Saturday, 23 April 2016


“A painter paints pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence.” - Leopold Stokowski

Baldassare Galuppi (18 October 1706 – 3 January 1785) was an Italian composer, born on the island of Burano in the Venetian Republic. He belonged to a generation of composers, including Christoph Willibald Gluck, Domenico Scarlatti, and CPE Bach, whose works are emblematic of the prevailing galant style that developed in Europe throughout the 18th century. He achieved international success, spending periods of his career in Vienna, London and Saint Petersburg, but his main base remained Venice, where he held a succession of leading appointments.

In his early career Galuppi made a modest success in opera seria, but from the 1740s, together with the playwright and librettist Carlo Goldoni, he became famous throughout Europe for his comic operas in the new dramma giocoso style. To the succeeding generation of composers he was known as “the father of comic opera”. Some of his mature opere serie, for which his librettists included the poet and dramatist Metastasio, were also widely popular.

Throughout his career Galuppi held official positions with charitable and religious institutions in Venice, the most prestigious of which was maestro di coro at the Doge's chapel, St Mark’s Basilica. In these various capacities he composed a large amount of sacred music. He was also highly regarded as a virtuoso performer on and composer for keyboard instruments. In the latter half of the 19th century, Galuppi’s music was largely forgotten outside of Italy, and Napoleon’s invasion of Venice in 1797 resulted in Galuppi’s manuscripts being scattered around Western Europe, and in many cases, destroyed or lost.

Galuppi’s name persists in the English poet Robert Browning’s 1855 poem “A Toccata of Galuppi’s”, but this has not helped maintain the composer’s work in the general repertoire. Some of Galuppi's works were occasionally performed in the 200 years after his death, but it was not until the last years of the 20th century that his compositions were extensively revived in live performance and on recordings.

Galuppi was much admired for his keyboard music. Few of his sonatas were published in his lifetime, but many survive in manuscript. Some of them follow the Scarlatti single-movement model; others are in the three-movement form later adopted by Haydn, Beethoven and others. Galuppi’s skill as keyboard player is well documented. Hillers Wöchentliche Nachrichten in 1772 made this mention of Galuppi’s reputation in Saint Petersburg: “Chamber concerts were held every Wednesday in the antechamber of the imperial apartments, in order to enjoy the special style and fiery accuracy of the clavier playing of this great artist; thus did the virtuoso earn the overall approval of the court.”

It is no surprise that a number of Galuppi's keyboard works should make it into print during his lifetime, including two sets of 6 sonatas, published in London as opus 1 (1756) and opus 2 (1759) respectively. Felix Raabe mentions the round number of 125 “sonatas, toccatas, divertimenti and etudes” for keyboard, based on Fausto Torrefranca’s 1909 thematic catalogue of Galuppi’s cembalo works. However, given some of the outrageous assertions on this topic that Torrefranca makes elsewhere (such as the claim that classical sonata form was created by Italian keyboard composers) the accuracy of this figure must be accepted only cautiously.

Galuppi’s 12 experimental Concerti a Quattro are particularly innovative chamber music pieces that foreshadow the development of the classical string quartet. Each of the concerti is a three-movement work for two violins, viola and cello that integrates the counterpoint of the sonata da chiesa with daring chromatic twists and harmonic detours that become more pronounced as the set progresses quartet by quartet. Innovations such as the chromatically raised 5th that Burney singled out in Galuppi’s arias of the 1740s appear, and many harmonic features of the late-classical period are foreshadowed, such as the final deceptive cadence in which an augmented sixth chord is substituted before the ultimate resolution. Among other instrumental compositions by Galuppi, Grove’s Dictionary lists sinfonias, overtures, trios and string quartets, and concerti for solo instruments and strings.

Here are his complete Harpsichord Concerti played by Roberto Loreggian (harpsichord) and the Ensemble ConSerto Musico recorded in 2011.

