Tuesday, 28 March 2017


“There have always been people who have felt the necessity of change earlier than others. And this is critical for every society. Nothing is more important than human initiative and the freedom to create… To find and support such people is the great task of literature and art.” - Rustam Ibrahimbeyov   

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.
Baku is the capital and largest city of Azerbaijan, as well as the largest city on the Caspian Sea and of the Caucasus region. Baku is located 28 metres below sea level, which makes it the lowest lying national capital in the world and also the largest city in the world located below sea level. It is located on the southern shore of the Absheron Peninsula, alongside the Bay of Baku.

 At the beginning of 2009, Baku’s urban population was estimated at just over two million people. Officially, about 25 percent of all inhabitants of the country live in Baku’s metropolitan area. Baku is divided into eleven administrative districts (raions) and 48 townships. Among these are the townships on the islands of the Baku Archipelago, and the town of Oil Rocks built on stilts in the Caspian Sea, 60 kilometres away from Baku.

The Inner City of Baku, along with the Shirvanshah’s Palace and Maiden Tower, were inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. According to the Lonely Planet’s ranking, Baku is also among the world’s top ten destinations for urban nightlife. The city is the scientific, cultural and industrial centre of Azerbaijan. Many sizeable Azerbaijani institutions have their headquarters there.

 The Baku International Sea Trade Port is capable of handling two million tons of general and dry bulk cargoes per year. In recent years, Baku has become an important venue for international events. It hosted the 57th Eurovision Song Contest in 2012, the 2015 European Games, the 2016 European Grand Prix and will host the 4th Islamic Solidarity Games in 2017 and UEFA Euro 2020. The city is renowned for its harsh winds, which is reflected in its nickname, the “City of Winds”.

Baku has wildly varying architecture, ranging from the Old City core to modern buildings and the spacious layout of the Baku port. Many of the city’s most impressive buildings were built during the early 20th century, when architectural elements of the European styles were combined in eclectic style. Baku thus has an original and unique appearance, earning it a reputation as the “Paris of the East”. In the last decade, countless towers have mushroomed, dwarfing or replacing tatty old Soviet apartment blocks. Some of the finest new buildings are jaw-dropping masterpieces.

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

Add your own travel posts using the Linky tool below, and don't forget to be nice and leave a comment here, and link back to this page from your own post:

Monday, 27 March 2017


“There is a danger in monotheism, and it’s called idolatry. And we know the prophets of Israel were very, very concerned about idolatry, the worship of a human expression of the divine.” - Karen Armstrong 

Aten (also Aton, Egyptian jtn) is the disk of the sun in ancient Egyptian mythology, and originally an aspect of the god Ra. The deified Aten is the focus of the religion of Atenism established by Amenhotep IV, who later took the name Akhenaten (died ca. 1335 BCE) in worship and recognition of Aten. In his poem “Great Hymn to the Aten”, Akhenaten praises Aten as the creator, giver of life, and nurturing spirit of the world. Aten does not have a Creation Myth or family, but is mentioned in the Book of the Dead. The worship of Aten was eradicated by Horemheb.

 The Aten, the sun-disk, is first referred to as a deity in The Story of Sinuhe from the 12th dynasty, in which the deceased king is described as rising as god to the heavens and uniting with the sun-disk, the divine body merging with its maker. By analogy, the term “silver aten” was sometimes used to refer to the moon. The solar Aten was extensively worshipped as a god in the reign of Amenhotep III, when it was depicted as a falcon-headed man much like Ra. In the reign of Amenhotep III's successor, Amenhotep IV, the Aten became the central god of Egyptian state religion, and Amenhotep IV changed his name to Akhenaten to reflect his close link with the new supreme deity. 

The full title of Akhenaten’s god was “Ra-Horakhty who rejoices in the horizon, in his Name as the Light which is in the sun disc” (this is the title of the god as it appears on the numerous stelae which were placed to mark the boundaries of Akhenaten’s new capital at Akhetaten, modern Amarna). This lengthy name was often shortened to Ra-Horus-Aten or just Aten in many texts, but the god of Akhenaten raised to supremacy is considered a synthesis of very ancient gods viewed in a new and different way. The god is also considered to be both masculine and feminine simultaneously. All creation was thought to emanate from the god and to exist within the god. In particular, the god was not depicted in anthropomorphic (human) form, but as rays of light extending from the sun’s disk. This concept was foreign to nearly all Egyptians, as the new religion was monotheistic and devoid of anthropomorphic idols to worship.

