Tuesday, 29 December 2009

I'm getting organised!!

It's the end of 2009 and almost the start of a new decade.
Time to get organised!
For the last three years I've been using an organiser software called AZZ Cardfile and I have been really pleased with it.
It is advertised as 'a modern replacement for Microsoft Cardfile'.
Now with version 4 you can use it with your USB flash memory stick which makes it truly portable so I think I will be upgrading.
It is a freeform database without predefined fields. You can add clickable URLs, email addresses, dialable phone numbers, images shortcuts to files on your computer and much more.
You can see the full spec on their website at:

I wouldn't be without it. Honestly!

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Happy Christmas everyone

I wish everyone a very joyful Christmas.

I hope that Santa brings everything on your list!

Upside down Christmas

Everything is upside down this Christmas - even the tree!!

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Classical Music - 2010 Piano Calendar

Why are there so few calendars with a classical music theme?
There are plenty for pop, rock, hip-hop, jazz etc but hardly any for classical. I have therefore produced four:
Opera, Piano, Great Composers and Russian composers on Zazzle

This one is 12 portraits of great composers for classical piano. They are:

  • Bach
  • Beethoven
  • Brahms
  • Chopin
  • Debussy
  • Haydn
  • Mendelssohn
  • Liszt
  • Rachmaninoff
  • Schubert
  • Schumann
  • Scriabin
You can see them at my Zazzle store

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Russian Classical Composers - 2010 calendar

A bit late but I have at last published my 2010 calendar of Russian composers. I managed to finish the 12th portrait Balakirev last week.
There is a composer per month:
  • Borodin
  • Balakirev
  • Glinka
  • Khachaturian
  • Mussorgsky
  • Rachmaninoff
  • Prokofiev
  • Rimsky-Korsakov
  • Shostakovich
  • Scriabin
  • Stravinsky
  • and of course Tchaikovsky
You can find it with my other calendars at Zazzle

Friday, 11 December 2009

Happy Birthday Hector!

Today is Berlioz's birthday (born in 1803).

- "Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils." (Berlioz)

He is one of the composer portraits featured in my 2010 Opera Calendar

Friday, 6 November 2009


My niece's husband, Mark Reid, is editor of The Beaver - the magazine of Canada's National History Society.
Following the great success of a feature in the magazine '10 Photos that changed Canada' he has put together a book '100 Photos that changed Canada'.
It is a beautiful production - not only fascinating photographs, but also great accompanying text written by some of Canada's best historians, journalists and writers. The book is further enhanced with excellent design and production.
A great Christmas present for anyone with Canadian connections.
Mark and Marianne are currently on a travelling book launch tour. Unfortunately London is not on their schedule (yet!).

Monday, 2 November 2009

November composer anniversaries

3/11/1801 Bellini born
4/11/1924 Fauré died
4/11/1847 Mendelssohn died
6/11/1893 Tchaikovsky died
12/11/1833 Borodin died
13/11/1868 Rossini died
14/11/1900 Copland born
19/11/1828 Schubert died
21/11/1695 Purcell died
22/11/1913 Britten born
29/11/1797 Donizetti born
29/11/1643 Monteverdi died
29/11/1924 Puccini died

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Henry Purcell - new postage stamp

The Royal Mail issued a new set of stamps on 8 October. 'Eminent Britons'. Ten 1st class stamps.

Henry Purcell is one of the ten so I have added it to my Purcell webpage at 52composers.com

I was sorry to see that none of the portrait artists or photographers were credited by name. Only the picture agencies holding the copyright were mentioned.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

October anniversaries of classical composers

5/10/1880 Offenbach died

9/10/1835 Saint Sens born

9/10/1813 Verdi born

11/10/1896 Bruckner died

12/10/1872 Vaughan-Williams born

14/10/1990 Bernstein died

17/10/1849 Chopin died

18/10/1893 Gounod died

22/10/1811 Liszt born

25/10/1838 Bizet born

25/10/1825 Johann Strauss born

Monday, 28 September 2009

Underwater photography - 1895

I came across this item in an 1895 version of the Golden Penny magazine.
How extraordinary. I wonder if any of his images still exist and where to find them?

Friday, 18 September 2009

2010 Calendar - 12 Piano Composers

We're half way through September already - soon be Christmas!
I have started working on my 2010 calendars.
I am trying Redbubble for the first time and have just published one of Piano composers including:
Liszt – Scriabin – Rachmaninov – Bach – Brahms – Debussy – Schumann – Satie – Chopin – Beethoven – Mozart

See it at Redbubble

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Freedom of the (Italian) Press 1928

Looking through my old copies of Punch magazine I came across this cartoon of Mussolini which uncannily reflects Berlusconi's attempts to muzzle the press today.

The caption reads:
Signor Mussolini: "You see, Ladies and Gentlemen, I don't muzzle him, the sagacious animal puts on his own muzzle himself, the freeest dog in the world!"
[The Italian journalist, according to Signor Mussolini in his address to the Editors of the Fascist Press (there is no other Press in Italy), "does not wait to take his orders daily because he already has them in his consciousness."]

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Happy Birthday Henry Purcell

Today is the 350th birthday of the great English baroque composer Henry Purcell.
He was the first English composer of comparable stature to the European composers. Tragically his productive life was cut short at the early age of 36.

