who was talking about the Danube maiden.

He told his son about the glass palace at the bottom of the river where the maiden lived together with her father the Prince of the Danube and he also spoke about their desire to meet people, so he closed his story with the words,
“On warm evenings the beautiful maiden comes out of the depths and sings for the people. Her voice is so wonderful and clear that everyone is enchanted. But take care my dear son; it often happens that young men are so attracted by her sweet voice that they are lost forever.

The son saw his father’s sorrowful face, “Oh father, it’s just a tale. Don’t worry about me.”

In that moment a sudden illumination fills their room. In the doorway she stood; a petite body wearing a long shimmering white dress, her black hair was adorned with white water lilies. Both father and son stared at the kind face of the beauty.

“Don’t be afraid of me,” she said, “I won’t do you any harm. I’m just here to warn you. A strong southerly wind will melt the thick ice of the Danube very quickly and within a few days a big flood will carry away these huts here. Flee as fast as you can!”

Then the wondrous figure disappeared and all was dark as before.

Father and son warned their neighbours, then they packed the essentials and hurried to a save place.

Everything happened as the Danube maiden had predicted.

A few weeks later the water went back and the fishermen were able to return to their former dwelling places.
They built up their huts again; they were happy and grateful that they had been saved from their certain death.

Only the young fisherman couldn’t rejoice. He was longing for the beautiful creature of the Danube. As often as he could the dreamy and sad man sat on the banks of the river and looked into the flowing water. His father knew what that meant and so he tried hard to bring his son to other thoughts. - But all was in vain.

On a hot summer evening the young fisherman climbed in his boat and rowed with slow strokes in the middle of the river.

The next morning the fishermen found the empty boat and close beside they saw a crown of water lilies drifting on the river. His father knew that his son would never return.

Since that day the Danube maiden was never seen again.

Copyright © 2011 Ingrid Prohaska

Special thanks to JRD Skinner and the Flash Pulp Crew for putting the legend on their
'FlashCast 23 - The Legend Continues' !

Woodcut of Vienna 1493