Monthly Archives: January 2017

A Day of Joy and Sorrow – January the Thirtieth

IT WAS JANUARY THE THIRTIETH, 1948, when members of our clan had been invited to our apartment at Connaught Place, New Delhi (aerial view alongside.) They were to celebrate my father’s birthday. Then, out of the blue, the awful, terrible news came on All-India Radio that Mahatma Gandhi, pictured below, had been assassinated.

My parents had no other option but to cancel our dinner party for some 60 guests by whatever means possible: the telephone mainly, and by couriers dispatched by car or on bicycles to at least a dozen addresses in and around New and Old Delhi.

Not surprisingly, some of our A-list invitees had’nt any knowledge of the last-minute cancellation, and the dozen or so who turned up at our doorstep in the early evening were led into a darkened dining room lit only by candles mounted on the birthday cake.

In subdued after-dinner conversation, the elders discussed what Gandhiji had meant to them in their lives – the good, the bad and the ugly – during his lifetime. On balance, what stood out were the many benefits for the poor and middle classes that the Mahatma had carved out through sheer grit and determination: For the newly partitioned India, that had gained independence just a few months earlier on August 15, 1947, there were still a plethora of old British Raj legacies that would take months – if not years – for a new and resurgent India to shed and turn into a strong and vibrant democratic country. And that without the dominant figure of Mahatma Gandhi in the Capital presiding over the future of the nation after the awful, pivotal world-shattering event of the Thirtieth of January. It was indeed a Day of Joy and Sorrow for all of us

The following day was marked by a miles-long march in solidarity to Raj Ghat, Gandhi’s cremation site in Delhi.

People from all walks of life, the rich and the poor, converged on the old city to pay their respects to the Father of the Nation.

Reference: Wikipedia

Dear Readers,
You number over 67,000 since 2 years ago in January 2015, when I first began to put “some of my thoughts, written down” and posted them in the blogosphere. Since that time, many of you have urged me to seek support of my site and my writings by way of donations.

 My blog is about my life. It’s about what I’ve learned through the span of my life. It’s about things I love, and things I know and things I have experienced. I am humbled that so many of you want to join with me in my reflections. If you like what you find here, if it inspires or informs or amuses you, then I am content.

It would mean a lot to me if, with the advent of the New Year 2017, you would please consider making a donation of US $2.00, $5.00, $10.00, or whatever amount you deem fit to sustain my work the next twelve months.
And thank you for being a regular reader of the Azim Mayadas Blog!

NAMM for Newbies

LOLITA AND I CERTAINLY TOOK A LEAP OF FAITH when we signed up to attend the annual conference in Anaheim, CA, earlier this month of the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM): the mammoth get-together is a much admired and lauded event around the music world – here  in the USA and abroad.

Lolita and Azim Mayadas
at NAMM Conference 2017

No kidding, but we were literally floored by the reams and streams of people – well over 100, 000 at last count! – from every portion of the globe who took time, energy and lasting leg power to be there with promoting their pristine ideas and one-of-a-kind products that were destined, hopefully, to change the music world as we know it, nothing more nor less!

We shacked up in a neighboring comparatively cheap but friendly motel in Anaheim, California, along with scads of serious Far-Easterners half our age – mainly Chinese, Koreans and Taiwanese – who were all there to market their latest music books, gizmos, software and digital hardware.

A bonus for us, at the close of the conference last Sunday, was to spend the eve of our departure visiting family members who reside in nearby Laguna Beach, which offers wonderful views of rugged canyons on the one hand and the Pacific Ocean on the other. Not surprisingly, we spent this week at home in Englewood recovering from our hectic transcontinental activities in the service of very young musicians-in-the-making..

The Two Sides of Laguna Beach:
Canyons and the Pacific Ocean

References: My January 2017 Diary and Photo Album

Afterword:

On arrival at Anaheim, I took a photo of the NAMM Show. Alongside is the NAMM University Idea Center  that was the most appropriate for those attendees interested in growing their businesses online.

Dear Readers,
You number over 66,000 since 2 years ago in January 2015, when I first began to put “some of my thoughts, written down” and posted them in the blogosphere. Since that time, many of you have urged me to seek support of my site and my writings by way of donations.

