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Amsterdam, Day 8, Van Gogh Museum and Concert Gebouw

We spent from 10:00 to 3:30 at the Van Gogh Museum. It is very nicely laid out, with his work going chonologically. There were sufficient descriptions, but not too many. What’s really lovely is that no photography is allowed (and we saw only two people taking illegal pictures). So there are people listening to their audio tours who will stand in a prime viewing spot for a painting for what seems way too long, but no jockeying for position for the best angle to take a photo, no selfie sticks, and while it was crowded, not nearly as crowded as New York museums seem to be without exception all the time now.

I learned quite a bit about Van Gogh, that he only drew and painted for ten years, for one thing.  I had known that he started drawing and painting as an adult and struggled at first, but I didn’t know just how short a time he did draw and paint.  One nice feature of the museum was readings of his letters, with a choice of English or Dutch, to which you could listen with an earpiece.   Most of the letters were from Van Gogh, but there was a terribly sad letter by Emile Bernard about Van Gogh’s funeral. Not only did I leave in awe of Van Gogh’s productivity and the number of stellar works on display, but with a profound sense of sadness that he was so tortured.  And a renewed desire to read The Letters of Vincent Van Gogh.  He was very eloquent and thoughtful in the letters in the exhibit.  Jim and I also are curious to know how and why Theo’s widow was able, rather quickly, to successfully promote Van Gogh’s work into prominence when Theo, although he tried, was not.  Was it just timing?  I would love to know more about it.

If Van Gogh only knew that he could have turned out dog coats and umbrellas with his flower paintings on them, think what he could have achieved. Such a plethora of merchandisable paintings!

The Van Gogh Museum is next door to the Stedelijk Museum, which has the newer “bathtub” wing attached to its conventional building.

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We had dinner at Harmsen on Utrechtstraat for the second time. The lamb hash is superb, although I had fish tonight because I needed a break from red meat.  Afterwards we walked back to where the Van Gogh Museum is, past the Rijksmuseum, to the Concert Gebouw.

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imageThe concert started with a Tchaikovsky piano concerto in G, op. 44, played by Veju Wang. It was amazingly hot and stuffy and very hard to stay awake for both me and Jim.  Plus, I was not terribly impressed by the pianist.  I’m certainly not qualified to critique, and she has a lot of critical acclaim, it appears, but, while it was dazzlingly fast, the playing of the first violinist was far more interesting, far more emotional.

During intermission, they offer free drinks, which seemed very civilized, friendly.  The audience had that warmth with each other that we saw everywhere.

The second piece was Scheherazade, which was really enjoyable.  Scherezade offers many opportunities for various instruments to shine, and the playing of each performer was outstanding. The conductor had each of the major players, oboe, clarinet, harp, cello, as well as first violin, take a bow. We then had a lovely stroll back to the hotel.

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