Somehow, the sweet and cremey taste of Austrian sugar under a continental sun, hot drinks as seductive as a musical melange of tastebuds, reminded her of Mozart. His creamy, steamy ingenius musical notes seemed to her dancing gifts of joy for her willing tastebuds. Mozart and coffee had that much in common. Certainly his piece Rondo alla Turca gave a coffee a good name, knowing that Turkey, in actual fact, had introduced the drink to Austria after its defeat during the seige of 1683. The mezzosoprano smiled at the thought of Turkish coffee being the birthmark of the Viennese café, just like the croissant had been the left-over of a Turkish war.
But the mezzosoprano was Swedish and she knew how many Swedes studied and lived here, singers, musicians and diplomats. That remained the Scandinavian legacy.
She gazed over at Demel’s Café and knew that history lived here in this town. East met west, coffee met music, religion met spirituality, architecture met history, nature met gluttony, love met friendship. Friendship. What a nice word. This place felt like a good friend. Maybe she would meet new friends here. What had her mother Anna Kronzell said before she left for Salzburg?
“A stranger is a friend I’ve never met before.”
Gun stopped, recognized the smell. That smell felt like a friend. For one moment, she let the scent seduce her. The whiff felt familiar, worldly, experienced, like a promise to be kept, but still a different coffee smell than the smell back home in Sweden. There, in Kalmar, pure coffee mixed with a shot of milk and maybe some sugar felt like a summer breeze. The young singer thought of seaside cafés and simple pancakes with strawberry jam, like the ones her mama Anna Kronzell made every Sunday. Eggcake, Äggakaka, the Swedish recipe her father Knut had brought with him from Helsingborg. Both mouthwatering flavors met right here in Salzburg. Here, it smelled like Mozart. Like Rondo alla Turca.
Gun Kronzell shook her head, away from the smell of coffee and the lure of Austrian cake. Her high heels started clicking again, that white pigeon returning to the wall of the cathedral. As she slowly left the coffee-house behind her, she was still close enough to hear a waiter serve a guest with familiar words: “One Sacher-Torte for you, Miss!”
The voice that responded sounded familiar.
Familiar. That word returned inside her mind again and again.
Gun turned around and watched the scene. The waiter, a young twenty-something with slick blonde hair, held his left hand behind his back and bowed to a girl her own age. From this distance she didn’t realize who she was. She would, though, wouldn’t she? She knew that girl, didn’t she?
Gun took a look at her the golden watch. Twenty to two. There was still time for one coffee. One little Rondo alla Turca to remind her of the summer wind from across the sea. She smiled and strode back, the white pigeon taking off again toward the summer sky and strode past the buzz of the conversation onto a free table.
As she passed the table with the familiar woman, happy to be here as a young singer in such a great city, she dreamed of what future might entail and missed the possible aquaintances that could be sitting at Demel’s Café. An equally young voice echoed across the square, making the pigeon take off again, trying to tell her something.
Gun turned around, wide eyed and innocent and open minded as was her custom, looking around for the possible owner of the voice. Her eyes rested on a dozen faces, heard the voice call again and again as she smelled the scent of freshly brewed coffee, until she finally saw the female colleague sitting there. Now, she recognized the woman. Her smiling face beamed over towards her, giggling over from across that Sacher Torte, holding a gilded fork and getting ready to dig into Salzburg’s most prominent and delicious chocolate cake.
“Gunnel Nyström,” Gun exclaimed, threw her arms about and ran over, as was her custom, embracing her friend from across the continent. “My Lord, how nice it is to see you.”
“Come over,” the other woman said in brilliant Swedish. “Let’s form a Swedish club.”
Gun’s beautiful personality shining, her absolute glow projected her inner soul.
“Gunnel,” Gun exclaimed, addressing the woman with such a similar name and play-acting a cordial princess-scene, bowing her head and scraping her foot. “May I?”
Gunnel threw her head back and chuckled with mirth.
“Always happy to oblige.”
As Gun sat down, she chattered, eager to learn all the details of her travels from her home. “Did your train just arrive?”
Gunnel pointed toward her bag, nodding, inserting a forkful of chocolate sin into her mouth. “Yes, I chose to stop a few times along the way, first staying over night at a friend’s house in Hannover and then taking the train down to Stuttgart. Now, here I am,” she said, letting that gorgeous chocolate ooze down her tongue. “You have got to try one of these. They are to sing for. I choose to say that they are to sing for, because, after all, we are singers. We don’t die, we sing.”
“Indeed,” Gun said, waving her hand and gathering the blonde waiter’s attention. “Sir, could I have what she is having?”
A young, blonde man came striding up, nodded and smiled happily, still holding his arm behind his back and then walking away, still smiling. Gun turned back to Gunnel, laughing. “These waiters are so polite. We should take them home with us and have them serve us coffee on the terrace back in Sweden.”
