Getting anywhere requires climbing lots of stone steps. Although Old City and the Franciscan Monastery are less than a half mile away, it’s all downhill and then, you guessed it, up, up, up on the way back – good exercise.
Defense Walls Dubrovnik Medieval Fortress
In June 2013, I passed through Dubrovnik quickly on the way to Split, Zagreb, Rijeka, and Opǎtija – hectic and only a short day, not sure that counts as a “real visit“. Glad to have more quality time here, and it’s off-season so there aren’t many tourists.
Steps Old City Dubrovnik
I walked to Old City for dinner last night and then had the fun surprise of seeing the Gypsy Kings perform at Orlando’s Column right in the middle of everything!! I’ve long been a fan and to see them performing in such a spectacular outdoor setting was fantastic – love their music! There was a crowd but not overwhelming. Old Town has a beautiful Christmas Market and Winter Festival where the New Year celebration will take place tomorrow!
Dubrovnik from My Apartment
On the way back I forgot which steps took me down to Old City : o( and got lost in the dark. After a long day I ran out of energy, took the easy way out, and called Uber… My landlord, a former ballerina, is active in the community and has great pointers on hiking, tours, restaurants, and cultural activities. More later after I settle in a bit – it’s a huge change from Berlin! I’ll be in Dubrovnik through January.
Dubrovnik Croatia – Croatia.hr
Gypsy Kings Performing at Orlando’s Column Old City
Not surprisingly, my latest jazz experience at Berlin’s A-Trane was great. It was an unusual group of six seasoned musicians performing with young, handsome Italian singer and pianist – Davide Cerreta. Cerreta appeared with the group in a special tribute to the music of Pete Wyoming Bender, a beloved fellow musician.
I sat at a table with a fun and friendly German family – two brothers, their daughters, and a son-in law. None of them lived in Berlin but they united here for a Christmas holiday visit. The club was at full capacity.
Pete Wyoming Bender and Little Shop of Jazz
Drummer Ernst Bier created a group called the Little Shop of Jazz dedicated to the music of singer and composer Pete Wyoming Bender.
Bender is part American Indian born in France. He grew up in the US but later moved abroad and spent much of his life performing in London and Berlin. Bender played several instruments but was primarily a singer and composer whose peers saw him as a visionary. He died from a heart condition.
In 2002 Little Shop of Jazz – Ernst Bier, Mack Goldsbury, Reggie Moore, and Kevin Burrell – released a CD, “Cry Me a River,” featuring Bender’s compositions. American bassist Erik Unsworth and Italian singer Davide Cerreta joined the band at A-Trane to reinterpret the CD and other works by Bender:
Davide Cerreta – Vocalist
Mack Goldsbury – Saxophone
Reggie Moore – Piano
Eric Unsworth – Bass
Kevin Burrell – Percussion
Ernst Bier – Drums
Davide Cerreta is known in Italy for his performances at the Umbria Jazz Festival and Umbria Jazz Winter. The popular jazz singer and pianist plays at different clubs and festivals in Berlin and throughout Europe, South America, and the Caribbean. He recently moved to Germany and is now part of the Berlin jazz scene.
Cerreta was born in Rome and became involved with music at an early age. His idols include B.B. King, Eric Clapton, and Frank Sinatra whose “smooth, warm, and impassioned voice left a mark on his heart forever”. His style is like Sinatra’s.
He created the Berklee Umbria Jazz Award Group of six other musicians and performed at the Umbria Jazz Winter 2017. In Rome he’s the resident pianist and artistic director with “The Room Studios Gallery in Rome, “organizing live concerts with some of the best musicians of the Roman Jazz Scene”.
Mark Goldsbury has a long and distinguished career as a composer and professional musician. He’s performed with many famous musicians. His quartet includes bassist Erik Unsworth and two Berlin musicians Rolf Zielke on piano and Ernst Bier on drums. The group began performing together in 1992.
Goldsbury played with musicians like Red Garland and toured with the Temptations, Cher, Frank Sinatra, and the Supremes. He’s performed with Tony Bennett, Stevie Wonder, Stanley Turrentine, Billy Eckstine, Pharoah Sanders, and others. Goldsbury moved to Berlin in 1992.
