Music from the Rooftops in Amsterdam

Posted by Anne & Kirk Woodyard – Music and Markets Tours

Where will we hear the music today? It’s a surprise, as our contact at the Grachtenfestival headquarters, has chosen a couple of concerts in unique places for us. Most of the venues, private homes and monuments not normally open to the public, are in the most beautiful part of Amsterdam, the “golden necklace” of canals.
The first concert is on the Prinsengracht, or Prince’s Canal, where the Grachtenfestival started thirteen years ago with pontoon concerts in front of the Pulitzer Hotel. A rehearsal for this afternoon’s floating concert is going on, and boats are already jockeying into position, hours before the 4 pm concert.People are set up for a long day on the water, with even a table-on-deck nicely clothed and ready for lunch.
The streets in between the canals are lined with quirky shops – lots of vintage, and shops specializing in a particular item, such as eyeglasses, toothbrushes, cupcakes, or hats. And as we’re window- shopping the lanes, another Grachtenfestival surprise goes by – a piano, complete with a young pianist playing Saint-Saens rides by!
Where’s our first concert? Four and a half very steep flights up, on a rooftop overlooking the canal! We find our seats, then enjoy the view far below. Have you ever seen a floating living room before?
A classical accordionist serenades us with Bach, Piazzola, and more, and we descend to our next surprise venue, on the Keizersgracht, where we join the queue in front of a beautiful old townhome. We’re invited inside, and walk through an impressive hallway and down to a glorious private garden lush with flowers, symmetrical statues, and boxwood – lined paths. A young violin duo, brother and sister, delight us with amazing virtuosity, combining solos and duets in a wonderful program. Then we’re invited for drinks on the terrace before viewing the beautiful interior, a pleasing combination of new and old. The owner talked about the house before the concert. It belonged to his great- grandparents, and was built in 1604. We learned that the canal- side homes were initially relatively simple, and then as the owners prospered, were updated more and more ornately. The crafts- manship is exquisite, and perfectly maintained… there are artisan laborers in Amsterdam who have kept generations- old skills intact to keep these treasures in shape.
Beauty for the eyes and ears – what a perfect Amsterdam day!

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The best way to describe us (Kirk and Anne Woodyard) is that we’re interested in the stories that make the places we visit come alive.
We’ve visited Europe more times than we can count, learned some entertaining stories there, and met some warm and helpful people who also enjoy the wonders of music and life in Europe.
Between our music-related travels, we split our time between our homes near Washington DC and the south of France. We look forward to sharing these stories and friends and experiences with our Music and Markets guests.
While both of us have experience in organizing travel and music groups Kirk’s background is in project management and competitive writing, and Anne is an accomplished pianist with over thirty years of teaching experience, and a travel and food writer specializing in France and Italy.

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