Friday, January 29, 2016

Frederick Delius: Poet In Sound, A Soul Outburst

Today is the birthday of Frederick Delius (1862-1934) a personal favorite among the classical composers. It's difficult to categorize Delius's music. In 1929 The New York Times wrote this about him:

Delius belongs to no school, follows no tradition and is like no other composer in the form, content, or style of his music.

Almost a century later the quote remains intact. 

His impressionistic music aligns him with the English school but he has a significant place in American music history having been the first classical composer to use musical themes of black Americans in the South. Those themes appear in several of his composition more than forty years before George Gershwin and Porgy and Bess. All of his work is rich, melodic, and complex. It is demanding music for the conductor, performer and listener alike, and music that demands an acquired appreciation. Today, his popularity continues to grow but I believe he remains a relatively obscure figure in 20th century music outside of Great Britain.

From his days as a orange plantation manager at Solano Grove on the St. Johns River south of Jacksonville, Florida: 

His musical setting of the words of Walt Whitman:

The occasion of the 150th birthday of the composer in 2012 gave rise to several special programs, concerts, and documentaries. The best of the lot in my opinion is filmmaker John Bridcut's BBC documentary, Delius: Composer, Lover, Enigma. Granted it is ninety minutes long but it is first-rate work in every respect and a far better way to explore Delius than to read about him. I hope you will take the time to watch even if you have to do it in two or three segments. If you enjoy the classics and American music history you will not be disappointed.


Photos and Illustration:
painting of Delius by his wife, Jelka Rosen, painted in Grez-sur-Loing, France, 1912. Grainger Museum, University of Melbourne, Australia

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Stephane Grappelli: "The Best Ambassador For The Violin We've Ever Had"

Today marks the birthday of one of my favorite jazz artists, the violinist, Stephane Grappelli. He was born is Paris in 1908, grew up poor and made a marginal living playing the violin in the streets and accompanying silent films on the piano. In 1934 he met a gypsy guitarist named Django Reinhard and with him formed a quintette - Hot Club de France - that would make history in the world of jazz and popular music. Grappelli made his American debut in 1969, long after the Hot Club dissolved, and enjoyed a second career playing to admiring fans around the world until months before his death in 1997.

The artist in rehearsal                                                    Photo: Murdo MacLeod

Like his friend, Jdango, Grappelli was a self taught musician who developed a unique playing style. He outlived Reinhardt by nearly fifty years going on to perform solo and with many of the jazz greats of the twentieth century. 

In addition to his marvelous talent Grappelli possessed a jovial, upbeat, personality and style that endeared him to audiences young and old, large and small. One would think that a jazz virtuoso would be well known in the country that birthed the genre but he was little known in the United States even after thirty years of success in Europe.  How thankful we should be that he was "rediscovered" here and lived to entertain us for nearly thirty more 

The title quote comes from a December 19, 2007  Guardian article by Nigel Kennedy. 


Photos and Illustrations:

Kennedy quote,

Monday, January 25, 2016

Rabbie Burns's 257th

Today Scottish organizations and communities around the world are celebrating Burns Day, the 257th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns (1759-1796), the Bard of Scotland. Today's International Business Times UK edition say this about him:

Burns is one of Scotland's most important literary figures, best known for his famous – and often humorous – songs and poetry. He is regarded as Scotland's National Bard. His most recognised works include Auld Lang Syne, which is often sung at Hogmanay on New Year's Eve, and Scots Wha Hae, which has become an unofficial Scottish national anthem.
Burns, commonly known as Rabbie, was born to a poor family in Alloway, Ayr, on 25 January 1759 and began his working life on the family farm. His father hired a local teacher to tutor Burns, who showed signs of having a natural talent for writing from a young age.
As Burns grew older, his passion for Scotland and his contemporary vision played important roles in inspiring the founders of socialism and liberalism. His first work, Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect – later known as the Kilmarnock Edition – was published in 1786.
He also wrote in English and is regarded as a pioneer of the Romantic movement. Burns' poetry drew on references to classical, biblical and English literature, as well as the Scottish Makar tradition – a term from Scottish literature for a poet or bard.
Burns died in Dumfries at the age of 37. Inspired by Scottish history and culture, as well as Scotland's countryside, Burns remains one of the most celebrated figures in the country's history – as demonstrated by the annual Burns Night celebrations.