Reggie Moore is a Berlin-based “pianist-composer-arranger-clinician”. He grew up in NYC as the son of a musician and arranger. Moore toured Japan, the United States, and Europe, recorded two albums, and worked with such renowned jazz greats as Anita O’Day, Johnny Hartman, Betty Carter, Kenny Burrell, and more. Since 1985, Reggie Moore lives in Berlin with his wife, jazz vocalist-composer Cornelia Moore, and their daughter Jessica.
His unique art, which he calls “Communicable Music” and his dedicated teaching at the “Jazz Institute of Berlin” has been a positive influence on the German jazz scene for the last 20 years.
Erik Unsworth is head of the jazz department at the University of Texas El Paso and has been a member of the music faculty there since 2003. He serves as Professor of String Bass, Electric Bass, Jazz, and Commercial Music studies. Unsworth is a native of Northern New York State and a graduate of Indiana University.
Since moving to El Paso, he performs locally with the El Paso Symphony Orchestra, El Paso Pro Musica, the Juarez Symphony Orchestra, and the Roswell Jazz Festival. He supports a range of world-renowned guest artists.
Born in Newark New Jersey, Burrell “discovered his passion for drums and percussion at the age of ten when he began his formal training”. Kevin joined the Mack Goldsbury Jazz Explosion and is a “creative and empathetic percussionist, who contributes colorful textures to the music he plays”.
Ernst Bier is a German drummer with “heart and soul”. He chatted with the audience and I enjoyed talking with him briefly about Pete Wyoming Bender. Ernst lives for jazz.
He studied from 1976 to 1978 at the Swiss Jazz School Bern and performed and lived in New York City and Florida. During his distinguished career Bier has toured Europe and the US, appeared on TV and radio, and produced many recordings and productions. The list of musicians he has worked with “reads like a who’s who of jazz”.
After his return to Germany Bier first lived in Köln and later Berlin, where he leads a continually running series of jazz workshops. He can be heard on a host of recent internationally-released recordings.
Bye Bye Berlin
Tomorrow I’m leaving Berlin having exhausted my 90 day Schengen visa limit. I’ll so miss the quality and unequaled jazz performances at A-Trane and other clubs here and hope to return….
I waited months to visit Berlin’s TV Tower because it sounded like a tourist trap. Finally decided it was worth a visit for the view alone. Indeed it is a tourist trap, but glad I experienced the bird’s-eye perspective of Berlin from the top! The view is amazing even on a cloudy day with snow flurries. Wish I’d done it earlier in sunny weather – a great way to get a fix on the lay of the land.
Berliner Dom from TV Tower
The TV Tower (Fernsehturm in German) is Berlin’s most recognizable landmark. It’s in Alexanderplatz, a public square in Mitte District, and visible from almost any angle in the city. After four years of construction, the Tower opened in 1969. It celebrates a 50th anniversary next year!
Berlin TV Tower – Wikimedia Commons
When the sun shines on the TV Tower’s round dome, a cross shape reflects on it. West Berliners call this the “Pope’s revenge”.
Sunshine on Berlin’s TV Tower – Photocase
Walter Ulbricht German Communist Leader with Khrushchev
Professor Hermann Henselmann – erratanaturae.com
TV Tower History and Significance
East Germany’s socialist leader – Walter Ulbricht – hired architects from a state-owned engineering company “to create a Sputnik satellite-like building showing off the technological advancement and power of East Berliners”. Hermann Henselmann and fellow German Democratic Republic (GDR) architects Fritz Dieter, Günter Franke, and Werner Neumann designed the tower.
“After reunification, the TV Tower had new significance. No longer a symbol of East Germany, it was an integral element of Berlin’s new cityscape symbolizing the city – both nationally and internationally.”
Owned by Deutsche Telekom the Berlin TV Tower antenna broadcasts over 60 TV and radio programs. The 986 step staircase to the tower isn’t used. A high-speed elevator transports visitors to the observation deck in an unbelievable 38 seconds.
Senior musicians from the Baroque Orchestra must have played another gig last night as there were noticeable mistakes in the music and rolled eyes all around… This was a first, as every other musical performance I’ve attended in Berlin was perfection.