 Principles of Aten’s religion were recorded on the rock tomb walls of Akhetaten. In the religion of Aten (Atenism), night is a time to fear. Work is done best when the sun, Aten, is present. Aten cares for every creature as Aten created all countries and all people. The rays of the sun disk only holds out life to the royal family; everyone else receives life from Akhenaten and Nefertiti in exchange of loyalty for Aten. When a good person dies, he/she continues to live in the City of Light for the dead in Akhetaten. The conditions are the same after death. Akhenaten judged whether someone should be granted an afterlife, and operated the scale of justice. The explanation as to why Aten could not be fully represented was that the god has gone beyond creation.

 The cult centre of Aten was at the new city Akhetaten; some other cult cities included Thebes and Heliopolis. The principles of Aten’s cult were recorded on the rock walls of tombs of Tall al-Amarnah. Significantly different from other ancient Egyptian temples, temples of Aten were colorful and open-roofed to allow the rays of the sun. Doorways had broken lintels and raised thresholds. No statues of Aten were allowed; those were seen as idolatry. However, these were typically replaced by functionally equivalent representations of Akhenaten and his family venerating the Aten, and receiving the ankh (breath of life) from him. Priests had less to do, since offerings (fruits, flowers, cakes) were limited, and oracles were not needed.

Temples of Aten did not collect tax. In the worship of Aten, the daily service of purification, anointment and clothing of the divine image was not performed. Incense was burnt several times a day. Hymns sung to Aten were accompanied by harp music. Aten’s ceremonies in Akhetaten involved giving offerings to Aten with a swipe of the royal sceptre. Instead of barque processions, the royal family rode on a chariot on festival days.

Horemheb (sometimes spelled Horemhab or Haremhab and meaning Horus is in Jubilation) was the last pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty of Egypt. He ruled from either 1319 BC to late 1292 BC, or 1306 to late 1292 BC (since he ruled for 14 years) although he was not related to the preceding royal family and is believed to have been of common birth. Before he became pharaoh, Horemheb was the commander in chief of the army under the reigns of Tutankhamun and Ay.

After his accession to the throne, he reformed the Egyptian state and it was under his reign that official action against the preceding Amarna rulers began. Due to this, he is considered the man who restabilised his country after the troublesome and divisive Amarna Period. Horemheb demolished monuments of Akhenaten, reusing their remains in his own building projects, and usurped monuments of Tutankhamun and Ay. Horemheb presumably remained childless since he appointed his vizier Paramesse as his successor, who would assume the throne as Ramesses I.

Sunday, 26 March 2017


“To see the Persia of poets and painters, hiding in plain sight behind the much-maligned Iran of our newspaper headlines, would be my fondest wish.” - Pico Iyer

Haydar Hatemi (born March 3, 1945-Hadishahr – Alamdar) is an Iranian of Iranian Azerbaijani origin. artist whose work is based on blends of classical oriental styles such as miniature and tazhib, with some modern elements. His early studies in art started at Tabriz’s Art Academy after finishing high school in Tabriz, Iran. Hatemi is a graduate of the prestigious Fine Arts Academy of Tehran University. He moved to Turkey in 1983. He is one of the most significant artists of the Iranian and Azerbaijani diaspora. He has been working under the commission of the Qatari Royal family for the last decade.

Hatemi, an Iranian Azerbaijani, started painting aged 14, while he was continuing high school in Tabriz. His early studies in art started at Tabriz’s Art Academy after finishing Tabriz middle school, Iran. It was during this time there that he learned the tazhib technique from Master Abduhl Bageri and studied sculpture techniques from Master Ashot Babayan. He continued his art studies at the Art Academy of Tehran and was privileged to be trained under masters Hussain Behzad and Abu Talib Mugimi.

Hatemi soon gained celebrity status during his sophomore year in college when he won the national award for designing the Takht-e-Tavus medal for the international Cancer Society. This award was presented to him by the Queen of Iran, Farah Pahlavi. Hatemi also taught sculpture classes in Shahnaz Pahlavi Art Academy. During his college years in Tehran University, Hatemi won first place in multiple competitions, which included design of the Logo of the Isfahan University and the Logo of the Shahpur Petro-Chemicals. He also designed the gold coins in commemoration of the 2500th anniversary of the Persian Empire. Between 1972-1978, Hatemi established the Design Art Center in Tehran and produced very large sculptures commissioned by the Mayor of Tehran. His statue of Shah Abbas on horseback is on display at Isfahan’s Square and a statue called Birds and the Rock at Argentina Square in Tehran.

After the Iranian revolution, Hatemi moved to Turkey with his young family in 1983. He continued his painting in Bursa and Istanbul and started the orientalist movement within the Turkish art world. During this period his paintings became part of the Sabancı Collection and many other private collections.

