Saturday 16 September 2017


“A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself.” - Abraham Maslow 

Franz Anton Hoffmeister (12 May 1754 – 9 February 1812) was a German composer and music publisher. He was born in Rottenburg am Neckar on 12 May 1754. At the age of fourteen he went to Vienna to study law. Following his studies, however, he decided on a career in music and by the 1780s he had become one of the city’s most popular composers, with an extensive and varied catalogue of works to his credit.

Hoffmeister’s reputation today rests mainly on his activities as a music publisher. By 1785 he had established one of Vienna’s first music publishing businesses, second only to Artaria & Co, which had ventured into the field five years earlier.

Hoffmeister published his own works as well as those of many important composers of the time, including Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Clementi, Johann Georg Albrechtsberger, Karl Ditters von Dittersdorf and Johann Baptist Wanhal. These famous composers were also among Hoffmeister’s personal friends: Mozart dedicated his String Quartet in D to him and Beethoven addressed him in a letter as my “most beloved brother”.

Hoffmeister’s publishing activities reached a peak in 1791, but thereafter he appeared to have devoted more time to composition. Most of his operas were composed and staged during the early 1790s and this, combined with an apparent lack of business sense, led to his noticeable decline as a publisher.

In 1799, Hoffmeister and the flautist Franz Thurner set off on a concert tour which was to have taken them as far afield as London. They got no further than Leipzig, where Hoffmeister befriended the organist Ambrosius Kühnel. The two men decided to set up a music publishing partnership and within a year had founded the Bureau de Musique, which was eventually taken over by the well-respected C.F. Peters, a firm that is still active today.

Among the publications of the Bureau de Musique was the first edition of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Keyboard Works in 14 volumes (1802). Until 1805, Hoffmeister kept both the Viennese firm and his newer Leipzig publishing house going, but in March 1805 he transferred sole ownership of the Bureau de Musique to Kühnel. His interest in the Viennese firm also waned, for in 1806, apparently to allow time for composition, he sold the 20-year-old business to the Chemische Druckerey.

Prominent in Hoffmeister’s extensive oeuvre are works for the flute, including more than 25 concertos as well as chamber works with the flute in a leading role. Many of these works would have been composed with Vienna’s growing number of amateur musicians in mind, for whom the flute was one of the most favoured instruments. Hoffmeister also composed at least eight operas, over 50 symphonies, numerous concertos (including an often-played concerto for the viola), a large amount of string chamber music, piano music and several collections of songs.

As a composer, Hoffmeister was highly respected by his contemporaries, as can be seen in the entry, published in the year of his death, in Gerber’s Neues Lexikon der Tonkünstler: “If you were to take a glance at his many and varied works, then you would have to admire the diligence and the cleverness of this composer.... He earned for himself a well-deserved and widespread reputation through the original content of his works, which are not only rich in emotional expression but also distinguished by the interesting and suitable use of instruments and through good practicability. For this last trait we have to thank his knowledge of instruments, which is so evident that you might think that he was a virtuoso on all of the instruments for which he wrote.” 

Here is his celebrated Concerto for Viola in D major, with a cadenza by Franz Beyer, played by Ashan Pillai (viola) and the Gulbenkian Orchestra conducted by Christopher Hogwood.
1. Allegro 0:00
2. Poco Adagio 8:15
3. Rondo. Allegro 15:17

Friday 15 September 2017


“Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them.” - A. A. Milne 

It’s Spring in Melbourne and on fine days we love to go walking. Close to home are the Darebin Parklands, a beautiful area through which the Darebin Creek flows. Along with wooded areas, lawns, ponds and rocky hills, there are many areas where wild greens grow. Most people refer to these wild greens as “weeds”, but they are extremely useful and edible greens that are fantastic to use in cooking in a myriad of recipes. For the dish we made and for which I give the recipe below, we collected the following: Young shoots of wild fennel - Foeniculum vulgare; tender young leaves of sorrelRumex acetosa; tender tops of mallowMalva sylvestris; young shoots of onion weed – Allium triquetrum. We also used some dill and spring onions from the garden, as well as some bought spinach.

WARNING: Please note that if you are going to collect wild greens ensure you are absolutely certain you are collecting the right plant! Many weeds do look similar and some are toxic! Also if you know what you are doing and you collect wild greens, do so sustainably and do not damage the plants excessively! Always wash the greens thoroughly and discard any leaves that are damaged or infested. In the last rinse add a cup of vinegar to the water used as it helps to rinse out any little insects lurking around.

