Saturday 30 December 2017


“Vienna is a handsome, lively city, and pleases me exceedingly.” - Frédéric Chopin 

The Vienna New Year’s Concert (Neujahrskonzert der Wiener Philharmoniker) is a concert of classical music performed by the Vienna Philharmonic that takes place each year in the morning of New Year’s Day in Vienna, Austria, and is regarded by many as the most important classical concert worldwide. It was broadcast live around the world to an estimated audience of more than 50 million in 73 countries in 2012 and 93 countries in 2017. The concerts have been held in the “Goldener Saal” (Golden Hall) of the Musikverein since 1939.

The music always includes pieces from the Strauss family (Johann Strauss I, Johann Strauss II, Josef Strauss and Eduard Strauss) with occasional additional music from other mainly Austrian composers, including Joseph Hellmesberger Jr., Joseph Lanner, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Otto Nicolai (the Vienna Philharmonic’s founder), Emil von Reznicek, Franz Schubert, Franz von Suppé, and Karl Michael Ziehrer.

There had been a tradition of concerts on New Year’s Day in Vienna since 1838, but not with music of the Strauss family. From 1928 to 1933 there were five New Year concerts in the Musikverein, conducted by Johann Strauss III. These concerts were broadcast by the RAVAG. In 1939, Clemens Krauss, with the support of Vienna Gauleiter Baldur von Schirach, devised a New Year concert, which the orchestra dedicated to Kriegswinterhilfswerk (Winter War Relief), to improve morale at the front lines. After World War II, this concert survived, as the Nazi origins were largely forgotten, until more recently.

Here is the New Year’s Concert of 1987, with conductor Herbert von Karajan. The program has as follows:
1. Beginning/inicio (2:04): Der Zigeunerbaron: Ouvertüre – Johann Strauß
2. 10:06 – Sphärenklänge: Walzer – Josef Strauß
3. 19:34 – Annen Polka: Polka française – Johann Strauß
4. 23:56 – Delirien-Walzer – Josef Strauß
5. 33:28 – Die Fledermaus: Ouvertüre – Johann Strauß
6. 42:24 – Beliebte Annen-Polka – Johann Strauß
7. 45:52 – Vergnügungszug: Polka schnell – Johann Strauß
8. 48:48 – Pizzicato-Polka – Johann Strauß
9. 51:48 – Kaiser-Walzer – Johann Strauß
10. 1:03:34 – Perpetuum Mobile, Musikalischer Scherz – Johann Strauß
11. 1:06:36 – Unter Donner und Blitz – Johann Strauß
12. 1:10:28 – Frühlingsstimmen: Walzer (Kathleen Battle – Sopran) – Johann Strauß
13. 1:19:18 – Ohne Sorgen: Polka schnell – Josef Strauß
14. 1:21:22 – An der schönen blauen Donau: Walzer – Johann Strauß (Neujahrsgruß nicht anwesend - no se presenta – not given).
15. 1:31:50 – Radetzky-Marsch - Johann Strauß, Vater

Tuesday 26 December 2017


“Those in power write the history, while those who suffer write the songs.” ― Frank Harte 

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.
Derry (officially Londonderry), is the second-largest city in Northern Ireland and the fourth-largest city on the island of Ireland. The name Derry is an anglicisation of the Old Irish name Daire (modern Irish: Doire) meaning “oak grove”. In 1613, the city was granted a Royal Charter by King James I and gained the “London” prefix to reflect the funding of its construction by the London guilds. While the city is more usually known colloquially as Derry, Londonderry is also commonly used and remains the legal name.

The old walled city lies on the west bank of the River Foyle, which is spanned by two road bridges and one footbridge. The city now covers both banks (Cityside on the west and Waterside on the east). The population of the city was 83,652 at the 2001 Census, while the Derry Urban Area had a population of 90,736.

The district administered by Derry City and Strabane District Council contains both Londonderry Port and City of Derry Airport. Derry is close to the border with County Donegal, with which it has had a close link for many centuries. The person traditionally seen as the founder of the original Derry is Saint Colmcille, a holy man from Tír Chonaill, the old name for almost all of modern County Donegal, of which the west bank of the Foyle was a part before 1610. In 2013, Derry was the inaugural UK City of Culture, having been awarded the title in 2010.

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

Monday 25 December 2017


Best wishes to all!

