The second post on my experiences during the summer. A long, long time ago I went on a school trip to Coventry, ostensibly to pay tribute at the ruins of the old cathedral and to admire the new one, then recently consecrated. We learned about the destruction of the industrial city during bombing raids in November 1940. We also learned about, but did not see evidence of, the conflagration of Dresden in February 1945. The two cities were twinned in 1959. While the two cities were very different, Coventry had a medieval heart before 1940, Dresden was spoken of as Elbflorenz – Florence on the Elbe, their war experience created the similarities.
I first visited Dresden about 20 years ago, and noticed the desperate need for restoration and reconstruction. Now I went back, particularly to see the magnificent Frauenkirche , fully reconstructed. The city is gradually recovering its glories, the vast and impressive Zwinger, a baroque palace now devoted to museums of science and the arts. But it was the Frauenkirche that delighted me most.
The baroque Frauenkirche is octagonal, but seems circular inside. Galleries rise high up all around – it is an architectural masterpiece. The high altarpiece dominates and you gaze at it in wonder. And the church is so light inside. As befits such a setting, the church is used for concerts as well as religious services. How wonderful it would be to hear Magdalena Kožená, who is singing there on 6 August. I was just too early in Dresden.
The original Frauenkirche was ‘inaugurated’ with a ‘famous organ recital’ by Johann Sebastian Bach on 2 December 1736. On 22 October the Frauenkirche hosts Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem, which was composed for the consecration of Coventry Cathedral. I have never been back to Coventry.