Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Ha ha. A little amusing story from last night. Here in Leipzig I have a Taiwan roomie at the Youth Hostel (she's spending a couple of weeks doing some sort of summer course at the renowned Mendelssohn Musikhochschule I told you about). On the second night after some chit-chat about our respective summer plans and what good concerts were currently going on in the city she suddenly asked me: "When you are in Europe....what do you eat?"


In her defense, she usually prepares her own meals at the Hostel. Ramen-style noodles, from what I've been able to gather. Considering the dearth of Asian-style marketplaces nearby I assume the ingredients must be either hard to find or need to be direct imports. And considering they need to last her 2 weeks, direct imports would probably require a small luggage bag themselves. Curious, that she apparently would not seriously consider partaking in the local cuisine. In my opinion, a good part of the enjoyment of going to Europe is the food!

Anyway, went to Eisleben today. This is an important city because Martin Luther both was born and died there (the two houses are open to visitors and they're not that far away from each other). Much of this city is simply dedicated to Luther this Luther that and this is the Church where Luther gave 10 (or 20 or 53 or 197 insert-whatever-number-you-care-for-here-since-I-wasn't-really-paying-close-attention) of his sermons. And here is the tavern where Luther once drank a beer. And this is the fountain where he once washed his hands, blah blah blah kind of thing. Otherwise, Eiseleben is not particularly picturesque or exciting. Rather small and lonely.

But, some of the museums/houses/exhibits were informative. For instance: Luther's translation and the subsequent printing of the Luther Bible in German was not so much important because the text was finally made available to the public (back in 1524ish how many people could read anyway? and besides, there were German Bibles available already), but because this was the first real step taken in standardizing the German language. This, of course, accomplished, firstly, due to its wide diffusion, and secondly, because in translating it Luther made a point to choose a language that "could be understood by everyone: the children on the street, the men in the marketplace, the mothers at home, etc", thus doing a bit for German what Shakespeare did to English or Dante did to Italian.

Neat, huh?

Anyway, returning back to Leipzig in the afternoon I took a stroll over to Felix Mendelssohn's house (and museum), which was rather neat. From the location, size, family trip records, and belongings on display I deduced that Mendelssohn came from a rather affluent family. But that's not really what made the visit neat or surprising, or worthwhile. What was super cool about Mendelssohn, that not too many people know about, was the fact that he was also a talented painter. His watercolor paintings, for instance, are stunningly precise and beautiful! And what's curious, his paintings are not passionate and lyrical like his music, but expressive more of a very scientific, journalistic realism type of talent, the contrast which I found rather neat, and a very exciting and pleasant discovery.

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