Harbinger

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Dawn. A south wind. Leaves
tap the glass. The rain drops in
monosyllables.

(15 February 2015)

 


Two mornings in a row, the leaves of the Cordyline banksii outside my window have awakened me early. Wellington’s summer has been fine and warm, so these few cool days, with their southerly air flow, seem like a harbinger of autumn.

On Good Friday

Stations of the Cross #5, "Simon of Cyrene carries the cross", Notre-Dame Basilica, Geneva.

Stations of the Cross #5, “Simon of Cyrene carries the cross”, Notre-Dame Basilica, Geneva.

On Good Friday I sat in church, watching and listening as most of the congregation followed the priest around the fourteen Stations of the Cross. The woman with the walking-frame, stoically devout, completed the circuit with the others, while her white-muzzled black dog hobbled back and forth up and down the nave, stopping to receive attention from some of those who, like me, had remained in their pews.

Meditations translated from the words of French poet Paul Claudel were spoken gently by a man known for his work as a broadcaster. Between the meditations, periods of silence were terminated by spells of difficult and discordant organ music – some strident, some morose – which I could have done without.

I had earlier told the woman who had welcomed me that my parents had been married in this church, and that I had been baptized here.

I will return to St Peter’s on Willis on Easter Day, looking forward to the Eucharistic ritual I have not shared in since Midnight Mass at Wellington Cathedral on Christmas Eve.

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The tradition of moving around the Stations to commemorate the Passion of Christ began with St. Francis of Assisi and extended throughout the Roman Catholic Church in the medieval period. It is also observed in Lutheranism and Anglo-Catholicism. It is most commonly done during Lent, especially on Good Friday (from Wikipedia: Stations of the Cross).

Wikimedia Commons includes a page with links to images of twelve of the fourteen Stations of the Cross by sculptor Jean-Bernard Duseigneur. (This page gives his name as Jean-Baptiste Du Seigneur, and he is elsewhere known as Jehan Duseigneur; eg, on Paris Sculptures.) Born in Paris in 1808, Duseigneur studied at the École des Beaux-Arts, and in 1831 achieved renown when he exhibited Roland Furieux, often regarded as the first romantic sculpture (now in the Louvre). Soon afterwards he turned almost exclusively to the production of religious works (adapted from a brief article in Wikipedia).

PS – Easter Day: The old black dog, Emma, was there again today; she, like the other “regulars”, was wearing her name-tag. 

 

Après un rêve

walnut in spring (31 Oct 2012)

walnut in spring (31 Oct 2012)

Switching my computer on, this morning – and committed to writing – I was in little doubt that material from my dream would find its way into the text. There was something about a woman I loved many years ago returning as a friend. And a bouquet of apparently unrelated images.

Après un rêve, I typed, attempting to impose some semblance of order on my unruly thoughts.

Nothing much came of it. But it did turn out that this morning’s “Composer of the Week” radio talk began with an instrumental arrangement of Gabriel Fauré’s lovely melodie, Après un rêve.

There are numerous versions of this song on YouTube, and some of the comments make interesting reading. I have not listened to them all, but was taken with two: the first, by Véronique Gens (Roger Vignoles, piano); and there’s a splendid version by Barbara Hendricks, accompanied by Michel Dalberto.

Liberté! Egalité! Fraternité!

"La Marseillaise"

“La Marseillaise”

Yesterday, on the eve of Bastille Day, I experienced “patriotism” more profoundly than ever before. The agent of my enlightenment was Mireille Mathieu – and I have not a drop of French blood. 😉 PS: I was listening to a radio programme of music by French composers on Radio New Zealand Concert.

This post appeared on a certain Facebook page on 14 July, but I did not have the opportunity to post it here at that time … so I have adjusted the publication date.

Here’s to the man in the green coat

Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony was premiered on 7 May 1824. So here’s to Ludwig van Beethoven (who wore a green coat to the premiere).

And here’s the “Som Sabadell flashmob” version of the Finale, which was published on 31 May 2012 to mark the 130th anniversary of the founding of Banco Sabadell.

Still shot from "Som Sabadell flashmob" version of the Finale from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony

Still shot from “Som Sabadell flashmob” version of the Finale from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony

Michael Schultheiß / Schultze / Praetorius

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Born on 15 February 1571, Creuzburg an der Werra, Michael Praetorius died in Wolfenbüttel on his 50th birthday, 15 February 1621.

According to Wikipedia, he was born Michael Schultze, the youngest son of a Lutheran pastor, in Creuzburg, in present-day Thuringia. The CyberHymnal says his real name was Michael Schultheiß (German for ‘mayor’, which in La­tin is ‘Praetorius’).

Wikipedia adds: “His family name in German appears in various forms including Schultze, Schulte, Schultheiss, Schulz and Schulteis. Praetorius was the conventional Latinized form of this family name.”

The Dances from Terpsichore, a compendium of over 300 instrumental dances, is his most widely-known work – and, regrettably, his sole surviving secular work. His harmonization of Es ist ein Ros entsprungen (Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming) – written by Praetorius in 1609 – is a particular favourite.