Saturday, 20 January 2018

IF MUSIC BE THE FOOD OF LOVE...

Then dance must be its sweet dessert... 

“The silver swan, who, living had no note, When death approached unlocked her silent throat.” - Orlando Gibbons 

Pavlova is a meringue-based dessert named after the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova (February 12 1881 – January 23, 1931). It is a meringue dessert with a crisp crust and soft, light inside, usually topped with fruit and whipped cream. The dessert is believed to have been created in honour of the dancer either during or after one of her tours to Australia and New Zealand in the 1920s. The nationality of its creator has been a source of argument between the two nations for many years.

In 2008, Helen Leach published “The Pavlova Story: A Slice of New Zealand’s Culinary History”, in which she argued that the earliest known recipe was published in New Zealand. Later research by Andrew Wood and Annabelle Utrecht suggested the dessert originated in the United States and was based on an earlier German dish. The dessert is a popular dish and an important part of the national cuisine of both Australia and New Zealand, and with its simple recipe, is frequently served during celebratory and holiday meals.

It is a dessert most identified with the summer time and popularly eaten during that period including at Christmas time, however it is also eaten all year round in many Australian and New Zealand homes.

Here is a recipe for Pavlova: 

Pavlova
Ingredients

Whites of 6 medium, very fresh eggs, separated
300 g caster Sugar
2 generous teaspoons cornflour
1 and 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
300ml thickened cream
2 tablespoons CSR Pure Icing Sugar, sifted
Pulp of 3 passionfruit (if fresh not available use canned pulp 170g)
1 teaspoon gelatin powder
2 tablespoons boiling water
Other seasonal fruits (strawberries, kiwi fruit, raspberries, blackberries) or glace fruit or preserved fruit (peaches) if fresh fruit is unavailable. Passionfruit is a must!

Method
Preheat oven to 120°C. Line an oven tray with foil. Brush with melted butter and dust with cornflour, shaking off excess. Mark a 24cm-diameter circle on foil.
Use an electric mixer to whisk egg whites in a clean dry bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition, until meringue is thick and glossy and sugar dissolved. Rub a little meringue between fingers. If still "gritty" with sugar, continue to whisk until sugar dissolves. Add cornflour, vinegar and vanilla and whisk until just combined.
Spoon meringue onto the foil, using the marked circle as a guide. Smooth sides and top of pavlova. Use a small spatula to forms little peaks around edge of pavlova. Bake in oven for 11/2 hours or until pavlova is dry to the touch. Turn off oven. Leave pavlova in oven with the door ajar to cool completely. When completely cold, transfer to serving plate or store in an airtight container until required.
Boil the water in a cup in a microwave and dissolve the gelatin in it, adding the passionfruit pulp. Let this cool until it is just beginning to set.
Meanwhile, use an electric mixer to whisk the cream and icing sugar in a medium bowl until firm peaks form. Spoon cream onto the top of pavlova. Pour the passionfruit jelly mixture on top and decorate pavlova with fruit.

And here is Anna Pavlova dancing the Dying Swan to music by Camille Saint Saëns. 

Thursday, 18 January 2018

ALL ABOUT FENUGREEK

“I grow my own vegetables and herbs. I like being able to tell people that the lunch I'm serving started out as a seed in my yard.” - Curtis Stone 

Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) is an annual plant in the family Fabaceae, with leaves consisting of three small obovate to oblong leaflets. It is cultivated worldwide as a semiarid crop. Its seeds and its leaves are common ingredients in dishes from South Asia. The English name derives via Middle French fenugrec from Latin faenugraecum, faenum Graecum meaning “Greek hay”.

Major fenugreek-producing countries are Afghanistan, Argentina, Bangladesh, Egypt, France, India, Iran, Morocco, Nepal, Pakistan, Spain, and Turkey. The largest producer is India. Fenugreek production in India is concentrated in the states of Gujarat, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand. Rajasthan accounts for over 80% of India’s output. 

Fenugreek is believed to have been brought into cultivation in the Near East. Charred fenugreek seeds have been recovered from Tell Halal, Iraq, (carbon dated to 4000 BC) and Bronze Age levels of Lachish and desiccated seeds from the tomb of Tutankhamen. Cato the Elder lists fenugreek with clover and vetch as crops grown to feed cattle. In one first-century A.D. recipe, the Romans flavoured wine with fenugreek. In the 1st century AD, in Galilee, it was grown as a food staple, as Josephus mentions it in his book, the Wars of the Jews. A compendium of Jewish oral law known as the Mishnah (compiled in the 2nd century) mentions the plant under its Hebrew name, tiltan.

