Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer and organist. The most important member of the Bach family, his genius combined outstanding performing musicianship with supreme creative powers in which forceful and original inventiveness, technical mastery and intellectual control, are perfectly balanced. While it was in the former capacity, as a keyboard virtuoso, that in his lifetime he acquired an almost legendary fame, it is the latter virtues and accomplishments, as a composer, that, by the end of the 18th century, earned him a unique historical position. His musical language was distinctive and extraordinarily varied, drawing together and surmounting the techniques, the styles and the general achievements, of his own and earlier generations, and leading on to new perspectives, which later ages have received, and understood, in a great variety of ways.
Wachet! Betet! Betet! Wachet! (Watch! Pray! Pray! Watch!) is the title of two church cantatas by Johann Sebastian Bach. He composed a first version, BWV 70a, in Weimar for the second Sunday in Advent of 1716 and expanded it in 1723 in Leipzig to BWV 70, a cantata in two parts for the 26th Sunday after Trinity.
On [March] 2, 1714, Bach was appointed concertmaster of the Weimar court capelle of the co-reigning dukes Wilhelm Ernst and Ernst August of Saxe-Weimar. As concertmaster, he assumed the principal responsibility for composing new works, specifically cantatas for the Schlosskirche (palace church), on a monthly schedule. Bach originally wrote this cantata in his last year there […].
The instrumentation of the Weimar cantata is lost.
Bach first performed the cantata on [December] 6, 1716.
Gächinger Kantorei Choir
Dvořák Hall Prague
John Eliot Gardiner
The French Baroque composer Jean-Philippe Rameau wrote three books of Pièces de clavecin for the harpsichord. The first, Premier Livre de Pièces de Clavecin (first book of harpsichord pieces), was published in 1706. [T]he second, Pièces de Clavessin, [was] in 1724. [T]he third, Nouvelles Suites de Pièces de Clavecin, [was] in 1726 or 1727. They were followed in 1741 by Pièces de clavecin en concerts, in which the harpsichord can either be accompanied by violin (or flute) and viola da gamba or played alone. An isolated piece, La Dauphine, survives from 1747.
Jean-Philippe Rameau was one of the most important French composers and music theorists of the 18th century. He replaced Jean-Baptiste Lully as the dominant composer of French opera and is also considered the leading French composer of his time for the harpsichord, alongside François Couperin.
Little is known about Rameau’s early years. It was not until the 1720s that he won fame as a major theorist of music with his Traité de L’harmonie Réduite à ses Principes naturels (1722…Treatise on Harmony reduced to its natural principles) and also in the following years as a composer of masterpieces for the harpsichord, which circulated throughout Europe. He was almost 50 before he embarked on the operatic career on which his reputation chiefly rests today.
Rameau’s music had gone out of fashion by the end of the 18th [C]entury and it was not until the 20th [Century] that serious efforts were made to revive it. Today, he enjoys renewed appreciation with performances and recordings of his music ever more frequent.
Jean Philippe Rameau (Atlanta Symphony Orchestra)
Jean-Philippe Rameau (Britannica)
Treatise On Harmony (CMuse)
Jean Philippe Rameau (Find A Grave)
Jean-Philippe Rameau Biography (The Famous People)
Hanspostcard has a movie draft challenge. This is my Round Eleven pick.
Film: Love Actually
All I have to say is, this is a great movie. It will make you laugh. It will make you cry. ~Vic
Written and directed by Richard Curtis (with six producers in tow), this is a Christmas romance romp with an all-star ensemble cast, mostly comprised of Brits. There are ten separate stories, that become interwoven in places…with one exception. This was Curtis’s Directorial Debut.
The movie opens with Prime Minister David talking about the state of the world.
 Rock and Roll legend Billy Mack records a Christmas version of the song Love Is All Around (by The Troggs). He thinks it’s crap but, he promotes it, anyway. He spends Christmas with his manager Joe and, you can see him on various TV sets throughout the movie.
