Saturday 28 February 2015

Emancipation..... progress!

Have a laughter - Have a smile....

Have a sunny Weekend!

A bientôt....


Sunday 22 February 2015

My Sunday Concert - Beethoven

THE COMPOSER – LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) – Vienna was under French bombardment and eventual occupation during the spring and summer of 1809, the year in which Beethoven completed the bulk of the 5th Piano Concerto. It was a decidedly unhappy time for the composer, with the city emptied of friends and benefactors and with contact to the rest of Europe nonexistent. The work was not premiered until November of 1811, not surprisingly in Leipzig rather than Vienna. - See more at:

Piano Concerto No. 5, "Emperor"

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

Beethoven - Piano Concerto No. 5 ("Emperor")
The Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat major, Op. 73  popularly known as the Emperor Concerto,
and  known for its grandeur, bold melodies, and heroic spirit, was his last piano concerto.
 Written between 1809 and 1811 in Vienna,
while Vienna was bombarded then occupied by the French.
It was dedicated to Archduke Rudolf, Beethoven's patron, friend and pupil.

The first performance took place on 28 November 1811 
at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig, the soloist being Friedrich Schneider.
In 1812, Carl Czerny, another student of Beethoven's, gave the Vienna debut of this work.
Beethoven - Piano Concerto No. 5 ("Emperor")
THE COMPOSER – LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) – Vienna was under French bombardment and eventual occupation during the spring and summer of 1809, the year in which Beethoven completed the bulk of the 5th Piano Concerto. It was a decidedly unhappy time for the composer, with the city emptied of friends and benefactors and with contact to the rest of Europe nonexistent. The work was not premiered until November of 1811, not surprisingly in Leipzig rather than Vienna. - See more at:
   It remains the best known and most frequently performed of Beethoven’s five piano concerti.


Part I – Allegro
 constructed like a sonata it starts with a cadence of the piano, suggesting man’s heroism.
Only later, the orchestra presents the first theme.


Tai-Haim Samnon and Zubin Mehta



Part II – Adagio un poco mosso
starts with a silent presentation by the string instruments of an expressive theme, of great openness,
and is followed by the piano with an extraordinarily melodic segment.

 by Kurt Sanderling, Dieter Zechlin & Gewandhausorchester Leipzig


Part III – Rondo-Allegro
starts just before the end of the second part when the piano tunes the sounds of an arpeggio
which will generate the theme of the rondo, so powerfully rendered by the solo instrument.

by Arthur Rubinstein

 dedicated to my dear friend Gillian Siemon-Netto


About the Piece:

Beethoven's last piano concerto dates from the beginning of May 1809, when, with Napoleon's army besieging Vienna, the Austrian Imperial family and all of the court, including Beethoven’s pupil, friend, and benefactor, Archduke Rudolph, fled the city. On May 11 the French artillery, which commanded the heights of the surrounding countryside and had penetrated outlying portions of the city proper, was activated. Beethoven’s house stood perilously close to the line of fire.
Those who could not – or, like Beethoven, would not – leave sought shelter underground. Beethoven found a temporary haven in the cellar of his brother's house. Imagine the composer crouching there, with heaven knows how many other frightened souls, trying to shield his already irreparably damaged ears from the din of volley after volley.
Once the bombardment had ceased and the Austrian forces had surrendered, the occupiers imposed a "residence tax" on the Viennese. The composer, on whom a sufficiently heavy financial burden had been placed by the departure of those who would guarantee his income, described "a city filled with nothing but drums, cannon, marching men, and misery of all sorts."

After the summer Beethoven was able to get away from the city and return to composing, producing back-to-back masterpieces in the "heroic" key of E-flat, the present Piano Concerto and the "Harp" Quartet, Op. 74. The grim experiences of the preceding months had not diminished his creative powers.
With many of his circle back in Vienna at the beginning of 1810, by which time a general armistice had been signed, life was returning to a semblance of normalcy, the French uniforms and the sound of the French language in the streets notwithstanding. There was, however, no opportunity to present the new concerto. That had to wait until the following year, and then not in Vienna but in Leipzig, with one Friedrich Schneider as soloist. Beethoven, who had written his four previous piano concertos for his own performance, was by now too deaf to perform with orchestra.

