Artistic Memories 29 March: Georges-Pierre Seurat

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Georges-Pierre Seurat

Georges-Pierre Seurat

 

Artist: Georges-Pierre Seurat

Dates: 2 December 1859 – 29 March 1891

Nationality: French

Title of Piece: Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte

Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by Georges-Pierre Seurat

Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by Georges-Pierre Seurat

Brief Biography: Seurat was a painter. He was a primary figure of the Post-Impressionist movement.

Literary Memories 28 March: Adeline Virginia Woolf

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Adeline Virginia Woolf

Adeline Virginia Woolf

Author: Adeline Virginia Woolf

Dates: 25 January 1882 – 28 March 1941

Nationality: English

Title of Book: The Voyage Out

One afternoon in the beginning of October when the traffic was becoming brisk a tall man strode along the edge of the pavement with a lady on his arm. Angry glances struck upon their backs. The small, agitated figures–for in comparison with this couple most people looked small–decorated with fountain pens, and burdened with despatch-boxes, had appointments to keep, and drew a weekly salary, so that there was some reason for the unfriendly stare which was bestowed upon Mr. Ambrose’s height and upon Mrs. Ambrose’s cloak. But some enchantment had put both man and woman beyond the reach of malice and unpopularity. In his guess one might guess from the moving lips that it was thought; and in hers from the eyes fixed stonily straight in front of her at a level above the eyes of most that it was sorrow. It was only by scorning all she met that she kept herself from tears, and the friction of people brushing past her was evidently painful. After watching the traffic on the Embankment for a minute or two with a stoical gaze she twitched her husband’s sleeve, and they crossed between the swift discharge of motor cars. When they were safe on the further side, she gently withdrew her arm from his, allowing her mouth at the same time to relax, to tremble; then tears rolled down, and leaning her elbows on the balustrade, she shielded her face from the curious. Mr. Ambrose attempted consolation; he patted her shoulder; but she showed no signs of admitting him, and feeling it awkward to stand beside a grief that was greater than his, he crossed his arms behind him, and took a turn along the pavement.

The embankment juts out in angles here and there, like pulpits; instead of preachers, however, small boys occupy them, dangling string, dropping pebbles, or launching wads of paper for a cruise. With their sharp eye for eccentricity, they were inclined to think Mr. Ambrose awful; but the quickest witted cried “Bluebeard!” as he passed. In case they should proceed to tease his wife, Mr. Ambrose flourished his stick at them, upon which they decided that he was grotesque merely, and four instead of one cried “Bluebeard!” in chorus.

 

Brief Biography: Woolf was one of the foremost modernist writers of the 20th century. She was an influential figure of the Bloomsbury Group between the first and second world wars. Woolf experimented with streams-of-consciousness using intense lyricism and virtuosity to create worlds overabundant with auditory and visual imagery.

 

Classical Memories 28 March: Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky

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Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky 

Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky

Composer: Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky

Dates: 21 March 1839 – 28 March 1881

Nationality: Russian

Title of Piece: Night at Bald Mountain

 

Brief Biography: Mussorgsky was a composer and member of The Five. He was an innovator of Russian music during the Romantic era. Mussorgsky developed an eventual path into alcoholism while at the Cadet School of Guards. He resigned his military commission to focus on his music in 1858.

Artistic Memories 27 March: Giovanni Battista Tiepolo

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Giovanni Battista Tiepolo

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo

Artist: Giovanni Battista Tiepolo

Dates: 5 March 1696 – 27 March 1770

Nationality: Italian

Title of Piece: Battle of Vercellae

 

Battle of Vercellae by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo

Battle of Vercellae by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo

Brief Biography: Tiepolo was a painter and printmaker. He studied under Gregorio Lazarini and his work was influenced by both contemporary artists as well as his Venetian predecessors.

Literary Memories 24 March: Jules Gabriel Verne

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Jules Gabriel Verne

Jules Gabriel Verne

Author: Jules Gabriel Verne

Dates: 8 February 1828 – 24 March 1905

Nationality: French

Title of Book: The Moon Voyage

During the Federal war in the United States a new and very influential club was established in the city of Baltimore, Maryland. It is well known with what energy the military instinct was developed amongst that nation of shipowners, shopkeepers, and mechanics. Mere tradesmen jumped their counters to become extempore captains, colonels, and generals without having passed the Military School at West Point; they soon rivalled their colleagues of the old continent, and, like them, gained victories by dint of lavishing bullets, millions, and men.

But where Americans singularly surpassed Europeans was in the science of ballistics, or of throwing massive weapons by the use of an engine; not that their arms attained a higher degree of perfection, but they were of unusual dimensions, and consequently of hitherto unknown ranges. The English, French, and Prussians have nothing to learn about flank, running, enfilading, or point-blank firing; but their cannon, howitzers, and mortars are mere pocket-pistols compared with the formidable engines of American artillery.

This fact ought to astonish no one. The Yankees, the first mechanicians in the world, are born engineers, just as Italians are musicians and Germans metaphysicians. Thence nothing more natural than to see them bring their audacious ingenuity to bear on the science of ballistics. Hence those gigantic cannon, much less useful than sewing-machines, but quite as astonishing, and much more admired. The marvels of this style by Parrott, Dahlgren, and Rodman are well known. There was nothing left the Armstrongs, Pallisers, and Treuille de Beaulieux but to bow before their transatlantic rivals.