Saturday 23 December 2017


“How many observe Christ’s birthday! How few, His precepts!” ― Benjamin Franklin

Arcangelo Corelli, (born Feb. 17, 1653, Fusignano, near Imola, Papal States [Italy]—died Jan. 8, 1713, Rome), Italian violinist and composer known chiefly for his influence on the development of violin style and for his sonatas and his 12 Concerti Grossi, which established the concerto grosso as a popular medium of composition. Corelli’s mother, Santa Raffini, having been left a widow five weeks before his birth, named him after his deceased father, Arcangelo.

There are no documented details on his first years of study. It is thought that his first teacher was the curate of San Savino, a village on the outskirts of Fusignano. Later, he went to Faenza and Lugo, where he received his first elements of musical theory. Between 1666 and 1667 he studied with Giovanni Benvenuti, violinist of the chapel of San Petronio in Bologna. Benvenuti taught him the first principles of the violin, and another violinist, Leonardo Brugnoli, furthered his education.

In 1670 Corelli was initiated into the Philharmonic Academy of Bologna. After a four-year stay in Bologna, Corelli went to Rome. Reliable evidence on his activities is lacking for the first five years, but it is likely that he played the violin at the Tordinona Theatre. Also, it is possible that in 1677 he made a trip to Germany, returning to Rome in 1680. On June 3, 1677, he sent his first composition, Sonata for Violin and Lute, to Count Fabrizio Laderchi of Faenza. By Feb. 3, 1675, he was already third violinist in the orchestra of the chapel of San Luigi dei Francesi, Rome, and by the following year he was second violinist.

In 1681 his 12 Trio Sonatas for Two Violins and Cello, with Organ Basso Continuo, Opus 1, dedicated to Queen Christina of Sweden, who had a residence in Rome, were published. The following year he took the post of first violinist in the San Luigi dei Francesi orchestra, a position he held until 1685, the year in which his 12 Chamber Trio Sonatas for Two Violins, Violone and Violoncello or Harpsichord, Opus 2, were published. From September 1687 until November 1690, Corelli was musical director at the Palazzo Pamphili, where he both performed in and conducted important musical events.

Corelli was particularly skilled as a conductor and may be considered one of the pioneers of modern orchestral direction. He was frequently called upon to organize and conduct special musical performances. Perhaps the most outstanding of these was the one sponsored by Queen Christina for the British ambassador, who had been sent to Rome by King James II of England to attend the coronation of Pope Innocent XII. For this entertainment, Corelli conducted an orchestra of 150 strings. In 1689 he directed the performance of the oratorio Santa Beatrice d’Este by Giovanni Lulier, called del violino, also with a large number of players (39 violins, 10 violas, 17 cellos, and additional instruments to make a total of more than 80 musicians).

The same year, he entered the service of Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni, in which he spent the rest of his life. In 1689 Corelli’s 12 Church Trio Sonatas for Two Violins and Archlute, with Organ Basso Continuo, Opus 3, dedicated to Francesco II, duke of Modena (he had been the Modenesi Count, 1689–90), was published; and in 1694 his 12 Chamber Trio Sonatas for Two Violins and Violone or Harpsichord, Opus 4, intended for the academy of Cardinal Ottoboni, also appeared. It is probable that Corelli also taught at the German Institute in Rome and certain that in 1700 he occupied the post of first violinist and conductor for the concerts of the Palazzo della Cancelleria.

Also in 1700 his 12 Sonatas for Violin and Violone or Harpsichord, Opus 5, dedicated to Sophia Charlotte of Brandenburg, was published. In 1702 Corelli went to Naples, where he probably played in the presence of the king and performed a composition by the Italian composer Alessandro Scarlatti. There is no exact documentation for this event; however, it is known that he met George Frideric Handel, who was in Rome between 1707 and 1708. In 1706, together with the Italian composer Bernardo Pasquini and Scarlatti, he was received into the Arcadia Academy and conducted a concert for the occasion. Corelli did not live to see the publication of his Opus 6, consisting of 12 concerti grossi, which was published in Amsterdam the year following his death.

His Concerto grosso in G minor, Op. 6, No. 8, known commonly as his Christmas Concerto, was commissioned by Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni and published posthumously in 1714 as part of his Twelve concerti grossi, Op. 6. The concerto bears the inscription Fatto per la notte di Natale (“Made for the night of Christmas”). It was composed around 1690, since there is a record of Corelli having that year performed a Christmas concerto for the enjoyment of his then-new patron. The concerto is scored for an ensemble consisting of two concertino violins and cello, ripieno strings and continuo. The work is structured as a concerto da chiesa, in this case expanded from a typical four movement structure to six.
1.Vivace, 3/4 -- Grave. Arcate, sostenuto e come stà, 4/2
2.Allegro, common time
3.Adagio -- Allegro -- Adagio, common time, E-flat major
4.Vivace, ¾
5.Allegro, cut time
6.Largo. Pastorale ad libitum, 12/8, G major

Each relatively short movement provides multiple tempi and a range of major and minor suspensions. The concerto is generally no longer than fifteen minutes, ending with Corelli's famous Pastorale ad libitum, a peaceful 12/8 finale in the pastorale form. Here it is played by the Berliner Philharmoniker under the direction of Herbert von Karajan.

