Over the next several weeks, I will be traveling in Italy and France, and I am hoping to take you with me. Here is an account of my first joyful hours on this longest trip of my life so far.
Arriving from New York by way of Madrid on New Year's Eve, I had just enough time to unpack, grab a coffee and a snack and gussy myself up for the festivities, delightfully arranged by my Florentine friends.
Good-bye to 2015
|On may way to meet them at the Ponte alle Grazie,|
I passed the via Calzaiuoli ......
|and through the Piazza della Signori, where the revelers were gathering.|
|And then along the Arno, with San Miniato upon the distance...|
|and the old tower lit with changing colors.|
|We arrived at Maggio Musicale Fiorentino's new, beautiful opera house, just three years old.|
|Nicoletta and Paola with your reporter in the lobby.|
|My ticket to a heavenly performance of Beethoven's 9th.|
|Before the concert, a lively, clear, detailed introduction by a musicologist.|
|Afterwards, the orchestra, soloists, and chorus accept enthusiastic kudos from the audience.|
|And of course a lovely dessert and bubbly.|
|At One AM there were still throngs along the street below my windows...|
|A New Year's Day treat of major proportions.|
If you haven't seen this film, correct your error immediately. It is brilliant. I think it is Spielberg's best. The screen play is fabulous and the art direction splendid. To say nothing of the great actors and editing. I know. I am gushing. See and then decide if I am wrong. Best of all is the theme, showing how wrong a people can go if they succumb to fear and fear-mongering. The film is historical, but this is the story that had to be told RIGHT NOW. THIS MINUTE!!
Which brings me back to Beethoven and his choice of Schiller's Ode to Joy as the text of the sublime final movement of his masterpiece. For you to enjoy today, I have chosen my fellow New Yorker's genius conducting of the Vienna Philharmonic. Music and musical performance do not get better than this.
Here are some thoughts to ponder while you wait for it to boot up:
This symphony could never move us as it does without the human voices. Let your mind dwell on their words. "Joy, beautiful spark of Gods....Be embraced, millions/This kiss to the entire world....Those who dwell in the great circle/Pay homage to sympathy/It leads to the stars...Endure courageously, millions!/Endure for a better world...All sinners shall be forgiven/And hell shall be no more...."
Happy New Year, my dear, dear friends.