Grand Place - Grote Markt

Brussels Places of Interest

Over the coming months there will be four blog posts for each city on the Davis High School Baroque Ensemble’s 2020 England-France Tour tour: Place of Interest; Concert Venue; Music; History of the city. This week’s post, the thirteenth of the series, is on the places of interest in Brussels.


Grand Place - Grote Markt

Grand Place – Grote Markt, Brussels

Brussels has several important art and history museums including the excellent Museum of Musical Instruments, a collection of over 8,000 instruments. The city has a number of fine Art Nouveau style buildings, most famously by the Belgian architect Victor Horta, and also buildings in the Art Deco style. The Grand Place, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the main cultural site in the city center. The square is dominated by the 15thc. Town Hall, and the baroque Guildhalls of the various guilds of Brussels.

Atomium Expo '58

Atomium Expo ’58

One of the most popular tourist attractions in the city is the Atomium – a symbolic 338ft tall modernist structure built for the 1958 World’s Fair north of the city center. It consists of 9 steel spheres connected by tubes, and forms a giant model of an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times. The spheres contain exhibitions, with the the central sphere providing a venue for movies, concerts, & parties, and the top sphere is a restaurant. According to the website, ‘Mini-Europe’ located next to the Atomium, “…is the only park where you can visit the whole of Europe in a couple of hours. A truly unique voyage! Stroll amid the typical ambiance of the most beautiful towns of the ‘Old Continent.”

Mini-Europe

Mini-Europe

Other places of interest:

  • Belgian Museum of Fine Arts, and Parc du Cinquantenaire
  • 15th century church Notre Dame-du-Sablon
  • Mont des Artes
  • Victor Horta’s Art Nouveau Town Houses
  • Abbaye de la Cambre & gardens
  • 19th century Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert – one of Europe’s first covered shopping arcades
  • Train World
  • liCoudenberg Palace Archaeological Site
  • liBelgian Comic Strip Center – museum dedicated to cartoons
  • Place du Jeu de Balle – bric-a- brac street market
Art Nouveau Town House, Victor Horta

Art Nouveau Town House, Victor Horta

 


Will you help us make this amazing trip possible by making a contribution? We’ve made it easy to donate by going to https://dhs-holmes-orchestras.org/store/product-category/2020-baroque-tour-public-donations/

All donations are tax deductible. DHS/Holmes Orchestra Boosters 501(c)(3) tax identification#: 82-5177533

Medieval Bruges

History of Bruges

Over the coming months there will be four blog posts for each city on the Davis High School Baroque Ensemble’s 2020 England-France Tour tour: Place of Interest; Concert Venue; Music; History of the city. This week’s post, the twelfth of the series, is on the history of Bruges.


Medieval Bruges

Medieval Bruges

Bruges (French), Brugge (Flemish) is the capital and largest city of the Province of West Flanders. The name probably derives from the Old Dutch for bridge ‘brugga’. Zeebrugge was a location of coastal settlement during prehistory. This Bronze Age and Iron Age settlement is unrelated to medieval city development. In the Bruges area, the first fortifications were built Julius Caesar, 1st century BCE, to protect the coastal area against pirates. The Franks took over the whole region from the Gallo-Romans around the 4th century. There were Viking incursions of the ninth century, and early medieval habitation started in the 9th and 10th century. Bruges became important and prosperous due to the tidal inlet that was important to local commerce. Bruges received its City Charter in 1128, and new city wall and canals were built. Since about 1050, gradual silting had caused the city to lose its direct access to the sea. However, a storm in 1134, re-established this access through the creation of the natural Zwinn channel.

'Scenes from the Passion of Christ', Hans Memling, c.1470

‘Scenes from the Passion of Christ’, Hans Memling, c.1470

Bruges had a strategic location at the crossroads of the northern Hanseatic League trade, and trade routes to the south. The city was included in the circuit of the Flemish and French cloth fairs in the 13th century, and had its own wool market and wool weaving industry, with the wool being imported from England and Scotland. The city also traded in the region, and with Portuguese traders selling pepper and other spices. In 1277 the first merchant fleet arrived from Genoa, establishing a link to the trade of the Mediterranean.

