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Close Encounters of the Organist Kind

Before we started our four day hike along the Mosel River, we took a day trip to Trier, the oldest town in Germany. Laurie and I loved Trier from our time in Germany. It was a good day trip from our home near Ramstein Air Base and home to one of our favorite wineries. Many bottles traveled home with us, and a few even made it back to the USA.

During this trip we visited some of the standard sites, including Roman ruins and the local cathedral. Unfortunately for us, our favorite winery was closed that day. Fortunately for Kim and Trev, they found a new favorite place for eclairs, that was not closed. 

And, we had one of those unexpected, but memorable, encounters.

As we were walking by a local church we heard the sound of an organ playing. We stopped in and sat down to listen for a few minutes. When the organist finished his piece he beckoned us to come up and join him. Turns out that he, Karl Maihoroff, is a fairly renowned musician who had spent some time in the United States, including being the youngest composer at the time to teach at Juilliard. He has been sponsored by, of all things, a brewery. Maybe that only happens in Germany. Karl is from Bitburg, home of the brewery of the same name. As I recall he caught the brewery’s attention with a composition honoring his home town.

Karl played an original composition of his for us, captured in this three minute video. 

Some of our favorite encounters are of the accidental kind. We’ve learned to take advantage of open church doors when we hear choirs or music, to stop and watch wedding parties gather, and strike up conversations with fellow diners. 

Fun Facts About German Churches

Thanks to Martin Luther, Germany was the heart of one of the Protestant Reformation movements. When Laurie and I were stationed in Germany we heard that Luther asked churches that wanted to split from the Catholic Church to place a rooster on top of the cross on their steeple to signal that they were part of the “new day,” or movement. Turns out that isn’t entirely true. Our little village in Germany, Winnweiler, had a Lutheran church with a rooster on top. Across the square, the Catholic Church sported one as well. But, in our observations, it does seem that Protestant churches here are more likely to have a rooster atop their cross. The center photo below is of the Protestant church for sailors in Strasbourg, which explains the anchor on top of the steeple, topped with a rooster.

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