Saturday 24 February 2018


“Graupner is one of those unfortunate victims of fate and circumstance - a contemporary of Bach, Handel, Telemann, etc., who has remained largely - and unfairly – neglected.” - David Vernier 

Christoph Graupner (13 January 1683 in Kirchberg – 10 May 1760 in Darmstadt) was a German harpsichordist and composer of high Baroque music who was a contemporary of Johann Sebastian Bach, Georg Philipp Telemann and George Frideric Handel.

Born in Hartmannsdorf near Kirchberg in Saxony, Graupner received his first musical instruction from his uncle, an organist named Nicolaus Kuester. Graupner went to the University of Leipzig where he studied law (as did many composers of the time) and then completed his musical studies with Johann Kuhnau, the cantor of the Thomasschule (St. Thomas School).

In 1705 Graupner left Leipzig to play the harpsichord in the orchestra of the Hamburg Opera under the direction of Reinhard Keiser, alongside George Frideric Handel, then a young violinist. In addition to playing the harpsichord, Graupner composed six operas in Hamburg, some of them in collaboration with Keiser, a popular composer of operas in Germany.In 1709 Graupner accepted a post at the court of Hesse-Darmstadt and in 1711 became the court orchestra’s Hofkapellmeister (court chapel master). Graupner spent the rest of his career at the court in Hesse-Darmstadt, where his primary responsibilities were to provide music for the court chapel. He wrote music for nearly half a century, from 1709 to 1754, when he became blind. He died six years later.

Graupner inadvertently played a key role in the history of music. Precarious finances in Darmstadt during the 1710s forced a reduction of musical life. The opera house was closed, and many court musicians' salaries were in arrears (including Graupner’s). After many attempts to have his salary paid, and having several children and a wife to support, in 1723 Graupner applied for the Cantorate in Leipzig. Telemann had been the first choice for this position, but withdrew after securing a salary increase in Hamburg. Graupner’s “audition” Magnificat, set in the style of his teacher, mentor and predecessor, Kuhnau, secured him the position.

However, Graupner’s patron (the Landgrave Ernst Ludwig of Hesse-Darmstadt) would not release him from his contract. Graupner’s past due salary was paid in full, his salary was increased; and he would be kept on staff even if his Kapelle was dismissed. With such favorable terms, Graupner remained in Darmstadt, thus clearing the way for Bach to become the kantor in Leipzig. After hearing that Bach was the choice for Leipzig, on 4 May 1723 Graupner graciously wrote to the city council in Leipzig assuring them that Bach “is a musician just as strong on the organ as he is expert in church works and capelle pieces” and a man who “will honestly and properly perform the functions entrusted to him.”

Graupner was hardworking and prolific. There are about 2,000 surviving works in his catalogue, including 113 sinfonias, 85 ouvertures (suites), 44 concertos, 8 operas, 1,418 religious and 24 secular cantatas, 66 sonatas and 40 harpsichord partitas. Nearly all of Graupner’s manuscripts are housed in the ULB (Technical University Library) in Darmstadt, Germany.

After he died, Graupner’s works fell into obscurity for a number of reasons. His manuscripts became the object of a long legal battle between his heirs and the rulers of Hesse-Darmstadt. A final court decision denied the Graupner estate ownership of the music manuscripts. The heirs were unable to obtain permission to sell or publish his works and they remained inaccessible to the public. Dramatic changes in music styles had reduced the interest in Graupner’s music. On the positive side however, the Landgrave’s seizure of Graupner's musical estate ensured its survival in toto. Fate was not so kind to J. S. Bach's musical legacy, for example. Another factor that contributed to Graupner's posthumous obscurity was that, unlike Bach, Graupner had very few pupils other than Johann Friedrich Fasch to carry on his musical legacy.

Here are some of his Orchestral Works, played by Nova Stravaganza under the leadership of Siegbert Rampe from the harpsichord:
1) Sinfonia in G Major GWV538 (9:38)
2) Overture in E Flat Major GWV429 (21:07)
3) Concerto in E Minor GWV321 (15:38)
4) Overture in E Major GWV439 (23:11)
5) Sinfonia in G Major GWV578 (7:08)

Wednesday 21 February 2018


“You have no choice. You must leave your ego on the doorstep before you enter love.” ― Kamand Kojouri

For this week’s Midweek Motif, Poets United is exploring the theme of “Voice”. Here is my offering: 

The Silent Telephone

Waiting for a promised call
By the silent telephone
While the sky rotates up above
And the stars laugh mockingly.

