On my very first visit here in 1971, I traveled with a college classmate for a specific reason. He knew classical music, fine wine, and gourmet food. I thought he would be a good influence on me and our trip.
Those of you that know me have figured out that he obviously had very little influence on me! I still do not know much about classical music, but I do like good wine and tasty food. I can go even further by telling you that he actually talked me into taking a suit to Europe. This was during the post hippy, flower power days, no less!
When I got to Germany, I mailed the suit and some purchases back home. He kept his. I found something different to do every night while he went to the symphony. Nowhere was this more profound than in Zurich, Switzerland.
He went to yet another concert at the symphony hall. I was getting ready to leave when I heard a frantic knock on our door. Two American girls down the hall asked, really begged, if they could “hide” in our room. They were trying to avoid two rather smarmy Italian or Greek guys.
I did leave out one little detail. They were wearing only their underwear!!! Fortunately, I had plenty of beer and snacks in the room. Needless to say, when my buddy got back, he was in for the biggest shock of the trip!
I tell you the story mainly because I did go to several symphonic performances on this trip, up to that point. I saw the Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) Symphony at Royal Albert Hall in London, and the famous Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra at the Concertgebouw concert hall.
Today, over 900 concerts a year are performed here. The main concert hall seats almost 2000, while the Recital Hall seats 437 people. Musicians and concert masters around the world come here to enjoy the near perfect acoustics of the Concertgebouw.
The original building was completed in 1886. The architect chosen was Adolf van Gendt, creator of many famous buildings. Pierre Cuypers, who designed the famous Rijksmuseum, headed the committee to fund the building and secure the land. Yet van Gendt was thought by his family to be completely devoid of musical talent.
From their website: In the time that The Concertgebouw was taking shape, the science of acoustics was still considered a mysterious combination of many different and undefinable factors. Professional recording equipment was only developed in the 20th century; at the time, architects only had successful examples to look to. As a result, the Recital Hall is nearly identical to the renowned oval hall in the Felix Meritis building, while the Main Hall – in terms of design and materials used – was based on the large concert hall of the Neue Gewandhaus in Leipzig, Germany. In later restorations, the original design and finishing details of the halls were left intact as much as possible to preserve the sensitive acoustics. Because even the most advanced equipment is unable to unmask the secret of the Main Hall’s unparalleled acoustics.
So, this amazing building will host a group of us on guitar and flute this afternoon. Just kidding! I actually went to a modern ensemble led by Andre de Ritter, incorporating some Frank Zappa!! Sorry to disappoint you. I told them I left my guitar back home.
And yes Beth, I do have more culture than yogurt but less than a Petri dish! Truly amazing to me, to visit a place 45 years later, and it has not changed even a trifle. Such is this magnificent palace.
The acoustics here are amazing, even in the balcony. I was able to buy a 33 Euro ticket from a man inside the lobby for only 15 Euro. My lucky day. Back to acoustics, perhaps even my guitar would sound good here. Can you imagine Adele singing here, or Paul Simon in an acoustic concert? I may come back for the full symphony concert on Sunday afternoon.
I met an interesting photographer at dinner this evening. She specializes in using light and shadow in her work. Great stuff, I saw a little of her work. And guess what? She has been to famous Antelope Canyon in northern Arizona to photograph as well. I guess great minds work alike. I learned so much, and I in return told her about Chiura Obata, the famous artist who drew at Yosemite.
It has been only 45 years since I was last here!!! But I love it, and I promise not to wait as long for the next visit!!!