Wild Greens Risotto

6 cups vegetable stock
4 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil (for greens)
3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil (for rice)
1/3 cup finely chopped dill
1/3 cup finely chopped spring onion
3 cups chopped spinach (stemmed and thinly sliced crosswise)
3 cups chopped mixed wild greens (see above)
2 cups Arborio rice
2/3 cup dry white wine
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
2 Tbs. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Ground mace, to taste
Ground coriander, to taste
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Toasted pine nuts garnish (optional)

First prepare the greens: In a large frying pan, heat the oil and when hot, add the drained, chopped greens, herbs, onion and spinach, stirring thoroughly to mix with the oil. Cook until the mixture is tender. Season with salt and pepper and add ground coriander to taste. Remove from heat and reserve.

In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the stock to a simmer and maintain over low heat. In a large, heavy saucepan, warm the olive oil. Add the rice to the pan and stir until well coated with the oil and translucent with a white dot in the center, about 3 minutes. Add the wine and stir until it is absorbed. Add the stock a ladleful at a time, stirring frequently after each addition. Wait until the stock is almost completely absorbed before adding more. Reserve 1/4 cup stock to add at the end.

When the rice is almost tender to the bite and looks creamy (after about 20 minutes), add the greens mixture to the pan and add a ladleful of stock. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the spinach mixture is heated through and the rice is al dente, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, and stir in the butter, cheese and the reserved 1/4 cup stock. Season with mace, salt and pepper. Garnish with pine nuts if desired and serve immediately.

Thursday 14 September 2017


“Great love affairs start with Champagne and end with tisane.” - Honoré de Balzac 

Aloysia citrodora is a species of flowering plant in the verbena family Verbenaceae, native to western South America. Common names include lemon verbena and lemon beebrush. It was brought to Europe by the Spanish and the Portuguese in the 17th century and cultivated for its oil.

The first European botanist who publicly noticed this plant was the French Philibert Commerson, who collected in Buenos Aires on his botanical circumnavigation with Bougainville, about 1767. The plant had already been quietly imported directly into the Real Jardín Botánico de Madrid, where in 1797 professors Casimiro Gómez Ortega and Antonio Palau y Verdera named it, though they did not yet effectively publish it, Aloysia citrodora in Latin and “Hierba de la Princesa” in Spanish, to compliment Maria Louisa of Parma, Princess of Asturias the wife of the Garden’s patron Infante Carlos de Borbon, Prince of Asturias and son of king Carlos III. The name was later effectively published in the first volume of Palau’s Parte Práctica de Botánica in 1784.

Unofficial importations from Spanish America seldom fared well: When French botanist Joseph Dombey landed his collections at Cadiz in 1785 they were impounded and left to rot in warehouses, while he was refused permission even to have seeds planted. Among the bare handful of plants Dombey had assembled during eight years at Lima, lemon verbena survived. Meanwhile, Gómez Ortega sent seeds and specimens of the plant to Charles Louis L’Héritier de Brutelle in Paris; L’Héritier published it as Verbena triphylla in the second fascicle his Stirpes Novae, published in December 1785 or January 1786.

From Paris, John Sibthorpe, professor of Botany at Oxford, obtained the specimen that he introduced to British horticulture: By 1797 lemon verbena was common in greenhouses around London, and its popularity as essential in a fragrant bouquet increased through the following century. The plant has gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.

 Lemon verbena is a perennial shrub or subshrub growing to 2–3 m high. The 8-cm-long, glossy, pointed leaves are slightly rough to the touch and emit a powerful scent reminiscent of lemon when bruised (hence the Latin specific epithet citrodora—lemon-scented). Sprays of tiny purple or white flowers appear in late spring or early summer. It is sensitive to cold, losing leaves at temperatures below 0°C, although the wood is hardy to −10°C.Due to its many culinary uses, it is widely listed and marketed as a plant for the herb garden.

Lemon verbena leaves are used to add a lemon flavour to fish and poultry dishes, vegetable marinades, salad dressings, jams, puddings, Greek yogurt and beverages. It also is used to make herbal teas, or added to standard tea in place of actual lemon (as is common with Moroccan tea). It can also be used to make a sorbet. In addition, it has anti-Candida albicans activity. In the European Union, Verbena essential oils (Lippia citriodora Kunth.) and derivatives other than absolute are prohibited when used as a fragrance ingredient.

The major isolates in lemon verbena oil are citral (30–35%), nerol and geraniol. Extracts of lemon verbena also contain verbascoside. Aloysia citriodora extract shows antioxidant properties that could play an important role in modulating GSH-reductase activity in lymphocytes and erythrocytes and protecting plasma from exercise oxidative damage. Lemon verbena extract containing 25% verbascoside showed strong antioxidant capacity, especially in a lipophilic environment, which was higher than expected as concluded from the antioxidant capacity of pure verbascoside, probably due to synergistic effects.