 My blog is about my life. It’s about what I’ve learned through the span of my life. It’s about things I love, and things I know and things I have experienced. I am humbled that so many of you want to join with me in my reflections. If you like what you find here, if it inspires or informs or amuses you, then I am content.

It would mean a lot to me if, with the advent of the New Year 2017, you would please consider making a donation of US $2.00, $5.00, $10.00, or whatever amount you deem fit to sustain my work the next twelve months.
And thank you for being a regular reader of the Azim Mayadas Blog!

13 – My Lucky Number!

Whoa! – you say. You must be kidding, but be patient…… 

TODAY IS JANUARY THE 13th. In the musical world that brings up waves of emotion, especially in that part of it which remembers nostalgically the death anniversary of a famed composer who was known as the “father of American music.” I’m speaking of  none other than Stephen Foster, who in the nineteenth century was the preeminent songwriter in the United States.

 

Stephen died January 13, 1864 at the young age of 37, but his songs, such as  “Oh! Susanna,” “Camptown Races,” “My Old Kentucky Home,” “Old Black Joe,” “Beautiful Dreamer,” and “Old Folks at Home (Swanee River),” live on and remain ever popular over 150 years after they were composed.

Back in India, over the December holiday season, it was not unusual for my family members  to gather around our upright Bechstein piano in the drawing room, bring out our well-thumbed Community Songbook and sing such favorites as “Beautiful Dreamer” (sung here by one of my ideal singers, Marilyn Horne) and “Swanee River” among traditional Christmas music pieces.

Foster’s life has become part of American legend. He expressed a distaste for rote learning and recitation, but was an avid reader and eventually became a literate, well-educated person by the standards of his time. As a young boy, Stephen evinced more interest in music than in other subjects. As the child of a middle-class family in an era before tax-supported public education, he variously was privately tutored, then schooled at private academies in Pittsburgh and in north-central Pennsylvania.

Foster’s education included one month at college but little formal music training. Despite this, he published several songs before the age of twenty. Stephen was greatly influenced by two men during his teenage years. He probably received some formal musical training from a German immigrant, Henry Kleber (1816-1897), and from Dan Rice. The former was a classically trained musician who immigrated from the German city of Darmstadt and opened a music store in Pittsburgh, and was among Stephen Foster’s few formal music instructors. The latter was an entertainer—a clown and blackface singer, making his living in traveling circuses. Henry Kleber, was an accomplished and versatile musician who eventually exerted a major influence on the city of Pittsburgh’s musical expansion as a performer, composer, music merchant, impresario, and teacher.

These two very different musical worlds created a tension for the teenage Foster. Although respectful of the more civilized parlor songs of the day, he and his friends would often sit at a piano, writing and singing minstrel songs through the night. Eventually, Foster would learn to blend the two genres to write some of his best works.

As a teen, Foster enjoyed the friendship of young men and women from some of Pittsburgh’s most prosperous and respectable families. Stephen, his brother Morrison, and his close friend, Charles Shiras, were all members of an all-male secret club called Knights of the S.T. [probably Square Table] that met twice weekly at the Fosters’ home. One of their principal activities was singing, with Stephen acting first as song leader and then composer. Some of his earliest songs, perhaps including “Oh! Susanna,” were composed for the group. His first published song, “Open Thy Lattice Love,” appeared from a Philadelphia music publisher when Stephen was only 18.

In 1846, Foster moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, and became a bookkeeper with his brother’s steamship company. While in Cincinnati, Foster penned his first hit songs, among them “Oh! Susanna.” It would prove to be the anthem of the California Gold Rush in 1848 and 1849. Then, in 1949, he returned to Pennsylvania and during this period Foster would write most of his best-known songs: “Camptown Races” (1850), “Nelly Bly” (1850), “Old Folks at Home” (also known as “Swanee River,” 1851), “My Old Kentucky Home” (1853), “Old Dog Tray” (1853), “Hard Times Come Again No More” (1854) and “Jeannie With the Light Brown Hair” (1854), written for his wife, Jane McDowall.