The Cathedral was once the court church of the Hohenzollern, who lived in the city palace on the other side of River Spree. The inside of the basilica cathedral has a Sauer organ, the largest of the ‘late Romantic period‘. The beautiful octagonal sermon space has a marble altar and unique mosaics and statues.
Tobias Brommann Kantor Berlin Cathedral – BZ Berlin
Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral) suffered severe damage during the Second World War. Restoration by the German Democratic Republic (GDR) began in 1975 and completed in 1993 – four years after the Berlin Wall fell. The outside needs work and ongoing maintenance and restoration continue.
Berlin Cathedral – TV Tower in Background
Dommuseum has interesting drawings depicting the Cathedral’s history. The climb to the dome follows a “lavishly decorated Imperial staircase” and ends with an incredible panoramic view of Berlin. It was another beautiful evening and memory.
Musicians, Singers, and Conductor – Bach’s Christmas Oratorio Cantatas I-III
Dvořák and Schubert have long been favorite composers. I remember trying to conquer a Schubert piece as a young piano student – for me, a daunting experience. Unfamiliar with Wolf, the evening was a lesson in German opera! Goethe’s expression below describes my feelings…
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Poet – Weimar-Lese
Iván Fischer Conductor
Hungarian conductor Iván Fischer led the Philharmonic. Fischer studied piano, violin, and cello in Budapest and continued his education in Vienna. His international career took off in 1976 when he won a conducting competition in London.
In 1983 Fischer co-founded the Budapest Festival Orchestra. Today he’s the orchestra’s music director. Fischer is a regular guest conductor at major European opera houses. He was Principal Conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic 2012 – 2018 and is now the orchestra’s Honorary Conductor.
Christian Gerhaher Baritone – Digital Concert Hall
Hugo Wolf Goethe and Mörike Compositions
Several Hugo Wolf operatic compositions followed Dvořák’s symphonies. Baritone Christian Gerhaher’s singing captivated the audience. Wolf, known for his “profound poetic insight and imagination,” created them from the poems and ballads of German writers Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Eduard Friedrich Mörike. Portraying their unique “poet personalities” was key to Wolf in “opening musical and poetic horizons” in his compositions.
Hugo Wolf Composer – Austria.info
German poet Eduard Friedrich Mörike is known for taking “special pleasure in rendering hair-raising and fantastic verses”.
Moravian Duets and Slavonic Dances – Shazam
Wish I’d had a translation, as titles of the lyrics were interesting – Goethe’s ballads – Der Rattenfänger (The Pied Piper) and Mörike’s Fire Rider. Mörike’s lyric poetry covers a “variety of forms and moods”. The audience was thoroughly absorbed. It was a very German experience!
Gerhaher attended the Opera School of the Academy of Music in Munich and is an honorary professor at the Munich Academy of Music and Theatre. He and his wife live in Munich with their three children.
Franz Schubert Composer – BR-Klassik
Franz Schubert’s Symphony No. 8 in C Major
The symphony ended with Franz Schubert’s Symphony No. 8 in C Major. Schubert composed the symphony in 1825-26, but it was never performed. Robert Schumann discovered the symphony in 1839 and German composer Felix Mendelssohn produced the work that year in Leipzig. It’s a wonderful, dramatic symphony featuring woodwinds and French horns – skip to the end of the video below to hear the rousing finale!
Old Master Paintings from the 13th to 18th century have been displayed at Gemäldegalerie since 2000. It’s the most beautiful collection I’ve seen!
Francesco Ubertini gen. II Bacchiacca
Cornelis de Vos
The Gemäldegalerie is part of Berlin’s Kulturforum (Culture Forum), a modern center for art and culture in Potsdamer Straße. It includes museums, concert halls, and libraries.
Berlin Kulturforum Potsdamer Platz – c visitberlin.com Photo Wolfgang Scholvien
The Kulturforum is West Berlin’s “most important building ensemble of the post-war period “.
18th Century Painting
“Masterpieces from all periods of art history, including paintings by van Eyck, Bruegel, Dürer, Raphael, Titian, Caravaggio, Rubens, Rembrandt, and Vermeer are on display at the Gemäldegalerie.”
Lucas van Vlackenborch
The Kulturforum offers 1.2 miles of breathtaking art displays in an exhibition area of over 75,00 sq. ft. There are 72 halls and cabinets leading through “individual art landscapes and epochs”.
