Monthly Archives: May 2017

Ward Howe and the White House

This post  honors Julia Ward Howe,who was born on May 27 in 1819 and who was inspired to write “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” after she and her husband, Samuel Gridley Howe, visited Washington, D.C., and met Abraham Lincoln at the White House in November 1861.

During the trip, her friend James Freeman Clarke suggested she write new words to the song “John Brown’s Body”, which she did on November 19. The song was set to William Steffe’s already-existing music and Howe’s version was first published in the Atlantic Monthly in February 1862. It quickly became one of the most popular patriotic songs of the Union during the American Civil War.

Howe was born in New York City. She was the fourth of seven children born to an upper middle class couple. Her father Samuel Ward III was a Wall Street stockbroker, well-to-do banker, and strict Calvinist. Her mother was the poet Julia Rush Cutler, related to Francis Marion, the “Swamp Fox” of the American Revolution. She died of tuberculosis when her daughter was five years old.

Julia was educated by private tutors and in schools for young ladies until she was sixteen. Her eldest brother Samuel Cutler Ward traveled in Europe and brought home a private library. She had access to these modern works, many contradicting the Calvinistic world view presented by her father. She became well read and intelligent, though as much a social butterfly as she was a scholar. She was brought into contact with some of the greatest minds of her time because of her father’s status as a successful banker. She interacted with, among other luminaries,  Charles Dickens.

Julia was visiting Boston in 1841 when she met Samuel Gridley Howe (1801—1876), a physician and reformer who founded the Perkins School for the Blind. They announced their engagement quite suddenly on February 21. Howe had courted her for a time, but he had more recently shown an interest in her sister Louisa. In 1843, they married despite their eighteen-year age difference. She gave birth to their first child while honeymooning in Europe, eleven months later. She bore their last child in 1858 at the age of forty. They had all told six children.

Howe’s most significant accomplishments were her contributions to women’s rights. She laid the foundation for women’s rights groups both in her own home and in the public eye. Howe died of pneumonia October 17, 1910, at her Portsmouth home, Oak Glen at the grand old age of 91. She is buried in the Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts. At her memorial service approximately 4,000 individuals sang “Battle Hymn of the Republic” as a sign of respect as it was the custom to sing that song at each of Julia’s speaking engagements.

After her death, her children collaborated on a biography, published in 1916. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography

Here is a YouTube connection to Julia’s inspirational work as performed by one of the best in the business – The United States Army Chorus singing  The Battle Hymn of the Republic.

References: Wikipedia, Community Song Book

Dear Readers,
You number over 75,000 in nearly two-and-a-half years ago back in early 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 $1.00, $2.00, $5.00, or whatever amount you deem fit to sustain my work.
And thank you for being a regular reader of the Azim Mayadas Blog!

 

 

 

Horlyck and Hygge

Horlyck and Hygge have one thing in common – each noun is Danish, each holds a special place in my memory of a time when I was giving free rein to my pent-up penchant for travel: one is the surname of a family in Copenhagen that befriended me , the other a unique Danish word that expresses appreciation of simple pleasures, enjoyed in the company of close friends. In a very real sense, so many years later, I cannot help thinking of the leisurely time I spent with the close-knit family bearing the name Horlyck, without at the same time dreaming about its intrinsic secret of happiness – Hygge.

To back track, in 1953 I was staying in London at the Central YMCA, when I was a University of London student pursuing an Electrical Engineering degree at the Imperial College. And it wasn’t long before I met up with a co-resident, Niels Horlyck, who spoke lovingly of his home town Kobenhavn, which he sorely missed after having been away a mere three months. At the time, I couldn’t believe that the Danish language was so very different to English, and we spent a considerable time over meals in the cafeteria trading, for instance, the proper pronunciation of his strange Nordic family name with my own – I believe – more phonetic Sanskritic one, along with common phrases in conversation. Eventually we got things right and thereupon developed a friendship that led to my hitchhiking that summer via Belgium, Holland and Germany to Denmark – via Odense, the home of Hans Christian Andersen (my favorite kid-lit author) to my ultimate destination, Copenhagen, where I would be the guest of Niels and his family for a week of fun and frolic: Kronborg Grounds.

