We spend a lovely afternoon on the square in Avignon, just below the castle walls, drinking a glass of the local rosé while being entertained by these two buckers.
The final resting places of Johann Strauss I (dad), Johann Strauss II (son), and Josef Strauss (other son). All three were musicians and composers.
Johan I – dad
Johann II – he wrote what is probably the most famous waltz in the world, The Blue Danube
While wondering around Aegina Town we bumped into this busker, and he was fantastic. He was one of the few buskers in Greece not trying to make a hash of traditional Greek music, but he was just playing his own thing. I first noticed him when he was playing the Rain Song by Led Zeppelin. A well-known band, but not their most famous song. We chatted to him for a bit, and he says that he makes his living wondering around the island busking.
Just before we moved on, he played an even more obscure Led Zeppelin Song – Bron yr aur, named after the cottage owned by Robert Plant’s family (that was your trivia for the day), and written by Jimmy Page (the song that is – not the cottage. Jimmy Page could hardly have written the cottage).
I’ve also just realised that he was using a sieve as a hat to collect his tips – now that is a little bizarre!
Anyway, if you get hold of a copy of Physical Graffiti you can listen to the Led Zep song.
There are two composers that (in my opinion) are the the best ever piano composers. The first is Beethoven (a while ago I visited his grave in Vienna), and the other of course is Frédéric Chopin. Every single piece of music that Chopin wrote contains the piano.
They day we arrived in Warsaw there was a free Chopin concert at the Chopin memorial in the Royal Baths Park in the South of Warsaw, so as soon as we found our apartment we dropped our bags and dashed out to head off to the park.
The concert reminded me a lot of the Kirstenbosch concerts in Cape Town (except this one was free), but there were at least a thousand people sitting on benches and the lawns.
While I don’t know the pianist, he is (at least according to the announcer) one of the top Polish Pianists, and judging by his playing he clearly was! It was amazing to sit for an hour and just relax after a crazy long flight and listen to some Chopin.
It is a blanket statement to say that most street musicians are awful, but in my experience most buskers can play one or two tunes badly, simply using their instruments to get cash from the tourists.
But not all; in Krakow they have a great system. There are specific places where the musicians are allowed to play and they have a roster. Every hour or so all the musicians get up and move away, to be shortly replaces by another musician. They are also (mostly) very good.
Once such muso was this guy. He was playing classical guitar; most of which he was improvising on the spot. He was exceptionally good; clearly classically trained. We ended up sitting for quite a while listening to his guitar singing.
The system is Krakow is great (Prague has a similar setup). It lets you can sit on Krakow Square and enjoy the music without being harassed by buskers. Well except for the unofficial buskers that disappear at the vaguest sign of authority.