Friday 22 December 2017


“Everybody’s got their poison, and mine is sugar.” - Derrick Rose 

I have a sweet tooth – no, perhaps I have several. Maybe even a mouthful of them! I do like my desserts, candies, chocolates, sweetmeats of all kinds. Even after a Lucullan meal of several courses, I don’t seem to feel replete unless my mouth tastes something sweet. In any case it seems I am not the only one because every meal worth its salt finishes off with a dessert course. Some nutritionists claim that people have been trained since childhood to expect a sugary dessert after a full meal. In many families, it’s quite the done thing, and perhaps the way to bribe children into finishing their greens!

But maybe the chemistry of the human brain is to blame for the after-dinner sweet tooth. There is evidence to suggest that eating sugar (or other simple carbohydrates) can enhance the absorption of the amino acid tryptophan found in some foods. The tryptophan then enables an increase in the levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of well-being. Hence, bring on the dessert!

For some people, a heavy meal can result in a condition called postprandial (or reactive) hypoglycaemia, a state of low blood sugar that is marked by hunger, weakness, sweating, shakiness, sleepiness, lightheadedness, anxiety or confusion. Consuming sweet foods is one way to counteract the symptoms of reactive hypoglycaemia. The causes of this condition are varied and can be either inherited or acquired.

Well, whatever the cause of your sweet tooth, here is a recipe that hits the spot: 

Chocolate Mousse Tiramisù
4 cups of your standard, favourite recipe chocolate mousse
500 mL of thickened whipping dairy cream
1 cup icing sugar (dissolved in the cream)
9 Savoiardi (lady finger) biscuits
20 mL amaretto liqueur
20 mL maraschino liqueur
250 g mascarpone cheese
Grated dark chocolate for serving

Prepare six glass dessert serving cups by chilling in the refrigerator. Dissolve the amaretto liqueur in about 200 mL of the cream. Break up the biscuits into 3-4 pieces. Dip into liqueur/cream mixture to soften slightly and place one-and-a-half biscuits into each of the prepared serving cups. Any liqueur/cream mixture left over can be poured over the biscuits in the cups.
Spoon the chocolate mousse evenly (3/4 cup) into each of the cups and smooth the surface. Refrigerate. Meanwhile, prepare the mascarpone cream: Soften the cheese in a bowl by stirring with a fork and smooth it up as much as you can. Dissolve the maraschino liqueur to the remaining cream and slowly add the cream into the cheese, little by little while stirring, to incorporate it. Continue to stir until you have a smooth, soft mixture.
Spoon (or pipe) the mascarpone cream over the chocolate mousse. Refrigerate until ready to serve and garnish by grating dark chocolate on top.

This post is part of the Photo Sunday meme.

Thursday 21 December 2017


“Mental illness leaves a huge legacy, not just for the person suffering it but for those around them.” - Lysette Anthony 

Today, at 4.42 pm, a 4-wheel drive vehicle attack on a busy pedestrian crossing in Melbourne’s Flinders Street (at the T-intersection with Elizabeth St) left 19 people in hospital, six of them critically injured. A pre-school-aged child who was injured with severe head trauma is now stable.

Police have announced that they believe this attack was the work of a mentally ill drug addict and it is not being treated as terrorism. The driver is thought to be a mentally ill man with a history of addiction to the drug ice. It is understood he has no known links to extremism and is not known to counter-terrorism authorities.

A second man pictured arrested at the scene was unconnected to the attack. He was video-taping the incident and was arrested because police found three knives in a bag in his possession. No other weapons were found in the offender’s car, the vehicle itself of course being weapon enough in the driver’s control.

In these days right before Christmas there will be many households in our city that will be affected by this horrible act of violence. The families and friends of the victims first and foremost of course, but also the family of the offender who must grieving not only for their child but for all those he injured. Add to them every other rational human being who observes this and similar senseless acts of violence and cannot help but feel revulsion, abhorrence and outrage.

All we Melburnians feel rather numb seeing this is the second incident of this type that has occurred in our city this year. On January 20 earlier this year, a car running wild in the Bourke Street Mall caused the death of six people and injured 28 others. The driver, Jim Gargasoulas 27 years old was charged but has pleaded “not guilty”, his defence being “mental illness”.

