Gwendolyn Toth

Gwendolyn Toth is the director of the New York City-based early music ensemble, ARTEK, and a soloist on early keyboards (organ, harpsichord, fortepiano). She is married to harpsichordist Dongsok Shin, and they have three children.

Monday, August 5, 2013

In Krakow

Monday August 5 and Tuesday August 6 were our two "vacation" days in Krakow where we would just be tourists - not something that happens often for Dongsok and me! Krakow has many beautiful monuments, including numerous baroque churches, the castle, and the central square, but soon we realized that in most cases these were reconstructions based on the originals. Wawel Castle for example, and the stunning ancient-looking marketplace building on the main square: a tiny bit Disney.

Krakow University was particularly interesting; we waited for the mechanical clock to perform at 3 pm and were enchanted. Here's a video:

Two pictures of the University: a hallway with Italianate painted decoration, and a wall gargoyle

We did see many beautiful organs in Krakow, but most (sadly, from my point of view) have been updated and modernized in the 19th and 20th centuries.  Here, some of these interesting organ cases:

Church of Saints Peter and Paul

St. Anne's Church

St. Mary's Church

Another view of St. Mary's interior

. We spent an entire day at Wawel Castle, a huge complex, with many buildings and separate museum exhibitions. In one day, we could not see it all. The chapel there had a beautiful baroque organ.Here's a picture:

A fanciful downspout at Wawel Castle

We also ate wonderful food at very reasonable prices, in comparison to Germany.  Here's Dongsok and his iphone in an outdoor cafe.

One of the most arresting aspects of Krakow was the playing of a trumpet fanfare from the steeple of St. Mary's church, which is right in the main square. Apparently, this is done live, once every hour around the clock, by three shifts of trumpeters. Our hotel was located just off the main square in the heart of the tourist district, and at night it was incredibly noisy (and, I say this as someone who lives on the third floor above Amsterdam Avenue: not a quiet location). The sound of early-am partying on the nearby streets kept us awake, and was punctuated regularly by the fanfare. However it was a charming hotel - here's a picture of the old-fashioned elevator:

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