Thursday, 3 April 2014


“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or faraway.” Henry David Thoreau

The Greek Orthodox faith celebrates Holy Nicetas the Confessor’s and Holy Joseph the Hymnographer’s Feast Day. Catholics observe Thursday of the 4th week of Lent.

Today is the anniversary of the birth of:
Philip III (“the Bold”), king of France (1245);
Henry IV (Bolingbroke), king of England (1367);
George Herbert, metaphysical poet (1593);
John Hanson, US politician (1715);
Washington Irving, writer (1783);
William Farrer, federation wheat developer (1845);
Daisy (Margaret Mary Julia) Ashford, writer (1881);
Leslie Howard (Leslie Stainer), actor (1893);
Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Italian composer (1895);
Henry (Robinson) Luce, publisher (1898);
Marlon Brando, actor (1924);
Doris Day (Doris von Kappelhoff), actress (1924);
Helmut Kohl, German statesman (1930);
Jane Goodall (Baroness Jane van Lawick-Goodall), ethologist of ape fame (1934);
Wayne Newton, singer, (1943);
Tony Orlando (Michael Anthony Orlando Cassavitis), singer (1944);
Eddie Murphy, US actor (1963).

The golden crocus, Crocus aureus, is the birthday flower for this day and it symbolises the gladness of youth. The ancient Greeks had a rather more lugubrious tale to tell. Crocus was a beautiful youth who loved Smilax, a nymph.  His love was unrequited and he pined away and died. The gods turned the hapless youth into the flower while the nymph was changed into the yew tree.

Dying on this day: In 1287, Honorius IV (James Savelli), Pope of Rome; in 1682, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, Spanish painter; in 1862, Sir James Clark Ross, English polar explorer; in 1868, Franz Adolf Berwald, Swedish composer; in 1897, Johannes Brahms, German composer; in 1901, Richard d’Oyly Carte, English impresario, supporter of Gilbert and Sullivan; in 1950; Kurt Weil, German composer, especially associated with the music to Brecht’s lyrics; in 1986, Peter Pears, English tenor; in 1990, Sarah Vaughan, US singer.

Guinea celebrates its Second Republic Day today. Guinea is bounded on the north by Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, and Mali and on the south by Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Côte d’Ivoire. The Niger River runs eastward and arises in Guinea. The population of the country is around 10 million composed of around 24 ethnic groups. The largest of these groups are the Fula, Mandinka, and Susu. The dominant religion is Islam which accounts for 85% of the population. The capital and largest city is Conakry. Endowed with rich mineral resources, Guinea holds half of the world’s known bauxite reserves, roughly around 25 billion metric tons. Bauxite and alumina are the major exports, which provide 80% of Guinea’s foreign exchange. Other resources include diamonds, gold and other metals. Agriculture is also an important sector employing around 80% of the country’s labour force.

Here is Marko Topchii playing the “Capriccio Diabolico” by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco (Op 85, “Omaggio A Paganini”).

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