Monthly Archives: May 2009

Holahi, Holaho! A Day of Volksmusik

Most of you know that we love music, and that I play the viola, piano and I sing. We were delighted when our friends Steve and Mia invited us to a folk music festival on Mother’s day. We had such a wonderful day, and for me, the perfect way to celebrate my second Mother’s day. The festival was held at an open-air, living history museum, the Glenleiten Open Air Museum (in German, it is called the Freilicht Glentleiten Museum).

Many of you, dear readers, are familiar with the excellent open-air, living history museum called Conner Prairie, which is in central Indiana, not far from our house. I have always loved going there. The Freilicht Glentleiten Museum is conceptually similar.

The museum has roughly sixty old Bavarian homes, small chapels, workshops, barns and more that have been moved to Glentleiten and have been restored on the property. Many of the homes have original furnishings and some even feature unique wall murals on the inside rooms. Visitors really get a feel for what life was like in rural, small-town Bavaria before running water and electricity came along. One family house we visited had been inhabited by descendents of the family up until the 1970’s; even then, there was no running water or electricity.

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The museum not only features the homes and other buildings, but also seeks to recreate what life would have been like through first-hand experiences. For example, we saw a woman spinning wool and we came across a small sheep pasture. The folk music festival was just one event of many that go on in this living history museum to teach visitors about how life used to be.

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There are plans to recreate a honeybee apiary (that’s a home for the honeybees) within an orchard that has heirloom fruit trees. I’m eager to see the apiary when it is finished.

As you noticed in the picture of Rosebud above, I dressed her in her adorable Dirndl. I thought that since it was Mother’s day and a Sunday, it was the perfect opportunity to dress her in the Dirndl. By the end of the day, I myself wished I were dressed in a Dirndl! I felt a little out of place wearing modern clothing.

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I would say that more than half the visitors were wearing traditional Bavarian clothing (Dirndls and the well-known Lederhosen for men and boys). Naturally, all the musicians were dressed in traditional costume as well. Many of the musician groups had coordinated their clothing and were clearly wearing their “Sunday best”, but this was true of many visitors, too. I don’t know about you, but I think the boys in their Lederhosen look so cute. They’re also wearing the traditional hat. I am sure it has a proper name, but I have forgotten what it is called.

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In these pictures, we were near a little food stand, and you can see just how many of the visitors were dressed in traditional clothing:

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I asked Mia if people were dressed up for Mother’s day or because it was Sunday. She said that some people dress this way on the weekends, but that a lot of them wear the traditional clothing all the time. And, indeed, I do see some people traditionally dressed all the time. You might think that it would be the older generations keeping to this tradition, but this is not so. I frequently see young families wearing their costumes. I think it’s really neat that they still wear these beautiful garments, as the patterns are gorgeous.

When I was visiting my host families in KΓΆln in April, I mentioned this to one of my host mothers. She told me that in their village, a family had moved from Bavaria and that the mother in particular dressed in her Dirndl every day. My host mother said she just couldn’t understand why and thought it was strange. That is one example that illustrates just how different the region of Bavaria is from other parts of Germany.

I haven’t yet talked much about the music festival. It was amazing! All throughout the museum, different groups were stationed at various buildings. They performed all kinds of traditional alpine music. If you are wondering whether I heard any yodeling, I didn’t. πŸ˜‰ That said, many of the traditional songs we heard did have the typical chord progression you think about in yodeling. As for instrumentation, we primarily saw guitars, violins, a contrabass, and zithers. If you have ever seen the Orson Welles movie The Third Man, the musical score features a zither, to give you an idea of what the zither sounds like.

In one of the barns, there were some sing-alongs. Unfortunately, we arrived just as the children’s sing-along was ending, but I did manage to get a songbook for Rosebud and me. Most of the songs are written in Bayerisch, the dialect spoken here, so it will take me some time to “translate” the song lyrics into German so that I can understand them. Holahi, Holaho, which I have in my title for this entry, is a refrain you’ll hear in many Volkslieder.

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The groups of musicians were clearly enjoying themselves and some even played requests from the listeners who gathered round. The best performance I heard was inside the house in the above picture. A guitar player and zither player performed the classic Johann Strauss waltz Wiener Blut. Rosebud and I were enchanted! I did record a video of most of the performance, so if I have a chance to edit the video soon, I’ll share it. It was one of those musical moments that made my skin prickly, it was that good and that musical. I wistfully wished I had my viola with me and in fact, I’m toying around with the idea of seeing if I could join up with a Volksmusik group. Music is such an important part of my life, and I have really missed being involved in it.

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Silliness abounds - Mia, Rosebud, David

Silliness abounds - Mia, Rosebud, David

At the end of the day, we stopped for a refreshing Radler. This is sort of like a shandy, only better. It’s a mix of lemon-lime Limonade (the German word for soda-pop) and Helles, or light beer.

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Over the course of the day, there were several of you who I thought about, because I knew you would enjoy this musical festival. It’s always on Mother’s day, in case you want to mark it in your calendar and come visit us. πŸ˜‰

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I can’t wait to go back with Rosebud, and I am especially eager to take our visitors there.

For more about Bavarian folk music, this website in German has current information about gatherings, etc.

You can read about the history of Lederhosen here in English and in German.

Garmisch-Partenkirchen

Happy belated Mother’s Day to all of you moms out there! We went to a folk music festival for Mother’s Day. I’ll write about that in the coming days.

Last Wednesday evening, our friends Louise and Jeremy dropped off Rosebud’s playmate, Aby, for a couple of days*. Louise was scheduled to be induced on Thursday, and finally her new son Christofer James arrived on Thursday evening! We got to meet Christofer on Saturday afternoon in the hospital in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

Look at the cute baby!