 Best man Mark (a very young Andrew Lincoln sans Colt Python) is in love with Peter’s soon-to-be wife, Juliet, though they both believe that Mark dislikes her. He declares his love with cue cards on Christmas Eve.
 Jamie discovers his girlfriend is having an affair with his brother. He meets Aurélia but, she doesn’t speak any English. He learns Portuguese to communicate his love for her.
 Harry & Karen are happily married and raising their children. Mia is Harry’s new secretary. He is drawn to her and nearly destroys his marriage over her.
 Karen’s brother is David, the Prime Minister. He finds himself attracted to staffer Natalie and having to deal with the U.S. President.
 Daniel, Karen’s friend, is still mourning the loss of his wife, Joanna. His step-son Sam is interested in an American classmate, also named Joanna. Sam shows his affection for Joanna at the airport (before she returns to the US). Daniel crosses paths with Carol and is interested.
 Sarah works for Harry and is in love with Karl. Karl is interested but, Sarah’s mentally ill brother Michael is an issue.
 Colin tells his friend Tony that he is traveling to America to try to woo some women there. He meets Stacey, Jeannie and Carol-Anne in Milwaukee and they invite him to stay with them. Roommate Harriet shows up, later.
 John (a young Martin Freeman…Arthur Dent/Bilbo Baggins) and Judy meet as nude stand-ins for a film that Tony is a production assistant for. Comfortable with each other simulating sex, they are shy with clothes on, later.
 Rufus is a jewelry salesman, wrapping Harry’s gift for Mia and, he assists Sam at the airport in getting to Joanna before her flight. He was, originally, to be a Christmas angel but, a script re-write removed that part of the story.
♦ Knowing about Billy Bob Thornton’s quite unusual fear of antique furniture, Hugh Grant would sometimes flash a piece of antique [furniture] (which is abundant in England) in front of Thornton just before the cameras rolled and watch him freak out in amusement (an issue that is part of the dialogue in Sling Blade).
♦ Simon Pegg was considered for the role of Rufus.
♦ For the role of her lovelorn character Karen, Emma Thompson has said that she drew on the immense heartbreak she experienced over former husband Kenneth Branagh’s affair with Helena Bonham Carter with whom he had co-starred, and directed, in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994). This extramarital affair ultimately led to their divorce in 1995.
♦ The airport greeting footage at the beginning and end of this movie is real. Writer/director Curtis had a team of cameramen film at Heathrow airport for a week and, whenever they saw something that would fit in, they asked the people involved for permission to use the footage.
♦ For her one-minute cameo, Claudia Schiffer received a reported £200,000 (roughly $300,000 U.S.).
Three hundred, twenty years ago, yesterday, Scottish Sea Captain William Kidd was hanged at Execution Dock in London at low tide:
[P]roceedings against [Kidd] had been long and notorious. The actions for which he was tried had been still more notorious, one involving murder and five [involving] piracy. His career had been brief, brilliant in the beginning [but], catastrophic at the end. The general excitement at the time of his execution and, all during his imprisonment in London, had been at [a] fever pitch. Gossip went to work and, the wildest of tales of Kidd’s wickedness and wealth were believed. […] Upon his death, numerous accounts, both factual and fictitious, appeared.
William Hallam Bonner
University of Buffalo
American Literature, Vol. 15, No. 4, Jan. 1944
Kidd was commissioned by King William III (William of Orange) as a Privateer and carried a license to hunt pirates, reserving 10% of any bounty acquired for the Crown. His murder charge was the result of the killing of crew member William Moore, his gunner, during a near mutiny.
