Tag Archives: Music

Hungarian Adventures

19 Aug

Tomorrow is a Hungarian National holiday –  similar to the 4th of July in the US. There will be celebrations all over the city culminating with fireworks over the Danube tomorrow night.

The first photo below is the National Hungarian Flag which flies in front of Parliament. The hole is where a Soviet insignia was cut out during the 1956 revolution.

We visited Pecs in southern Hungary on Friday and Saturday. The second photo was taken in the town square, a very nice pedestrian friendly area. The last photo is of an Ottoman mosque – now a Catholic church – built in the 16th century when the Turks ruled this area for 150 years. There was also a Roman settlement here, a provincial capital named Sopinae,  starting in about 30AD and lasting for about 400 years. We visited a very well pressuvred Roman Crypt.

We found Pecs to be a delightful place to visit. We saw no American tourists, only Germans. The town is quite “laid back” and inexpensive compared to Budapest. And it is not crowded at all. It, too, was preparing for the National Holiday with band stands and kiosks (food, wine and beer stands) being set up around the city for the celebration. We heard a very good street band playing and talked with several of the musicians to find out that they were doing this “street band” for fun. They are music teachers in the area and a few are professional musicians in the local symphony.


Lake Balaton

12 Aug

We spent two days at Lake Balaton where it seems as if every Hungarian spends their summer vacation – along with Germans, Czechs, and Slovakians, who find this region to be very affordable and not far from home. There were, literally, thousands of vacationers in Balatonfured, one of the most popular locations on the lake. There is also a wine festival going on with about 30 – 40 booths, like the one pictured above, lining the lakeside. The photo of the booths was taken in the afternoon, but at night this area was overflowing, with few benches/seats available for sitting and enjoying the wine. We were walking around at 9:30 in the evening and the area was “wall to wall” with people and families including children.

We visited a Brass Week and met several Hungarian musicians and heard some excellent students, including a French Horn player from Mercer Island, Washington – see link below.





7 Aug

Bekescaba is a small town in southern Hungary where I went for two days, alone, to a trombone workshop. The city is doing some extensive renovation of its main street – Andrassy Utca – and is using European Union monetary support for the large scale project. EU money also helped fund the trombone workshop.

The three last photos photo were taken in the church where the concert was presented at the end of the week long workshop. It is the largest Lutheran church in central Europe and is very different from the highly ornate, Baroque style, Catholic churches that one sees all over Europe. The first photo is of a Catholic church.

I had a wonderful time meeting some excellent teachers and hearing very good, young Hungarian trombonists. I heard superb playing from several players – Casterede, Grondahl, David – and Blue Bells – and the trombone choir was excellent! Superb intonation, blend, balance – everything that one would want to hear.

I was invited to Bekescaba by Gustav Hona, retired principal trombonist with the Hungarian Radio Orchestra and chair of the winds and brass departments at the Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest (Ferenc is Franz – in English). The Liszt Academy is the premier music school in Hungary, and there are two other good ones, as well, in Szeged and Debrecen. I met Gyorgy (George) Gyincsan, professor of trombone at Sazeged, Csaba Wagner, bass trombonist of the Berlin State Opera, and Csaba Szucs who teaches trombone in Bekescaba and, according to Gyorgy, is one of the best teachers in Hungary, who consistently sends students to the best music schools. I also met Mathias Veer, Hungarian bass trombonist, who plays in the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra  –  http://qatarphilharmonicorchestra.org/  Csaba Wagner and Mathias Veer are the two players on the left in the last photo. (We are invited to Mathias’ house this evening for dinner, here in Budapest).  

Street where my hotel was located.



7 Aug

We spent two full days in Prague after spending one full day in Bratislava. The first day we went on a 7 hour walking tour which included a boat excursion, lunch, and a bus ride up to the castle on the other side of the Moldau (we walked down). Our guide was excellent – spoke perfect English – and is a doctoral student in history with an emphasis in American Studies!

The next day we took a leisurely walk to the places that we wanted to revisit.

Prague is a beautiful city and the photos are representative of what we saw. The top photo is of the main square and the astronomical clock tower. The trumpeter in the other photo plays at the beginning of every hour from the very top of the tower. The second photo is of the Charles Bridge across the Moldau – finished at the beginning of the 15th century. There is a panoramic photo of the old town, an architectural image, and another shot from the boat trip.


30 Jul

Old town Bratislava.

“New” town!

We spent 24  hours in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, on our way to Prague where we will spend three days.

We like Bratislava – especially the old town and its architecture. Bratislava is “recovering” more slowly than Budapest and Prague from the 45 years of occupation by the Soviets. But there is a lot of investment going on with dozens of major international corporations, like Volkswagen, building manufacturing facilities.

There is a lot of graffiti, some “organized” as above, but too much of what I would describe as vandalism  tagged on beautiful old buildings . And it has not been removed! There is more litter here compared Budapest and Vienna, both of which have little to none. The outer parts of Bratislava look unattractive to me with buildings like the second one above.


21 Jul

Sopron is a delightful Baroque Hungarian border town with Austria where we stayed on our way back to Budapest from Vienna.

Szentendre, Hungary is about 20 miles up the Danube from Budapest. We took an hour and a half boat ride to visit this small arts community.


17 Jul

Juxtaposition of old and new – 14th church and 21st century modern building

We are in Vienna for three days and today followed the advice from a Rick Steves guide book – Tram ride around the old town, walking tour and lunch followed by a visit to the Hofburg Palace – the home of the Hapsburg dynasty for 600 years, ending in 1914 with the outbreak of WWI.

Scene in front of our pension – Pension Nossek – Starbucks!

Mozart lived here for about a year in this same building as our pension where he composed the Abduction from Seraglio.