Our city is changing, our world is changing, people are changing and I’m afraid that things are not changing for the better. Melbourne was a beautiful city, its people mostly friendly, courteous and law-abiding. In the last 30 years we have seen Melbourne, The Large Modern City – the Most Livable City in the World slowly becoming Melbourne the Post-Modern Megalopolis: Overcrowded, noisy, congested, riddled with crime, corruption, and home of violence related to drugs, mental illness, homelessness, racial tensions, and the ever-present threat of terrorism hanging above our heads.

We have created a monster by allowing our city to become this. Corporate and individual greed, political expediency, public insouciance and a misguided desire to be a “World City” has brought us here. Now we pay the price. Melbourne you have come of age, now you belong there with all the other megalopoleis of the world. Megalomania deserves its own special reward - the loss of soul. I hope against hope that this incident is the last that we shall see, but logic says otherwise - more such incidents are to follow, I think...

Tuesday 19 December 2017


“Greece is the most magical place on Earth.” - Kylie Bax  

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.
Zakynthos or Zante, is a Greek island in the Ionian Sea, on the Western part of Greece. It is the third largest of the Ionian Islands. It covers an area of 410 km2 and its coastline is roughly 123 km in length. The island is named after Zakynthos, the son of a legendary Arcadian chief Dardanus. The name, like all similar names ending in -nthos, is pre-Mycenaean or Pelasgian in origin. Zakynthos has a population of 41,000 people (2011) and a thriving tourism industry.

The capital, which has the same name as the prefecture, is the town of Zakynthos. It lies on the eastern part of the northern coast. Apart from the official name, it is also called Chora (i.e. "the Town"). The port of Zakynthos has a ferry connecting to the port of Kyllini on the mainland. Another ferry connects the village of Agios Nikolaos to Argostoli on Kefalonia. Bochali hill above the Zakynthos town contains a small Venetian castle, and offers panoramic views onto the town. Strani’s hill, located on the other side of Bochali, is the place where Dionysios Solomos, called “Our National Poet” by the Greeks, wrote Greece’s national anthem.

The most famous landmark of the island is the Navagio beach (see photo above). It is a cove on the southwest shore, isolated by high cliffs and accessible only by boats. The beach and sea floor are made of white pebbles, and surrounded by turquoise waters. It is named after a shipwreck (MV Panagiotis) which sank on the shore around 1980. The ridge area from Anafonitria has a small observation deck, which overlooks the shipwreck and there is a monastery nearby.

Numerous “Blue Caves”, are cut by the sea into cliffs around Cape Skinari, and accessible only by small boats. Sunrays reflect through blue seawater from white stones of cave bottoms and walls, creating interesting lighting effects. Northern and eastern shores contain numerous wide sandy beaches, many of which are packed with tourists in summer months. The largest resort is Laganas, whose beach stretches around 10 km.

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

Sunday 17 December 2017


“Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, And waste its fragrance on the desert air.” ― Jane Austen 

Alexandros Christofis or Alexandros Hristofis (Greek: Αλέξανδρος Χριστόφης, 1882-1953) was a Greek painter. He was born in Piraeus in 1882. He attended the Upper School of Arts where he was taught by the famous artist Nikiforos Lytras, and from where he graduated as dux. He subsequently went to Naples, where he attended the Institute of Art there. From his journey until his death, he exhibited paintings in solo and team showings. From 1925, he was a professor at the Technical Graduate School of Athens.

His work mainly depicts scenes of everyday life, ordinary people carrying out their tasks either outdoors or indoors, both in the country and the city. A favourite theme of his is the tavern and the drinkers within it. Greek sailors at the port of Piraeus are also frequently depicted. His canvases are found in Greek and German galleries and museums.

His technique is considered to be austerely academic, which nevertheless shows an intense personal tone. Shown above is his “Fishermen”.

Saturday 16 December 2017


“For forty years I have played the oboe, and still I never know what is coming out. It is a perpetual anxiety. But maybe this is good - I have never the time to get myself bored.” - Marcel Tabuteau 

Johann Gottlieb Graun (27 October 1703 – 28 October 1771) was a German Baroque/Classical era composer and violinist, born in Wahrenbrück. (His brother Carl Heinrich was a singer and also a composer, and is the better known of the two).

Johann Gottlieb studied with J.G. Pisendel in Dresden and Giuseppe Tartini in Padua. Appointed Konzertmeister in Merseburg in 1726, he taught the violin to J.S. Bach’s son Wilhelm Friedemann. He joined the court of the Prussian crown prince (the future Frederick the Great) in 1732. Graun was later made Konzertmeister of the Berlin Opera in 1740. He composed over 50 songs and other compositions.