Here are interpretation of two of Burns's best known poems by the late, great Scottish folk singer and educator, Jean Repath:

There's nought but care on ev'ry han',
In every hour that passes, O
What signifies the life o' man,
An' 'twere na for the lasses, O.

Green grow the rashes, O
Green grow the rashes, O
The sweetest hours that e'er I spend,
Are spent among the lasses, O

The warl'y race may riches chase,
An' riches still may fly them, O
An' tho' at last they catch them fast,
Their hearts can ne'er enjoy them, O.

Green grow the rashes, O
Green grow the rashes, O
The sweetest hours that e'er I spend,
Are spent among the lasses, O

But gie me a cannie hour at e'en,
My arms about my dearie, O,
An' warl'y cares an' war'ly men
May a' gae tapsalteerie, O!

Green grow the rashes, O
Green grow the rashes, O
The sweetest hours that e'er I spend,
Are spent among the lasses, O

For you sae douce, ye sneer at this
Ye're nought but senseless asses, O
The wisest man the warl' e'er saw,
He dearly lov'd the lasses, O.

Green grow the rashes, O
Green grow the rashes, O
The sweetest hours that e'er I spend,
Are spent among the lasses, O

Auld Nature swears, the lovely dears
Her noblest work she classes, O
Her prentice han' she try'd on man,
An' then she made the lasses, O.

Green grow the rashes, O
Green grow the rashes, O
The sweetest hours that e'er I spend,
Are spent among the lasses, O


Cauld is the e'enin blast,
O' Boreus o'er the pool,
An' dawin' it is dreary,
When birks are bare at Yule.

Cauld blaws the e'enin blast,
When bitter bites the frost,
And, in the mirk and dreary drift,
The hills and glens are lost.

Ne'er sae murky blew the night,
That drifted o'er the hill,
But bonie Peg-a-Ramsay
Gat grist in her mill.

For everything you ever wanted to know about Robert Burns and Burns Night go here. If you are fortunate enough to attend a Burns Supper tonight we trust you will enjoy the haggis and the extra dam or two of fine whisky to wash it down.


Photos and Illustrations:
Alexander Reid, miniature portrait, ca, 1795, National Portrait Gallery Scotland

poems are public domain

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Django Reinhardt: An Inimitable Master Of The Guitar

He was a poor Belgian gypsy who as a young man played the guitar. When a trailer fire left him with a severely injured hand, he developed a new fingering style to compensate. It was a unique sound. In the early '30s he met the violinist, Stephane Grappelli, an equally free spirit in the early days of jazz. They would go on to form the "Quintette du Hot Club de France" and make music and music history for the next twenty years and beyond.

Reinhardt in New York in 1946

Reinhardt died in 1953 at the age of 43, but his impact has lived on for decades. Even today, almost every celebrity guitarist in the world of popular music, jazz, blues and rock and roll would acknowledge Reinhardt as an influence in their music. Here is an entertaining musical link to an NPR Jazz Live blog expanding on Reinhardt's legacy. We commemorate his birthday today (in 1910) with this documentary excerpt:

Andres Segovia, Wes Montgomery, B.B. King, and Jimi Hendix. All masters at the guitar. And then there is Django Reinhardt.  Here he is with the Hot Club performing a piece he wrote with Stephane Grappelli in the mid-1930's. We'll be writing more about Grappelli in a few days.


Photos and Illustrations:
William P. Gottlieb Collection, Library of Congress

Title derived from a quote by Duke Ellington appearing in his autobiography, Music is My Mistress (1976).

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Edgar Allan Poe: Still Making Dreams Within Dreams

Today marks the 207th anniversary of the birth of the American writer, Edgar Allan Poe. He was born in Boston, , spent his lifetime living and working between the coastal cities of Boston and Charleston, and died Baltimore in 1849 wrapped in the mystery and tragedy that surrounded him during much of his life. Four years before his death he wrote the poem, The Raven. It brought instant fame and ensured him a secure place in American literature. Poe's appeal to readers rests in his dark subjects, fantastic plots, ethereal settings, netherworlds, and rich, descriptive writing. Few American writers have had such a broad impact on the arts. In his 2009 commentary on the bicentennial of the author's birth, Jeffrey A. Savoye, Secretary/Treasurer of the Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore said this:

We can see that his writings still work their magic on succeeding generations of readers, and yet Poe’s secrets remain distinctively his own. We can ape and parody the form, but legions of would-be disciples have too often created mostly pale imitations, and scholars have laid waste to forests of trees in printing articles and books that attempt to explain the essence of his genius. Yet, traces of Poe’s influence can be seen in the writings of such diverse authors as Jules Verne and Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Arthur Conan Doyle and Ray Bradbury, Charles Baudelaire and Allen Ginsberg. (His writings have also been translated into every major language. One Japanese author and critic so greatly admired Poe that he changed his own name from Tarö Hirai to Edogawa Rampo.) And this influence has not been limited to the written word. Such artists as Gustave Doré, Arthur Rackham, and Édouard Manet have illustrated his works. Sergei Rachmaninov, Leonard Slatkin, Philip Glass, and many others have composed musical tributes. In an interview published in 1960, Alfred Hitchcock, the great movie director, commented that “It’s because I liked Edgar Allan Poe’s stories so much that I began to make suspense films.”

I don't recall when Poe's work first entered my life, but I was reading him long before high school.  Little did I know that Poe and I would eventually share a bit of history at Fort Moultrie, on Sullivan's Island, South Carolina. He was stationed there for about a year beginning in 1827. The fort and island are the setting for his short story, The Gold Bug. During my career, I spent several weeks walking the damp tunnels, the grassy terreplein, and studying the character of this historic fort and those who garrisoned it over the centuries. I watched the sun rise and set over its walls, and stood at the gun emplacements at midnight listening to the invisible surf breaking on the beach or watching ship traffic moving in and out of Charleston harbor. For all I know, Poe's shadow watched my every move. For certain his work and legacy will continue to provide all of us with fantastic entertainment. 

A Dream Within A Dream

Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow —
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone? 
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.

I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand —
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep — while I weep!
O God! Can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?


Photos and Illustrations:
public domain photograph by Edwin H. Manchester taken November 9, 1848 in Providence, Rhode Island


Monday, January 18, 2016

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 2016

Today is a national holiday observing the birth of the American civil rights leader, Martin Luther King, Jr. His story is well-known but as it slips further into the past we are less likely to recall the deeper and personal impact he had on American culture in his time. Much of that impact lives on in King's words written and spoken eloquently from the mind as well as the heart. In his Powerline post, first published on this day in 2005, Scott Johnson captured King's essence so well with his comments inserted between the paragraphs of King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail" and the speech he delivered in Memphis the day before his assassination.

Martin Luther King press conference 01269u edit.jpg
MLK at a press conference in 1964

Here are more words and images of King at his national memorial on the west shore of the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C.



Photos and Illustrations:
News conference photo; Library of Congress
All others from National Park Service, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial webpage

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Alan Watts: Blazing A Pattern Called Life

Back in 1968, documentary filmmakers, Irving and Elda Hartley, produced a film entitled Buddhism: Man and Nature, narrated by the Zen philosopher and writer, Alan Watts. For the Hartleys, it was an award winning addition to their series on spirituality and religion. For others, particularly those studying or working in natural resource management, ecology and related fields, the film was a compelling prescription for understanding and appreciating our natural world. It is in that context that I encountered it in the early 1970’s as a new employee of the National Park Service. The film never influenced my personal religious convictions but it certainly impacted my understanding of the human perception of the natural world. Alan Watts’s powerful script as well as his transcendent narration motivated me to look deeper into his writings. Over the next decade his books on Zen, Asian philosophy, and human behavior grew to occupy over two feet of shelf space in my library. So who was this man whose portraits seemed to remind me of a clever and mischievous child?

Watts was born in 1915 in Britain where he developed a keen interest in Asian studies. He moved to the U.S. in the late 1930’s and became an Episcopal priest in 1943. After seven years he left the church and returned to the study of Asian philosophy and religion full-time. When he died in November 1973 he left the world over two dozen books, hundreds of pamphlets and briefs, and well over a thousand hours of audiovisual recordings offering his original thoughts on the Western expression of Zen/ Zen Buddhism and Asian thought. For those who are interested I recommend his autobiography - In My Own Way (1972) - very highly as an entertaining read and a memorable glimpse at American culture in the generation following World War II. 

