Saturday, November 05, 2011

In Jihlava

When planning what to do during the two days after the EuroPLOT meeting, I immediately considered visiting the town in which Gustav Mahler had spent his youth: Jihlava. I was curious to see the town which has shaped him and to see the same environment that has brought out the creative talent. And so I booked one night in the Gustav Mahler Pension. I also had the choice of staying at the Gustav Mahler Hotel, but I went for the less expensive option. Seems that the good tourism folks there in Jihlava have discovered how to milk the fame of their famous citizen - there is also a Gustav-Mahler-Cafe. Neither of these accommodations has in fact anything to do with the composer - the houses in which he grew up are a few blocks away. The Gustav Mahler House is one of these - he spent there his first 12 years.

After my arrival around 23:00 I went soon to sleep. The Gustav Mahler Pension is in fact quite a nice accommodation: the room is nicely appointed, like a little suite, and the breakfast buffet is very good. 11:00 is checkout time, so I planned to do my walking around the town right after breakfast. Walking through the grey cold autumn morning, the town Jihlava seemed slightly unwelcoming. The sometimes slightly crooked buildings on hilly streets seemed to find their equivalent in Mahler's sometimes slightly crooked harmonies. I could imagine how the small-town mentality felt somewhat limiting.

But then, the exhibition in the Gustav-Mahler-House showed a different aspect: there was a lot of music activity in the town, and also the nature around was inspiring to young Gustav. The exposition in the Mahler house is very interesting: some replicas of equipment that was used in the house when it was his father's liqueur shop. Also there are details about Mahler's bad grades in high school.

I am glad that I got at least a brief impression during this visit from the environment in which Mahler grew up. If I had more time, I would have explored the outside environment, the hills, valleys and forests around Jihlava. But my time schedule was tight - my next stop would be north of Prague. So back in the car, filling it up with petrol, then driving north. Once again driving through the vicinity of Prague, but not touching the center this time. Instead, following just the signs for Teplice and Usti nad Labem.

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