Not long ago, I took off for a couple of weeks for what was a vacation in the very best sense - time spent far away, in the company of friends. No plans, other than making sure that I was in the right place at the right time to catch a train, or a good night's sleep.
Paris was at its beautiful best, and I spent the better part of a day wandering around the Père Lachaise Cemetery in the 20th Arrondissement (that's the fancy French word for "district"). Turns out it was just a few yards or meters, I suppose from the place where I was staying. If you like looking for famous people, chances are you'll find many in Père Lachaise.
And I did.
It felt like a pilgrimage, wandering here and there on a quest to find the burial places of Frederic Chopin and Georges Bizet and Edouard Lalo. Gioacchino Rossini was buried there as well, having spent his later years in the City of Lights, although his remains were repatriated to Italy a long time ago. I forget how many others I saw, although the search for Poulenc's grave was a bit amusing. A French friend and I were a bit turned around, and we were approached by a plump elderly woman who heard us speaking English; she asked helpfully "Are you looking for Jim Morrison (of The Doors)?" I guess she pegged my age group in an instant!
Ah, Père Lachaise, the final resting place of so many great composers and artists and dancers and playwrights and philosophers. The list goes on, and there's so much I missed this time around. The empty urn of Maria Callas, Alphonse Daudet of L'Arlesienne fame (with Bizet's lovely score), Liszt's lover Marie d'Agoult, and the great jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli of the Quintet of the Hot Club of France are just a few who come to mind.
Guess I'll have to get back there one of these days...
Mindy Ratner, Classical MPR host
As as happened before, you have made me less ignorant. Many many thanks.