Graun’s compositions were highly respected, and continued to be performed after his death: “The concert-master, John Gottlib Graun, brother to the opera-composer, his admirers say, was one of the greatest performers on the violin of his time, and most assuredly, a composer of the first rank” wrote Charles Burney. He was primarily known for his instrumental works, though he also wrote vocal music and operas. He wrote a large number of violin concertos, trio sonatas, and solo sonatas for violin with cembalo, as well as two string quartets – among the earliest attempts in this genre.

He also wrote many concertos for viola da gamba, which were very virtuosic, and were played by Ludwig Christian Hesse, considered the leading gambist of the time. Despite the popularity of his works, Graun was not free from criticism. Burney noted that some critics complained that, “In his concertos and church music ... the length of each movement is more immoderate than Christian patience can endure.”

Here is his Concerto in C minor for Oboe, Strings & Basso Continuo with Heinz Holliger, oboe Camerata Bern Alexander van Wijnkoop.
I. Allegro 00:00
II. Affettuoso 08:17
III. Allegro molto 15:19

Friday 15 December 2017


“Life is better than death, I believe, if only because it is less boring, and because it has fresh peaches in it.” - Alice Walker

One of Summer’s delights is the fresh stone fruits in season. We bought some delightful peaches yesterday and this dessert was made to use up the last few very ripe ones. 

Peach Clafoutis
2/3 cup plain flour
1/3 cup self-raising flour
1 cup caster sugar
5 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
40g butter, melted, cooled
1 cup milk
1 cup pure cream
5 ripe peaches, peeled, stones removed, sliced (you may used drained canned peaches)
Flaked blanched almonds (freshly toasted), to serve
Vanilla ice-cream, to serve (optional) 

Preheat oven to 160°C fan-forced. Grease an 8 cup-capacity ceramic baking dish.
Combine flour, sugar and eggs in a bowl. Stir to combine and add vanilla essence. Add butter, milk and cream. Whisk to combine.
Arrange peach slices in prepared dish in a regular pattern. Carefully add flour mixture so as not to disturb the fruit.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until just set. Stand for 2 minutes. Sprinkle with flaked almonds to serve. Ice-cream on the side, if desired.

Tuesday 12 December 2017


“Scotland should be nothing less than equal with all the other nations of the world.” - Sean Connery

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.
Inverness (from the Scottish Gaelic: Inbhir Nis [iɲɪɾʲˈniʃ], meaning “Mouth of the River Ness”) is a city in the Scottish Highlands. It is the administrative centre for the Highland council area, and is regarded as the capital of the Highlands. Inverness lies near two important battle sites: The 11th-century battle of Blàr nam Fèinne against Norway which took place on The Aird and the 18th-century Battle of Culloden which took place on Culloden Moor. It is the northernmost city in the United Kingdom and lies within the Great Glen (Gleann Mòr) at its north-eastern extremity where the River Ness enters the Moray Firth.

At the latest, a settlement was established by the 6th century with the first royal charter being granted by Dabíd mac Maíl Choluim (King David I) in the 12th century. The Gaelic king Mac Bethad Mac Findláich (MacBeth) whose 11th-century killing of King Duncan was immortalised in Shakespeare’s largely fictionalised play “Macbeth”, held a castle within the city where he ruled as Mormaer of Moray and Ross.

The population of Inverness grew from 40,949 in 2001 to 46,870 in 2012. The Greater Inverness area, including Culloden and Westhill, had a population of 59,910 in 2012.  Inverness is one of Europe’s fastest growing cities, with a quarter of the Highland population living in or around it, and is ranked fifth out of 189 British cities for its quality of life, the highest of any Scottish city. In the recent past, Inverness has experienced rapid economic growth: Between 1998 and 2008, Inverness and the rest of the central Highlands showed the largest growth of average economic productivity per person in Scotland and the second greatest growth in the United Kingdom as a whole, with an increase of 86%.

Inverness is twinned with one German city, Augsburg, and two French towns, La Baule and Saint-Valery-en-Caux. Inverness College is the main campus for the University of the Highlands and Islands. With around 8,500 students, Inverness College hosts around a quarter of all the University of the Highlands and Islands’ students, and 30% of those studying to degree level. In 2014, a survey by a property website described Inverness as the happiest place in Scotland and the second happiest in the UK. Inverness was again found to be the happiest place in Scotland by a new study conducted in 2015. 

