List Of Contents | Contents of Saunterings, by Charles Dudley Warner
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concerts in the Odeon cannot easily be surpassed.  The singers are
not equal to the orchestra, for Berlin and Vienna offer greater
inducements; but there are people here who regard this orchestra as
superlative.  They say that the best orchestras in the world are in
Germany; that the best in Germany is in Munich; and, therefore, you
can see the inevitable deduction.  We have another parallel
syllogism.  The greatest pianist in the world is Liszt; but then Herr
Bulow is actually a better performer than Liszt; therefore you see
again to what you must come.  At any rate, we are quite satisfied in
this provincial capital; and, if there is anywhere better music, we
don't know it.  Bulow's orchestra is not very large,--there are less
than eighty pieces, but it is so handled and drilled, that when we
hear it give one of the symphonies of Beethoven or Mendelssohn, there
is little left to be desired.  Bulow is a wonderful conductor, a
little man, all nerve and fire, and he seems to inspire every
instrument.  It is worth something to see him lead an orchestra: his
baton is magical; head, arms, and the whole body are in motion; he
knows every note of the compositions; and the precision with which he
evokes a solitary note out of a distant instrument with a jerk of his
rod, or brings a wail from the concurring violins, like the moaning
of a pine forest in winter, with a sweep of his arm, is most
masterly.  About the platform of the Odeon are the marble busts of
the great composers; and while the orchestra is giving some of
Beethoven's masterpieces, I like to fix my eyes on his serious and
genius-full face, which seems cognizant of all that is passing, and
believe that he has a posthumous satisfaction in the interpretation
of his great thoughts.

The managers of the conservatoire also give vocal concerts, and there
are, besides, quartette soiries; so that there are few evenings
without some attraction.  The opera alternates with the theater two
or three times a week.  The singers are, perhaps, not known in Paris
and London, but some of them are not unworthy to be.  There is the
baritone, Herr Kindermann, who now, at the age of sixty-five, has a
superb voice and manner, and has had few superiors in his time on the
German stage.  There is Frau Dietz, at forty-five, the best of
actresses, and with a still fresh and lovely voice.  There is Herr
Nachbar, a tenor, who has a future; Fraulein Stehle, a soprano, young
and with an uncommon voice, who enjoys a large salary, and was the
favorite until another soprano, the Malinger, came and turned the
heads of king and opera habitues.  The resources of the Academy are,
however, tolerably large; and the practice of pensioning for life the
singers enables them to keep always a tolerable company.  This habit
of pensioning officials, as well as musicians and poets, is very
agreeable to the Germans.  A gentleman the other day, who expressed
great surprise at the smallness of the salary of our President, said,
that, of course, Andrew Johnson would receive a pension when he
retired from office.  I could not explain to him how comical the idea
was to me; but when I think of the American people pensioning Andrew
Johnson,--well, like the fictitious Yankee in "Mugby Junction,"
"I laff, I du."

There is some fashion, in a fudgy, quaint way, here in Munich; but it
is not exhibited in dress for the opera.  People go--and it is
presumed the music is the attraction in ordinary apparel.  They save
all their dress parade for the concerts; and the hall of the Odeon is
as brilliant as provincial taste can make it in toilet.  The ladies
also go to operas and concerts unattended by gentlemen, and are
brought, and fetched away, by their servants.  There is a freedom and
simplicity about this which I quite like; and, besides, it leaves
their husbands and brothers at liberty to spend a congenial evening
in the cafes, beer-gardens, and clubs.  But there is always a heavy
fringe of young officers and gallants both at opera and concert,
standing in the outside passages.  It is cheaper to stand, and one
can hear quite as well, and see more.



At all events, saith the best authority, "pray that your flight be
not in winter;" and it might have added, don't go south if you desire
warm weather.  In January, 1869, I had a little experience of hunting
after genial skies; and I will give you the benefit of it in some
free running notes on my journey from Munich to Naples.

