December 14, 2011 – The Austrian Mint will issue the first coin of 2012 today. The coin celebrates 200 years of the “Society of Music Friends, in Vienna”.
This coin also marks the return of the classic coinage metal of copper, which was used for many centuries around the world. Pure copper was the choice of many minters because it was so malleable and allowed for precise design details and deep relief. Copper will be used for the circulation versions of the 5 and 10 euro circulation coin series from Austria, starting with the 2012 coins.
The change to copper for the circulation versions of the 5 and 10 euro coins series was made because of the high price of silver. The silver metal content of these coins when struck in silver was higher than their respective face values. Therefore in 2011, no 5 and 10 euro coins were struck for circulation in Austria.
The first coin dated 2012 will be available as of December 14, 2011 and be in 2 metals and 2 versions. The 300,000 copper versions will be uncirculated coins that are only available through the Austrian banking system. The 50,000 special uncirculated versions will be available from the traditional outlets for Austrian commemorative coins.
The reverse design of the 5 euro coin, which is the same for both the copper and silver versions, features the Musikverein’s main concert hall, the Golden Hall and its impressive organ. The obverse designed by the Mint’s Chief engraver Thomas Pesendorfer (who is also the designer for the Vienna Philharmonic bullion coin issued since 1989) highlights the intricate details found in the Golden Hall. Most famous of these are the caryatids. These female draped figures seem to carry the weight of the magnificent building on their heads. In the upper background can be seen a portion of the complex faceted ceiling with frescoes. As well the mighty pipes of the famous organ are noted in the design. Mr. Pesendorfer has achieved great depth of field on this coin with his clever design that uses the corner of the Golden Hall, the ceiling, and the chandelier to allow one to feel like they are in the hall.
The obverse of the nine-sided coin is the standard 5 euro design, with the denomination encircled by the shields of the nine federal provinces of Austria. In the center is the face value of 5 euros. The obverse was designed by mint engraver Helmut Andexlinger.
The Musikverein celebrates its 200 anniversary in 2012. It started as a small group of friends of music and grew rapidly and soon had its own concert hall. Prior to building the performance hall it currently owns, they had a small hall that only seated 700 listeners. It was much too small to satisfy the demand from the public who wanted to enjoy great music on a regular basis.
Today’s Musikverein concert hall was built and is owned by the Society of Music Friends on land given to them by the Emperor Franz Joseph. The opening day was January 6, 1870. The concert hall is considered by experts to be one of the finest in the world, which is truly amazing considering it was built at a time when the science of acoustics did not exist. The Golden Hall is world-renowned because it is from here that the annual New Year’s concert is broadcast. Some estimates state that more than a billion listeners tune in for this annual broadcast.
Reiger, a famous organ builder with Czech/Austrian roots and exports throughout Europe and to the USA, renowned for the exacting tones of this complex instrument, built the famous organ in 1907. Since then, the inner workings have been replaced and updated four times in order to continue to guarantee the exquisite sounds for which it is so well known.
The Wiener Musikverein Hall (or Viennese Music Association Hall), usually shortened to Musikverein, was designed by a well known architect of the central area of Vienna, Theophil Hansen. Hansen was a Danish born architect who had studied in Athens for some time and was greatly influenced by classic Greek architecture. The Musikverein incorporates many of the classic Greek flourishes both inside and on the outside of the building.
The ceiling frescos of the Golden Hall were painted by August Eisenmenger and feature a serene scene of Apollo and the nine Muses. Around these are intricately facetted ceiling panels. The hall is lit by brilliantly sparkling chandeliers.
The Musikverein can hold more than 2,000 concert goers – some 1,700 seated and more than 300 standing. Several other smaller music halls were also built in the original building. In addition, at the turn of the last millennium the Musikverein began an extensive expansion underneath the original property and four new subterranean halls were added. In stark contrast to the original classical Greek architecture, the new halls are sleek and modern with highly engineered acoustics. One of the highlights is the Glass Hall, which presented a particular acoustical challenge given its many hard glass surfaces. The goal was achieved by installing a complex series of glass panels on the walls to enhance the acoustics. These new halls are used for workshops, experimental music, lectures, chamber concerts and the like.
The silver coin is available in special uncirculated quality and will have a maximum mintage of 50,000. Each of these coins is vacuumed sealed in a colourful and informative blister pack, with a gold-colored sleeve and bilingual text in English and German.
Collectors in the United States and Canada may purchase the “Society of Music Friends” coin for 24.95 US each by calling Euro Collections International toll-free at 1 877 897 7696. The coin may also be ordered on-line at www.eurocollections.com
The 300,000 copper coins struck by the Austrian Mint for circulation in Austria will be available through the Austrian banking network only.