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  • Writer's pictureNigel

Music 音楽

Updated: Feb 6

2024 年 1 月 31 日

Many of you may know the "Four Last Songs" (Vier letzte Lieder) by Richard Strauss, (not the Strauss of The Blue Danube Walz!) composed in 1948 a year before he died at the grand age of 84. And I thought I was about to hear one of them last week when at a Gesangsabend .


The venue.....Schloss Gottesaue, Karlsruhe.....I think it was a brilliant idea turning an old hunting lodge into a music college,

.....and building the cool Wolfgang Rihm Saal across the way....

Photo: Esther Ruddock

To prepare for the Italian arias to come, we first needed some appropriate food....


Photo: Esther Ruddock

...which put us in the right mood for the concert.....

But I hadn't read the programme properly. We were not to hear one of the "Vier Letzte Lieder", but "Morgen" (Morning) from the "Four Songs" (Vier Lieder)  1894. Strauss composed it as a wedding present to his wife Pauline. What a present 🎁.


It is dangerous to reach for superlatives, but I unreservably place this song amongst the most beautiful I have ever heard.

Pianist Yuan Ma opened with the achingly yearning line, taken up by Soprano Yukari Fukui with tender, focussed emotion. I hardly dared breath, let alone move in my seat. She should record it without delay. In the meantime I found this recording by Jonas Kaufmann, tenor, with Helmut Deutsch on piano. Though nothing beats a live performance.

Here's the photo sesson afterwards...


Photo: Esther Ruddock

Got to keep track of what your family is up to, whether it's singing something out of Don Giovanni......

....or taking an exam in Brand Management....💦


I'm glad I don't have to take any exams any longer though......

As there was a train strike that day I found myself being a Daddy-Taxi 🚕, driving from Langen to the Hochschule in Mainz and then on to the Musikhochschule in Karlsruhe. It was all worth it though. The old Audi had frozen🥶 up the week before and needed a new battery. Apparently, when the ADAC Recovery arrived the guy took one look at the car and said "Oh, an Audi series A5...they are practicably indestructible!". Well now we know. However the planet is not indestructible.


That cold spell brought some nice weather last week. Here we are, hiking up in the Taunus north of Frankfurt.....


In an almost lunar landscape....

All well wrapped up......

暖かい服を 着た方が良いです

Treading carefully......

and into the quiet forest......


I had to dust off my `Cello 🎵 at the weekend for a fund-raising party.

But first I went to listen to a concert given by the Japanese community in Frankfurt. Yes, if you read my blog last week you will have seen the poster. It may have slipped from the news headlines, but the shattered inhabitents of the Noto Peninsular are still struggling to come to terms with the aweful destruction of January 1st. Why do these earthquakes always seem to hit at the worst time of year, when conditions are freezing and uncomfortable? Think Kobe (1995) Tohoku (2011) and now Ishikawa (2024).

The beautiful modern, circular church in the West End was an ideal venue. The Kawai grand stood centre stage 🎹. Young children, students and professional musicians all gave superb spirited performances. It was jaw-dropping. Here's the programme:


...the organizer, Kurosu-さん, whose grandmother was in her nursing home there at the time, told me later that they had raised about €3.000. That goes a long way in Yen at the moment. 👍

Afterwards it was off to Frankfurt Rödelheim, where Rena さん was hosting a party with the same goal - raising funds for those hit by the New Year's Earthquake and tidal wave. Lots of homemade Sushi, Miso soup and even apple crumble was on offer.


Photo: Rena Kato

She sang a selection of her songs for us, accompanied by Pablo on piano. There was even one song with 'cello..."Sayonara no Natsu" (goodbye summer)....where I sort of ran out of printed music......😅

Video: Yumi Kitauchi-Olbrich

And I am very pleased to say she collected over €994!

Part of which went to the Ishikawa Prefecture official donation account, and part of which went to Mr. Wajiro Kirimoto, whose craft workshop ( 漆器しっき) on the main street has been badly damaged. As the exchange rate is very favourable for the Euro at the moment, this translates into a lot of Yen. And not only is the money helpful, but it sends a kind, supportive message for those people who really do not know where to turn next, with their homes and businesses destroyed. Well done Rena! 👏

In the short video 🎥 here you can see locals still need to collect rainwater and how the harbour has been raised up, leaving an empty wasteland with boats and sea life stranded. Some examples of the craft workshops 日本の 伝統工芸(でんとうこうげい)are shown, and Mr. Kirimoto talks about the damage to his laquer workshop.


Richard Wagner was not a pleasant man. But his egoism led him to the creation of the extraordinary "Ring" (Der Ring des Nibelungen), a cycle of 4 operas based on German heroic myths and legends. On Sunday I went with friends to the first installment - The Rheingold (Das Rheingold). There was lots of gold, some mermaids, a very nasty man with a magic helmet, a dragon, a frog and two giants. There was also a man with a hammer. It all felt very 19thc. - the music, the production and the house itself. The singers were fantastic, and the tuba section was having a field day. I await with trepidation "The Valkyrie" (Die Walküre) next week.....

ヴィースバーデンのオペラハウス。 リヒャルト・ワーグナーの「ラインの黄金」

Hessisches Staatstheater Wiesbaden

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 🎵 And and I enjoy hearing from you...!





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