 By the 1960's he had become rather well-known on the American scene as much for living "in the moment" in alcohol, experimental drugs, and other excesses as for his writings. Classical Zen masters had earlier criticized him for practicing a light version of the religion.   Either way, he would say that he was what he did. We can do nothing more or less than accept the full man. Here he is at his best in the fourteen minute film that helped me understand our place and role in natural landscapes. The tape quality is poor but the message  remains as rich as ever.

In a matter of days after I first saw this film, I transcribed the script and proceeded to carry it with we for the next 36 years. That original typed copy - tattered and smudged - remains in my briefcase.

By the way, Alan Watts was born 101 years ago on January 6.


Photos and Illustration:


Carl Sandburg: Speaking For America

Carl Sandburg in 1955                                                                             Library of Congress photo

Carl Sandburg was born in early January of 1878 in Galesburg, Illinois. When he died 89 years later he was remembered as one of the nation's most beloved literary figures, a poet, biographer, historian, novelist, editor, and folk singer. He was widely regarded as the voice of the American people, especially of the working men and women who built a new and prosperous nation out of dreams and sweat. In spite of his popularity, he was a family man at heart who loved the warmth and activities associated with his close-knit family consisting of his wife, Lillian Steichen Sandburg and their three children and their families.  By 1950, his most significant work had already appeared but he maintained a busy working retirement at his farm, Connemara, located in western North Carolina, where he produced about one-third of his total literary output.

Connemara has been preserved as the Carl Sandburg National Historic Site for about forty years.   During my career I was honored to work for several months with the staff and resources there and was offered the opportunity to manage the place in the mid 90's. As time and fate would have it I declined that offer thus preserving my sole family tie to Lillian and Carl Sandburg at Connemara, that being my late goat farming father-in-law and his business with with them and their award-winning Chikaming herd.

If you find yourself near Connemara and Flat Rock, North Carolina, a visit to the historic site would be time well spent. Penelope Niven's 1991 work, Carl Sandburg: A Biography, is an essential resource for those who want to know more about the three-time Pulitzer Prize winning writer and his family.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Epiphany 2016

Epiphany                                                                   Jaime Huguet, Catalonia, ca 1464

Today is Epiphany, a celebration of the visit of the three kings to the infant Jesus, and their recognition of Him as the King of Kings. Our music for the day was written in Williamsport, Pennsylvania in 1857 by Episcopal clergyman, John Henry Hopkins, Jr.

Words for the day come from the Modernist writer, T. S. Eliot, reading his poem, Journey of the Magi, for a BBC broadcast during World War II.

This post marks the end of our Christmas 2015-16 holiday series. Hope you enjoyed it. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Iris DeMent at 55: A Voice From The Past In All Of Us

Today is Iris DeMent's birthday (1961). Writers for a National Public Radio "Soundstage" appearance in March 2013 had this to say about her:

DeMent grew up in rural Arkansas with 14 brothers and sisters, immersed in gospel music and traditional country. Not surprisingly, her voice sounds as if it comes from the previous century, but her songwriting often has as much in common with Randy Newman and Joni Mitchell as Hank Williams.

Her voice and songwriting is compelling to say the least and for some it may take a bit of  adjustment, attention, and persistence to appreciate her talents. Below is a track from her latest, The Trackless Woods, based on the words of the Russian poet, Anna Akhmatova (1889-1966).

Every time I hear her sing it reminds me of listening to the music at the church picnics and family reunions encountered during vacations and long weekends in rural West Virginia. The sounds drifted up to our summer place from a pavilion in the woods. The sound was distant, almost out of time and place, and rooted in family and faith, two concepts that mattered in the 1950's. Much has changed in half a century. Perhaps that is the reason DeMent speaks so eloquently to us today as we long for anchors in a fast-paced and often disconnected world.

