Thursday, May 20, 2010

Mirow - Queen Charlotte's Birthplace

Mirow is a city in the district of Mecklenburg-Strelitz in southern Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Germany. Mirow lies in the middle of the Mecklenburg Lake District (Mecklenburgische Seenplatte) on the southern shore of Lake Mirow, which is connected to the Müritz and the Havel by a system of lakes, rivers, and canals. There are several more lakes on the territory of this municipality. The neighboring towns of Diemitz, Fleeth, Granzow, Peetsch, and Starsow were incorporated into the city in 2004 and are now part of the municipality.In 1227, the Order of St. John founded a commandry on the shore of Lake Mirow after Duke Borwin II had given them land there. In 1701, the town became part of the duchy of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. In 1919, it gained town privileges. Castle Mirow is the birthplace of Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Queen consort of George III "the Mad" of the United Kingdom. Sophia Charlotte was born on 19 May 1744. She was the youngest daughter of Duke Charles Louis Frederick of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Prince of Mirow and his wife, Princess Elizabeth Albertine of Saxe-Hildburghausen. The children of the duke were all born at Castle Mirow, a modest palace, or rather country house. The daily life at Mirow was nearly that of the family of some simple English country gentleman. The morning was devoted to study and instruction in needlework, embroidery, and lace-making, in which the daughters were very skilful. They were brought up in the most careful way, receiving an admirable education, and were grounded in religious principles under the direction of their mother. They were further directed by M. Gentzner, a Lutheran minister of many accomplishments, who had a particular knowledge of botany, mineralogy, and science.
The picture is from the official website about castles in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

Meet the Neubrandenburger Philharmonie

ChorFreude 2011 attracts many musicians in Germany - like the Neubrandenburger Philarmonie. The marvelous orchestra is likely to take part in the festival and accompany the choirs. Here is some information about the group:
For over 50 years, the Neubrandenburger Philharmonie has made a lasting impression on the musical life of the city. Each year the orchestra performs in subscription concerts, concert nights, and many special performances and holiday concerts as well as performing at schools and chamber music series. The Neubrandenburg Philharmonic received the German Federal President’s Special Prize as part of Germany’s nationwide project “Kinder zum Olymp” for the best collaboration between orchestras and young musicians (following the project “Rhythm is it” of the Berlin Philharmonic and Sir Simon Rattle). The orchestra has also appeared in many radio productions with Deutschland Radio Kultur and North German Radio.

Newspaper Article about the Partnership Mecklenburg-Mecklenburg (1994)

To enlarge, please click on the pictures.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Possible Hotels for Choirs Attending the ChorFreude Festival 2011

During the ChorFreude Festival 2011 in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern the participating choirs will stay in accommodations which will perfectly fit their wishes and travel budget. Here are some examples:

InterCityHotel Rostock

The centrally located InterCityHotels offer modern, comfortable rooms in a friendly atmosphere. The guests enjoy the convenience of quick access to major transport connections, in close proximity to the hotel. The rooms in the InterCityHotels offer perfect facilities, such as TV, ISDN-telephone and mini-bar, as well as WiFi internet connection.
Elbotel Rostock
The hotel with restaurant "Elbhotel" is located in a central but nevertheless silent location in the green oasis of Rostock-Reutershagen. Comfortably furnished rooms, apartments and suites, the restaurant "Fritz Reuter" with its diversity of fish specialties and the bar "Leuchtturm" await the guests.

Hotel-Ferienhof Ostseeland

Hello nature! At the Hotel-Ferienhof Ostseeland - not far from Rostock - you find numerous rooms for events, a sauna and massage area, a newly opened restaurant with a large sun terrace, numerous sport possibilities such as mini golf, soccer and volleyball. In the main building there is free Wi-Fi, too.