Early in his career, Hatemi took great interest in the tazhib technique and miniature paintings in particular. His main goal to apply his style to Ottoman Empire theme was very well received by the Turkish art scene. His admiration for miniature masters and his desire to apply this to a newer subjects lead to the creation of his “Stories of the Messengers” series in the early 2003 which became his most celebrated and famous series. In these series, Hatemi depicts stories of messengers, which are common to Quran, Bible and Torah. He also paints scenes of old Istanbul, which were commissioned by the royal family of Qatar. The Istanbul series are the best example of this genre.

The painting above highlights several of the styles Hatemi is proficient at. A painstakingly meticulous hand that is able to render fine details, trompe l’oeil effects, luscious vistas reminiscent of past times and historical details that playfully interact with modern touches. In other painting series, the art of Persian miniatures and manuscript illustrations is revived, while other series highlight Ottoman portraiture and scenes from the Holy Books of the Islamic, Jewish and Christian faiths.

Saturday, 25 March 2017


“The tyrant dies and his rule is over, the martyr dies and his rule begins.” - Soren Kierkegaard 

Antonio Bertali (probably March 1605 – 17 April 1669) was an Italian composer and violinist of the Baroque era. He was born in Verona and received early music education there from Stefano Bernardi. Probably from 1624, he was employed as court musician in Vienna by Emperor Ferdinand II. In 1649, Bertali succeeded Giovanni Valentini as court Kapellmeister. He died in Vienna in 1669 and was succeeded in his post by Giovanni Felice Sances.

Bertali's compositions are in the manner of other northern Italian composers of the time and include operas, oratorios, a large number of liturgical works, and chamber music. Particularly his operas are notable for establishing the tradition of Italian opera seria in Vienna. Approximately half of his output is now lost; copies survive made by Bertali’s contemporary, Pavel Josef Vejvanovský, some of the pieces are currently in possession of Vienna’s Hofbibliothek, the library of the Kremsmünster Abbey and the Kroměříž archive.

The most important source for Bertali’s work is, however, the Viennese Distinta Specificatione catalogue, which lists several composers of the Habsburg court and provides titles and scoring for more than 2000 compositions. The Ciaccona (chaconne) is perhaps Bertali’s best-known work.

Here is his Oratorio “La Strage degl’ Innocenti” (The Massacre of the Innocents), relating to the biblical account of infanticide by Herod the Great, the Roman-appointed King of the Jews. According to the Gospel of Matthew, Herod ordered the execution of all young male children in the vicinity of Bethlehem, so as to avoid the loss of his throne to a newborn King of the Jews whose birth had been announced to him by the Magi. This is performed by the ensemble, Melopoëia & Apollo & Pan.

Friday, 24 March 2017


“The Greek word for ‘return’ is nostos. Algos means ‘suffering’. So nostalgia is the suffering caused by an unappeased yearning to return.” ― Milan Kundera 

We were given some home-grown tomatoes by some friends who have quite a large vegetable patch in their garden. The tomatoes were ripe and red, full of flavour and begging to be eaten. A traditional Greek dish characteristic of late Summer is stuffed vegetables, or if one is spoilt by having such wonderful tomatoes as an ingredient on hand, stuffed tomatoes:

Stuffed Tomatoes

10 ripe, fleshy and flavoursome tomatoes (home-grown are best!)
12 tbsp calrose rice
1 large onion, grated
3 tbsp parsley, chopped
2 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
The tomato flesh, blended
1 tbsp currants (seedless)
2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted with a little olive oil in a pan
1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup breadcrumbs, mixed with,
1/2 cup grated parmesan
Salt, pepper to taste
1 glassful of vegetable stock

Prepare the tomatoes first: Cut the top of the washed and dried tomatoes, so that lid is formed, still attached to the tomato about 2 cm length. With a teaspoon, carefully scoop out the tomato flesh and reserve. Be careful not to puncture the wall of the tomato. At the end you should have 10 hollowed out tomatoes with lids. Add salt and pepper to the cavity of each tomato and rub the inside with a teaspoon of olive oil. Arrange the tomatoes in a baking tray so that they are fairly tightly packed, touching each other all around.
Take the flesh of the tomatoes and blend into a pulp. Add salt. If the tomatoes are ripe and red there is no need to add sugar (in fact don’t add sugar to tomatoes, ever!). Reserve.
In a pan, pour the remaining olive oil (about 1/2 cup and sauté the grated onion until golden. Add the rice, stirring to mix thoroughly with the onion and oil. Add the currants and pine nuts, stirring well to mix through. Add the tomato pulp, parsley and mint. Cook for a few minutes until the herbs are wilted. Taste for salt/pepper and add accordingly.
Fill the tomato cases with the rice mixture until they are 3/4 full. Cover with the lids and drizzle some extra olive oil over each tomato (about 1 tsp over each one). Pour the vegetable stock into the baking tray in between the tomatoes.
Sprinkle the breadcrumb/parmesan mixture over the tomatoes and bake in a fan-forced oven at 180˚C for about an hour, an hour and a quarter until the tomatoes are cooked, the topping is golden brown and the rice is tender. You may serve them hot or cold.

