Saturday 20 February 2016


“I’m not interested in having an orchestra sound like itself. I want it to sound like the composer.” - Leonard Bernstein

Georg Muffat (1 June 1653 – 23 February 1704) was a French Baroque composer. He is most well known for the remarkably articulate and informative performance directions printed along with his collections of string pieces Florilegium Primum and Florilegium Secundum (First and Second Bouquets) in 1695 and 1698.

Georg Muffat was born in Megève, Duchy of Savoy (now in France), and was of Scottish descent. He studied in Paris between 1663 and 1669, where his teacher is often assumed to have been Jean Baptiste Lully. This assumption is largely based on the statement: “For six years ... I avidly pursued this style which was flowering in Paris at the time under the most famous Jean Baptiste Lully.” This is ambiguous (in all of the languages in which it was printed) as to whether the style was flourishing under Lully, or that Muffat studied under Lully. In any case, the style which the young Muffat learned was unequivocally Lullian and it remains likely that he had at least some contact with the man himself.

After leaving Paris, he became an organist in Molsheim and Sélestat. Later, he studied law in Ingolstadt, afterwards settling in Vienna. He could not get an official appointment, so he travelled to Prague in 1677, then to Salzburg, where he worked for the archbishop for some ten years. In about 1680, he travelled to Italy, there studying the organ with Bernardo Pasquini, a follower of the tradition of Girolamo Frescobaldi; he also met Arcangelo Corelli, whose works he admired very much. From 1690 to his death, he was Kapellmeister to the bishop of Passau. Georg Muffat should not be confused with his son Gottlieb Muffat, also a successful composer.

Muffat was, as Johann Jakob Froberger before him, and Handel after him, a cosmopolitan composer who played an important role in the exchanges between European musical traditions. The information contained within the Florilegium Primum and Secundum is nearly unique. These performance directions were intended to assist German string players with the idiom of the French dance style, and include detailed rules for the tempo and order of bow strokes in various types of movement, as well as more general strategies for good ensemble playing and musicianship. These texts remain extremely valuable for modern historically-interested musicians.

Here are his 12 Concerti Grossi, played by Musica Aeterna conducted by Peter Zajíček.

Friday 19 February 2016


“Summer is a promissory note signed in June, its long days spent and gone before you know it, and due to be repaid next January.” - Hal Borland

We have a range of fresh berries in the greengrocer’s at the moment and this is the time of the year that we get to enjoy a very traditional English dessert. It’s very simple to make, but making it taste good depends so much on the good quality of all the ingredients used.

English Summer Pudding

3 tbsp maraschino liqueur
180 g caster sugar
500 g washed, mixed summer fruits as available (raspberries, strawberries, red and blackcurrants, damsons and blackberries)
180 g plain sponge cake, cut into 1 cm slices
Whipped cream, or chilled vanilla yoghurt


Stir the liqueur and sugar together and bring to a gentle boil. Add all the berries and fruits except strawberries. Stew the fruits very gently and not for too long. They should simply be softened but still retain their shape. Once they are ready put to one side (juice and all) and leave to cool.
Cut the slices of cake into triangles. They do not all have to match perfectly, but you will use these to line a 700 ml pudding basin.
Start by lining your pudding basin with cling film. Then continue by dipping a couple of cake triangles in the juices of the stewed fruits. Lay these in the bottom of the dish and then continue the same way but lining the sides of the basin with cake slices ensuring there are no gaps. Once completed, fill with the stewed fruits including the strawberries. Cover the top with more juice dipped cake slices.
Make sure to not add too much of the juices from the fruits as this may cause the cake to lose its shape. There must be enough to soak into the cake though. Place a saucer on the top of the basin and weigh down with something heavy. Place in the refrigerator and leave overnight. The next day, before serving, turn the pudding out onto a pretty serving plate and serve with either the whipped cream or chilled vanilla yoghurt.

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Thursday 18 February 2016


“The Japanese say, If the flower is to be beautiful, it must be cultivated.” - Lester Cole

Gerbera is a genus of plants in the Asteraceae (daisy) family. It was named in honour of German botanist and medical doctor Traugott Gerber (1710-1743) who travelled extensively in Russia and was a friend of Carl Linnaeus. Gerbera is native to tropical regions of South America, Africa and Asia. The first scientific description of a Gerbera was made by J.D. Hooker in Curtis’s Botanical Magazine in 1889 when he described Gerbera jamesonii, a South African species also known as Transvaal daisy or Barberton Daisy. Gerbera is also commonly known as the African Daisy.

