Hello fellow pianist friends,
Last week from the 12th of May to the 20th of May I had the incredible privilege to travel to Europe and experience briefly the cities of Munich, Salzburg, and Vienna. I can't even begin to explain what an amazing experience this was for me. It was my first time abroad, and we had a fantastic tour director, too who I became friends with throughout the trip. I loved Munich, but most impressive to me by far were Salzburg and Vienna. They are the two music cities as we all know, and going there really put everything in perspective for me. Here in America classical music appreciators are few-and-far-between, at least where I live; but in these cities the understanding and appreciation for the music just radiates from everyone walking down the street. It's an amazing culture over there. For fun and tradition's sake I went to see a Marionette show of The Magic Flute, and the hall was FILLED with kids (and adults alike). The performance was incredibly well-received (obviously, incredibly well-done also)—even better received than classical performances I’ve attended in America. I saw about ten people in Salzburg walking around with Violin cases – even young people.
Vienna was to die for. The culture is so profound in that city. There is definitely a reason it is called the classical music capitol of the world. I will never look at a Waltz the same way again. Our tour director told us the stories of the Vienna Woods (doubtlessly what Strauss was illustrating); about how in Vienna, the people were very refined and proper. But, one can’t be this way all the time without going crazy. So, on the weekends, all the high class would ride their carriages into the thick Vienna Woods, and escape into the little Wine villages of the peasants. Of course, this was very unbecoming of them, so they would hide their carriages behind the trees, and then dress up as farmers and peasants, and turn into common people for the weekend. Then they’d go into the little wine villages and ‘enjoy life.’ But once the weekend was over, they would find their hidden carriages and turn back into the aristocracy, go back into Vienna, and live properly and elegantly as before.
That kind of story is so romantic for me – the whole idea of ‘changing faces’ for a time, though returning to normal after a bit. It’s a similar concept to me as that of Brigadoon the disappearing city. In any case, we got to experience this as one of our additional excursions. We were driven into the little wine village of Grinzing, where they grow the grapes right next to their houses, and we experienced a traditional style meal. We went into a house that had been converted to a pub, and the family who was traditionally dressed served us a family-style meal of schnitzel and pork and sauerkraut, along with fresh wine. Musicians played traditional waltzes for us, and after a little while we were given time to get up and dance—waltz—around the pub (after everyone had had a few glasses of wine) to the music. This was just an incredible feeling/experience to me, and made me really realize what waltzes are about.
Many other things happened as well, but I won’t bother you all with the details. Thank you for reading this far! I feel like this was such an important experience for me as a musician, and that I have come home a changed person, for the better. I feel like my understanding of music is richer, and that now I am more cultured and worldly. This will be something I remember my WHOLE life, and will apply to everything I do.
Anyone else had cultural experiences like this that were profound enough to change their understanding of music? Please tell!!