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”.