Remembering Toscanini

March 25, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classical Music, MUSIC |

Toscanini by Giacomo Grosso

Arthur Toscanini (March 25, 1867 – January 16, 1957) Naturally, they hissed at him at La Scala.  But Arturo had the last laugh, recognised in his lifetime as the greatest conductor in the world, selector’s choice for launching the best operas on offer. After spurning Mussolini and Hitler, he concentrated on playing for people who were primarily interested in art rather than power: “Liberty, in my opinion, is the only orthodoxy within the limits of which art may express itself and flourish freely-liberty that is the best of all things in the life of man, if it is all one…

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The Brandenburg Concertos

March 24, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classical Music, MUSIC |

24 March 1721 – J. S. Bach presented six concerti grossi, his Concertos, styled after Vivaldi, which he had adapted to several instruments, to Christian Ludwig, the Margave of Brandenburg-Schwedt, along with a rather grovelling dedication: “…begging Your Highness most humbly not to judge their imperfection with the rigor of that discriminating and sensitive taste, which everyone knows Him to have for musical works, but rather to take into benign Consideration the profound respect and the most humble obedience which I thus attempt to show Him.” Precise in form, mathematical in logical structure, they are a revelation to anyone with an ear encountering…

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More from the Lower Shelf – Anton Raphael Mengs

March 22, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | ART |

Mengs (22 March 1728 to 29 June 1779) – He was talented, but tended to the mediocre, especially in executing large commissions (he was like a Bohemian Luca Giordano), and his go-for-baroque style reveals his inadequacy, compared to the true greats.  That middle-name of his is a bit rich! He did big, creamy, faux-classical confectionery, including these less-than-inspired bookends: Goethe, apropos the Mengs oeuvre: “so much learning…allied to a total want of initiative and poverty of invention, and embodied with a strained and artificial mannerism.” Have a look at his manic-street preacher of a John the Baptist (c. 1775): The…

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James Coco

March 21, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classic Film, Comedy Film, FILM |

Born March 21 1930 James has a fairly ho-hum ‘hagiography’ but he was sensational in A New Leaf as Henry Graham’s Uncle Harry, who regards his late brother’s appointment of him, as Henry’s guardian, to be an act of spite. Whilst TVC‘s favourite moment in the film comes when Henry (Walter Matthau) is having ‘capital’ (and ‘income’) explained to him by his attorney, Mr Beckett (William Redfield), Coco, as Uncle Harry, is priceless when Henry calls, in order to negotiate a tide-over loan till he can marry a rich heiress.  You can put the link below into your search engine…

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10 Birthdays and A Funeral

'We have to make a birthday tea for 10 and a funeral tea...'

20 March – a big day in cultural history: 43 BC – Ovid “Take your fill of amusement, but cast the veil of modesty over your peccadilloes. Never make a parade of your good fortune, and never give a woman a present that another woman will recognise.” [The Art of Love] “Death is not accustomed to injure genius, and greater fame arrives after we have become ashes…” [Epistle to an Envious Man]. 1828 – Henrik Ibsen “SOLNESS: Human beings haven’t any use for these homes of theirs. Not for being happy in. And I shouldn’t have had use for a…

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