Fenugreek is used as a herb (dried or fresh leaves), spice (seeds), and vegetable (fresh leaves, sprouts, and microgreens). Sotolon is the chemical responsible for fenugreek’s distinctive sweet smell. Cuboid-shaped, yellow- to amber-coloured fenugreek seeds are frequently encountered in the cuisines of the Indian subcontinent, used both whole and powdered in the preparation of pickles, vegetable dishes, dal, and spice mixes such as panch phoron and sambar powder. They are often roasted to reduce bitterness and enhance flavour.

Fresh fenugreek leaves are an ingredient in some Indian curries. Sprouted seeds and microgreens are used in salads. When harvested as microgreens, fenugreek is known as samudra methi in Maharashtra, especially in and around Mumbai, where it is often grown in sandy tracts near the sea, hence the name samudra, “ocean” in Sanskrit. Samudra methi is also grown in dry river beds in the Gangetic plains. When sold as a vegetable in India, the young plants are harvested with their roots still attached and sold in small bundles in the markets and bazaars. Any remaining soil is washed off to extend their shelf life.

In Turkish cuisine, fenugreek seeds are used for making a paste known as çemen. Cumin, black pepper, and other spices are added into it, especially to make pastırma. In Persian cuisine, fenugreek leaves are called shanbalile. They are the key ingredient and one of several greens incorporated into ghormeh sabzi and eshkeneh, often said to be the Iranian national dishes. In Egyptian cuisine, peasants in Upper Egypt add fenugreek seeds and maize to their pita bread to produce aish merahrah, a staple of their diet.

Fenugreek is used in Eritrean and Ethiopian cuisine. The word for fenugreek in Amharic is abesh, and the seed is used in Ethiopia as a natural herbal medicine in the treatment of diabetes. Yemenite Jews following the interpretation of Rabbi Shelomo Yitzchak (Rashi) believe fenugreek (which they call hilbeh, hilba, helba, or halba) to be the Talmudic rubia.  When the seed kernels are ground and mixed with water they greatly expand; hot spices, turmeric and lemon juice are added to produce a frothy relish eaten with a sop. The relish is also called hilbeh; it is reminiscent of curry. It is eaten daily and ceremonially during the meal of the first and/or second night of the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

TRAVEL TUESDAY #114 - METSOVO, GREECE

“I believe in traditions; I believe in the idea of things being passed between generations and the slow transmission of cultural values through tradition.” - Graham Moore

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.
Metsovo is a town in Epirus on the mountains of Pindus in northern Greece, between Ioannina to the north and Metéora to the south. The largest centre of Vlach life in Greece, Metsovo is served by GR-6 Roadway and also by Egnatia Odos Motorway. This one of the most picturesque towns in Greece, its traditional stone houses nestling on the steep mountainside. It is the largest Vlach town in Greece and one can her the Vlach language spoken here as well as Greek.

Metsovo is found at 1200 m altitude in an impressive verdant landscape, on the spot that North and South Pindos Mountains separate. Despite the radical growth of tourism in the latest years, the area has not lost its traditional character. It harmoniously combines the past with the present and it is an ideal shelter not only in winter when you will probably see it in snow and enjoy winter sports, but it has much to offer during all of the seasons of the year.

Being the birthplace of some of some of the most important Greek National Benefactors, Metsovo could not but be famous for its great cultural development. You will admire its museums, the mansions made of stone, the monasteries, the twenty traditional fountains and the cobbled streets. You may also have the chance to attend one of the many cultural events that are organised in the well-appointed conference centre. In addition, you can walk around and enjoy your meal, coffee or snacks in the central square that is surrounded by restaurants and pretty cafés.

More than 200 paintings and sculptures by the great Greek artists of the 19th and 20th century are exhibited in the Averoff Gallery, the most significant cultural space in Epirus. Lytras, Gyzis, Volanakis, Parthenis, Hatzikiriakos-Gikas, Tsarouhis, Moralis, Fasianos, are just a few of the famous artists with works in the collection, housed in a spectacular building with three floors behind the town’s main square.

Finally, there are several areas around Metsovo, each of which has something special to offer. You can visit Anthochori, which has an open air museum of water-driven machinery, Chrisovitsa with Panagia Monastery and its famous potatoes, the villages Anilio and Votonosi, as well as the traditional settlement of Milia on the borders of the National Forest.

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

Saturday, 13 January 2018

MUSIC SATURDAY - GIACOMO CARISSIMI

“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

FOOD FRIDAY - MOUSSAKA

“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: 

MOUSSAKA
Ingredients

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.
 