Dear Readers,
You number over 75,000 in nearly two-and-a-half years ago back in early 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 $1.00, $2.00, $5.00, or whatever amount you deem fit to sustain my work.
And thank you for being a regular reader of the Azim Mayadas Blog!

 

Flautist with Flair

A pop star who’s a flute player? Doesn’t sound credible in this day an age, but hold on a second. There was a world-class French musician, who died this day 17 years ago: he not only returned to the flute the popularity as a solo classical instrument it had not held since the 18th century, but beguiled young and old, jazz and classical music enthusiasts alike, into joys of delirium as he strode the world stage – a large man with a tiny slim silvery magical ‘wand’ that did wonders to transform any piece of music he was performing. Who was he? Let’s find out who was this flautist with flair to the extent that memory serves me…..

Let’s delve a bit into Rampal’s background: He was the son of a flute teacher but was encouraged to become a doctor, and he attended Marseille Medical School. During World War II he was drafted into a German labour camp, and he abandoned his studies to go underground in Paris.

Rampal began taking flute lessons at the Paris Conservatory and garnered attention after winning the school’s prestigious competition. After the war he began his career as a flutist in the Vichy Opéra orchestra (1947–51) and later was first flute at the Paris Opéra (1956–62). In 1968 he joined the faculty of the Paris Conservatory. Particularly devoted to chamber music, Rampal founded the French Wind Quintet in 1945 and the Baroque Ensemble of Paris in 1953. In addition to making international concert tours, he edited music by Baroque composers. In later years he took up conducting. His popularity was in large part due to his extensive recordings. Rampal gained admiration for his authentic interpretation of 18th-century music, his smooth, cleanly articulated tone, and his mastery of subtle tonal nuance.  Francis Poulenc composed works for him. Rampal’s autobiography, Music, My Love, was published in 1989.

References: My Diary, Wikipedia, Music of Three More Seasons 1977-1980 by Andrew Porter, Encyclopedia Britannica.

Afterword:
Here’s an Interesting family history that ties up with our French hero: As a budding composer, my youngest daughter, Priya, wrote a piece when still an 8-year old that she dedicated to Jean-Pierre Rampal and which he performed as an encore at his sold-out Florida Philharmonic concert in 1977. Entitled Visions for Flute and Piano you can hear it below played in 1978 by faculty members of the Hochstein School of Music, Rochester, NY with Glendda Dove (flute) and Joseph Werner (piano). Joseph, by the way, taught Priya the piano for about a year at Hochstein.

Dear Readers,
You number over 75,000 in nearly two-and-a-half years ago back in early 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 $1.00, $2.00, $5.00, or whatever amount you deem fit to sustain my work.
And thank you for being a regular reader of the Azim Mayadas Blog!

 

Visions Fugitives

Sergei Prokofiev
(April 23, 1891-March 5, 1953)

Visions Fugitives, Op. 22, are 20 short piano pieces composed by the Russian composer, Prokofiev between 1915 and 1917 – the year they were published a century ago. They were premiered by him on April 15, 1918 in St. Petersburg, Russia. Written individually, many were for specific friends of his, and he originally referred to them as his “doggies” because of their “bite.”

In August 1917, Prokofiev played them for Russian poet Konstantin Balmont, and others, at the home of a mutual friend. Balmont was inspired to compose a sonnet on the spot, called “a magnificent improvisation” by Prokofiev who named the pieces “Mimolyotnosti” from these lines in Balmont’s poem: “In every fleeting vision I see worlds, Filled with the fickle play of rainbows“. A French-speaking friend at the house, Kira Nikolayevna, immediately provided a French translation for the pieces: Visions Fugitives.

