Treasure Trove: Bach’s Cello Suite #1 in G

Bach Cello Suite 1This piece is another of those things I never would have discovered without the Culture Project. Bach (Johann Sebastian) composed six cello suites between 1717 and 1723. They’ve been described as “monophonic music wherein a man has created a dance of God.” It’s a beautiful description of beautiful music. Continue reading “Treasure Trove: Bach’s Cello Suite #1 in G”

A Very Short History of Art: The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Realism, and Impressionism

1 Camille Corot A View Near Volterra 1838
Camille Corot, ‘A View Near Volterra’, 1838. Neither Romantic nor Realist, but merging aspects of both, this view is a real one, based on sketches Corot made on a visit to Italy a decade before.

From the early Christian period to the Rococo, the story of European art is one of evolution: the Gothic art of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries blossomed into the Renaissance of the fifteenth and sixteenth, which developed into the elaborate Baroque of the seventeenth century, which reached the furthest extent of its development in the Rococo of the early eighteenth. Only at that point did a conscious disconnection from the immediately preceding style occur, first in the opposition of Neoclassicism to the principles of the Rococo, and then in the rebellion of Romanticism against the principles of Neoclassicism.

But as we move into the nineteenth century, something different happens. For the first time, rather than a single, unified artistic school or a pair of opposing schools we encounter the beginnings of a plurality of distinct artistic styles. These styles sprang from different, sometimes conflicting, artistic philosophies, but they coexisted alongside one another, and in doing so arguably laid the groundwork for the endless variation in artistic expression which would be produced by the artists of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Continue reading “A Very Short History of Art: The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Realism, and Impressionism”

Opera in my Pyjamas: The Marriage of Figaro

The Marriage of Figaro 1993 pic 3
CD cover for the music of the 1993 production of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro.

Having finally upgraded my internet to a whole 40GB a month, I have more data than I know what to do with. So, what does an admittedly slightly odd person do with so much data? Why not Google a list of the world’s most famous operas and see what YouTube can produce?

Of course, watching an opera on my computer screen is nothing like watching it live on stage, but there are a few advantages. Like being able to watch it in my pyjamas. And not having to pay a small fortune for a ticket. And being able to watch the world’s greatest operas not one day, when they reach my little corner of the world, but here and now from the comfort of my own living room. With sub-titles. Continue reading “Opera in my Pyjamas: The Marriage of Figaro”

Reading ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’

Lady Chatterleys Lover book**Warning: like the novel, this post contains sexual references and obscene language. Please do not click ‘read more’ unless you actually do want to read more.**

First published in 1928, D. H. Lawrence’s last novel has become a byword for illicit, illegal, erotic fiction. It’s the story of the unhappily married Lady Constance ‘Connie’ Chatterley and her affair with her paraplegic WWI veteran husband’s gamekeeper, Oliver Mellors. There is also a minor sub-plot involving Sir Clifford Chatterley’s relationship with his widowed caregiver, Mrs. Bolton. To cut a long story short, from a modern perspective these people don’t need romantic relationships nearly so much as they need counselling. Continue reading “Reading ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’”

A Beginner’s Guide to Reading the Bible

*post is based on a document I put together a few years ago, so apologies for any weird formatting*

A while after I became a Christian, I realised I needed to read the Bible. So, I began at the beginning, and read through to the end. It soon became clear to me that this was a mistake, but I didn’t know what else to do except press on. It wasn’t until I spent a year studying for a Diploma in Biblical Studies that I realised where I had gone wrong, and what follows is my attempt to help anyone who’s thinking about tackling the Bible for the first time to avoid some of my pitfalls.

Like many Christians in the affluent West, I have a lot of Bibles.

Continue reading “A Beginner’s Guide to Reading the Bible”

Composer Profile: Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)

Felix Mendelssohn

Perhaps the greatest of the Romantic composers, Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy never lost the respectable middle-class sensibilities with which he was raised. Not for him the crass showmanship of Liszt, or the drug-induced excesses of Berlioz. In this he was likely the product of his upbringing: his parents were Jewish and his father, Abraham, was a banker and the son of the noted German Jewish philosopher Moses Mendelssohn. His mother, too, was an educated and cultured woman (she spoke several languages, and could ‘read Homer in the original [Greek]’). The Mendelssohn household was a place filled with music and intellectual life, but also with a careful avoidance of religious commitment. Felix was not circumcised, and received the name Jakob only when he was baptised as a reformed Protestant at the age of seven. His parents had begun using the German surname Bartholdy, adopted from Lea Mendelssohn’s brother, in 1812 and were baptised in 1822. Continue reading “Composer Profile: Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)”

Author Profile: Enid Blyton (1897-1968)

Enid Blyton signatureOne of the most popular British 20th century children’s authors, Enid Blyton’s relationship with her own children was, to put it mildly, strained. Blyton was a prodigious author: Wikipedia lists a total of 762 published works written by Blyton. Continue reading “Author Profile: Enid Blyton (1897-1968)”

A Very Short History of Art: Neoclassicism and Romanticism

1 Jacques Louis David The Oath of the Horatii 1784to5
Jacques-Louis David, The Oath of the Horatii, 1784-85 – one of the earliest Neoclassical paintings.

Both Neoclassicism and Romanticism began as expressions of rejection. Neoclassicism, which emerged in the 1740s, with its clean lines and commitment to an idealised reality, was a rejection of Rococo extravagance and embellishment, which by the 1780s had succeeded in supplanting it. Romanticism, with its love of drama, emotion, and the natural world, was a rejection of the perceived coldness and intellectualism of Neoclassicism, and emerged just as the Rococo was disappearing. Continue reading “A Very Short History of Art: Neoclassicism and Romanticism”

Local Culture: UCOL’s Print and Puppets at the Edith Gallery

20160624_112116Established in 1902, Whanganui’s Universal College of Learning offers over a hundred courses, including a number of nationally-recognised art courses. Recently my friend Anne Bennett, who is enrolled in UCOL’s Certificate of Art and Design, invited me along to see a display of puppets, woodcuts, and drypoint prints at UCOL’s Edith Gallery (named after local artist Edith Collier, who I really must write a post about at some point). Continue reading “Local Culture: UCOL’s Print and Puppets at the Edith Gallery”