(Please Scroll Down For Paris, Prague and Salzburg: A Remembrance)
Paul Heidelberg in Paris, 2001
Paul Heidelberg, inducted into WHO'S WHO IN AMERICA 2002 and WHO'S WHO IN THE WORLD 2003 as a writer, has been a professional writer, artist and photographer since graduating from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1975. He lived in Italy and Greece for three years while serving in the U.S. Air Force and has visited Europe 14 times since 1986.
His work has appeared in such publications as "Art & Antiques," "The Miami Herald," "The Orange County Register," "The Philadelphia Inquirer," "The Wine News" and "Wine Enthusiast."
Writing samples are available through the archives of "The Miami Herald" and the "Sun-Sentinel" in Fort Lauderdale. He worked as a staff writer at the newspapers for nine years.
He has authored two novels, OCEANS APART and COOK'S RETURN; an excerpt from COOK'S RETURN is printed below (the book is set in Greece and in Paris, which the writer has visited 11 times since 1986).
A poet, the writer was elected on the basis of his work into the Poetry Society of America in New York City in 1986 and is also a member of the John F. Kennedy Library Hemingway Collection in Boston (a Hemingway aficionado since his youth, Heidelberg's story on Hemingway's years in Key West appeared in a special Sportsman Of The Year issue of "Sports Illustrated" magazine).
On working trips the author has visited France's Champagne Region three times and France's Charente Region -- the home of Cognac -- on five occasions.
In January, 1995, Heidelberg became the first foreigner to spend the night in a wood-and-coal fired Cognac distillery that dates to 1700, sleeping on a cot several feet from a 350-liter barrel being filled with the double-distilled precious liquid. An excerpt from a photo/writing package on that experience originally published in "The Wine News" follows:
... Indeed, I recall no dreams during those five hours or so that I slept. It certainly was a deep and sound rest, aided by the week's hectic schedule of photographing and researching, and, of course, tasting. (A highlight of the week was a full tasting at Max Cointreau's Cognac Frapin, topped by the pleasures of Cuvee Rabelais, presented in a Baccarat carafe, to commemorate the 500th Anniversary of the birth of Francois Rabelais, an ancestor of Max's wife, Genevieve.)
Perhaps the setting and the smells at the old distillery sent me into some blissful sleep worthy of a Romantic such as Coleridge and his great poem "Xanadu." It would be appropriate, after all, because they began making Cognac in Riviere's distillery a century before Coleridge and the other Romantic poets took up their pens...
Excerpt from the novel COOK'S RETURN, a book about life, love and art, follows:
THE BOOK BEGINS:
Circling Zeus' birthplace and other mountains that cut across the belly of the rocky mass, the plane banked left and right, above the red and purple of sunset on land and sea, until it swept down in approach, flying over changed landscape barely recognizable to Christopher Cook, who stared out the window, trying to fix on a landmark to take him back 20 years.
Finally he saw Dia Island, Dragon Island, and it looked more like a dragon from that altitude than from the shore, lumbering across the Sea of Crete, its mouth pointing towards Mallia and Aghios Nikolaos, its claws dug into the ocean floor, stuck there millions of years before the Minoans. He remembered looking at the island from the twisting road east of Iraklion, and thoughts about its sacred goats; a refuge from all that would later transform the mother island, Kriti.
|PARIS, PRAGUE AND SALZBURG: A
Eglise St. Sulpice, Paris, May, 2000:
In memory of Alice Huebinger Heidelberg (1921-1999) and James Martin Heidelberg (1921-1985).
Writer/Artist Paul Heidelberg and Sculptor Duane Hanson circa 1990 with Hanson works in progress, including ''MAN WITH CAMERA," far right, in which Heidelberg modelled for a Hanson work for the second time (the first: "TOURISTS II").
The Gutenberg Pavilion, Mainz, Germany, where the 600th anniversary of Mainz-born Johann Gutenberg, the inventor of movable type and creator of the Gutenberg Bible, was celebrated in the year 2000; this photograph was taken in May, 2000. You, viewer, are seeing this shrine to Gutenberg via the Internet, which has such extraordinary potential for communication -- for art and commerce.
Paris, Prague and Salzburg: A Remembrance
BY PAUL HEIDELBERG
(Copyright, U.S. Library of Congress)
I WRITE IN MEMORY OF LOVED ONES, INCLUDING HODIE, MY GREAT FRIEND OF MANY YEARS, OF MY FATHER JAMES MARTIN HEIDELBERG, OF MY GOOD FRIEND DUANE HANSON, OF LOVED ONES OF LOVED ONES, SUCH AS PATRICIA MERCER AND MICHAEL MERCER, AND OF W.A. MOZART, A GREAT FRIEND WHOSE COMPANY I HAVE ENJOYED SINCE CHILDHOOD: MOZART IS BEAUTY, BEAUTY IS MOZART.
