An acrylic painting of a section of Warsaw, almost totally destroyed by the Nazis in the uprising of 1944 and beautifully rebuilt. In the area I left blank, on the painting’s left side, actually sits the restored castle, a blank here to symbolize the Nazi destruction of it during the uprising of 1944.
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This band played in our neighborhood last night. I would call their music Klezmer, although I do not know what they call it. Klezmer is a musical tradition of the Ashkenazi Jews of Eastern Europe dating to the Renaissance. We do not possess musical notation of the earliest forms, however when Jewish musicians came to the US their music was influenced by jazz. To strictly define Klezmer is difficult but I like to say I know it when I hear it, although it is rather difficult at times. These days bands often consist of a clarinet, sax, fiddle, drum, accordion and a trombone. Last night there was a bass guitar and a flugelhorn. Hammer dulcimer and bass fiddle are traditional. I have never seen a horn mounted on a fiddle, but I have now!
The friendly crowd was enthusiastic, dancing, enjoying some of the excellent beer you find everywhere in Poland. A good time was had by all.
The Royal Castle served as the official residence of the King of Poland starting with Segismundo starting in the 16th c, before that serving a ducal palace since the tower was built in the 14th c. The lower part of the tower still stands. The Nazis destroyed the rest subsequent to the uprising of 1944. Segismundo was Swedish and a Catholic in what was then a Protestant country, and his statue remains with us today at the top of the new column in the palace square. The Nazis collapsed the original column, the remains of which sit at the side of the castle today.
The Poles rebuilt the palace and its sumptuous rooms starting in the 1970’s. They did a superb job of it, and are proud of the accomplishment. There is a substantial film about the works just as you enter, which the bossy guards make sure you see. I’d never seen how they did the wall and ceiling appliques, which they showed in detail. While it’s not the most impressive palace I have ever seen -Versailles, Hermitage and the Palacio Real in Madrid both outrank it – but there’s certainly much to be proud of with regards to the workmanship.
In addition to the interior there is a good collection of paintings, including two Rembrandt portraits.