READ: Mark Nuckols' Musings on Travel, Music and All Things Related
Travels with Ferdinand now available!
The book that began with the creation of this website and my “World of Yesterday Tour” is now out. Travels with Ferdinand and Friends: A Centennial Journey Through Austria-Hungary begins at Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s castle outside Prague and winds through Slovakia, Hungary, and Croatia to Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina for the anniversary of the assassination that sparked World War I. The culinary and musical exploration of former Habsburg lands continues up the Dalmatian Coast, to the Italian city of Trieste, and on to Vienna, Slovakia and Prague. It includes visits with choirs in Slovakia that the author sang in during his six years living there, and spontaneous restaurant performances with musicians in Dubrovnik and Prague.
The work entertains while providing an experiential guide to the history and geography of Central Europe and its culture: music, cuisine, language, and literature. It reflects on the causes of the Great War from the standpoints of various nationalities (including their prejudices), as well as changes in the European political landscape from the end of WWI, through WWII and the socialist era, and down to the present day. Set against the broader European backdrop of Putin’s 2014 Crimea annexation, Travels with Ferdinand provides vital context for understanding Ukraine’s western neighbors, the current state of the EU, and the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
Click here to PURCHASE YOUR COPY at Bookshop.org.
Here is the original home-page intro for this site, which explains how I got into the whole travel-music-languages thing. It's followed by a brief account of an earlier "Austro-Hungarian tour" with a choir...
Travel is enriched by culture, major components of which are: music, literature, history and language. I've been blessed to become familiar with these facets of Central and Eastern Europe (and some parts of Western Europe) through living there and/or extended or repeated visits. I also learned the language, delved into local history, and studied the region(s) academically when I came back to the States.
When I lived in Slovakia (1990-92, 1993-97), I sang in choral groups and hung out with Gypsy musicians, which put me in contact with the broader artistic community. As an example, the violinist leader of a Gypsy ensemble from one town put me in touch with the cathedral organist and choir director in another city, to which I was about to move. Returning for a 3-month stay in 2011, I sang with the cathedral choir again, this time with special instruction and conducting from Marek Stryncl, a baroque specialist from Prague. Thanks to Facebook, I learned that another friend, a Czech organist I'd met in St. Petersburg, Russia, was friends with those conductors. Ah, degrees of separation.
Europe by Choir Bus TouR
As a member of those Slovak choirs, I made bus trips around Europe for international festivals and other occasions. One trip involved singing Mass at St. Peter's Basilica and an exchange with a chorus in Alba, Italy (home of Rocher chocolates, BTW). That Piedmontese town of 25K was celebrating 50 years of the Republic of Alba, a temporary period of being the capital at the end of WWII. Other travels with the choir included a visit to Trent, Italy (as in Council of Trent) for another exchange concert, followed by stops in the Republic of San Moreno, Venice, a vintner on the Italian-Slovenian border. The highlight was another exchange choir in the town of Krizevci, Croatia. (The map above is from that trip.) Living on a bus and in hostels with Slovaks was my crazy - and dirt-cheap - way of seeing Europe in my twenties!
The thrust of this website is to give background – through videos of Gypsy and East European music with previously unseen translations of song lyrics, as well as historical information on travel destinations, plus personal observations. Linking to sites on non-European/non-Western culture and travel is a long-term goal of the site.