DAD, THE YEAR AFTER YOU DIED, I MADE MY FIRST TRIP TO HEIDELBERG, AND TOASTED YOU DAYS LATER AT THE MATHASIER BIER STADT IN MUNICH, AS I MIGHT HAVE RAISED A GLASS TO YOU IN HOUSTON AT THE CHAMPIONS GOLF CLUB LOCKERROOM, OR AT THE CHAMPIONS BALLROOM, "WALTZ ACROSS TEXAS" IN THE BACKGROUND.
SITTING UNDER THIS TREE ON THIS BENCH, I TOAST YOU NOW, AND WILL TOAST YOU IN PARIS, PRAGUE AND SALZBURG, DRINKING A BEER IN YOUR NAME IN EACH, REMEMBERING YOUR IMMORTAL ATTRIBUTES I CARRY WITH ME STILL: HONESTY, GOOD-NATUREDNESS AND A SINCERE CONCERN FOR YOUR FELLOW MAN.
ADIEU AND HELLO... APRIL 23, 1999, FORT SAM HOUSTON NATIONAL CEMETERY, SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS..................
APRIL 23, 1999, 2:24 CST, TERRELL HILLS, TEXAS, IN A NATUREPARK REMINISCIENT OF FRANCE.
THIS WAS NOT EASY, HANSON. WRONG TURN AT THE CEMETARY -- NO EXIT.
AS WE WOULD SAY IN FLORIDA, THE FEELS LIKE TEMPERATURE ON THIS APRIL TEXAS DAY IS ABOUT 105. I BICYCLED IN THE SUN FOR ABOUT AN HOUR.
THIS IS THE SPOT I VISITED IN JANUARY, 1996, ABOUT TWO HOURS AFTER I HAD LEARNED YOU HAD GONE.
THEN, WITH A RADIO HEADSET, I LISTENED TO BACH. NOW WITH THE SAME HEADSET, SISTER JEANETTE'S, I LISTEN APPROPRIATELY TO STRAUSS; DER ROSENKAVELIER WAS ONE OF YOUR FAVORITES, YAH?
THEY FINALLY GAVE YOU A RETRO THREE YEARS AFTER YOUR EXIT. "THE NEW YORK TIMES" GAVE YOUR WHITNEY MOAA SHOW AN EXCELLENT REVIEW -- ''IN THE FUTURE HIS WORK WILL BE MUCH MORE DIFFICULT TO DISMISS,'' OR SOME SUCH VERBIAGE.
I COULD TELL SHE ''GOT'' YOUR WORK.
I WILL HAVE A HALBEN LITER IN SALZBURG TO YOU, OLD FRIEND, AND RECALL OUR TIMES IN THE JOE GEIGER HOUSE, AND OUR REGULAR TELEPHONE CONVERSATIONS -- YOU ALWAYS TELLING ME EXCITEDLY ABOUT THE MOST RECENT ERUDITE WORK YOU WERE READING, SUCH AS A BOOK BY WILL AND ARIEL DURANT; THESE PEOPLE KNOW NOTHING OF THAT SIDE OF YOU -- I THINK THEY WOULD BE SURPRISED...THE FARMBOY FROM MINNESOTA WHO MADE IT BIG...
I WILL BE SURE THE BEER HAS A GOOD HEAD ON IT, MY GOOD FRIEND, AS YOU ALWAYS DESIRED.
PROSIT UND AUF WIEDERSHEN...
PARIS............................................. 6:49 AM, April 27, 1999 Rue de Fleurus, Paris 75006
I always have trouble remembering if it is Rue de Fleurus or Rue des Fleurus; today, as the first light of day lights my computer through the large French doors that open onto my black, wrought-iron balcony, I don't have that problem.
I can look across the street at the blue, green and white street marker:
6e Arr. Rue de Fleurus
When I first stayed at this hotel in 1987, Der Wolfhund was four years old. She got that nickname one night when a German painter friend of mine first saw her. "Oh, you've got a Wolfhund," he exclaimed, impressed wth her stature.
I should have said, "What did you think I'd have -- a damned poodle?"
On the last morning of her life, barely able to stand, ravaged by cancer, she held up her head proudly next to my bed as I fell apart with emotion.
I vowed to her then that I would write this work. Three and a half years later, I am able to write it in a fashion that befits her. I will tie her story in with the story of W.A. Mozart, in my opinion one of the world's four greatest composers -- the others being J.S. Bach, Beethoven and Wagner (Herr Bach's stature has risen lately in my book -- among other things, he was the world's first jazz musician [just listen to the bass elements in his Mass in B Minor] ).
