Cologne Philharmonie Finale

Published by on September 05, 2022

The Philharmonie

The end of the road with 11 concerts for Manfred Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony in three countries arrived after a bus ride from Wiesbaden to Cologne. the hall hosts hundreds of events each year.

Pittsburgh on stage in Cologne

Anne Sophie Mutter marked the 45th anniversary of her work with Herbert von Karajan including the Beethoven Concerto she recorded for DG. She spoke about her latest recording of Clara Schumann in an interview backstage. First she said how much she enjoyed touring with Manfred and the orchestra. She said it’s been a great summer for growing apricots to make marmalade even with a drought.

Live Orchestra with film favorite

During intermission long lines waited to buy a glass of Taitinger champagne 23 Euros!

Next door to the Philharmonie

I jumped out of the bus to visit Cologne resident and Chatham University grad Robin Meloy Goldsby the daughter of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood drummer Bobby Rawsthorne. Robin plays every day at the elegant Excelsior Ernst Hotel.

Manfred Honeck Rhian Kenny Robin Goldsby Jim C Jeremy Brandon

Manfred Honeck was in the lobby for a meeting.

Philharmonie Pittsburgh fans

The audience roared with delight after hearing Anne Sophie Mutter play Beethoven and her Bach encore plus Tchaikovsky’s Fifth and two encores.

Manfred Honeck with Anne Sophie Mutter
Cheers and Standing Ovation for Pittsburgh
Cellist Will Chow Principal Anne Martindale Williams Jim Cunningham at Cologne Cathedral
Tourists and prayers during 6pm Mass in Cologne Cathedral Sunday evening
Cologne Cathedral
Post concert cathedral scene in Cologne
On the high speed ICE train from Cologne to Frankfurt Flughafen

Wiesbaden Kurhaus

Published by on September 04, 2022

Anne Sophie Mutter In Wiesbaden

The former spa town with its thermal Springs has a history dating back to Roman times. The Rheingau Music Festival presents hundreds of events in multiple venues. Anne Sophie Mutter was a smash hit with the Pittsburgh Symphony and Manfred Honeck playing Beethoven and a. Bach encore.

Wiesbaden music lovers

Gretchen van Hoesen heard cheers for her harp in the Tchaikovsky Sleeping Beauty Panorama after the Fifth Symphony.

Wiesbaden Kurhaus
Kurhaus Exterior
Kloster Eberbach

In the same evening that the Pittsburgh Symphony played downtown the Gustaf Mahler youth orchestra gave a concert in the cloister where monks created riesling from the nearby vineyards.

The Monks sleeping area
Rheingau vineyard
Principal clarinet Michael Rusinek and principal bassoon Nancy Goeres

Michael Rusinek was heard in the Khachaturian Galop from Masquerade encore which he creates for each stop referencing the sound of music for Austria and in Wiesbaden a bit of the Tchaikovsky feet theme and a Ukraine Melody.

Anne Sophie Mutter Manfred Honeck and Mark Huggins at the Andechser Raatskeller Wiesbaden

Manfred Honeck invited the orchestra to dinner after the Wiesbaden concert in the Andechser Ratskeller with a buffet of German favorites, red sauerkraut, pork roast, salad, pasta, apfelstrudel, rote grutze, chocolate ice cream and more. Mark Huggins was coaxed to the microphone to accept the cheers of his colleagues for 35 years as Associate Concertmaster many of them spent in the first chair. Anne Sophie Mutter told everyone she was inspired by the plahying and spirit of the Pittsburgh Symphony. She ran to be first in line at the dessert buffet.

Violinist Karen with percussionist Shawn Galvin

At breakfast I spoke with Pittsburghers Karen Strittmatter and Shawn Galvin who live in Raleigh North Carolina where they play in the orchestra when they are not in Pittsburgh. Violinist Karen and her sisters played as Musical Kids in the WQED-FM studio a few years ago and Mom Jane Strittmatter arranged Appalachian Spring for the family ensemble. They made a Christmas cd which still turns up during the holidays now and then. Shawn has played so often with the Pittsburgh Symphony as tympanist and percussionist since 1996 many assume he is always there. He studied at Duquesne University with Andrew Reamer and Stanley Leonard. Shawn is related to WQED’s Kathy Joll who enters every check in to the system. Shawn’s Dad’s sister Eileen is married to Jeff Joll. Kathy is always in the building at 7am before everyone else and I could not ask for a better colleague. WQED could not function without Kathy and there is a most interesting karma that runs through the entire Galvin Strittmatter Joll clan. I would describe this spiritual force as super talented, kind, and cheerful.

