May 14 2010
On the Deutsche Bahn train from Basel to Bad Säckingen, I learned that wicking underwear is all the rage amongst a significant number of the orchestra members. Principal Tuba Craig Knox explained the washday properties of Purex vs. Woolite on tour. Purex is preferred for its concentrated sudsing action. It seems that at least one brass player has learned how to survive a three week tour with two pairs of wicking underwear, which is praised for its quick drying properties making it possible to wash out your garments in the sink every other night. The hotel in Basel earns high marks for having a heated towel bar making the drying process even speedier. Kohl’s sells wicking underwear as comfortable as REI’s at a more reasonable price. You heard it here first.
Our quartet bound for the Trompeten Museum in Bad Säckingen included Chad Winkler and Neal Berntsen from the trumpet section, and Principal Tuba Knox. Chad Winkler had worked out directions and details with Swiss precision. The train station ticket lady sold us our tickets with an amused air and the train left precisely on time.
Brass talk on the journey included a discussion of mutes and the majesty of Craig Knox’s tuba mute which has it’s own case. Craig was praised for his balletic onstage insertion of the mute during appropriate passages. His colleagues insist that even with the mute in the tuba sounds exactly the same. Neal Berntsen likes a ssshhhmute brand mute from New Zealand for his trumpet– making practice on sleepless nights possible at 3:00 am in a hotel room.
We stopped for double espresso at the Heinitz Konditerei-Cafe in Bad Säckingen. The waitress spoke little English, so she summoned a helper. The Erdbeeren raspberry torte was my first terrible indulgence. It was a little odd that just a few miles over the border and on the second tour day we had to switch from Swiss francs to Euros.
The Bad Säckingen tourismus office sold me a CD of trumpet music and a recording of the opera Der Trompeter von Säckingen with its love story of Werner and Margarethe inspired by a 300 year-old legend captured 156 years ago by poet Victor von Scheffel. Werner and his love from above his social station lived in what became the trumpet city. The city opened its Trumpet Museum helped along by renowned American trumpeter Edward Tarr who studied in nearby Basel after working with the Boston Symphony’s Roger Voisin and the Chicago Symphony’s Adolf Herseth.
Edward Tarr opened the museum for a private tour. There you can see ancient signal trumpets, hunting horns, cornets, postcards, documents, every sort of trumpet you can imagine and many you couldn’t, posters, trumpets used by Louis Armstrong, Timofey Dokschutzer, Adolf Scherbaum, Edward Seifert and Willy Brandt, trumpets crossed with saxophones, Gottfried Reiche’s trumpet for the Bach Second Brandenburg Concerto, Aïda trumpets and every sort of valved trumpet and mouthpiece under the sun.
The museum is found in a castle with fountains, lush manicured lawns, and gardens surrounding a fountain whose water spritzes from a trumpet player.
In jeans and silk neck scarf, Edward Tarr was the perfect tour guide – hitting high notes with stories of his trumpet adventures and his experience playing Bach for Lorin Maazel in the Rome Radio Orchestra. He’s made over 100 recordings with the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis and the Edward Tarr Brass Eensemble.
After a look at the 1751 covered bridge and a gyro-like Doner Kebap it was back on the train with stops in Schwort, Rheinfelden-Baden and Grenzach. Our neighbor on the train asked us in German if we’d mind helping her carry her newly purchased bicycle (fur meine Tochter gekauft) from Track 1 to Track 10 when we got to the station. Craig Knox toted the wheels down one set of stairs and up another and the journey was at an end.
At 11:00 pm in the hotel lobby, I ran into President and CEO Larry Tamburri and his son Jack just arriving from their flight over. Today orchestra members practiced, bought socks, and visited Museums of which there are many.
Tomorrow my plan is to hit the flea market to look for used records in the Stephensplatz Bider & Tanner CD shop, and visit the Tingueley Museum, a favorite of Anne Sophie Mutter who plays the Brahms Concerto tomorrow night to get the tour underway.