Baroque Masterpieces Charlottenburg Palace Berlin

Schloss Charlottenburg Berlin

Last night I enjoyed an interesting concert at Charlottenburg Palace. Dressed in period costumes, the Berlin Residence Orchestra performed baroque masterpieces by Vivaldi, Händel, Bach, and others.

Scholss Charollotenberg

Before the concert, some savored a three-course “themed candlelight dinner”. Years ago, I experienced a similar but disappointing dinner in Salzburg, so I opted for the concert only. Charlottenburg Palace is in Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf District and easily accessible via U-Bahn. From November 26 through December 27 a popular Christmas market is set up on Palace grounds.

Queen Charlotte – by Johann Georg Ziesenis

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Today Charlottenburg is a working palace and one of Berlin’s most “grandiose event venues”. It’s a great place for concerts.

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Schloss Charlottenburg During Blood Moon – U. Gernhoefer Photocase

Charlottenburg Palace History

Charlottenburg is Berlin’s last remaining palace “reflecting the one-time grandeur of the Hohenzollern Family“. The complex covers several blocks along the banks of River Spree. Restaurants, hotels, and cafés near the Palace feature paintings of the grounds and Queen Charlotte. The Palace is surrounded by a beautiful baroque garden best visited during the day, but also lovely at night.

Queen Sophia Charlotte

In 1696, Duchess Sophia Charlotte of Hanover, wife of Prussian Friedrich III, commissioned construction of Lützenburg, a “summer residence in Lützow”.

King Frederick I – Emerson Kent

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“Originally a petite summer retreat, Lützenburg grew into an exquisite baroque palace with opulent apartments, festival halls, collections of precious porcelain, and paintings by French 18th century masters.”

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Orangery Garden – Pinterest

Soon after his coronation in 1701, King Frederick and Queen Sophie Charlotte expanded their Lützenburg residence. Tragically, Charlotte died of pneumonia in 1705 at the young age of 37. After her death, Frederick renamed the residence Charlottenburg Palace, built a magnificent dome, and added an “elongated building” named the Great Orangery.

Great Orangery Schloss Charlottenburg – Qiez.de

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“Loud against quiet, solo against ensemble, a competition of instruments dominates the Baroque period…”

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Baroque Masterpieces Compère – Pixel and Dot Photography

Berlin Residence Orchestra

In 2006, the Berlin Residence Orchestra began staging classical music concerts in Charlottenburg’s Great Orangery. The chamber music ensembles formed within the orchestra play at events throughout Berlin. The staged atmosphere transports audiences beck in time to when kings listened to Baroque music.

Berliner Residenz Konzerte Schloss Charlottenburg – Berlin Welcome Card

“Derived from the Portuguese barroco, or ‘oddly shaped pearl,’ since the nineteenth century, the term baroque describes the period in Western European music from 1600 to 1750.” The concerts are popular with locals as well as tourists.

Chamber Music Players

Last night, the chamber orchestra consisted of a harpsichord, cello, bass, flute, violin, and four violas. There were flute, viola, and cello solos. Soprano Sara Gouzy and countertenor Georg Arssenij Bochow were the featured vocalists, and their operatic solos and duos were fantastic.

Charlottenburg Palace Dome – Framepool

For a while, the commentator (compère) presented parts of the narrative in English and German – it was obvious he didn’t care for it. Later he spoke German only, so I missed the nuances and jokes that made others in the audience laugh….The program was slightly confusing to follow, but the music was wonderful.

Berlin Residence Concerts – Image Berlin

The program included well-known German and Italian composers, kings, and friends of kings:

Anna Fedotova Concertmaster – ResearchGate

Anna Fedotova Concertmaster

Multi-talented Russian Anna Fedotova studied at the Far East Art Academy in Vladivostok and later at Moscow’s Gnessin Academy. She’s participated in Salzburg masterclasses and is a “laureate of competitions in many countries”. Fedotova co-founded the Tango Ensemble Coamorous” and toured with the group throughout Europe. Last night she played a lovely violin solo.

Alexandra Rossmann Musical Director

Alexandra Rossmann Musical Director

Alexandra Rossmann is from Minsk Belarus, where she studied piano and became a teacher and accompanist. She performed at international festivals and made her début at the Belarusian Philharmonic at the age of 17. Rossmann moved to Germany and studied at the Musikhochschule Munich. Currently she lives in Potsdam and teaches piano. Alexandra played harpsichord during the performance.

Sara Gouzy Soprano

Sara Gouzy Soprano

French soprano Sara Gouzy completed her piano studies at the Conservatoire de Toulouse. She studied voice at the Academy of Music Hanns Eisler Berlin and attended masterclasses in France and Germany. In 2012 Gouzy participated in projects at the “Hanns Eisler” and Berlin’s Komische Oper (Comic Opera). Gouzy is a scholarship holder of the association “Yehudi Menuhin Live Music Now” and soloist with the Berlin Residence Orchestra.