Here’s the music appreciation program I devised six years ago for my May 17, 2011 class, in which the composer himself plays 9 of the 20 fleeting visions in a 1935 recording:

PROKOFIEV CLASSICS

Piano Works   Visions fugitives,Op. 22 (1915-1917)
       Sergei Prokofiev  piano
1. No. 9: Allegro Tranquillo
2. No. 3: Allegretto
3. No. 17: Poetico
4. No. 18: Con una dolce lentezza
5. No. 11: Con vivacità
6. No. 10: Ridicolosamente
7. No. 16: Dolente
8. No. 6: Con eleganza
9. No. 5: Molto giocoso

Note: Some of these pieces are technically interesting for their
unconventional harmonies and experiments with polytonal writing.
Of special interest is No. 16, which is noted for its pensive lyricism.

Symphony No. 1 in D, Op. 25 “Classical”
I Allegro  II Larghetto  III Gavotta: Non troppo allegro
IV Finale: Molto vivace

J
ames Gardner conductor  Pro Arte Symphony Orchestra

Etude, Op. 2, No. 3      Nikolai Petrov piano ________________________________________________________________

References:
Wikipedia; Encyclopedia of Concert Music by David Ewen

Afterword:
As a 17-year-old, I was first introduced to Prokofiev’s piano music when I picked up a score of his Prelude in C major, Op. 12, No. 7 from a Boosey & Hawkes music store in the UK Capital during the London Musical Festival’s Piano Concerto Competition there in which I participated by performing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto in C minor, Op. 37. To put it mildly, I was hooked by the Russian’s compositions and went on to acquire on a visit to Washington, D.C. in December 1961 Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto along with three of his piano sonatas – Nos. 4, 7 and 9. For the record I was representing India in the Dmitri Mitropolous International Piano Competition at New York’s Carnegie Hall on my very first visit to the United States after which I paid a side visit to the U.S. Capital before returning to India.

Dear Readers,
You number over 73,000 in nearly two-and-a-half years ago back in early 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 $1.00, $2.00, $5.00, or whatever amount you deem fit to sustain my work.
And thank you for being a regular reader of the Azim Mayadas Blog!

 

Turner – The Painter of Light

Joseph Mallord William Turner was baptized on May 14,1775, but his date of birth is unknown. It is generally believed he was born between late April and early May. Turner himself claimed he was born on April 23, but there is no proof. He was born in Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, in London, England. His father, William Turner (1745–21 September 1829), was a barber and wig maker. His mother, Mary Marshall, came from a family of butchers. A younger sister, Mary Ann, was born in September 1778 but died in August 1783.

<—Self-Portrait circa 1799

Drawing of St John’s Church, Margate by Turner from around 1786, when he would have been 11 or 12 years old. The ambitious but unsure drawing shows an early struggle with perspective, which can be contrasted with his later work

A View of the Archbishop’s Palace, Lambeth – this watercolour was Turner’s first to be accepted for the Royal Academy’s annual exhibition in April 1790, the month he turned 15. The image is a technical presentation of Turner’s strong grasp of the elements of perspective with several buildings at sharp angles to each other, demonstrating Turner’s thorough mastery of Thomas Malton’s topographical style.

Fishermen at Sea exhibited in 1796 was the first oil painting exhibited by Turner at the Royal Academy.

Modern Rome – Campo Vaccino

 Bonneville, Savoy (1803)
Dallas Museum of Art

In 1785, due to his mother showing signs of the mental disturbance for which she was admitted first to St Luke’s Hospital for Lunatics in Old Street in 1799 and then Bethlem Hospital in 1800, where she died in 1804, the young Turner was sent to stay with his maternal uncle, Joseph Mallord William Marshall, in Brentford, then a small town on the banks of the River Thames west of London.

The earliest known artistic exercise by Turner is from this period—a series of simple colorings of engraved plates from Henry Boswell’s Picturesque View of the Antiquities of England and Wales. Around 1786, Turner was sent to Margate on the north-east Kent coast. Here he produced a series of drawings of the town and surrounding area foreshadowing his later work. Turner returned to Margate many times in later life. By this time, Turner’s drawings were being exhibited in his father’s shop window and sold for a few shillings. His father boasted to the artist Thomas Stothard that: “My son, sir, is going to be a painter.”

In 1789, Turner again stayed with his uncle who had retired to Sunningwell in Berkshire (now part of Oxfordshire). A whole sketchbook of work from this time in Berkshire survives as well as a watercolor of Oxford. The use of pencil sketches on location, as the foundation for later finished paintings, formed the basis of Turner’s essential working style for his whole career.