In the language of flowers, a sprig of non-flowering lemon verbena carries the message: “We are united”. A flowering sprig means: “You have bewitched me”.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.

Tuesday 12 September 2017


“Praise the sea maid, daughter of Aphrodite, bride of Helios, this isle of Rhodes.” – Pindar; Odes Olympian 7 ep1 

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.
Rhodes (Greek: Ρόδος, Ródos) is the principal city on the island of Rhodes, an island in the Dodecanese, Greece. It has a population of approximately 80,000. Rhodes has been famous since antiquity as the site of Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The citadel of Rhodes, built by the Hospitalliers, is one of the best preserved medieval towns in Europe which in 1988 was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Rhodes is at the crossroad of three continents: Europe, Asia and Africa and hence on the marine routes which connected the West with the Orient, since the early antiquity. Being such a melting pot, the island attracted various populations and was influenced by several cultures during its long history. Every people who arrived at Rhodes, either peacefully or after winning a war, in mass or in small groups, left their traces on the beautiful island. The result of this diversity has always added to this interesting blend that has proved very persistent and still exists today. Rhodes had always been – and still is – a place rich both in natural and in human resources.

The City of Rhodes is a popular international tourist destination. The city is home to numerous landmarks. Some of them date back to antiquity and most of the others remain from the medieval period. They include: The Grand Master’s Palace (15th century); Knights Street; Acropolis of Rhodes; Mosque of Suleiman the Magnificent; Medieval walls, created in the mid-14th century on a previous line and remade after the Ottoman siege of 1480 and the earthquake of the following year; Gothic buildings in the historical upper town. Recently, the Byzantine harbour was excavated, discovering medieval shipwrecks.

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. 

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 11 September 2017


“If I were going to convert to any religion I would probably choose Catholicism because it at least has female saints and the Virgin Mary.” - Margaret Atwood 

Isis and Horus in Ancient Egypt had an immense cult following and particularly important was the role of Isis as primordial mother goddess. The associations of the Isis/Horus pair with the Virgin Mary/Jesus pair have not been lost on historians, comparative theologians and sociologists. The following is from “The Religion of Ancient Egypt” by William Flinders Petrie, Edwards Professor of Egyptology, University College, London (1906):

"Isis became attached at a very early time to the Osiris worship; and appears in later myths as the sister and wife of Osiris. The union of Horus with the myth, and the establishment of Isis as the mother goddess, was the main mode of her importance in late times. Isis as the nursing mother is seldom shown until the twenty-sixth dynasty; then the type continually became more popular, until it outgrew all other religions of the country.

In Roman times the mother Isis not only received the devotion of all Egypt, but her worship spread rapidly abroad, like that of Mithra. It became the popular devotion of Italy; and, after a change of name due to the growth of Christianity, she has continued to receive the adoration of a large part of Europe down to the present day as the Madonna.

Horus became identified with the sun-god, and hence came the winged solar disk as the emblem of Horus of Edfu (the infant Horus with his finger to his lips was the most popular form of all, sometimes alone, sometimes on his mother’s lap). From the twenty-sixth dynasty down to late Roman times the infant Horus, or the young boy, was the most prominent subject on the temples, and the commonest figure in the homes of the people.  Isis and Horus, the Queen of Heaven and the Holy Child, became the popular deities of the later age of Egypt, and their figures far outnumber those of all other gods.

Horus in every form of infancy was the loved bambino of the Egyptian women. Again Horus appears carried on the arm of his mother in a form which is indistinguishable from that adopted by Christianity soon after. We see, then, throughout the Roman world the popular worship of the Queen of Heaven, Mater Dolorosa, Mother of God, patroness of sailors, and her infant son Horus the child, the benefactor of men, who took captive all the powers of evil. And this worship spread and increased in Egypt and elsewhere until the growing power of Christianity compelled a change.

The old worship continued; for the Syrian maid became transformed into an entirely different figure, Queen of Heaven, Mother of God, patroness of sailors, occupying the position and attributes already belonging to the world-wide goddess; and the Divine Teacher, the Man of Sorrows, became transformed into the entirely different figure of the Potent Child. Isis and Horus still ruled the affections and worship of Europe with a change of names."