It was the middle of January, at eleven o'clock at night, that we
left Munich, on a mixed railway train, choosing that time, and the
slowest of slow trains, that we might make the famous Brenner Pass by
daylight.  It was no easy matter, at last, to pull up from the dear
old city in which we had become so firmly planted, and to leave the
German friends who made the place like home to us.  One gets to love
Germany and the Germans as he does no other country and people in
Europe.  There has been something so simple, honest, genuine, in our
Munich life, that we look back to it with longing eyes from this land
of fancy, of hand-organ music, and squalid splendor.  I presume the
streets are yet half the day hid in a mountain fog; but I know the
superb military bands are still playing at noon in the old Marian
Platz and in the Loggie by the Residenz; that at half-past six in the
evening our friends are quietly stepping in to hear the opera at the
Hof Theater, where everybody goes to hear the music, and nobody for
display, and that they will be at home before half-past nine, and
have dispatched the servant for the mugs of foaming beer; I know that
they still hear every week the choice conservatoire orchestral
concerts in the Odeon; and, alas that experience should force me to
think of it!  I have no doubt that they sip, every morning, coffee
which is as much superior to that of Paris as that of Paris is to
that of London; and that they eat the delicious rolls, in comparison
with which those of Paris are tasteless.  I wonder, in this land of
wine,--and yet it must be so,--if the beer-gardens are still filled
nightly; and if it could be that I should sit at a little table
there, a comely lass would, before I could ask for what everybody is
presumed to want, place before me a tall glass full of amber liquid,
crowned with creamy foam.  Are the handsome officers still sipping
their coffee in the Caf‚ Maximilian; and, on sunny days, is the crowd
of fashion still streaming down to the Isar, and the high, sightly
walks and gardens beyond?

As I said, it was eleven o'clock of a clear and not very severe
night; for Munich had had no snow on the ground since November.  A
deputation of our friends were at the station to see us off, and the
farewells between the gentlemen were in the hearty fashion of the
country.  I know there is a prejudice with us against kissing between
men; but it is only a question of taste: and the experience of
anybody will tell him that the theory that this sort of salutation
must necessarily be desirable between opposite sexes is a delusion.
But I suppose it cannot be denied that kissing between men was
invented in Germany before they wore full beards.  Well, our goodbyes
said, we climbed into our bare cars.  There is no way of heating the
German cars, except by tubes filled with hot water, which are placed
under the feet, and are called foot-warmers.  As we slowly moved out
over the plain, we found it was cold; in an hour the foot-warmers,
not hot to start with, were stone cold.  You are going to sunny
Italy, our friends had said: as soon as you pass the Brenner you will
have sunshine and delightful weather.  This thought consoled us, but
did not warm our feet.  The Germans, when they travel by rail, wrap
themselves in furs and carry foot-sacks.

We creaked along, with many stoppings.  At two o'clock we were at
Rosenheim.  Rosenheim is a windy place, with clear starlight, with a
multitude of cars on a multiplicity of tracks, and a large, lighted
refreshment-room, which has a glowing, jolly stove.  We stay there an
hour, toasting by the fire and drinking excellent coffee.  Groups of
Germans are seated at tables playing cards, smoking, and taking
coffee.  Other trains arrive; and huge men stalk in, from Vienna or
Russia, you would say, enveloped in enormous fur overcoats, reaching
to the heels, and with big fur boots coming above the knees, in which
they move like elephants.  Another start, and a cold ride with
cooling foot-warmers, droning on to Kurfstein.  It is five o'clock
when we reach Kurfstein, which is also a restaurant, with a hot
stove, and more Germans going on as if it were daytime; but by this
time in the morning the coffee had got to be wretched.

After an hour's waiting, we dream on again, and, before we know it,
come out of our cold doze into the cold dawn.  Through the thick
frost on the windows we see the faint outlines of mountains.
Scraping away the incrustation, we find that we are in the Tyrol,
high hills on all sides, no snow in the valley, a bright morning, and
the snow-peaks are soon rosy in the sunrise.  It is just as we
expected,--little villages under the hills, and slender church spires
with brick-red tops.  At nine o'clock we are in Innsbruck, at the
foot of the Brenner.  No snow yet.  It must be charming here in the

During the night we have got out of Bavaria.  The waiter at the
restaurant wants us to pay him ninety kreuzers for our coffee, which
is only six kreuzers a cup in Munich.  Remembering that it takes one
hundred kreuzers to make a gulden in Austria, I launch out a Bavarian
gulden, and expect ten kreuzers in change.  I have heard that sixty
Bavarian kreuzers are equal to one hundred Austrian; but this waiter
explains to me that my gulden is only good for ninety kreuzers.  I,
in my turn, explain to the waiter that it is better than the coffee;
but we come to no understanding, and I give up, before I begin,
trying to understand the Austrian currency.  During the day I get my
pockets full of coppers, which are very convenient to take in change,

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