25 de septiembre de 2011

Happy Birthday! J.P.Rameau - September 25, 1683

Jean-Philippe Rameau, (baptized Sept. 25, 1683, Dijon, France—died Sept. 12, 1764, Paris), French composer of the late Baroque period, best known today for his harpsichord music, operas, and works in other theatrical genres but in his lifetime also famous as a music theorist.
Rameau’s father, Jean, played the organ for 42 years in various churches in Dijon and hoped one day to see his son on a lawyer’s, rather than an organist’s, bench. These hopes were dashed by the boy’s deplorable performance in school. At the age of 17 he is said to have fallen in love with a young widow who laughed at the errors of grammar and spelling in his letters to her. He tried to refine his language, but, to judge by the prolixity of his later theoretical writings, his efforts resulted in no permanent improvement.
To some ears there was, indeed, too much music. Those who had grown up with the operas of Jean-Baptiste Lully were baffled by the complexity of Rameau’s orchestration, the intensity of his accompanied recitatives (speechlike sections), and the rich and often dissonant diversity of his harmonies. Among those at the first performance of Hippolyte was the great Voltaire, who quipped that Rameau “is a man who has the misfortune to know more music than Lully.” But he soon came around to Rameau’s side and wrote for him a fine libretto, Samson, which was banned ostensibly for religious reasons but really because of a cabal against Voltaire; the music was lost. Their later collaboration on two frothy court entertainments is preserved, however: La Princesse de Navarre and Le Temple de la Gloire (both 1745). The former was condensed and revised as Les Fêtes de Ramire (1745) by Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
Rousseau, Jean Le Rond d’Alembert, and other writers associated with Denis Diderot’s Encyclopédie began as ardent Rameau enthusiasts, but, by the mid-1750s, as they warmed more and more to Italian music, they gradually turned against him. Rameau appreciated the new Italian music as much as anyone, but the works he composed in this style, such as the overtures to Les Fêtes de Polymnie (1745) and to his final work, Abaris ou les Boréades (1764), do not bear the mark of individuality.

Font: Encyclopædia Britannica

17 de septiembre de 2011

Hildegard von Bingen 1098 - 17 September 1179 - Hace 832 Años

Visionary, Composer, Writer
Born in Bemersheim (Böckelheim), West Franconia (now Germany), she was the tenth child of a well-to-do family. She'd had visions connected with illness (perhaps migraines) from a young age, and in 1106 her parents sent her to a 400-year-old Benedictine monastery which had only recently added a section for women. They put her under the care of a noblewoman and resident there, Jutta, calling Hildegard the family's "tithe" to God. Jutta, whom Hildegard later referred to as an "unlearned woman," taught Hildegard to read and to write. Jutta became the abbess of the convent, which attracted other young women of noble background. In that time, convents were often places of learning, a welcome home to women who had intellectual gifts. Hildegard, as was true of many other women in convents at the time, learned Latin, read the scriptures, and had access to many other books of religious and philosophical nature. Those who have traced the influence of ideas in her writings find that Hildegard must have read quite extensively. Part of the Benedictine rule required study, and Hildegard clearly availed herself of the opportunities.
When Jutta died in 1136, Hildegard was elected unanimously as the new abbess. Rather than continue as part of a double house -- a monastery with units for men and for women -- Hildegard in 1148 decided to move the convent to Rupertsberg, where it was on its own, not directly under the supervision of a male house. This gave Hildegard considerable freedom as an administrator, and she traveled frequently in Germany and France. She claimed that she was following God's order in making the move, firmly opposing her abbot's opposition. Literally firmly: she assumed a rigid position, lying like a rock, until he gave his permission for the move. The move was completed in 1150.
The Rupertsberg convent grew to as many as 50 women, and became a popular burial site for the wealthy of the area. The women who joined the convent were of wealthy backgrounds, and the convent did not discourage them from maintaining something of their lifestyle. Hildegard of Bingen withstood criticism of this practice, claiming that wearing jewelry to worship God was honoring God, not practicing selfishness. Part of the Benedictine rule is labor, and Hildegard spent early years in nursing, and at Rupertsberg in illustrating ("illuminating") manuscripts. She hid her early visions; only after she was elected abbess did she receive a vision which she said clarified her knowledge of "the psaltery..., the evangelists and the volumes of the Old and New Testament." Still showing much self-doubt, she began to write and to share her visions.
Hildegard of Bingen lived at a time when, within the Benedictine movement, there was stress on the inner experience, personal meditation, an immediate relationship with God, and visions. It was also a time in Germany of striving between papal authority and the authority of the German (Holy Roman) emperor, and by a papal schism.
Hildegard of Bingen, through her many letters, took to task both the German Emperor Frederick Barbarossa and the archbishop of Main. She wrote to such luminaries as King Henry II of England and his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine. She also corresponded with many individuals of low and high estate who wanted her advice or prayers.
Richardis or Ricardis von Stade, one of the convent's nuns who was a personal assistant to Hildegard of Bingen, was a special favorite of Hildegard. Richardis' brother was an archbishop, and he arranged for his sister to head another convent. Hildegard tried to persuade Richardis to stay, and wrote insulting letters to the brother and even wrote to the Pope hoping to stop the move. But Richardis left, and died after she decided to return to Rupertsberg but before she could do so.
A final famous incident happened near the end of Hildegard's life, when she was in her eighties. She allowed a nobleman who had been excommunicated to be buried at the convent, seeing that he had last rites. She claimed she'd received word from God allowing the burial. But her ecclesiastical superiors intervened, and ordered the body exhumed. Hildegard defied the authorities by hiding the grave, and the authorities excommunicated the entire convent community. Most insultingly to Hildegard, the interdict prohibited the community from singing. She complied with the interdict, avoiding singing and communion, but did not comply with the command to exhume the corpse. Hildegard appealed the decision to yet higher church authorities, and finally had the interdict lifted.

