Julia Wedman (violin)
January 17, 2011 / Amsterdam, The Netherlands – “Going Home”
The charming canals and warm lights of this city envelop my soul like a blanket. I have never been to a place that made me feel so immediately at home. Even the darkest, rainiest days are beautiful here. Maybe I feel so comfortable here because this is where my 1694 Hendrik Jacobs violin was made. A very helpful luthier, who made a friend’s violin, helped me with some detective work and found the Jacobs workshop listed on an old map in a book about Dutch violin makers. One of my favourite days in this city began with a long walk along the canals to a bench on the Herengracht near the Amstel. There my Jacobs and I sat opposite the apartment building that was once the Jacobs workshop, feeling incredibly grateful for the effort and care that went into making this sweet, lovely instrument.
February 1, 2011 / Paris, France – “The Art Phase”
I think that one of the greatest lessons that I have learned this year is to expect the unexpected. I began the year thinking that the majority of my time would be spent on music – playing music, going to concerts, meeting musicians. I have been to some wonderful concerts here – the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment playing Mahler on period instruments, Jean-Christophe Spinosi’s wonderful Barber of Seville (Rossini) at the Chatelet, and Emmanuelle Haïm’s Giulio Cesare (Handel) at the stunning Palais Garnier (the old Paris Opera). But surprisingly, after being in Paris for two weeks, I have discovered myself to be an obsessive art fanatic. If I don’t spend at least part of the day in an art gallery or art-laden church, something feels wrong. In Venice in November, I discovered the passion and expressivity of the Italian Renaissance. In Holland I fell in love with the Dutch masters. Now I am savouring the wonderful, elegant, soft and expressive world of French painting and sculpture. I walk around the Louvre like a kid in a candy shop, I lose myself in Monet’s Water Lilies at the Orangerie, and I am stopped in my tracks by the thoughtful Millets at the Musée d’Orsay. When I come out of a museum at Paris’ magical twilight hour, it strikes me that the city itself looks like a painting with its soft diffuse light. I feel like I could spend years happily exploring every nook and cranny of this amazing city. Luckily, I have another couple of weeks!
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