Sept. 30, 2011
European tour enhances students’ knowledge of music history
Six Northwest Missouri State University music students have begun their school year with new perspectives of some of the great composers to shape music history.
In May, Dr. Ernest Kramer, Northwest professor of music, took the students on a 17-day tour that spanned six European countries. The students who traveled on the tour were Alysa Kramer, Trenneth Lewis, Kathryn Lillard, Mark Ransom, Veeder Ransom and Ryan Riggs.
Kramer, who teaches music history, theory and piano, has organized and led a half-dozen European tours during the last 14 years. The tours, scheduled every two years, are an invaluable opportunity for his students to see and experience the places where major composers lived and worked.
"The book learning is words on a page, but by traveling it becomes a living, breathing, visual thing that they can understand," Kramer said. "It completes their musical education, because how can you be a serious musician and not have some understanding of where Beethoven or Mozart or Chopin lived?"
The recent tour covered more than a dozen important cities in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy France and England. Among the stops were Frankfurt, Heidelberg, Munich and the medieval town of Rothenburg in Germany. Next they visited Venice, Florence, Rome, and Orvieto in Italy.
"Venice was great because it's so beautiful and also a music mecca," Kramer said, noting Antonio Vivaldi, the composer of many well-known Baroque concertos, worked there. "We went to the Church of La Pieta, where he worked and where he became famous. ... We enjoyed the gondolas and the numerous canals. We visited the famous St. Marks Basilica and saw how Venetian glass is made. We even took a long walk to the Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari to see the grave of opera composer Claudio Monteverdi."
They traveled to Lucerne and Erstfeld in Switzerland. They then traveled to France where they strolled through the streets of Colmar and enjoyed two sunny days in Paris. Their final destination was a three-day stay in London.
The group took a special interest in Austria, which included stops in Salzburg, and the beautiful mountain city of Innsbruck. One of the highlights in Salzburg, Kramer said, was a cog wheel train ride to the top of the Festungsberg mountain, where the group toured the Hohensalzburg Castle.
"The highlight was probably Salzburg because Mozart was born there," Kramer said. "While we were there, we really did everything that has to do with Mozart. We went to his birth house and toured the museum there. We went to the church where he was baptized. We went to the St. Sebastian cemetery where the family plot is - Mozart himself isn't buried there, but his father and several relatives are buried there. We also went across town to the bigger Wohnhaus apartment he had as a teenager."
Kramer is planning the next tour during the summer of 2013, and the tours are not just for music students. Alumni and Northwest employees have joined Kramer on past tours. Kramer works to keep the program costs under $3,000 while including airfare, travel by private bus, hotel accommodations and meals as part of the package.
For more information contact Kramer at 660.562.1319 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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