You may think that is Theodor Herzl looking wistfully over the Danube. Close, but no, this is Aaron Charloff, a friend for almost 60 years now. He also settled in Israel and continues to live there with his large family including grandchildren. Aaron, who is a composer and is known as Aharon Harlap professionally and in Israel, told me last summer when he and his wife, Haddasah , were visiting Vancouver, that a Budapest symphony had commissioned a piece of music from him. When they play that piece tomorrow night (Saturday), it will be the 5th occurence of such good fortune with that organization alone.
I tell you all this because Aaron is the reason that I organized this little jaunt to Prague and Budapest. Here we are walking about 10 kilometres yesterday, starting with crossing the White Bridge to Buda and returning to Pest eventually by the Chain Bridge.
That extraordinary structure above looks like it might be the world's greatest Gothic cathedral, eclipsing even the one in Koln. But no, it is a side view of the Parliament Buildings, themselves possibly the largest in the world.
This morning at 8:30, long before Budapest gets going, at least for sleepy tourists, I walked over to Aaron's Hotel.
This is not the hotel.It is just one of several thousand random buildings that I love to see. I think about living there in a spacious apartment with 12 foot ceilings. If someone flies through the window with a blazing machine gun, I will just have to defeat him with a ballpoint pen I find blindly on the desk behind me.
Then, I will dash across rooftops and hot-wire a car parked in the courtyard to make my getaway.
This has quickly become one of my favorite streets in the world.
"Why?" I hear you asking. Because it is big and brash and noisy and lined with great old buildings and it leads always to Aaron's hotel.
Now, today we were being taken by car to a rehearsal with Maestro Roberto Paternostro. Below is the outside cover and the first page of the conductor's sheet music, which Aaron's publishing company produces for him under such circumstances.
The orchestra was only about 80+ instruments including violins, violas, cellos, bass, woodwinds, trumpets, trombones, tuba and timpani, among others. I had decided to study the triangle.
The music is so wonderful and stirring and romantic and beautiful and I can't wait to hear it in concert a domani.
The rehearsal of 3 hours was darn close to a religious experience - hearing my friend's work come to life, volumes and times and rhythms being minutely adjusted on the fly. I just feel so privileged to be a quiet witness to such gorgeous human enterprise.