Cellist Aron Zelkowicz

Yesterday evening I interviewed Aaron Zelkowicz about his family pilgrimage a train ride away from Wiesbaden where his great grand father owned a home and business that was taken by the Nazis during the Second World War. Aron’s Dad Isaias played viola in the Pittsburgh Symphony for 35 years and Mom Joan is still in the Pittsburgh Opera and Ballet Orchestras while serving as Chief of the Pittsburgh Concert Society. Aaron’s Dad was interned at Dachau but managed to get to the US and Chicago. Listen to his interview for the fascinating story. All the tour interviews in podcasts are available at Search for the tour graphic with the Red Baron plane. Don;t miss the camera icon for the complete library of tour photos in chronological order.

Dresden Kulturpalast

Published by on September 04, 2022

The East German secret police, the Stasi, had a file on cellist Jan Vogler the director of the festival who still enjoys a big career playing and recording. He was a suspicious character because he traveled to the US to study at Juilliard. Jan has seen the file which isn’t very interesting. He was very excited to have Manfred Honeck and the Pittsburgh back for their Kulturpalast debut. Last time they played the Semperoper which has amazing history as the site of Richard Strauss premieres and is architecturally splendid but is not especially warm for the orchestra acoustic.

Cellist and Dresden Festival Director Jan Vogler with the Frauenkirche behind

The Kulturpalast was the site of the Communist GDR party meetings and a concert hall until the wall fell. Just a few years ago it was redesigned as a concert hall which looks a little like Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie with terraced balconies. Inside and out the socialist art proclaiming the strength of the people remains. It sounds great.

Kulturpalast Dresden Germany
Mural at the bar on the upper level of the Kulturpalast

Pianist Helene Grimaud with the Ravel Concerto bringing along her own piano and encore was always an audience favorite in her concerts with the Pittsburgh Symphony on the Festivals tour.

Helene Graimaud with flowers at the Kulturpalast
Upper balconies at the Kulturpalast Dresden GErmany

In the balcony was the Chief Music Critic of the New York TImes Zachary Woolfe who is wiring from Berlin this week. He also planned to hear the Cleveland Orchestra. Philadelphia with Yannick Nezet Seguin arrived the morning of the Pittsburgh Symphony departure for their Dresden Concert. Zachary said he though the Pittsburgh Symphony was “wonderful”.

Zachary Woolfe Chief Classical Music Critic for the New York Times in Dresden

The East German traffic signals with the Ampelmann still helping pedestrians get across the street to the Altmarkt. Some parts of Germany have added more inclusive traffic signals since the Ampelmann generally wears a hat and is thought to be male but the signals remain on tourist souvenirs.

Ampelmann traffic signal Dresden
Watch out for the trolley to your left

Lorin Maazel conducted the New York Philharmonic at the Frauenkirche the Church of Our Lady after it’s restoration from the rubble after World War II. It is impossible to imagine the horror of the nights of firestorm bombing which has been detailed by Stephen Mackey in his recent book The Fire and The Darkness.

Frauenkirche Dresden

The restored Frauenkirche interior is bright and inspiring

Altar at the Frauenkirche

The statue of Martin Luther is a must for the grandson of a Lutheran minister from the Alsace and the graduate of Thiel College an institution which was founded by a Lutheran minister William Passavant and named for benefactors Louis and Barbara Thiel, German immigrants who settled in Pittsburgh. In addition to being a tour sponsor Thiel has a terrific free concert series, the Con Spirito Concerts. The next event is September 15 2022 with the Fischoff Award winning Mixed Media Saxophone Quartet. The concerts are all free.

