As we travelled we hoped to be able to find music, and if possible a festival or two. Brian has been much involved with the Woodford Folk Festival that is held in Queensland between Christmas and the new Year. Somehow we seemed to miss out on festivals arriving too early or too late. Instead we found that music popped up in unexpected places. We did not so much find the music, rather music found us.
Travelling in Europe we used rail. One trip took us to Zurich for a night stopover before taking the panoramic journey through the Alps to Austria. Exploring the city, which was fairly small, we happened on the lake and were led to the lakeside where a harpist was playing. He enchanted everyone who passed by, including the swans . There was a very ethereal and magical quality that instantly conjured images of a Swan Lake and swans who could transform at any minute into delicate maidens gliding over the water. Perhaps Tchaikovsky encountered a similar situation.
Quite a different and also exciting musical encounter had occurred a day or two before in Paris. This time crossing a bridge over the River Seine on the way to Notre Dame . As we approached we heard music . First a piano accordion playing a folk tune,
further on a band,
and at the end of the bridge was a musician who seemed to mesmerize the crowd. Above the sounds of honking horns, the hum of the traffic and all the other city noises the pianist held a spellbound audience.
Another even more magical musical encounter in Paris was discovering an old church where a monastic order sang mass, the crystal clear notes seemed to hang in the air and pierce to the very core of our being. Likewise in Vienna we went into the awe inspiring Saint Stephen’s Cathedral at the time a Schubert mass was being held . That also was incredibly beautiful.
In Vienna there were significant efforts made to promote Strauss and Mozart recitals. We did attend a concert that was rollicking, jolly and perhaps a little too “touristic “. However it was enjoyable and, again, not an intentional event, rather accepting an unanticipated opportunity .
The music I especially had wanted to hear in Hungary was traditional gypsy music. My mother often spoke of it . One evening in Budapest we had encountered an excellent jazz duo playing in a square. We were returning to our nearby hotel when we heard a violin and stopped to listen. The doorman at the restaurant invited us in and offered us a seat.
The group,Lajos Sarkosy and his gypsy band, came to our table and when that violin played a traditional tune so sweet and sad, tears flowed. Gypsy music can cajole and haunt, tease and laugh. It is the song of life, full and rich recounting the full gamut of human experience and emotions, our sorrows, joys, desires, bliss. It is the wind on the plains and raw passion that fuels art and dance. It is music that captures heart and soul. It is unforgettable.