By the end of 1789, he had begun to study under the topographical draughtsman Thomas Malton, specialized in London views. Turner learned from him the basic tricks of the trade, copying and colouring outline prints of British castles and abbeys. He would later call Malton “My real master”. Topography was a thriving industry by which a young artist could pay for his studies. In the same year of 1789 he entered the Royal Academy of Art schools, when he was 14 years old, and was accepted into the academy a year later. Sir Joshua Reynolds, president of the Royal Academy, chaired the panel that admitted him. At first Turner showed a keen interest in architecture, but was advised by the architect Thomas Hardwick to continue painting. His first watercolor painting A View of the Archbishop’s Palace, Lambeth was accepted for the Royal Academy summer exhibition of 1790 when Turner was 15.

As a probationer in the academy, he was taught drawing from plaster casts of antique sculptures. From July 1790 to October 1793, his name appears in the registry of the academy over a hundred times. In June 1792, he was admitted to the life class to learn to draw the human body from nude models. Turner exhibited watercolours each year at the academy while painting in the winter and travelling in the summer widely throughout Britain, particularly to Wales, where he produced a wide range of sketches for working up into studies and watercolours. These particularly focused on architectural work, which utilised his skills as a draughtsman. In 1793, he showed the watercolour titled The Rising Squall – Hot Wells from St Vincent’s Rock Bristol (now lost), which foreshadowed his later climatic effects.  Cunningham in his obituary of Turner wrote that it was: “recognised by the wiser few as a noble attempt at lifting landscape art out of the tame insipidities…[and] evinced for the first time that mastery of effect for which he is now justly celebrated.”

In 1796, Turner exhibited Fishermen at Sea, his first oil painting at the academy, of a nocturnal moonlit scene of the Needles off the Isle of Wight. The image of boats in peril contrasts the cold light of the moon with the firelight glow of the fishermen’s lantern. Wilton said that the image “Is a summary of all that had been said about the sea by the artists of the 18th century,” and shows strong influence by artists such as Claude Joseph Vernet, Philip James de Loutherbourg, Peter Monamy and Francis Swaine, who was admired for his moonlight marine paintings. This particular painting cannot be said to show any influence of Willem van de Velde the Younger, as not a single nocturnal scene is known by that painter. Some later work, however, was created to rival or complement the manner of the Dutch artist. The image was praised by contemporary critics and founded Turner’s reputation, as both an oil painter and a painter of maritime scenes.

Early career
Turner travelled widely in Europe, starting with France and Switzerland in 1802 and studying in the Louvre in Paris in the same year. He made many visits to Venice. On a visit to Lyme Regis, in Dorset, he painted a stormy scene (now in the Cincinnati Art Museum).

Important support for his work came from Walter Ramsden Fawkes, of Farnley Hall, near Otley in Yorkshire, who became a close friend of the artist. Turner first visited Otley in 1797, aged 22, when commissioned to paint watercolours of the area. He was so attracted to Otley and the surrounding area that he returned to it throughout his career. The stormy backdrop of Hannibal Crossing The Alps is reputed to have been inspired by a storm over the Chevin in Otley while he was staying at Farnley Hall.

In 1799, at the age of 24, Turner was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy. Henceforward, surer of himself and his public, he looked beyond mere topographical details of landscape to a larger treatment of Nature: he seized all the poetry of sunshine, and the mists of morn and eve, with the grandeur of storm and the glow of sunset.

Turner was a frequent guest of George O’Brien Wyndham, 3rd Earl of Egremont, at Petworth Housein West Sussex and painted scenes that Egremont funded taken from the grounds of the house and of the Sussex countryside, including a view of the Chichester Canal. Petworth House still displays a number of paintings.

Personal life
As Turner grew older, he became more eccentric. He had few close friends except for his father, who lived with him for 30 years and worked as his studio assistant. His father’s death in 1829 had a profound effect on him, and thereafter he was subject to bouts of depression. He never married but had a relationship with an older widow, Sarah Danby. He is believed to have been the father of her two daughters born in 1801 and 1811.