Gerbera species bear a large capitulum with striking, two-lipped ray florets in yellow, orange, white, pink or red colours. The capitulum, which has the appearance of a single flower, is actually composed of hundreds of individual flowers. The morphology of the flowers varies depending on their position in the capitulum. The flower heads can be as small as 7 cm (Gerbera mini 'Harley') in diameter or up to 12 cm (Gerbera ‘Golden Serena’). Gerbera is very popular and widely used as a decorative garden plant or as cut flowers. The domesticated cultivars are mostly a result of a cross between Gerbera jamesonii and another South African species Gerbera viridifolia. The cross is known as Gerbera hybrida. Thousands of cultivars exist. They vary greatly in shape and size. Colours include white, yellow, orange, red, and pink. The centre of the flower is sometimes black. Often the same flower can have petals of several different colours.

Gerbera is also important commercially. It is the fifth most used cut flower in the world (after rose, carnation, chrysanthemum, and tulip). It is also used as a model organism in studying flower formation. Gerbera contains naturally occurring coumarin derivatives. Gerbera is a tender perennial plant. It is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds, but resistant to deer. Their soil should be kept moist but not soaked.

Divide up your own gerbera clumps in late Summer or Autumn outside the tropics, or all year round in northern Australia. When planting gerberas make sure that the crown (the part of the plant from which the new growth arises) is 1-2cm above the soil level. This will reduce the likelihood of disease such as rot, which affect the crown and stems.

As cut flowers gerberas are available at florist shops most of the year. If you are growing gerberas yourself, you can pick your own flowers. Pick flowers that are fully open. As cut flowers gerberas should last 10 to 14 days. Careless picking can leave behind a spot that can become infected. Instead of cutting the stem, waggle it at its base until it pulls away cleanly. To arrange the flower cut off the hairy white part on the bottom of the stem, or the flower won’t be able to absorb any water.

In the language of flowers, white gerberas indicate innocence; yellow Gerberas say “I’ll try harder” and orange gerberas say “You are my sunshine”; red gerberas signify “You are a beauty”, while a bouquet of multicoloured gerberas means “cheer up!”.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.

Wednesday 17 February 2016


“Since a politician never believes what he says, he is quite surprised to be taken at his word.” - Charles de Gaulle

This week, PoetsUnited has as its theme “Marriage”. My take on this motif is a little unconventional. Here is my offering:

A Marriage of Convenience

The wily politician, has ample words;
So many words that spout forth seductively:
A demagogue inciting followers effortlessly
To ill-advised and thoughtless actions.

He espouses home-grown values,
Homeland, family, religion all uppermost
In his diatribes, while hypocrite that he is,
Has secret vices that make even the broad-minded blush.

His actions wedded to his specious arguments,
Ostensibly show him to be the champion of freedom,
But really fan flames of hatred, bigotry, intolerance
And lead the masses to violent altercations.

He flaunts his trophy wife at every opportunity,
And uses her to gain political advantage,
To further his nefarious aspirations
And breed his dynasty, ensuring a line of succession.

A liar pledging his troth easily
To any cause that furthers his designs,
All his untruths are easily swallowed by the gullible,
Allowing him to quickly ascend the staircases of power.

The politician marries his public office
In a marriage of convenience,
And as we the people, officiate the travesty,
We give him free reign to do as he will with our lives…

The painting above is “The Orator”, by Magnus Zeller (Germany, 1888-1972), painted circa 1920.

Tuesday 16 February 2016


“Happy is he who has gained the wealth of divine thoughts, wretched is he whose beliefs about the gods are dark.” - Empedocles

Welcome to the Travel Tuesday meme! Join me every Tuesday and showcase your creativity in photography, painting and drawing, music, poetry, creative writing or a plain old natter about Travel!

There is only one simple rule: Link your own creative work about some aspect of travel and share it with the rest us! Please use this meme for your creative endeavours only.

Do not use this meme to advertise your products or services as any links or comments by advertisers will be removed immediately.
The Temple of Olympian Zeus (Greek: Ναός του Ολυμπίου Διός, Naos tou Olympiou Dios), also known as the Olympieion or Columns of the Olympian Zeus, is a colossal ruined temple in the centre of the Greek capital, Athens, that was dedicated to Zeus, king of the Olympian gods. Construction began in the 6th century BC during the rule of the Athenian tyrants, who envisaged building the greatest temple in the ancient world, but it was not completed until the reign of the Roman Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century AD some 638 years after the project had begun.

