I'm a classical music fan...
|Bach and Chopin, both travellers. But how did they travel?
P/C Wikimedia sources.
... and I've read more than my share of books about the musicians that I admire. But as you also might expect, I'm curious about some of the details of their lives--little things that make me wonder, How did they do that? What was their lived experience actually like?
Most recently, as I was traveling through central Europe, I was thinking about two famous trips made by musicians and trying to imagine what it was like to travel in those days. Now, of course, you hop on a train and can be across Europe in a matter of hours. But it hasn't always been thus.
So I did a bit of SearchResearch on two very famous trips and learned some remarkable things. Let me pose them to you as an SRS Challenge. When I answer this, we'll talk about doing historical research like this--what works, and what doesn't.
Our Challenges for this week are:
1. Frederic Chopin traveled from Paris to Majorca (also spelled as Mallorca) in 1838 with the hope of improving his health. It was a disaster from beginning to end, but as I was looking at a map of the Mediterranean, I wondered about he got there--it's not exactly around the corner. How did he travel to Majorca? Obviously he took a ship, but from where? And how? How long did it take? Now I'd just take a ferry, but was there regularly scheduled service in 1838? How did he travel back when he returned in 1839?
2. Johann Sebastian Bach also had a famous trip that left me wondering about the details. In 1705 he traveled in the winter from Arnstadt (where he was living and working) to Lübeck to hear Dietrich Buxtehude play the organ at his parish church. That is also not exactly around the corner. It's nearly 400 km (248 miles)! How did Bach get from Arnstadt to Lübeck and back? How long did it take him to travel?
So many questions!
My goal in posing this Challenge is to get you to think about how to approach such questions. Where do you turn first? How do you dig into the content?
I hope you'll find this one engaging and fun. I honestly didn't know the answers, despite all of my reading on the topic. I know now, and it amazes me about what travel was like back then. Perhaps it will amaze you as well.
P.S. I'm trying to get back on schedule by posting this Challenge today. I'll give the second part of the answer to last week's Challenge later this week.