For the occasion of the Vienna premiere in February 1812 the soloist was Beethoven's prize pupil, Carl Czerny. Interestingly, the concerto itself failed to make much of an impression, largely, it would seem, because of the nature of the audience, the Society of Noble Ladies of Charity, more receptive to the historic tableaux vivants that shared the bill with Beethoven. The one press review that has survived, from the periodical Thalia, took note of that fact: "Beethoven, full of confidence in himself, never writes for the multitude. He demands understanding and feeling, and because of the intenational difficulties, he can receive these only at the hands of the connoisseurs, who are not to be found at such functions." Nonetheless it was at that same concert that one connoisseur, a French army officer, supposedly called this "an emperor among concertos" (aloud, in the auditorium?). Although this is often cited as a source of the nickname, verification is lacking. It is more likely that "Emperor" was the brainchild of an early publisher. Whatever its origin, the sobriquet seems apt for music of such imperious grandeur.

Here, Beethoven is no longer writing up to his own lofty standards as a performer, but for the supervirtuoso of the following generation – personified by Czerny. Yet while the projection of power is among the composer's aims, overt display is not, with nothing resembling a solo cadenza in sight. With the "Emperor" Beethoven created a truly symphonic concerto.

The first movement opens with a grandiose E-flat chord for the full orchestra, interrupted by a series of equally commanding arpeggios for the solo, suggesting an early cadenza. But instead Beethoven alternates mighty pronouncements for the orchestra and the piano. The introduction ended, the piano offers a broad, swaggering theme of which (and of the ensuing, more subdued, second theme) Donald Francis Tovey, in his famous analysis of the Concerto, wrote: "The orchestra is not only symphonic, but is enabled by the very necessity of accompanying the solo lightly to produce ethereal orchestral effects that are in quite a different category from anything in the symphonies. On the other hand, the solo part develops the technique of its instrument with a freedom and brilliance for which Beethoven has no leisure in sonatas and chamber music."

The second movement is one of the composer's sublime inspirations. The muted strings play a theme of incomparable beauty and sad tenderness, the piano responding in hushed, descending triplets, creating a subtle tension until the theme is fully exposed. The nocturne-like character of the movement is furthered by a delicate balance of soft woodwinds, strings, and the solo, as the music mysteriously fades away. Then, over a sustained horn note, the piano introduces, softly and still andante, the theme of the rondo finale. Suddenly, dramatically, the piano lunges into the final theme, now a grandly exuberant allegro.
- by Herbert Glass

THE COMPOSER – LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) – Vienna was under French bombardment and eventual occupation during the spring and summer of 1809, the year in which Beethoven completed the bulk of the 5th Piano Concerto. It was a decidedly unhappy time for the composer, with the city emptied of friends and benefactors and with contact to the rest of Europe nonexistent. The work was not premiered until November of 1811, not surprisingly in Leipzig rather than Vienna. - See more at:

Monday 2 February 2015

A 15th Century BEAUTY...and the painters fly....

Portrait of a Woman of the Hofer Family
about 1470, Swabian

The sitter's family is identified by the inscription 
"GEBORNE HOFERIN" (born a Hofer), 
although her precise identity is unknown.

She holds a forget-me-not, presumably for remembrance. 
On her headdress is a fly, 
either a symbol of mortality or a reminder of the artist's skills of illusion.

The artist worked in Southern Germany, Württemberg, near Ulm; 
the portrait probably dates from about 1470.
National Gallery, London

Simply pure BEAUTY!


This is the painting of my 2015 Diary
from the National Gallery, London,
for the first February week.

After a rather clouded January (in the truest sense of word!!)
I was so delighted this morning when I opened my Diary,
and had the need to share my pleasure.

Bonne semaine a TOUS!


The National Gallery 2015 Diary is a celebration of colour.
Each month takes a different colour as its theme,
and each week features a famous painting from the National Gallery's collection 
that schowcases how artists used colour in antmospheric landscapes, 
ornate textiles or expressive portraits.

This diary is sold out, but there is the  
National Gallery Colour 2015 Mini Desk Diary available here

 During this year I'll try to post more "weekly paintings"....



"The Fly on the painting....."