Method
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

TRAVEL TUESDAY #113 - BEIJING, CHINA

“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.

Saturday, 6 January 2018

MUSIC SATURDAY - DOMENICO GABRIELLI

“If God had designed the orchestra, then the cello was His greatest accomplishment.” ― RickMoody 

Domenico Gabrielli (15 April 1651 or 19 October 1659 – 10 July 1690) was an Italian Baroque composer and one of the earliest known virtuoso cello players. Born in Bologna, he worked in the orchestra of the church of San Petronio and was also a member and for some time president (principe) of the Accademia Filarmonica of Bologna. During the 1680s he also worked as a musician at the court of Duke Francesco II d'Este of Modena.

Gabrielli wrote several operas as well as instrumental and vocal church works. He is especially notable as the composer of some of the earliest attested works for solo cello (two sonatas for cello and basso continuo, a group of seven ricercari for unaccompanied cello, and a canon for two cellos). Among his contemporaries, his own virtuoso performances on this instrument earned him the nickname Mingain (or Minghino) dal viulunzeel, a dialect form meaning “Dominic of the cello.”

Here are two of his sonatas for cello and basso continuo played by Konrad Junghänel (theorbo), Richte Van Der Meer (cello), Robert Kohnen (harpsichord) and Roel Dieltiens (cello).

Friday, 5 January 2018

SUMMERFIELD

“There is no greater sorrow than to recall a happy time when miserable.” ― Dante Alighieri 

Summerfield 

On a perfect Summer’s day
Walking on a fresh green field,
Making memories warm and bright
For a cold and dismal Winter’s night.

On a Summerfield my merry fay,
With a kiss a promise sealed:
Lips that savoured cool sweet wine,
Now in Winter’s tears taste brine.

Oh, to be in Summerfield again,
‘Neath blue sky on verdant grass,
Clasping hands our hearts alight
How we’d love, all sense delight...

But instead in Winter’s bane
I gaze now in frozen glass:
Wrinkles, white hair, all decline,
And for Summerfield I long and pine.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

TRAVEL TUESDAY #112 - MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA

“I’ve always been in love with Melbourne. When I was 12, I was taken into the city by my grandmother to go to the ballet for the first time.” - Kerry Greenwood 

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.
Melbourne is the state capital and most populous city of the Australian state of Victoria, and the second-most populous city in Australia and Oceania. The name “Melbourne” covers an urban agglomeration spanning 9,992.5 km2, which comprises the broader metropolitan area, as well as being the common name for its city centre. The metropolis is located on the large natural bay of Port Phillip and expands into the hinterlands towards the Dandenong and Macedon mountain ranges, Mornington Peninsula and Yarra Valley.

Melbourne consists of 31 municipalities. It has a population of 4,725,316 as of 2016, and its inhabitants are called Melburnians. Founded by free settlers from the British Crown colony of Van Diemen’s Land on 30 August 1835, in what was then the colony of New South Wales, it was incorporated as a Crown settlement in 1837. It was named “Melbourne” by the Governor of New South Wales, Sir Richard Bourke, in honour of the British Prime Minister of the day, William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne.

It was officially declared a city by Queen Victoria, to whom Lord Melbourne was close, in 1847, after which it became the capital of the newly founded colony of Victoria in 1851. During the Victorian gold rush of the 1850s, it was transformed into one of the world’s largest and wealthiest cities. After the federation of Australia in 1901, it served as the nation’s interim seat of government until 1927. Additionally, it was the host city of the 1956 Summer Olympics and the 2006 Commonwealth Games.

Melbourne rates highly in education, entertainment, health care, research and development, tourism and sport, making it the world’s most liveable city (for the seventh year in a row in 2017), according to the Economist Intelligence Unit. It is a leading financial centre in the Asia-Pacific region, and ranks among the top 15 cities in the world in the Global Financial Centres Index.

Referred to as Australia’s “cultural capital”, it is the birthplace of Australian impressionism, Australian rules football, the Australian film and television industries, and Australian contemporary dance. It is recognised as a UNESCO City of Literature and a major centre for street art, music and theatre. It is home to many of Australia’s largest and oldest cultural institutions such as the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the National Gallery of Victoria, the State Library of Victoria and the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Royal Exhibition Building.

