Saturday 12 November 2016


“If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.” ― Albert Einstein

Johann David Heinichen (17 April 1683 – 16 July 1729) was a German Baroque composer and music theorist who brought the musical genius of Venice to the court of Augustus the Strong in Dresden. Heinichen’s music lingered in obscurity for a long time, but fortunately it is now being rediscovered and played again.

Johann David Heinichen was born in the small village of Crössuln, near Weissenfels. His father, Michael Heinichen, had studied music at the celebrated Thomasschule Leipzig associated with the Thomaskirche, served as cantor in Pegau and was pastor of the village church in Crössuln. Johann David also attended the Thomasschule Leipzig. There he studied music with Johann Schelle and later received organ and harpsichord lessons with Johann Kuhnau. The future composer Christoph Graupner was also a student of Kuhnau at the time.

Heinichen enrolled in 1702 to study law at the University of Leipzig and in 1705-1706 qualified as a lawyer (in the early 18th century the law was a favoured route for composers; Kuhnau, Graupner and Georg Philipp Telemann were also lawyers). Heinichen practiced law in Weissenfels until 1709. However, Heinichen maintained his interest in music and was concurrently composing operas. In 1710, he published the first edition of his major treatise on the thoroughbass.

He went to Italy and spent seven formative years there, mostly in Venice, with great success with its operas. In 1712, he taught music to Leopold, Prince of Anhalt-Köthen, who took him as composer. The same prince would appoint Johann Sebastian Bach Kapellmeister at the end of 1717. In 1716, Heinichen met in Venice the Prince Elector of Saxony, and was appointed Kapellmeister to the Elector of Saxony in Dresden. His pupils included Johann Georg Pisendel.

In 1721, Heinichen married in Weissenfels; the birth of his only child is recorded as January 1723. In his final years Heinichen’s health suffered greatly; on the afternoon of 16 July 1729, he was buried in the Johannes cemetery after finally succumbing to tuberculosis. His music is enjoying a resurgence of popularity, with some of his concerti, masses and his final work, a Magnificat, now receiving some attention in the recording world.

Here are his Dresden Concerti with Reinhard Goebel and Musica Antiqua Köln.

Friday 11 November 2016


“Nostalgia is a seductive liar.” - George Ball

I remember when I was in High School, I’d visit a friend of mine at his house and his mother would serve up some “Monaco Biscuits”, which she baked herself. These were the homemade version of the good old Monte Carlo variety that were available in the supermarket. I must admit that after eating the homemade variety, those shop-bought ones just didn’t cut the mustard. Recently I found this recipe and I must admit they turned out quite well!

Monaco Biscuits
Ingredients - Biscuits
180g softened unsalted butter,
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
2 tbsp. honey
1 and 1/4 cups self raising flour, sifted
3/4 cup plain flour, sifted
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
Raspberry jam
80g softened unsalted butter
1 and 1/4 cups icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp. milk

Preheat the oven to 175˚C.
Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg and honey. Beat well until combined.
Add dry ingredients to the mixture, and stir to combine.
Roll a teaspoon of the mixture into a ball. Press your thumb into the middle of it and place onto a lined baking tray. Using a fork, gently texture the surface. Repeat this procedure with the rest of the mixture until all of the biscuits are shaped and ready to bake.
Place the biscuits into the oven and bake for 10 minutes, or until golden brown.
Meanwhile, make the filling. In a stand up mixer, whip the butter and icing sugar until they are light and fluffy. Add the milk and set aside.
Remove the biscuits from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
When biscuits are cool, spread a teaspoon of jam in the middle of the flat side of one of the biscuits. Using another biscuit, place a teaspoon of buttercream icing in the middle of the flat surface. Gently sandwich the biscuits halves together. Repeat the process until all of the biscuits have been filled. You may dust with icing sugar if you wish.

Thursday 10 November 2016


“What a cruel thing war is... to fill our hearts with hatred instead of love for our neighbors.” - Robert E. Lee

Tomorrow is Remembrance Day here in Australia. This is because the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month marks the signing of the Armistice, on 11th November 1918, which signalled the end of World War One. At 11 a.m. on 11th November 1918, the guns of the Western Front fell silent after more than four years of continuous warfare. Initially, when WWI ended, the day was known as Armistice Day but was renamed Remembrance Day after WWII. In the USA the day is known as Veterans’ Day.

Each year Australians observe one minute’s silence at 11 a.m. on 11th November, in memory of all those men and women who have died or suffered in all wars, conflicts and peace operations. This is a simple yet very effective way of remembering the massive loss of life and immense suffering that humankind has been subjected to in all of the various armed conflicts that have blotted recorded history. In Australia, Remembrance Day ceremonies are held in almost every city and town across Australia. All major cities have a Shrine of Remembrance and every town has a monument honouring the fallen Anzacs.

Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance and the Australian War Memorial in Canberra hold formal ceremonies that are very well organised and well-attended. This year, ceremonies will be very significant for the families of Australian soldiers recently killed in Afghanistan. The National Remembrance Day Ceremony includes a formal wreath-laying and will be attended by many high level dignitaries and diplomats. Australian’s Federation Guard and the Band of the Royal Military College will be on parade. Members of the public are of course also invited to join the National Remembrance Day Ceremony at the Australian War Memorial.

Lest We forget...

Wednesday 9 November 2016


“Many are stubborn in pursuit of the path they have chosen, few in pursuit of the goal.” - FriedrichNietzsche

In the Midweek Motif this week, Poets United has the theme of “Path”. Contributors are requested to produce a poem that explores this theme.
Here is my poem:

The Path

We make our own path in life as we walk it,
And it will lead us where our heart desires;
Once the first step is taken, the die is cast
And we walk on until our lamp expires.

We trudge through desert and through jungle,
Our goal forever shining far ahead;
It takes all of our courage, strength, tenacity
To onward march, and firmly tread.

The risks are many, dangers lurk,
So many easier roads lead from our goal away.
With purpose and determination we choose
The rocky, winding path on which we stay.

Many we’ll meet who try to tempt us
With easy words, fool’s gold and false rewards;
Our goal obscured, the forest dark,
The night long, and yet we march towards
What in our heart we know is right and true.

We make our own path in life as we walk it,
And what we hope is that at its end
We find kindred spirits, sister souls, our meed;
For in that blessed place, eternity we’ll spend
And revel in a world all bright and new.

Tuesday 8 November 2016


“East is East, and West is San Francisco, according to Californians. Californians are a race of people; they are not merely inhabitants of a State.” - O. Henry

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.
San Francisco, officially the City and County of San Francisco, is the cultural, commercial, and financial centre of Northern California and the only consolidated city-county in California. San Francisco is about 121 km2 in area. It is located on the north end of the San Francisco Peninsula. It is the smallest county in the state. It has a density of about 7,124 people per km2, making it the most densely settled large city (population greater than 200,000) in the state of California and the second-most densely populated major city in the United States after New York City. San Francisco is the fourth-most populous city in California, after Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Jose, and the 13th-most populous city in the United States (with a Census-estimated 2015 population of 864,816).

The city and its surrounding areas are known as the San Francisco Bay Area, and are a part of the larger OMB-designated San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland combined statistical area, the fifth most populous in the nation with an estimated population of 8.7 million. San Francisco (Spanish for Saint Francis) was founded on June 29, 1776, when colonists from Spain established Presidio of San Francisco at the Golden Gate and Mission San Francisco de Asís named for St. Francis of Assisi a few miles away.

The California Gold Rush of 1849 brought rapid growth, making it the largest city on the West Coast at the time. San Francisco became a consolidated city-county in 1856. After three-quarters of the city was destroyed by the 1906 earthquake and fire, San Francisco was quickly rebuilt, hosting the Panama-Pacific International Exposition nine years later. In World War II, San Francisco was the port of embarkation for service members shipping out to the Pacific Theatre. After the war, the confluence of returning servicemen, massive immigration, liberalising attitudes, along with the rise of the “hippie” counterculture, the Sexual Revolution, the Peace Movement growing from opposition to United States involvement in the Vietnam War, and other factors led to the Summer of Love and the gay rights movement, cementing San Francisco as a centre of liberal activism in the United States.

Politically, the city votes strongly along liberal Democratic Party lines. A popular tourist destination, San Francisco is known for its cool summers, fog, steep rolling hills, eclectic mix of architecture, and landmarks, including the Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars, the former Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, Fisherman’s Wharf, and its Chinatown district. San Francisco is also the headquarters of five major banking institutions and various other companies such as Levi Strauss & Co., Gap Inc.,, Dropbox, Reddit, Square, Inc., Dolby, Airbnb, Weebly, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Yelp, Pinterest, Twitter, Uber, Lyft, Mozilla, Wikimedia Foundation, and Craigslist.

It has several nicknames, including “The City by the Bay”, “Fog City”, “San Fran”, and “Frisco”, as well as older ones like “The City that Knows How”, “Baghdad by the Bay”, “The Paris of the West”, or simply “The City”. As of 2015, San Francisco was ranked high on world livability rankings.

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 here, and link back to this page from your own post:

Monday 7 November 2016


“Ah, clear they see and true they say, That one shall weep, and one shall stray”― Dorothy Parker

You’ve heard of spaghetti westerns, right? Sergio Leone's 1964 “A Fistful of Dollars” starring Clint Eastwood is a classic example. They certainly put a new twist to the USA genre. But what about a “Fish-and-Chip” western? What is that you may ask? Well, it’s a western produced in UK… We watched it last weekend.

