In the few records I have found of Sigmund Eisler, Paul’s father, it is mentioned that he is a businessman in Vienna but of what I haven’t found yet. Searching through old Viennese newspapers in the year 1866 did bring to the surface the advertisement for the Tea & Rum shop of Sigmund’s uncle, Ignaz Eisler.
Did Sigmund apprentice there as a young man? It seems possible, although advertising for the shop disappears from the newspaper at the end of just the next year. But let’s look at the ad- 30,000 pounds of fresh Chinese tea! I am not sure this was the wisest of business enterprises that could have been undertaken in Vienna, aka “City of Coffee”. Tea drinkers were always a minority in Vienna. Many parents expressly forbid the drink and would have gladly made a pot of coffee for their children just to keep them away from tea. (“Der Tee und Die Wiener” report commissioned in 1934 by the Meinl firm). It turns out there were additional uses for tea other than a hot pot of it on a winter afternoon. Tea instead may have been used more predominately as a mixer for alcoholic drinks with schnapps and maybe the rum that is also sold here at the advertised store. ( Unruly Masses: The Other Side of Fin-de-Siècle Vienna, edited by Wolfgang Maderthanser, Lutz Musner, 2008)
Just one page up in the newspaper from Ignaz Eisler’s ad is an announcement for a concert by the Grand Dame of the piano Clara Schumann on February 1st. I can only hope that the young, not yet married, Sigmund Eisler was in the audience.
And speaking of Clara Schumann, her grandson Ferdinand is the avatar character in the charming online interactive game called “Brahms in 1890’s Vienna” found here http://www.classicalkusc.org/kids/brahms/index.asp (it needs Flash to go, so if you are reading on an iPad, move to another device). Help Ferdinand collect musicians along the famous Ringstrasse, fix Brahms’ piano and other games. It is a bit of fun for kids and adults alike.
- Brahms: Violin Concerto; Clara Schumann: Three Romances – review (guardian.co.uk)