I can’t believe it’s the last day of the tour! It’s been a very intense few weeks, and although the orchestra is really tired, there is generally a happy atmosphere as we head down the final furlong here in Munich.
Last night was Danil Trifonov’s final performance with us. He is truly astounding, giving everything in his Rachmaninoff and then dazzling us night after night with different encores. Sometimes they are flamboyant and whimsical, other times melancholy and introspective. Last night’s encore was a powerful showstopper. He doesn’t introduce his encores, so I’m afraid I can’t tell you what he played, but I do know he is a musician with incredible scope and it has been a total joy and inspiration to work with him.
For tonight’s concert we are playing the Dvorak violin concerto with a soloist very familiar to the Pittsburgh Symphony audience, Anne Sophie Mutter. We had just one rehearsal with her this morning, but it is remarkable how quickly the orchestra galvanizes around the soloist and we were able to finish the rehearsal early. It should be a great show. The hall’s acoustic is crystal clear. From where I sit in the flute section, it’s wonderful to be able to hear with such clarity all the voices in the woodwinds. Backstage you can gauge some of the personality and history of the home orchestra here, the Munich Philharmonic. While maybe not quite as famous as the city’s other orchestra, the Bavarian Radio Orchestra, the Munich Philharmonic has an illustrious history and it’s fun to look at the photos of Karajan and Celibidache, both of whom had a long association with this orchestra.
In our dressing room, which must usually be a men’s dressing room for the locals, there’s a photo of the Munich Philharmonic’s soccer team, and a few of their trophies on the wall and the odd cartoons on the lockers. I think they have a healthy rivalry with the Berlin Philharmonic.
It’s been wonderful to be based in Munich for two nights. You can tell music is a huge part of the cultural life here, with two big symphony orchestras, a chamber orchestra, opera house and lots of chamber music going on. You see so many musicians, and today we even saw someone cycling with his violin in his bicycle panier. The local Bavarian food is wonderfully heavy — good old meat and potatoes. There’s a fabulous market area called the Viktualmarkt with many, many stalls selling all sorts of meats, sausages, cheese, fruit & veg, flowers, beer, wine, schnapps…. It’s fun to people watch and surprisingly there seems to be no shortage of men of all ages who are quite comfortable to be seen in lederhosen.
The last few days have been special for me as my husband, David, was able to join us on the tour. It’s been great to walk around the city together and today we saw and amazing exhibit of Kandinsky and Franz Marc paintings. Both artists were based in Munich at the beginning of the 20th century. One of the things I’ve learned about touring is that even when you feel tired, these kind of great paintings have so much life and energy, they lift you up! So, here’s to a great concert tonight! I am grateful for the tour and for the amazing commitment to great music-making in this orchestra.
See you back in Pittsburgh!