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

Sunday 10 December 2017


“Without anxiety and illness I should have been like a ship without a rudder.” - Edvard Munch

I’ve been stretching myself too far, spreading myself too thin, and have felt a bit off colour the last few days. I’ve been cutting back some of my activities and hope to resume “normal transmission” soon. Thanks to a couple of you who have been kind enough to enquire where I have been. Your concern is appreciated, I'll be back to normal in a couple of days...

Tuesday 5 December 2017


“You may have the universe if I may have Italy.” – Giuseppe Verdi 

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. 
Portofino is an Italian fishing village and vacation resort famous for its picturesque harbour and historical association with celebrity and artistic visitors. It is a Comune located in the Metropolitan City of Genoa on the Italian Riviera. The town is clustered around its small harbour, and is known for the colourfully painted buildings that line the shore.

According to Pliny the Elder, Portofino was founded by the Romans and named Portus Delphini, or Port of the Dolphin, because of the large number of dolphins that inhabited the Tigullian Gulf. The village is mentioned in a diploma from 986 by Adelaide of Italy, which assigned it to the nearby Abbey of San Fruttoso di Capodimonte.

In 1171, together with the neighbouring Santa Margherita Ligure, it was included in Rapallo's commune jurisdiction. After 1229 it was part of the Republic of Genoa. The town’s natural harbour supported a fleet of fishing boats, but was somewhat too cramped to provide more than a temporary safe haven for the growing merchant marine of the Republic of Genoa. In 1409 Portofino was sold to the Republic of Florence by Charles VI of France, but when the latter was ousted from Genoa the Florentines gave it back. In the 15th century it was a fief of families such as the Fieschi, Spinola, Adorno, and Doria.

In 1815 it became part of the Kingdom of Sardinia and, from 1861, of the unified Kingdom of Italy. In the late 19th century, first British, then other Northern European aristocratic tourists began to visit Portofino, which they reached by horse and cart from Santa Margherita Ligure. Aubrey Herbert and Elizabeth von Arnim were amongst the more famous English people to make the area fashionable. Eventually more expatriates built expensive vacation houses, and by 1950 tourism had supplanted fishing as the town's chief industry, and the waterfront was a continuous ring of restaurants and cafés.

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

Sunday 3 December 2017


“Good artists copy, great artists steal.” - Pablo Picasso 

Emil Filla (4 April 1882 – 7 October 1953), a Czech painter, was a leader of the avant-garde in Prague between World War I and World War II and was an early Cubist painter. Filla was born in Chropyně, Moravia, and spent his childhood in Brno, but later moved to Prague. Beginning in 1903, he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts, Prague, but he left the school in 1906.

Filla was a member of the group Osma (“The Eight”) in 1907–1908, which had commonalities with the Fauves and also had direct ties to the German Expressionist group Die Brücke. Important works by Filla from this period include “Reader of Dostoyevsky” (1907) and “Chess Players” (1908). In 1909, he became a member of the Mánes Union of Fine Arts.

Beginning in 1910 he painted primarily in a Cubist style, strongly influenced by Picasso and Braque, and produced works such as “Salome” (1911) and “Bathers” (1912). He also began to paint many still lifes around that time. In 1911 he edited several issues of Volné Směry, promoting Cubism and publishing reproductions of works by Picasso. After both readers and the leaders of Mánes reacted negatively, he and others withdrew from Mánes and founded Skupina výtvarných umělců (the Group of Visual Artists), which was a Cubist-oriented group.

Around 1913, he and Otto Gutfreund, produced some of the earliest Cubist sculpture made anywhere. Before World War I he moved to Paris, but left for the Netherlands when war broke out. He returned to Prague after the war. During the 1920s, he further developed his version of Synthetic Cubism and rejoined Mánes. Like many Czech modernists, he was active in design as well as in painting; in 1925 he designed paintings on glass for the Czechoslovak Pavilion at the International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Arts in Paris.

In the late 1920s and early 1930s, Surrealist influence also began to show in his painting and sculpture, and he was a participant in Poesie 1932, an international exhibition in Prague that introduced Surrealism to the Czech public. He did not, however, become a Surrealist.

On the first day of World War II he was arrested by the Gestapo together with painter Josef Čapek and others and was subsequently imprisoned in German concentration camps Dachau and Buchenwald. However, he survived, returned home and began to teach at the Vysoká škola uměleckoprůmyslová v Praze (VŠUP—Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague). Filla’s teachings at the Academy ensured the continuance of Czech Cubism, and his influence is notable in the works of his pupil Milos Reindl amongst others. In 1945, he was the first artist to be given a post-war exhibition at Mánes.