Friday, 22 April 2016


“Come, let us have some tea and continue to talk about happy things.” - Chaim Potok

Afternoon tea is a wonderful indulgence that we can sometimes have, especially so at the weekends. A fragrant, hot cup of tea with a slice of lemon and some delicious sweet tidbit on the side while enjoying compatible company and pleasant conversation is something that makes for a warm and cosy feeling – even more so if the weather is cool and rainy outside…

Coconut & Raspberry Slice
1 cup plain flour
1 cup self-raising flour
1 cup caster sugar
125g butter, chilled, cubed
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 cup raspberry jam
2 cups desiccated coconut

Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Grease and line a 3cm deep, 24cm x 30 cm lamington pan. 
Process the two flours, 1/2 cup sugar and butter to resemble breadcrumbs. Add 1 egg and vanilla. Process to form a dough.
Press dough into base of prepared pan. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until light golden. Spread the raspberry jam over the warm base cake base.
Whisk remaining eggs and remaining 1/2 cup sugar together. Stir in coconut. Spread over the jam. Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden. Cool completely in pan. Cut into pieces and serve.

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Thursday, 21 April 2016


“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” - Confucius

Laurus nobilis is an aromatic evergreen tree or large shrub with green, glossy leaves, native to the Mediterranean region and belongs to the Lauraceae family. It is one of the plants used for bay leaf seasoning in cooking. It is known as bay laurel, sweet bay, bay tree (esp. United Kingdom), true laurel, Grecian laurel, laurel tree or simply laurel. Laurus nobilis figures prominently in classical Greek, Roman, and Biblical culture. Worldwide, many other kinds of plants in diverse families are also called “bay” or “laurel”, generally due to similarity of foliage or aroma to Laurus nobilis, and the full name is used for the California bay laurel (Umbellularia), also in the family Lauraceae.

The laurel can vary greatly in size and height, sometimes reaching 10–18 metres tall. The laurel is dioecious (unisexual), with male and female flowers on separate plants. Each flower is pale yellow-green, about 1 cm diameter, and they are borne in pairs beside a leaf. The leaves are 6–12 cm long and 2–4 cm broad, with an entire (untoothed) margin. On some leaves the margin undulates. The fruit is a small, shiny black berry-like drupe about 1 cm long that contains one seed.

Laurus nobilis is a widespread relic of the laurel forests that originally covered much of the Mediterranean Basin when the climate of the region was more humid. With the drying of the Mediterranean during the Pliocene era, the laurel forests gradually retreated, and were replaced by the more drought-tolerant sclerophyll plant communities familiar today. Most of the last remaining laurel forests around the Mediterranean are believed to have disappeared approximately ten thousand years ago, although some remnants still persist in the mountains of southern Turkey, northern Syria, southern Spain, north-central Portugal, northern Morocco, Canary Islands and in Madeira.

The plant is the source of several popular herbs and one spice used in a wide variety of recipes, particularly among Mediterranean cuisines. Most commonly, the aromatic leaves are added whole to Italian pasta sauces and Greek pulse dishes. However, even when cooked, whole bay leaves can be sharp and abrasive enough to damage internal organs, so they are typically removed from dishes before serving, unless used as a simple garnish. Whole bay leaves have a long shelf life of about one year, under normal temperature and humidity. Whole bay leaves are used almost exclusively as flavour agents during the food preparation stage. Ground bay leaves, however, can be ingested safely and are often used in soups and stocks, as well as being a common addition to a Bloody Mary. Dried laurel berries and pressed leaf oil can both be used as robust spices, and the wood can be burnt for strong smoke flavouring.

Bay laurel was used to fashion the laurel wreath of ancient Greece, a symbol of highest status. A wreath of bay laurels was given as the prize at the Pythian Games because the games were in honour of Apollo, and the laurel was one of his symbols. The oracle in Delphi used to chew bay leaves while she delivered her prophecies. The symbolism attached tot he laurel carried over to Roman culture, which held the laurel as a symbol of victory. It is also the source of the words “baccalaureate” and “poet laureate”, as well as the expressions “assume the laurel” and “resting on one’s laurels”.

Ovid retells the Greek myth in his Metamorphoses that laurel tree was first formed when the nymph Daphne was changed into a laurel tree because of Apollo’s pursuit of her. Daphne is the Greek name for the tree. In the Bible, the laurel is often an emblem of prosperity and fame. In Christian tradition, it symbolises the resurrection of Christ. In Italy, graduating college students wear crowns of laurel instead of the normal graduation hat, hence “baccalaureate”, from which the term “Bachelor” is derived.