The portrait of the Swabian woman of the Hofer family is both poignant and comic. 
Her eyes twinkle, and her mouth is halfway to a smile, 
as if she knows only too well what the artist has done to her: 
on her copious white veil sits a black fly, positioned as conspicuously as a beauty spot. 
It lives – the illusion is superb – and it will die, like the brilliant blue forget-me-nots in her hand. 
Memento mori can be stultifyingly conventional (the skull, the candle), 
but these are so unusual as to be sharply arresting. 
And the fly is a proof of the anonymous artist's gifts too: 
a guarantee of the realism and fidelity of the portrait.

Interpretation from:  here



by Steven Connor


The Painter and the Fly


Flies had featured regularly as decorative elements in the margins of medieval illuminated manuscripts and Books of Hours such as the Isabella Breviary. They began to appear in paintings from the fifteenth century onwards. Art historians who have tracked the appearances of the fly over the ensuing century and a half have divided decorously into two groups. For some time, the consensus seemed to be that flies were to be read as religious symbols, connoting sin, corruption and mortality (Kühnel 1989, Estella 2002). The well-known associations between the fly and the name of Beelzebub, ‘Lord of the Flies’, a local Philistine deity first mentioned in 2 Kings 1 and later promoted to the condition of Satan’s lieutenant, helped pin down the fly’s demonic credentials. A clear example of this is The Mystic Betrothal of St. Agnes (c. 1495/1500), by the Master of the St Bartholomew Altarpiece, in the German National Museum in Nuremberg. The Golden Legend tells us that St Agnes gave an unwanted suitor the brush-off by telling him that she was betrothed to Christ. In the background of the painting are two peacocks, symbols of virginity and resurrection, and a larger-than-life fly, symbol of the earthly lusts she has renounced......


....More recently, art historians have begun to wonder whether the fly is quite so easily to be swatted for symbolic purposes. For the fly seems also to be used, as Felix Thülemann has put it, as ‘a selfconscious representation of superior painterly prowess’ (Thülemann 1992, 543). The fact that representations of flies are often to be found in the vicinity of artistic signatures, especially those which have the trompe l’oeil form of the rolled or torn strip of manuscript, seems to heighten the association between the fly and the making, even the maker, rather than the meaning, of the work of art... 

There is an ur-story of the painter and the fly, first told by Filarete in his Trattato di Architettura, written between 1461 and 1464, but known much more widely from Vasari’s brief reference to it in Lives of the Painters (Vasari 1996, I.117). 

The young Giotto arrived in the studio of his master Cimabue, to find a portrait in progress on an easel.

 Giotto painted a fly, seemingly poised on the nose of the painting’s subject. When the Master returned to the studio, 

he attempted repeatedly to brush away the fly. Implicitly, this is the moment at which the genius of the young Giotto was noticed, and a new area of realism inaugurated. The story was quickly transferred to other artists. In his fictitious dialogue between Leonardo and Pheidias, Giovanni Paolo Lomazzo has Leonardo tell how the young Andrea Mantegna fooled his Mantuan Master by painting a fly on the eyelash of a lion in his painting of St Jerome; envious of his talents, the Mantuan master sent his uppity apprentice away to work with Bellini (Lomazzo 1974, I.93-4). 

In these stories, the fly signals the art that conceals art of the painter, an ostentation arising in ordinariness, a perfecting defacement.....


When they stumble into art, flies are the ground promoted to the status of figure, a breaking through into visible significance of the blooming buzzing monotony of the insignificant, the accidental, the ignored; they are what Wallace Stevens calls ‘a repetition/In a repetitiousness of men and flies’ (Stevens 1984, 502). Where other lowly or loathly creatures have often been held to characterise the abject or the informe, flies have a more specific office. As embodiments of accident, of what just happens to happen, as synecdoches of the untransfigured quotidian, their principal signification is as the opposite of art. And yet, for that very reason, flies have whizzed and crept and tiptoed across art and writing for centuries, never quite achieving the status of a subject, of that which may be fixed in view, and yet irresistibly drawing the eye and soliciting the attentions of the forming hand.


Flies are, in two senses, a provocation to art – a nose thumbed at art’s grandiose self-esteem, and a challenge to the artist’s skill. The fly is always caught – as though on a windowpane - between the condition of emblem and phenomenon: at first sight a mere smudge, blot or blemish, which then becomes the emblem of its own obstructive phenomenality.  

read all   here



With great thanks to Jackie from  HOME 

for stimulating me to delve further into the mystery of  "HOFERIN's Fly"!! 




Any kind of interpretation or idea on this subject

    will be more than welcome.