Check out some more hotels in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern:
Alago Hotel am See
Crowne Plaza Hotel Schwerin
Best Western Seehotel Frankenhorst
Mercure Hotel Schwerin Altstadt

Little Story: A Search for a Princess Leads to a Partnership between two Mecklenburgs

written by DG Martin

"Harry Jones, the Mecklenburg County Manager is going to Mecklenburg in May," Catherine Hansen called to tell me the news. As Chief of Protocol for Charlotte-Mecklenburg she manages the connective links between her city and county and the rest of the world. So the "Mecklenburg" that Harry Jones is planning to visit is not Mecklenburg County North Carolina, but Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, a state in Germany. "He is going to meet with officials of the state and local government over there including the Prime Minister and members of the state parliament. And he will spend a day in Mirow and visit the Charlotte Mecklenburg Room in the gatehouse to the castle." Hansen told me of all the plans, knowing that I like to hear every detail of the growing partnership between the two Mecklenburgs. And Hansen knew that these exciting developments would remind me of the time right after the Berlin Wall came down, when, for the first time in 50 years an ordinary Mecklenburg County citizen could visit the Mecklenburg region of the former East Germany.
She knew I had a story that I love to tell over and over again. It is the adventure that I had tracking down the home of Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg, who became Queen Charlotte of England and gave her name and the name of her native region to our state's largest city and county.
Friedrich Franz, the grand duke of Mecklenburg, spoke to me in German. I was in his Hamburg home, explaining that I was from Charlotte, North Carolina-named after a certain Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg.
Please, I asked, could he help me in my search for information about this woman who married King George III, became Queen Charlotte, and eventually gave her name to the largest city in North Carolina and the name of her German homeland to the state's largest county?
The grand duke did know about Queen Charlotte. Her picture is on his wall. And he had heard of Charlottesville, Virginia. But he knew nothing of Mecklenburg County or Charlotte, and he did not know where North Carolina was.
"But you should know about the wonderful city of Charlotte," I said.
"In Charlotte there is a new Lufthansa flight direct to Frankfurt. At the airport there is a beautiful statue of Queen Charlotte. "In Charlotte, there is a trade market in the center of downtown, and in the middle of it, another new statue of Queen Charlotte.
"In Charlotte, there is a new professional basketball team. The team plays in a 25,000-person arena that was designed to look like a crown-in honor of Queen Charlotte."
"In Charlotte, there is a wonderful art museum, and its centerpiece is a portrait of the queen."
I had his attention. "You've got to help me find out where she lived."
I had looked for Queen Charlotte's home throughout Mecklenburg, formerly a German grand duchy ruled by the grand duke's family, more recently a part of East Germany, and now one of the federal states of a united Germany.
First I had gone to the capital city of Mecklenbug-Schwerin, which is an easy two hours from Hamburg by car or train. The center of Schwerin is charming. Its public square opens to a vista of a lovelycastle - could it be home to Princess Charlotte? The castle is impossible to type. The guidebooks say it is 16th century French Renaissance. But there are may elements - onion domes that could have come from Russia, Gothic gages and towers, facades from Italy - that my untrained eye could not identify. Inside, thanks to the restoration efforts of the old East German government, the formal rooms of the Grand Duchy of Mecklenburg glow.
The interior colors of gold and red frame views of the endless water that surrounds Schwerin.
Portraits of Mecklenburg's grand dukes and their families hanging on the castle walls gave me hope that I could find some evidence of Princess Charlotte. But no luck. There was no picture of our Charlotte and no mention of her name. In Schwerin, I learned there were other towns where the Mecklenburg grand dukes lived. "Check out the castle in Gustrow," someone said.
Sure enough, 50 miles east of Schwerin, I found Gustrow and another castle where Mecklenburg's grand dukes had held court. Perhaps our Princess Charlotte had spent some time here. Though not as charming as Schwerin's castle, the building is solid and strong. Begun in 1558, it is said to be a good example of Renaissance architecture. But there was no sign of Charlotte on the bleak castle walls "Perhaps on the coast you can find what you are looking for," someone said. "The grand dukes vacationed on the seacoast."
First I went to Wismar, a small market and seaport town north of Schwerin on the Baltic coast. Its ancient marketplace, now free of communist regulations, was full again. New entrepreneurs enthusiastically sold their wares, vegetables, and services. In Wismar's shopping district, redevelopment was taking place in front of our ryes, side by side with those that have been made into bright new stores selling everything imaginable. Wismar seemed to be full of everything-except evidence of Queen Charlotte. "Of course there is nothing about your queen here," a friend advised as we sat down to eat in a famous Wismar restaurant. Der Alte Schwede (the old Swede). "This very restaurant should remind you that Wismar was ruled by Sweden during the lifetimeof Queen Charlotte. She couldn't have lived here. Try Rostock. It's a big port and a big city. You may find what you're looking for."