This post is part of the Food Friday meme.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017


“When the sun has set, no candle can replace it.” ― George R.R. Martin

I am still away on a work trip and will not get back home until the end of the week. Still, while in a hotel room, after a hard day, one does get a little window of opportunity to catch up with one’s  emails and participate in the Poets United Mid-Week Motif, which is tittled : “Mirror”.

Smoke and Mirrors

I drink, alone,
And smoke endless cigarettes;
A chain of smoke binding me
To your image,
On the mirror of my memory.

I smoke, solitary,
And drink hard liquor,
Swimming to you
As you recede, fast sinking
To the bottom of my glass.

And as the butts accumulate,
In the ashtray of your remembrance,
I resolve to leave you be;
Forget your face,
Burn your impression…

And the bottle empties,
As I try to drown your recollection
In my glass; but as quickly as I fill it
I empty it, encountering you
Ever present, at its bottom.

I formed you out of smoke,
A virtual image of perfection
In the depths of a magic mirror,
Manufactured by my need to love;
And all I’ve ever had was an illusion
Made of smoke and tricks of light, reflected…

Tuesday, 21 March 2017


“Unless we place our religion and our treasure in the same thing, religion will always be sacrificed.” - Epictetus 

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.
The Maison Carrée (French for “square house”) is an ancient building in Nîmes, southern France; it is one of the best preserved Roman temple façades to be found in the territory of the former Roman Empire.

In about 4-7 AD, the Maison Carrée was dedicated or rededicated to Gaius Caesar and Lucius Caesar, grandsons and adopted heirs of Augustus who both died young. The inscription dedicating the temple to Gaius and Lucius was removed in medieval times. However, a local scholar, Jean-François Séguier, was able to reconstruct the inscription in 1758 from the order and number of the holes on the front frieze and architrave, to which the bronze letters had been affixed by projecting tines. According to Séguier's reconstruction, the text of the dedication read (in translation): “To Gaius Caesar, son of Augustus, Consul; to Lucius Caesar, son of Augustus, Consul designate; to the princes of youth.” During the 19th century the temple slowly began to recover its original splendour, due to the efforts of Victor Grangent.

The Maison Carrée is an example of Vitruvian architecture. Raised on a 2.85 m high podium, the temple dominated the forum of the Roman city, forming a rectangle almost twice as long as it is wide, measuring 26.42 m by 13.54 m. The façade is dominated by a deep portico or pronaos almost a third of the building’s length. It is a hexastyle design with six Corinthian columns under the pediment at either end, and pseudoperipteral in that twenty engaged columns are embedded along the walls of the cella.

Above the columns, the architrave is divided by two recessed rows of petrified water drips into three levels with ratios of 1:2:3. Egg-and-dart decoration divides the architrave from the frieze. On three sides the frieze is decorated with fine ornamental relief carvings of rosettes and acanthus leaves beneath a row of very fine dentils. A large door (6.87 m high by 3.27 m wide) leads to the surprisingly small and windowless interior, where the shrine was originally housed. This is now used to house a tourist oriented film on the Roman history of Nîmes. No ancient decoration remains inside the cella.

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

Add your own travel posts using the Linky tool below, and don't forget to be nice and leave a comment here, and link back to this page from your own post:

Monday, 20 March 2017


“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” - EdmundBurke

Apep or Apophis (Ancient Greek: Ἄποφις; also spelled Apepi or Aapep) was the ancient Egyptian deity who embodied chaos (ı͗zft in Egyptian) and was thus the opponent of light and Ma’at (order/truth). He appears in art as a giant serpent. Apep was first mentioned in the Eighth Dynasty, and he was honoured in the names of the Fourteenth Dynasty king ‘Apepi and of the Greater Hyksos king Apophis.

Ra was the solar deity, bringer of light, and thus the upholder of Ma’at. Apep was viewed as the greatest enemy of Ra, and thus was given the title Enemy of Ra, and also “the Lord of Chaos”. As the personification of all that was evil, Apep was seen as a giant snake or serpent leading to such titles as Serpent from the Nile and Evil Lizard. Some elaborations said that he stretched 16 yards in length and had a head made of flint. Comparable hostile snakes as enemies of the sun god existed under other names (in the Pyramid Texts and Coffin Texts) already before the name Apep occurred. Apophis was a large golden snake known to be miles long. He was so large that he attempted to swallow the sun every day.[citation needed]

Tales of Apep’s battles against Ra were elaborated during the New Kingdom. Storytellers said that every day Apep must lie just below the horizon. This appropriately made him a part of the underworld. In some stories Apep waited for Ra in a western mountain called Bakhu, where the sun set, and in others Apep lurked just before dawn, in the Tenth region of the Night. The wide range of Apep’s possible location gained him the title World Encircler. It was thought that his terrifying roar would cause the underworld to rumble. Myths sometimes say that Apep was trapped there, because he had been the previous chief god overthrown by Ra, or because he was evil and had been imprisoned. The Coffin Texts imply that Apep used a magical gaze to overwhelm Ra and his entourage. Ra was assisted by a number of defenders who travelled with him, including Set and possibly the Eye of Ra. Apep’s movements were thought to cause earthquakes, and his battles with Set may have been meant to explain the origin of thunderstorms. In some accounts, Ra himself defeats Apep in the form of a cat.

