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Issue #123 December 4, 2017


The G-ZINE — the Germany Magazine — provides you with news, updates and happenings in and around Germany. While saving you valuable time, this e-zine prepares you and sets you up for an unforgettable Germany experience.

December 2017 Topics

In this issue . . .

  1. Must-See And -Do Events
  2. German Phrase
  3. German Quote
  4. Trip Tip
  5. Good To Know
  6. Next G-ZINE's Preview


From Marcus' Travel Desk...

Here it is, the last G-ZINE of 2017. While I'm excited to see what 2018 will bring to Germany, there's still quite a bit to do as the current year comes to an end. And one of those things is to tell you what's to see and do the whole month of December.

The middle of December brings on the annual Louis Lewandowski Festival in Berlin. Amidst all the Christmas Markets and other Christmas Events, this festival celebrates this Jewish composer, as well as other Jewish composers' music.

As for those Christmas Markets, there's more than enough to choose from—including those in historical cities like Freiburg, Weimar, and Saarbrücken—and the ones I'm gonna mention in Trier and Münster.

The twelfth month of the year isn't limited to only music festivals and Christmas Markets, because you'll find events like ski jump competitions in Bavaria, too.

Why do I feel like I'm missing something? Oh yes, what's a New Year's Eve on December 31st without watching Dinner for One? Same procedure as last year, Miss Sophie? Same procedure as every year, James. Don't know what I'm talking about? Watch it and you'll know. ;-)

What's left? The Good to Know, which this month is about some of Germany's famous (and some not-so-famous) composers. Perhaps you'll enjoy some of their music over cold winter nights with a roaring fire and a steamy cup of coffee.

Oh, let me quit rambling on—it's about the German Quote of the Month, by Angelus Silesius. Born as Johann Scheffler in Breslau (now Wroclaw, Poland) in 1624, Silesius was quite an active guy—he was a priest, a poet, and a physician.

Either way, he accomplished a lot in his 52 years, going so far as to have a number of his poems made into hymns for both the Catholic and Lutheran Churches. Not bad for a Lutheran guy who "converted" to Catholicism in the mid-17th century. And you'll even find a statue of him in his hometown (and where he also died in 1677).

All that's left is the Trip Tip, and such as Breslau isn't part of Germany any longer I had to find somewhere else. Except as I write this, I still can't decide. Drats, give me a minute.

All right, because I really couldn't decide (other than somewhere in Northern Germany), I went smack-dab in the middle of Schleswig-Holstein in the town of Nortorf—which could also be known as the Nortorfer Land if you count the surrounding area.

Please don't let my indecision jade your take on Nortorf, it's a wonderful town—and I remember my first glimpse of its snow covered old church still gives me fond memories.

Speaking of memories, I'm sure you'll want to be making some at that Hamburger DOM—so finish up here, and get to it.


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Must-See And -Do Events

Louis Lewandowski Festival

This annual festival, playing the music of the man for whom its named, as well as other Jewish composers, has events playing in venues from synagogues, castles, and even churches throughout Berlin and Potsdam. Best to order your tickets as soon as possible. And remember, acappella and choir performances from places like Jerusalem and London start on-time. No showing up fashionably late.

Trier Christmas Market

  • Until December 22nd
  • Trier

Germany's Christmas Markets are so much more than just a shopping adventure. They're a piece of German culture, where music flows and the wafting smell of mulled wine and comfort food tickle your fancy. And here in Trier you'll find not only almost a hundred stalls of handicrafts and other items, scrumptious food and drink, and music—you'll be doing it in front of the watchful eye of Germany's oldest cathedral!

Münster Christmas Market

What's remarkable about Münster's Christmas Market is that it isn't just one Christmas Market—it's actually five Christmas Markets. The oldest held around the Rathaus (Town Hall), offering food and fun for the whole family. Really, no matter which Market you choose, you'll find all sorts of goodies whether you're buying gifts for loved one or just something to nosh.