Martin Luther Statue in front of the Frauenkirche Dresden

Dresden’s Semperoper where Richard Strauss first heard eight of his operas including Salome, Der Rosenkavalier and Elektra Wagner premieres here included Rienzi ,Tannhauser and The Flying Dutchman. The Semper too was a pile of burned stones at the end of WWII but you’d never know looking at the restoration today.

Semperoper Dresden Germany designed by Gottfried Semper

Just around the corner from the Hilton Hotel is the block long procession of the princes of Fuerstenzug being lead by Augustus the Strong and telling the entire history of Dresden.

Augustus the Strong mural Dreesden Germany

Salzburg and Pittsburgh

Published by on September 03, 2022

Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel attended the Festival several days this summer among the glittering guests that gaze at the Fortress on the hill behind the complex of concert halls including the Felsenreitschule used mostly for opera where Julie Andrews sang in the Sound of Music. Before music one must have schnitzel. A lunch at the oldest restaurant in Europe from 803, St Peter’s Stiftskeller right next to the cathedral. By coincidence Manfred Horneck was lunching with wife Christiana his sister Elfi and Brother in Law Florian Partl.

Salzburg Fortress
On the way to St. Peter’s Stiftskeller
Christiane Honeck Florian Partl, Elfi at the Stiftskeller

Franz Joseph Haydn’s brother Michael lived at the Stiftskeller for several years in the apartment upstairs now a banquet room with a plaque in his memory.

Brother Michael’s room at the St Peter Cathedral in Salzburg

For the final concert of the 2022 festival the Pittsburgh Symphony invited Anne Sophie Mutter to play the Beethoven Concerto. Mahler’s First Symphony glittered too with Austria’s native son Manfred Honeck at the podium.

Anne Sophie Mutter and Manfred Honeck at the Grossesfestspielhaus Salzburg

The audience glitters. Even the men with rhinestone lapels.

Salzburg Festival final concert audience

During intermission the audience heads outside for fresh air

Behind he concert hall during intermission with fortress on the hill

The acoustician for the large concert hall at Salzburg was Heinrich Keilholz who also did the 1972 renovation of Heinz Hall. Keilholz started his career as an engineer for Deutsche Grammophon records before working in concert hall acoustical design.

Heinrich Keilhold acoustical panels for the Grossesfestspielhaus Salzburg Austria
Heinz Hall stage about 1976 with Keilholz panels

The Artistic Director of the Salzburg Festival Florian Wiegand has a degree from CMU where he was part of the arts management program with Dan Martin and spent some time working with the Pittsburgh Symphony.

CMU grad Florian Wiegand now serves as Artistic Director for the Salzburg Festival

The gift shop at the Salzburg Festival features lots of cds and DVDs, wine, pencils, books and postcards. You can buy a Dietrich Fischer Dieskau card or a Manfred Honeck card as Principal Perccussionist Andrew Reamer discovered.

Principal Percussionist Andrew Reamer displays the Manfred Honeck postcard

Mozart is still big business in Salzburg. His kugeln candy is everywhere with the airport offering the most extensive variety. The Pa. State store system will order the chocolate liquor for you. I have a bottle in the basement I bought a few decades back. The Maenner cookies are found at Nicholas Coffee in Market Square but not the big one.

Salzburg airport Mozart liquor
The big Manner cookie at Salzburg airport

Essen Germany Rhineland Steel Town

Published by on August 30, 2022

Essen is much like Pittsburgh as a major source of energy for the country with a long mining and steel making tradition. Two major energy producers are located here. There are several museums devoted to coal and steel, one with a world heritage site designation. Many member od the Pittsburgh Symphony went to investigate on their day off in town. E flat clarinet Victoria Luperi made a pilgrimage and invited me along to tour the Gruga Park Tuesday morning which is enormous with rose gardens, dahlias, fountains’, a train, restaurant, and a mountain lion that looks a little like WVU or the Nittany Lion of Penn State. Victoria introduced her nephews Mateo and Ticiano who are part of a musical family. Mom and Dad Virginia Luperi and Andreas Laheide are church musicians in Montabaur about 90 minutes away Andreas is the organist at St. Peter Catholic Church in Montabaur. These nephews could not have been better tour guides and they have the warmest kindest hearts. They’re not stealing hubcaps let me tell you. Victoria is married to Andres Franco the Director of the City of Asylum on the North side and he was at Chautauqua for the tragic stabbing of Salman Rushdie where Founder of the organization Henry Reese was about to interview Mr. Rushdie who continues to improve.

