Saturday 13 January 2018


“However many holy words you read, however many you speak, what good will they do you if you do not act on upon them?” – Buddha 

Giacomo Carissimi (baptised 18 April 1605 – 12 January 1674) was an Italian composer and music teacher. He is one of the most celebrated masters of the early Baroque or, more accurately, the Roman School of music. Carissimi established the characteristic features of the Latin oratorio and was a prolific composer of motets and cantatas. He was highly influential in musical developments in north European countries through his pupils and the wide dissemination of his music.

Carissimi’s exact birthdate is not known, but it was probably in 1604 or 1605 in Marino near Rome, Italy. Of his early life almost nothing is known. Giacomo’s parents, Amico (1548–1633, a cooper by trade) and Livia (1565–1622), were married on 14 May 1595 and had four daughters and two sons; Giacomo was the youngest. Nothing is known of his early musical training.

His first known appointments were at Tivoli Cathedral, under the maestri di cappella Aurelio Briganti Colonna, Alessandro Capece and Francesco Manelli; from October 1623 he sang in the choir, and from October 1624 to October 1627 he was the organist. In 1628 Carissimi moved north to Assisi, as maestro di cappella (chapel master) at the Cathedral of San Rufino. In 1628 he obtained the same position at the church of Sant’Apollinare belonging to the Collegium Germanicum in Rome, which he held until his death. This was despite him receiving several offers to work in very prominent establishments, including an offer to take over from Claudio Monteverdi at San Marco di Venezia in Venice.

In 1637 he was ordained a priest. He seems to have never left Italy at all during his entire lifetime. He died in 1674 in Rome. Carissimi's successor as maestro di cappella at the Collegium Germanicum in 1686 described him as tall, thin, very frugal in his domestic affairs, with very noble manners towards his friends and acquaintances, and prone to melancholy.

The great achievements generally ascribed to Carissimi are the further development of the recitative, introduced by Monteverdi, which is highly important to the history of dramatic music; the further development of the chamber cantata, by which Carissimi superseded the concertato madrigals which had themselves replaced the madrigals of the late Renaissance; and the development of the oratorio, of which he was the first significant composer.

Carissimi is noted as one of the first composers of oratorios, with “Jephte” as probably his best known work, along with “Jonas”. These works and others are important for establishing the form of oratorio unaccompanied by dramatic action, which maintained its hold for 200 years. The name comes from their presentation at the Oratory of Santissimo Crocifisso in Rome. He may also be credited for having given greater variety and interest to the instrumental accompaniments of vocal compositions.

Carissimi was active at the time when secular music was about to usurp the dominance of sacred music in Italy. The change was decisive and permanent. When Carissimi began composing, the influence of the previous generations of Roman composers was still heavy (for instance, the style of Palestrina) and when his career came to a close the operatic forms, as well as the instrumental secular forms, were predominant. In addition, Carissimi was important as a teacher, and his influence spread far into Germany and France. Much of the musical style of Marc-Antoine Charpentier, for instance, was influenced by Carissimi.

Here are ten motets by Carissimi, performed by Consortium Carissimi
1. Surgamus, eamus, properemus, motet for alto, tenor, bass & continuo 5:27
2. Quis est hic vir, motet for alto, bass & continuo 6:58
3. O vos populi, motet for alto, tenor, bass, 2 violins, viola, cello & continuo (attributed to Carissimi) 4:32
4. In te, Domine, speravi, motet for alto, tenor, bass, 2 violins, viola da gamba & continuo (doubtful) 9:07
5. Lucifero, caelestis olim, motet for bass, soprano & continuo 5:08
6. O vulnera doloris, motet for bass (or 2 sopranos & bass) & continuo 4:43
7. Quasi aquila, motet for tenor, 2 violins, bassoon & continuo 10:43
8. Lamentationes Jeremiae Prophetae (“Feriae Quintae in Coena Domini”), motet for mezzo-soprano, soprano & continuo 6:22
9. Quid tandem sunt mundi deliciae, motet for alto, tenor, bass & continuo 4:14
10. Suscitavit Dominus, motet for alto, tenor, bass & continuo 6:43

Friday 12 January 2018


“I wonder if Socrates and Plato took a house on Crete during the summer.” – Woody Allen 

It is Summer and we have harvested lots of zucchinis from our garden and the first couple of eggplants. It is time to make this special traditional Greek summertime dish, which seems to be a favourite the world over: 


For the mince filling:
    • 4 tablespoonfuls of olive oil
    • 2 onions (+ 2 cloves of garlic - optional)
    • 500 g of beef or lamb minced meat
    • 400 mL of tomato purée
    • Salt, pepper, oregano, rosemary, thyme, bay leaf, paprika
For the vegetable filling:
    • 3 medium sized potatoes
    • 2 largish eggplants
    • 2 largish zucchini (courgettes)
    • Vegetable oil for frying
For the topping:
    • 160 g of butter
    • 4 tablespoonfuls of plain flour
    • 1 litre of milk
    • 6 eggs
    • Nutmeg, pepper, salt
    • Grated parmesan.