Georg Arssenij Bochow Countertenor

Georg Arssenij Bochow Countertenor

The German-Russian countertenor Georg Arssenij Bochow began his career as a chorister in the Berlin Staats- und Domchor and received Canada’s Saint Nicolas Award from the Royal School of Church Music. He began vocal studies at the “Hanns Eisler” in 2011 and took masterclasses. Bochow appeared with the Deutsche Oper Berlin in the world première of Evan Gardner’s Die Unterhändlerin (The Negotiator).

Great Orangery at Night

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“There are many misconceptions and mysteries about the countertenor. Some take it for a whim of nature, though this type of voice has nothing mysterious about it.”

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Charlottenburg Palace Courtyard

This is the first time I’ve experienced a countertenor in close quarters – a beautiful but most unusual voice!

Český Krumlov

Český Krumlov

Český Krumlov

The medieval town of Český Krumlov was one of the first places in the Czech Republic listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The mesmerizing architecture of the castle complex and the medieval town is a mix of Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque styles.

Český Krumlov is in a valley surrounded by the Vltava River with the Blansko Forest to the north and Šumava National Park to the south. The area is popular with sports enthusiasts for camping, river rafting, hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing.

Ceský Krumlov from Tower

“The neglectful times of Communism saw the town grey and dilapidated – even then its beauty could be perceived under the rough surface. Since the early 1990s, Český Krumlov has been reborn and transformed into a place of charming beauty and near perfection.”

Český Krumlov is about a 30 minute drive from České Budějovice and yesterday I went for a visit. The local population is under 20,000 and it’s a wonderful town to explore by foot.

Five-Petalled Rose Celebrations

Five Petaled Rose celebration

Other than just being in this picturesque and magical place, the main attraction is the castle complex and its palaces, gardens, and views. Of the more than 400 well-preserved historical buildings in the Český Krumlov complex, St. Vitus Church is especially spectacular.

Sue Ceský Krumlov - with Black-Sported nose

Happy Sue with Dot on Nose

I climbed the 180 foot castle tower for sweeping panoramic views of the town and the Vltava River below. The tower has a gallery of wall murals dating back to the late 16th century and four bells built from the early 1400s to the mid-1700s.

Český Krumlov is more touristy and pricey than České Budějovice. The locals have the tourists well covered for food, shopping, and entertainment – from organic to designer and gourmet.

St. Vitus Church

The Czech Republic is known for its beautiful, rich amber and garnet gemstones. I met a friendly Czech jewelry merchant who spoke good English and bought a few small gifts at one of his shops. They specialize in original designs of amber jewelry. Amber is popular in the area and a favorite of mine. It’s considered the stone of calm and deliberate actions.

Back Street

Back Street Český Krumlov

Founded in 1253 by the Lords of Krumlov, the Gothic city’s history is colorful. The city changed coats of arms many times over the centuries.

In the 1680s, ruled by Johann Christian I. von Eggenberg, farming, construction, and the arts flourished. Český Krumlov began to rise from the stagnation caused by the Thirty Years’ War.

St. Vitus Church

In 1989, the non-violent Czech Velvet Revolution brought renewal to the city. Today it’s a cultural center with a dozen museums and galleries. Its theaters include the historic Castle Baroque Theater dating back to the 1400s and the popular and modern open-air Revolving Theater built in the 20th Century.

Castle Tower

Ceský Krumlov hosts hundreds of cultural events each year, including art shows, theater performances, concerts, and film festivals. For three days in mid-June, The Five-Petaled Rose Celebrations transform Český Krumlov back into a Renaissance town. The celebrations continue day and night with visitors attending dances, daredevil performances, fencing duels, jousts, arts and crafts fairs, and more! The celebrations “culminate with the highlight of the festival – a spectacular procession in historical costumes featuring knights on horseback and many notables linked with the history of the town”.

Linking Corridor

It takes several visits to experience the extraordinary beauty and history of Český Krumlov. I plan to go back for a performance in the outdoor Revolving Theater. Verdi’s Rigoletto begins July 26 and lasts for one week. The romantic opera has been performed at the theater every year since it opened. Another popular summer attraction, the annual International Music Festival, began July 19th and lasts through August 17.

Ceský Krumlov

If I can find the trails, I’ll go hiking in the beautiful areas near Frymburk and Lipno nad Vitavou – a short distance from Český Krumlov. Lipno Lake is the largest lake in the Czech Republic and known as “the Czech Sea”.