31 October 2018

Best and worst of German history

We’ve discovered the local Hockschule für musik, the conservatory, and it’s a shortish walk. A pair of concerts caught out eye: Bach Sämtliche Werke für Violine und Cembalo in 2 sessions, Teil 1 and 2. These were sonatas for violin and harpsichord, played by “the Professor, he could do it in his sleep”, as someone advised us. There are 6 violin and harpsichord sonatas but 18 in all with continuo. They were free and I was amused by some serious josling for seats, but there was plenty of room in the end. First night was 9 sonatas over about 90 minutes. These seriously were decent players. The violin was a stunning, free and expressive and with great technique. I felt a certain excitement in his playing, sometimes uncomfortable with the harpsichord, but willing to add pauses and accels to phrasing. He played a modern bow and I think steel strings, so he was strongly toned but he could drop to the quietest to allow the harpsichord through. The harpsichord is so often lost in a mix and could clearly be subservient under a firm violin, but we heard plenty here. The harpsichord was more ordered than the violin’s take, but that’s inevitable, perhaps, given the role as accompanist and harmonic underlay. Both were wonderful players and could melt your heart with their music. I talked to a post-doc from Belgium in the interval, about the local galleries, jazz, art. His field was painting and social change in ~C15th. But most interesting was what he told me of this building. I had expected these local grand classical buildings would have been bombed in WW2, perhaps leaving shells for reconstruction. Certainly the local Alte Pinacotek was. I was even more surprised when I heard they were Nazi Party headquarters. Munich was the source of Nazism and this was its administrative centre. The Hockschule building was once called the Führerbau. Hitler’s office was accessed from the other entrance which is now locked up. This is the site of the Hitler’s Munich Agreement (1938, “Peace in our time”) with Chamberlain, Deladier and Mussolini that permitted Germany’s occupation of the Sudetenland (Western Czechoslovakia). But no. The Führerbau had survived intact and after the war been used to collect looted art and later used as the American Information Centre. History is close here.

Ingolf Turban (violin) and Andreas Skouras (harpsichord) played the the first half of the complete violin and harpsichord/continuo sonatas in Munich.

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