Prepare the minced meat by heating the olive oil and frying the thinly sliced onion (and garlic) until golden brown, then incorporating the mince, stirring and breaking up completely so that an intimate mixing and cooking is taking place.  When the mince is thoroughly brown add the tomato puree to the pan and about 150 mL of water.  Stir until thoroughly mixed and simmer until well cooked and the water is absorbed.  Add the spices and seasonings stirring well.  Let the mince cool.

Wash the vegetables, peel the potatoes and slice all of them lengthwise to give oval slices about 3-4 mm thick. Salt them and drain in colander. Heat the vegetable oil until very hot and fry firstly the potatoes until they are golden on both sides.  Drain the oil on absorbent kitchen paper and then lay the cooked potato slices on the bottom of a rectangular baking tray (approx. 35 cm by 25 cm).  Cook the eggplant slices until golden on both sides and drain of the oil.  Lay one layer of the eggplant slices on top of the potatoes.  Repeat with the fried zucchini slices.  Lay any remaining eggplant slices over the zucchini.  Lay the cooked minced meat mixture over the vegetables smoothing and packing to form a smooth surface over the tray.

Melt the butter in a pan and add the flour mixing well all the while with a whisk.  Add the nutmeg and seasonings.  Cook until the mixture is golden.  Add the milk stirring well all the time.  Keep whisking over a low flame until the mixture thickens to the consistency of custard.  Remove from heat and add the eggs one by one, whisking rapidly continuously.  Pour the mixture over the minced meat and top with the grated parmesan.  Cook in moderate oven until the top is golden brown.  Serve with cold retsina or kokkineli wine and a crisp seasonal salad.

Tuesday 9 January 2018


“Once I became interested in China, I flew to Beijing in 1996 to spend half a year studying Mandarin. The city stunned me.” - Evan Osnos 

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.
Beijing (Mandarin: [pèi.tɕíŋ]), formerly romanised as Peking, is the capital of the People’s Republic of China and the world’s second most populous city proper and most populous capital city. The city, located in northern China, is governed as a direct-controlled municipality under the national government with 16 urban, suburban, and rural districts. Beijing Municipality is surrounded by Hebei Province with the exception of neighbouring Tianjin Municipality to the southeast; together the three divisions form the Jingjinji metropolitan region and the national capital region of China. 

As a city combining both modern and traditional architecture, Beijing is a megacity rich in history, exemplified in its global influence in politics, economy, education, history, culture, and technology. Beijing is the second largest Chinese city by urban population after Shanghai and is the nation's political, cultural, and educational centre. It is home to the headquarters of most of China’s largest state-owned companies and is a major hub for the national highway, expressway, railway, and high-speed rail networks. The Beijing Capital International Airport has been the second busiest in the world by passenger traffic since 2010, and, as of 2016, the city’s subway network is the busiest and second longest in the world, after Shanghai’s subway system. 

The city’s history dates back three millennia. As the last of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China, Beijing has been the political centre of the country for much of the past eight centuries. With mountains surrounding the inland city on three sides, in addition to the old inner and outer city walls, Beijing was strategically poised and developed to be the residence of the emperor and thus was the perfect location for the imperial capital. Beijing was the largest city in the world by population for much of the second millennium A.D. (about 25 million people). 

The city is renowned for its opulent palaces, temples, parks, gardens, tombs, walls and gates. Its art treasures and universities have made it centre of culture and art in China. Encyclopædia Britannica notes that “few cities in the world have served for so long as the political headquarters and cultural centre of an area as immense as China.” Beijing has seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites – the Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace, Ming Tombs, Zhoukoudian, as well as parts of the Great Wall and the Grand Canal, all popular locations for tourism. 

Siheyuans, the city’s traditional housing style, and hutongs, the narrow alleys between siheyuans, are major tourist attractions and are common in urban Beijing. The city hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics and was chosen to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, making it the first city to ever host both Winter and Summer Olympics. Many of Beijing’s 91 universities  consistently rank among the best in China, of which Peking University and Tsinghua University are ranked in the top 60 universities of the world. 

In 2015, 52 companies of the Fortune Global 500 company headquarters were located in Beijing, more than any other city in the world, including state-owned enterprises State Grid, China National Petroleum, and Sinopec Group, ranked 2nd, 3rd, and 4th, respectively. Beijing CBD is quickly becoming the centre for Beijing’s economic expansion, rapid modernisation, and radically changing skyline, with the ongoing or recently completed construction of multiple skyscrapers. 

Beijing’s Zhongguancun area is also known as China’s Silicon Valley and China’s centre of innovation and technology entrepreneurship. According to the 2016 InterNations Expat Insider Survey, Beijing ranked first in Asia in the subcategory “Personal Finance Index”, a measure of expats’ salaries versus cost of living in the city. Expats live primarily in urban districts such as Dongcheng and Chaoyang in the east, or in suburban districts such as Shunyi.

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