by Mike Telin
In his 2016 edition of Festival Europe: 65 Enchanting Places to Hear the World’s Greatest Music, journalist Frank Kuznik provides would-be festival-goers with 168 pages of helpful information about the most intriguing places to hear music in Europe. Additionally, Kuznik entices readers with his insightful festival descriptions, accompanied by 93 exquisite photographs. Even if you have different travel plans for this summer, one look at this attractive guide and Europe very well may be in your plans for next summer.
Kuznik worked at the Prague Post from 2002 through 2010, first as cultural editor, and later as editor-in-chief, although he continued to hold onto his cultural editor position. After being downsized from the publication in 2010, Kuznik continued to live in Prague for two years, teaching and creating his own cultural blog. He eventually decided to return to the states in 2012 and began thinking about what he knows that nobody else knows. This book was the obvious answer.
During a recent telephone conversation, Kuznik pointed out that there is a real “armchair traveler” aspect to the 2016 edition. “I hadn’t originally thought of the book like that, but so many people have told me that it does feel that way, so the dressed up new addition makes it feel more like a travel book. I’ve added maps to help put locations into context, which was a suggestion of designer Chris Roberto. I’ve also included a highlights section in the front. If you flip through that section you see the many varieties of music and the range of performers that are at the festivals. I think the highlights will give readers a good sense of the scope of the festivals.”
Kuznik said that all of the festivals he has included in the book are ones that he would consider making a dedicated trip to see. But if he did have to choose only one, it would be Festival Messiaen in Pays de la Meije, France. “It’s held in the part of the Alps where Messiaen lived. They give outdoor concerts on the side of the mountain and take visitors to all the places that he worked transcribing the bird songs. They even offer a guided hike to a glacier.”
As far as festivals that are new to the 2016 edition, Kuznik is excited about Germany’s Ludwigsburger Schlossfestspiele. “This festival is a good example of the diversity that many of the festivals have. The programming ranges from early to modern music, and includes opera, dance, jazz, pop, and film. And you can hear concerts in the Ludwigsburg Palace and castles, churches, concert halls, and museums. I’d also like to get to the Holland Festival, which has the best in the avant-garde that you won’t hear anyplace else.”
Kuznik has also created a website, FestivalEurope.net, which will allow him to continually update readers about breaking news and file reports from festivals he has attended. “My hope is that the site will become a continuing resource for readers.”
The book also includes helpful information on finding housing and transportation in and around the cities and regions, as well as suggestions of interesting activities to do when you’re not attending a concert. Additional information can be found on the festivals’ websites.
Festival Europe 2016: 65 Enchanting Places to Hear the World’s Greatest Music can be purchased on Amazon.
Photo credits (top to bottom):
Colin Samuels – front cover
South African soprano Pretty Yende, photographed by Kim Fox
Iranian harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani, photographed by Bernhard Musk/DG
Dakh Daughters, courtesy of the artists
Published on ClevelandClassical.com April 26, 2016.
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