Saturday, August 23, 2008

Wahnfried; Wagner's House in Bayreuth

Wagner finally achieved artistic and financial success, thanks largely to King Ludwig of Bavaria. King Ludwig was an enthusiastic, ardent supporter of Wagner - his bust is seen in front of Wagner's showpiece house below. The name of the house is "Wahnfried," which can be translated as either Rest from Yearning, or as The Peace of Madness. Both might apply.

Here are some members of the American Wagner Society, with Alan and Cyane at left.
We had a small ceremony, laying flowers on the grave of Richard and Cosima Wagner, below.
The landscaping of the house is very well done.
The lovely tan sandstone of the house still shows old ripple marks.

A Day Off; Cycling through the Fichtelgebirge Mountains

Cutting wood and wood working is a big activity. These are bee hives; the bees come and go from the little slit doors near the bottom of the figures.

Many people were cutting wood and tending their wood piles.
These woodpiles were often works of art.
Alan goes down the gravel path while cycling past wood cut areas in the Fichtelgebirge Mountains east of Bayreuth.

Alan Visits the Opera At Bayreuth

Like most of the men, Alan gets dressed up in his tux for the performance.

The bust of Richard Wagner keeps watch on the Festspielhaus.
Alan is happy because the fanfare is announcing the start of the opera. He does not seem to mind 6 hours of sitting on hard wooden chairs and listening to Der Ring des Nibelungen.
On the tour, Alan stands on the stage for Siegfried.
The lights dim, the audience fills in, the performance is about to start...

Bayreuth Festspielhaus Opera Tour

The Festspielhaus is famous for the exquisite acoustical design by Richard Wagner himself. All materials are wood, to not dampen the acoustics. The sound is wonderful. The house holds about 2,000 people. The seats are not comfortable. Wagner did not want fabric or cushions to affect the sound.

The progressive buttress-like fixtures widen toward the stage, meaning that there is no clear line between the audience and the stage world.
Wagner was the first to really bury the orchestra out of sight of the audience. He went further and even covered up the orchestra front, so it is entirely invisible. The sound rises up and bounces out from the stage, mixing with the sound of the singers' voices.
Alan stands in front of the set for Die Valkyrie.
Matthias Lippert, our tour guide, is a set designer at the Festspielhaus.

Procession into Bayreuth; August 19, 2008

We rolled the last fifty kilometers through rolling farm hills into Bayreuth. We had cycled two months and almost 2,000 kilometers to get here!

We decided to go first to the Wagner opera house, called the Festspielhaus. We arrived at 3:45, just before the start of "Meistersinger" opera. Many people streaming up the hill.
The brass came out on the balcony to welcome our triumphal arrival!
Oh yes, maybe it was the beginning of the opera!

The costumes were better than the American Academy Awards. We felt a little out of place in biking clothes! This woman waited for her escort as the people swirled around her.
The exposure here is adjusted to give a little of the brilliance of this burgundy outfit, below.

Forchheim to Tüchersfeld, Bavaria, Germany

The fifty odd kilometers from Forchheim east passed by numerous small farm holdings.

The resting cyclist shows the flat stream valley and limestone hills.
At this unexpectedly flamboyant rococo Baroque church in Gössweinstein, we were dazzled after the strenuous climb up the hill.
The path from Gössweinstein north went down a very steep forest path.
Tüchersfeld was an unexpected destination, with abrupt limestone crags soaring above the half-timbered homes and farms.

Arriving in Baiersdorf, near Forchheim, Bavaria, Germany

We had been planning to cycle from Bamberg east to Bayreuth and then noticed a small town to the south a small way - named Baiersdorf. Since Alan's name is Bayersdorfer, we decided to pay a visit.

This map upon entering town shows Baiersdorf, lying on the Regnitz a short distance south of Forchheim. A new highway has cut the town in a north-south direction.
The closeup below shows the Jüdischenfriedhof/Jewish Cemetary right next to the Meerrettich Museum/Horseradish Museum.
The Rathaus/Town Hall below on the left closed at 12, so we could not go in.

Signs Commemorating the Baiersdorfer Jüdenfriedhof

There is a sign commemorating the Baiersdorfer Jüdenfriedhof [Baiersdorfer Jewish Cemetary] on Judengasse [Jewish Alley). Although the cemetary is just off this street, there do not appear to be any Jewish people living there.

Here is the beginning of the commemorative sign
Translation: "The local Jewish Cemetary is the oldest of the earldom of Kulmbach-Bayreuth and Anspach. It was already existing/laid out/designed/constructed in 1388, at the time of the first rebuilding of the town after its destruction by the Nuremburgers. It was even inside the city fortress walls. Jews from the principality of Kulmbach-Bayreuth and Anspach found their last resting place; but also the remains from the synagogue at Bamberg. Also the dead from the well-known synagogue at Tüchersfeld were set here."
"The gravestones here show the assimilation of the Jewish folk. The ritual symbols tell the position of the dead person in the Jewish community. A Jewish grave was only laid one time and at this 'Good Place' the deceased waited for judgement day. One can see in the Baiersdorfer Jewish Cemetary how the theme of 'Family Grave' is lost. Also, there are graves from famous people, like David Diespeck, one of the most famous rabbis of his time, and also one of the first professors of Jewish belief that was ordained at Friedrich Alexander University."
"The Jewish Cemetary has survived, even despite desecration during the Third Reich. Its graves testify to the changing history, not only of the Jews here, but also to the spirit of the times, [prevailing opinion or the ruling class], to the rise and fall of towns; and to the social and sociological circumstances/realities of history."
It is amazing that the small cemetary in this small town has survived and is preserved. It is indeed a testimony as both this sign and the monument in the cemetary point out. Clearly, there was a thriving Jewish community for 700 years. There is no evidence now of a living Jewish community. All the graves end in 1938. There is no sign of Jewish people living in the immediate area now.

Baiersdorfer Jüdenfriedhof, Older Graves

The older graves are very difficult to make out. They were made of a soft and limy sandstone that has crumbled over the years. There are many dates from the 1800s.

On the older graves, Hebrew predominates.
The hand with parted fingers is a common symbol.

Baiersdorfer Jüdenfriedhof, Newer Monuments

The newer gravestones are stronger, they are made of granite and not rock which disintegrates.

The newer gravestones are written partially or wholly in German. Here is Max Bayreuther, who died in 1932 at Forchheim.
Frau Lena Schloss, who died in 1937 at Forchheim, was one of the very last graves here. There were no more after 1938.

Loose Translation: "[This monument is to] Honor the dead and everlasting memory of the Jewish citizens of Baiersdorf and vicinity who submitted to the horrors in the persecutions of the years between 1933-1945. We, the living, must give their urgent warning/admonition/reminder to the coming generations."

Baiersdorf, Meerrettich/Horseradish Capital

Baiersdorf is one of the centers of Meerrettich/horseradish cultivation and preparation. Here is a sign for the Horseradish Museum - 'The Sharpest Museum in the World!'

An old barrel in front of the Baiersdorfer Horseradish Museum, dating from 1846.

A wagon 'from the old time' on a plaque at the museum.

Horseradish tubers must grow well in the sandy soil of the environs.