During the Roman periods it was renowned as the largest temple in Greece and housed one of the largest cult statues in the ancient world. The temple's glory was short-lived, as it fell into disuse after being pillaged in a barbarian invasion in the 3rd century AD. It was probably never repaired and was reduced to ruins thereafter. In the centuries after the fall of the Roman Empire, it was extensively quarried for building materials to supply building projects elsewhere in the city. Despite this, a substantial part of the temple remains today, and it continues to be a major tourist attraction.

Fifteen columns remain standing today and a sixteenth column lies on the ground where it fell during a storm in 1852. Nothing remains of the cella or the great statue that it once housed. The temple was excavated in 1889-1896 by Francis Penrose of the British School in Athens (who also played a leading role in the restoration of the Parthenon), in 1922 by the German archaeologist Gabriel Welter and in the 1960s by Greek archaeologists led by Ioannes Travlos.

The temple, along with the surrounding ruins of other ancient structures, is a historical precinct administered by Ephorate of Antiquities of the Greek Interior Ministry. On 21 January 2007, a group of Hellenic neopagans held a ceremony honouring Zeus on the grounds of the temple. The event was organised by "Ellinais", an organisation which won a court battle to obtain recognition for Ancient Greek religious practices in the Autumn of 2006.

This post is part of the Our World Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Wordless Wednesday meme.

Monday 15 February 2016


“There’s a lot of great movies that have won the Academy Award, and a lot of great movies that haven’t. You just do the best you can.” - Clint Eastwood

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) is an independent charity that supports, develops and promotes the art forms of the moving image – film, television and game in the United Kingdom. In addition to its annual awards ceremonies, BAFTA has an international, year-round programme of learning events and initiatives offering access to talent through workshops, masterclasses, scholarships, lectures and mentoring schemes in the UK and the USA.

BAFTA started out as the British Film Academy, was founded in 1947 by a group of directors David Lean, Alexander Korda, Roger Manvell, Laurence Olivier, Emeric Pressburger, Michael Powell, Michael Balcon, Carol Reed, and other major figures of the British film industry. David Lean was the founding Chairman of the Academy. The first Film Awards ceremony took place in May 1949 and honouring the films “The Best Years of Our Lives”, “Odd Man Out” and “The World Is Rich”.

The Guild of Television Producers and Directors was set up in 1953 with the first awards ceremony in October 1954, and in 1958 merged with the British Film Academy to form the Society of Film and Television Arts, whose inaugural meeting was held at Buckingham Palace and presided over by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. In 1976, HM The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh, The Princess Royal and The Earl Mountbatten of Burma officially opened the organisation’s headquarters at 195 Piccadilly, London, and in March the Society officially became known as the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.

BAFTA’s annual film awards ceremony is known as the British Academy Film Awards, or “the BAFTAs”, and reward the best work of any nationality seen on British cinema screens during the preceding year. In 1949 the British Film Academy, as it was then known, presented the first awards for films made in 1947 and 1948. Since 2008 the ceremony has been held at the Royal Opera House in London’s Covent Garden, having previously been held in the Odeon cinema on Leicester Square since 2000. The ceremony previously was performed during April or May of each year, but from 2002 since it has been held in February to precede the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ (AMPAS) Academy Awards, or Oscars.

In order for a film to be considered for a BAFTA nomination its first public exhibition must be displayed in a cinema and it must have a UK theatrical release for no fewer than seven days of the calendar year that corresponds to the upcoming awards. A movie must be of feature length and movies from all countries are eligible in all categories, with the exception of the Alexander Korda Award for Outstanding British Film and Outstanding Debut, which are for British films or individuals only.

The 69th BAFTAs Award Ceremony was held on 14 February 2016 at the Royal Opera House in London. The nominees were announced on 8 January 2016 by Stephen Fry and actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw, with “Bridge of Spies” and “Carol” both having the most nominations at 9 each.  The ceremony was broadcast on BBC One with a two hour delay. The ceremony was watched by 4.5 million people, down from 4.9 million viewers in 2015 and the lowest television audience since 2010.

Despite leading the field in nominations with nine each, “Carol” failed to gain any awards and “Bridge of Spies” won only one; Mark Rylance for Best Supporting Actor. The American film “The Revenant” won the most awards at the event, winning five including Best Film. Director Alejandro G. Iñárritu won the award for Best Director, Emmanuel Lubezki for Best Cinematography and Leonardo di Caprio won the award for Best Actor. Di Caprio's win was his first from four nominations. Lubezki's win was his third consecutive BAFTA, and fourth in total, having previously won awards for “Children of Men”, “Gravity” and “Birdman”. Other winners in the acting categories included Brie Larson, who won Best Actress for her role in “Room”, and Kate Winslet, who won Best Supporting Actress for her role in “Steve Jobs”. Winslet’s win was her third BAFTA. “Mad Max: Fury Road” won four BAFTAs in the editing, production design, costume design and makeup and hair categories. Sidney Poitier was awarded the Academy Fellowship for his contribution to cinema.