Ra was worshipped, while apotropaic practices against Apep was widespread. Ra’s victory each night was thought to be ensured by the prayers of the Egyptian priests and worshippers at temples. The Egyptians practiced a number of rituals and superstitions that were thought to ward off Apep, and aid Ra to continue his journey across the sky. In an annual rite, called the Banishing of Chaos, priests would build an effigy of Apep that was thought to contain all of the evil and darkness in Egypt, and burn it to protect everyone from Apep’s evil for another year, in a similar manner to modern rituals such as Zozobra (burning of effigies of evil deities).

Sunday, 19 March 2017


“I think that the memory of Armenia’s genocide opened my eyes at an early age to the existence of political cynicism.” - Serj Tankian 

Minas Avetisyan (July 20, 1928 — February 24, 1975) was an Armenian painter, graphic artist and theatrical artist. Avetisyan was born in the village of Jajur, Soviet Armenia. His mother, Sofo, was a daughter of the priest from Kars. His father, Karapet, was a smith from Mush. His wife was Gayane Mamajanyan.

Avetisyan studied at Terlemezyan College of Fine Arts in Yerevan (1947–1952), Yerevan Fine Arts and Theatre Institute (1952–1954), and the Painting, Sculpture and Architecture Institution ‘Ilya Repin’ in Leningrad (1955–1959), where his main teacher was Boris Ioganson. From 1960 on Avetisyan lived in Yerevan.

The main theme of his works was Armenian nature, the nature of Jajur, religious subjects, the life of the poor people, mountains, fields and the changes of landscape in the various seasons. Avetisyan emerged as an artist at the “Exhibition of Five” in Yerevan (1962). Numerous specialists and visitors to the exhibition appreciated his work greatly.

Avetisian’s technique differed from the method of plein-air painting which was once widespread in Armenian art. For him working from nature was no more than a preliminary stage, and the main portion of the work on the canvas being done in his studio. In 1967, he first appeared on film in the censored and suppressed documentary “The Colour of Armenian Land” by his friend Mikhail Vartanov.

In 1975, Avetisyan died under the wheels of the car, which stopped off at the sidewalk. Although the official versionof his death was quoted as an unfortunate accident, some sources maintain that he was murdered by the KGB.

Avetisyan’s work is characterised by seemingly wild brush work and strident colours, inspired by the work of the fauves. Some South Caucasian Medieval traditional art can also be seen to influence his work. In his canvases, one sees intense colour saturation juxtaposed with dramatic and bold shapes.  Even when painting landscapes, Avetisyan broke through to q freedom of aesthetical self-expression, approaching the contemporary Russian “rough style”, even though in general he was more sympathetic to to the French modern and early avant-garde style of the early 20th century. Minas was also a success as a theatrical artist (theatre set design of Khachaturian’s “Gayane” ballet at the Opera and Ballet Theatre, 1974) and as a monumental painter (factory interior wall-paintings in Leninakan- Gyumri, 1970-1974).

The painting above from 1961 is titled “Toujours vie” (Still Life) and shows the fauve/expressionistic style of Avetisyan’s work. Unfortunately, many of the artist’s paintings were destroyed in a fire in 1972. On January 1 during the night, while Avetisyan was in Jajur with his family, his studio in Yerevan burned down, along with many of his best canvases. Three years later, in 1975 part of his wall-paintings were destroyed during the earthquake in Leninakan (Gyumri) and also destroyed the Minas Avetisian museum in his native Jajur village.

Saturday, 18 March 2017


“Tell me what you listen to, and I’ll tell you who you are.” ― Tiffanie DeBartolo 
Dario Castello (c. 1590 – c. 1658) was an Italian composer and instrumentalist from the early Baroque period who worked and published in Venice. As regards his instrument, it is not clear whether he played the cornetto or the bassoon. As a composer, he was a late member of the Venetian School and had a role in the transformation of the instrumental canzona into the sonata.