After the war, he exhibited mainly works from the cycle Boje a zápasy (Fights and Struggles), and later mainly produced landscapes. During his lifetime he was active as a painter, sculptor, collector, theoretician, editor, organiser, and diplomat. He died in Prague and is buried in Střešovice in greater Prague. He idolised Vincent van Gogh, Pierre Bonnard and Edvard Munch as well as Picasso and Braque.

Above is his “Still Life with Fruit” of 1930. The links of the artist with the cubists is clearly visible in this painting and the vivid colours are reminiscent of Picasso’s early cubist works, while the rounded forms and decorative elements bring to mind Matisse.

Saturday 2 December 2017


“There is nothing more to be said or to be done tonight, so hand me over my violin and let us try to forget for half an hour the miserable weather and the still more miserable ways of our fellowmen.” ― Arthur Conan Doyle 
Eduard Franck (5 October 1817 – 1 December 1893) was a German composer, pianist and music pedagogue. Franck was born in Breslau, the capital of the Prussian province of Silesia. He was the fourth child of a wealthy and cultivated banker who exposed his children to the best and brightest that Germany had to offer. Frequenters to the Franck home included such luminaries as Heine, Humboldt, Heller, Mendelssohn, and Wagner. His family's financial position allowed Franck to study with Mendelssohn as a private student in Düsseldorf and later in Leipzig.
As a talented pianist, he embarked upon a dual career as a concert artist and teacher for more than four decades during the course of which he held many positions. Although he was highly regarded as both a teacher and performer, he never achieved the public recognition of his better known contemporaries such as Mendelssohn, Schumann or Liszt. As fine a pianist as the first two and perhaps even a better teacher, the fact that he failed to publish very many of his compositions until toward the end of his life, in part, explains why he was not better known.
Said to be a perfectionist, he continually delayed releasing his works until they were polished to his demanding standards. Schumann, among others, thought quite highly of the few works he did publish during the first part of his life. He was the father of Richard Franck (3 January 1858 – 22 January 1938) who was also a pianist, composer and teacher. 
Eduard Franck’s chamber music is generally considered amongst his finest compositions. Of the works with opus numbers, there are 3 string quartets, 2 string quintets for 2 violins, 2 violas and cello, 2 string sextets, 4 piano trios, a piano quintet, 2 sonatas for cello & piano, and 4 sonatas for violin and piano. In addition to these, there are several other works without opus, including a piano sextet, 2 piano trios, a piano quintet, a sonata for violin & piano and an occasional piece for cello & piano. 
Wilhelm Altmann, one of the most important chamber music critics of the 20th century, writes of Franck’s chamber music: “This excellent composer does not deserve the neglect with which he has been treated. He had a mastery of form and a lively imagination which is clearly reflected in the fine and attractive ideas one finds in his works.” Of Franck’s Second Sextet, Altmann states: “This sextet belongs in the concert hall. It demonstrates that its composer was master of musical form and in possession of a gift which allows him to produce strong and noble melodies.” 
Here is his Violin Concerto in E-minor, Op.30, of 1855.
Mov. I: Allegro moderato 00:00
Mov. II: Andante con moto 16:39
Mov.III: Allegro molto vivace 26:08
Violin: Christiane Edinger Orchestra: Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Saarbrücken Conductor: Hans-Peter Frank.

Friday 1 December 2017


“If you want to see the sunshine, you have to weather the storm.” - Frank Lane 

We were greeted the first day of Summer in Melbourne with a stormy and very rainy start. Record rainfall and flooding in many areas were accompanied by a cool change. The rain remained and is predicted to last for quite a few days more, with all of Victoria and southern NSW being affected. Such being the weather, soup was in order! 

Roasted Vegetable Soup

1 large onion, peeled
250 g carrots, peeled
250 g potatoes, peeled
250 g butternut pumpkin, peeled and seeded
250 g sweet red peppers, deseeded
180 g tomatoes (peeled and deseeded)
1 head garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 litres vegetable stock
1/2 tsp ground coriander seed
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp mild curry powder
Freshly-ground black pepper
Salt to taste
2 -3 tablespoons Greek yogurt
Chives/parsley/nuts to garnish 

Preheat the oven to 160°C. Chop the pumpkin, potatoes, peppers, onion and carrots into big chunky pieces (4-5 cm cubes). Cut the tomatoes into small cubes. Toss the vegetables with the olive oil until they’re evenly coated and add the rosemary sprigs. Place in a deep baking dish in the oven for about 1 - 2 hours, adding the whole garlic bulb after the first hour. When the vegetables are cooked, they should be slightly caramellised and flavoursome. Leave them to cool in the baking pan.
Remove the rosemary sprigs and squeeze the garlic flesh out of the papery husk into the pan with the vegetables. Add the stock in the baking pan and mix thoroughly. Heat the pan over the stove stirring through to break down the vegetables and dissolve the flavoursome pan juices into the soup.
Carefully transfer the contents of the baking tray into a saucepan with a large ladle and add the spices and salt. Liquidise the soup in the pan with a mixing wand and reheat. Check seasoning and serve in big bowls with a swirl of Greek yogurt on top. Sprinkle with chives, chopped herbs and nuts to garnish.