My room sits about fifteen feet above the Rue de Fleurus, where Ernest Hemingway regularly walked on his visits up the street to 27, Rue de Fleurus, to visit Gertrude Stein.
After admiring Hemingway and his writing nearly all my life, writing about him in "Sports Illustrated" nearly 15 years ago, and meeting and interviewing his son Patrick only last year, I am finally about to exorcise Papa from my Muse/Soul.
"I've got my own damned writing and black lonelies to deal with," I might say, as he might say.
I think I got his tone down nearly perfectly in my fiction work "Ernesto and Jimmy."
Now, I am wanting to be done with him, in a sense.
But when I read in some poll of chicy chic American writers that two of his novels are ranked 43rd and 75th on their list of top 100 American books, I've got to laugh.
And who is Number One? John Grisham or Tom Wolfe? (The association is well intended, Monsieur Wolfe; I am sorry).
Hemingway is the best writer America has ever had; that opinion stands, whether or not I have exorcised him.
Hemingway had his Black Dog. Hodie was my Brown, Black Dog. She was constantly by my side as I sweated out my two novels OCEANS APART and COOK'S RETURN -- metaphorically, and literally in the oppressive Florida heat, air conditioning or no air conditioning.
With a Chocolate Labrador mother and a German Short-haired Pointer father, Hodie had a rare breeding I have not seen in any full-blooded hunds. As I wrote once before, any derision she might have received because of her mixed-blood lineage was totally unfounded. Her lineage was far better than that of most of the people I have met.
This dog had class.
After one of my four writing trips to France's Charente Region, home of the world's finest spirit Cognac, I conducted a taste test with my hund:
I offered her two glasses to smell: one contained a mundane VSOP from one of the big houses such as Courvoisier or Remy Martin, and the other held an Extra cognac -- a super-fine cognac that is rated above even XO cognacs in quality and aging. Hodie turned up her nose at the VSOP but started lapping up the Extra.
Hard times have hit Cognac, and France. I noticed last night that the Boulangerie across the street appeared shut. Nicely dressed garbagemen, attired in green uniforms to match their green truck, just carted off some of the store's final offerings: three garbage bags full of stale baguettes. Paris 7:25 AM April 28, 1999.
(The sounds and smells here are remarkably familiar. We all get older, but Paris remains the same age [Paris is the beautiful woman you always return to]. Yesterday, I barely recognized the barman at the Restaurant du Luxembourg -- his graying beard had turned him into someone else).
Back the next day with this news: Just as a premature Obit kills someone too soon, I killed the Boulangerie across the street before its time was up. Apparently, it was just closed on Monday and Tuesday -- the garbagemen carting off large bags of stale baguettes must be part of the regular routine.
There are too many Americans in Paris now -- I hate hearing English with an American accent being spoken loudly on these streets; it is sort of like screaming in church, I would say.
Yesterday I visited Eglise St. Sulpice for the first time this trip. I suppose I would call it "My Church." It has an ambience that is quite appropriate for artistes et ecrivains, which is why Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Faulkner each attended services there I read somewhere (I am surprised they each attended services anywhere).
Every time I have visited the church, I have seen at least two artists sketching.
Patricia Mercer and Michael Mercer, whom I mentioned earlier in dedication, were the mother and brother of mon ami Frances Mercer. I have known Francie since January, 1972, when I met her in a orientation class at the San Franciso Art Institute, the best art school in the United States (when I first visited the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, the similarity of the two art centers was remarkable). We both are graduates of the SFAI.
Back in those days, I was a painter and a poet, reading regularly at such North Beach venues as the Coffee Gallery with my good friend poet Wilfredo Castano, a Vietnam Veteran Marine who wrote beautiful, firey verse that reminded me of Federico Garcia Lorca (now I would call myself a writer, I suppose, although I do still take photographs and paint).
Francie is a very good artist and a very good person (and I think it is significant for both of us that I put artist first -- although when rereading this that seems to imply she is lesser of a very good person, which is not the intention of the ranking). She was doing fine representational and abstract paintings when I met her and recently has been working on a superb series of watercolors of verdant Florida scenes that combine elements of the representational and the abstract.
Hodie slept on Francie's neck as a puppy and I e-mailed Francie recently that losing Hodie was like losing a child.
I was with Hodie when she was born, during a 12-hour labor she and her three siblings and mother, Coco Chanel's Randi, endured (actually I suppose Mother Hund Randi did most of the enduring), and I was with her when she died, when I saved her a day or two of torture by relieving her pain by taking her to the vets.
Besides my sister Jeanette, who was the recipient of dozens of postcards during my three years in Italy and Greece while serving in the U.S. Air Force, I would say the other woman in my life is my dear mother Alice Heidelberg (I hear church bells tolling in the distance, above the sounds of traffic and pedestrians -- I think it is the sounds of Eglise St. Sulpice).