Therefore during the terrible struggle between Northerners and Southerners, artillerymen were in great request; the Union newspapers published their inventions with enthusiasm, and there was no little tradesman nor naif “booby” who did not bother his head day and night with calculations about impossible trajectory engines.

Now when an American has an idea he seeks another American to share it. If they are three, they elect a president and two secretaries. Given four, they elect a clerk, and a company is established. Five convoke a general meeting, and the club is formed. It thus happened at Baltimore. The first man who invented a new cannon took into partnership the first man who cast it and the first man that bored it. Such was the nucleus of the Gun Club. One month after its formation it numbered eighteen hundred and thirty-three effective members, and thirty thousand five hundred and seventy-five corresponding members.

One condition was imposed as a sine qua non upon every one who wished to become a member–that of having invented, or at least perfected, a cannon; or, in default of a cannon, a firearm of some sort. But, to tell the truth, mere inventors of fifteen-barrelled rifles, revolvers, or sword-pistols did not enjoy much consideration. Artillerymen were always preferred to them in every circumstance.

“The estimation in which they are held,” said one day a learned orator of the Gun Club, “is in proportion to the size of their cannon, and in direct ratio to the square of distance attained by their projectiles!”

A little more and it would have been Newton’s law of gravitation applied to moral order.

 

Brief Biography: Verne was a profound influence in the science fiction genre. He is the second most translated author in the world. Verne trained as a lawyer but quit the legal profession to pursue a writing career. In later life Verne entered politics and served as a town councillor championing social improvements.

Parnassian Moments 22 March: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Poet: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Dates: 28 August 1749 – 22 March 1832

Nationality: German

Title of Poem: A Legacy

No living atom comes at last to naught!
Active in each is still the eternal Thought:
Hold fast to Being if thou wouldst be blest.
Being is without end; for changeless laws
Bind that from which the All its glory draws
Of living treasures endlessly possessed.

Unto the wise of old this truth was known,
Such wisdom knit their noble souls in one;
Then hold thou still the lore of ancient days!
To that high power thou ow’st it, son of man,
By whose decree the earth its circuit ran
And all the planets went their various ways.
Then inward turn at once thy searching eyes;

Thence shalt thou see the central truth arise
From which no lofty soul goes e’er astray;
There shalt thou miss no needful guiding sign-
For conscience lives, and still its light divine
Shall be the sun of all thy moral day.
Next shalt thou trust thy senses’ evidence,
And fear from them no treacherous offence
While the mind’s watchful eye thy road commands:
With lively pleasure contemplate the scene
And roam securely, teachable, serene,
At will throughout a world of fruitful lands.
Enjoy in moderation all life gives:
Where it rejoices in each thing that lives
Let reason be thy guide and make thee see.
Then shall the distant past be present still,
The future, ere it comes, thy vision fill-
Each single moment touch eternity.
Then at the last shalt thou achieve thy quest,
And in one final, firm conviction rest:
What bears for thee true fruit alone is true.
Prove all things, watch the movement of the world
As down the various ways its tribes are whirled;
Take thou thy stand among the chosen few.
Thus hath it been of old; in solitude
The artist shaped what thing to him seemed good,
The wise man hearkened to his own soul’s voice.
Thus also shalt thou find thy greatest bliss;
To lead where the elect shall follow-this
And this alone is worth a hero’s choice.

 

Brief Biography: Goethe was a writer and statesman. His work includes epic and lyric poetry written in a variety of meters and styles. Goethe was a literary celebrity by the age of 25. He was ennobled by the Duke of Saxe-Weimar in 1782.

Artistic Memories 22 March: Anthony van Dyck

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Anthony van Dyck

Anthony van Dyck

Artist: Anthony van Dyck

Dates: 22 March 1599 – 9 December 1641

Nationality: Flemish

Title of Piece: Portrait of a Lady

 

Portrait of a Lady by Anthony van Dyck

Portrait of a Lady by Anthony van Dyck

Brief Biography: Van Dyck was a Baroque painter and leading artist of the English court. The relaxed elegance of his paintings was a dominating force in portrait painting for 150 years. He was also an innovative force in watercolours and etchings.

Classical Memories 22 March: Andrew Lloyd Webber

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Andrew Lloyd Webber

Andrew Lloyd Webber

Composer: Andrew Lloyd Webber

Dates: 22 March 1948

Nationality: British

Title of Piece: The Phantom of the Opera

 

Brief Biography: Lloyd Webber is a composer and impresario of musical theatre. Many of his musicals have run for decades on both Broadway and the West End. Lloyd Webber has achieved many awards during his musical career most notably a life peerage in 1997.

Classical Memories 22 March: Stephen Joshua Sondheim

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Stephen Joshua Sondheim

Stephen Joshua Sondheim

Composer: Stephen Joshua Sondheim

Dates: 22 March 1930

Nationality: American

Title of Piece: Losing My Mind

 

Brief Biography: Sondheim is a composer and lyricist best known for musical theatrical work. During his career he has achieved many awards including an Academy Award and eight Grammy Awards.

Classical Memories 21 March: Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky

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Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky 

Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky

Composer: Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky

Dates: 21 March 1839 – 28 March 1881

Nationality: Russian

Title of Piece: The Fair at Sorochyntsi Overture

 

Brief Biography: Mussorgsky was a composer and member of The Five. He was an innovator of Russian music during the Romantic era. Mussorgsky developed an eventual path into alcoholism while at the Cadet School of Guards. He resigned his military commission to focus on his music in 1858.

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