Behind the Scenes
Walter Deibler, head usher at Vienna’s Musikverein (the “Society of Music Lovers”), is a bastion of calm surrounded by turmoil. A torrential downpour is dousing downtown Vienna, and within a very short time two to three thousand people with umbrellas and dripping coats stream into the Musikverein’s foyer. This alone presents a challenge for the staff here, but today a number of other things go awry as well: a patron in a wheelchair holds a ticket for a seat that is not wheelchair-accessible, two cost-conscious concert-goers refuse to pay the fee of 1.70 euros to check their coats and begin arguing with the cloakroom attendants in the foyer, and a subscription-holding couple stands in front of the entrance to the Great Hall of the Musikverein without tickets – they left them at home.
Walter Deibler is not fazed by any of this. There is nothing that this 53-year-old has not seen in his twenty-five years at the Musikverein. With the imperturbability of a grand seigneur, Deibler quickly and smoothly gets everything back on an even keel: the Liszt fan in the wheelchair is given a different seat with a much better view of the stage, two replacement tickets are printed out for the subscription holders, and Deibler appeases the two carping visitors by the cloakroom with a forbearance that even Mahatma Gandhi would have admired.
“There is no doubt for me that I have a dream job,” says Walter Deibler, accompanying a patron up to the Musikverein’s famous “Golden Hall”. “I have met people here whom one would not meet as just an ordinary person.” Cecilia Bartoli, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Seiji Ozawa, Riccardo Muti, Anna Netrebko – Deibler knew or knows them all, the celebrities of the world of classical music who are constantly coming and going at the Musikverein.