Foster spent much of his life in Pittsburgh where he worked consistently at his songwriting, keeping a thick sketchbook to draft ideas for song lyrics and melodies. As a professional songwriter of now unparalleled skill and technique—not an untutored musical genius—he had made it his business to study the various music and poetic styles circulating in the immigrant populations of the new United States. His intention was to write the people’s music, using images and a musical vocabulary that would be widely understood by all groups. Foster worked very hard at writing, sometimes taking several months to craft and polish the words, melody, and accompaniment of a song before sending it off to a publisher. His sketchbook shows that he often labored over the smallest details, the right prepositions, even where to include or remove a comma from his lyrics.

  • Foster is buried in the Allegheny Cemetery in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. One of his best loved works, “Beautiful Dreamer” would be published shortly after his death.
  • His brother, Morrison Foster, is largely responsible for compiling his works and writing a short but pertinent biography of Stephen. His sister, Ann Eliza Foster Buchanan, married a brother of President James Buchanan.
  • Stephen Foster was inducted into the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame in 1970.

Eighteen of Foster’s compositions were recorded and released on the Beautiful Dreamer: The Songs of Stephen Foster collection. Among the artists that are featured on the album are John Prine, Alison Krauss, and Yo Yo Ma. The album won the Grammy for Best Traditional Folk Album in 2005.

References: New World Encyclopedia; Wikipedia

Dear Readers,
You number over 65,000 since 2 years ago in January 2015, when I first began to put “some of my thoughts, written down” and posted them in the blogosphere. Since that time, many of you have urged me to seek support of my site and my writings by way of donations.

 My blog is about my life. It’s about what I’ve learned through the span of my life. It’s about things I love, and things I know and things I have experienced. I am humbled that so many of you want to join with me in my reflections. If you like what you find here, if it inspires or informs or amuses you, then I am content.

It would mean a lot to me if, with the advent of the New Year 2017, you would please consider making a donation of US $2.00, $5.00, $10.00, or whatever amount you deem fit to sustain my work the next twelve months.
And thank you for being a regular reader of the Azim Mayadas Blog!

 

 

Squirreling or Squandering – You Decide!

[Last weekend our area got clobbered by a snowstorm that caused many of us in Englewood, NJ, to hunker down at home rather than risk the not so benign elements outside.
For a lark I donned the persona of a lonely bush-tailed creature navigating tentatively the treacherous terrain below my vantage point at the first-floor dining room window.
I put it to you – was I
squirreling away or squandering my time?]

I’M A LUCKY SNOWED-IN SQUIRREL
THAT ATTAINS SEVENTH HEAVEN

Saturday noon catches me snowbound.
Up a welcoming tree trunk
I scurry from the icy ground –
All that white stuff leave I behind.

To be frank, I’ve had enough!

I scuttle around and around and finally find

m’self a cozy nook high up

in a crook of the gnarléd bark:

It beckons me

away from the cold biting wind

to seek in its embrace a quiet haven.

I snuggle anon in Nature’s well-crafted bower,
And ere long a blessed clearing in the sky
Allows the sun’s warming rays to wash o’er me:
Ere long I’m basking in Seventh Heaven.

_______________________________________

Dear Readers,
You number over 65,000 since 2 years ago in January 2015, when I first began to put “some of my thoughts, written down” and posted them in the blogosphere. Since that time, many of you have urged me to seek support of my site and my writings by way of donations.

 My blog is about my life. It’s about what I’ve learned through the span of my life. It’s about things I love, and things I know and things I have experienced. I am humbled that so many of you want to join with me in my reflections. If you like what you find here, if it inspires or informs or amuses you, then I am content.

It would mean a lot to me if, with the advent of the New Year 2017, you would please consider making a donation of US $2.00, $5.00, $10.00, or whatever amount you deem fit to sustain my work the next twelve months.
And thank you for being a regular reader of the Azim Mayadas Blog!

RNA & Khorana


RNA
and Khorana have more in common than the three letters R-N-A would have us believe. In fact, Indian-American biochemist Har Gobind Khorana shared the
1968 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine with Marshall W. Nirenberg and Robert W, Holley. Khorana himself was the first scientist to chemically synthesize oligonucleotides, or short DNA or RNA molecules.

Khorana was born January 9, 1922 in Raipur (in then British India, now in Pakistan) and later moved to become an Indian citizen after the sub-continent’s partition of 1947. He became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1966, and subsequently received the National Medal of Science. He served as MIT’s Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Biology and Chemistry, Emeritus and was a member of the Board of Scientific Governors at The Scripps Research Institute.