Of all the things written and expressed, the ballad Captain Kid’s Farewel to the Seas (or the Famous Pirate’s Lament) was the only thing to survive. It was quite popular in the Colonies where the Captain had a home and may be considered America’s first folk legend. There is a British version and an American version, which changed the Captain’s first name to Robert for some strange reason and, several contemporary covers. The last website, below, has his name as John. He had to be hanged, twice, as the rope broke the first time. ~Vic
Captain Kidd Lyrics (David Kidd Website/Wayback Machine)
Captain Kidd Song (Wikipedia)
The Ballad of Captain Kidd (Chivalry Website Archive)
Wizard of the Seas (Ex-Classics Website)
The Gunpowder Plot of 1605, […] often called the Gunpowder Treason Plot or the Jesuit Treason [in earlier centuries], was a failed assassination attempt against King James I by a group of provincial English Catholics led by Robert Catesby.
The plan was to blow up the House of Lords during the State Opening of Parliament on [November] 5, 1605, as the prelude to a popular revolt in the Midlands, during which James’s nine-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, was to be installed as the Catholic head of state. Catesby may have embarked on the scheme after hopes of securing greater religious tolerance under King James had faded, leaving many English Catholics disappointed. His fellow plotters were John and Christopher Wright, Robert and Thomas Wintour, Thomas Percy, Guy Fawkes, Robert Keyes, Thomas Bates, John Grant, Ambrose Rookwood, Sir Everard Digby and Francis Tresham. Fawkes, who had 10 years of military experience fighting in the Spanish Netherlands in the failed suppression of the Dutch Revolt, was given charge of the explosives.
The plot was revealed to the authorities in an anonymous letter sent to William Parker, 4th Baron Monteagle, on [October] 26, 1605. During a search of the House of Lords in the evening on [November] 4, 1605, Fawkes was discovered guarding 36 barrels of gunpowder, enough to reduce the House of Lords to rubble, and [was] arrested. Most of the conspirators fled from London as they learned of the plot’s discovery, trying to enlist support along the way. Several made a stand against the pursuing Sheriff of Worcester and his men at Holbeche House […]. [In] the ensuing battle, Catesby was one of those shot and killed. At their trial on [January] 27 1606, four hundred, fifteen years ago, today, eight of the survivors, including Fawkes, were convicted and sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered.
The thwarting of the Gunpowder Plot was commemorated for many years afterwards by special sermons and other public events such as the ringing of church bells, which evolved into the British variant of Bonfire Night of today.
The six partitas for solo violin by Johann Paul von Westhoff are the earliest known published music for solo violin. Although Westhoff’s compositions were rediscovered by scholars […] in the mid-19th century, this work was not found until the late 20th century.
The collection […] was discovered […] by musicologist Peter P. Várnai. He announced his discovery in a 1971 article […] published in Die Musikforschung, volume 24. The extant copy is dated 1696 (three hundred & twenty-five years, ago) but, it may be a reprint (partial or full) of a much earlier publication by Westhoff…the Erstes Dutzend Allemanden, Couranten, Sarabanden und Giguen Violino Solo sonder Passo Continuo. [That] collection was published in Dresden in 1682 and is considered lost. The first modern edition of the partitas appeared in 1974.
Nothing is known about how or when the partitas were composed. One other work for solo violin by Westhoff survives, a 1683 suite published in an issue of Dresden’s Mercure galant. [It] is entirely possible that the composer had more solo violin works. The […] surviving partitas are historically important works […] and were most probably the inspiration for Johann Sebastian Bach‘s sonatas and partitas for solo violin.
The partitas all consist of four dances, arranged in the standard late Baroque order… an Allemande, the Courante, the Sarabande and the Gigue. The music is technically demanding. [It is] fully polyphonic with frequent instances of tricky double stopping.
Johann Paul von Westhoff was a German Baroque composer and violinist. One of the most important exponents of the Dresden violin school, he was among the highest ranked violinists of his day […].
If you haven’t finished your holiday shopping, the North Carolina Department of Transportation is offering up a piece of Americana but, it’s going to cost you a pretty penny.
When the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus closed their doors, NCDOT saw an opportunity to add to its fleet. That plan was derailed before the cars could hit the rails and, now, they’re being put up for public auction.
