In the 15th century, Lubeck was dubbed "the lovely" and indeed that is how I would describe Lubeck in the 21st Century.
It was pouring rain as we left Bremen, Germany and by-passed Hamburg to arrive in Lubeck still raiaing in the afternoon of 14 August. Our main purpose of visiting Lubeck was to catch up with our friend Herbert Thomsen who is staying with his nephew, Hans-Gunter Thomsen and his wife, Marita.
What better day to arrive than on Herbert's 88th birthday and when we arrived the birthday celebrations were in full swing. Delightful cakes and goodies which can only be found in Germany, particularly Marzipan. And, of course, a little flow of red wine.
Lubeck is Herbert's home town, having been born here and went to school and grew up in this lovely city as did his late wife, Toni.
Suffioce it to say we were warmly welcomed by the families of both Herbert and Toni.
In 1987 Lubeck was placed on the UNESCO list as World Heritage Site of Mankind.
In 1942 Lubeck was the target of the allied boms in the Second World War. Thus many beautiful buildings and churches were destroyed. Today, one of the first things that strike visitors are the many towers that stand so tall above the city. Firstly, the ancient Holstentor, wouth west town gate, built in 1478, a Museum today. The Town Hall, with its enormous 'holes' in the wall above the buildings to minimize the pressure of the wind and so protecting it from collaspingæ the Marienkirche, 3rd biggest church in Germanyæ the Church of St Peter. These two churches were completely burned down in March 1942 as a result of the bombing. The bells of St Marian today lie where they fell on the night of the bombing. The Churches have now been completely restored.
St Jacobi, where Herbert was baptized and confirmed, was untouched during the war as was the Catholic Church of the Sacred Heart.
The 'Dom' Cathedral of St Annen was also destroyed, but the people managed to remove most of the valuable art work and art objects and were stored away for safe keeping. All have now been restored and replaced in the churches.
We were taken by Boniøs niece, Dragmar, on many of the visits to the churches and buildins and also in to the allwy-ways which contain many of the crooked houses with medieval fronts and cobble stone narrow walkways.
Our evening finished with a meal in the most incredible restaurant we have ever been in, the "Schiffergellschaft" described as 'the most classical pub in the world'. Founded in 1535 as a room for authorities and meetings of the fraternity of sailors and seafarers, with the original rooms at the front now only used as the restaurant. Long narrow benches made of real planks from a ship, dark dark ceiling from which hang numerous very old models of sailing ships and huge original paintings on the high walls. The whole room looking like the inside of an ancient sailing ship.
The medieval Heligen-Geist-Hospital, another interesting visit where there is a section that up until the 1970's wasused for old people and those in need of care where they lived inside this old building in wooden chambers of 4 to 6 metres called 'Kabauschen', containing only a bed and chest of drawers. Very clean and comfortable.
How did all this survive the bombings of WWII - so much had to be restored but so much was not touched by the bombs.
For a visit that was really just to see Herbert, it turned out to be a very memorable visit.
APART FROM ALL OUR SITE SEEING - WE DID HAVE SOME MUSIC!
Prior to leaving Paris, we went to Notra Dame Cathedral for the Palm Sunday Liturgy. After fighting our way in to the Cathedral, we were treated to a wonderfully sung Mass. The Gospel was chanted by a group of young people, a britone as the narrator, tenor and soprano taking other parts with the Celebrant taking the part of Jesus. Accompanying all was a delightful choir of young boys and young men. Altogether a very moving experience. The organ was wonderfully played set up at the back of the Cathedral in front of the famous Rose Window in the South Transcept of the Cathedral.
Judy, Elizabeth and Patricia also attended a concert on the Left Bank of Paris in the ancient Church of St Germaine de Paris and were treated to a choir from Moscow singing Acapella 'Rachmaninof's Vespers and Litury and Choruses of Russian Orthodox Church 'Le Choeur Maskova was joined by La Paris Choral Society' for this concert. Heavenly music and those Russian baritones - magic!
Our next concert was in a Church in Rodez. A group of students playing mostly wind instruments and one item with piano, viola and clarinet. No idea what the music was as there was no program provided, however it was a lovely concert though not music that I was familiar with.
Our next music treat, weeks further on, was at York Minster. What a magnificent Cathedral! We felt at ease as soon as we walked in to the City of York, a fascinating and truly beautiful city.
The Cathedral had a very peaceful atmosphere and a treasure trove of beautiful stained glass windows - it has been a place of worship for over 1000 years. The undercroft gave us an insight into the Minster's history from Roman, Norman and Viking tinmes.
At the end of the day we attended Evensong and were treated to some wonderful singing from the male choir (young boys from 7/8 years old to young men and some older men - totalling approx 30 singers).
Durham Cathedral, another truly magnificent building (probably my favourite), provided more lovely choir shigning where we attended the Communion Service - another beautiful choir of boys and young men.
The Cathjedral was begun in 1084 and later remodelled in the later 18th century. Going from a Norman (Romanesque) style to a Gothic style for the Chapel of the Nine Altars - another fascinating look at history with the added treat of a lovely choir.
One of the hightlights of my trip was to "re-discover" Coventry Cathedral. The 'old' St Michael's Cathedral was destroyed by German bombs during WWI on 14.11.1940. The shell of the Cathedral was left standing and is joined to the 'new' very modern cathedral, which was consecrated and opened on 25 May 1962. Benjamin Britten's "War Requiem" was first performed here on 30 May 1962. A very powerful work of music. The Newcastle University Choir have twice sung this work under the baton of Father Peter Brock. Firstly on 6 August 50 years after the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. The Choir in this instance was accompanied by a huge orchestra mostly drawn from Newcastle and some from Sydney.
Whilst at Coventry Cathedral we were fortunate to hear a young organist perform during a klunchtime concert. One work included a piece written by a past organist (who was blind) from Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Work we heard was 'symphony No. 3 in F sharp minor op 28 by Louis Vierne'. organist was David Pipe (truly!) an organ scholar at Southwark Cathedral and currently doing a Master's course at the Royal Accadamy of Music under Susan Landale.
How appropriate now for us to go to Lubeck, equally bombed like Coventry, where we attended four half hour concerts.
The first in the Catholic Church of the Sacred Heart where we heard a delightful mex
zzo Soprano and Organist (Barbara Rohls and Heiner Arden), music from Jean Langlais, Cesar Frank, Louise Vierne (delightful piece 'Les Angelus' from a poem by Jehan le Povfe Moyne - Morning, Noon and Night.
The mezzo was young and slim, but her voice was so powerful. At the end of each phrase one could just catch a slight echo before she commenced singing again. Beautifully sun and played in a lovely setting.
The same evening, we strolled through the old City streets of Lubeck to the Church of St Marien to be enthralled by a 30 minute great organ music concert. Like Coventry, this Church had been destroyed, but rebuilt. The music was powerful and very moving - Rachmaninoff's deep and mysterian "The Appearance of the Eternal Church", and then finishing with a joyful and triumphant piece by Sigfried Karg-Elert 'Now all of you thank God' Op. 65 No. 59. The organise was Ernst-Erich Stender and at the finish he played one of his own improvisations which was delightful.
To finish off our Lubeck musical treats, we went to St Jackobi (untouched by bombs), the Church of sailors and seafarers first mentioned in 1227. During medieval times St Jacobi was a fixed place for Scandanavian pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. We ourvelves met many pilgrims whilst we were in France at various historical villages and towns, e.g. Conques and Le Puy.
The program at this concert was played on three different organs. The small one we heard music of Jan pieterszoon Sweelinck, on the bigger 'Grosse Orgel' built in 1504, we heard Mozart 'Ein Stuck fur ein orgel' and on the 'Stellawagen Orgel', smaller organ from the 16th Century we heard Buxtehude 'Te Deum'.
Finally on our trip to Norway, Pat and I visited the home of Edvard Greig in a most beautiful part of the lovely city of Bergen, Greig had a little 'shed' overlooking a lake at the bottom of his garden where he would go to compose his music.
That same evening we attended a Concert in Bergen, they have a festival week of Grieg's music at this time. The concert was titled 'Greig in Bergen, Concert & Story'. Soprano was Kjerstin Lovdal and the pianist was Daniel Beskaw. A delightful pair of soloists. The soprano had lovely clear diction and the pianist was magical, he made the music live. The Soprano told us lots of stories about the life of Grieg and about the music he had written. The program consisted of Arietta Op 12, The Time of Roses, Wedding Day at Troldhaugen, Solveig's Song, and tales from Early Years - stories of Greig's early life. After interval we heard Eroticon, The Mountain Maid, Vanished Days at Rondare, The Spring Op 33 and Rembrances. A gret way to end our time in Norway. Kjerstin has a Bachelor of Song from the Greig Acadamy and is a member of 'Norsk Theatre' where she is both singing and acting. Daniel has studied at the Royal College of Music in Stockhold, and is a solo artist, chamber musician and pedagog.
This is all too much. Elizabth, I hope you can get something out of this for your newsletter! I won't be in the least offended to whatever changes you wish to make.
Have not checking for spelling/grammar errors, leave that to you.