After returning from a truly intense fortnight in Japan, I enjoyed a lovely holiday with my even lovelier family in St. Anton. Just barely enough to build up enough stamina to get through this crazy week – the orchestra has a small tour to Munich and Paris coming up, and I thought, well, frankly, that is too boring for me, I need a little more (just kidding of course)… So I scheduled a performance of Mozart’s Flute and Harp-Concerto in Villach, my hometown, with my wonderful colleague Anneleen Lenaerts on Wednesday.
But how to get to rehearsals and concerts in the middle of a tour to somewhere completely different? The solution I came up with is sort of fun in a way: I rented a really comfortable car and my fabulous niece Johanna Auer as a driver, and she will take us to Klagenfurt after the opera on Tuesday (Rusalka, that I’ve never really played before, just to keep things spicy), to Munich after the rehearsal on Wednesday, back to Villach after the concert in Munich on Wednesday, and back home to Vienna after the concert on Thursday, just in time to catch the plane to Paris on Friday morning.
All in a week’s work… Lots of wonderful music and lots of time on the road – looking forward to both in a way!
Allow me introduce you to my esteemed former flute professor Johannes von Kalckreuth. He was a legendary flute professor at the Conservatory in Klagenfurt, and he had the most decisive influence on my career. Noble and gentle by nature, he always taught from the piano (that he played fantastically well!), and flute playing was always about the music first and foremost. His kindness fostered a closely-knit group of students that harbored no unnecessary competitiveness. Always deeply religious, he spent almost all his salary on charity, living in a small council apartment filled with the remaining paintings and antiques from former family splendor. Our daughter Marianna, then aged 4, once asked to go “back to that museum” after visiting him.
During the last two years, his mental health has slowly, but surely started to decline, and as of last year, he can no longer live on his own, but is now housed in a room at a Caritas Home. Forgetful of the presence, living ever more in the past, his sweet and charming nature make him a favorite to everyone.
I took the opportunity to visit him just after Christmas. My former flute class colleague, the brilliant and incomparable Lorenz Pichler, is still well known to him because of his frequent visits. He did not recognize me, but remembered my name and my career, I suppose he was expecting somebody at least 15 years younger… What struck and touched me is that the core of his personality is completely unchanged, and while his constant disorientation could anger a less temperate man, he seems to have accepted his illness and asks about facts in his own life with amused interest, is delighted by good news, even if he does not remember it minutes later, and continues to be the delightful and lovable man we all remember.
As dementia-research often points out that musical memory stays on very long, I am sure that he still remembers a lot of flute music – his 80th birthday is coming up this summer and we will fill his home with his favorite melodies for the day, putting on a concert with many of his former pupils.
I will have the great honor to receive the annual Cultural Award of my hometown Villach this coming december. Many of my predecessors are renowned painters as well as my former teacher Michael M. Kofler. I’m pleasantly surprised and honored. Thank you very much!
We are on a almost 3 weeks tour through Asia with Christoph Eschenbach and a lot of Mozart. And sometimes very precious and unforgettable moments happen on the way. Like Maestro Seiji OZAWA leading a rehearsal and conducting Beethovens “Egmont” Ouverture at Suntory Hall, Tokyo.
The most beautiful place: Austria – Carinthia, lake Ossiachersee, high above in the sky…
This is my view from the stage of our Summer Nights Concert in Schönbrunn. Impressive!
2 weeks after the Vienna City Marathon I wanted to check my running pace. In between rehearsals with Daniel Harding (Mahler, Song from the Earth) and the Neill Shicoff-Gala at the opera, I finished the Salzburg half-marathon in 1:37:01 yesterday! Typically for Salzburg, it rained all day, but the run was fun. I headed back to Vienna to play at the opera the same night. Now we continue the upcoming week with concerts in Cologne, Luxemburg and Vienna with Daniel Harding. I’m very much looking forward to playing the flute solo in Mahler’s “The Farewell” with Matthias Goerne singing.
YESSS! With the immense support of friends and family, the goal I worked for during the last months became reality. It was a big event, about 40 000 runners at the start, and weather and fun-factor were great. Of course I started to fast. But a little bit on purpose, to explore the limits of my body. Until km 25 everything went very well, and I was ahead of my schedule, expecting to finish at a time of around 3:15:00. BUT – there are no miracles in sports. After km 25 I had to reduce my pace, and basically tried just to survive and finish the run. My brother Erich, who oversaw my nutrition, helped me through rather difficult moments during the last part of the race. But we made it, together. My finish time 3:35.49 is not that good, but its a base for upcoming runs and a good experience to see what I have to work on. My next run will be on May 3rd in Salzburg, a half-marathon. I’m very much looking forward to it!
This week, a few days before Easter and 1 1/2 weeks before my big day at the Vienna City Marathon, I visited Toyko for only two days. And so I can add Tokyo after Vienna, Athens, Hamburg, Munich and New York to the cities where I had my intense training runs for the upcoming marathon. Sakura are in full bloom in Tokyo and while circling the Imperial Palace grounds I felt that I was performing a very efficient form of hanami..
In the evening I joined my friend Julien Beaudiment for his wonderful concert “Strings for Flute”. I was part of one encore and I enjoyed it tremendously! By the way: Congratulation Julien for becoming the new flute professor at Lyon Conservatory!!
Back in Vienna I finished my last long distance run of more than 4 hours this morning. Elektra tonight will be done in less than half!
Some of you might be aware of the fact that the Musikverein houses an extensive collection of musical manuscripts, prints and so on, but that a sizable, impressive number of historic musical instruments are also part of the deal is almost a secret… Archive Director Dr. Otto Biba is the warden and guardian of these treasures. The musical instruments are housed in a state-of-the-art vault-like storage room deep down in the cellar, and one cupboard is filled with traverse flutes!
A couple of months ago, we had the the privilege of trying a few of them, and selected two flutes to be played at a concert next week. These are by Schöllnast, Preßburg makers at the beginning of the 19th centuries. During the last weeks, Julia has carefully tried to reacquaint them with being played, and they have reacted very well, almost seeming to enjoy the process.. The series of concerts with musical instruments is aptly called “Nun klingen sie wieder..”, roughly translated as “Now they sound again”. If you would like to hear flutes that have been silent for decades, if not centuries, join us on April 8th at Musikverein/Brahmssaal!