Berlin (2): A “Musikstadt”

On Leona’s second day in Berlin, we decided to visit the Berliner Steinway-Haus, which is located inside the Tiergarten district. The famous Victory Column and a few other music-related sites are also around the area, so naturally we planned to see everything on the same day. Once out of the S-bahn station however, we found ourselves hopelessly lost, with no signs of the garden or Column in sight. Our only hint of direction was this:

Bach or Haydn? Which way? Where is Mahlerstrasse? (If you didn't know yet, I'm a huge fan of Gustav Mahler!)
Bach or Haydn? Which way? Where is Mahlerstrasse? (If you didn’t know yet, I’m a huge fan of Gustav Mahler!)


Thankfully a kind girl took pity on us as we struggled to read the map; it happened that we had simply got out of the wrong exit. With her help we soon found the Victory Column, which is at the very center of the Tiergarten.

Victory Column, a landmark at the very center of Tiergarten
Victory Column, a landmark at the very center of Tiergarten

TiergartenSince we had to get to Steinway-Haus before noon, we took the shortest path there, but it’d have been nice if we could spent some time chilling in the garden. Last time I was here it was snowing really bad, still the place looked like somewhere in a fairy tale. Had it been a bit warmer, I could have easily spent the whole day there.

Tiergarten, Feb 20, 2013.
Tiergarten, Feb 20, 2013.

Even though we didn’t go far into the garden, it still took us a while to find the “Pianists’ Paradise” – Steinway-Haus; but we made it!

The Pianists' Paradise!
The Pianists’ Paradise! But then apparently it wasn’t a place for tourists – we were the only visitors the entire hour we were there
Leona playing a Steinway grand piano.
Leona playing a Steinway grand piano

It was smaller than I had expected but that didn’t matter, because we could play any pianos on display in the showroom. Who would have thought that the first piano I touched after nine long months would be a Steinway B! Of course Model D is a lot better but it costed €11 to play and it was too late for Leona to book it.

They even give out free souvenirs!
They even gave us free souvenirs!

After what felt like 5 minutes but was probably an hour, we left with a huge grin on our face and headed to the Berliner Philharmonie – home of the world-class Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. We went there just for the sake of it but I guess luck was on our side that day, as a piano recital by two soloists was about to begin just as we arrived, and it was free!

Berliner Philharmonie
Berliner Philharmonie
Did I mention I play the flute?
Did I mention I play the flute?

Right next to the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra is the Musical Instrument Museum. Leona couldn’t go in this time because of the concert, but I did back in February. The museum showcases two entire floors of instruments, including woodwinds, harpsichords, organs, strings and percussion, from different historical periods. Touching the instruments is of course not allowed but I had the chance to hear how a few harpsichords sounded during a demonstration by a skilled player. Even though they’re likely over 300 years old, the Baroque harpsichords all sounded surprisingly nice.

Musical Instrument Museum

Berlin Musical Instrument Museum
Berlin Musical Instrument Museum

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When talking about Berlin’s culture, its history is usually what springs to mind first, and then there’re the fascinating street art and performances of all sorts, yet its classical music scene is not to be overlooked. It may not have the moniker of “Musikstadt” (Music City) like Leipzig or Vienna do, but it’s already lived up to any classical music lovers’ expectations of a capital city.

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