PSO E flat Clarinet Victoria Luperi with nephews Ticiano and Mateo in Gruga Park
Rose Garden Gruga Park Essen Germany

There is an unusual meditation wall with water cascading gown vegetation for contemplation

Meditation Wall at Gruga Park

I took a taxi to the Villa Hugel which is the former home of the Krupp family which fueled the German economy and the war machine with steel making until the end of WWII. The palace is open to tour and hosts a concert series but not on Mondays. The guard told me it was absolutely impossible to take a photo of the exterior of the house. IT’s deep on a wooded valley in suburban Essen. Next time.

Villa Hugel entrance Essen Germany closed on Montag

Principal Piccolo Rhian Kenny loves the Gustav Mahler writing for her instrument in the Symphony No 1. She also loved joining an Essen rowing group where she received complements on her oar technique. The t shirt from a Canadian brewery says live is rough, the beer is smooth on the back.

PSO Principal Piccolo Rhian Kenny in Essen Germany

Trumpet Neal Berntsen is part of the offstage trumpet ensemble that adds atmosphere to the Mahler First. He said it’s a great tour. Seconding that opinion is violinist Josefina Vergara in the string section on this tour. She is the Principal of the Seconds in the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and plays the glamorous but exhausting film soundtrack recording dates which includes John Williams. She has twice worked with Paul McCartney who introduces himself shaking hands and saying “I’m Paul”.

Josefina Vergara violin and Neal Berntsen trumpet at the Essen Philharmonie

Yesterday afternoon I walked to the train station with Principal Contrabassoon Jim Rodgers to find an ATM. IT took two attempts but freshly supplied with Euros I look for a laugenstange, pretzel with kaese from Kamps. A little like Panera. Jim got in to the spirit of the steel adventure by striking a pose with the sculpture next to the Essen Bahnhof.

Laugenstange at Kamps in the Essen train station
Jim Rodgers Principal Contrabassoon at work in Essen Germany

Joining me for a live radio report with Anna Singer this morning was the Vice President of Artistic Planning Mary Persin. She is from Greenburg and has lots of family at home. We ran out of time in mentioning her husband Maestro Daniel Meyer of the Westmoreland and Erie Orchestras and son Leo who was on the tour until just two days ago as today is school is underway in Pittsburgh.

Mary Persin PSO VP Artistic Planning former member of the Biava Quartet and PYSO violist

Dusseldorf Tonhalle

Published by on August 29, 2022

The Mayor of Dusseldorf Dr. Stephan Keller at intermission told me he was delighted to have a great American orchestra in town. He joined the State Department General Consul Pauline Kao for the evening. There were 100,000 other guests enjoying Europe’s largest Gourmet Festival on the Koenigsallee but the action seemed to be at the former planetarium with Mahler’s First Symphony and the Schumann Piano Concerto played by Helene Grimaud. Dr. Keller said Dussseldorf will open a museum in the Schumann’s former home in 2023.

US Consul General Pauline Kao and Dusseldorf Mayor Dr. Stephan Keller

The Schumann’s last happy years were spent in three locations in the city. Robert was Music Director. Clara gave concerts and composed. But Robert’s depression took him to the banks of the Rhine which is now at its lowest level in years.

The Rhine River in Dusseldorf next to the Tonhalle

I walked to the Kunstakademie nearby. It is a massive brick building where the husband and wife team of Bernd and Hilla Becher began their photographic journey capturing steel mills, water towers and enormous industrial structures with a strange beauty. They traveled all the way to Braddock in their minimalist quest documenting coal mines and now are on display at the The Met in New York through Nov 6. Braddock born author LaToya Ruby Frazier captures the mood of the steel factory closings in the spirit of the Becher’s work in her book the Notion of Family written in 2014.

