Saturday 16 April 2016


“Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact.” - William James

Annibale Padovano (1527 – March 15, 1575) was an Italian composer and organist of the late Renaissance Venetian School. He was one of the earliest developers of the keyboard toccata. Padovano was born in Padua (hence his surname) but little is known about his early life. He first appears at St. Mark’s in Venice on November 30, 1552, when he was hired as first organist at an annual salary of 40 ducats. He stayed at this post until 1565.

St. Mark’s at this time also began to employ a second organist (it was Claudio Merulo for the last eight years of Padovano’s tenure), which allowed two simultaneous, spatially separated organs to perform in the huge space of the cathedral: This was a key development in music of the Venetian school, which was already using spatially separated choirs of voices. Merulo took over the job of first organist when Padovano left.

In 1566, Padovano left Venice to go to the Habsburg court in Graz. Many Venetian musicians left their native area to seek their fortunes in Habsburg domains, which generally remained friendly to Venice. Padovano became the director of music at Graz in 1570, and died there five years later.

Although Padovano published a book of motets, a book of masses, and two books of madrigals, he is mainly remembered for his instrumental music. He was a notable early composer of ricercars, a predecessor of the fugue; many of the themes he used derived from plainchant, but he included considerable ornamentation in the melodic lines. In addition he often broke the theme up for motivic development in a surprisingly “modern” way, anticipating the developmental techniques of the common practice period.

Probably his most famous compositions are his toccatas, which were perhaps the earliest examples of the toccata in its more modern sense as an improvisatory, highly ornamented piece. Usually he included imitative interpolations between improvisatory sections, and also meter changes from duple to triple, anticipating later music of the Venetian school.

While in Bavaria he wrote an enormous Mass for 24 Voices, which makes use of three choirs of eight voices each. This composition was likely performed for the wedding of Duke Wilhelm V of Bavaria to Renata of Lorraine. This piece has been recorded by the Huelgas Ensemble, led by Paul Van Nevel. Here is this mass:

Friday 15 April 2016


“Chocolate’s okay, but I prefer a really intense fruit taste. You know when a peach is absolutely perfect... it's sublime. I'd like to capture that and then use it in a dessert.” - Kathy Mattea

When the mellow, warm, fine and sunny weather of Autumn comes it makes you think that Summer has come back just to say goodbye. You shed a few clothes that were made necessary by the low temperatures of just a couple days ago, sip on an iced tea and hanker for a Summer dessert. Too bad if ripe fresh peaches are out season, thankfully there are those you’ve preserved yourself or those that come in a can. In any case, the summery dessert is made, ready to be served on an early Autumn evening…

Upside Down Peach Tart
(Tarte aux Pêches)
350 g puff pastry (we use the frozen variety from the supermarket)
70 g unsalted butter
140 g caster sugar
1 cassia stick
4 perfectly ripe peaches, halved, stoned and each cut into 8 segments
(or use drained, canned peach segments)

Roll out the puff pastry until 3 mm-thick. Using a 27 cm skillet or heavy oven-proof frying pan as a guide, cut out a 27 cm circle of pastry and place on a baking paper lined tray and refrigerate until needed. Preheat the oven to 200ºC.
Place the butter in the skillet with the sugar and cassia stick and cook over medium heat, shaking the pan occasionally, until the sugar melts and the syrup starts to become lightly golden. Carefully remove the cassia stick.
Arrange a neat layer of peach segments on top of the syrup in the skillet - they can overlap each other but must cover the base of the pan. Cook the peaches over low heat for 5 minutes without moving them, then remove the pan from the heat. 
Remove the pastry circle from the refrigerator and carefully place it on top of the peaches, using the back of a spoon to ease the edges of the pastry down between the peaches and the pan as if tucking in a blanket. Bake for 15 minutes or until the pastry is golden and you can see juices bubbling around the outside.  Remove from the oven and stand for 10 minutes before carefully inverting the tart onto a serving plate.
Garnish with clotted cream or French vanilla ice cream.

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Thursday 14 April 2016


“Home is where the heart is.” - Pliny the Elder

This week, PoetsUnited has its theme the concept of “Home”.

Over 100,000 Australians will be homeless tonight Half of them are under 24 years old and 10,000 are children. That 1 in 40 children under five use a homeless service each year is quite astounding for a first world country like Australia. The largest single cause of homelessness in Australia is domestic and family violence, which overwhelmingly affects women and children. Most preventable homelessness is caused when people exit from institutions into unstable housing situations. The waiting list for public housing is 16 years, while for people at extreme risk the waiting time is 12 – 18 months.

I often think how lucky I am not to have experienced this tragic state of affairs first hand. Having a home to go to every night and to be able to enjoy the creature comforts that we all take for granted is quite an immense gift. When the weather is bad, when the wind howls, the rain pelts down, when the cold reaches zero degrees, which of us safe in our warm homes thinks of those without a home to go to?

Please help by donating what you can so that some relief can be provided to the homeless.

