Weeks after our return from Europe, images and newly-acquired information continue to surface in my memory: the breathtaking beauty of the St. Petersburg Church of the Spilled Blood, Adriaen Van De Velde’s detailed depictions of Dutch landscapes and medieval daily life, stories of tsarinas and kings, conspirators and war heroes, battles and treaties.
Musical moments also come back to me, although the sounds of music are more difficult to recall than visual imagery. What I do remember is how the music made me feel, the euphoria it produced. The magnificent organs in every church spoke of the importance of religious music in centuries past. We visited a cathedral just at the right moment to hear the powerful swells of music from the organ that filled an entire wall.
Outside El Prado Museum in Madrid, a man sat on a wall playing on his guitar the Concierto de Aranjuez, perfect for creating the mood to view the paintings of Velázquez, El Greco and Goya.
Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, its dimmed chandeliers glittering like fairy candles, provided a magical venue for opera music from Wagner, Massenet, Bizet and Saint-Saens. There the sweet notes of a violin solo rang clear and perfect, glorious and true in that hall famous for its acoustics. When friends ask me what the best of our trip was, I tell them about that evening concert.