Kunstakademie Dusseldorf where Bernd and Hilla Becher began their work
Blast Furnace photographed by Bernd and Hilla Becher in Braddock Pa

I walked through the crowd of Gourmet Festival merry makers sipping wine and sampling restaurant favorites with dance music blaring to visit the Konditerei Heinemann which had been suggested by Erika Wehmeier of FM Angels Helge and Erika Wehmeier. It’s a favorite with a wall of famous guests including former Chancellor Angela Merkel. The champagne truffle is the thing but there are chocolate bars, cakes and fancy pastries. It’s at least as famous as Primanti’s in Pittsburgh. Dr. Keller knew of it at once when I mentioned the champagne truffle.

Konditerei Heinemann Dusseldorf landmark
Heinemann truffle favorites Dusseldorf

Jeffrey Turner former Pittsburgh Symphony Principal Bass now teaching at Indiana University and McDuffie Center for Strings is enjoying the tour before his work begins for the academic year. He is delighted to join his colleagues amidst conducting, teaching bass and doing recordings such as the Nonesuch St Paul Chamber Orchestra Mozart with Jeremy Denk.

Doublebass Jeffrey Turner at the Tonhalle Stage Door

The Tonhalle may seem a little more dry after experiencing the buoyant acoustic of the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg but it is a striking visual. Cds were for sale in the lobby which I love and lots of pretzels, Aperol spritzes and other snacks were available.

Tonhalle Dusseldorf

Manfred Honeck, Helene Grimaud and the Pittsburgh Symphony produced a mighty roar with Schumann and Mahler. The orchestra was back on the bus for the ride home to Dusseldorf where I spoke with former Pittsburgh Youth Symphony bass and Jeffrey Turner student Paul Matz who now serves as a full time member of the Buffalo Philharmonic. He has lots of family in Pittsburgh and returns often bringing high praise for Buffalo’s Joann Faletta along with his regard for Manfred Honeck.

Gary Paul Matz bass with the Buffalo Philharmonic
11pm bus ride from Dusseldorf to Essen

Elbphilharmonie Hamburg

Published by on August 28, 2022

Thomas Mann’s vast novel Magic Mountain explores the emotional character of aloof northerners with sunnier Southern Latin types but there were only warm and friendly music lovers at the beautiful Elbphilharmonie with the two concerts of the Pittsburgh Symphony on Wednesday and Thursday. The weather was perfect. It’s a challenge to describe the beauty of the water scene. Concertgoers look out huge windows and walk outside in the fresh maritime air to see boats large and small moving along the Elb. Now five years old the 866 million Euro concert palace still smells fresh and new with soaring ceilings and light wood floors. Gautier Capucon was a huge hit in the Dvorak Cello Concerto playing the Pablo Casals encore Song of the Birds as a prayer for peace and holding he silence at the end for more than a minute. Helene Grimaud’s Ravel Concerto on Wednesday was also gorgeous and both the Mahler First and Strauss Elektra Rhapsody brought two encores.

Elbphilharmonie audience for the Pittsburgh Symphony
Pre concert scene looking at the Elb

The gift shop in the hall and on ground level includes books, posters, cds and a vinyl record of the organist Iveta Alpkana who recorded Ligeti and other modernists on her debut recital with the Elbphilharmonie organ.

Blankeneser Gin in the gift shop

The Elbphilharmonie is built on top of a 1963 warehouse which now holds the parking garage and a hotel. It’s less than two miles from where the Beatles fine tuned their art in the Reeperbahn where sailors tossed bottles at the stage if they didn’t care for the covers of Chuck Berry and Love Me Do.

The sun sets on the Elb outside the window on the 12th floor of the Elbphilharmonie
Elbphilharmonie Hamburg Germany

Associate Concertmaster Mark Huggins explained in a terrific interview why he is moving to Portugal with his wife in October. We stood outside a curry wurst shop in Hamburg. I had dinner this evening at the Doner Kebap restaurant in Essen Germany. The wrapper for the falafel doner proclaims Die Welt ist Doner. You can experience the Sultan Doner just steps from Heinz Hall for a similar experience with baklava.

