Jun 18 2009

Music of Leipzig

by at 9:41 pm

I have made it to Leipzig with Nora.  She has a flexible schedule at her conservatory in Leipzig, so she actually met me in Dresden.  We went together to see La Nozze di Figaro in the Opera House for the student rush price of 10 Euros for 3rd row, center-right seats!  It was really good, unlike the Rake’s Progress in Milan.  Only problem was that the supratitles were in German…

I actually discovered that what I had yet to see at the time of my last post was in much better shape than what I’d already seen.  The Altstadt, which was razed during WWII, has actually been beautifully restored.  There are many gleaming monumental buildlings, with some re-used blackened stones from their previous incarnations.  And we found a really good bagel cafe, which I visited no less than 3 times.  I never actually went into any of the museums in Dresden, as the piles of goodies that they supposedly have in store seemed less than enticing, but my overall evaluation of Dresden comes out above where it did on rainy Tuesday morning.

Seth is now in Paris, and both of his talks have been talked!  He tells me that they went well.  He knows this because people paid enough attention and were interested in enough that they asked him good questions and stopped to talk to him after his presentation.

I walked around the center of Leipzig today, which is entirely pedestrian, yet still the heart of the city.  It is very well restored as well, filled with shops and restaurants and historic buildings, all packed into a small area.  This was a cultural, particularly literary and musical center, and the likes of Goethe, Bach, Schumann, and F Mendelssohn created art there.  I took myself on the Lonely Planet suggested walking tour, ate bagels and cake with Nora, and then we went to see an organ concert in the church (Thomaskirche) for which Bach worked in his later years, played on the organ on which he tested out his music.  I happened to have arrived in Leipzig for its annual June Bach festival, which features several concerts a day for two weeks of Bach’s or his contemporaries’ works performed by people who come from all over, as well as Bach’s rotund, bewigged self glaring out at the crowds from banners hung all over the city.  Nora and I thought the organ at this particular concert sounded a little out of tune, but clear at least.  Most of the audience slept through the concert, and with a tradition of no clapping between songs at organ concerts in Germany, they faced no rude awakenings.

Things I have learned about Germans/Germany:

  • It is not Switzerland.  Not at all.  For one, the announcements on public transport are different, and, also, there are no Migros or Coops to be seen.  Oh, also, it is affordable.  That is a big difference.
  • Currywurst has far more to do with  wurst (sausage) than curry.  Too bad that the ubiquitous curry potential has been wasted on meat.
  • Germans make amazing cakes (real cakes, realer than American cakes, and not those silly French pastries and tartes) and they eat huge slices in the afternoon with coffee.  When I am in Germany, so do I.  If they do not eat cake, they consume large ice cream sundaes or strudels.  Strudels are a real food item, btw, not a myth.
  • There are bagels and hearty, dark breads available everywhere.
  • German strawberries are bigger and lighter than Swiss strawberries.
  • The German language never ceases to be hilarious when read with Anglophone eyes.  Fahrt: need I say more?
  • Nora’s roommates are German, so they logically invented a sophisticated shared cleaning system so that their apt theoretically would stay gleaming.  Only they don’t actually stick to it, and Nora does way more than her fair share of the housework.
  • Ticket machines are in the stations themselves, not on the platforms.  This learning comes courtesy trying to catch a train, about to catch said train, not able to find a ticket machine handy, then watching the train pull away without us.
  • Germans don’t drink anything at lunch, though beers go with dinner.  Also, they never drink tap water, even less so than in every other European country I’ve been to.
  • One needs to carry large amounts of pocket change.  I’m not sure why, but this is the only place I’ve ever been where I keep discovering my change pocket is empty, instead of overflowing as usual.
  • There is no gmail in Germany, only google mail.
  • Eis can mean either ice or ice cream.  What do you think I got when I ordered an eis kaffee?

4 responses so far

4 Responses to “Music of Leipzig”

  1. christineon 21 Jun 2009 at 6:44 am

    Oh my god I’m jealous you are there for the Bach festival – I LOVE Bach! Leipzig sounds amazing. And yes, German does sound hilarious, I remember giggling uncontrollably at the “Wolfahrt” violin exercise book when I was little… It is very strange for me to be living here in Finland because I am so used to being immersed in classical music and I haven’t even touched an instrument in over a month. There is a local conservatory and a “big” opera festival at Savonlinna next month that my friends and I will check out, but I am not versed in opera (plus it is super expensive, 30euro for the cheapest seats, over 200 for the best ones – it’s opera, go figure). Plus it will probably be Italian/German/not English with Finnish subtitles, so I’ll be even more confused when the fat lady sings… They said Finland is not really European and it totally shows in the music scene. Metal and Russian-sounding Finnish karaoke have been the only music I’ve heard that wasn’t from my or a housemate’s iPod!! >.<

  2. Anna-oon 22 Jun 2009 at 1:12 am

    You neglected to mention (or perhaps I neglected to see somewhere way-back-when in your posts)… who is Nora?

  3. Jackieon 22 Jun 2009 at 8:41 am

    Hmm, well I suppose I often mention friends that come through, but don’t use their last names and just assume whoever knows them, knows them, and if not, now you know something small about them. Nora is a friend from Harvard who is hoping to be a solo concert pianist, and she is studying piano in Leipzig. See photos of her/us on flickr!

  4. […] never heard of this city?  That’s because we generally refer to it as Vienna.  But, as we have learned, Anglophone-eyed German never gets old.  Although Jeremy A-D, our fellow traveler and resident […]

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