Aqueous extracts of bay laurel can be used as astringents and even as a reasonable salve for open wounds. In massage therapy, the essential oil of bay laurel is reputed to alleviate arthritis and rheumatism, while in aromatherapy, it is used to treat earaches and high blood pressure. A traditional folk remedy for rashes caused by poison ivy, poison oak, and stinging nettle is a poultice soaked in boiled bay leaves. The chemical compound lauroside B isolated from Laurus nobilis is an inhibitor of human melanoma (skin cancer) cell proliferation at high concentrations in-vitro.

In the language of flowers, a laurel sprig stands for “glory”, while a flowering branch stands for “I change but in death”. A laurel wreath means “noble and exalted”.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme,
and also part of the Friday Greens meme,
and also part of the Food Friday meme.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016


“Why, for example, should a group of simple, stable compounds of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen struggle for billions of years to organise themselves into a professor of chemistry? What’s the motive?” - Robert M. Pirsig

The theme for this week’s Poets United midweek motif is “Organic”. I have chosen the original chemical meaning of the term:
Organic: Chemistry - Relating to or denoting compounds containing carbon (other than simple binary compounds and salts) and chiefly or ultimately of biological origin [compare with inorganic].


Carbon is the backbone
Onto which latches ample hydrogen,
With oxygen here and there,
Scant nitrogen, sulphur, phosphorus.

Organic – the chemistry of life,
Its complex macromolecules
Aggregating with endless variety,
Forming viscid globules, chains, nets…

Organic is so weak, so vulnerable,
Compared to say, silica:
Quartz crystal tough, transparent, sharp
And so simply inorganic.

And as the atoms whirl in space
And collide and exchange energies
Forming bonds, cohering, sharing electrons,
And reach more stable states,

How does the fragile organic
Form such perilous unions
And dangerous aggregations
As the murderous human?
   More toxic than arsenic,
   More harmful than uranium,
   More caustic than hydrofluoric acid,
   More damaging than inorganic mercury?

Tuesday, 19 April 2016


“You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water.” - Rabindranath Tagore

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.
Helsinki is the capital and largest city of Finland. It is in the region of Uusimaa, in southern Finland, on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, an arm of the Baltic Sea. Helsinki has a population of 626,305, an urban population of 1.2 million (31 December 2013), and a metropolitan population of 1.4 million, making it the most populous municipality and urban area in Finland. Helsinki is located some 80 kilometres north of Tallinn, Estonia, 400 km northeast of Stockholm, Sweden, and 388 km west of Saint Petersburg, Russia. Helsinki has close historical connections with these three cities.

The Helsinki metropolitan area includes the urban core of Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa, Kauniainen, and surrounding commuter towns. It is the world’s northernmost metro area of over one million people, and the city is the northernmost capital of an EU member state. The Helsinki metropolitan area is the fourth largest metropolitan area in the Nordic countries and the City of Helsinki is the third largest Nordic city after Stockholm and Oslo. Helsinki is Finland’s major political, educational, financial, cultural, and research centre as well as one of northern Europe’s major cities.

Approximately 75% of foreign companies operating in Finland have settled in the Helsinki region. The nearby municipality of Vantaa is the location of Helsinki Airport, with frequent service to various destinations in Europe and Asia. In 2009, Helsinki was chosen to be the World Design Capital for 2012 by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design, narrowly beating Eindhoven for the title. The city was the venue for the XV Olympic Games 1952 and the 52nd Eurovision Song Contest 2007. In 2011, the Monocle magazine ranked Helsinki the most liveable city in the world in its “Liveable Cities Index 2011”. In the Economist Intelligence Unit’s August 2015 Liveability survey, assessing the best and worst cities to live in globally, Helsinki placed among the world’s top ten cities.

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 and link back to this post from your own post!

Sunday, 17 April 2016


“I prefer drawing to talking. Drawing is faster, and leaves less room for lies.” - Le Corbusier

Paolo Uccello, original name Paolo di Dono (born 1397, Pratovecchio, near Florence—died Dec. 10, 1475, Florence), was a Florentine painter whose work attempted uniquely to reconcile two distinct artistic styles: The essentially decorative late Gothic, and the new heroic style of the early Renaissance. Probably his most famous paintings are three panels representing “The Battle of San Romano” (c. 1456 - Panel 1 is shown above). His careful and sophisticated perspective studies are clearly evident in “The Flood” (1447–48).