Out of nowhere, it seemed hard to understand from where the feeling came, Gun and Gunnel began laughing. Maybe it was the smell of the Sacher Torte, the scent of that newly brewed coffee, the sight of the pigeons, the beauty of the cathedral in that open market place, the fact that both of them were young singers, that both of them were Swedish mezzosopranos that happened to be studying in Salzburg at the time. Or maybe it was just the friendly waiter. Whatever it was, the laughter caught on and the girls kept on laughing until they saw, in the corner of their eyes, a bird approaching them.
The flapping wings of those pigeons would’ve seemed disturbing at any other moment, given the fact that they really didn’t have the finest of reputation. Now, however, Gun and Gunnel looked up in the midst of their laughter and saw one of them approaching and then taking off toward the summer sun. The white pigeon flapped its wings. As it did, it seemed much more like an angel than a bird. For one moment, one sacred moment, they saw the bird taking off to the heavens very much like a pigeon of peace. They didn’t even notice the waiter arriving with freshly brewed Mozartian coffee and a sinful chocolate cake. In fact, the blonde and young and quite good looking waiter looked up toward the heavens, as well, joining them in witnessing how the bird flew into the sun. Of course, it didn’t really fly into the sun, but it certainly looked like it, though. In fact, it looked like an angel.
“Schön,” the waiter said in his very special dialect, leaving them to their sweet and feminine Swedish ways. “Sehr, sehr schön.”
Of course, fate always gives its favorite friends small hints. Hints that come in pairs, actually. Poignant pairs. Obviously, it seemed to Gun at the time that the bird really was a sweet natural phenomenon. In actual fact, the fact that a little boy walked by, followed closely by his mother and the fact that this boy was addressed as Charlie, obviously by an American mother ... well, there had to be a reason for that.
Gun forgot about it, only to remember it years later, when the pigeon came back in her mind.
Gun and Gunnel really spoke about everything but music that day. They spoke about their homes in Sweden and what they would do when they got back to their flats. They spoke about places, faces, traces of their past, they spoke about trusting God. Interesting, but that seemed to be the main topic that day. God, they said, would never let anyone down who trusted him. There was too much fear in the world, but no wonder that there was fear. The year was 1952 and that horrible war was only seven years back. A lot of people had suffered. A lot of people had cried. Looking around, no physical trace of that fear could be seen. In the midst of that memory, actually, hope soared. A golden era had commenced.
Well, that chocolate cake rolled down into Swedish stomachs, the pigeon returned with what seemed to be a leaf. The smell of coffee still lingered inside her nostrils. Gunnel still exchanged tidbits of information as to where she stayed here in town. Gun realized, as she spoke, that she lived in the same house as Gunnel and knew that they would be sneaking up to visit each other at night. She knew that she would spend most of her time here practicing, but also knowing her sweet tooth and her love of those lovely, candescent Mozart-Kugeln would also occupy her free time. Maybe Gunnel would find her actually eating them in the dorm room and join her.
That pigeon of peace actually never left her mind. Gunnel told her she had to go and enjoy a lesson with Ernst Reichert. Gun told her with a smile that her lesson had been a success and that she knew there was a mass in the cathedral in fifteen minutes. That would be her reward.
“The ensemble rehearsal for Beethoven’s Ninth?”
“At eight tonight,” Gun answered.
“So most certainly, we will see each other then.”
All through those lovely little pieces of information, Gun followed the pigeon in her mind. Gun hugged Gunnel, enjoying her friend’s company here where she could share this seminar in this beautiful city. As they parted ways, Gun followed the only white pigeon in the square to the side entrance of the cathedral. Gazing at it for a while, she followed it and ended up looking up at the church. She found herself looking at all the figurines and the statues and the stones, trying to understand what they all meant.
This wonderful place seemed have been created only for her.
This wonderful moment seemed to have been conceived just for her to experience.
The Franciscan monk couldn’t have been standing there long. He seemed to be deeply involved in the reading of his bible, his soul at peace with reality. Gun realized that the smell of coffee had disappeared inside her mind, replaced by the attraction of this place.
The pigeon? Hmm, gone. Not even a trace of it. Instead, a Franciscan monk stood there reading a bible. What a silly thought. A pigeon turning into a monk. Well, in a way a priest was like a bird of peace. A match made in heaven.
In that moment of realization, the friar looked up at Gun and smiled. The friendly gesture, warm and giving, immediately spoke to her with a wonderful emotion. It told her, without any words, that she actually had found a friend. His thick-rimmed glasses couldn’t hide the fact that a soul glimmered and glittered behind those eyes, a soul interested in people.
“What a beautiful church,” Gun said, smiling, making the first move to start a conversation.
The Franciscan monk nodded, lowering his bible, sighing and gazing at the wonder of this fantastic building.
“Yes, this is quite a wonderful place,” the man answered, revealing his nice and sonorous bass-baritone, one that certainly could’ve been used on an opera stage, had he made the choice to sing. Given the fact that Gun felt that she had found a friend, it seemed a lucky draw that he was a cleric. “I often stand here in the summer, simply enjoying the weather and reading my bible.”
The short pause came as a surprise to Gun, just because a mischievous smile followed his words. She hadn’t expected that from a monk. At once, Gun began laughing.
