History In Music

The sun was momentarily peaking through the rain clouds upon our arrival to Amsterdam. On our last train connection toward the central station we met a gentleman from Germany on his way to care for his son. At some point in the conversation he described a trip he had made with his wife to Leningrad, years before, to visit the resting place of his father. His father had died in the Battle of Leningrad during WWII just prior to his birth. He described the joy of seeing his own children grow and mature and wished his father could have felt and seen the same. The emotions and images he described were intense, but the overpowering sense of love for his children seemed to leave us feeling a sense of joy at the end of the conversation that was unexpected. Darkness truly can be the canvas from which we can paint a picture of life’s brightness and light.

Ineke and Trudy at the Amsterdam Concert Hall

The next evening at dinner, we met a woman named Ineke. She was dining next to us and we found she was on her way to the symphony. She had a background in Music History and had an ongoing love for music since childhood. She was very excited about the evening performance and gave us a detailed description of the upcoming concert. It turned out that the main piece to be played by the Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest (Royal Dutch Concert Symphony) was written in 1943. The Russian composer Dmitri Sjostakavitsj had written the music to enable the listener to feel and understand the emotions of battle, The Battle of Leningrad. Needless to say, we bought tickets and enjoyed a unique experience that tied the lives of complete strangers together with common understanding. Ineke’s description of the evenings movements, combined with our conversation on the train, allowed us to hear and feel a piece of history, via music, that touched our hearts.