SW 1

Painted map of the Spreewald

Let’s take a musical trip to the one-of-a-kind Spreewald.  The Spreewald (AKA the Spree Forest) is a gorgeous region, a kind of rural Venice located an hour southeast of Berlin, Germany in the source of the Spree River (which flows straight through Berlin).  We all know Venice as a city in the water, with impressive architecture crisscrossed by canals and waterways large and small.  The Spreewald is the farm country equivalent, with picturesque farms, fields and villages crisscrossed and accessible only by canals and waterways.

Elysee picIn 2007 the Duo Elysée, the flautist Ulrich Roloff and the harpist Eva Curth-Ignatjeva, commissioned me to compose a duet for flute and harp.  Inspired by a recent trip to the Spreewald I decided to compose a suite of 12 short pieces, a song cycle for flute and harp musically describing a day in the Spreewald.

I called it Spreewaldlieder – Spree Forest Suite.

In this four part blog series (it feels kind of highfalutin to use the term “four part blog series”, doesn’t it, or should I say in this case: high-flutin’?) let’s take a musical as well as photographic trip through the wonderful Spreewald.


I  Ankunft – Arrival

A little fanfare for the arrival by train (or car) of the day trippers at Lübbenau, the main access point into the Spreewald.  We’ll hear that theme again near the end of the song cycle, albeit transformed.

“Little Spree Palace”

SL 1


II  Kahnfahrt – Boat on the Wide Canal

SW 3

Most people first experience the Spreewald by booking a multi-hour excursion along the wider waterways on one of the larger boats leisurely pushed along by a guide with a big pole, like a German rural gondolier.  Musically the main theme is heard here for the first time.  It turned out a bit wistful I suppose.  Certainly languorous, but the mid-section is pretty cheerful.

SL 2

Our Kahnfahrt Guide

Our Kahnfahrt Guide

SW 5

III  Sonne hinter Blättern – Sun behind Leaves

SL 3I’m afraid I don’t have quite the right photographs to illustrate the exact effect of sunlight behind and shining through leaves that inspired this piece.  The delicacy of the image directed me to give the main theme to the harp, and have the flute play accompaniment in hushed low tones.

Stay tuned for part 2 of our trip through the Spree Forest Suite.

SW 6

SW 7

SW 8

About dannyashkenasi

I'm a composer with over 40 years experience creating music theater. I'm also an actor, writer, director, producer, teacher and general enthusiast for the arts.
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