There is no biographical information about Castello. Even his exact birth and death dates are unknown. It is thought he may possibly have died during the great plague of 1630; certainly, he published no new music after this date. The title page of the 1629 edition of the first volume of the Sonate Concertate records him as Capo di Compagnia de Musichi d’Instrumenti da fiato in Venetia, indicating that he led a Venetian company of piffari, a band that could include trumpets, sackbuts, cornetts, shawms, bagpipes, drums, recorders and viols.

The title page of the second volume (1644 edition) of the “Sonate Concertate” lists him as Musico Della Serenissima Signoria di Venetia in S. Marco, & Capo di Compagnia de Instrumenti, indicating that he worked at the great Basilica of St. Mark’s where Claudio Monteverdi was maestro di capella. Castello’s use of the stile concitato (agitated style), with quick repeated-note figures, is consistent with his association with Monteverdi. There are records of other instrumentalists with the surname Castello working at St Mark’s, and it is possible they were relatives of Dario.

Of his music, 29 separate compositions survive. Castello’s music is inventive and technically challenging. Strictly worked polyphonic sections alternate with dramatic recitatives over basso continuo, in keeping with the title of the publications “in stil moderno”; however he also uses some of the older canzona technique, which uses short sections of highly contrasting texture, and active rather than lyrical melodic lines. Unusually for the time, Castello often specifies the instruments for each part, calling for cornetti, violins, sackbuts (Baroque trombone) and dulcians. That these works were still being reprinted in the 1650s attests to Castello’s influence. Modern editions of the complete sonatas are published by Ut Orpheus Edizione.

Baroque violinist Elizabeth Blumenstock performs the Sonata Prima of Dario Castello from his second book of instrumental music, published in Venice in 1629. This is Video from the Voices of Music Great Artists Series concert in San Francisco, January, 2012.

And here is the Sonata Decima and Sonata Sesta, with The Purcell Quartett.

And finally, the Sonata Quarta with the Accademia del Ricercare.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017


“It is justice, not charity, that is wanting in the world.” - Mary Wollstonecraft

This week, Poets United in its Midweek Motif challenge has as its theme, “The Kindness of Strangers”. I was in two minds about this as soon as I saw it. Kindness is a virtue and we should all be kind to one another, be they family, friends, acquaintances or strangers. But although I have been the beneficiary of the kindness of strangers, I have also been a victim of it. If I were to choose, I would choose the tough love of family, rather than the charitable kindness of strangers…

The Kindness of Strangers

My mother drank and beat me blue,
No tenderness in her stirred;
My father swore and stones he threw
He never had a kind word.

My brothers ran away from there
And from them nothing, ever;
My sisters screaming harpies were
A kiss, a hug? No, never.

I grew up stunted, gnarled and bent
Silent, scared of all the dangers,
And learned, alas, to be content
With kindnesses of strangers.

Our house a place of hellish strife,
Screams, beatings, evil torture;
I would be killed by gun, by knife
My fate as black as vulture.

Abused, defiled, and sold as flesh,
My life a nightmare hateful;
My anger born each day afresh,
My loathing greatly baleful.

And when I managed to break free,
And when I ran to shelter,
It was to strangers that I’d flee
But in their kindness welter.

For strangers may be kind and good
And their deeds may be well-intentioned;
But like a mother’s love for brood
None other can be mentioned.

A stranger’s kindness is not love
And may have many reasons;
It waxes, wanes as it behove
And change, as change the seasons.

I’d rather have my kith and kin
Look after me and love me;
A home to be so safe and cosy in,
With a snug loving roof above me.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017


“In England, one without a trace of Royalty will master. Twenty months he will rule; twenty months he will bleed the lands, then his end comes quickly.” - Nostradamus 

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.
York is a historic walled city at the confluence of the rivers Ouse and Foss in North Yorkshire, England. The municipality is the traditional county town of Yorkshire to which it gives its name. The city has a rich heritage and has provided the backdrop to major political events in England throughout much of its two millennia of existence. The city offers a wealth of historic attractions, of which York Minster is the most prominent, and a variety of cultural and sporting activities making it a popular tourist destination for millions.

The city was founded by the Romans as Eboracum in 71 AD. It became the capital of the Roman province of Britannia Inferior, and later of the kingdoms of Northumbria and Jórvík. In the Middle Ages, York grew as a major wool trading centre and became the capital of the northern ecclesiastical province of the Church of England, a role it has retained.

In the 19th century, York became a hub of the railway network and a confectionery manufacturing centre. In recent decades, the economy of York has moved from being dominated by its confectionery and railway-related industries to one that provides services. The University of York and health services have become major employers, whilst tourism has become an important element of the local economy.

From 1996, the term City of York describes a unitary authority area which includes rural areas beyond the old city boundaries. In 2011 the urban area had a population of 153,717, while in 2010 the entire unitary authority had an estimated population of 202,400.

The Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of Saint Peter in York, commonly known as York Minster, is the cathedral of York, England, and is one of the largest of its kind in Northern Europe. The minster is the seat of the Archbishop of York, the second-highest office of the Church of England, and is the mother church for the Diocese of York and the Province of York. It is run by a dean and chapter, under the Dean of York. The title “minster” is attributed to churches established in the Anglo-Saxon period as missionary teaching churches, and serves now as an honorific title. Services in the minster are sometimes regarded as on the High Church or Anglo-Catholic end of the Anglican continuum.

The minster has a very wide Decorated Gothic nave and chapter house, a Perpendicular Gothic Quire and east end and Early English North and South transepts. The nave contains the West Window, constructed in 1338, and over the Lady Chapel in the east end is the Great East Window (finished in 1408), the largest expanse of medieval stained glass in the world. In the north transept is the Five Sisters Window, each lancet being over 16 m high. The south transept contains a rose window, while the West Window contains a heart-shaped design colloquially known as “The Heart of Yorkshire”.

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

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Monday, 13 March 2017


“He who reigns within himself and rules passions, desires, and fears is more than a king.” - John Milton 

Amon, also spelled Amun, Amen, or Ammon, was the Egyptian deity who was revered as king of the gods. Amon may have been originally one of the eight deities of the Hermopolite creation myth; his cult reached Thebes, where he became the patron of the pharaohs by the reign of Mentuhotep I (2008–1957 bce). At that date he was already identified with the sun god Re of Heliopolis and, as Amon-Re, was received as a national god. Represented in human form, sometimes with a ram’s head, or as a ram, Amon-Re was worshipped as part of the Theban triad, which included a goddess, Mut, and a youthful god, Khons. His temple at Karnak was among the largest and wealthiest in the land from the New Kingdom (1539–c. 1075 bce) onward. Local forms of Amon were also worshipped at the Temple of Luxor on the east bank of Thebes and at Madīnat Habu (Medinet Habu) on the west bank.

Amon’s name meant the Hidden One, and his image was painted often blue to denote invisibility. This attribute of invisibility led to a popular belief during the New Kingdom in the knowledge and impartiality of Amon, making him a god for those who felt oppressed. Amon’s influence was, in addition, closely linked to the political well-being of Egypt. During the Hyksos domination (c. 1630–c. 1523 bce), the princes of Thebes sustained his worship. Following the Theban victory over the Hyksos and the creation of an empire, Amon’s stature and the wealth of his temples grew.

In the late 18th dynasty Akhenaton (Amenhotep IV) directed his religious reform against the traditional cult of Amon, but he was unable to convert people from their belief in Amon and the other gods, and, under Tutankhamen, Ay, and Horemheb (1332–1292 bce), Amon was gradually restored as the god of the empire and patron of the pharaoh.

In the New Kingdom, religious speculation among Amon’s priests led to the concept of Amon as part of a triad (with Ptah and Re) or as a single god of whom all the other gods, even Ptah and Re, were manifestations. Under the sacerdotal state ruled by the priests of Amon at Thebes (c. 1075–c. 950 bce), Amon evolved into a universal god who intervened through oracles in many affairs of state.

The succeeding 22nd and 23rd dynasties, the invasion of Egypt by Assyria (671–c. 663 bce), and the sack of Thebes (c. 663 bce) did not reduce the stature of the cult, which had acquired a second main centre at Tanis in the Nile River delta. Moreover, the worship of Amon had become established among the inhabitants of Kush in the Sudan, who were accepted by Egyptian worshippers of Amon when they invaded Egypt and ruled as the 25th dynasty (715–664 bce). From this period onward, resistance to foreign occupation of Egypt was strongest in Thebes.

Amon’s cult spread to the oases, especially Siwa in Egypt’s western desert, where Amon was linked with Jupiter. Alexander the Great won acceptance as pharaoh by consulting the oracle at Siwa, and he also rebuilt the sanctuary of Amon’s temple at Luxor. The early Ptolemaic rulers contained Egyptian nationalism by supporting the temples, but, starting with Ptolemy IV Philopator in 207 bce, nationalistic rebellions in Upper Egypt erupted. During the revolt of 88–85 bce, Ptolemy IX Soter II sacked Thebes, dealing Amon’s cult a severe blow. In 27 bce a strong earthquake devastated the Theban temples, while in the Graeco-Roman world the cult of Isis and Osiris gradually displaced that of Amon.

Incidentally the word "ammonia" and "ammoniac" comes from the Greek word ammōniakos ‘of Ammon’, used as a name for the salt (sal ammoniac) and gum obtained near the temple of Jupiter Ammon at Siwa in Egypt.

