Poesie: March Thoughts

Daffy-down-dilly is come up to town, / In her yellow petticoat and her green gown.

When daffodils begin to peer,
With hey the doxy over the dale,
Why then comes in the sweet of the year
And the red blood reigns in the winter’s pale.

~ William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616)

daffodils - Edited

And hark! How blithe the Throstle sings,
He, too, is no mean preacher;
Come forth into the light of things,
Let Nature be your teacher.

~ William Wordsworth (1770 – 1850)

march eggs

And the Spring arose on the garden fair,
like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere;
And each flower and herb on Earth’s dark breast
Rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.
The snowdrop and then the violet,
Arose from the ground with warm rain wet;
And their breath was mixed with sweet-odour sent
from the turf like the voice and the instrument.

~ Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792 – 1822)

violets shelley

All poems and drawings are taken from Edith Holden’s “The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady”, first published in 1977.  A delightful book!

Classical Sunday: Schubert’s Octet in F Major

Schubert’s uncommon gifts for music were evident from an early age, which was just as well because he died quite early at age 31.

Franz Schubert: Octet in F Major, D. 803 (1824)

Antje Weithaas, Violine
Alina Pogostkina, Violine
Veronika Hagen, Viola
Sol Gabetta, Cello
Robert Vizvari, Double Bass
Alejandro Núñez, Horn
Gustavo Núñez, Bassoon
Sabine Meyer, Clarinet

1. Adagio. Allegro 0:00
2. Adagio 12:00
3. Scherzo: Allegro vivace 24:10
4. Andante; 7 Variations 30:50
5. Menuetto: Allegretto. Trio 43:12
6. Andante. Allegro 50:24

IMG_2204 - Edited

Franz Peter Schubert (1797 – 1828) was an Austrian composer of the late Classical and early Romantic eras.  Despite his short lifetime, Schubert left behind a vast oeuvre, and today is ranked among the greatest composers of Western classical music.

Classical Sunday: Glazunov’s From the Middle Ages

Glazunov was significant in that he successfully reconciled nationalism and cosmopolitanism in Russian music.

Alexander Glazunov : From the Middle Ages, Suite for orchestra Op. 79 (1902)

I. Prélude. Allegro
II. Scherzo. Allegro assai
III. Sérénade du troubadour. Andantino
IV. Finale. Allegro.
Performed by the Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Vladimir Fedoseyev.


Alexander Konstantinovich Glazunov (1865 – 1936) was a Russian composer, music teacher, and conductor of the late Russian Romantic period.

Poesie: Keats’ To Autumn

Few poets produced more great poetry at an earlier age than John Keats.

This last of John Keats‘ six great odes was written on the day before the fall equinox in 1819, when Keats was 24 years old.  A child of the fall (he was born on Halloween 1795, which makes him a Scorpio), one can imagine why he made fall “the human season” in contrast with the super-human creativity of spring and the otherworldy extremism of summer and winter.  Being a child of the fall myself, I can understand him well.

Here’s to all who were born in the fall!

To Autumn

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,–
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft,
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

John Keats (1795 – 1821)

insta maple leaves.jpg

Cultured Wednesday: Aivazovsky’s Moon Night

Worthy of Aivazovsky’s brush…

This Armenian Romantic painter did primarily seascapes, mighty impressive ones, but also cityscapes and portraits.  His most famous painting, The Ninths Wave, is very impressive, but for today, we picked a coast-scape, so to speak, titled Moon Night, painted in 1885:

moon night

Hovhannes Aivazian, later Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky, born 29 July 1817, died 2 May 1900, is considered one of the greatest masters of marine art.  He was born in the Black Sea port of Feodosia in Crimea and was mostly based there.

Aivazovsky was well-regarded during his lifetime.  The saying “worthy of Aivazovsky’s brush”, popularized by Anton Chekhov, was used in Russia for describing something lovely, and the painter remains highly popular in Russia today.

So let yourself be drawn into the atmosphere of the picture and stay awhile on the shore, watching the boats in the moonlight.



Classical Sunday: Lassen sings Nielsen and Loewe

Morten Ernst Lassen is best known to us from singing Aragorn’s parts on The Tolkien Ensemble’s CDs An Evening/ A Night/ At Dawn in Rivendell.

Today’s offering is a playlist of songs by Carl Nielsen and Carl Loewe, all sung by Morten Ernst Lassen, a Danish baritone who, regrettably, retired over 15 years ago from singing.

Carl August Nielsen (9 June 1865 – 3 October 1931) was a Danish composer, conductor and violinist, and is widely recognized as his country’s most prominent composer.

Johann Carl Gottfried (Karl) Loewe (30 November 1796 – 20 April 1869), was a German composer, tenor singer and conductor.

Cultured Wednesday: de Loutherbourg’s Avalanche

Philip James de Loutherbourg also known as “Philippe-Jacques”, “Philipp Jakob” or with the epithet “the Younger”, was a painter of the Romantic period.