The coincidence of hearing church bells and mention of my mother is appropriate, as she raised my brother Jim, sister and myself in her Catholic religion -- my father had been raised a Baptist -- in the best possible way.
She was a practicing Christian, not a hypocrite. For example, I learned the tenets of Civil Rights long before I learned of the Movement and persons such as Martin Luther King, Jr. -- we were taught to accept persons of all races as our brothers and sisters. That was not the norm among Whites in Virginia and Texas, where we lived in the Fifties and Sixties.
My mother was responsible for my hearing Mozart's great Jupiter Symphony for the first time (decades later, I used the symphony as background for a scene near the end of my novel COOK'S RETURN, set in Crete, Greece and in Paris; I will donate copies of the novel during this trip to the Villa Bertramka in Prague and the Mozarteum in Salzburg).
Shopping for a present for my father, my mother's artistic side was caught by the photograph on the cover of an album of Mozart's 40th and 41st symphonies -- a color rainbow had been transposed over a photograph of a violin and Mozart's score.
I listened to those symphonies on the big Phillips Hi-Fi console in my bedroom in Houston -- the Hi-Fi's red light beaming across the room -- and knew virtually every note of both symphonies.
In the journal I kept in preparation for this trip, I noted that Mozart's 39th, 40th, and 41st symphonies have to be the best musical works ever created in such a short time span, and, indeed, the Jupiter may be the best symphonic work ever -- its majesty is simply inhuman. Various accounts I have read place the creation of the three works within a three-month, to slighter longer time-frame.
As I wrote in COOK'S RETURN, Mozart must have had a premonition that the 41st Symphony would be his last.
(I was just interrupted by a telephone repairman dispatched by hotel owner Monsieur Doumergue; the repairman did the job quickly and Monsieur Doumergue's having him see to it soon after his return after two days off is typical. Monsieur Doumergue is the architypal Frenchman -- he may seem aloof at first, but with time becomes a true friend. He lost his dog Nico, an "Epaneuil Breton," in 1989, when the dog was aged thirteen (I lost Hodie two months before her thirteenth birthday). When we discuss our departed friends the loss in his eyes is obvious -- as I suppose my loss is evident).
As I just did a word count on what I have written thus far today, I am reminded of the work quota I placed on myself for my novels: five pages a day for OCEANS APART, and two pages a day for COOK'S RETURN. Writing COOK'S RETURN was certainly one of the most difficult things I have ever done. As I have written, to complete it, I endured what every serious writer endures to write well.
The visual art equivalent of this is an "artist" who says one paints "to have fun." Whenever I heard this during my five years authoring a newspaper art column, I thought, "Uh-Oh."
I just experienced the "Computer Nightmare" of thinking I had lost most of what I have written today. Fortunately, I was pulling up the wrong stories. I am unable to make hard copies of what I am writing each day with my new laptop as I am not connecting to a printer, so I am saving it to the computer disc, and to two other floppy discs.
Before my state of shock, I was going to write that this is how I wanted to do this, Hodie. Not writing it in an hour here and an hour there. You deserve much better. I am writing it in "One Go," uninterrupted, as I wrote COOK'S RETURN during that one year of my life. And as I listen to Eglise St. Sulpice's bells tolling again, I think I could not find a better place than this to write it.
Here is to you Hodie -- my great departed friend.
Back on the morning of Friday, April 30; I will end the day's writing with the inclusion of two poems, one written recently and the other from the Winter of 1989-90.
I used a good writing rule before ending my last day of work -- always end where you know you are going to start the next day's work.
I knew that I would begin by including these poems, but I didn't know I would be listening to Mozart's Requiem on the headset and tape recorder I bought for this trip.
It is of course appropriate for this work dedicated to Hodie and to Mozart. The performance I am listening to is the Wiener Staatsopernchor and the Concentus Musicus Vien conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt.
In the liner notes, Mr. Harnoncourt mentions how he had a revelation in preparing for this recording of the Requiem -- how he came to learn of Mozart's using the work to go from a general outlook on death to a very personal confrontation with death -- with one's own mortality.
In 1991 I visited Cologne, Germany in conjunction with a travelling exhibition of hyperrealstic sculptures in Germany and Austria by my good friend of 10 years Duane Hanson. Just as Hanson used me as a model for two of his works, "Man With Camera" and "Tourists II," which he told me he considered his masterpiece, I used Duane as the model for the character Anthony the sculptor in COOK'S RETURN (I used Frances Mercer as the model for the French painter Simone, and I suppose I used myself a bit in all the characters, especially for protagonist Christopher Cook).
