And because this week I’ll be hooking up with my German pals for a virtual celebration of Beethoven, this being the 250th anniversary of his birth, I give you the classics.
Ear, ear Beethoven
Beethoven, Teplice, Czech Republic: And you’d expect to see Ludwig in this wellness town back in the 18th Century.
Because Bohemia was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Vienna and Prague were musical centres where Germans flocked to.
And he got treatment for his ears, tried out some funky horns and left his death mask.
We also tried out the titular cafe, and the hot chocolate and chocolate cake for research purposes. An empty piano awaited the maestro.
If Beethoven had written a Fur Katarina I’d point you to that in celebration of our host and my pal, but we have the equally enchanting Elise, so here’s Fur Elise.
Rock me Amadeus
Eine Kleine Sadie Music
Mozart, Salzburg, Austria: And, yes, the Austrian singer Falco toasted Mozart with this hit.
A Wiener, he was what Mozart wanted to be, though almost certainly not in musical terms, but certainly in his origins.
Wolfgang was no fan of his home place, Salzburg, which he thought had a small-town attitude.
High standards. We loved it on out ski trip to Soll (it is a Sound if Music Mecca too).
Although the museums are too spread out, you do get right under Wolfie’s skin ;and hair). Here’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, pretty much the only German I know.
The Dragon, Constsnce and Bandanaman in Venice
Vivaldi, Padova/Veneto: And for many, particularly the Eighties generation, punk violinist Nigel Kennedy, and his rendition of Four Seasons, was it for classical music.
I don’t know if Kieran ‘The Dragon’ who was in our party in Padova was an aficionado but he took casual chic to a new level.
I take some responsibility as I’d wheeled him and fellow Venice newbie Constance out to Lagoon City.
We were back late but had each taken a change of clothes while Dragon was still in his boardies.
While the orchestra were kitted out and the waiters and waitresses too in the sumptuous Padova Botanical Gardens.
Anyhoo, here’s an excerpt of L’Autunno from Il Quattro Stagione.
Puccini, Prague: And long before rockers namechecked cities, the Classical composers were doing it.
Whisper it, the opera is set in Paris, the Bohemian bit is the fun label attached to what are modern-day Czechs.
And so, for me, the ideal place to watch Giacomo Puccini’s Classic is the State Opera in Prague.
Everybody loves to party in Prague, monks in the Strahov Monastery Brewery and priests swigging Champagne during the intermission at the State Opera.
Handel with care
Handel Dublin: And George Handel chose Dublin, the second city of the Empire, because he felt the London audiences had started to take him for granted.
No shrinking violet George, there was a statue to him erected in Dublin while he was still alive.
The premiere was packed and ladies were asked not to wear hooped dresses so as to allow more in.
That show was performed at the Musick Hall in Fishamble Street. Now you’ll want to go to Christchurch Cathedral for your opera fix.
But not the place for a cat or a mouse whose mummified remains are on display in the cathedral’s crypt…. they’d got stuck in the organ.
It’s immortalised in James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake.
Anyhoos Christ Church Cathedral puts on recitals and thanks to my friends at Travel Department we channeled old Handel one balmy evening.