Dinkelsbühl Christmas Market

You know it's hard to choose which Market to write about, but there's always something magical about Bavaria. Here on the Romantic Road you'll find charmingly decorated Christmas stalls, along with little cafes for some hot coffee for the weary shopper. There's plenty of time to explore as the Christmas Market is open until 8pm.

Bremen Christmas Market

There's more to Bremen's Christmas Market than just over 150 decorated stalls under the watchful eye of the city's UNESCO Roland statue. It's so lovely to just meander around to see the Christmas window displays of the local stores, or stroll along the Weser River's promenade to find merchants transporting you back to a time long gone. For many, Bremen is one of their favorite places this time of year, and if it isn't yours yet—it will be.

Vierschanzentournee (Four Hills Tournament)

Not everything in Germany revolves around Christmas Markets in December, especially when you've got the Alps as a backdrop. Come the end of the month to wonderful Bavaria where you can watch the ski jump competitions live. Better hurry to buy your tickets though, this is quite the popular event—and one nobody should miss if you're in (or around) this southern federal state.

New Year's Eve & Dinner For One

Whether you choose to spend the last day/night of 2017 partying the night away in cities like Berlin, or spend it quietly amongst friends, there's always 20 minutes to spare to watch the antics of James and the innocence of Miss Sophie in Dinner For One. Many towns and cities throughout the country offer late night fireworks and musical concerts—if you're up north head to Büsum, where they know how to party on the shore of the North Sea.

Tollwood Winter Festival

While the festival might be closed Christmas Eve and the first Christmas Day, this Bavarian festival offers everything from live music and a market with crafts, lots of good food (everything from burgers to vegan), and children's programs. Some events require tickets, so order online or by phone so you can see & do what you prefer.

Gods of the Etruscans

Before the Romans came along it was the Etruscans who ruled over Northern and Central Italy. And if you know little about the Roman predecessors you can learn more at the Gods of the Etruscans exhibit at the Archaeologisches Museum. Even better that tours are available on Sundays to explain in detail about these amazing archaeological finds.

British Short Film Festival

At first glance you'd think a film festival is nothing more than just movie after movie, but nope. Of course there are films to watch, but the British Short Film Festival also offers concerts, lectures, and workshops held in venues around Berlin. Hey, there are event screenings for the night owls with movies starting at midnight. Might as well enjoy yourself if you're suffering from insomnia.


German Phrase of the Month

  • English: My granny/gramps lives in ___.
  • German: Meine Oma/Opa leben in ____.
  • Pronounce: Maine ohmah/ohpah leh-ben in ____.


German Quote of the Month

"The Rose is without an explanation; She blooms, because She blooms."

—Angelus Silesius


Trip Tip

Here we go, the final Trip Tip of 2017—and true to my word (I hope) it's a Northern Germany finish with the town of Nortorf. Not that I minded spending the last 12 months writing about the upper region of Germany, and I certainly didn't mind learning a bit more about the Nortorfer Land, and I don't think you will either.

Known as Noorddörp in Low German, the town of Nortorf lies along the Holstein Geest, as well as the Westensee Nature Park, so it was its countryside that jumps right at you. For me, however, it was the snow covered late 19th century Church of St. Martin that struck my fancy the first time I saw it.

Please, it was a sincere wish to see the rest of Nortorf in the warmer months, because the 10th century village town has its fair share of hiking and cycling routes. And there are quite a number of swimming options, like the natural swimming area in the village of Borgdorf-Seedorf. Oh, and there's the Brahmsee, although there aren't any facilities at this one. Don't say I didn't warn you.

The colder weather doesn't stop us Germans from experiencing the great outdoors, or enjoying ourselves at the Nortorf Advent Bazaar or Christmas Market. Good thing the local Tierpark (Animal Park) is open year-round, too. What? You don't have to be a kid (just a kid at heart) to come see both local & domesticated farm animals like cattle, pigs, and even geese.