In between meetings with the German press to explain what it is like to pose for one of Hanson's works, and to be photographed and videographed with the two satirical sculptures, I had a chance to attend a performance of Mozart's Jupiter Symphony at a concert hall, and a performance of his Requiem at one of Cologne's many Romanesque churches.
The church performance is by far the most memorable.
An overflow crowd had showed up at the church and about 150 of us were allowed to experience the performance for free, as standing room only guests.
Waiting in line outside the church, I had struck up a conversation with a German woman in her 30s, who was aware of Hanson's work and told me she had in fact made a life-like sculpture of her son.
The woman and I stood in a chamber of the church over the bronzed crypt of some saint, or other such notable, and we were both enthralled by this very moving performance of instruments and voice. Near the end of the performance, I glanced at the woman: she had tears streaming down her face.
Such is the power of Mozart.
I never took many photographs of Hodie -- I think I was afraid of jinxing her.
But in searching for some writing of her I did, I came across two photographs -- one is a very dignified portrait of her in our old house in western Broward County, Florida, west of Fort Lauderdale. The other was taken in the backyard after my return from a writing seminar in Key West.
Her happiness at seeing me after my several days absence is very evident in her eyes; it is almost too much to look at.
Just as I have settled into a good working routine here in Paris, it is about time to depart for Prague. I will fly to Prague Sunday, May 2, from Paris's Charles DeGaulle airport via Brussels.
In some middle of the night notes I have been making in a journal since arriving in Paris, I noted last night that just as I have used my hotel room in Paris as the sole place for this writing, in Prague and Salzburg I will more likely use the laptop to "write on the spot" in such places as the Villa Bertramka and the Mozarteum.
I am also looking forward to my return to my home in the Victoria Park section of Fort Lauderdale -- Key West North, you might call it; there are plenty of artists and writers there, including my "soulmate" Frances Mercer.
Good Old Hodie. That is the good thing about travelling now. I don't have to worry about leaving her behind.
When I wrote COOK'S RETURN, in addition to having Hodie by my side during the entire process, I also had my music.
When I had my characters listening to work by such disparate composers and musicians as Beethoven, Mozart, the Beatles and Van Morrison, I listened to that music as I wrote.
I think it would be interesting for those reading the novel to do the same as they read -- when a character is listening to Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, or the Astral Weeks album by Van Morrison, the reader can do the same.
On Hodie and Hanson:
Hodie died September 7, 1995. When I told Hanson, he asked, "You gonna get a new dog?" "Nope." Nearly four months to the day later -- January 6, 1996, Hanson was dead.
I have often thought that if you had told me years earlier that my dog of nearly 13 years and my best male friend of 10 years would go within four months of each other, I wouldn't have believed it.
After Hanson's passing, someone might have asked, "You gonna get a new friend?" "Nope."
These two passings had much to do with the structure of the first work of fiction I completed after their going, "Ernesto and Jimmy."
Now to the poetry. First a recent work:
WHAT WAS KEPT WHAT WAS NOT KEPT
What was not kept:
two each of
Mickey Mantle, Moose Skowron,
Whitey Ford, Warren Spahn,
Harmon Killebrew's rookie card
his first year with the Senators,
and a full El Producto cigar box more.
What was kept:
In the tiny Japanese
(lacquer painted, post War Nagoya,
Haruta's daughter dancing for me happily;
hand-worked porcelain given
to the young American weekly):
the musty leather key holder,
complete with spare keys to the sleek Buick --
75 miles per hour
in the then countryside
back from a high school date,
Thelonious Monk's "April in Paris''
broadcast from Chicago
Sunday morning 2 a.m.
Now something written when Hodie was alive and well at my residence of 12 years, 2930 SW 23rd Terrace, Fort Lauderdale.
The corn plant flowers,
smelling of magnolias;
days later its spikes dwindle
to dusty crimson flakes,
the perfume broken
through the yard --
After six years, flowers,
drawing insects still,
after they've withered,
their December blooming
that might have been missed
except for the fragrance
of winter blossoms.
9:10 am, May 3 Hotel/Pension City Vinohrady District
I will begin in Prague in my hotel room before I cross the Vltava River on a walk to the Villa Bertramka, where Mozart often stayed with his friends the Duseks, and where he completed his opera "Don Giovanni." Later today, I plan to attend a performance of that opera at the Natonal Marionnette Theatre.
BERTRAMKA -- MAY 3, 1:15 pm This was a pilgrimmage -- crowded metro trip, with transfer, and then a dirty walk through a dirty industrial area I had been forewarned about, to reach this oasis.
The greenery surrounding the Villa Bertramka, and the hilly terrain reminds me very much of Oma's land in New Braunfels. That might be very appropriate.
