Béla Bartók National Concert Hall, Budapest
Her routine was always the same. She sat on the edge of the bench in the blessed quiet, barely placing her hands on the keys, and moved her fingers in silent meditation. She played the first notes in her mind, moving her fingers without pressing the keys, over and over and over. Her eyes opened and closed, her shoulders moved almost imperceptibly, and the smooth muscles of her forehead moved this way and that, mere fractions of an inch. She had been attempting to perfect Trois Caprices Poétiques to Fenwick’s satisfaction for months, and the first of its three etudes, Il Lamento, was beginning to stir inside of her. The thought that Liszt had put these notes to paper in the 1840s, and the notes had endured through generations, humbled her. She viewed her performances as equal parts art and history, and strove meticulously to honor both.
~ Excerpted from page 42 of How to Bake a Chocolate Soufflé
Home of beloved composer Franz Liszt, the capitol city of Budapest, Hungary is often referred to as the Paris of the East. Depending upon one’s perspective, this may be a fair comparison. Both cities are cradled by famous and beautiful rivers, and both cities are laden with romantic charm…but really that is where the similarities end. To compare Budapest to Paris, I think, is to shortchange Budapest! Let me explain.
Paris is certainly a beautiful city, there’s no sense in denying that. Paris has marched forward in lockstep with time, evolving into a thoroughly modern global city with a healthy respect for its own history. Budapest, however, continues to live its history. In Budapest you will find that Old European charm is still very much infused in everyday life, from the simple peasant foods sold in market squares by well rounded, kerchiefed grandmothers to the men of all ages playing and dancing along to achingly beautiful strains on violins. Hungary is outside of the Eurozone, which means that currency exchange rates for Americans and Europeans living within the Eurozone are quite favorable. Compared with the high cost of living and traveling in Paris, Budapest is quite a bargain!
Visitors to Budapest will fall in love with the architecture of Matthias Church and Fishermen’s Bastion, and will enjoy stealing a kiss on the Chain Bridge. History buffs will enjoy the striking Parliament building and Heroes’ Square. Of course, no visit to Budapest would be complete without experiencing the Béla Bartók National Concert Hall…
Had she glanced to the left, she would have seen the 92 towering pipes of the Béla Bartók National Concert Hall’s organ, an instrument so magnificent that its creation required collaboration between the German Orgelbau-Mühlhausen and the Hungarian Orgonaépítő Manufaktúra, but it never caught her eye. Had she glanced to the right, and astonishingly enough she did not, Madeleine would have noticed four majestic levels of gleaming, pale wood seating, in crisp view close up, but swallowed into darkness halfway back. If the house lights were on, she would have been able to see how every seat was arranged so that patrons could align their ears and their eyes with Madeleine’s position. She would notice all of these details when the concert ended, of course.
… She was so breathtakingly beautiful, he had to close his eyes to avoid distraction and truly hear her bring Liszt to life.
~Excerpted from pages 188-189 of How to Bake a Chocolate Soufflé
Carly Ellen is a food traveler and writer who loves incorporating delicious recipes into her stories. She has a minor obsession with French boulangeries, and is sublimely happy with a fresh baguette and cup of espresso in any European cobblestoned square. Because she can’t resist weaving food into her fiction, Carly Ellen has included over a dozen new recipes in her book, How to Bake a Chocolate Soufflé. Free book giveaways and author discussions are available at Carly Ellen’s Goodreads page and author website. Don’t miss out on author updates and fun freebies – follow Carly Ellen on Facebook and Twitter!
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