May 24 2010
Now 804 years old, the city of Dresden was every bit as thrilling as Prague. We had bright sunshine and a few hours to look around before a rehearsal of Schumann’s Cello Concerto with Jan Vogler. Vogler is the Intendant, or director, of the festival. After his encore of solo Bach, he sat for the second half in the Royal Box on the first balcony level. The Pittsburgh Symphony had an enthusiastic standing ovation and gave three encores: The Dragonfly by Johann Strauss, the Rosenkavalier final waltz, and the Brahms Hungarian Dance No. 5. Some applause at the end of the first movement of the Mahler First suggested a number of tourists may have been in the audience, but shouting at the end of the music made you think, “Sie lieben Pittsburgh!” After the concert, I ran over to the broadcast truck for Deutschlandfunk. Isobel Roth, the Sprecher (announcer), told me that the concert will go out Monday night (May 24, 2010) on Deutschlandfunk across Germany, and will be repeated on Wednesday on MDR.
She said she loved the concert, and was impressed at the chemistry between Manfred and the Pittsburgh. She knew Manfred well, having interviewed him in the afternoon and broadcast his concerts with the MDR Radio Orchestra, where she thought there had been less chemistry. She praised the Schumann, but suggested she had heard some performances with more personality.
I attempted a look at the rebuilt Church of Our Lady, which reopened with a concert led by Lorin Maazel in 2006, but the church was closed for a few hours until 8:00 pm. A group called Eva was having a youth conference for peace, in the spirit of the Peace Corps, in front of the Frauenkirche. They all wore yellow T-shirts and enjoyed a wurst from an outdoor stand. It’s an outdoor city, with cafés all around. They’re especially lovely on the Elbe River. On the steps of the Brühlscher Terasse, I tasted a Feldschlösschen Pils, and spent a few minutes watching people about to go on a boat tour. The excursion boats toot their throaty whistles as they set sail. Surely Pittsburgh can steal some of the riverfront energy from Dresden.
I made a quick run through the Zwinger Museum and its enormous collection of old masters. At the entrance, you are presented with a rather elaborate list of the rules of conduct in English and German. I noticed the same at the Frauenkirche if you wanted to climb up to the cupola. Thanks to my German grandfather, Reverend Ortner, I think some German stereotypes are fun. And here was the German suggestion of “Alles in Ordnung.”
I ran into Principal Bassoonist Nancy Goeres and Principal Clarinetist Michael Rusinek at the Zwinger. Michael told me not to miss the Vermeer painting of a young woman reading a letter at an open window. What is in the letter? Her expression suggests she is happy to get it. Then there was Tiepolo, Canaletto, and a room of Rubens and Cranach, known for his famous portrait of Martin Luther. Luther stands as a statue in front of the Frauenkirche, too. Statuary is grand in the wunderbar courtyard of the Zwinger with fountains spraying.
At the Zwinger café, I tried the Dresden cheese pastry called the Dresdner Eierscheke. Their copy of Der Spiegel for May 22 had Die Beatles on the cover. “50 Jahre!” Dresden’s daily newspaper, the Sachsische Zeitung, had an interesting article on NY State Senator Eric Adams, and his efforts to stop the American youth habit of wearing their pants hanging below their bottoms with their underwear hanging out. It’s an assault on “sagging” pants. “Zieh Deine Hosen Hoch!” Pull your pants up! That’s the news from Deutschland.
In thirty minutes, we’re off to Vienna.