Later, he had a relationship with Sophia Caroline Booth after her second husband died, living for about 18 years as ‘Mr Booth’ in her house in Chelsea.

Like many of the day, Turner was a habitual user of snuff; in 1838 the King of France, Louis-Philippe, presented a gold snuff box to him.  Of two other snuffboxes, an agate and silver example bears Turner’s name,  and another, made of wood, was collected along with his spectacles, magnifying glass and card case by an associate housekeeper.

Death
Turner died of cholera in the house of his lover Sophia Caroline Booth in Cheyne Walk in Chelsea on 19 December 1851, and is said to have uttered the last words “The Sun is God”. At his request he was buried in St Paul’s Cathedal, where he lies next to Sir Joshua Reynolds. His last exhibition at the Royal Academy was in 1850.

Turner’s friend, architect Philip Hardwick (1792–1870), son of his tutor, Thomas Hardwick, was in charge of making the funeral arrangements and wrote to those who knew Turner to tell them at the time of his death that, “I must inform you, we have lost him.” Other executors were his cousin and chief mourner at the funeral, Henry Harpur IV (benefactor of Westminster – now Chelsea & Westminster – Hospital), Revd. Henry Scott Trimmer, George Jones RA and Charles Turner ARA.

References:
Wikipedia; The Outline of Art by Sir William Orpen;  Frisk Collection (New York):May 12, 2017 Turner Exhibition

Dover Castle from the Sea, 1822
Cologne, The Arrival of a Packet-Boat: Evening, 1826

Dear Readers,
You number over 70,000 in just over 2 years ago back in February 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 $1.00, $2.00, $5.00, or whatever amount you deem fit to sustain my work.
And thank you for being a regular reader of the Azim Mayadas Blog!

 

 

Lazy Lyadov – Mighty Musician

Anatoly Lyadov was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, on May 10, 1855 (some biographers note the actual day of birth as May 11 and transcribe his family name as Liadov) into a family of eminent Russian musicians. He was taught informally by his conductor step-father Konstantin Lyadov from 1860 to 1868, and then in 1870 entered the St. Petersburg Conservatory to study piano and violin:

 


[May 10, 1855 – August 18, 1914]

He soon gave up instrumental study to concentrate on counterpoint and fugue, although he remained a fine pianist. His natural musical talent was highly thought of by, among others, Modest Mussorgsky, and during the 1870’s he became associated with the group of Russian composers known as The Mighty Handful or more simply The Five: Mussorgsky himself, along with Mily Balakirev, César Cui, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and Alexander Borodin all of whom lived in Saint Petersburg, and collaborated with each other from 1856 to 1870.

Lyadov entered the composition classes of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, but was expelled in 1876 for failure to attend classes. In 1878 he was reinstated and graduated with high honors in composition. He was then appointed teacher of theory at the Conservatory , subsequently attaining the position of professor, which he held until the end of his life.

He was active throughout as composer, conductor, and as a scholar doing research in folk music. He was at his best in small and intimated forms such as songs, piano pieces, and adaptations of Russian folk tunes. But he also wrote a few effective orchestral fairy tales — the most famous being Baba Yaga, The Enchanted Lake and Kikimora — which are beautifully orchestrated and crafted with consummate skill. I’m particularly partial to The Enchanted Lake, which you may hear right on a YouTube version performed by the USSR Symphony Orchestra with Evgeny Svetlanov conducting.

Other orchestral works include the popular Eight Russian Folksongs, the tone poem Fragments from the Apocalypse, and an orchestral dirge Ninie. His many compositions for the piano include etudes, mazurkas, preludes, ballades, barcarolles, variations, canons and so forth. Here’s an example: his Mazurka in F# minor, Op. 11 No. 3 (on YouTube) with Olga Solovieva at the piano: It happened to be the composition that first introduced me as a teenager to Lyadov’s music, and you may follow the score as she performs. Another favorite is his Musical Snuffbox: it’s played with utmost delicacy by pianist Denis Matsuev as a surprising encore after an orchestral concerto performance by him.