Associate Pittsburgh Symphony Concertmaster Mark Huggins in Hamburg GEstr a rmany

Just a few steps down the street from the Hamburg Park Hyatt Hotel is the German version of Best Buy, Saturn, but still offering a massive selection of recordings on the fourth floor after you’ve strolled through KafeeWelt and 1000 Euro DeLonghi espresso makers. At the back of the classical section there’s even a Brahms piano. The Rolling Stones 60th year is being celebrated, Bob Marley, Abba, Mariss Jansons with a 70cd set of Bavarian Radio discs and an entire table devoted to the Toten Hosen the band with the enigmatic name ‘ dead pants ‘ with more than 20 releases since 1982 The German punk band from Dusseldorf isn’t nearly as forceful as Mahler’s First with Manfred Honeck at the podium.

At the Hamburg Germany Saturn store

Stadtpark to Oberlaa Vienna

Published by on August 24, 2022

The city park right across the street from the Orchestra hotel is a great spot for a walk. You can stop at the Biergarten to try Omas Obstkuchen—that’s Grandma’s Fruit Cake or join the beer club where the 11th beer is free. There are lots of benches for contemplating the broad green lawn and a stroll past the many famous Viennese composers is essential. They often are seen on the Vienna Philharmonic New Year’s Day concert on WQED13. I joined Manfred Honeck’s brother-in-law Florian Partl for a walk. He is married to sister Elfi. She kindly brought me a jar of her home made apricot marmalade which is a specialty of the Wachau valley not far from Vienna. Johann Strauss is the most famous of the park statuary with his shiny gold which inspired some dancers yesterday.

Florian Partl at the Schubert statue in the Stadtpark Vienna
Franz Lehar composer of The Merry Widow

Franz Lehar’s granddaughter settled near Pittsburgh for a number of years working in the medical world. She endowed a Lehar scholarship at the University of Pittsburgh and knew the former Head of Music Don Franklin. I keep hoping to meet her. Please tell her to get in touch!

Anton Bruckner

The Pittsburgh Symphony and Manfred Honeck recorded the Fourth Bruckner Symphony ‘Romantic’ for Reference Reference. Former Music Director William Steinberg recorded Bruckner for Capitol and Command Classics.

At the edge of the Stadtpark, Florian Partl suggested we try the Konditerei Oberlaa, of the many coffee houses to choose from in Vienna. Oberlaa refers to the lower Austrian region where they have a few outposts.

Oberlaa Cafe in Vienna

Coffee with cream is a Wiener Melange which you see a few places in Pittsburgh such as Biddle’s Escape in Wilkinsburg. You can’t go wrong with the brightly colored macarons and the bundt cake with chocolate, the Gugelhupf. I always go for raspberries, Erdbeere.

Wiener melange

I like the addition of a small glass of water and the elegant presentation. Beats the paper cup at Starbucks, as much as I would always enjoying sharing a coffee across the street from Heinz Hall with you.

Himbeere and Gugelhupf
Oberlaa Favorites

At check out in Vienna we received a Mozart candy, the Mozart kugel. After a 90 minute Austrian Airlines flight where we heard the Blue Danube waltz, the plane taxied down the runway on to Hamburg, Germany. The Pittsburgh Symphony arrived for two concerts at the Elbphilharmonie Wednesday and Thursday, August 23 and 24 with bright blue sky sunshine.

Grafenegg Festival Twice

Published by on August 22, 2022

Grey sky moved both Saturday and Sunday concerts at the festival about an hour from Vienna in lower Austria inside, but the 1300-seat hall heard a big sound—as did the overflow crowd watching a large video screen in the old riding school next door. Gautier Capucon was terrific in the Dvorak Concerto and an encore.

Then the Tchaikovsky Fifth which Reference just recorded at the end of the season in Pittsburgh. It’s become a signature piece for the Pittsburgh Symphony with Manfred Honeck. It was followed by Tchaikovsky’s gentle Panorama from the ballet Sleeping Beauty and the Galop from Masquerade by Khachaturian. Principal Clarinet Michael Rusinek has a solo spotlight this time featuring a measure with the melancholy theme from the Fifth Symphony in his cadenza. The entire weekend was joyous.