Of course, wandering away from the farm will take you to some other amazing places. Nortorf is also the geographical center of Schleswig-Holstein (it's marked, so you can't miss it), plus if you like pretty manor houses it's on to see the Emkendorfer Manor House for you. The graceful building is also a venue for the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival.

History lovers might appreciate the old 19th century red-brick water mill that harnesses electric power (gotta love the marvel of German engineering), or the nearby Stone Age Museum with tools dating back some 12,000 years. Hmm, more German ingenuity.

Nortorf isn't a one-pony town, as it has another museum to visit—dedicated to Music History. You'll find old albums (you know, those black vinyl discs that us dinosaurs used to listen to), compact discs, and everything in between some 120 years of all things music.

Art enthusiasts aren't left out either. The Sculpture Park is dotted with almost two dozen pieces comprising such pieces as a head, a hand, some "abstract" kind of stuff (hey, I don't pretend to understand these "new-age" pieces), but I truly liked the cheetah licking its paw.

What can I say, I have a soft spot for animals—just like I have a soft spot for pretty tree lined streets like the Emkendorfer Allee, and "attractions" like the keltische Baumkreis—a circle of some three dozen trees in the village of Gnutz; or the storks and thatched cottages in the village of Krogaspe.

Many other delights await you in Nortorf (and Nortorfer Land), so if you find yourself near Kiel (it's only 25km), or even Hamburg, then hop on over to explore.


Good To Know

There's no denying Germany's contribution to music has been nothing short of exceptional, but little did I know the list of German composers was going to be exhaustive. Sure we've all heard of the likes of Beethoven, Brahms, and Handel—but there are so many more out there who not only wrote exceptional pieces, but also lived extraordinary lives.

Sorta makes me feel like a slacker. ;-)

Take Fanny Mendelssohn for example. Born in Hamburg in 1805, she was incredibly talented but also constricted by the social norms of the 19th century. So much, in fact, she had a number of her 400-plus pieces published under her brother's name. And she did it in such a short life, dying at the age of 42 in Berlin.

Interestingly enough, the stroke that killed Fanny was also the same affliction that killed her younger brother just six months later (the one whose name her pieces were published). That's right, her sibling was none other than Felix Mendelssohn.

Felix, by the way, was the "contemporary" of Johann Carl Gottfried Loewe (born 1796 in Löbejün), who conducted the former's Overture—and who not only sang in countries all over Europe, but also wrote over 400 ballads and songs. That's in addition to the five Operas he composed.

Just as Loewe was entering his twilight years, another German composer was just getting started. Engelbert Humperdinck was born in Sieburg back in 1854, and wrote his first composition at the tender age of 7. Many know him as the composer of the famous opera Hansel & Gretel (for whom Richard Strauss was the conductor when it premiered in 1793), but he was also acquainted with Wagner (we'll save him for another chapter, ok), and eventually taught Wagner's son.

As if composing the famous Opera wasn't an accomplishment enough, Humperdinck even continued to compose music after a stroke left him paralyzed on one side.

See, told you, I feel like a slacker. And the last composer in this Good to Know only exacerbates that feeling. Really, can you imagine trying to run a country and composing some 100 sonatas for the flute? Oh, that's in addition to commissioning the construction of the Berlin Opera House, St. Hedwig Cathedral, and Sanssouci Palace.

Know who I'm talking about? That's right, none other than Frederick the Great. Who knew? I certainly didn't, but it was fascinating to learn that good-ole-Freddie really didn't take to liking German theater, was reputed to have had a homosexual affair (quite scandalous back in the mid-18th century), and was responsible for a more modern Prussia.

It's good to be King, huh?

It's also good to know that Germany's composers' music, and their stories, live on today.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna be less of a slack and go find some more German composers for another issue.


Next G-ZINE's Preview

Short 'n sweet, here's what's coming up next in Germany — a preview of the next G-ZINE:

  • From Carl to Carmina Burana
  • Green & Fashion Weeks
  • Not Back To Bavaria


Published by Marcus Hochstadt

Albert-Schweitzer-Str. 3
68723 Schwetzingen, Germany

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