He took a step closer toward Gun and giggled. “But I chose the shade. I am not much of a sunbather.”
“Neither am I,” Gun said.
Gun nodded, realizing that this day might be a day of merry laughter.
“Are you here as a tourist?”
The friendly man’s honest interest came across as quite genuine and the enthusiastic Swedish girl smiled, shaking her head, happy to reveal the nature of her visit.
“I am studying at the Mozarteum this summer with Mr. Ernst Reichert,” Gun said. “I am a student in Stockholm in Sweden and here because I won a scholarship from the Rudd-Foundation in Norway. My aim is to eventually get a job as a singer at an opera company, maybe in Germany or here or somewhere.”
“Why not in Sweden? In your home?”
Gun shrugged. “Maybe, yes.”
“Well,” the nice monk said with a content grin, “I live and work at the Franciscan Friary over at Franziskanergasse. You need someone to show you around?”
“Yes, I would love that,” Gun said.
After a moment’s peaceful and waking meditation, the man added:
“Are you going to mass?”
Gun nodded happily.
The monk stretched forward his hand: “Friar Bonifaz Madersbacher, Miss.”
Gun took his hand. “I am Gun Kronzell, a mezzosoprano from Kalmar in Sweden.”
“Pleased to meet you,” Friar Bonifaz said.
One could have said that this was the beginning of a wonderful friendship. Friar Bonifaz and the young mezzosoprano walked into the Salzburg dome that day, the monk explaining to the young singer how every little nook and cranny of the cathedral had a meaning. Yes, certainly, this was a match made in heaven. In secret, Gun really believed that the coffee had taken her to the white pigeon, who in turn had led her to the Franciscan friar.
The two new friends went to mass together, they even sat and drank a cup of coffee at Demel’s. Gunnel even arrived there after her lesson and so there were three new friends sitting there looking at the white pigeon sail towards the sun. Gun even ate her second Sacher Torte that day after confessing it to Friar Bonifaz. The monk said that she should be careful of not ruining her dainty figure.
Of course they all exchanged numbers and addresses and made a date for the next day where and when to meet again. Gun even promised to bring her friend, the witty Swedish singer named Gunnel. Gunnel said that she wouldn’t miss that date for the world.
Bonifaz remained Gun’s closest confidant through the years. The friar gave her good advice when a love crisis made her cry or a personal crisis threatened to challenge her mind. As he was appointed Bishop of Bolivia, having to remain there 25 years, Gun and Bonifaz managed to keep contact and remained her closest spiritual mentor.
Gun married a charming Irish-American baritone in Hannover, 1966. In 1969, she bore a son. Difficult to say, but fate had it that a little boy named Charlie had passed her as she sat in the café back in Salzburg. She also called her own little boy Charlie.
Well, Bonifaz and Gun kept contact even until their mutual old age. Gun had a marvelous career as a singer, as did the entire Kronzell-Moulton family. They all met all kinds of famous people, sang on prominent stages, teaching students who became colleagues of famous singers.
Bonifaz moved back to his old home town of Hall near Innsbruck in the 1990s.
That gave Gun a good reason to take her whole family to see him.
Bonifaz spoke of Charlie as a man who inspired trust.
Charlie had won a new friend.
As time went by, Gun and Bonifaz grew even closer, visited each other where ever they lived and exchanged information about each other’s lives.
As Bonifaz died, he soared toward the heavens just like a white pigeon of peace.
Gun remembered Bonifaz long after he died, thanked him for his friendship every day of her remaining life and loved him for his eternal help. He remained her angel and once Gun died, Gun and Bonifaz joined Gun’s husband in heaven and all their relatives became Charlie’s and his family’s angels.
Bonifaz was and always would be the bird of peace, a heavenly mediator and a man whose presence had been revealed to Gun through a small pigeon soaring towards the Salzburg sun as she sat enjoying a cup of freshly brewed Salzburg coffee and eating some delicious chocolate cake. Charlie often called Gunnel to talk of old times and how that afternoon in Salzburg had been the beginning of a lovely lifelong companionship.
In actual fact, wasn’t it the Sacher Torte that ultimately led Gun to that match made in heaven? Maybe so. Just like Mozart, the smell of friendship remained eternally sweet.
Charles Moulton is an Author, Journalist, Actor, Baritone, Translator, Teacher, Tourguide, Painter, and Historian. He has studied at a variety of prestigious institutions which includeICS Academy of Child Psychology; Uppsala University, Sociology Department; Vienna University, Historical Department; Vienna Music Academy, Musical & Classical Voice Departments; Vienna Conservatory Opera School, and St. Sigfrid’s Music Academy. Charles has authored a number of novels, such as: THE HAUNTED KINGDOM – FANTASY TRILOGY, THE TROLLS: A BOOK FOR CHILDREN OF ALL AGES, A CANVAS OF PROSPERITY – CHOSEN WORKS BY THE MOULTONS, and WHEN YOUR SPIRITS CLIMB – 4 DECADES: SHORT STORIES.
To learn more about Charles Mouton, please visit: http://www.charlesmoulton.de/