The composer Arvo Pärt is no stranger to ideological conflict. He left Soviet controlled Estonia in 1980, staying first in Vienna before making his home in Berlin. In 1989 the Berlin Wall fell, and in the following year Pärt composed his Berliner Messe for the German Catholic Days held that year. The Berliner Messe is like Berlin itself - haunted by the past with its references to Plainchant, but equally looking forward to the future with confidence and energy.
I revisited Berlin in November. I knew the city well when it was divided but this was my first visit since reunification. Here are some photos of that extraordinary city in 2005:
Above is the rebuilt Reichstag which is seen in ruins in my header picture. This again became the home of the Bundestag in 1999. Not visible in this photo is the striking new cupola added by architects Norman Foster and Partners. Also out of shot is the one hour plus queue to get in! Photo - On An Overgrown Path
This is the River Spree a short distance from the Reichstag. Pre-1989 the Wall followed the river here, and this was the point where many escape attempts were made, and many lost their lives. I can remember standing at almost this exact point in the 1970s, and looking at the clearly visible communist guards on the other bank. Photo - On An Overgrown Path
The Neue Synagogue (above) was inaugarated in 1866. As well as being used as a place of worship it was a venue for concerts. Albert Einstein played a violin recital here in 1930. Despite rampant anti-semitism the synagogue remained in use until 1940. The building was virtually destroyed by bombs in 1943, and it was not until 1995 that it reopened as a museum and cultural centre. Photo - On An Overgrown Path
Above is the controversial new Holocaust Memorial by American Architect Peter Eisenmann. It was inspired by Prague's Jewish Cemetery with its closely packed gravestones. The memorial comprises 2700 grey slabs. The construction of the memorial was plagued by controversy, including the discovery that supplier of the anti-graffiti paint for the blocks was part of the industrial conglomerate that had produced the Cyclon-B gas used in the Nazi death chambers. The photo is taken from where the Wall once stood, and looks across to the centre of the former East Berlin, Alexanderplatz. Photo - On An Overgrown Path
Finally that classic symbol of Berlin, the Brandenburg Gate. The Godess of Victory (with the Prussian Iron Cross restored post-reunification) on the top is a potent expression of the victory of good over the many dark forces that have gripped this extraordinary city. Photo - On An Overgrown Path
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Header - Photo by Yevgeny Khaldei from μια φωτογραφία , μια ιστορία
The other five pictures were taken by me on an 'old-school' Nikon F50 SLR in November 2005 using 200 ASA film.
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If you enjoyed this post take An Overgrown Path to Furtwängler and the forgotten new music