I donated a copy of COOK'S RETURN to Bertramka. The museum has instruments from Mozart's day and various paintings and illustrations. Mozart plays on large speakers placed throughout the museum, but I think it is much better to listen to Herr Mozart in your own space.
The good Czech beer is ridiculously cheap in Prague. An ice-cold half liter of Pilsner Urquell sells in my hotel for about 39 cents a bottle. A half liter of Gambrinus, the most popular beer in Prague, costs about 49 cents in a restaurant.
I will have one of these beers later to...you Wolfgang, you Dad, you Hanson, and to my beloved hund Hodie.
Here on the morning of May 4; taking a quick shower this morning I thought about where "Paris, Prague and Salzburg: A Remembrance" began: on a hot Texas day as I bicycled in scorching heat from my father's gravesite to "the Hanson spot" -- an idyllic retreat in the Terrell Hills section of San Antonio.
Yesterday, approaching Namesti Miru (Peace Square) the largest landmark near, and name of the Metro stop for, my Hotel/Pension City, I had a very real, eery sense of Deja Vu, as if I had dreamt of the place recently, or had been there before.
Tram lines run through the square/park, which has a cathedral and much foilage that is in full Spring bloom -- purple, white and pink flowers hang in the air everywhere.
As I hear a song bird singing outside my window as I write, I am reminded of two things: first of the songbird that sang outside my window in my hotel room in Munich in 1987, prompting me to write the poem, "Art Is What You Make Of It."
Secondly, I remember reading somewhere that Mozart held a funeral for a deceased pet bird; perhaps this bird I am listening to now, and have listened to at various day and night hours since my arrival in Prague, is a descendant of Herr Mozart's.
At any rate, the bird has a very distinctive voice, and I would say it is also worthy of a funeral.
Speaking with a fellow traveller on the flight from Brussels to Prague, I thought about the Ying/Yang of life, art and culture and the pleasures of love on one hand, with warfare, famine and disease, etc. on the other: for example, the current situation in the Balkans, proving that mankind has learned little in this century, or during the past few centuries, contrasted with the beauty of Mozart's creations.
Before my trip to Bertramka yesterday, Mr. Petr Holubec, owner and manager of the Hotel/Pension City in which I am staying -- a great find, by the way, with a suite for a room that must comprise 1,000 square feet at the bargain rate of about 50 U.S. dollars per night -- told me that walking to the Mozart shrine was out of the question because you had to travel through industrial neighborhoods to get there.
After I had taken the Metro to the Musek stop before transferring to the Andel stop near Bertramka, I walked the streets on the way to Bertramka amazed at how industrial it was, and at the tremendous amount of construction going on, what Berlin and Dresden must look like.
Because I was busy studying my directions, it was only after I had visited Bertramka and was on my way back to the Metro that I noticed this: virtually adjacent to Bertramka is a working coal mine.
Heavy equiment loads trucks filled with the black, dusty product.
Walking the hilly woods behind Villa Bertramka, I was very much reminded of land my grandmother owned in New Braunfels, Texas: the trees, the path, the color of the light that filtered through the trees seemed very familiar.
I then thought of the hills and mountains Mozart would have played in near Salzburg in what little childhood he might have had. Bertramka must have reminded him of his childhood home.
It is well known that Mozart didn't get along too well with Salzburg's prince/archbishop and that he rather detested his native town as provincial and backward.
During his life, Mozart was not highly regarded by the people of Salzburg, apparently; but they certainly must think highly of him now, with the money that is being made off his name and music. Although I am sure over the centuries locals have learned to appreciate his uniqueness and genuis.
But Mozart did visit Salzburg throughout his life, into his final years; the tranquil beauty of the surrounding hills and woodlands -- just think how tranquil it must have been in his time -- must have been a comfort to him and one of his favorite things about his hometown.
In Salzburg I will be staying at the Hotel Fuggerhof. On the ouskirts of the city, it backs onto the Kapuzinerberg, one of the two mountains that surround Salzburg.
A house Mozart lived in as an adult is near the Kapuzinerberg, and not far from the Fuggerhof. I have thought I will be walking hills that I am sure were walked by Herr Mozart, just as was the path I took at Bertramka yesterday that led through woods in springtime bloom.
Like most Europeans, the Czechs seem to love their dogs and cats.
My first night here I heard a hund barking that reminded me of Hodie's bark -- a no-nonsense warning to strangers: Beware.
Near the hotel desk is a framed collage of hotel workers. Included in the photos is one of Mates (pronounced Maa-tus), the house cat, a red Himalayan.
I had greeted Mates upon my arrival, but had not seen him again until this morning, when he showed up to join me for breakfast. I found out he is like my brother Jim's and sister-in-law Johnny's cat Binky I fed days ago in Tejas -- he won't eat off the floor, you have to hold the food for the chat to take from your fingers.