Lyadov’s Immediate Family 

  • His paternal grandfather, Nicholas G. Lyadov, was a conductor of the Petersburg Philharmonic Society
  • His step-father, Konstantin Lyadov, was principal conductor of the Imperial Opera Company
  • His mother, V. Antipova, was a pianist
  • His sister Valentine K. Lyadova was a dramatic actress

Teacher
He taught at the St. Petersburg Conservatory from 1878, his pupils including Sergei Prokofiev, Nikolai Myaskovsky and Mikhail Gnesin. Consistent with his character, he was a lazy but at times brilliant instructor. Conductor Nikolai Malko, who studied harmony with him at the conservatory, wrote, “Lyadov’s critical comments were always precise, clear, understandable, constructive, and brief…. And it was done indolently, without haste, sometimes seemingly disdainfully. He could suddenly stop in mid-sentence, take out a small pair of scissors from his pocket and start doing something with his fingernails, while we all waited.”

Igor Stravinsky remarked that Lyadov was as strict with himself as he was with his pupils, writing with great precision and demanding fine attention to detail. Prokofiev recalled that even the most innocent musical innovations drove the conservative Lyadov crazy. “Shoving his hands in his pockets and rocking in his soft woolen shoes without heels, he would say, ‘I don’t understand why you are studying with me. Go to Richard Strauss. Go to Debussy.’ This was said in a tone that meant ‘Go to the devil!'” Still, Lyadov told his acquaintances about Prokofiev. “I am obliged to teach him. He must form his technique, his style—first in piano music.” In 1905 he resigned briefly over the dismissal of Rimsky-Korsakov, only to return when Rimsky-Korsakov was reinstated.

In November 1887, Lyadov met Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Nearly seven years earlier Tchaikovsky had given a negative opinion to the publisher Besel about a piano arabesque Lyadov had written. Even before this visit, though, Tchaikovsky’s opinion of Lyadov may have been changing. He had honored Lyadov with a copy of the score of his Manfred Symphony. Now that he had actually met the man face-to-face, the younger composer became “dear Lyadov.” 

In the end, one must admit that Lyadov’s published compositions are relatively few through his natural indolence and a certain self-critical lack of confidence.

Later years
He married in 1884, acquiring through his marriage a country property in Polynovka estate, where he spent his summers composing unhurriedly, and where he died ion August  28, 1914 at the comparatively young age of 59.

References:
Wikipedia; Encyclopedia of Concert Music by David Ewen.

Dear Readers,
You number over 70,000 in just over 2 years ago back in February 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 $1.00, $2.00, $5.00, or whatever amount you deem fit to sustain my work.
And thank you for being a regular reader of the Azim Mayadas Blog!

Twins Torn in Twain

Just over two years ago, the octogenarian twins Azim and Tehrim were torn in twain, when the latter sibling passed away in her Lucknow home in India, 9000 miles away and left for the Elysian fields: she was an abiding presence in the family, full of joy and good humor, and a comforting cheery voice on the phone, whenever I felt the urge to call her about the latest news of family members in Indian and around the globe.

The 9th of May was always a special day in the far-flung clan and was celebrated in South Asia, England, America, Canada and Australia. Almost every two years, my wife and I were able to make the trip to our country of origin from our home in the USA for joyful reunions and special family events. On the last such occasion three years ago it became abundantly clear that my sister might not be around for our next visit, and so it was that Nature took its inexorable course.

Nowadays, my birthday is a cause for mixed feelings, feelings of joy and sadness intertwined uneasily. How does one, I ask, come to terms with the sundering of the lifelong bonds forged between twin siblings over eight decades? It’s easy enough for even ones closest friends and family members to suggest that one moves on and remembers the good times only. That’s oh! so easy to say, so difficult to do in practice!

Dear Readers,
You number over 70,000 since February 2015, when I first began to put “some of my thoughts, written down” and posted them in the blogosphere. Of late, 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 $1.00, $2.00, $5.00, or whatever amount you deem fit to sustain my work.
And thank you for being a regular reader of the Azim Mayadas Blog!