Sunday 10 September 2017


“When women pose thoughtfully and artistically - in nothing but their bare skin - they find themselves. They discover that they are truly alive. They become a Nude.” - David Allio 

Suzanne Valadon (23 September 1865 – 7 April 1938) was a French painter and artists’ model who was born Marie-Clémentine Valadon at Bessines-sur-Gartempe, Haute-Vienne, France. In 1894, Valadon became the first woman painter admitted to the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts. She was also the mother of painter Maurice Utrillo. The subjects of her drawings and paintings included mostly female nudes, female portraits, still lifes, and landscapes. She never attended the academy and was never confined within a tradition. Valadon spent nearly 40 years of her life as an artist.

Valadon grew up in poverty with her mother, an unmarried laundress; she did not know her father. Known to be quite independent and rebellious, she attended primary school until age 11. In 1883, aged 18, Valadon gave birth to her illegitimate son, Maurice Utrillo. Valadon’s mother cared for Maurice while she returned to modelling. Valadon’s friend Miguel Utrillo would later sign papers recognising Maurice as his son, although his true paternity is uncertain.

Valadon helped to educate herself in art by reading Toulouse-Lautrec’s books and observing the artists at work for whom she posed. In 1893, Valadon began a short-lived affair with composer Erik Satie, moving to a room next to his on the Rue Cortot. Satie became obsessed with her, calling her his Biqui, writing impassioned notes about “her whole being, lovely eyes, gentle hands, and tiny feet”, but after six months she left, leaving him devastated.

Valadon married stockbroker Paul Moussis in 1895, leading a bourgeois life for 13 years at an apartment in Paris and a house in the suburbs. In 1909, Valadon began an affair with the painter André Utter, age 23 and a friend of her son, divorcing Moussis in 1913. Valadon married Utter in 1914, and he managed her career as well as her son’s. Valadon and Utter regularly exhibited work together until the couple divorced in 1934. Valadon was well known during her lifetime but within the art historical narrative her work has long been overshadowed by a Bohemian and lower class lifestyle.

Valadon debuted as a model in 1880 in Montmartre at age 15. She modelled for over 10 years for many different artists including the following: Pierre-Cécile Puvis de Chavannes, Théophile Steinlen, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. She modelled under the name “Maria” eventually being nicknamed “Suzanne” after the biblical story of Susanna and the Elders. She was considered a very focused, ambitious, rebellious, determined, self-confident, and passionate woman. In the early 1890s she befriended Edgar Degas who, impressed with her bold line drawings and fine paintings, purchased her work and encouraged her; she remained one of his closest friends until his death.

It’s probable that Valadon’s experience as a model added depth to her own images of nude women, which tended to be less idealised than that of the male post impressionists representations. The most recognisable image of Valadon would be in Renoir’s “Danceat Bougival” from 1883, the same year that she posed for “Dance in the City”. In 1885, Renoir painted her portrait again as “Girl Braiding Her Hair”. Another of his portraits of her in 1885, Suzanne Valadon, is of her head and shoulders in profile. Valadon frequented the bars and taverns of Paris with her fellow painters, and she was Toulouse-Lautrec’s subject in his oil painting “The Hangover”.

Valadon taught herself how to draw at the age of nine. She painted still lifes, portraits, flowers, and landscapes that are noted for their strong composition and vibrant colours. She was, however, best known for her candid female nudes that depict women’s bodies from a woman’s perspective. This is particularly important because it was unusual in the nineteenth century for a woman artist to make female nudes her primary subject matter. Valadon was not confined to a specific style, yet both Symbolist and Post-Impressionist aesthetics are clearly seen within her work.

Valadon primarily worked with oil paint, oil pencils, pastels, and red chalk; she did not use ink or watercolour because these media were too fluid for her preference. Valadon’s paintings feature rich colours and bold, open brushwork often featuring firm black lines to define and outline her figures. She used hard black lines to emphasise the structure of the body. She also used firm lines in her nudes to highlight the play of light on curves

Valadon’s self-portraits, portraits, nudes, landscapes, and still lifes remain detached from trends and aspects of academic art. The subjects of Valadon’s paintings often reinvented the old master’s themes: Women bathing, reclining nudes, and interior scenes. However the nudes Valadon paints veer far from the norms of this male dominated genre, the paintings are interpreted in a much different way which could contradict of question the nature of the genre. Many have suggested a vibrant, emotional sense that emanates from her drawings and paintings as a result from an intimate, familiar observation of these women’s bodies. Similarly to Valadon, Berthe Morisot and Mary Cassatt painted mostly women, yet because of their middle class status in French society at the time they were unable to paint the nude body, regardless of gender.

The painting above is “The Joy of Life” from 1911 and is owned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in new York City. Unfortunately, it is not on public view.