Wednesday 29 November 2017


“A loving heart is the truest wisdom.” - Charles Dickens

In Midweek Motif this week, in the Poets United poetry blog, the theme is: “Bittersweet”. Here is my poetical offering: 

Sweet Bitterness 

The wine you offered, Love,
Was ruby-red, sweet muscat;
A fine vintage with a rich bouquet,
A velvet taste that lingered on the palate,
But the aftertaste, so bitter!

The kiss I took from you, Love,
Was fragrant, fruity, dulcet:
From lips so red, and smiling,
A kiss so freely given, remembered evermore,
And yet the aftertaste, so bitter!

Your softly-spoken words, Love,
Honeyed, soothing, like balsam!
My ears unstopped, to hear, to listen,
Words full of harmony, like music
But their echoes, a cacophony.

The soft caresses, Love,
We gave each other liberally,
Cloud-soft, candied, pleasant,
Soothed away all pain, healed all wounds;
And yet, they left deep aching scars in their wake.

You are a sweet bitterness, Love,
You enchain us all with gossamer,
You wound with feathers and you heal with thorns;
You nourish us with mellow poison
And we starve when we have surfeit of it.

Love, you’re contrary, and your steadfastedness
Betrays all trust, punctures all boats of hope;
You lift us up to heaven, only to dash us down to Tartarus,
You give us strength, only with silken threads
To captivate and weaken us, making of us in our death, immortals.

Tuesday 28 November 2017


“In Spain, the dead are more alive than the dead of any other country in the world.” - Federico Garcia Lorca 

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.
Toledo is a city and municipality located in central Spain; it is the capital of the province of Toledo and the autonomous community of Castile–La Mancha. Toledo was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986 for its extensive monumental and cultural heritage. Toledo is known as the “Imperial City” for having been the main venue of the court of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, and as the “City of the Three Cultures” for the cultural influences of Christians, Muslims and Jews reflected in its history. It was also the capital of the ancient Visigothic kingdom of Hispania, which followed the fall of the Roman Empire, and the location of historic events such as the Visigothic Councils of Toledo.

Toledo has a long history in the production of bladed weapons, which are now popular souvenirs of the city. People who were born or have lived in Toledo include Brunhilda of Austrasia, Al-Zarqali, Garcilaso de la Vega, Eleanor of Toledo, Alfonso X and El Greco. As of 2015, the city had a population of 83,226. and an area of 232.1 km2.

In the 13th century, Toledo was a major cultural centre under the guidance of Alfonso X, called “El Sabio” (the Wise) for his love of learning. The Toledo School of Translators, that had commenced under Archbishop Raymond of Toledo, continued to bring vast stores of knowledge to Europe by rendering great academic and philosophical works in Arabic into Latin. The Palacio de Galiana, built in the Mudéjar style, is one of the monuments that remain from that period.

The Cathedral of Toledo (Catedral de Toledo) was built between 1226–1493 and modelled after the Bourges Cathedral, though it also combines some characteristics of the Mudéjar style. It is remarkable for its incorporation of light and features the Baroque altar called El Transparente, several stories high, with fantastic figures of stucco, paintings, bronze castings, and multiple colours of marble, a masterpiece of medieval mixed media by Narciso Tomé topped by the daily effect for just a few minutes of a shaft of light from which this feature of the cathedral derives its name.

Two notable bridges secured access to Toledo across the Tajo, the Alcántara bridge and the later built San Martín bridge. The Monasterio de San Juan de los Reyes is a Franciscan monastery, built 1477–1504, in a remarkable combination of Gothic-Spanish-Flemish style with Mudéjar ornamentation. Toledo was home to El Greco for the latter part of his life, and is the subject of some of his most famous paintings, including “The Burial of the Count of Orgaz”, exhibited in the Church of Santo Tomé. When Philip II moved the royal court from Toledo to Madrid in 1561, the old city went into a slow decline from which it never recovered.

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