Azim’s Birthday Recital

This half-hour piano recital is a repeat of the original one that took place on May 9, 1999 on my 66th birthday and features a Chopin selection of well-known short pieces plus works by Schumann, Dvorak, Coleridge-Taylor and my late grandmother, Rose Ziadine Akmal.

CHOPIN
Prelude in C minor
SCHUMANN
Arabesque in C major
CHOPIN
– Prelude in E minor
– Etude in A flat major
– Nocturne in B major
COLERIDGE-TAYLOR
Demande et Réponse
ROSE ZIADINE AKMAL
Waltz
DVORAK
Humoresque

Azim’s Snapshot of the

Album Cover displayed
at the Museum in Prague

Dear Readers,
You number over 70,000 since February 2015, when I first began to put “some of my thoughts, written down” and posted them in the blogosphere. Of late, 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 $1.00, $2.00, $5.00, or whatever amount you deem fit to sustain my work.
And thank you for being a regular reader of the Azim Mayadas Blog!

The Bard of Bengal

[I was first introduced to Tagore’s “Song Offerings” by my future wife, Lolita, who herself had picked up a Macmillan’s Pocket Library of the work in 1958 while pursuing in London her Associate of the Royal College of Music (ARCM) studies in piano performance. The collection of prose translations was made by the author from the original Bengali with an introduction by W. B. Yeats.]

Rabindranath Tagore, a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society (FRAS), was born 156 years ago on May 7, 1861 and died August 7, 1941. He was a polymath – known in India by his sobriquet Gurudev – who reshaped Bengali literature and music, as well as Indian art in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Author of Gitanjali and its “profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse”, he became the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913. Sometimes referred to as “the Bard of Bengal,” Tagore wrote poetic songs that were viewed as spiritual and mercurial; however, his “elegant prose and magical poetry” remain largely unknown outside Bengal, even today.

A Brahmin from Calcutta with ancestral zamindari roots in Jessore, Tagore wrote poetry as an eight-year-old. At the age of sixteen, he released his first substantial poems under the pseudonym Bhānusiṃha (“Sun Lion”), which were seized upon by literary authorities as long-lost classics. By 1877 he graduated to his first short stories and dramas, published under his real name. As a humanist, universalist internationalist, and ardent nationalist, he denounced the British Raj and advocated independence from Britain. As an exponent of the Bengal Renaissance, he advanced a vast canon that comprised paintings, sketches and doodles, hundreds of texts, and some two thousand songs; his legacy endures also in the institution he founded, Visva-Bharati University.

Tagore modernized Bengali art by spurning rigid classical forms and resisting linguistic strictures. His novels, stories, songs, dance-dramas, and essays spoke to topics political and personal. Gitanjali (Song Offerings), Gora (Fair-Faced) and Ghare-Baire (The Home and the World) are his best-known works, and his verse, short stories, and novels were acclaimed—or panned—for their lyricism, colloquialism, naturalism, and unnatural contemplation. His compositions were chosen by two nations as national anthems: India’s Jana Gana Mana and Bangladesh’s Amar Shonar Bangla. The Sri Lankan national anthem was inspired by his work.

Afterthought
What follows is an absolute gem of mine, No. 57 of the 103 song offerings:

LIGHT, my light, the world-filling light, the eye-kissing light, heart-sweetening light!
Ah, the light dances, my darling, at the centre of my life; the light strikes, my darling, the chords of my love; the sky opens, the wind runs wild, laughter passes over the earth.
The butterflies spread their sails on the sea of light. Lilies and jasmines surge up on the crest of the waves of light.
The light is shattered into gold on every cloud, my darling, and it scatters gems in profusion.
Mirth spreads from leaf to leaf, my darling, and gladness without measure. The heaven’s river has drowned its banks and the flood of joy is abroad.

References: Wikipedia; Gitanjali by Rabindranath Tagore.

Dear Readers,
You number over 70,000 in over 2 years ago back in February 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 $1.00, $2.00, $5.00, or whatever amount you deem fit to sustain my work.
And thank you for being a regular reader of the Azim Mayadas Blog!