Tuesday, 18 August 2015


“Nothing endures but change.” - Heraclitus

Today is the anniversary of the birthday of:
Virginia Dare, first American-born child of English parents (1587);
Brook Taylor, mathematician (1685);
Antonio Salieri, Italian composer (1750);
Meriwether Lewis, American explorer (1774);
Fabian Gottlieb von Bellinghausen, Antarctica circumnavigator (1778);
John Russell, British Prime Minister (1792);
Max Factor, cosmetics empire builder (1904);
Shelley Winters (Shirley Schrift), actress (1922);
Rosalynn Smith, former American first lady (1927);
Roman Polanski, director (1933);
Robert Redford, US actor (1937);
Martin Mull, actor (1943);
Patrick Swayze, actor (1952);

Died on this day: In 1276, Adrian V (Ottobuono Fieschi), Pope of Rome; in 1503, Alexander VI (Rodrigo Borgia), Pope of Rome; in 1559, Paul IV (Giampietro Caraffa), Pope of Rome.

Vinca major, the blue periwinkle is the birthday flower for today. It symbolises early friendship. Astrologically, the plant is ruled by Venus.

Harvest is well under way now in the Northern Hemisphere, and harvesters in England were revived by drinking “shot” or harvest drink.

SHOT (Harvest Drink)
1/2       pound (≈ 227 g) oatmeal
1          gallon (≈ 3.8 L) of water
1          pound (≈ 454 g) sugar
2          tablespoonfuls honey
1          orange, juice and peel
2          lemons, juice and peel

Take a quart of the water (≈ 1 L) and add to it the oatmeal, the sugar, the honey, the juice of the orange and lemon, their peel cut finely. Boil together for ten minutes. Add the rest of the water stirring well and cool well. Strain and serve with ice, decorating with mint sprigs and slices of lemon and orange.

Antonio Salieri (1750-1825) was Mozart’s contemporary and during their lifetimes, infinitely more popular and more successful. His music nowadays sounds curiously simplistic and devoid of expression of feeling, although technically competent and satisfying in form. He appreciated Mozart’s genius and may have even helped the younger composer. But was he also envious of him? Did he, as one playwright would have us believe, have a hand in Mozart’s untimely death? Who knows for certain?

He wrote over 40 operas, none of which have been revived and his instrumental output although smaller is the only part of his oeuvre that is nowadays available. Some of his works that are entertaining and possibly an illustration of “classical muzak” are his concerti: Concerto for Fortepiano and Orchestra (1773) and Concerto for Flute, Oboe and Orchestra (1774). They are rather light and have no pretensions of being deep and emotionally challenging…

Here is Antonio Salieri's "Concerto for Violin, Oboe, Violoncello & Orchestra in D major", which I am rather partial to.
I. Allegro moderato 00:00
II. Cantabile 09:26
III. Andantino 17:19
Heinz Holliger, oboe; Camerata Bern; Thomas Füri, conductor and violin

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