Wednesday, 23 January 2013


“The more one pleases everybody, the less one pleases profoundly.” - Stendhal

Today is the anniversary of the birth of:
John Hancock
, American patriot (1737);
Muzio Clementi
, Italian composer (1752);
Marie Henri Beyle (Stendhal)
, writer (1783);
Édouard Manet
, French artist (1832);
Humphrey Bogart
, actor (1899);
Hideki Yukawa
, Japanese physicist (1907);
Django Reinhardt
, Belgian Gypsy jazz guitarist (1910);
Bob Paisley
, footballer/trainer (1919);
Jeanne Moreau
, French actress (1928);
John C. Polanyi
, Canadian chemist (1929);
Bill (William Elphinstone) Gibb
, fashion designer (1943);
Princess Caroline of Monaco
The black nightshade, Solanum nigrum, is the birthday flower for this day.  The plant symbolises sorcery and witchcraft, scepticism, obscurity and death. The language of flowers ascribes the meaning “your thoughts are dark” to the black nightshade.  The berries of the plant are most poisonous when green and their black colour when ripe is the nigrum reference of the specific name. The young shoots of the plant may be boiled with other wild greens (especially Amaranthus blitum), potatoes and zucchini, and eaten as a vegetable dish, dressed with a simple vinaigrette sauce.  Astrologically, the black nightshade is under the dominion of Saturn.

Muzio Clementi (1752–1832) was an Italian composer, pianist, and conductor. His more than 100 piano sonatas set the definitive form for this genre of music, and he had a great influence on all aspects of piano music. He is remembered for his series of études, Gradus ad Parnassum (1817). He lived most of his life in England and did much to advance English music. He longed to write powerful symphonies and attempted to emulate Beethoven’s style. Latest editions of his works include four reconstructed symphonies, but these are minor works compared to those of his idol.

Many artists died on this day: Gustave Doré, the French illustrator in 1883; Edvard Munch, the Norwegian painter and lithographer (of The Scream fame) in 1944; Pierre Bonnard, the French painter in 1947; (Felipe Jacinto) Salvador Dalí (y Pubol), the most famous of the surrealist painters in 1989. The American composer, Samuel Barber, died in 1981 on this day.

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