Rostock, about 40 miles from Wismar, is an ancient city and the biggest port in old East Germany. In the Middle Ages, it joined a league of other Baltic and North German seaports. This group of "free" cities jealously guarded their independence from kings, princes, and dukes. Although Rostock and the other cities have long since been incorporated by the nations of northern Europe, that old tradition of independence may explain why I could find nothing about Queen Charlotte there.
Oh, well. At least I still had more friendly advice: "Go back toward Wismar, along the coast. Check out the cathedral at Bad Doberan and visit the seaside resorts where the dukes vacationed. Maybe you'll find a clue."
I finally struck pay dirt at Bad Doberan's gigantic ancient gothic brick cathedral. Or so I thought. Inside, the walls were covered with monuments to the Mecklenburg ducal families from the beginning of the dynasty in the 12th century. I checked every entry, every status, every plaque about the royal family. No clues about our Queen Charlotte.
Back in Hamburg with the duke, I said he was my last hope. "Is it possible," I asked, "that Queen Charlotte's connection with Mecklenburg is a hoax?"
Thank goodness the duke filled in a key piece of information. He took me to a painting on his wall-a picture of the same Queen Charlotte that hangs in the Mint Museum-and explained, "I know about Queen Charlotte because she is my great-great-great-grandmother. Her son became king of Hanover, and my mother came from the house of Hanover. This Charlotte surely came from Mecklenburg.
”But you must understand that for a time, from 1701 until 1918, there were two Mecklenburgs. One, Mecklenburg-Schwerin, was ruled by my family. Queen Charlotte came from the other Mecklenburg, the Grand Duchy of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.
"If you only look in my family's part of Mecklenburg, you will surely find nothing about the Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. If you want to find the home of your Queen Charlotte, you must go to the territory of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. I made my way to the castle park in Neustrelitz, the old capital of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. The castle had burned down long ago. But the old church next to it still stands. Surely Charlotte must have worshipped there. I found the graveyard where her royal cousins' graves mingle with recent stones marked with red stars-for Soviet soldiers. There was other evidence that Charlotte's family had been royalty: the castle park with statues lining its walkways, an island retreat connecting castle grounds with a beautiful Mecklenburg lake, a large status of Charlotte's nephew, Grand Duke George. "So," I thought, "the trip has been a success."
I had found Queen Charlotte's family home. But I had to be honest with myself. I hadn't really found anything specific about our queen. Then I remembered a book the duke had given me about his family. In it I discovered that Queen Charlotte grew up in a tiny town called Mirow, a few miles from Neustrelitz. The drive there-through forest, farms, and by countless lakes-showed me again the beauty of Queen Charlotte's Mecklenburg homeland. There are no tourists or tourist direction signs to anything in Mirow. But on a small moated island there, I found something that caught my attention. I saw two very old, though somehow elegant, buildings facing each other across a yard full of abandoned equipment and cars. Groups of chickens clucked through the yard. "Not very promising," I thought. I made my way through the muddy yard to the door of the building. I knocked. No answer, but inside a dog was barking. I knocked again. No answer. I tried the door. It opened. The hallway was full of dust and dirt. "This can't be it," I thought. "Go home before you get in trouble." The dog barked again from upstairs. I called out. No answer. The dog stopped barking. I climbed the stairs to the second floor and called out again. A door on the third floor creaked open. The dog raced down the stairs toward me. All bark, no bite, thank goodness. The dog's master was close behind. Stern and annoyed, he asked in rapid-fire German, "What do you want in here?" Pushing aside my fear, I stood up straight, looked him in the eye and said, as if sent by higher authority, "I am seeking the castle of a Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg, who married King George III of England in about 1761." "You are in the right place," my new host replied, speaking with new respect and an obvious interest that put me quickly at ease. "This castle was the home of Duke Adolphus Frederick IV of Mecklenburg-Strelitz and his mother, Elisabeth Albertina. "The duke also had a sister living here who was named Charlotte-and who married an English king." My host, Herr Zimmermann, was a painter who had been engaged during the former regime to supervise the restoration of the castle. More than 10 people had been at work on the project. Since the reunification, however, there had been no money for such projects. But the painter remained, living in the castle and hoping that someday the work could begin again. Herr Zimmermann loved his castle and the royal family who had lived there. He told stories of Charlotte's strong-willed mother and her brother, the boy duke, who was so frightened of storms that he could seldom sleep. Zimmermann tried to explain restoration details. But I lost touch with his technical German words and drifted into a happy state of satisfaction. Here in this castle in Mirow.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Press conference for Chorfreude 2011 coming up on May 18