NCDOT spent just over $380,000 on [the] Ringling Brothers rail cars.
“These cars have a great and amazing history,” said Jason Orthner, director of the NCDOT rail division.
However, plans to refurbish the cars were quickly put on hold when NCDOT calculated the costs. “This was more on the long-term play of really looking into our rail program and how we take it into the future,” said Orthner.
Funding from two federal grants totaling $157 million rendered the rehab of the Ringling Bros. cars obsolete and will soon allow the NCDOT to replace their entire fleet.
“If we hadn’t been successful at winning those grants, we would’ve taken a really hard look at putting these in service,” said Orthner. “We really want to do the best thing for the citizens of North Carolina with the limited funding that we have available.”
That’s why they’re listing the rail-cars on the state surplus site for a minimum price that’s $32,000 more than the NCDOT paid for all of the cars but, without any bids, it’s unclear if anyone will actually buy them.
“Tourist railroad operations, car collectors and other enthusiasts would certainly be interested in these cars,” said Orthner. “There are operations around the country that run train service for excursion purpose, or other purposes, that would be interested in equipment like this.”
I had no idea my state’s DOT had purchased Ringling Bros. train cars. ~Vic
This is my last countdown post. I’ve saved my favorite gingerbread house for last. I’ve been inside this place and you can feel its history. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures when I was there. Before the world went insane, Ayr Mount would host Scottish Festivals. ~Vic
If you’d like to vote:
Homes for the Holidays 2020
Three hundred, forty years ago, Danish-German Baroque composer and organist Dieterich Buxtehude composed Membra Jesu Nostri. Considered to be one of the most influential composers in Germany, his style is reflected in the works of Johann Sebastian Bach, one of his students. [More] than 100 compositions of his survive […].
Membra Jesu Nostri [or The limbs of our Jesus], BuxWV 75, is a cycle of seven cantatas composed by Dieterich Buxtehude in 1680 and dedicated to Gustaf Düben. The full Latin title Membra Jesu Nostri Patientis Sanctissima translates to “The most holy limbs of our suffering Jesus”. This work is known as the first Lutheran oratorio. The main text are stanzas from the Medieval hymn Salve Mundi Salutare, also known as the Rhythmica Oratio, a poem formerly ascribed to Bernard of Clairvaux but, now thought more likely to have been written by Medieval poet Arnulf of Leuven […]. It is divided into seven parts, each addressed to a different part of Christ’s crucified body: feet, knees, hands, sides, breast, heart and face. In each part, biblical words referring to the limbs frame verses of the poem.
Duke Vespers Ensemble (MSR Classics)
Salve Mundi Salutare (New Advent)
Buxtehude Composition List (Wikipedia)
Dieterich Buxtehude (Wikipedia)
Membra Jesu Nostri (Wikipedia)
The International Dieterich Buxtehude Society
One hundred, fifty-seven years ago, today, President Abraham Lincoln gave his famous speech at the dedication of the Soldier’s National Cemetery in Gettysburg. The Battle of Gettysburg had just been 4 1/2 months prior. Lincoln was in the early stages of a mild case of small pox.
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
Two-hundred, ninety-four years ago, today, the book of satirical stories, Gulliver’s Travels was published. Written by Irish clergyman Jonathan Swift, the original title was Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World. In Four Parts. By Lemuel Gulliver, First a Surgeon, and then a Captain of Several Ships. That has to be the longest book title in existence. I’ve never read any of it, nor have I seen the various movies that have been put out. That being said, there are several well written summaries and opinions on the material and, I’m not reinventing the wheel. ~Vic
Gulliver’s name probably is an allusion to King Lemuel of Proverbs 31, who was a weak-minded prophet. Swift may also be connecting his character to a common mule, a half-ass, half-horse animal that is known for being stubborn and stupid. A gull is a person who is easily fooled or gullible. At the same time, Gulliver represents the everyman with his average intelligence and general good humor. The reader is able to identify with him and join him in his travels. Even though Swift constantly alludes to events that were happening while he was alive, the story rings true today, bringing light to our own societal issues and to patterns of human nature. Throughout Gulliver’s voyages, Swift goes to great lengths to scrutinize, parody, and satire various aspects of human, and often English, society.