A woman's voice, like the wind, it rushes
Nocturnal, moist and black
And as it flies, whatever it brushes
It changes and it won't change back

It's a diamond-shine, comes to bathe and bless
Things are draped in a silvery light
It rustles its suggestive dress
Woven of fantasy, silken and bright

And the power that propels the enchanted voice
Displays such a hidden might
It's as if the grave were not ahead
It's as if the grave were not ahead
But mysterious stairs beginning their flight

And the power that propels the enchanted voice
Displays such a hidden might
It's as if the grave were not ahead
It's as if the grave were not ahead
It's as if the grave were not ahead
But mysterious stairs beginning their flight


Photos and Illustrations:


Last Day Of Christmastide: Twelfth Night, The Carnival Season Begins

Twelfth Night Poster, New Orleans, Louisiana, 1884

This day is important among Christians who maintain liturgical traditions: it marks the end of the twelve day festival celebrating the birth of Christ, it is the eve of Epiphany, and it is the beginning of the carnival season ending with Mardi Gras. Those who are reluctant to bid Christmas farewell can take heart knowing that the Old World tradition of Christmastide actually extends through February 2 or Candlemas, the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple.

January 5 is time for general merriment, song, dance, and feasting, and plays that turn the world upside down. At Twelfth Night celebrations, it is time for the Lord of Misrule to turn those "above the salt" into peasants, and peasants into kings, to enjoy the mummer's plays, to let the feasting and wassailing carry on past midnight . Only the Surveyor of Ceremonies will appear without a mask. He will direct the company through a series of games and other activities beginning with the distribution of the Twelfth Cakes. When all the party goers have arrived, each will select a small festival cake or cake slice. Three of those cakes contain a hidden bean or token designating them as the king cake, queen cake and fool cake. The lucky holders of the royal cakes oversee the evening's activities. 

Here is some late 17th century party music revellers of that era would have enjoyed.

Here at our household we trust that you experienced a wonder-filled Christmas. May you live throughout this new year in the spirit of Twelfth Night, finding joy and happiness in what often seems a disordered world. In the words of William Shakespeare, who had a bit to say about this evening in Twelfth Night, (Act II, Scene 5):

Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.

The King Drinks                                           David Teniers, Flemish, ca. 1660-90


Photos and Illustrations:


Monday, January 4, 2016

The Eleventh Day Of Christmas 2015-16

As the sun sets on a brilliant penultimate day of Christmastide in Atlanta we await the coldest night so far in what has been a very comfortable winter. Stillness and early stars reminded me of this:

Lux Aurumque (Light and Gold)

Calida gravisque pura velut aurum
Et canunt angeli molliter
modo natum.

warm and heavy as pure gold
and angels sing softly
to the new-born babe.


Photos and Illustration:

Text:, Lux Aurumque, lyrics by Edward Esch translated to Latin by Charles Anthony Silvestri

Sunday, January 3, 2016

The Tenth Day Of Christmas 2015-16

This year the tenth day of Christmas also marks the second Sunday of the season. The Lutheran church calendar is quiet but here is always a verse for the day:

Alleluia! Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad before the Lord, for He hath made known his salvation.   

And here is some music for the day:

Little star of Bethlehem!
Do we see Thee now?
Do we see Thee shining
O'er the tall trees?

Little child of Bethlehem!
Do we hear Thee in our hearts?
Hear the angels singing:
Peace on earth, good will to men!

O'er the cradle of a King
Hear the Angels sing:
In Excelsis Gloria, Gloria!
From his Father's home on high,
Lo! for us He came to die;
Hear the Angels sing:
Venite adoremus Dominum

The American composer, Charles Ives (1874-1954), wrote this carol in 1894.  It's simple and a century ahead of its time. Unfortunately Ives's music was virtually ignored until many years after his death.  

Our illustration for the day is another postcard from the Vienna Secession of the early 1900's. In case you didn't  ensure yourself a year of good luck on New Year's Day by meeting a chimney sweep or kissing  a pig, this card is for you. 


Photos and Illustrations:, Wiener Werkstatte postcard, No 962, Fritz Lowensohn

Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church, United Lutheran Church in America, 1919

Saturday, January 2, 2016

The Ninth Day Of Christmas 2015-16

Today in Christmastide is a rather quiet one in Christianity. In the Catholic tradition it is the Feast of Saints Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen, Bishops and Doctors of the Church. It is a day to celebrate the virtue of friendship. Christmastide does indeed focus us on the memories of family and friends. Over many years the happenings of this season become riveted in our memories as significant and unforgettable emotional events. In the quiet hours following Christmas Day and the coming of the new year, I sit conversing with the faces in the fire. My thoughts meander over those Christmases past, of friends one time near and dear now lost in time, of family and our traditions in America now reaching their eleventh generation. 