Mates dined on jambon for petite dejuner today courtesey of Herr Heidelberg. Waiting for the elevator, I spied him in the hallway and gave him a few rubs on the head.
Last night I attended a performance of Don Giovanni at the National Marionette Theatre. Sections were good, especially the ending. The music, of course, was exceptional throughout.
Re: "The Situation In The Balkans." It is exceedingly strange to be listening to Czech radio, to music such as Bach or Handel, and then hear the newscaster break in for the news, speaking of things like "Presidentem Bill Clinton...Yugoslavie...NATO..."
This must be similar to what Corfou was like when Lawrence Durrell was there before the outbreak of World War II, or Salzburg at the time of Archduke Ferdinand's assassination in Sarajevo 1914 that led to World War I.
We shall see what happens with this "Balkan Situation."
9:55 am, May 6 EXIT PRAGUE......
Back on the morning of May 6, the day of my departure for Salzburg via Linz via train, after the definite musical highlight of my Prague stay -- a performance of "Ave Maria and Other Famous Arias" at the St. Francis Church near the Charles Bridge in Old Town by soprano Alena Zakova, tenor Milos Jezil and organist Marketa Hejskova.
The tenor was good, the organist was very good and the soprano was excellent -- her voice filled the church as she sang in the choir and organ gallery (the organ dates from 1702, the second oldest in Prague; Mozart and Anton Dvorak are among those who have performed on it).
The marionette performance was more of a puppet show, which included jokes at Mozart's expense and other gimmickry that detracted from "Don Giovanni."
Last night's performance included two pieces by Mozart. The first, the Andante, had playfull circus-like elements, definitely Mozartian (the Archbishop of Salzburg would probably not have approved). The second piece, Ave Verum, which I have often listened to on CD was as solemn as the first was playfull -- the Ying and Yang of Mozart.
A spectacular performance. In the section of the church where I had asked to be seated -- nearest the choir and organ gallery -- I could just see the organist, but the soprano and tenor were visible only by their shadows, which I think heightened the experience, and the surprise at the end.
I had thought the tenor older and the soprano younger. He was younger, and she was older and smaller than I would have imagined -- the force and beauty of her voice.
You would have loved this, Duane. And I realize I have neglected to mention Hanson got me interested in vocal, operatic music, I suppose. I had always liked symphonic, instrumental music but had not been a big fan of the vocal. He introduced me to that, especially to Wagner.
At Duane's memorial service in April, 1996 at the Museum of Art in Fort Lauderdale, mention was made of our "Opera Club" nights. Several of us artists and writers would meet regularly at Duane's Joe Geigherhouse Studio to view an opera on his large-screen television.
Duane was a real Wagner fan but as we sat on his sofa and on chairs viewing a performance such as "Parsifal," Duane said, "Wagner was really presumptous to think people could sit through all of this."
Duane's first wife had been an opera singer. Duane worked for six years in the 1950s in Germany teaching art to U.S. Army military dependents while his wife pursured her operatic career. "She always blamed me for her failure," he told me, "because I was also her manager."
Duane's widow Wesla had much to do with his success in more ways than one. They married in the late '60s, about the time Duane began to receive international fame.
In about 1972, while giving Duane a haircut, she noticed a lump on his throat. At her insistance, he visited a doctor, where he was diagnosed with lymphoma. Immediate treatment conquered the cancer then, and later in the '70s when it recurred, but he finally succumbed to another recurrence in 1996.
By the way, I had a toast May 5 to you Duane, to Dad and to you Hodie: a beautiful beer called Velvet that is served all foam and stabilizes in the glass as the patient drinker waits. A German Weiss beer would never stabilize with such foam.
Prosit, I said, as I toasted you at the Meduza Cafe on Belgicka Street in Prague.
I plan to use the computer to write on the train today, ala Herr Mozart composing -- on paper, or in his head -- while travelling by coach.
On my last night in San Antonio I viewed a compilation of home movies from my childhood that had been shot by my Aunt Betty, who also paints. I told my sister Jeanette, who went through the trouble of having the 8mm films tranferred to video, that an artist is an artist, whether it involves painting, photography, filmmaking -- whatever. Matters such as composition are the same in all.
In the films I saw footage of my younger cousin Mike Huebinger, who died tragically at age 23 from a heart disease. A great golfer -- Ben Crenshaw's best rival during his high school and college days in Texas -- Mike's sweet swing, which is really sweet, is forever recorded on film. What a swing. He stood about 5 foot-7, weighed about 145 pounds, and consistently drove the ball 280 yards or further.