Many people regard the BAFTAs as the event to watch in order to predict possible winners for the Oscars, and although there are often concordances, in many other cases the awards are quite disparate. The full list of BAFTA Awards can be found on their website (

Sunday 14 February 2016


“The streets of Prague were a fantasia scarcely touched by the twenty-first century – or the twentieth or nineteenth, for that matter. It was a city of alchemists and dreamers, its medieval cobbles once trod by golems, mystics, invading armies. Tall houses glowed goldenrod and carmine and eggshell blue, embellished with Rococo plasterwork and capped in roofs of uniform red. Baroque cupolas were the soft green of antique copper, and Gothic steeples stood ready to impale fallen angels.” - Laini Taylor

Ludvík Kuba (April 16, 1863 in Poděbrady, Bohemia – November 30, 1956 in Prague) was a Czech landscape painter, musician, writer, and a professor in the Academy of Fine Arts. He was a representative of late Impressionism, but was also very interested in folk culture of the Balkans, collecting folksongs, folk tales, customs and cultural heritage.

Kuba was the second of eleven children of Ludvík Luba Sr, a locksmith, and his wife Anna, née Mikšovský. Ever since his youth the young Ludvík showed artistic leanings and of his siblings, only his brother Charles shared this, later becoming a blacksmith specialising in decorative ironwork. Apart from drawing Kuba had talent in music, gradually learning to play the violin, piano, organ and other musical instruments. From 1873 he attended primary school in Podebrady.

In the years 1877 - 1879 he studied at the Prague Organ School at Francis Zdenek Skuherského. He then undertook further studies at the pedagogical institute in Kutna Hora, the director of which at that time was Gustav Adolf Lindner. There, he often painted parts of the historic city and its surroundings. At the same time he began to study Slavic languages and was interested in ethnographic study. After graduating in 1883 he worked for two years as an assistant teacher and also intensively worked on the first volume of the collection “Slavonic Peoples in their Songs”, which came out in 1884. In the same year he decided to leave his teaching career and pursue a profession as an ethnographer and writer. He undertook frequent study trips to Lausitz, Halič, Ukraine and Russia. Most often, however, he visited the Balkans, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

From 1888 he decided to continue his painting education, and at Karl Liebscher’s recommendation, he enrolled in 1891 in the Prague Academy of Painting. In 1893 he went to Paris, where he studied painting at the private Académie Julian. This trip was important to as it was there he met his compatriot Olga Joujovou, who in 1895 became his wife. Soon after the wedding, the couple went to Mostar where Kuba wanted to paint a cycle of Slav traditional life. But this failed to be completed because it seemed to him that he was not sufficiently in control of the technique of oil painting.

He decided to study painting further, this time in Munich, with Slovenian painter Anton Ažbeho. Kuba lived in Vienna between 1904 and 1910, and then, before returning to his homeland, he undertook a three-month trip to Italy, where he visited major art centres, Venice, Florence, Rome and Naples. From 1911 he settled in Prague. After some disagreements with the Artistic Association Mánes he mainly focused on ethnographic activities, for which he received over the years a number of awards at home and abroad. He undertook a study tour and worked on compiling collections of Slavic Folksong.

In 1921 he traveled regularly with his family to Březnice Pribram, where the parents of his wife had their house. Here he painted genre pictures of the town and surrounding area. From there he also went on trips to paint landscapes in South Bohemia.  In 1937 he participated as a member of an official delegation in an exhibition of Czechoslovak art in Moscow.

During his long life he painted prolifically and almost until the end of his life organised exhibitions of his paintings. He collected over 4,000 folk songs and published widely on ethnographic and folk musical matters. He died in Prague on 30 November 1956 at the age of 93 years. The urn with his ashes was in possession of his only son, Louis Maria Cuba until 1992, when it was deposited in the Urn Grove in Kluk (Poděbrady).

The painting above is “Square in Pardubice”, painted in 1911. This was when the artist had come back to Prague after his further studies in Vienna and this is a confident, freely executed work, capturing the vivid sunlight and bold triangular shadowy area on the left, which nevertheless highlights the warmly glowing ornate building façades.