And now, we travel to Switzerland! We boarded our chartered jet and made the quick 1 hour hop to Zurich where we bussed to our second stop on tour, Luzern. Pulling in around dusk, the city was shrouded in clouds:
The next morning it was recommended that I take the gondola up the face of Mount Pilatus, a 6,982 foot mountain with easy access from within the city. From the hotel, a spirited walk lasted about 15 minutes to get to the train station (adjacent to the orchestra hall). A view of the hotel from the lakefront promenade:
The walk is beautiful, hugging the lake as it curves around and over one of it’s many bridges. Over the course of the four days we were there, it offered the opportunity to meet other orchestra and chorus members, along with some of the locals:
Once at the train station, it takes about 10 minutes on a bus from the terminal to get to the base of the gondola. The trip up is divided into two tram lines and three stages; this is a view from the beginning of the first stage:
And here, from the beginning of the second stage:
Near the top, an isolated church:
After about 25 minutes of upwards motion, we reached the peak and the viewing center perched atop:
Fantastic views, probably about 15 fewer degrees, and bracing gusts of wind blowing powdered snow around. This is the view, looking away from Luzern, from the hotel up there at the top:
Coming back into the tourist center, an alphorn player was performing a traditional folksong entitled “Mountain Echo:”
It turned out that we shared a gondola back down and had the chance to converse about Swiss alphorn music, the Philharmonic tour, and life in general. Among the gems he told me was this slice of humble pie: he had “only” been playing for 30 years! Here he is descending back to Luzern:
And another view of Lake Luzern, or ” Der vierwaldstätter See” (literally translated as “lake of four forested cantons”) during our descent:
Having made landfall back downtown, I walked over to visit the Dying Lion of Luzern, carved into the face of glacial rock. This sculpture commemorates the Swiss Guards who were killed at the Tuileries in 1792 during the French Revolution:
Another notable sight to see is the city’s wall, approximately three-quarters of a mile long. It stands high above the surrounding residences and affords great views in the summer; it is closed in the winter:
After a beautiful dusk walk from the hotel to the hall,
I had the chance to have a seat at the Luzern performance of John Adams’ The Gospel According to the Other Mary; it was astonishing. The orchestra, chorus, soloists and dancers were on fire; the audience was transfixed and ultimately stood to give ovation to the many on stage:
In my opinion, the most valuable time to spend in Luzern (outside of onstage at the KKL concert hall) is at the Rosengart Museum, which I had the chance to visit on two days. This museum showcases the entirety of Angela Rosengart’s personal collection of Paul Klee and Pablo Picasso, both of whom she knew closely throughout many decades of these important painters’ lives. It is an intensely personal experience to admire these works, many of whose creation she and her father witnessed. Among other pieces are a pallette used by Chagall, given to Mr. Rosengart after the art dealer proclaimed to Chagall’s delight that one of his large pieces was finished, and a wonderful collection of photos taken by David Douglas Duncan showing the very intimate behind-the-scenes images of Picasso at work and the professional and personal relationship he enjoyed with the Rosengarts through the years. Truly one of the great art collections of the world. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
The second day I was there, I turned a corner and there was the fräulein herself, Angela Rosengart:
I had the chance to visit with her for a few minutes before she left; a fascinating person so closely connected to some of the most important 20th-century artists! Truly remarkable.
Following that breathtaking experience, I decided to have more of my breaths taken away by a wonderful 2.5 hour boat ride around much of the large Lake Luzern. This afforded wonderful views of the alps and many of the small villages lining the shore:
And now it was time to play our Debussy/Stravinsky program. The concert went swimmingly and the audience loved it. One more great show for the books!
Now we are on our way to the third stop of our tour: Paris! Until then; au revoir!