A mock work of travel literature, Jonathan Swift’s famous novel is a far deeper work than one of just Juvenalian and Horatian satire. It is an indictment against the prevailing spirit of Enlightenment philosophy and utopianism, an esoteric defense of Christianity against its Enlightenment critics, and a prophetic vision into the future degeneration of humanity in following the dictates of the natural philosophers of modernity. Swiftian irony is one of the great joys of the work. [Where] traditional literary narrative has the travelling protagonist return home to comfort and love, Swift’s Gulliver returns home deranged and a hater of humanity.
1939 Animated Movie (IMDb)
1977 UK Movie (IMDb)
1996 TV Mini-Series (IMDb)
20th Century Fox 2010 Movie (IMDb)
Gulliver’s Travels (Wikipedia)
Jonathan Swift (Wikipedia)
Wikisource Text of the Book
Sixty years ago, today, the Italian-German film Die rote Hand or The Red Hand was released. Directed by Kurt Meisel, written & produced by Ernst Neubach, it starred Paul Hubschmid, Hannes Messemer and Eleonora Rossi Drago.
Finding specific information on this film has been difficult. It appears that this was based upon a French terrorist organization’s bombings and assassinations that took place in Germany in September 1956, June 1957, October 1958, March 1959 and November 1959. IMDb doesn’t have a summary or synopsis but, I did find a translated plot from the German side of Wikipedia (Translate The Web Link):
This arms dealer drama takes place in Germany and Switzerland […] during the Cold War.
Manora Khan, consul of an unspecified Asian country, intends to hunt down his Cuban colleague Maria Gomez’s supply of weapons intended for her country. To this end, he orders the help of the smart Johnny Zamaris, with whom he has a common past: Johnny had once [been involved with] his great love, the actress Violetta Scotoni. [It] soon becomes apparent that no one is what he seems to be […]. Consul Khan turns out to be the leader of a secret organization called “The Red Hand” that deliberately kills competing gun-pushers. Competitor Johnny is more than just a smart Sonnyboy [sic]. [In] truth, he works as a defensive officer in his country, with the task of smashing “The Red Hand” again. Both men, who once competed for Violetta, die while serving in their respective [fatherlands], with Johnny being knocked down in the back of a black sedan with a machine gun after a final tender embrace with Violetta.
The writer and producer of this film was born in Austria but, emigrated to France after Anschluss. Unhappy with a Der Spiegel report, he wrote an opposite viewpoint. Der Speigel, in turn, panned the film.
I couldn’t find a trailer on YouTube. ~Vic
The State as a Terrorist: France and the Red Hand (Perspectives on Terrorism)
One-hundred, fourteen years ago, today, Devil’s Tower or, Bear Lodge Butte, was established as the first US National Monument by President Theodore Roosevelt. Composed of igneous rock, and possibly laccolithic, it is located in the Bear Lodge Mountains of the Black Hills, near Hulett and Sundance, in Crook County, Wyoming. It is also known as Matȟó Thípila by the Lakota and Daxpitcheeaasáao by the Crow (try to pronounce those). It got it’s religious moniker in 1875 when an interpreter for Colonel Richard Dodge, leading an expedition, misunderstood a native name and thought it meant Bad God’s Tower.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind 1977 (AMC’s Filmsite)
The Dakota Peoples (Google Books)
Satellites in the High Country (Google Books)
Devil’s Tower: First 50 Years (National Park Service PDF)
Proposed Name Change (Rapid City Journal June 22, 2015)
Native American Story & Culture (Wikipedia)
Other Native Names (Wikipedia)
Tower Ladder (Wikipedia)