'Peasant Wedding', Pieter Bruegel the Elder, c.1567

‘Peasant Wedding’, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, c.1567

This prosperity declined markedly from c.1500 when the Zwinn channel to the sea silted up again making access to the North Sea difficult, and eventually impossible. During the 17th century, the lace industry took off, rivaling Brussels, and various unsuccessful efforts were made to bring back Bruges’ glorious past. During the 1650s, the city was the base for King Charles II of England and his court in exile (following the beheading of his father, Charles I). As Bruges became impoverished it faded in importance, and the decline in commerce resulted in the city having few funds to modernise existing buildings, or demolish old buildings to build new more fashionable ones. This resulted in the accidental preservation of the medieval architecture we see today in the historic center of the city.

'The Burg, Bruges', J B van Meunincxhove, c.1700.

‘The Burg, Bruges’, J B van Meunincxhove, c.1700.

Following the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, many British troops and their families stopped off in Bruges on their way to the coast and home to England. By the middle of the 19th century, Bruges had become one of the world’s first tourist destinations, initially attracting English and French tourists. Bruges remains very popular with British tourists, and English is spoken everywhere.

Food – These are some of the less familiar Flemish specialities:

  • Croquettes aux Crevettes Grises – Grey North Sea Shrimp croquettes
  • Konijn met pruimen – Rabbit with prunes
  • Paling in ‘t groen – eel in green sauce (yum)
  • Waterzooi – a creamy fish stew
  • Moules-frites – Mosselen-friet, the unofficial national dish
  • Stoemp – a mashed potato and vegetable side dish
  • and the more familiar Belgian Waffles
Paling in t' groen

Paling in t’ groen

Beer

There are over 200 international and traditional breweries in Belgium, including those in Trappist monasteries, resulting in over 800 types of beer! According to wikipedia, in 2016 UNESCO inscribed Belgian Beer Culture on their list of ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity’.

Bruges Lace:

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Things to do in Bruges:
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Architecture Walking Tour – Self-Guided:

 


Will you help us make this amazing trip possible by making a contribution? We’ve made it easy to donate by going to https://dhs-holmes-orchestras.org/store/product-category/2020-baroque-tour-public-donations/

All donations are tax deductible. DHS/Holmes Orchestra Boosters 501(c)(3) tax identification#: 82-5177533

Angel Musicians, Hans Memling c.1485

Music in Bruges

Over the coming months there will be four blog posts for each city on the Davis High School Baroque Ensemble’s 2020 England-France Tour tour: Place of Interest; Concert Venue; Music; History of the city. This week’s post, the eleventh of the series, is on Franco-Flemish Renaissance Music in Bruges.


Angel Musicians, Hans Memling c.1485

Angel Musicians, Hans Memling c.1485

The heyday of Bruges was the 15th century, both in art and music. Flanders had few painters of composers during the Baroque period, and even fewer baroque buildings. ‘Belgium’ came into being as a country in 1831, made up of the Flemish-speaking Flanders in the north, and French-speaking Wallonia to the south – so for the purposes of this blog there are no ‘Belgian’ composers or artists.

Music – Franco-Flemish music from mid 15th century.

Tylman Susato: 

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Josquin des Prez:

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Orlande de Lassus:

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Art – Flemish artists from the 15th century include Jan van Eyck, Hans Memling, and Roger van der Weyden.

Ghent Altarpiece, Jan van Eyck, 1432

Ghent Altarpiece, Jan van Eyck, 1432

Music – Franco-Flemish composers in the Baroque period include:

Jean Baptiste Loeillet of London, cousin of JBL of Ghent, was successful as a player and teacher of the harpsichord, also born in Ghent. He played woodwind in the Queen’s Theatre in the Haymarket, London, and held musical gatherings every week at his home. His works were published in London under the name of John Loeillet. His performances were well received; and he was responsible for introducing Corelli’s 12 Concerto Grossi to Londoners.

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Joseph dall’Abaco cellist and composer was born in Brussels, and worked primarily in Italy. He wrote some  40 cello sonatas and the 11 Capricci for Violoncello Solo, and other works. Many of his compositions were written in Baroque style despite himself living a very long life well into the Classical era of Haydn and Mozart:

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Jean-Joseph Fiocco was born in Brussels, and is well known for a single piece – ‘Allegro’, for solo violin (Suzuki, Book 6):

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Art – Franco-Flemish Artists in the Baroque Period

While there were few composers in Flanders during the Baroque period, there were a large number of artists – the most well known 17th century artists are: Jan Brueghel the Younger, Anthony van Dyck, Peter Paul Rubens, and David Teniers the Younger.