Jacomo di Antonio Nigreti, gen. Palma il Vecchio
Jacomo di Antonio Nigreti, gen. Palma il Vecchio
The Gemäldegalerie collection focuses on German and Italian painting from the 13th to the 16th century and Dutch painting from the 15th to the 16th century. This blog post includes some of the photos taken – captions are the best I could manage – all were in German. Before touring this exhibition, I didn’t know the works of many of these incredible masters.
Giotto di Bondone
Peter Paul Reubens
Meister der Mansi Magdalena
German, Dutch, French, Flemish Masterpieces
The magnificent collection includes old German paintings of the late Gothic and Renaissance periods. Dutch and Flemish paintings from the 17th century include “portraits, genre paintings, interiors, landscapes, and still lifes” – all equally impressive and awe-inspiring.
Lucas van Leyden
A collection of 16 Rembrandt paintings in the center of the Gemäldegalerie is “one of the largest and highest quality in the world”.
Nicola di Maestro Antonio d’Ancona
Osias Beert Flemish Painter
There are six rooms of Italian, French, German, Spanish, and English 18th century paintings. Over 1000 masterpieces are on display in the main gallery. Visitors can use catalogs of the collection and a digital gallery with computer workstations in German, English, and French. I used an English audio guide, but with so many paintings – it was overwhelming. I need to return and take another tour.
Rembrandt – The Mennonite Preacher Anslo and his Wife
The Gemäldegalerie is focusing on a group of paintings by Italian Father and Son Jacopo and Giovanni Bellini. “In Renaissance Italy art was often a family business, and no family of painters was more successful than the Bellinis.”
Jacopo di Antonio Nigretti, gen. Palma il Vecchio
Tiziano Vecellio, gen. Tizian
Some of the Bellini paintings on display are restorations of pieces stored since the Second World War. During restoration, several of the works have “undergone various changes”. In some cases, they’re “fragments of a larger altarpiece or interior decoration, partially damaged and reduced on the surface”.
Cima da Conegliano
Restoration addressed light, climate, and other influences occurring over time and changed the colorful and plastic appearance of the paintings. None of them “maintained a state as it was when leaving the artist’s workshop” hundreds of years ago.
I enjoyed more incredible music last night during a Karajan Academy concert at Berliner Philharmoniker. Exceptional students attend the Academy to learn from distinguished members of the Philharmonic.
It was cold with fat snowflakes falling all around, so I stopped for a hot drink at the Potsdamer Platz Christmas Market which was full of merrymakers. The performance hall was packed with several concerts appearing in the Philharmonie Building. The Chamber Music Hall was cozy and comfortable.
Carolin Widmann Violinist – carolinwidmann.com
Popular conductor Herbert von Karajan founded the Karajan Academy 40 years ago. It’s funded by private donors. Berliner Philharmoniker concertmasters and symphony leaders teach young musicians about life as professional orchestral members. Karajan graduates perform in symphonies worldwide, and almost a third of Berlin Philharmonic musicians are former Academy students.
Each season, students participate in five public concerts at the Berlin Philharmonie. The concerts are about “getting to know highly talented young musicians”.
The training program is both a postgraduate course and an internship. Students learn to “listen carefully to their colleagues, become aware of what the other musicians are doing, exercise critical self-reflection, and constantly strive to be better”. The Berliner Philharmoniker makes those concepts its own.
“Chamber music occupies a prominent place at the Academy and promotes the whole instrumental culture.” Students learn the “specific repertoire of their respective instrument” and focus on early and contemporary music.
Herbert von Karajan – Shazam
The Karajan Academy’s moto is “learn from the pros”.
The solos were outstanding! Other than Widmann and Albach a fantastic flute soloist performed during Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto, but I don’t know her name. I was at a disadvantage since the programs was in German only.
Peter Riegelbauer – Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
According to Peter Riegelbauer, Philharmonic double-bass player and head of the Karajan Academy, young instrumentalists get a sense of what it means to be a “complete musician”.
Felix Mendelssohn – James Warren Childe 1839
Felix Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto and Johann Sebastian Bach’s Cantatas and Brandenburg Concertos