Waiting for the silent ‘phone to ring
Watching the clock mark time so slowly,
While the moon hides behind a cloud
And her face thankfully is obscured.

Waiting for your honeyed voice
Once more to drug me,
While my flesh pains me
Its unfeeling inertness a wound incurable.

Waiting for morning light
Waiting for the night to end
Your promised call a slender, sickly hope
Losing more of its tenuous life each passing second.

My life away from you, no life,
An empty waiting game, a vacuum;
Your call, your promised call,
How far away it seems
As endlessly I wait
By the silent telephone,
And as your voice’s drug is lacking
I face the terrors of withdrawal...

Tuesday 20 February 2018


“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. 
Valladolid is a city in Spain and the de facto capital of the autonomous community of Castile and León. It has a population of 309,714 people (2013 est.), making it Spain's 13th most populous municipality and northwestern Spain’s biggest city. Its metropolitan area ranks 20th in Spain with a population of 414,244 people in 23 municipalities. The city is situated at the confluence of the Pisuerga and Esgueva rivers 15 km before they join the Duero, and located within five winegrowing regions: Ribera del Duero, Rueda, Toro, Tierra de León, and Cigales.

Valladolid was originally settled in pre-Roman times by the Celtic Vaccaei people, and later the Romans themselves. It remained a small settlement until being re-established by King Alfonso VI of Castile as a Lordship for the Count Pedro Ansúrez in 1072. It grew to prominence in the Middle Ages as the seat of the Court of Castile and being endowed with fairs and different institutions as a collegiate church, University (1241), Royal Court and Chancery and the Royal Mint.

The Catholic Monarchs, Isabel I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon, married in Valladolid in 1469 and established it as the capital of the Kingdom of Castile and later of united Spain. Christopher Columbus died in Valladolid in 1506, while authors Francisco de Quevedo and Miguel de Cervantes lived and worked in the city. The city was briefly the capital of Habsburg Spain under Phillip III between 1601 and 1606, before returning indefinitely to Madrid. The city then declined until the arrival of the railway in the 19th century, and with its industrialisation into the 20th century.

The Old Town is made up of a variety of historic houses, palaces, churches, plazas, avenues and parks, and includes the National Museum of Sculpture, the Museum of Contemporary Art Patio Herreriano or the Oriental Museum, as well as the houses of José Zorrilla and Cervantes which are open as museums. Among the events that are held each year in the city there is Holy Week, Valladolid International Film Week (Seminci), and the Theatre Festival and street arts (TAC).

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

Sunday 18 February 2018


“We live in a fantasy world, a world of illusion. The great task in life is to find reality.” - Iris Murdoch 

Alexander Sigov was born on February 25, 1955 in Leningrad. He graduated from the V. A. Serov Art College in 1975. Since 1994 he is a member of the Soyuz artist group. Collections where works are exhibited are in the Museum of Modern Art in Seoul, South Korea; private collections in Russia, Germany, France, Turkey, Japan, Sweden, Czechia, Canada, and United States. He has participated in many group exhibitions and has had several one-man exhibitions in Russia and abroad.

In an autobiographical note, the artist states: “Salvador Dali, in one of his Ten Commandments says: ‘Do not be afraid of the perfection you did not achieve’. Painting is something that helps me to draw near to this mystery of perfection. If in life we aim to achieve certain goals, such as to understand the mystery of truth – as perfection must be considered – not rarely comes disappointment. However, in art there is hope to approach this ideal, learning much from the process every day.” 

Sigov in his paintings adopts the aesthetics and symbolism of images of the past and processes them in his own unique manner, creating his own personal universe, in which a certain familiarity becomes renewed and added to it are decorative elements, sumptuous textures and unexpected touches of whimsy. Saturation of colour on the one hand with delicate pastel tones on the other, a variety of beautiful embossed patterns with superimposed fine lines of masterful drawing, satisfying composition and a pictorial plane packed with fine detail allow the artist to express the fusion of styles and images in a harmonious end-product.