Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A visit from a friend and a trip to a castle

When I returned from Athens, I was lucky enough to come home to a visit from a USC friend. Mary was finishing her bachelor in flute while I was doing my master's, and she has since gone on to complete her own master's and now a doctorate in flute performance! Mary was actually the first flutist I heard play at USC: during our first masterclass, she played a perfect version of the Firebird orchestral excerpt. I remember Bobby turning to me and saying, 'Wow, is she a doctoral student or something?' To which I replied with a horrified look on my face, 'Oh gods, no, she's an undergrad!' With that one minute of playing, I knew not only that Mary was an exceptionally talented musician, but that I was going to experience an amazing level of playing during my time at USC.
Mary and I had a lot of fun during her visit. We ate, drank, and caught up. We also did some sightseeing together! One of the best parts about having guests in town is that you get to be a tourist in your own city. On a beautiful Saturday, we took the train to Frederiksborg Slot, a really beautiful 16th century palace just 30 minutes outside of Copenhagen.
Built for King Frederik II in 1560, the palace you see now was actually completed in 1620 under Christian IV. It was lived in by only three kings: King Frederik II (king from 1559-1588), King Christian IV (king from 1588-1648), and King Frederik VII (king from 1848-1863). The palace was where kings were anointed in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries.
The palace is the largest Renaissance palace in Scandinavia, and is often referred to as the Versailles of Scandinavia. The palace is now a museum of national history.

The palace chapel is very ornate and is still used as a church. In fact, the day we visited, a wedding took place inside the chapel.
The palace chapel is also the home of the Knight's Chapel for the Order of the Elephant and the Order of the Dannebrog, an honor it has held since 1693. The walls of the chapel are covered in these various coats of arms. There are so many, in fact, that the older ones have been moved to the stairwells!
The two different orders: Order of the Elephant and Order of the Dannebrog. They have been awarded to many people, both noble and common, and both Danish and foreign. The Order of the Dannebrog is awarded for meritorious civil or military service, for a particular contribution to the arts, sciences or business life, or for those working for Danish interests. The Order of the Elephant is the highest orders in Denmark, and is headed by the Danish monarch (currently Queen Magrethe). Worn by the royal family, the order may also be bestowed on foreign heads of state. In very exceptional circumstances the order may also be bestowed on a commoner. The most recent holder of the order who was neither a current or former head of state nor royal was Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller, a leading industrialist (he created the largest shipping company in the world) and philanthropist. As you can see in this photo, Dwight Eisenhower was awarded the Order of the Elephant.
The palace is surrounded by a lake, which acts as a natural moat. Just outside of the lake/moat are beautiful gardens. There were hundreds of these Kaiserkrone (Kaiser's crown) flowers.
The garden is a formal garden in the Baroque style. You can see a bit of the shaped hedges in the background of this photo.
There were also huge tulips all around. Mary and I really lucked out on the weather; ever since this day, it's been mostly cloudy, a bit chilly, and rainy! Good ol' Danish weather...

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