Here we have a Franco-British 18-19th century painter who seems to have done a lot more than painting, but we are not going to delve into the wonders of the Eidophusikon (Greek for “image of nature” and a forerunner of the motion picture) or his elaborate set designs for London theaters.  We will not shed any light on his acquaintance with Alessandro Cagliostro, neither will we dig deeper into his interest in the occult or faith-healing.  Lastly, we are not going to have a closer look at what he was most famous for as a painter, namely large naval scenes, although his naval scenes are indeed magnificent.  No, what caught our eye was his depiction of an avalanche.

An Avalanche in the Alps 1803 by Philip James De Loutherbourg 1740-1812
Philip James de Loutherbourg the Younger: An Avalanche, 1803

Philip James de Loutherbourg (31 October 1740 – 11 March 1812) was a painter of the Romantic period, and does not this avalanche painting bear all the marks of Romanticism, dark and light?

Clearly, the painting seems to tell us, Nature has turned against Man, cruel in its indifference and deadly in its overwhelming power.  Man, in the face of the forces of Nature Unleashed, can but appeal to the Creator to spare him this time, and then run and save his skin as best as he can, much like the beasts of the forest and Man’s best friend, the dog, only we can reasonably doubt their ability to appeal to the Creator.

Philipp_Jakob_Loutherbourg_d._J._avalanche - Edited (1)

The romantic Man, however, can also do otherwise.  Witnessing Nature’s incredible strength and terrible beauty, Man can marvel, if he dares, and grow in stature and character in the process.  Looking Death in the face, staring into the abyss, or in this case the avalanche, even challenging Nature with reckless courage – this, too, is Man.

Philipp_Jakob_Loutherbourg_d._J._avalanche - Edited.jpg

How much more romantic can you get?

Classical Sunday: Mussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain

For shame, I had not heard about this one before it was suggested on last week’s post!

For shame, I had not heard about this one before it was suggested on last week’s post!

Modest Mussorgsky’s “Night on Bald Mountain” – Ludwig Symphony Orchestra

The Ludwig Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Maestro Thomas Ludwig, performs “Night on Bald Mountain” by Modest Mussorgsky at the Gwinnett Performing Arts Center on April 27, 2013.

Night on Bald Mountain, also known as Night on the Bare Mountain, is a series of compositions by Modest Mussorgsky (1839–1881).  Inspired by Russian literary works and legend, Mussorgsky composed a “musical picture”, St. John’s Eve on Bald Mountain on the theme of a witches’ sabbath occurring on St. John’s Eve, which he completed on that very night, 23 June 1867.  Together with Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov’s Sadko (1867), it is one of the first tone poems by a Russian composer. (from the Wiki)

Cultured Wednesday: Andreas Achenbach

Andreas Achenbach was probably the most influential German landscape painter of the Romantic period.

Andreas Achenbach, born September 29th, 1815, was a German landscape painter of the Romantic period.  Born in Kassel, he was arguably the most prominent member of the  Düsseldorfer Malerschule (Düsseldorf school of painting).  He preferred marine art, while his younger brother Oswald Achenbach, also a renowned painter in his time (but today largely forgotten), preferred landscapes over seascapes.  During their lifetime, the brothers were called “das A und O der Landschaftsmalerei” (the Alpha and the Omega of landscape painting).

Ein Seesturm an der norwegischen Küste, 1837

Young Andreas is said to have known everything about drawing at the early age of 6, according to his first teacher.  By the age of 12, or so the story goes, he began studying at the  Königlich-Preußische Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf, where said Düsseldorfer Malerschule originated.  At age 16, he had his first big success when his paintings were not only part of a renowned exhibition, but when he also sold his first painting.  It showed – guess what?  Not a seascape, but the old academy in Düsseldorf, a simple building that at the time would have been considered unworthy as a motive.  Here the painting:

Die alte Akademie in Düsseldorf, 1831

In 1836, his fame was cemented when Prince Frederick of Prussia bought one of the seascapes he painted after a longer visit to the Netherlands and Riga, “Big Marina with Lighthouse”.

Große Marine mit Leuchtturm
Große Marine mit Leuchtturm, 1836

Later on he traveled a lot, to Scandinavia among other places, where he was quite inspired by the wild coast, as you can see in the first painting of this post, as well as further south to Italy, as the next beautiful painting shows.  Incidentally, his brother Oswald also loved to travel and was known for his Italian landscapes in particular.

Aufräumen Küste von Sizilien 1847
Aufräumen – Küste von Sizilien, 1847

Andreas Achenbach’s technique was said to be flawless, and hence he influenced a lot of painters although he taught only few.  When he died on April 1st, 1910 in Düsseldorf, the city experienced what amounted to a state funeral.  Here is another one of his seascapes, this time in calmer weather.

Küstenlandschaft mit Stadtansicht, 1875
Küstenlandschaft mit Stadtansicht, 1875

And finally, my favorite of his paintings: A watermill in Westphalia, painted in 1863.

Westfälische Wassermühle, 1863
Westfälische Wassermühle, 1863
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