Auditorium entrance at Grafenegg

The scene at the Grafenegg Festival is amazing with elegantly casual concertgoers lounging outside on the castle grounds or eating in the outdoor restaurant, sampling the gruner veltliner wine that Beethoven enjoyed during his Vienna days. Haydn had a standing order for a half-liter to be delivered every day. But it may have been mixed with a little water, Rudolf Buchbinder said in the interview you will find in our podcast archive. Rudolf Buchbinder says he is very much looking forward to playing all the Beethoven concertos in a rescheduled visit to Pittsburgh. He’s written a book, My Life with Beethoven, which you can buy in the Festival shop along with CDs and DVDs from the Grafenegg Festival. Buchbinder zips around with his cheerful wife of 57 years in a go kart before the music begins.

Pianist and Grafenegg Festival Founding Artistic Director Rudolf Buchbinder with Frau Agnes
Grafenegg Festival Castle Moat

Many of the music lovers at Grafenegg wear traditional Austrian dress. Some more rustic lederhosen, but most often extremely elegant trachten and dirndls. Photographer Julie Goetz and I admired a group in the lounge during intermission, but they are everywhere in their unique finery.

Elegant Austrian concert goers at intermission Saturday night in the Grafenegg lounge. Photo by Julie Goetz.

It’s been fun to record interviews with new principals in the orchestra. Be sure to listen for them in the archive. This morning it was Jim Benoit Principal Tympanist who has arrived from the Seattle Symphony with earlier work in Pittsburgh at Duquesne and the University of Pittsburgh and Nick Myers the new Principal Doublebass.

Nick Myers Principal Doublebass
Jim Benoit Principal Tympanist

Manfred Honeck had mentioned in his visit to WQED-FM before the tour that the biggest personal thrill of the trip would be having his grandchildren seeing their Grandpa conduct. One grandchild made his podium debut after the Sunday rehearsal.

Manfred Honeck with grandson at the Auditorium after rehearsal on Sunday at Grafenegg. Photo by Julie Goetz.


Published by on August 20, 2022

Vienna State Opera with construction scaffolding

After a five hour bus ride from Ljjubljana to Vienna, I joined Ellen Chen Livingston and Jennifer Orchard, violins and Mikhail Istomin cello to check out the apple strudel at the Cafe Diglas. It is certainly one of the best in business since 1875. Because Ellen Chen’s husband, Garnet, is a chef who operates the fine dining service La Maison, expectations were high. There was no disappointment. We walked around the center of the city along the Kartnerstrasse, past the Stephansdom, to the Mozart Haus and over to the State Opera which is undergoing renovation. It’s a surprise to see Coca Cola on the side of the building where Gustave Mahler and Lorin Maazel served as directors, but it’s temporary. Who knows how long the Stop War banner will fly alongside St. Steven’s Cathedral.

In a shop selling souvenirs there was a caricature of Vladimir Putin.

Vladimir Putin with balloon attached in the Vienna souvenir shop
Mikhail Istomin, Jim Cunningham, Ellen Chen Livingston and Jennifer Orchard

It was terrific to meet the new concertmaster of the Pittsburgh Symphony, David McCarroll, who makes his debut as the leader of the Pittsburgh Symphony. He had played with the orchestra going back to 2016 and the Bach St John Passion at Heinz Hall. He’s from Santa Rosa, California. Trained at the Menuhin School in England and recently appeared often with the Vienna Piano Trio. He’s looking forward to the move from his home in Berlin to Pittsburgh. He wants to make certain Mrs. McCarroll and family like Squirrel Hill before choosing an address.

Pittsburgh Symphony Concertmaster David McCarroll at the Johann Strauss statue in Vienna’s Stadtpark

In a few hours the buses leave for the Grafenegg Festival—about 45 minutes away—for the first of two concerts with Helene Grimaud playing Ravel’s Concerto in G and on the second half Manfred Honeck conducts his Richard Strauss Elektra Rhapsody. Outdoors if the weather permits.

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