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Monday, 29 December 2014


Towers are ROMANTIC – too numerous to name my favourites.

The romance of towers when inhabited does not diminish (ditto lighthouses). 

It is gratifying to know that the Beatrice Monti Von Rezzori’s Writers Retreat foundation at Santa Maddalena in Tuscany has a medieval tower where writers go to live and work in peace surrounded by the beauty of a Tuscan landscape.

AND there are towers in Scotland, below a new Roz Barr Architects tower house in Scotland.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

ART: Schiele

Catch this important show of drawings at the Courtauld
BEFORE January 18 

Egon Schiele - a Secessionist in Vienna died, alas, at 28 - very young for a genius.

Monday, 22 December 2014

MEMORIAL: Sir George William Langham Christie CH

An unforgettable celebration of the life of George Christie. St. James' Piccadilly in December 2014, packed with friends & musicians, a crowd worthy of his enthusiasm at Glyndebourne - the world class international Opera House in the folds of the South Downs in Sussex - George was anarchic, he had a gift for friendship, funny, with manners to match his charm. 
His dedication for 42 years to opera was a remarkable achievement. The new opera house is proof of his daring and a triumph. 

To honor him.. a thirty strong London Philharmonic Orchestra. 
The Glyndebourne Chorus, 24 strong - 6 Sopranos // 6 Mezzo Sopranos // 6 Tenors // 6 Baritone/Basses. 

Giuseppe Verdi - Don Carlo march from the Finale Act 2, conductor Vladimir Jurowski. 

Richard Strauss - Capriccio Introduction, conductor Andrew Davis. 

George Frideric Handel - Giulio Cesare 
Va tacito e nascosto. Sung by Mezzo Soprano, Sarah Connolly. 

Franz Schubert - Rosamunde Ent'acle in D-Major, conductor Bernard Haitink. 

Gioacchino Rossini - Le Comte Ory - A la faveur de cette nuit obscure avan├žous nons, conductor Andrew Davis. 

Franz Schubert - Wanderers Nachtlied II.
Robert Schumann - Widmung Myrthen Op. 25, No. 1. sung by Gerald Finley baritone, Duncan Williams Piano. 

For once the hymns were rousing and the singing filled the church to the rafters.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - La Clemenza di Tito Act 2. Sc. XVI. Orchestra and chorus conductor, Vladimir Jurowski. 

Ending with Felix Mendelssohn - A Midsummer Night's Dream, Op. 61, Nocturne, conductor Vladimir Jurowski. 

What a valediction... 
Glyndebourne at its best. 

Saturday, 20 December 2014

CULTURE: Horst at the V&A

SOCIOLOGICALLY, ANTHROPOLOGICALLY very interesting - another era. 

Horst at the V&A until January 4. 

Friday, 19 December 2014

ART/CULTURE: Acropolis Museum

The Elgin Marbles controversy crops up again in the Press. The Greek Government engaged a British law firm, Doughty Street Chambers, to fight its case in 2011, not knowing Amal Alamuddin who represented them was to become Mrs. George Clooney – all the brouhaha good for their case!

I have always been an advocate for keeping the Marbles at the British Museum... pace Neil MacGregor... when I visit the Acropolis Museum my opinion wobbles – the light in the day is spectacular and glamorous at night – the existing plaster casts are a crumbly substitute for marble. 

"Quod non Fecerunt Gothi Fercerunt Scoti"
What the Goths spared, the Scots destroyed 
- Lord Byron -

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

BOOKS: Knox Brothers

The Knox Brothers by Penelope Fitzgerald is a brilliant biography of her father and three brothers, evocative of what is most admirable - his cleverness, integrity, zest for life and all that religion represents – the calm and the turmoil.

A motif throughout the book is this poem, deemed to be ‘an extract and faithful translation… the rendering by William Johnson Cory, of a Greek epigram’
   “They told me, Herachitus, they told me
                                                you were dead, 
            They brought me bitter news to hear,
            Bitter tears to shed.
            I wept when I remembered now,
            Often you and I
            Had tired the sun with talking and sent him down the sky.
            And now that thou art lying,
            My dear Ol’ Carian guest,
            A handful of grey ashes, long, long ago at rest
            Still are thy pleasant voices, thy nightingales awake
            For death he taketh all away

           But then he cannot take."