Thursday, September 14, 2006

Written September 1

It’s been a week, but I wanted to share with my fellow musicians and loyal Philadelphia Orchestra fans my trip to see Maestro Sawallisch. I think everyone in the orchestra wanted to have the opportunity to see the Maestro as we were in his home country. He has not been feeling well for some time and didn’t feel like he could entertain large groups of people. I was very honored to have been invited for an audience. Maestro Eschenbach was kind enough to excuse me from the first concert in Frankfurt, thus allowing me to take a day trip to Grassau where Maestro Sawallisch lives.

It was an ambitious itinerary including train to Munich and then auto to Grassau. I did take German in high school many years ago, which helped a little, but I am far from conversational. Janet Garner, my sweetheart, accompanied me on the trip.

It was an auspicious beginning. Janet and I awoke excitedly and walked the 10 minutes to the Frankfurt train station. In my excitement, I had mis-read the ticket thinking that we had an 8:40 departure. We arrived at the train station around 8:15 and proceeded to Starbucks to wake up a bit. I went to check the board and freaked when I realized that the train was leaving in 2 minutes (8:20). I ran back to Starbucks and rushed Janet along. We ran to the platform in time to see the train pulling away. My heart sunk. Janet went back to Starbucks to enjoy her coffee and I headed for the ticket office. Fortunately, there were many other options to get to Munich and I was saved the embarrassment of returning to the orchestra without seeing the Maestro. We were on another train within 30 minutes and our odyssey continued.

The next challenge was renting the car. We were helped with directions from the Maestro. The car was a 6 speed manual diesel that had a lot of spunk. I was anxiously anticipating the famous German Autobahn where there was supposedly no speed limits. There were posted speeds, but many cars were going much faster. I got the little sedan up to about 170 Kph which I understand is about 100 mph. That was fast enough. Still cars were passing me!

We eventually pulled into the quaint little town of Grassau and drove through to get our bearings. At the appointed time, I walked up to the Maestro’s house, a beautiful estate on a hill at the beginnings of the Alps. He was sitting on the porch, and greeted me with a smile and a hug. His house helper (Lan) was there to join us and provided us with tea and cake.

The Maestro and I spent 2 and ½ hours laughing, reminiscing, and looking ahead at the tour and next year’s schedule. I did my best to share the intense love and respect that my fellow musicians feel for Maestro Sawallisch. In turn, the Maestro sent back all that love and then some. We both were close to tears a couple of times. He sadly reported to me that his conducting and public performing days are over and he is going to really miss making music with his orchestra. I assured him that my colleagues and I would continue to share our joy of music making with him any way that we could.

Finally, it was time to go. Many hugs and warm embraces later, I rushed down the side of the hill with a tremendous summer storm just breaking. The weather seemed to echo my feelings.

There is not much else to report about the trip except that we limped back to the hotel around 1:00 am exhausted but so much richer for the experience.

Hal Robinson, bass


At 6:39 AM, Blogger Desert Pimp Daddy said...

Someone mentioned your name the other day...I am here in WA on leave from Kuwait right now..I doubt you remember me actually but it's Paul Neacsu from the old R E Lee HS days. You seem to have done quite me I've just been seeing the world....all the best,



Post a Comment

<< Home

orchestra logo