The former mayor of Innsbruck was a special kind of politician. First, she loved Innsbruck (it was said that the city was her “only child”). In her eight years in office, I never heard a single bad word said about her. Second — and here I speak from first-hand experience — she supported the performing arts like no other. She was in the audience, sometimes in the front row, at countless theater and concert performances. You looked out over the stage lights and saw that hairdo, and you knew the mayor was in the house.
A story I heard years ago about her commitment to the city’s cultural life, from those who were there:
The orchestra was about to perform a Bruckner symphony for a special season-opening concert in the cathedral. The seats were all taken, and security were either not permitted or not in the mood to let any more people in. Frau Zach arrived at the last minute, as usual, and asked a group of musicians why they were standing outside. When they explained that they were not allowed to enter, the mayor disappeared into the cathedral, and reappeared a few minutes later, saying “Da ist Platz genug drinnen, alle eini!” (There’s room enough, everybody in!) She simply went right over the security personnel’s heads and pushed us all inside!
Frau Zach battled cancer for years, and last March, when the future no longer looked manageable, she stepped down and handed the reins to her deputy mayor.
Her funeral will be held on Friday afternoon. She picked out her requiem music in advance, requesting the Haydn Mass In Time Of War, and
a beautiful choral arrangement of Mahler’s Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen the Reinberger Abendlied which she’d heard a few years before at a chamber choir concert (in which I took part.) I will be there on Friday, deeply honored to be able to sing for her again, one last time.
h/t to Günther Hajostek, who remembers that Bruckner concert.