Christofer James, born 7 May 09; 10:35 pm.  3600 grams, 55 centimeters long.

Christofer James, born 7 May 09; 10:35 pm. 3600 grams, 55 centimeters long.

Garmisch-Partenkirchen has in interesting history. Jeremy told us that originally, there were two towns, Garmisch and Partenkirchen. In order for Garmisch to host the Winter Olympics in 1936, the towns had to unite in order to be large enough to accommodate the visitors. Today, most people just call the town Garmisch, annoying the people on the Partenkirchen side of town. Garmisch-Partenkirchen is also known for the Zugspitze, which is Germany’s highest peak at 2,962 meters (9,718 feet). Where we live, you can always see the mountains, but Garmisch is particularly special in this regard because of the Zugspitze. The mountains give the town an incredible backdrop. In fact, from Louise’s hospital room, you could easily see the Zugspitze!

While we were visiting Louise and Christofer, both Rosebud and Aby were getting antsy. We decided to go for a walk behind the hospital. The weather was perfect!

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Aby looks for rocks to throw in the creek beside the path

Aby looks for rocks to throw in the creek beside the path

Do I hear Julie Andrews singing?

Do I hear Julie Andrews singing?

And finally, a family portrait:
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*Our visit with Aby went really well, but I was pretty tired after watching both Rosebud and Aby (she’s two). I have a funny story to share about the visit: I was in the kitchen with Rosebud, getting dinner ready. David was downstairs, as he had a phone conference. Aby was with me in the kitchen, but at one point she walked out of the kitchen. The next thing I knew, I heard water. I immediately rushed to the bathroom which is right next to the kitchen and discovered that Aby had turned on our bidet. There was water EVERYWHERE. And the look on her face told me she knew she shouldn’t have done that. She understood when I asked her never to touch the bidet faucet again. And yet, how can you really be angry at a two-year-old for being curious about the faucet? Even though I was annoyed, I couldn’t help but feel slightly bemused.

Spargelcremesuppe

Yesterday afternoon, it was NOT raining, so Rosebud and I took a short walk to the Spargel (asparagus, remember?) stand. I bought about a kilo of asparagus – a bundle of green and six stems of white, so I could make Cream of Asparagus Soup.
It took a little time to make, but it was so delicious and fresh tasting. It also afforded me the opportunity to use my Braun Stick Blender for the first time – worked like a charm! I think I prefer the stick blender to a jar blender, as you simply blend in the pot you’re using for cooking. Easy, peasy.

On our way home from the Spargel stand, I stopped at the local bakery and bought a loaf of Roggen-Dinkel brot, which means Rye-Spelt bread. Spelt is an unhybridized form of wheat; I’ve read that it was used by the Romans. I think I like the taste of spelt better than all-purpose wheat flour. We have used it a lot back in the States in recent years, but it is expensive and can be hard to find, especially the light spelt flour. Here in Germany, it’s often used in baked goods and it’s quite easy to find in the supermarket.

As I was setting the table, Miss Rosebud had a hungry look in her eyes, even though we had just nursed. I decided to serve up a little soup for her as well. She LOVED it. I was very pleased and a little surprised that she liked cream of asparagus soup. She also happily munched on some of the Roggen-Dinkel brot.

Here is the recipe I used:

Spargelcremesuppe

4 tbsp. butter
1 1/2 pounds asparagus, trimmed and/or peeled, and cut into 1 inch pieces
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp. dried oregano
4 cups or about 1 liter chicken broth* or asparagus water
1 cup milk or cream
salt and pepper to taste

1. Steam asparagus for about ten minutes. Save the asparagus water to use for making the chicken broth or to use without the chicken broth.
2. In a large pot, melt the butter. Then add the steamed asparagus and oregano. Cook in the butter for a few minutes.
3. Add the flour to the asparagus, stir, and then add the chicken broth; stir again.
4. Bring to a boil, and then simmer for 20 to 25 minutes until the asparagus is completely soft.
5. Remove from the heat, and blend until smooth.
6. Stir in the milk or cream, then reheat but do not let the mixture boil. Season with salt and pepper.

Note – I used low-fat milk and thought it tasted quite delicious this way. Whole milk or cream is, of course, extra delicious and will give your soup a nice body.

Important edit!! I forgot to add this detail: when you steam your asparagus, keep the asparagus water and use it to make your chicken broth! Or simply use the Spargelsud (asparagus water) on its own. Thank you to ap269 for reminding me. πŸ˜‰

May Day

Things have been relatively quiet for the past week, although I find myself in disbelief that it is already May. Recently, we have had cooler/wetter weather, so Rosebud and I haven’t been outside as much. We did have a nice family celebration for her first birthday on Wednesday. She loves her new toys and clothes! David and I each gave her children picture books in German.

This past Friday was May Day. Here in Germany it’s a national holiday, and also the day when many towns erect their May Pole. Since we don’t have a car, we weren’t able to see a May Pole being put up. We’ll have to do that next year. Each town around here has its own May Pole, and they tend to be decorated with trade signs from local businesses, garlands and often, Bavarian flags or painted with the Bavarian colors (light blue and white).

I took Rosebud to have some formal photography portraits done this morning. She was a little tired and cranky, and it didn’t help that she tumbled off one of the props she was sitting on. Despite this minor setback, she looked tremendously cute in her Dirndl and some other outfits. We will see the proofs on Saturday so we can order prints, for when we visit our family and friends in the US in June.

Tomorrow, our friend Lou will be induced for her second baby. We are excited to find out whether she is having a girl or a boy! While Lou and her husband are in the hospital, I will be watching their daughter and Rosebud’s playmate Abi. They will have so much fun together, but come Friday, I might be a bit frazzled. Wish me luck!