Although German traditions remain strong in our family one of my dearest memories is that of my Welsh bloodline introduced by my grandmother's parents who immigrated to the United States from Cardiff, Wales, in the early 1870's. Although I don't remember my grandmother - she died before my second birthday - my father always reminded me of her Celtic pride and Welsh ancestry expressed especially in a love for song and singing. It wasn't until the 20th century that Wales produced artists in English who were know internationally. One of them was was the poet, Dylan Thomas, whose compelling recitations approached hypnosis where words became song. 

My family likely became aware of Thomas through his trips to the U.S. made over a span of about four years beginning in 1950. His trips always made sensational news for he was not only a rising star worshiped in metropolitan and university salons but also a boisterous character prone to drunkenness and colorful language. Indeed, his trip in 1953 ended in death from pneumonia while in New York. One could say he covered the full spectrum of life and when he spoke of it in verse or prose he made music. I first heard Thomas reading his work in elementary school English class sometime in the mid-1950's. I've read and listened to him since then. What follows has been a favorite Thomas story in my family for over sixty years. In that time I read it or portions of it to women I loved, to a thousand students, and to my children. 

When Dylan Thomas brings voice to his work it makes for some of the finest readings in the English language. When he reads A Child's Christmas in Wales it is magic. It is my gift to you in this holy season. . .

. . . as is this interpretation of the music of the season by the internationally known Rhos Orpheus Male Choir headquartered in Rhosllannerchrugog, Wrecsam, Wales.


Photos and Illustrations:; photo still from Marvin Lightner production of A child's Christmas in Wales, 1963.


Friday, January 1, 2016

Alfred Stieglitz: He Helped Turn Photography Into Art

File:Stieglitz-Venetian Canal.jpg
Venitian Canal, also known as A Bit of Venice                          Alfred Stieglitx, 1897
Alfred Stieglitz was born in Hoboken, New Jersey, on January 1, 1864. One could say that the advent of digital photography and photo editing software has made every photographer "above average" much like the children living in Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegon. I would guess that the digital age has certainly improved photography but that still leaves open the question of the mind's eye, the experience, the light, and the image that emerges from the developer, fixer, and wash, be it liquid or binary. Stieglitz was among the first to see beauty emerge out of the documentary decades of the history of early photography. 

The Art Story website describes his legacy in these words:

Alfred Stieglitz led the Pictorialist movement, which advocated the artistic legitimacy of photography in the United States. Without his influence, photographers like Ansel Adams and Edward Westonwould never have been able to become household names. His own works defined the greater Pictorialist project and set a firm aesthetic example for his contemporaries, many of whom were exhibited in Camera Work magazine. Prior to his efforts, photographs were seen purely as historical records. He single-handedly popularized the medium and introduced America to European modernism with Gallery 291. Pablo Picasso, Auguste Rodin, Henri Matisse, and Paul Cézanne all received their American debuts at the gallery. He launched the career of his wife, Georgia O'Keeffe, and lauded her - however unfairly - as the greatest female artist of the twentieth century. He laid the foundation for the current proliferation of digital cameras. While nearly everyone is an amateur photographer today, few were at the fin de siecle, and Stieglitz was the leader of those few.

I have a feeling Stieglitz may come to mind when you snap that next photo with your iPhone. 


Photography and Ilustrations:; public domain photography from Camera Notes, Volume i, Number 2, 1897


The Eighth Day Of Christmas 2015-16

Adoration of the Holy Name of Jesus    Juan de las Roelas, ca. 1604 

Today is the first day of the new year in our Christmastide countdown. In much of Western Christianity today is celebrated either as the Solemnity of Mary or the Festival of the Circumcision and Name of Jesus. The Word for the day is simply one verse, Luke 2:21:

And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

Here are two music selections to enjoy. The first is Johann Sebastian Bach's cantata for New Year's Day, Jesu, nun sei gepreiset, [Jesus, now be praised.], BWV 41. Those who would enjoy an English translation will find one here.

The second selections is a Welsh carol for New Year's Day set to the music of the British composer, Benjamin Britten. The custom of Levy-Dew derives from an ancient tradition of drawing water from a well and sprinkling it on townspeople as a means of cleansing or preparing them to face the new year.


Photos and Illustrations: