The Gerrard Chronicles 2009 - Traveller's Tales 1

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Vienna & Milan Trip

June 13th to 25th

Apart from the quality of the contacts made, one positive result came of the weird business trip last year to Venice & Vienna. Dr Dominik Sedivy who we met, asked Ken if he could provide a piano piece for the concert series the Viennese composers run for themselves, which is called the Gesellschaft fur Klangreihenmusik. Not having anything suitable, Ken wrote "It's the Weather!" Opus 29a with immense care as it would be scrutinised in the World Music Capital & he regarded the request as a great honour. We would clearly have to attend & set out in our truck on June 13th, crossing to Dunkirk with Norfolk Line, a mistake, as it is no quicker than going to Calais. We drove as far as Kaiserslautern in the Rhineland on day one, staying in the Hotel Lautertalerhof, then drove across Central Germany to the beautiful town of Passau which is where the Inn meets the Danube, staying in the nice Hotel am Paulusbogen, which is plastered to the cliffs above the Danube.

Opposite Passau with the Danube

Avis in Passau

When the Inn meets the Danube

We drove on to Linz & then, along the Danube gorge to Krems from where a brand new motorway goes to Vienna. The one way system made finding our old hotel, the Kärntnerhof, 'interesting' but we made it & met Dominik & Morgana, another composer, for dinner. The next day, we explored, finding Schönberg's birthplace first, then to the Museum Quarter, which is interesting because they are not afraid to juxtapose ancient & modern buildings in it. We also went round the Albertinum modern art collection.

Schönberg's birthplace


The Museum Quarter

The concert in the evening was in the piano gallery of Wendl & Lung to the West of the old town. We arrived good & early, so Ken could brief the pianist Nadia Saharova from Bulgaria. She greeted him effusively & played through the piece, which sounded better than he thought it could. Before the concert, Dominik interviewed Ken on the stage... in German, which Ken just about managed with. Unfortunately, we do not have a recording of the piece but you can download the score & play it for yourself. It is not very difficult.

Wendl & Lung's Piano gallery

Nadia practising

Dominik interviews Ken

Nadia & all the composers:
Otto Sulzer, Helmut Neumann,
Günther Theil, Nadia, Ken

We had two more days in Vienna, so we did the Leopold Museum, which had a big Schiele collection & which took most of the day. We found where Schubert died & Ken dashed off in the evening to photo Webern's birthplace. On the last day, we took a boat round the Danube & Donaukanal, not really very scenic like the Elbe.

Vienna Opera

Schubert died here

Webern born here

Us on the boat

We set off back across Austria in some dodgy weather, to the Inn Valley & up the Ötztal, hoping to stay in Obergurgl but the whole village was shut, so we crossed the Timmelsjoch & found a very German hotel, the Hochfirst (a hill behind Obergurgl which you should be able to see from the hotel but we didn't), just in Italy. Very comfy & folklorische like Hansel & Gretel. (No website). The next day, we headed for Milan, encountering the arthritis-testing 50 hairpin bends on the Stelvio Pass.

Our truck at the Timmelsjoch

Gasthof Hochfirst balanced over the abyss

Back down the Stelvio Pass

Eventually, we arrived in Milan & found Liz & Paolo's flat without difficulty, having seen it on Google Earth. Liz is Ken's cousin's daughter. She teaches English - Paolo was a pupil. We explored Milan, amazed by the massive castle, entertained by the very young gypsy violinists & took the family out for a feast, staying 3 nights.

Paolo & Rikki

Liz Rikki & Paolo

Milan Cathedral
More like a cake than a godshop

Gypsy violinist children

It was time to head home, which took us over the 'old' Gotthard Pass, modernised in the 60s but replaced by the motorway, so is a very pleasant, quiet scenic drive. Lunch in Andermatt & eventually, to Avis' ancestral village of Rixheim (en Francais) in Alsace to stay at the Relais de Rixheim again. We Visited the Verdun battlefield & stopped overnight in Rhiems on the way back.

1525 Peasant War mural in Rixheim



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Contact: Ken Baldry or Avis Saltsman, 17 Gerrard Road, Islington, London N1 8AY +44(0)020 7359 6294 or e-mail him or her
This page's URL: Last revised 11/6/2010
Copyright: Ken Baldry 2009 All rights reserved but print it off if you want to.