Massacre of the Innocents, Pieter Brueghel the Younger, c.1610

Massacre of the Innocents, Pieter Brueghel the Younger, c.1610

 

 


Will you help us make this amazing trip possible by making a contribution? We’ve made it easy to donate by going to https://dhs-holmes-orchestras.org/store/product-category/2020-baroque-tour-public-donations/

All donations are tax deductible. DHS/Holmes Orchestra Boosters 501(c)(3) tax identification#: 82-5177533

Sint-Salvator Cathedral

Bruges Concert Venue

Over the coming months there will be four blog posts for each city on the Davis High School Baroque Ensemble’s 2020 England-France Tour tour: Place of Interest; Concert Venue; Music; History of the city. This week’s post, the tenth of the series, is on the concert venue in Bruges.


Sint-Salvator Cathedral

Sint-Salvator Cathedral

Holy Savior Cathedral — Sint-Salvatorskathedraal — is the venue for the performance by DHSBE in Bruges, Belgium.

The Sint-Salvator Cathedral, the main church of the city, was first built in 11th century, rebuilt in the 13th century in Gothic style, and has later additions, notably the tower. The Cathedral’s 101-meter-long interior contains some noteworthy furnishings including the wall-tapestries that can be seen when entering the church that were manufactured in Brussels in 1731.The Treasure-Chamber display includes 15th century paintings by Flemish artists, and religious relics. The late Gothic carved choir stalls close-by the organ, are 15th century; the pulpit is in the neoclassical style of Louis XVI, and the side-chapel of Saint Jacob has murals from the end of the 13th century.

Nave, and Altar - Sint-Salvator Cathedral

Nave, and Altar — Sint-Salvator Cathedral

The roof of the cathedral collapsed in a fire in 1839. Robert Chantrell, an English architect, famous for his neo-Gothic restorations of English churches, was asked to restore Sint-Salvator. He was also authorized to extend the medieval tower in order to make it taller than that of the Church of Our Lady – Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk. The oldest surviving part, dating from the 12th century, formed the base of the mighty 19th century tower. Instead of adding a neo-Gothic part to the tower, he chose a Romanesque style design of his own invention. After completion there was a lot of criticism of the design, and the Royal Commissioner of Monuments, without authorization by Chantrell, had placed a small peak on top of the tower because they considered the original design to be too flat. The Neo-Romanesque west tower is fortress-like and 99 meters high.

Organ—Sint-Salvator Cathedral

Organ—Sint-Salvator Cathedral

The Cathedral Organ was originally built in the early 18th century, and was expanded in the 20th century resulting in an instrument of 60 stops (different sets of pipes producing a range of sounds), on three manuals (keyboards), and a pedal-board (wooden ‘keys’ played with the feet). The organ is situated at the end of the nave facing the altar at the other end, and sits atop baroque style arches contemporary with the organ.

Medieval Stained Glass Window—Sint-Salvator Cathedral

Medieval Stained Glass Window—Sint-Salvator Cathedral

Medieval stained glass is the coloured and painted glass of Medieval Europe from the 10th century to the 16th century. Stained glass windows were used predominantly in churches, but were also found in wealthy domestic settings and public buildings such as town halls, though surviving examples of secular glass are very rare indeed. The purpose of stained glass windows in a church was both to enhance the beauty of their setting, and to inform the congregants through narrative or symbolism and moral lessons.. The subject matter was generally religious in churches, though “portraits” and heraldry were sometimes included; many narrative scenes give valuable insights into the medieval world. Stained glass windows were used predominantly in churches, but were also found in wealthy domestic settings and public buildings such as town halls, though surviving examples of secular glass are very rare indeed. The purpose of stained glass windows in a church was both to enhance the beauty of their setting and to teach congregants about biblical stories through narrative or symbolism. The subject matter was generally religious in churches, although “portraits” and heraldry were sometimes included, and many narrative scenes give valuable insights into the medieval world. Stained glass in Sint-Salvator is especially spectacular.

 

 


Will you help us make this amazing trip possible by making a contribution? We’ve made it easy to donate by going to https://dhs-holmes-orchestras.org/store/product-category/2020-baroque-tour-public-donations/

All donations are tax deductible. DHS/Holmes Orchestra Boosters 501(c)(3) tax identification#: 82-5177533

Canals, and 13th century Belfry tower

Bruges Places of Interest

Over the coming months there will be four blog posts for each city on the Davis High School Baroque Ensemble’s 2020 England-France Tour tour: Place of Interest; Concert Venue; Music; History of the city. This week’s post, the ninth of the series, is on places of interest in Bruges.


