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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Fear and Trembling in Copenhagen by John von Daler

                If you walk up Copenhagen's Nørregade from, say, the national museum with its relics from the days when more than one god watched over Denmark, you pass through the copper-topped New Square and Old Square where Søren Kirkegaard used to live. Continuing up towards the northern gate of the old town you pass on your right a four or five story building which housed the old bookshop, Munksgaard. When I came to Denmark, I worked there for some years, learning what being Danish was about.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Once over, lightly. by John von Daler

               A musician from Brazil was staying for a while in Denmark. He had befriended some colleagues here and arrangements had been written: cool Brazilian piano jazz with strings, brass, bass and drums. Twelve musicians aching to record but without a cent to our names.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Breaking News: by John von Daler

SouthCity's Auction House Sells "Life's but a walking shadow" for 300 million Euro's.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

An old Story about young Grapes by John von Daler

             An old friend walked through Europe from north to south and back again in the course of three years in the 1930's. Many stories came out of that trip. Although those stories are not mine, my friend is dead; I do not think he would mind me telling one or two.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Proud Pride by John von Daler

                I've played in Denmark with quite a few famous people. Not that I am famous myself; my kind of renown makes people elbow each other on subways, trying to figure out where they've seen me.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The King of à la Carte by John von Daler

                 When I was a kid in Oklahoma, we traveled a lot: Mexico, Colorado, Texas, Florida. At some point on these vacations I got a reputation for never getting sick and for always getting the best food. My family had a vacation rule: after a few minutes of eating we passed our plates on to the right. This was our way of tasting more than one local specialty. But if you had ordered something really good, it was a pain. The best place to sit at our vacation dinner table was to the right of me.

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Wild, Wild West (2) by John von Daler

                The John Wayne discotheque interior looked at night the way other night clubs look in the daytime, worn down, tarnished, colorless and gloomy. The small mirrors revolving from the middle of the ceiling sent off sparks of light that ignited nothing and no one, but seemingly caused many of the customers to wince inadvertently. We found a table for six and Thor asked what we would like to drink. He left to place the order and we leaned back tentatively in our wooden chairs, smiling politely.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Wild, Wild West (1) by John von Daler

               We arrived early in the afternoon in Esbjerg and instead of going to the hotel drove directly to the little music bar where our concert was to take place that evening.
                Esbjerg struck me as a no nonsense kind of town. The long, straight streets got right to the point and headed directly toward the harbor. Between square unadorned buildings a sea breeze swept through bare avenues bearing the scents of fish and factories. These people got things done to a fare-thee-well.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

#Imera by John von Daler

                In Greenland they have many wonderful things. Take imera. I've heard the Inuits say many of their own words without having any idea what they were talking about. But imera reached out and grabbed me. It means maybe or perhaps. It could have been dreamed up by Edgar Allan Poe. In Spanish they say Quizás.

Friday, June 21, 2013

By ear and by heart (2) by John von Daler

              We were waiting in a television studio for Oscar #Peterson to show up to play the piano in Palle #Mikkelborg's suite. One hour into our rehearsal Oscar's nephew arrived. Large, dark, and imposing, the young man looked so much like a mini-Oscar that you almost suspected the gods of acclimating us slowly to greatness. He had come to inspect the facilities, the piano, the bench, the lighting. The nephew spoke a while with the cameramen and lighting crew and seemed to reach small agreements with them. Finding everything in order he called to have his uncle sent on in, and indeed fifteen minutes later the real Oscar walked in.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

By ear and by heart (1) by John von Daler

               Palle #Mikkelborg had gotten everyone together, a little big band, my strings, a choir, and a rhythm group headed by Niels-Henning #Ørsted #Pedersen. Palle had written wonderful music in his own way, with light behind the clouds. We were forty or fifty people in a television studio in Copenhagen waiting for the great Oscar Peterson to arrive so we all could play Palle's suite together.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

An island memory by John von Daler

                Legend has it that on the day of his arrival on #Christians Island, Henning #Køie, the great painter, composer, writer, and musician, went down to the beach and painted a picture of the island and the sea. Every year for at least a half-century he repeated this labor of love. I know because he told me.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A Tale of Two Wheels by John von Daler

               Karen Blixen once said that coffee is to the women of Denmark what the word of God is to the soul. If I may add something to this comparison: and what my bicycle is to me.

Monday, June 17, 2013

No Strings Attached by John von Daler

                       I've seen all kinds of violins - and I've played them too: Chagall violins floating up in the clouds, Disney violins dancing all in a row, Dali violins all shrunken and creepy, Ponty el-violins like colored lollypops, Scandinavian fiddles ornamented like a mountain bride and one dark, old Romanian gypsy violin that played a Ceausescu blues with only one hair from the bow drawn back and forth across the strings.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Hills are Alive by John von Daler

                You could say that Oklahoma had not prepared me very well for #Austria. My summer vacations in the Southwest had all melted together into something like a scene from a musical, the cast in jeans and calico belting out "Surrey with a Fringe on Top": horses, water, grass, dust, sun, bicycles, hamburgers and lemonade. Mom's territory. Now you are probably thinking that Austria, Dad's place, just had to turn into "Sound of Music". Sorry. We landed someplace between Amadeus and Arnold Schoenberg. End of comparison.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

A Penitent by John von Daler

The following punishment was meted out by the authorities and subsequently transcribed two hundred times by a delinquent writer incarcerated at a top security Writers Correction Facility, the so-called Ballpoint Penitentiary:

Friday, June 14, 2013

A Viper in the Bubbly by John von Daler

                Two Roman soldiers crossed swords over the entranceway to the old theater. As I went through and under this belligerent welcome, one of them started a rhythmic tattoo on the other's helmet with the edge of his sword. Soon the doorway was swinging and their bare, hairy legs were toeing a kind of jazzy jig beneath their leather tunics.  

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

#Bruegel for Beginners by John von Daler

                We drove all day from Copenhagen to Flemish Belgium, switching drivers, sleeping, talking. Like some army of the Middle Ages we crossed over the Jutlanders, the Saxons and finally the land of Charlemagne to reach our destination. Our little, all-conquering Faroese orchestra complete with poetess/soloist would be performing in various towns in this land of the great king - and of the Bruegels.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Hanging out in Denmark by John von Daler

               Ten lessons or so it took to teach me to sail well enough for a solo attempt. My teacher had guided me through the ups and downs and ins and outs and now I was ready. I was about 25 years old and we were in southern Denmark at a summer house on the coast. 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Season's Greetings by John von Daler

               When I first came to Denmark I spent a lot of time on an island called Langeland in a little town called #Rudkøbing. The sea water around the island was grayish green and the skies fleeced with drifting white clouds. Little ferries puffed and putted in and out of the harbor with their red and white flags flapping from the masts. Dufy would have loved it.

Friday, June 7, 2013

On and Off by John von Daler

               I walked my two kids to the bus. Today was the first day of school and I was going to follow them on my bicycle to make sure they got off at the right place.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

#Eureka Springs Eternal by John von Daler

                My maternal grandfather preached the Methodist faith throughout most of the South and Southwest USA, where he was known for his magnetism and his strong beliefs. When I first became aware of him he had curly white hair and the jowly good looks of a former charmer. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

My best review. by John von Daler

              Some years ago I was invited to compose the music for an intimate little play written for and played by people who were #deaf.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

An ox moron by John von Daler

I asked a #Greenlander about his favorite food. 
We were having a beer together and looking out 
at the snow from a house on a hill in Nuuk. Ravens 
landed every once in a while on the roof above our 
window and shook down some silken showers of 
powdered snow. He said:

Saturday, June 1, 2013

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