Music is everywhere… even the unwelcome kind (construction noise)


It seems whenever and wherever I go in Belgrade, music finds me.  This afternoon I strolled along Knez Mihajlova street to my favorite ice cream stand in front of the Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences building. And while I was polishing up a delicious gelato, a violinist arrived and started to set up right in front of me.

And when he started to play his first piece, I couldn’t believe. It was The Swan by Camille Saint-Saens, the music that I have been playing for years, both on my Steinway and on the Clavinova.

Here’s a video clip of the last 2:25 mins. I suggest you click on CC for closed captions to see the subtitles I have added. There was a lot of ambient noise and the wind which muffled my voice.

BELGRADE STREET VIOLINIST PLAYING THE “SWAN” by Camille Saint-Saens at Knez Mihajlova street – a film by Bob Altzar Djurdjevic – July 19, 2018


And then, when I got home, I decided to record parts of The Swan on my white Hofmann piano. Just to see what it sounds like in this new setting. I put some rugs on the floor to soften the sound and reduce reverberation.

And now, my latest Swan…

THE SWAN IN BELGRADE, ON MY PIANO – a film and music by Bob Altzar Djurdjevic – July 19, 2018

Alas, just as I was setting up the “studio set,” the darn cement truck arrived for the construction site across the street. So I had to wait half an hour for it to unload the cement. With constant chit-chat and shouting by the workers.

It seems ever since I arrived, I have been also subjected to an unwelcome kind of music – the kind comes with air and sound pollution – the construction equipment and trucks. But so it goes. Hopefully they will be done soon.


Turning a lemon into lemonade

First complaint

What happened this morning at my flat is a classic case of turning a lemon into lemonade. I woke up this morning with the sound of Gypsy music in my Third Ear. It’s been a long time, maybe years, since that last time that has happened. So rather than lose it during the hustle and bustle of the day, as soon as I got back to my flat from my morning swim, I sat down and started to play it.

After maybe 10-15 minutes, I heard the door bell. When I opened the door, I saw a pretty young woman outside. She seemed to take a gulp of air before starting to talk. Like someone who has a difficult message to deliver.

She offered to shake hands. “My name is Jadranka,” she said.

“I love listening to your music at night,” she continued, “but would you mind not playing so early?” s

“Early?” I thought to myself. I had gotten up before 6 this morning thanks to the Gypsies in my Third Ear. And then I went straight to the pool.

“I have no idea what time it is,” I said out loud. “What time is it?”

“Just after 8,” the young woman said.

She hinted that maybe 10 o’clockish would be a good starting time, even though my landlady had said that I could play between 8AM and midnight. After all, there are se cafes and bars outside whose noise I have to suffer (not that I mind).

“Where do you live?” I asked.

“In the courtyard, just below you,” she said pointing. “Maybe if you just closed the back window that would be enough,” she offered.

I apologized to her for this morning and she left.

Flowers at Bajloni market, second visit

And then I had an idea. I put on my shoes and walked down to the Bajloni “pijaca” (market). I bought two pretty bouquets of flowers, nearly identical. When I got back home, I wrote a note to the young lady inviting her over for coffee if she really did like my music. I attached my card to the note and left it with the flowers in front of the young lady’s door.


I was in the middle of editing my Swan video in late afternoon when I heard the door bell again. It was the same young woman. Only this time she was flushed with excitement and bursting with gratitude.

“Would you like to come in?” I offered. “Have a coffee?”

“I just got back home, so I’ll take a raincheck. We’ll do it another time. I just wanted to thank you for the beautiful flowers.”

Jadranka was literally beaming ear-to-ear when she said that. I was wondering if she had ever gotten flowers from a man before. Probably not by way of apology anyway.

Mother: Music Professor!

And then she said something that blew me away.

“My Mom is a professor of music,” she said. “At least she was. She is retired now.”

“Wow,” I said. “That’s wonderful. Bring her along when you come for coffee.”

Then Jadranka said something else that stunned me.

Out of tune piano

“Your piano is out of tune.”

“It sure is,” I laughed at her comment. “In fact, just this morning I asked my tuner to come back. But he is sick.”

“Oh, that’s no problem. My Mom has a great tuner. You can use him.”

I smiled again and thanked her for that, too. Then I showed her my improvised studio with rugs on floor to soften the sound. She did not seem to get it at first. So I explained how parquet floors cause the sound to reverberate.

“Do you play?” I asked her.

“I used to,” she said. “We also have a piano.”

When she left, I shook my head in amazement.

First, because of this new music connection next door. Imagine – professor of music!

And second, because it was so easy to turn a lemon into lemonade. And turn a potentially stressful conflict into a promise of friendship next door.

Thank you, God!



The Swan Variations: Orchestra “Tutti”, Variation 3 – cello, piano, harp, strings – performed and filmed by Bob Altzar Djurdjevic – Oct 26, 2013

The Swan Variations: Cello & Harp, Variation 2 – performed and created by Bob Altzar Djurdjevic – Oct 26, 2013

“Swan” Piano, Yamaha Strings & Guitar for Aquarius Full Moon

The Swan – in ALTZAR’s Piano Rendition (Jan 16, 2013) – original score by Camille Saint-Saens – from “Carnival of the Animals” suite – reposting of a Dec 1, 2012 recording




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s