Friday, February 1, 2013

I forgot to mention in the last blog post how I thought it was odd that the Vienna Philharmonic outside stand players turned pages instead of the inside players as usual. At all of the other performances we went to the inside players turned pages.
After seeing many famous composers graves we went to see the Barber of Seville. This particular production was set in a more modern time. I have never seen the original version so I can't compare the two settings. The soprano Rosina had a beautiful voice. The whole opera was quite debauch but humorous. The next morning we went to the Haus Der Musik. There was a part of the museum where you could conduct a virtual orchestra. While I was conducting this group of school children came in and had me conduct a song for them. It was very difficult because the sensor didn't pick up the beats correctly. There were many rooms that had interesting information ad artifacts for famous composers. I especially enjoyed that when I walked into Beethoven's section, the second movement of his seventh symphony was playing. It is one of my favorite musical pieces. There was also a violin from Strauss' time which was absolutely beautiful. At one part there was a case with many famous conductors baton. That night we saw the Szymanowskil string quarter perform in the Mozartsaal. All the members of the quarter were so in tune with each other. I have never seen a quartet play so well. The Szymanowski is a very difficult piece, and they made it look effortless. There was a point at which the first violinist was playing parallel fifth false harmonics. I normally don't like modern pieces but I really enjoyed the overtones in the piece. I am a big fan of Dvorak and absolutely loved their interpretation of it. The first violinist was extremely good, not that the others weren't good. He had a unique bow hold though. I am not sure how he could play so well with his bow hold.

On the way to Bratislava, Slovakia we stopped at Esterhazy palace. We got to see Haydn's mausoleum where his two heads are. He is the only composer to have a mausoleum. That night in Bratislava we went to Reduta Hall to see the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra perform. They performed Saegusa's Requiem for Earthquake Disaster, Mozart's fifth violin concerto, Berlioz' Symphonie Fantastique. The violinist who performed the violin concerto was very good, but I did not necessarily like the way he performed the piece. He is from Hungary an he played less light than Mozart is usually played. The second movement was absolutely beautiful though. The next day we got a walking tour of Bratislava. It is such a cute little city, if you can even call it city. It was nice to finally stay in a hotel, and a very nice one at that. We went to see the opera Krutnava by the Slovak composer Suchon. Not knowing much about the composer I didn't know what to expect of the opera, but I ended up really liking it. It had an emotional plot line, the performers were talented, and it was only two hours. That pretty much ended our musical tour in Bratislava. On Sunday we went to a Catholic Mass in the town. The people there were very nice, and the organist was talented, but the church choir was out of tune at times. I enjoyed it none the less, even though it was really cold in the church. Later that day I went with some of the other girls in the class to get a fish pedicure. The fish ate dead skin off of our feet. It was so tickly at first, but my feet felt amazing after wards. I then went ice skating, in Europe!

On the way to Prague we stopped in a small town in the Czech Republic that dates back to the renaissance era. It looked like a movie set it was so perfect and cute. In Prague we went on a walking tour in the old town. St. Vitus Cathedral is no doubt the most beautiful piece of architecture I saw on the trip. The original part of the cathedral was built in the thirteenth century and has a gothic style. More was added to the cathedral later and was built in the gothic style as well. We got to see the changing of the guards where the president works on the hill up by the cathedral. Then we walked to the Charles bridge which is the oldest bridge in Prague. It also dates back to the thirteenth century. It was an experience of a lifetime to have walked over the Vltava river on an 800 year old bridge. In one of the main squares there is a clock that is 602 years old and still works. That night we attended a piano recital that was played on an 18th century piano-forte. The performers played beautifully. Although I enjoyed every opera we went to, I liked Madame Butterfly the best. It is so sad and the performers were amazing musicians. I don't cry often, but I teared up at the end. I also teared up the next day when we toured the Jewish quarter. In a synagogue there are 80,000 names of Czech Jewish men, women, and children who were killed in world war two. In the upper part of the synagogue there were art works by Jewish children during this time. Out of the ten thousand that did art during this time, only 200 survived. Some of the art pieces are graphic and sad. No child should have to experience that. That night we went on a dinner cruise on the Vltava river. I absolutely loved that they played Smetena's Moldau while we cruised down that very river. On the last night we attended a folk dinner were there was traditional Czech dancing and folk music. There was a trio with a dulcimer, a violin, and a bass.

I had the time of my life on this trip learning about western musical culture where the music itself was composed and premiered. Thank you to everyone on the trip for making it so enjoyable as well!

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