It is the 2015 John Maclean movie “Slow West” starring Kodi Smit-McPhee, Michael Fassbender, Caren Pistorius and Ben Mendelsohn. John Maclean is a Scott who studied BA drawing and painting at Edinburgh college of Art and MA at The Royal College of art in London. After graduating, he formed The Beta Band with friends, 1997 to 2004 and The Aliens 2005 to 2008. John made many of the band’s music videos. In 2009 John made “Man on a Motorcycle”, a short film starring Michael Fassbender, filmed on a mobile phone, then “Pitch Black Heist” in 2011, which won the best short film BAFTA. “Slow West: is Maclean’s first feature film.

The plot centres on young Scotsman, Jay Cavendish (Kodi Smit-McPhee), who leaves the lochs and glens of his country to find Rose (Caren Pistorius), his long-lost love who is now in the Wild West of America. A desperado, Silas Selleck (Michael Fassbender), decides to accompany Cavendish on his journey for a price… Cavendish hands over “protection money” for the journey, but the naïve youngster is unaware that Silas may also be wanting to cash in on a bounty that hangs over Rose’s head (something that Jay is unaware of).

The American West serves as an allegory of love and death and the journey that the two main characters undertake has a soul-searching depth that may be found in some road movies (only here they are on horseback!). The film was shot in New Zealand and Maclean certainly convinces us that we are looking at the American West (and Scotland as well, in a few flashback scenes). The cinematography is wonderful and the colours alternating between muted and hazy to crisp and vivid, as if the film switches between nightmare and beautiful dream.

The film is romantic and violent, hellish and paradisiacal, idealistic and cruelly realistic all at once. But there is also humour and light-heartedness in this film as well as tragedy. The intensity and purity of young, first love is contrasted with the wicked ways of the world, while the young and innocent Jay is quickly corrupted by circumstances and his interactions with tough man Silas. Yet, while Jay hardens on the outside and maintains his idealistic love internally, Silas sheds his toughness and softens by the end of the movie. I was reminded a little of “True Grit” where there is teaming up of a naïve youngster with a cynical older man, but “Slow West” has a charm and hardness that is not seen in the older movies.

The acting was wonderful, both from the first-billed actors to the supporting roles and the direction managed to maintain interest in what was essentially a slow movie, with lots of action and lots of character development, all stuffed into the extremely concise 84-minute run time. The musical score was appropriate and non-obtrusive while the costumes and sets great. This is a great little film if you can lay your hands on it and a wonderful directorial/script-writing debut from Maclean.

Sunday 6 November 2016


“The more people explore the world, the more they realise in every country there’s a different aesthetic. Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder.” - Helena Christensen

Gaston Bussière (April 24, 1862, Cuisery – October 29, 1928 or 1929, Saulieu) was a French Symbolist painter and illustrator. Bussière studied at L’Académie des Beaux-Arts in Lyon before entering the École des Beaux-Arts de Paris where he studied under Alexandre Cabanel and Pierre Puvis de Chavannes. In 1884, he won the Marie Bashkirtseff prize. He was close to Gustave Moreau. He found inspiration in the theatre works of Berlioz (La Damnation de Faust) as well as William Shakespeare and Wagner.

He came in demand as an illustrator, creating works for major authors. He illustrated Honoré de Balzac's “Splendeurs et Misères des Courtisanes” published in 1897, “Émaux et Camées”, by Théophile Gautier, as well as Oscar Wilde’s “Salomé”. He also illustrated several works by Flaubert. An associate of Joséphin Péladan, the founder of the Rose-Croix esthétique, Bussière exhibited his works at Salon de la Rose-Croix over two years. Many of his works are on exhibit at the Musée des Ursulines in Mâcon.

Bussière revelled in the female form, many of his canvases depicting legendary women such as Salammbo, Isolde, Brünhilde, Helen of Troy, Salome and Juliet. He also painted many depictions of nymphs, nereids and fairies, scantily dressed and showing a typical Art Nouveau ideal of beauty and embellishment. His colours are glowing and vivid, but his aesthetic often teeters towards the kitsch side of good taste.

Above is one his paintings of an illustrative nature depicting a scene from Wagner’s “Ring”, more specifically Act II of “The Valkyrie”. It is called “The Revelation” and shows Brünnhilde discovering Sieglinde et Siegmund in the forest. Bussière was passionate about the great epics and the opera, especially Wagner and Berlioz. He painted poetic works of symbolist inspiration, evoking the heroes and heroines of the epic, mythology, history and legend.

“The Valkyrie” of Richard Wagner, was performed for the first time in Munich in 1870 and presented to the Parisian public on 12 May 1893. Bussière certainly attended the performance and was inspired to paint this scene. Brünnhilde was sent by her father Wotan, the chief of the gods punish Siegmund and Sieglinde, Brünnhilde is touched by the passionate love they show each other and decides to help them, thus disobeying Wotan. In the background one may see the other Valkyries riding their steeds.