Nowadays, one can order a synthetic oligonucleotide from any one of a number of companies based on ones genetic sequence, a succession of letters that indicate the order of nucleotides (or organic molecules) within a DNA or RNA molecule.

UW-India Partnership
The University of Wisconsin – Madison (UW),
in close partnership with the Government of India and the bilateral Indo-US Science and Technology Forum (IUSSTF), initiated a scholar exchange program in 2008. This prestigious research internship program was named after Khorana,  who epitomized the importance of transcending scientific, cultural and geographic boundaries.

Future “Khoranas”


Khorana with his Program Scholars 2008

A key goal of the program is to ignite the imagination of talented students from the US and India. Selected students are invited for summer internships in leading laboratories. US students work in some of the best labs in India, and Indian students who are selected from a nation-wide search work in top labs at UW and its 10 US partner universities. The participating labs in both countries are world leaders with reputations for nurturing talent.

Khorana died of natural causes on 9 November 2011 in Concord, Massachusetts, aged 89. A widower since 2001, he was survived by his children Julia and Davel.

Afterword
Alma Mater: 
Government College, Lahore; University of Liverpool, UK
Awards: Nobel Prize for Medicine; Gairdner Foundation;

  • Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize
  • ForMemRS (1978)[4]
  • Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research
  • Padma Vibhushan
  • Willard Gibbs Awar

Advanced Studies:

  • MIT (1970–2007)
  • University of Wisconsin, Madison (1960–70)
  • University of British Columbia (1952–60)
  • University of Cambridge (1950–52)
  • Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich (1948–49)

References
Biochemistry Newsletter, UW, WI; Wikipedia

Dear Readers,
You number over 63,000 since 2 years ago in January 2015, when I first began to put “some of my thoughts, written down” and posted them in the blogosphere. Since that time, many of you have urged me to seek support of my site and my writings by way of donations.

 My blog is about my life. It’s about what I’ve learned through the span of my life. It’s about things I love, and things I know and things I have experienced. I am humbled that so many of you want to join with me in my reflections. If you like what you find here, if it inspires or informs or amuses you, then I am content.

It would mean a lot to me if, with the advent of the New Year 2017, you would please consider making a donation of US $2.00, $5.00, $10.00, or whatever amount you deem fit to sustain my work the next twelve months.
And thank you for being a regular reader of the Azim Mayadas Blog!

Compositeur Comique, Poulenc Parisien

Born in Paris January 7, 1899, Francis Poulenc was the arch-humorist and the most determined anti-romantic of the famous French collection of composers that rejoiced in the sobriquet of “Les Six” (The French Six) – the others being Arthur Honeger, Georges Auric, Darius Milhaud, Germaine Tailleferre and Louis Durey. Poulenc’s compositions include art songs, solo piano works, chamber music, choral pieces, operas, ballets, and orchestral concert music. [Among the best-known for the keyboard is the piano suite Trois mouvements perpétuels (1919). One of my favorites, however, is the Toccata from his Trois Pieces (played here by Horowitz at Carnegie Hall in 1966) that found its way quite often into my music recital programs over the years.]

 Poulenc was born in the 8th arrondissement of Paris, the younger child and only son of Émile Poulenc and his wife, Jenny, née Royer. Émile Poulenc was a joint owner of the Établissements Poulenc Frères, a successful manufacturer of pharmaceuticals (later Rhône-Poulenc). He was a member of a pious Roman Catholic family from Espalion in the département of Aveyron. Jenny Poulenc was from a Parisian family with wide artistic interests. In Poulenc’s view, the two sides of his nature grew out of this background: a deep religious faith from his father’s family and a worldly and artistic side from his mother’s. The critic Claude Rostand later described Poulenc as “half monk and half naughty boy”.

The Place des Saussaies, Paris, where Poulenc was born

Poulenc grew up in a musical household; his mother was a capable pianist, with a wide repertoire ranging from classical to less elevated works that gave him a lifelong taste for what he called “adorable bad music”.