By the time Paolo was 10 years old he was already an apprentice in the workshop of the sculptor Lorenzo Ghiberti, who was then at work on what became one of the masterpieces of Renaissance art, the bronze doors for the Baptistery of the Florence cathedral, which consist of 28 panels illustrating New Testament scenes of the life of Christ. In 1414 Uccello joined the confraternity of painters (Compagnia di San Luca), and in the following year he became a member of the Arte dei Medici e degli Speziali, the official guild in Florence to which painters belonged.

Though Uccello must by then have been established as an independent painter, nothing of his work from this time remains, and there is no definite indication of his early training as a painter, except that he was a member of the workshop of Ghiberti, where many of the outstanding artists of the time were trained. Uccello’s earliest, and now badly damaged, frescoes are in the Chiostro Verde (the Green Cloister, so called because of the green cast of the frescoes that covered its walls) of Santa Maria Novella; they represent episodes from the Creation. These frescoes, marked with a pervasive concern for elegant linear forms and insistent, stylised patterning of landscape features, are consistent with the late Gothic tradition that was still predominant at the beginning of the 15th century in Florentine studios.

From 1425 to 1431, Uccello worked in Venice as a master mosaicist. All his work in Venice has been lost, however. Uccello may have been induced to return to Florence by the commission for a series of frescoes in the cloister of San Miniato al Monte depicting scenes from monastic legends. While the figural formulations of these ruinous frescoes still closely approximate those of the Santa Maria Novella cycle, there is also a fascination with the novel perspective schemes that had appeared in Florence during Uccello’s Venetian sojourn and with a simplified and more monumental treatment of forms deriving from the recent sculpture of Donatello and Nanni di Banco.

In 1436 in the Florence cathedral, Uccello completed a monochrome fresco of an equestrian monument to Sir John Hawkwood, an English mercenary who had commanded Florentine troops at the end of the 14th century. In the Hawkwood fresco, a single-point perspective scheme, a fully sculptural treatment of the horse and rider, and a sense of controlled potential energy within the figure all indicate Uccello’s desire to assimilate the new style of the Renaissance that had blossomed in Florence since his birth. Following the Hawkwood monument, in 1443 Uccello completed four heads of prophets around a colossal clock on the interior of the west facade of the cathedral; between 1443 and 1445 he contributed the designs for two stained-glass windows in the cupola.

After a brief trip to Padua in 1447, Uccello returned to the Chiostro Verde of Santa Maria Novella. In a fresco illustrating the Flood and the recession of the water, Uccello presented two separate scenes united by a rapidly receding perspective scheme that reflected the influence of Donatello’s contemporary reliefs in Padua. Human forms in “The Flood,” especially the nudes, were reminiscent of figures in Masaccio’s frescoes in the Brancacci Chapel (c. 1427), perhaps the most influential of all paintings of the early Renaissance. More than any other painting by Uccello, “The Flood” illustrates the artist’s love for perspective.

Perhaps Uccello’s most famous paintings are three panels representing the Battle of San Romano, now in the Louvre, Paris; the National Gallery, London; and the Uffizi, Florence. These panels represent the victory in 1432 of Florentine forces under Niccolò da Tolentino over the troops of their archrival, Siena. There are Renaissance elements, such as a sculptural treatment of forms and fragments of a broken perspective scheme in this work, but the bright handling of colour and the elaborate decorative patterns of the figures and landscape are indebted to the Gothic style. The older style continued to be used through the 15th century in Florence to enrich the environments of the new princes of the day, such as the Medici, who acquired all three of the panels representing the Battle of San Romano.

Uccello is justly famous for his careful and sophisticated perspective studies, most clearly visible in “The Flood,” in the underdrawing (sinopia) for his last fresco, “The Nativity,” formerly in San Martino della Scala in Florence, and in three drawings universally attributed to him that are now in the Uffizi. These drawings indicate a meticulous, analytic mind, keenly interested in the application of scientific laws to the reconstruction of objects in a three-dimensional space. In these studies he was probably assisted by a noted mathematician, Paolo Toscanelli. Uccello’s perspective studies were to influence the Renaissance art treatises of artists such as Piero della Francesca, Leonardo da Vinci, and Albrecht Dürer. Uccello apparently led an increasingly reclusive existence during his last years.

Uccello was long thought to be significant primarily for his role in establishing new means of rendering perspective that became a major component of the Renaissance style. The 16th-century biographer Giorgio Vasari said that Uccello was “intoxicated” by perspective. Later historians found the unique charm and decorative genius evinced by his compositions to be an even more important contribution.