Mary Byrne is an active teacher, adjudicator, lecturer, recorded artist, and published author. Mary is internationally respected for her wide-ranging works in flute pedagogy, repertoire, and general musicology, and is the artistic leader for the upcoming European Tour featuring the works of the incomparable Johann Sebastian Bach.
In April 2017 an expectant group of 21 folks from across Canada and the US rendezvoused in Prague, Czech Republic for an eventful 12 days of music and sights connected with the 18th-century master Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
I had the great pleasure of being the artistic leader of this group. Along with my travel partners at Vision Travel, Jackie Matthews and Martina Peladeau, and our travel-guide-on-the-ground, Michal Švarc, we created a game plan that included Mozart’s birth city and childhood home of Salzburg, and the two great cities which were most supportive of and influential on his illustrious career. Careful planning guaranteed us the highlights.
What was so delightful were the unexpected, unplanned, fortuitous sudden adventures that presented themselves: costumes and scores from Dvořak’s Rusalka and Mozart’s very own piano at the Czech Museum of Music; the famous, well-known paintings of the master in life and original stage drawings from his opera productions at the Salzburg Geburtshaus; last minute tickets to hear the Vienna Choir Boys sing Haydn at the Imperial Chapel in Vienna; not to mention Prague’s Easter Markets, snow in Salburg, and a glass of champagne with Sacher Torte on the portico of Schönbrunn Palace outside Vienna.
Upcoming in May 2018 we are planning to work the same miracle with a tour focused on the organ virtuoso, and composer of music time will never forget: Johann Sebastian Bach. Along the way we will immerse in the sights, sounds, and culture of places intimately associated with “Papa Bach.”
We start in Berlin. For JS Bach, Berlin represents the cultural sphere that dominated his late career. The King of Prussia’s household was here and with it the most sparkling musical court of the age; in fact, Papa Bach’s son Karl Phillip Emanuel was in the service of the King as musician and composer. The Berlin of Bach’s day can still be discerned, but so can be the Berlin racked by the historical events of the 20th century and bolstered by the best of today’s music-making. We will glimpse it all and add in a number of concerts to boot!
Going out from Berlin, we will visit Leipzig: home to Felix Mendelssohn and his Gewandhaus Orchestra, and to JS Bach for the three decades he served as Cantor at St Thomas Church. The overnight and next day’s sightseeing will be in Dresden.
By all accounts, Bach loved Dresden and not only did he visit regularly, he aspired to be in service to the Saxon court as royal composer. He came close, achieving an appointment as Kapellmeister in absentia for the last 14 years of this life.
It is this capacity that he gained his association with the Polish Royal Court and why we will travel on to the UNESCO-Heritage City Wroclaw and then Krakow, Poland.
Poland has its own list of prominent native composers and we’ll aim to hear some of their work even as we stay on our Bach connection. Heading south from Krakow we will cross Slovakia by way of the scenic, mountainous Low Tatras National Park, and finish the tour in Budapest.
Bach can’t be easily placed in Budapest, but for the last three decades Budapest has hosted the Budapest Bach Week in early June. The 2018 dates are not yet posted for this event, so we are crossing our fingers that our timing will be perfect. If we’re right, there will be more Bach. If not, well, we will be in Budapest and the Budapest Festival Orchestra is performing several concerts of Baroque music with conductor Jordi Savall those first few days of June.
I’m planning on being there. Why not join us as well!? You get a terrific musical travel experience and the Victoria Conservatory of Music is recipient of a $300 donation on your behalf just because you had a great time!