Also, I watched films of our beloved hund Heidi, a dachsund and our family dog in the '60s in San Antonio. I guess she was the Hodie of my youth. She was only about five when she developed that terrible disease that affected her back and rear legs, making walking impossible.
My sister and father took her off to have her put to sleep. I stayed home and cried.
These animals. I told Francie when her Golden Retriever Bean went -- it is almost harder to take than when people go.
When I left the church last night, I walked along the Vltava River that cuts through Prague. It was a clear, crisp night, with Venus shining brightly above Prague Castle and other illuminated buildings on the other side of the river.
The Vltava is huge -- much wider than the Seine.
I told myself I needed to write a poem with the idea of "Time and the River."
May 6, 11:05 pm SALZBURG
I had wanted to travel as Mozart had travelled but I succeeded to well: his coach rides must have been awful; the train trip from Prague to Salzburg was horrendous.
Slow Czech train misses connection in Linz, run nine tracks in two minutes loaded with bags to catch last available train to Salzburg. Also, the main train station in Prague is not one of that city's highlights.
May 8, 9:35 am, SALZBURG
Yesterday, I left the Hotel Pension Fuggerhof on my first "weg" into Salzburg and climbed a mountain, the Kapuzinerberg, and it is a mountain, not a hill. Frau Herta Kammerhofer here at the Fuggerhof must think I am hearty and athletic, I thought as I sweated and caught my breath in gasps at times as I started at ground level Salzburg and climbed all the way to vistas far above the city, where I looked across mountains, churches, homes, offices and rivers to Bavaria.
I carried my copy of COOK'S RETURN for donation to the Mozarteum with me during the trek; on the cover of the envelope that contained my novel, I noted that it had been carried that day by the author up and over the berg where Mozart played as a child and walked as an adult.
(As Mozart was sickly as a child -- probably from so many cold and dirty coach trips -- I doubt that he would have made the complete journey over the mountain, but perhaps he did. As an adult he surely must have walked some of the trails I took).
As expected, I see signs everywhere in this town of people making money off Herr Mozart and his music. I don't think he would really be offended -- he would probably give a Mozartian chuckle. As much as this city is criticized for not treating him properly during his lifetime, with this beautiful nature everywhere here -- at this moment in May I have a chorus of three birds singing outside my hotel window and can see snow-capped mountains in several directions as well as luscious greenery on other mountains -- I am sure these surroundings had important effects on him and his music. Upon his returns here during adulthood from such places as Paris, Prague and Vienna, the abundant nature must have been a comfort and must have also been revitalizing.
Mozart was too much of an iconoclast to kiss up to the Prince/Archbishops of Salzburg. In reference to a recent political/sexual scandal which I found ludicrous, as I grew to manhood living in Italy and Greece for three years, far removed from American puritanicalism about such matters, Frau Kammerhofer, in giving me a verbal historical tour of Salzburg my first morning here, informed me a Cardinal Wolf Dietrich had built the Schoss Mirabell for his mistress -- the mistress of a clergyman who was supposedly celibate -- who had given birth to his 10 children.
I plan to rent a bicycle today and cycle into the foothills of the Gaisberg mountain, alas, more of a mountain than the Kapuzinerberg; I won't attempt to climb this one.
I think it is better to remember Mozart in the woods and hills he played in as a child and walked as an adult, rather than in rooms filled with tourists.
And to the friend who was the reason I started this project, my beloved dog Hodie, I now give a final salute. Seeing a beautiful red male Wolfhund yesterday, I could see how its lineage was related to Hodie's German Shorthaired Pointer lines.
I don't think I have mentioned this about Der Wolfhund Hodie -- she never had lessons or training, but when I called, or commanded her to do something, she did it. Just as she didn't bark needlessly as many dogs do -- if she barked, be aware.
So, to Hodie, Dad, Hanson, and to you Herr Mozart, here are some final words. You may provide the music, Herr Mozart.
(I have decided to end "Paris, Prague and Salzburg: A Remembrance" with a poem I wrote May 7, 1999, standing above the middle of the Salzach River, on the Mozartsteg pedestrian walkway that crosses the river near the Mozartplatz. I wrote this poem not long after visiting Mozart's birthhouse in Salzburg.)
Of Time and the Rivers Vltava and Salzach
we are all gone,
the rivers flow --
music from snows melting,
as when we
were all children --
brown, not green,
with the force
Heidelberg, Salzburg, May 7, 1999
|Mozart Birthhouse Salzburg, September, 2000.||Near Salzburg, September, 2000.|
View from the Mozartsteg pedestrian walkway in Salzburg, where Paul Heidelberg wrote the poem "Of Time and the Rivers Vltava and Salzach." Taken in May, 2000.
ęCopyright 1999-2003 Paul Heidelberg, All Rights Reserved