Here is a first sneak peak at the 2011 Chorfreude Festival in Germany. More details will be released on Tuesday, May 18 2010 in a press conference.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Queen City and Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz

Nicknamed the Queen City, Charlotte, NC, and the county containing it are named in honor of the German Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg, who had become queen consort of British King George III in 1761 - the year before the city's founding.

Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (1744 - 1818) was a Princess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz and Queen of the United Kingdom as the consort of King George III. She was also the Duchess of Brunswick-Lüneburg and electress of Hanover in the Holy Roman Empire until the promotion of her husband to King of Hanover on 12 October 1814, which made her Queen consort of Hanover. Queen Charlotte was a patroness of the arts, known to Johann Christian Bach and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, among others. She was also an amateur botanist who helped expand Kew Gardens. George III and Queen Charlotte had 15 children, 13 of whom survived to adulthood.

The Queen and the music: In 1764 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, then aged eight, arrived in Britain with his family as part of their grand tour of Europe and remained from April, 1764, until July, 1765. The Mozarts were summoned to court on 19 May, and played before a limited circle from six to ten o'clock. Johann Christian Bach, eleventh son of the great Johann Sebastian Bach, was then music-master to the Queen, put the difficult works of Handel, Bach, and Abel before the boy. He played them all at sight, and those present were quite amazed. Afterwards he accompanied the Queen in an aria which she sang, and played on the flauto traverno in a solo. On 29 October, they were in town again, and were invited to court to celebrate the fourth anniversary of the King's accession. As a memento of the royal favor, his father Leopold Mozart published six sonatas composed by Wolfgang, known as Mozart's Opus 3, and were dedicated to the Queen on 18 January 1765, dedication she rewarded with a present of fifty guineas.

Learn More About the Destination

From the defiant castle to the palatial castle in the midst of a romantic park landscape - nowhere else in Europe are the colorful historical jewels so closely together. To learn more about the gems of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, please visit the official website.

Welcome to Mecklenburg-Vorpommern!

Mecklenburg-Vorpommern is a federal state in northern Germany. The capital city is Schwerin. The state was formed through the merger of the historic regions of Mecklenburg and Vorpommern after World War II, dissolved in 1952 and recreated prior to the German reunification in 1990. Mecklenburg-Vorpommern is the sixth largest German state by territory, and the least densely populated one. The coastline of the Baltic Sea, including islands such as Rügen and Usedom, as well as the Mecklenburg Lake District are characterised by many holiday resorts and pristine nature, making Mecklenburg-Vorpommern one of Germany's leading tourist destinations. Three of Germany's fourteen national parks are in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, in addition to several hundred nature conservation areas. The University of Rostock (est. 1419) and the University of Greifswald (est. 1456) are amongst the oldest in Europe. Major cities include Rostock, Schwerin, Neubrandenburg, Stralsund, Greifswald and Wismar.
The cities are characterised by a certain "Hanseatic" style also found in other parts of Northern Germany as well as in countries bordering the Baltic Sea like Estonia or Latvia. A common feature of many towns in Mecklenburg and Vorpommern are Gothic red brick churches dating back to the Middle Ages. The old towns are usually built around one or several market places with a church or the town hall. Often towns were founded at the Baltic Sea, one of the many Lakes or a river for logistical and trade motives.
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern is home to many cultural events throughout the year. In addition to many regular museums and art galleries, Stralsund offers the very popular Deutsches Meeresmuseum (German Maritime Museum; the most popular museum in Northern Germany), Ribnitz-Damgarten the Deutsches Bernsteinmuseum (German Amber Museum). During summer, many open air concerts and operas are open to visitors. The Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (Music Festival of MV) attract a sizeable audience by performing classical concerts in parks, churches and castles. Caspar David Friedrich, a famous romanticist painter born in Greifswald, immortalised parts of the state in several of his paintings.
Like most German regions, Mecklenburg and Vorpommern have their own traditional dishes, often including fish, beef and pork. Rostock has its own type of bratwurst called Rostocker Bratwurst. An unusual food from Western Pomerania is Tollatsch. Rote Grütze is a popular dessert. The largest brewery produces Lübzer Pils.

ChorFreude on the German Baltic Coast

Incantato Destinations: Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany