Sunday, October 21, 2007

Zurich? Or Home?

Andrew’s mother had a difficult decision to make this weekend.

Andrew’s father must travel to Zurich on business in early November. He has meetings in Zurich from Monday, November 5, through Thursday, November 8.

Andrew’s father wanted Andrew’s mother to travel with him to Zurich, and she had a great deal of trouble making up her mind whether or not to go. She was betwixt and between on the issue.

The idea of traveling to Zurich with Andrew’s father was a very welcome one in the abstract. Andrew has been to Zurich four times, and he convinced his mother that Zurich is a very beautiful city, with many fascinating museums and historical sights to visit.

However, Andrew’s mother would have been required to explore the museums and sights on her own for four days, by herself, and this fact she found to be very unappealing.

If Andrew and I were able to go, too, or Andrew’s middle brother, she would have said “Yes” in an instant. But we three have no vacation time to spare, and there is no way that any of us may participate in a trip to Zurich next month.

On Saturday night, Andrew tried to assure his mother that she would have a wonderful time by herself, exploring Zurich for four days on her own. Andrew knows Zurich very well, and he knows the Zurich museums particularly well.

He assembled guidebooks and travel journals and sat down with his mother, and helped her prepare a day-by-day itinerary that he thought would please her. In fact, he prepared an itinerary for both of his parents, an itinerary that involved them traveling to Zurich a couple of days before the business meetings convened, and staying in Zurich a couple of days after the business meetings ended.

Andrew suggested that his parents travel to Zurich on Friday night, November 2. Doing so would place his parents in Zurich first thing on Saturday morning, November 3, and would give them a full day to explore the Altstadt in a leisurely fashion before turning in very early.

For Sunday, November 4, Andrew suggested that his parents sleep in, and later that day attend the Sunday matinee performance of Humperdinck’s “Konigskinder” at the Zurich Opera. “Konigskinder” is never staged in the U.S.

For Monday, November 5, Andrew suggested that his mother explore four churches, each within an easy walk of the hotel: Grossmunster, Fraumunster, Wasserkirche and Saint Peter’s Church.

For Tuesday, November 6, Andrew suggested that his mother spend the day at Kunsthaus Zurich, one of the world’s great art museums, which has a comprehensive collection of paintings, and is especially strong in 19th and 20th Century works.

For Wednesday, November 7, Andrew suggested that his mother spend the morning at Zunfthaus Zur Meisen, a porcelain museum housed in an old guildhall, and that she spend the afternoon at the E. G. Buhrle Collection, a small art museum with an excellent collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings, as well as several fine paintings from 17th Century Flanders and the Netherlands.

For Thursday, November 8, Andrew suggested that his mother spend the day at the Swiss National Museum, a splendid museum that traces the history of Swiss history and culture. The museum houses a great deal of Medieval art, including ecclesiastical art (stained glass and frescoes), and is one of the world’s great repositories of Carolingian art from the 9th Century.

For Friday, November 9, Andrew suggested that his mother and father take the train to nearby Winterthur and explore the magnificent Oskar Reinhart Museum, with its unparalleled collection of German, Austrian and Swiss paintings. For Friday evening, Andrew suggested that his parents return to the Zurich Opera to attend a performance of “The Magic Flute”.

For Saturday, November 10, Andrew suggested that his parents spend the morning visiting Villa Wesendonck, once occupied by Richard Wagner and now the home of Museum Reitberg, known for its collection of non-European antiquities. For the afternoon, Andrew suggested that his parents visit The Thomas Mann Archives, and spend some time viewing Mann’s manuscripts and memorabilia.

Andrew’s mother would enjoy all this immensely—but she would not enjoy visiting those museums and sights by herself for four days. This was just too much for her to contemplate.

And she decided not to go.

Among other things, Andrew’s mother was concerned about being in Zurich immediately before a family visit. Andrew’s middle brother will arrive home on Friday night, November 9, and Andrew’s older brother and family will arrive home on Saturday, November 10. However, Andrew and I assured her that we would get everything ready for the visit while she and Andrew’s father were in Zurich, and she knew that we would take care of all preparations in a more-than-satisfactory manner. Ultimately, this was not a factor that influenced her decision not to accompany Andrew’s father to Zurich. In the final analysis, she simply did not to want to spend four days on her own in a city unknown to her, even a city with as many excellent museums to explore as Zurich. And, truly, she wanted Andrew to go with her. She would be in heaven if she could explore these museums with Andrew at her side.

Because he will be going to Zurich by himself, Andrew’s father will not spend any extra time in Zurich. He will depart on Saturday afternoon, November 3, and he will return on Friday afternoon, November 9.

While his father is away, Andrew and I will stay with his mother. We will do this so that she does not have to spend almost a week by herself. We will also do this so that we can help her get things ready for a family visit. It will work out better for everyone this way.

On Friday night, we went to hear the Minnesota Orchestra play Mozart, Skrowaczewski and Brahms, conducted by Skrowaczewski. The Skrowaczewski piece, for flute and orchestra, was a world premiere.

On Saturday morning, Andrew and I both went to work. We spent Saturday afternoon and evening at Andrew’s parents’ house, watching football games and assembling a Zurich sightseeing plan for Andrew’s parents.

Today, after church, we attended a Guthrie Theater matinee performance of “Jane Eyre”.

The adaptation was not perfectly shaped, and not perfectly paced, but it was nonetheless a successful stage realization of the novel. I liked it, and so did Andrew, and so did his parents. The performances were quite good.

After the play, we all returned to Andrew’s parents’ house and gave the dog lots of attention, since he had been home alone all day. We played with him the rest of the afternoon and evening, and he received lots of affection and lots of love (as well as his Sunday night chicken). He loved it.


  1. Oh, what a total waste of opportunity to see and explore the sights of Zurich!

    I, myself, have never even set foot in German soil.

    I would go in a heartbeat!

    Have a good week, Josh.


  2. Hey, Chanteuse.

    I would love to go to Zurich, but I can understand things. Andrew's mother would love to go to Zurich, too, but she does not want to have to spend four days sightseeing by herself. I can understand that.

    Does Cheryl Studer live anywhere near Zurich? Maybe Miss Studer would be willing to accompany Andrew's mother around the city? As long as she promises NOT to sing selections from "Semiramide"!

    I'd ask Miss Studer myself, but she hangs up on me!


  3. And another thing, Chanteuse.

    On Saturday, Minnesota lost, AT HOME, to North Dakota State, a tiny school with a tiny program!

    It may have been the most embarrassing loss in the history of the Minnesota program!

    If Miss Studer had been there, to sing the National Anthem before the game, the outcome very well may have been different.

    The entire State of Minnesota is FUMING at her over this issue! She is being ripped to shreds in our sports pages!

  4. If Ms. Studer had sung the National Anthem, there wouldn't be any game for her voice would crack the grounds, causing an earthquake that would break every record in the history of the Richter's Scale.


  5. Given that, Chanteuse, it appears that Miss Studer was wise not to show up after all.

    It must have been an humanitarian gesture on her part.

  6. Joshua:

    Too bad that Drew's mother is passing up a chance to visit Zurich. It is a beautiful city.

    I have been thinking of making a short trip to Zurich myself to attend one of the "Konigskinder" performances. Will Drew's father be attending one of the performances, now that he is traveling alone?

    I need to ask you a question. Is the musical "Hairspray" worth seeing? I know you fellows saw it in New York. It is currently in previews here and officially opens next week. I never bothered to see the movie version and I never bothered to see the musical when I was stationed in New York.

    I'm especially interested whether you believe a British cast can do the musical justice. Oftentimes American musicals flop here because British casts cannot put them across, "The Drowsy Chaperone" being the most recent example. It only lasted three months here.


  7. Hey, Calvin.

    I would hate for you to go see "Hairspray" based upon my recommendation. I have no idea whether you would enjoy the show. I also have no idea whether British actors would work in the show.

    The only reason we went to see "Hairspray" was because we spent a week in New York in May 2006 between my graduation and Andrew's graduation.

    We attended three serious plays--"Doubt", "Faith Healer" and "The History Boys"--and we wanted to see one "fun" show, too. For our "fun" show, we chose "Hairspray", primarily because Alex sort of wanted to see it.

    We enjoyed "Hairspray", but it was nothing more than an entertainment. I would never want to see the show a second time. We never bothered to go see the movie this summer.

    Is the show a masterpiece? Not at all. It was just a synthetic, formulaic Broadway musical. It was two hours of fun, nothing more.