Here is my poem of gratitude for having a home to come to every night and even more gratitude that it is a place that is full of love…

Happy at Home

The simple joy of winter sunshine,
Drying the rain-soaked earth.
The warmth of freshly-laundered clothes,
The dryness of shoes without holes in their soles.

The knowledge that a light will be on at home
When I return there after work.
A greeting, a kiss, the smile when I get back,
And the glow of being loved and loving in return.

The satisfaction of knowing that a sprain
Is the extent of my ill-health.
The smell of a simple tasty meal on my table,
Its appetising sauce the fact that it was cooked with love.

That I turn on the tap and have running water,
That I have warmth in my home in winter.
The knowledge that when I listen to the news
All bad news will be from far away.

The simple contentment of the ripe oranges
Hanging golden on the tree in my winter garden.
The fresh flowers in the vase,
The music that I can play when I want to.

My job, my friends, my colleagues, my associates,
All of my life, so gratefully being lived.
The tears that might flow now and then,
Being tears of joy, compassion, sympathy, not of sadness…

Tuesday 12 April 2016


“A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.” - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

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 of 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.

An exceptionally large and elaborate Gothic cathedral on the main square of Milan, the Duomo di Milano is one of the most famous buildings in Europe. It is the largest Gothic cathedral and the second largest Catholic cathedral in the world (Seville Cathedral is the largest).

The street plan of Milan, with streets either radiating from the Duomo or circling it, indicates that the Duomo occupied the most important site in the ancient Roman city of Mediolanum. Saint Ambrose built a new basilica on this site at the beginning of the 5th century, with an adjoining basilica added in 836. When fire damaged both buildings in 1075, they were rebuilt as the Duomo.

In 1386 the archbishop, Antonio da Saluzzo, began the new project in a rayonnant Late Gothic style that is more characteristic of France than Italy. Work proceeded for generations. The main spire was topped in 1762 with a polychrome statue of the Madonna, to whom the Duomo and its predecessor have always been dedicated. Even now, some uncarved blocks remain to be turned into sculpture. Gothic construction on the rest of the Duomo was largely complete in the 1880s. The Duomo was recently under major renovations and cleaning for several years, obscuring the west front with scaffolding. Works were finally completed in 2009, revealing the newly-cleaned façade in all its glory.

Milan Cathedral is 157 meters long and 40,000 people can fit comfortably within. The Duomo of Milan blurs the distinction between Gothic and neo-Gothic, for the Gothic west front was begun in 1616 and completed 200 years later. Only in its details does it reveal its Baroque and Neo-Classical date. From 1900 some of the less Gothic details of the facade were replaced in a true Gothic style, to designs of Giuseppe Brentano.

The roofline dissolves into openwork pinnacles that are punctuated by a grove of spires, topped with statues that overlook the city. The main spire is 109 meters high. These can all be investigated up close on a breathtaking walk on the roof. The huge building is made of brick faced with marble from the quarries that Gian Galeazzo Visconti donated in perpetuity to the cathedral chapter. The cathedral's five wide naves are reflected in the hierarchic openings of the facade. Even the transepts have aisles. The great windows of the choir are reputed to be the largest in the world.

This post is part of the Our World Tuesday meme,

and also part of the Wordless Wednesday meme.

Add your own travel posts using the Linky tool below, and don't forget to be nice and leave a comment and link back to this post from your own post!

Sunday 10 April 2016


“It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.” - Pablo Picasso

Raphael (Italian in full, Raffaello Sanzio or Raffaello Santi; born April 6, 1483, Urbino, Duchy of Urbino, Italy – died April 6, 1520, Rome, Papal States Italy), master painter and architect of the Italian High Renaissance. Raphael is best known for his Madonnas and for his large figure compositions in the Vatican. His work is admired for its clarity of form and ease of composition and for its visual achievement of the Neoplatonic ideal of human grandeur. Early years at Urbino Raphael was the son of Giovanni Santi and Magia di Battista Ciarla; his mother died in 1491.

Italian Renaissance painter and architect Raphael was born Raffaello Sanzio on April 6, 1483, in Urbino, Italy. At the time, Urbino was a cultural centre that encouraged the Arts. Raphael’s father, Giovanni Santi, was a painter for the Duke of Urbino, Federigo da Montefeltro. Giovanni taught the young Raphael basic painting techniques and exposed him to the principles of humanistic philosophy at the Duke of Urbino’s court. In 1494, when Raphael was just 11 years old, Giovanni died. Raphael then took over the daunting task of managing his father’s workshop. His success in this role quickly surpassed his father’s; Raphael was soon considered one of the finest painters in town. As a teen, he was even commissioned to paint for the Church of San Nicola in the neighbouring town of Castello.

In 1500 a master painter named Pietro Vannunci, otherwise known as Perugino, invited Raphael to become his apprentice in Perugia, in the Umbria region of central Italy. In Perugia, Perugino was working on frescoes at the Collegio del Cambia. The apprenticeship lasted four years and provided Raphael with the opportunity to gain both knowledge and hands-on experience. During this period, Raphael developed his own unique painting style, as exhibited in the religious works the Mond "Crucifixion" (circa 1502), "The Three Graces" (circa 1503), "The Knight’s Dream" (1504) and the "Oddi altarpiece, Marriage of the Virgin", completed in 1504.