Afterword
In January 1945, commissioned by the French government, Poulenc and his partner Bernac flew from Paris to London, where they received an enthusiastic welcome. The London Philharmonic Orchestra gave a reception in the composer’s honor; he and Benjamin Britten were the soloists in a performance of Poulenc’s Double Piano Concerto at the Royal Albert Hall. (The recording here is of its first movement with Francis Poulenc, Jacques Février and Orchestra National de la RTF conducted by Georges Prêtre.)

With Bernac he gave recitals of French art songs and piano works at the Wigmore Hall and the National Gallery, and recorded for the BBC. Bernac was overwhelmed by the public’s response; when he and Poulenc stepped out on the Wigmore Hall stage, “the audience rose and my emotion was such that instead of beginning to sing, I began to weep.” After their fortnight’s stay, the two returned home on the first boat-train to leave London for Paris since May 1940.

References:
A Hundred Years of Music by Gerald Abraham; Encyclopedia of Concert Music by David Ewen; Wikipedia.

Dear Readers,
You number over 63,000 since 2 years ago in January 2015, when I first began to put “some of my thoughts, written down” and posted them in the blogosphere. Since that time, many of you have urged me to seek support of my site and my writings by way of donations.

 My blog is about my life. It’s about what I’ve learned through the span of my life. It’s about things I love, and things I know and things I have experienced. I am humbled that so many of you want to join with me in my reflections. If you like what you find here, if it inspires or informs or amuses you, then I am content.

It would mean a lot to me if, with the advent of the New Year 2017, you would please consider making a donation of US $2.00, $5.00, $10.00, or whatever amount you deem fit to sustain my work the next twelve months.
And thank you for being a regular reader of the Azim Mayadas Blog!

A Night to Remember

‘TWAS TWELFTH NIGHT EIGHT YEARS AGO  when my wife, Lolita, using my Flip Video camcorder portrayed me playing my own keyboard interpretation of two well-known songs, “Danny Boy” and “Edelweiss”.

Here are the first two verses of the beloved Irish Ballad “Danny Boy”:

“Oh, Danny Boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling
From glen to glen, and down the mountain side.
The summer’s gone, and all the roses falling,
It’s you, it’s you must go and I must bide.


                                     Irish Hills

But come ye back when summer’s in the meadow,
Or when the valley’s hushed and white with snow,
It’s I’ll be here in sunshine or in shadow,—
Oh Danny boy, Oh Danny Boy, I love you so!”

What follow are the two verses of “Edelweiss”:

Edelweiss, Edelweiss
Every morning you greet me
Small and white
Clean and bright
You look happy to meet me


                                    Edelweiss

Blossom of snow may you bloom and grow
Bloom and grow forever
Edelweiss, Edelweiss
Bless my homeland forever

Since our immediate and extended family – in the USA, Canada,  Europe, India and Australia – have applauded the effort many times ever since, I’ve taken the liberty of using the YouTube version accessible in this blog to memorialize the occasion on its eighth anniversary: here it is – Twelfth Night

The video setting is the drawing room of our condo in Englewood, New Jersey, USA, scene of many family gatherings on festive and celebratory occasions for the past 35 years.

Afterword
In 1932, the Italian composer Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco wrote Twelfth Night, a delightful 10-minute concert  overture, which was first performed in Rome on January 6th., Vittorio Gui conducting. In his music, Mario emphasizes the character of the Shakespeare play rather than the plot. If you feel the urge and have the time, you may check out the music of Twelfth Night right now.

References
My Online Diary; Encyclopedia of Concert Music by David Ewen

______________________________________________________________________

Dear Readers,
You number over 63,000 since January 2015, when I first began to put “some of my thoughts, written down” and posted them in the blogosphere. Since that time, many of you have urged me to seek support of my site and my writings by way of donations.

 My blog is about my life. It’s about what I’ve learned through the span of my life. It’s about things I love, and things I know and things I have experienced. I am humbled that so many of you want to join with me in my reflections. If you like what you find here, if it inspires or informs or amuses you, then I am content.

It would mean a lot to me if, on the eve of the New Year 2017, you would please consider making a donation of US $2.00, $5.00, $10.00, or whatever amount you deem fit to sustain my work the next twelve months.
And thank you for being a regular reader of the Azim Mayadas Blog!