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

Saturday, 30 December 2017

MUSIC SATURDAY - A VIENNA NEW YEAR

“Vienna is a handsome, lively city, and pleases me exceedingly.” - Frédéric Chopin 

The Vienna New Year’s Concert (Neujahrskonzert der Wiener Philharmoniker) is a concert of classical music performed by the Vienna Philharmonic that takes place each year in the morning of New Year’s Day in Vienna, Austria, and is regarded by many as the most important classical concert worldwide. It was broadcast live around the world to an estimated audience of more than 50 million in 73 countries in 2012 and 93 countries in 2017. The concerts have been held in the “Goldener Saal” (Golden Hall) of the Musikverein since 1939.

The music always includes pieces from the Strauss family (Johann Strauss I, Johann Strauss II, Josef Strauss and Eduard Strauss) with occasional additional music from other mainly Austrian composers, including Joseph Hellmesberger Jr., Joseph Lanner, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Otto Nicolai (the Vienna Philharmonic’s founder), Emil von Reznicek, Franz Schubert, Franz von Suppé, and Karl Michael Ziehrer.

There had been a tradition of concerts on New Year’s Day in Vienna since 1838, but not with music of the Strauss family. From 1928 to 1933 there were five New Year concerts in the Musikverein, conducted by Johann Strauss III. These concerts were broadcast by the RAVAG. In 1939, Clemens Krauss, with the support of Vienna Gauleiter Baldur von Schirach, devised a New Year concert, which the orchestra dedicated to Kriegswinterhilfswerk (Winter War Relief), to improve morale at the front lines. After World War II, this concert survived, as the Nazi origins were largely forgotten, until more recently.

Here is the New Year’s Concert of 1987, with conductor Herbert von Karajan. The program has as follows:
1. Beginning/inicio (2:04): Der Zigeunerbaron: Ouvertüre – Johann Strauß
2. 10:06 – Sphärenklänge: Walzer – Josef Strauß
3. 19:34 – Annen Polka: Polka française – Johann Strauß
4. 23:56 – Delirien-Walzer – Josef Strauß
5. 33:28 – Die Fledermaus: Ouvertüre – Johann Strauß
6. 42:24 – Beliebte Annen-Polka – Johann Strauß
7. 45:52 – Vergnügungszug: Polka schnell – Johann Strauß
8. 48:48 – Pizzicato-Polka – Johann Strauß
9. 51:48 – Kaiser-Walzer – Johann Strauß
10. 1:03:34 – Perpetuum Mobile, Musikalischer Scherz – Johann Strauß
11. 1:06:36 – Unter Donner und Blitz – Johann Strauß
12. 1:10:28 – Frühlingsstimmen: Walzer (Kathleen Battle – Sopran) – Johann Strauß
13. 1:19:18 – Ohne Sorgen: Polka schnell – Josef Strauß
14. 1:21:22 – An der schönen blauen Donau: Walzer – Johann Strauß (Neujahrsgruß nicht anwesend - no se presenta – not given).
15. 1:31:50 – Radetzky-Marsch - Johann Strauß, Vater

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

TRAVEL TUESDAY #111 - DERRY, IRELAND

“Those in power write the history, while those who suffer write the songs.” ― Frank Harte 

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.
Derry (officially Londonderry), is the second-largest city in Northern Ireland and the fourth-largest city on the island of Ireland. The name Derry is an anglicisation of the Old Irish name Daire (modern Irish: Doire) meaning “oak grove”. In 1613, the city was granted a Royal Charter by King James I and gained the “London” prefix to reflect the funding of its construction by the London guilds. While the city is more usually known colloquially as Derry, Londonderry is also commonly used and remains the legal name.

The old walled city lies on the west bank of the River Foyle, which is spanned by two road bridges and one footbridge. The city now covers both banks (Cityside on the west and Waterside on the east). The population of the city was 83,652 at the 2001 Census, while the Derry Urban Area had a population of 90,736.

The district administered by Derry City and Strabane District Council contains both Londonderry Port and City of Derry Airport. Derry is close to the border with County Donegal, with which it has had a close link for many centuries. The person traditionally seen as the founder of the original Derry is Saint Colmcille, a holy man from Tír Chonaill, the old name for almost all of modern County Donegal, of which the west bank of the Foyle was a part before 1610. In 2013, Derry was the inaugural UK City of Culture, having been awarded the title in 2010.

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

Monday, 25 December 2017

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Best wishes to all!

Saturday, 23 December 2017

MUSIC SATURDAY - ARCANGELO CORELLI

“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

FOOD FRIDAY - CHOCOLATE MOUSSE TIRAMISÙ

“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
Ingredients
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

Method
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

FLINDERS ST INCIDENT

“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...