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New Europe

Day Twenty: Dubrovnik

Edin Karamazov 
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Bosnian Edin Karamazov, a top lute player who has recorded with Sting, still enjoys busking in Dubrovnik.
Michael Palin - New EuropeI learn from him that the lute was first mentioned in the seventh century, in Syria, where the instrument was called al oud, which came to Europe through Spain, became la oud and eventually 'lute'. The one he's playing today has fourteen strings and dates from 1600. Wanting to avoid any Golden Hits syndrome, Edin tests himself with an adaptation of Bach's Toccata and Fugue, originally written for the organ.

He frowns as he adjusts his fingers.

'It's difficult. They have two hands and two feet.'

The result is lovely and technically dazzling, and even when one of the strings snaps it seems to snap in time with the music.

'Is there anything you can play without the string?'

Edin frowns, nods and goes into a perfect rendition of 'Over the Rainbow'.

His star is in the ascendant now as people discover an instrument whose popularity seemed to have been on the wane since the days of Mozart.

'I play in concert halls, but there is no place like here, where I can play outside. In Dubrovnik you can do anything. In Venice police is everywhere, everything is controlled. Here you can do anything you want.'

To mark our last night in Dubrovnik we end up at a jazz bar down by the old port. The band is augmented every now and then by a Gérard Depardieu lookalike who rolls out of the bar behind them, launches into thunderous versions of the jazz classics and disappears back in for a top-up.

I'm told I'll get to know him well over the next couple of days. He's the captain of our boat to Albania.
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  • Series: New Europe
  • Chapter: Day Twenty: Dubrovnik
  • Country/sea: Croatia
  • Place: Dubrovnik
  • Book page no: 51

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