in David’s words…
Our final concerts of the tour took place in the legendary capital of Argentina, Buenos Aires. The name Argentina originates from the Latin word for silver “argentum”, as the country is rich in silver and was referred to in the early 17th century as “Tierra Argentina”. Argentina gained its independence from Spain in 1816, and has had a turbulent political history, right up to the present. Because of its long north-to-south dimension (2800 miles) it possesses numerous types of geography and climates, like its neighbor Chile to the west.
Buenos Aires is the country’s largest city, founded in 1536 by Spanish explorers. It is located on the Atlantic coast, in the central Pampas region, at the mouth of the Rio de la Plata. A huge number of immigrants over the centuries, from a multitude of countries, have brought strong cultural influences. Buenos Aires, at first glance, looks like Paris or London or even New York, more so than any city we visited. It was easy for a New Yorker to feel at home here.
Argentina has a long tradition of classical music, with opera houses and concert halls in all the major cities. Buenos Aires is virtually the last great capital of music in which the Emerson Quartet had not appeared. Besides the famous concert hall, the Teatro Colón, (in which we hope to play next time), Buenos Aires is the birthplace of Daniel Barenboim, Alberto Ginastera, and Martha Argerich.
Our concert was in the 1400-seat Teatro Coliseo, and despite the major swine flu scare, the hall was full both nights.
After our first concert, we were informed by our gracious host Gisela Timmerman (here with us at our favorite local restaurant, El Establo) that at 7pm the concert had been technically cancelled. The theater is owned by the Italian government, and its board of directors had decided to follow the lead of the Argenintian theaters, which are now closed for ten days. But at the last minute the board changed its mind and allowed the concert to take place.
We were honored to meet, after the concert, the distinguished and beloved director of the series for more than forty years, Jeannette Arata de Erize (next to me, second from right). As the Mozarteum’s leader, she has been the personal contact between the organization and every artist who has performed on the series, which began in 1952.
Although food might not interest everyone reading this blog, it is such a passion of mine, and makes such a big impact on my life that in some instances I will not be able to resist mentioning it. I had long heard about Argentinian beef, and made a beeline for the nearest grilled meat place on arrival. I was not disappointed: the quality of the beef, the preparation, and the variety of meat selections was astounding. This steak was one of the best I ever had, and it cost around $8 at this simple, friendly and excellent restaurant where I had four consecutive meals, El Establo, right around the corner from our hotel.