10 de septiembre de 2011

"Astrological man" - 1416 Limbourg brothers

Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry - Anatomical Man
This symbolic picture, of a type found in calendars of the late fifteenth century and known as an "anatomical man" ("astrological man" would be a better appellation), exists in no other illuminated manuscript. An extension of the calendar, to which it was added in the form of an inset page, the present example is a remarkable exception explained by Charles V's passionate interest in astrology, shared by his brothers and satisfied by his astrologer, Thomas Pisani, father of the celebrated Christine de Pisan.The miniature claims to show the influence of the zodiacal stars on the human hody. According to the comments inscribed in the corners, humanity can he divided into several different categories.First, temperaments are based on one of the four traditional humors: sanguinous or full-blooded, phlegmatic or lymphatic, choleric or bilious, and melancholic or acrimonious. Man may he further categorized according to his degree of heat or dryness, according to the proportions of masculinity or femininity of his character, and finally, what is more obscure, in relationship to the cardinal points.Combinations of these categories result in four main groupings of the signs of the zodiac: Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius are hot and dry, choleric, masculine, and oriental; Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn are cold and dry, melancholic, feminine, and occidental; Gemini, Aquarius, and Libra are hot and wet, masculine, sanguinous, and meridional; Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces are cold and wet, phlegmatic, feminine, and nordic. Such categories and connections were held dear in the Middle Ages.
Two figures standing back to back illustrate these categories. The frontal figure is slenderer and obviously represents the feminine character, the figure seen from the back and only in part is more vigorous, representing the masculine character. One is blonde, the other dark in contrast. The Limbourgs succeeded in making a graceful image of these figures.
Fernand de Mely has noted that the female figure seems to he inspired from an ancient group of the Three Graces, now in the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Siena. The signs of the zodiac are shown on the figure at the points where they influence the human hody: Aries the ram is at the head, Taurus the bull at the neck, and so on to Pisces at the feet. In an almond-shaped hand around both figures the signs of the zodiac are repeated, a little differently from those in the calendar months but not without grace. Above, just under the inscriptions in the upper corners, are painted the arms of the Duc de Berry, while in the lower corners are the mysterious initials, VE, inexplicably adopted by him.

Dutch Painter

2 de septiembre de 2011

Richard the Lionheart - Coeur de Lion

King of England (1189-1199) and Duke of Aquitaine (1168-1199), Count of Anjou and Duke of Normandy was born in Oxford, England, prototype of the medieval knight and hero of countless romantic legends. Third son of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, after William, Count of Poitiers, who died a child, and Henry the Younger. He was educated mainly by his mother and when she decided to separate himself from Henry II and go live in Poitiers (1170), took him in their company. While the prince received an excellent education, but rather facing the French culture. Ricardo never learned to speak English and little or no importance given to England during his vida.aliou to the king of France, Philip II, against his father. Heir to 11 years, took over the county final (1172) and his mother and brother Henry promoted a rebellion that broke the Aquitaine (1173) against his father, but was defeated and had to undergo to obtain forgiveness (1174) But Eleanor remained incarcerated. In a new revolt against his father (1188), managed to beat him with the help of Philip II Augustus of France. With the death of Henry the Younger (1183), unexpectedly became the successor to the English throne and the Duchy of Normandy, as the eldest surviving sons of the monarch, and heir to the duchy of Normandy and the county of Anjou. After being crowned in Westminster Abbey, began to prepare the expedition to the Holy Land would be the Third Crusade and did not remain long in England. He resigned from the French alliance and began to sell real treasures and public offices in order to finance a fleet and an army, which led to Palestine (1190) Domain liberate Jerusalem from Saladin, sultan of Egypt and Syria. Philip II of France persuaded to join the crusade and also departed to Sicily (1190), where he and Philip involving themselves in local politics, sacking cities along the way and for this reason, it became frowned upon by the Holy Roman Empire . Of the ten years of his reign he spent nine out of England, attending the 3rd Crusade. He earned victories in the crusade as the conquest of Cyprus (1191), but alienated Leopold V, Duke of Austria, while Philip II Augustus encouraged his brother John Landless to revolt against the king, now known as the Lionheart, the which forced him to leave Palestine (1192), after signing with Saladin, a truce of three years that allowed Christians access to holy places. Returning (1192), was taken prisoner by Duke Leopold of Austria, who handed him over to Emperor Henry VI of Germany. After two years in prison in the castle of Dürrenstein on the Danube, was released in exchange for valuable redemption and the promise of allegiance. Crowned for the second time (1194), returned to the mainland to try to recover the territories taken by Philip Augustus, but died from wounds inflicted by an arrow that hit him in the abdomen, at a time that was without armor during the castle siege Chalus, in the French region of Limousin. His body was buried in Fontevraud Abbey, along with Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine. Leader of the Third Crusade and considered in its day as a hero, his exploits were immortalized by Sir Walter Scott's novel Ivanhoe (1819). Muslims in the Middle East gave him the nickname of Melek-Ric pel, and used that figure to threaten the children who misbehaved.