All day the Rhine has been chequered from bank to bank with patches of thin, floating ice, scintillating in the sun.
Out riding on a good horse, in charge of a sporty corporal who led us at a gallop, here, there, and everywhere.
Then to the Opernhaus – my Hun was there, and at an exorbitant figure I obtained tickets for both tomorrow and Friday. Then away to find my concert hall. It proved to be a stuccoed and gilded salon in one of the hotels, and there I passed an hour and a half of undiluted pleasure. The programme will reach you with this. The Beethoven Sonata was, of course, superlative. The four Schuman pieces all delightful but the last – the Brahms, Variation and Fugue on a theme of Handel! It growled, it joked, it became hilarious; it danced mazurkas, Maori Haakas; grew curiously inquisitive; insolently provocative; took a serious turn – chanted, sang, marked time, swam, flew, and executed hair-raising aerial experiments; then plunged down, down, into a maelstrom of warring harmonies, from which it leapt to an abrupt and pinnacle conclusion; as though startled to silence by the sudden solution of its own riddle. A plain black Bachstein piano, a less plain girl in a plain black dress, and there you have it. (The revellers have decided to “have a spoonful of honey each and go to bed” – so I shall too).
[Image: Three New Zealand soldiers, foreground, look towards the Hohenzollern Bridge over the Rhine in Cologne, Germany, following World War I. Tram cars are on the bridge. Ice floats on the river. Also shows Cologne Cathedral in the background. Photograph taken January 1919 by Henry Armytage Sanders. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington. Ref: 1/1-002098-G]