Canals, and 13th century Belfry tower

Canals, and 13th century Belfry tower

The third concert of the tour will be in Bruges, Belgium — one of the most delightful cities in Europe. I first visited at age 13 on a school trip, and later on numerous occasions as a musician performing in the Flanders Festival as a member of The English Concert, and Academy of Ancient Music. The MAfestival Brugge, hosts an internationally renowned festival of early music and historically informed performances each summer, which includes a three-year cycle of competitions for harpsichord, organ, pianoforte and other period instruments, vocals, and baroque ensembles.

The medieval center of the city, sometimes known as ‘Venice of the North’, is compact, and it is very easy to stroll through the squares, along the canals, and over the many bridges, to places of interest. A boat trip along the canals would also be a great experience. Bruges is less than 1 hour by train from Brussels, and 25 minutes from the coastal towns Blankenberge, Knokke, and Zeebrugge.

Market Square - Markt

Market Square – Markt

Market Square – Markt, is in the historic centre of Bruges and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. At one end of the Markt is the city’s most famous landmark – the 13th century Belfry – Belfort van Brugge, which has a 47-bell carillon at the top of the 272ft. tower. The city still employs a full-time carillonneur, who gives free concerts on a regular basis.

Madonna & Child, Michelangelo

Madonna & Child, Michelangelo

The Church of Our Lady – Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk, contains Michelangelo’s Madonna & Child, c.1504, which shares similarities with his earlier ‘Pieta’ in St. Peter’s, Rome. Jesus stands upright only loosely restrained by Mary’s left hand, and appears to be about to step away from his mother. Mary does not cling to her son or even look at him, but gazes down and away. The work is notable in that it was the only sculpture by Michelangelo to leave Italy during his lifetime.

Beguinage - Begijnhof Brugge

Beguinage – Begijnhof Brugge

The Beguinage – Begijnhof Brugge, founded c.1244, was originally a convent, later becoming a home for lay religious women who lived in community without taking vows or retiring from the world. The complex includes a gothic beguinage church, and thirty white painted houses dating from the late 16th century. The first Beguine house, next to the entrance, is furnished as a museum, and the exhibition includes paintings, 17th and 18th century furniture, and lacework – for which the city is famous.

Other Places of Interest:

  • Groeninge Museum has an important collection of Flemish art, including 15th century paintings by Jan Van Eyck, and Hans Memling.
  • Gruuthuse Museum — the early 15th century building includes a display of both the interior of a house of a rich family as it would have been in the late Middle Ages, and a collection of everyday tools and utensils. On display are furniture, bobbin lace, objects in gold and silver, weapons, musical instruments, and ceramics.
  • Folklore Museum — Museum voor Volkskunde.A collection of renovated 17th century, single room dwellings. Displays include a classroom, millinery, pharmacy, confectionery shop, grocery shop, and bedroom interior; with a collection of Bruges lace on the upper floor.
  • Old Saint John’s Hospital — Sint Jansspitaal, is located next to the Church of Our Lady and the Bonifacius Bridge, and contains some of Europe’s oldest surviving hospital buildings. The hospital grew during the Middle Ages and was a place where sick pilgrims and travellers were cared for. The site was later expanded with the building of a monastery and convent.
  • Holy Savior Cathedral — Sint-Salvatorskathedraal. The construction of the present Gothic church started in 1250, and took nearly a century to complete. The neo-Romanesque tower was added c.1840. The pipe organ of the cathedral was originally built in the early 18th century, and subsequently expanded in the 20th century.
  • Choco-Story — Chocolate Museum is located in the sixteenth-century “Huis de Crone” building in central Bruges. Visitors can watch chocolate being made, and there is a section of the museum is dedicated to the health benefits of chocolate – considered by many to be the best chocolate in the world.
  • Bruges Beer Experience — Beer Museum – visitors learn about beer history, sample ingredients, & taste brews of varied styles.
  • Diksmuids Boterhuis — Excellent cheese shop & Deli, Geldmuntstraat 23
  • Walking tour of Bruges — Self guided: https://theportablewife.com/travel/destinations/one-day-in-bruges-walking-tour/
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Will you help us make this amazing trip possible by making a contribution? We’ve made it easy to donate by going to https://dhs-holmes-orchestras.org/store/product-category/2020-baroque-tour-public-donations/

All donations are tax deductible. DHS/Holmes Orchestra Boosters 501(c)(3) tax identification#: 82-5177533