Several years ago, I played a concert in Kassel (DE) with my chamber music group. We were booked to play in the Schütz festival there, although we weren’t playing Schütz. We were, however, playing quite a gloomy program to fit in with the venue — the Museum für Sepulkralkultur. Yes, there truly is a museum dedicated only to Sepulchral Culture; I bet you didn’t even know there was such a thing as Sepulchral Culture! (Say it again — Sepulchral Culture — and it sounds really funny.)
To say it was a bizarre place doesn’t really do it justice. We had been afraid that it would be underground in a dark and chilly tomb, but in fact it was a modern and airy building on the side of a hill overlooking the Naturschutzgebiet Fulda-Aue. It was quite a lovely and peaceful place, with many beautiful headstones, “death crowns,” coffins and modern paintings. The piece de resistance, however, is the coffin of Heinrich Posthumus Reuß, 1572–1635. He commissioned the Musikalisches Exequien from Schütz himself and chose to be buried in a copper coffin inscribed with the text of the composition. It was beautiful and not at all macabre. Posthumus, get it? Ha.
The title of the exhibition is “Mit Fried und Freud fahr ich dahin,” which I think is a lovely sentiment. A banner flew from the ceiling above our temporary stage asking, “Ist Erinnerung schöner als die Wirklichkeit?” Something we should ask ourselves more often, I think. Especially those of us intent on documenting all of our past travels. Ahem.
Oh, and the concert was a success!