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.