In 1504, Raphael left his apprenticeship with Perugino and moved to Florence, where he was heavily influenced by the works of the Italian painters Fra Bartolommeo, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Masaccio. To Raphael, these innovative artists had achieved a whole new level of depth in their composition. By closely studying the details of their work, Raphael managed to develop an even more intricate and expressive personal style than was evident in his earlier paintings. From 1504 through 1507, Raphael produced a series of "Madonnas," which extrapolated on Leonardo da Vinci's works. Raphael's experimentation with this theme culminated in 1507 with his painting, La belle jardinière. That same year, Raphael created his most ambitious work in Florence, the Entombment, which was evocative of the ideas that Michelangelo had recently expressed in his Battle of Cascina.

Raphael moved to Rome in 1508 to paint in the Vatican “Stanze” (Room), under Pope Julius II’s patronage. From 1509 to 1511, Raphael toiled over what was to become one of the Italian High Renaissance’s most highly regarded fresco cycles, those located in the Vatican's Stanza della Segnatura (“Room of the Signatura”). The Stanza della Segnatura series of frescos include The Triumph of Religion and The School of Athens. In the fresco cycle, Raphael expressed the humanistic philosophy that he had learned in the Urbino court as a boy. In the years to come, Raphael painted an additional fresco cycle for the Vatican, located in the Stanza d'Eliodoro (“Room of Heliodorus”), featuring The Expulsion of Heliodorus, The Miracle of Bolsena, The Repulse of Attila from Rome and The Liberation of Saint Peter. During this same time, the ambitious painter produced a successful series of “Madonna” paintings in his own art studio. The famed Madonna of the Chair and Sistine Madonna were among them.

By 1514, Raphael had achieved fame for his work at the Vatican and was able to hire a crew of assistants to help him finish painting frescoes in the Stanza dell’Incendio, freeing him up to focus on other projects. While Raphael continued to accept commissions -- including portraits of popes Julius II and Leo X -- and his largest painting on canvas, The Transfiguration (commissioned in 1517), he had by this time begun to work on architecture. After architect Donato Bramante died in 1514, the pope hired Raphael as his chief architect. Under this appointment, Raphael created the design for a chapel in Sant’ Eligio degli Orefici. He also designed Rome’s Santa Maria del Popolo Chapel and an area within Saint Peter’s new basilica. Raphael’s architectural work was not limited to religious buildings. It also extended to designing palaces. Raphael’s architecture honoured the classical sensibilities of his predecessor, Donato Bramante, and incorporated his use of ornamental details. Such details would come to define the architectural style of the late Renaissance and early Baroque periods.

On April 6, 1520, Raphael’s 37th birthday, he died suddenly and unexpectedly of mysterious causes in Rome, Italy. He had been working on his largest painting on canvas, The Transfiguration (commissioned in 1517), at the time of his death. When his funeral mass was held at the Vatican, Raphael's unfinished Transfiguration was placed on his coffin stand. Raphael’s body was interred at the Pantheon in Rome, Italy. Following his death, Raphael's movement toward Mannerism influenced painting styles in Italy’s advancing Baroque period. Celebrated for the balanced and harmonious compositions of his "Madonnas," portraits, frescoes and architecture, Raphael continues to be widely regarded as the leading artistic figure of Italian High Renaissance classicism.

The painting above is the “Parnassus” a fresco painting in the Raphael Rooms (Stanze di Raffaello), in the Palace of the Vatican in Rome, painted at the commission of Pope Julius II. It was probably the second wall of the Stanza della segnatura to be painted, in about 1511, after “La disputa” and before “The School of Athens”, which occupy other walls of the room. The whole room shows the four areas of human knowledge: philosophy, religion, poetry and law, with The Parnassus representing poetry.

The fresco shows the mythological Mount Parnassus where Apollo dwells; he is in the centre playing an instrument (a contemporary lira da braccio rather than a classical lyre), surrounded by the nine muses, nine poets from antiquity, and nine contemporary poets. Apollo, along with Calliope, the muse of epic poetry, inspired poets. Raphael used the face of Laocoön from the classical sculpture “Laocoön and His Sons”, excavated in 1506 and also in the Vatican for his Homer (in dark blue robe to the left of centre), expressing blindness rather than pain.

Two of the female figures in the fresco have been said to be reminiscent of Michaelangelo's Creation of Adam, Euterpe and Sappho, who is named on a scroll she holds. Sappho is the only female poet shown, presumably identified so that she is not confused with a muse; she is a late addition who does not appear in the print by Marcantonio Raimondi that records a drawing for the fresco. The window below the fresco Parnassus frames the view of Mons Vaticanus, believed to be sacred to Apollo. Humanists, such as Biondo, Vegio, and Albertini, refer to the ancient-sun god of the Vatican.