Sunday, 12 March 2017


“Women’s liberation is the liberation of the feminine in the man and the masculine in the woman.” – Corita Kent

Marianne von Werefkin (Russian: Мариа́нна Влади́мировна Верёвкина; 10 September [O.S. 29 August] 1860, Tula, Russia – 6 February 1938, Ascona, Switzerland), born Marianna Wladimirowna Werewkina (transliteration Marianna Vladimirovna Verëvkina), was a Russian-German-Swiss Expressionist painter.

Marianne von Werefkin was born in the Russian town of Tula as the daughter of the commander of the Ekaterinaburg Regiment. She had her first private academic drawing lessons at the age of fourteen. In 1880, she became a student of Ilya Repin, the most important painter of Russian Realism. Her progress was dealt a setback by a hunting accident in 1888 in which she accidentally shot her right hand, which remained crippled after a lengthy period of recovery.

By practicing persistently she finally managed to use drawing and painting instruments with her right hand again. In 1892 she met Alexej von Jawlensky, who desired to be her protégé, and in 1896 she, Jawlensky, and their servant moved to Munich. For the sake of Jawlensky’s painting, Werefkin interrupted her painting for almost ten years. She initiated a Salon in Munich which soon became a centre of lively artistic exchange. She also founded the “Lukasbruderschaft” of which also Kandinsky was a member.

She began painting again in 1906. In 1907 she created her first expressionist works; in these she followed Paul Gauguin’s and Louis Anquetin’s style of “surface painting”, while also showing the influence of Edvard Munch. She and Jawlensky spent in 1908 several periods working with Kandinsky and Münter after their discovery of the picturesque rural town of Murnau near Munich, where Gabriele Münter owned a house. The four artists frequently painted together in open air in and around Murnau.

They founded a new artist-group in 1909, the Neue Künstlervereinigung München (New Association of Artists in Munich, NKVM). It became a forum of exhibitions and programming. After a few years Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc distanced themselves from this group and formed the Blaue Reiter (Blue Rider). The group was founded by a number of Russian emigrants, including Wassily Kandinsky, Alexej von Jawlensky and a number of native German artists, such as Franz Marc, August Macke and Gabriele Münter. Werefkin began exhibiting together with this group in 1913.

At the outbreak of the First World War, Werefkin and Jawlensky immigrated to Switzerland, near Geneva. They later moved to Zurich. By 1918, they had separated, and Werefkin moved alone to Ascona, on Lago Maggiore where she painted many colourful, landscapes in an expressionist style. In 1924 she founded the artist group “Großer Bär” (i.e., Big Bear, Ursa Major). In her later years, she painted posters. Her friends “Carmen” and “Diego Hagmann” protected her from poverty. Marianne von Werefkin died in Ascona on 6 February 1938. She was buried in the Russian graveyard in Ascona.

The painting above is her “Skaters” of 1911. She painted an almost identical tableau in the same year, but that one is more cluttered and busy, so I prefer the simpler one above. The dark figures of the skaters under moonlight resemble an unearthly dance of spirits away from the comfort and security of the brightly lit abode of humans in the background, right.

Saturday, 11 March 2017


“Where words leave off, music begins.” ― Heinrich Heine 

Andrea Teodoro Zani (11 November 1696 – 28 September 1757) was an Italian violinist and composer. Zani was born at Casalmaggiore in the Province of Cremona. He received his first instruction in playing the violin from his father, an amateur violinist. Subsequently, he received instruction in composition from Giacomo Civeri, a local musician, and studied violin in Guastalla with the court violinist Carlo Ricci.

Antonio Caldara, who was working as Capellmeister at the court of Archduke Ferdinand Charles in Mantua, not far from Casalmaggiore, heard Zani play and invited him to accompany him to Vienna. Between 1727 and 1729 Zani arrived in Vienna and was active there as a violinist in the service of the Habsburgs.

Following the death of his sponsor Caldara in 1736, he returned to Casalmaggiore where he remained for the rest of his life, except for occasional concert appearances. He died in his hometown as the result of an accident, when the carriage in which he was travelling to Mantua overturned.

Zani's works show the influence of Antonio Vivaldi, but are somewhat less sweeping. His op. 2, published in 1729, is of great historical importance because it is the earliest dated source of symphonies that present no ambiguities of genre. His late works clearly exhibit a casting off of baroque elements in favour of early classical ones.

There are numerous manuscripts of Zani’s works found in libraries scattered throughout Europe, including three concertos and one sonata for flute, at least twelve concertos for cello, six trio sonatas for two violins and continuo, as well as several violin concertos and symphonies.

Here are 12 concertos of his Opus 4, played by Capella Palatina and Giovanni Battista Columbro. These are engaging works with sonorous violin soli, playful flute soli and some wonderful passages for the ensemble, a colourful palette and some lovely melodies to enjoy. This is a premiere recording and I much enjoyed listening to it. Hope you enjoy it too.