This year I stuck to what remains my greatest discovery: go on holiday in January. Having been mulling on empires past and present, I headed to Vienna, spending a week among the buildings, collections and other remains of the Habsburg Empire. I finished the week in the imperial family crypt. The public entrance to the Kaisergruft feels uncomfortably like that of an underground car-park. But then there they all are — casket after casket and row upon row of Habsburgs.

The Viennese Secessionists brought a pioneering introspection to their bold new portraiture

The gentile owner of the Austrian capital’s leading tailor is tracing the genealogy of the Jewish patricians who fell victim to the Nazis

Standpoint‘s editor, Daniel Johnson, has written today’s Daily Feature on Jewish Ideas Daily. It concerns the rich cultural contribution the city of Vienna, and its Jewish inhabitants in particular, has made to Western civilisation:

…And they’re off! It’s a race to the finish between Dudamel with the Berlin Phil on German TV’s ARD and Thielemann with the Dresden Staatskapelle on ZDF for the big New Year’s Eve musical celebration! Who will win the race for the hearts and minds of the German TV viewers tonight?… Norman Lebrecht has more on this extraordinary contest here.

Happy New Year to one and all! I hope your hangovers are not quite as bad as mine today, and that everyone has waltzed in 2010 with the greatest of joy (as they say, keep calm and carry on…).