When you go to Germany, don't forget your violin
A hazard of traveling, if you are an amateur chamber musician, is that on occasion one can be stricken with an inexplicable craving for middle Beethoven, or, perhaps, Haydn, Op. 77.
If you have enough foresight, however, to be a member of the Amateur Chamber Music Players Inc. and happen to have with you a copy of that triumph of cosmopolitan self- help, its Overseas Directory, then your desire can be instantly realized.
This is especially so if you happen to be in West Germany. The current edition of the directory lists some 200 German entries from the North Sea to the Alps, substantially more than for any other European country. Projecting for unspecified colleagues, friends, and family members, the number of potential contacts for the itinerant American might actually run as high as a thousand.
Copies of the directory are available on request through the ACMP, Box 547, Vienna (even this a nice touch), Va., 22180.
Like all blind-daters, amateurs who take along the directory are naturally taking their chances. While this organization remains a strict believer in the hard currency of self- classification, experienced musical tourists will confirm that many grades in the directory show evidence of inflation.
The enterprising tourist should know, for example, that Mrs. Kunigunde Firlefanz, a first-rate violin player, according to the directory (VI-A), is likely to spring into action when Mrs. Elmer Ostinato, who modestly classifies herself as a somewhat run-of-the-mill clarinetist (CI-C), calls unexpectedly from the station en route from Copenhagen to Milan. The odds are good that she will also speak understandable English.
But what if Mrs. Firlefanz turns out to be a VI-C?
Even so, the worst of times can be quite nice. Music, the road to a lot of German hearts, is also the road to a lot of German living rooms.
One American, a pretty fair violin and viola player (VI/VIa-B), measures much of his personal life from the day he joined the Bonn University orchestra in search of quartet partners.
Stepping into the corridor, he was pounced on by a VIa-C in search of a first violinist. The Mozart duos that followed were the beginning of a lifelong friendship. Then came trios with a congenial pianist (Pf-B).
Eventually, under the supervision of an authentic VIa- Pro, there was a regular quartet, including a winsome VI-B, recruited to play Beethoven's Op. 18, No. 5, for a class in music appreciation.
One thing led to another. A few years later, VIa-C was a witness at the wedding of VIa/VI-B and VI-B. A few years after that, with their music and instruments neatly packed but still accessible, and a cuddly bundle they hoped might one day grow up to be at least a Vc-B (halfway decent cellist), the couple boarded one of the last German liners for the long trip to New York.
Sure enough, just minutes out of Bremerhaven they stumbled into VIa-A, only recently graduated from the Freiburg conservatory and en route to the New England Conservatory in Boston, and Vc-B, a high school teacher from Munich.
Nine happy days of Mozart quartets and Beethoven trios followed. There were even occasional sonatas with an affable Pf-B-plus from Hamburg, who also happened to wander by en route to New Orleans. . . .
Still active as well as nostalgic, VI/VIa-B and VI-B return to Germany at irregular intervals, now accompanied by offspring VI/Pf-B- and VI-C-, who never did get around to becoming Vc-B. They report gra tefully that there are good things that don't change.