More about him at 52composers.com

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

The Autumn Fair

Yesterday I went to the Autumn Fair at the NEC (National Exhibition Centre). This is the big trade fair for the retail gift market. I have been many times in the past when I had my picture framing business and it was always a useful source of ideas and products in the art and framing business.
I was quite shocked and disappointed at how few stands there were showing art and hardly any framing companies.
I was also disturbed by the amount of near plagiarism on show. For example Jack Vettriano and Banksy were the flavour of the month and many artists and art publishers are taking advantage of this by copying their style.
This is a big problem for many artists who develop a distinctive and popular style af art.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Edvard Grieg anniversary

Today is the 102nd anniversary of Grieg's death in 1907. I was reminded of it while listening to the radio and sitting in a traffic jam at Gatwick airport this afternoon. It helped pass the time.
He was a modest man as illustrated by a quote of his:
- "Artists like Bach and Beethoven erected churches and temples on the heights. I only wanted... to build dwellings for men in which they might feel happy and at home."

Monday, 31 August 2009

September composer anniversaries

It's September already. Back to work. Back to school.
Here are the September birthdays and anniversaries of the composers on my 52composers.com website:

  • 4/9/1824 - Bruckner born
  • 4/9/1907 - Grieg died
  • 8/9/1841 - Dvorak born
  • 8/9/1949 - Richard Strauss died
  • 10/9/1659 - Purcell born
  • 20/9/1957 - Sibelius died
  • 21/9/1874 - Holst born
  • 23/9/1836 - Bellini died
  • 25/9/1906 - Shostakovich born

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Banksy Bristol exhibition closes

Waiting for Banksy
Originally uploaded by stringberd
So tomorrow the Bristol exhibition closes and I didn't manage to see it. I really couldn't face the queues of up to a mile long and at peak times waits of 8 hours and normally about 3 hours according to the reports we heard. More people have visited Bristol Museum in the 10 weeks of the exhibition than normally visit in a whole year.
After such an outstanding success it surely must be put on again at another venue. It really does raise a lot of interesting thoughts on 'what is art?'

Interesting: 20 things you never knew about Banksy's Bristol show

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Leoncavallo's 90th anniversary

Today 9th August is the 90th anniversary of the death of the Italian opera composer Ruggero Leoncavallo in Montecatini, Tuscany in 1919.
He is buried in the Cimitero Monumentale delle Porte Sante, Florence.
I hope they have a party up there!

Friday, 3 July 2009

Happy Birthday Leos Janacek

Another birthday this week - this time the Czech composer Leos Janacek, born on 3 July 1854.

Best known for his 9 operas. He was most productive and creative in the last 15 years of his 74 year long life. Credit is often given to his muse Kamila Stösslová, a young married woman 30 years his junior.

For more information click on the title.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Happy Birthday Erik Satie!

July 1 is the birthday of French pianist and composer Erik Satie. I have just set up Satie shops at both Zazzle and at Cafepress using my new portrait of Satie.
There is a good range of giftware.
I am also working on a Satie page on my website 52composers.com with additional content.

Friday, 3 April 2009

Karl Marx in Il Manifesto

Thomas, my 8 year old grandson, spotted my portrait of Karl Marx in my daughter's copy of the Italian Comunist newspaper Il Manifesto. It appeared prominently on the back page with a credit. A thumbnail was printed on the front page.
My first appearance in an Italian newspaper.
Well spotted Thomas!

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Albeniz Festival 2009

This year is the centenary of the death of Isaac Albeniz, the Spanish pianist and composer.
Though born in Catalonia his father was Basque and his mother was Andalucian.
The annual Musique en Cote Basque festival is dedicating this year's programme to Albeniz.
They are using my portrait of Albeniz on their website, posters, programmes and publicity material.
If you would like to know more about him see the page I have done on www.52composers.com

Genghis Khan on Zazzle (and more)

  • On checking my website stats I noticed that there have been a lot of visitors to my Genghis Khan page. They are coming as a result of Google image search where my image appears on the first page - great. So - I have added him to the FineArtAmerica site where they do excellent prints on paper or canvas, framed or unframed.
  • he is already in my cafepress shop but I will add him also to my Zazzle shop where they do some excellent giftware.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

My new Licensing Agent - Lebrecht Music & Arts

I am pleased to say that I have signed a contract with the Lebrecht Music & Arts Library for them to handle the licensing of my music and literature images. Nearly all my composers have now been uploaded. There are just a few which I want to revise and polish.
I am very pleased about this as it ensures that the boring negotiating and contract side of the business will be handled professionally.
They have signed up my first order - my portrait of Albeniz which will be used for the Basque Music Festival in the south of France this summer.
This year is the centenary of his death.

To see my portfolio there click on Lebrecht.co.uk and put Paul Helm in the search box.

Monday, 5 January 2009

I joined the Tate

Yesterday was the last day of the Francis Bacon exhibition so we all decided to go to see it. With the price of individual tickets so high it makes sense to pay for an annual membership if you live in London.
Three years ago I was given a membership as a gift and I used it a lot. The last two years without it I must say I didn't go to nearly as many exhibitions. When ticket prices are £12 per visit you think twice before going and then only to those that really interest you. It's a bit like broadband v dial-up. You don't have to think of the meter ticking.
As for the Bacon exhibition, it was well worth the visit, plenty to see. It was reassuring to see that his studio was a bigger mess than mine!

To get a copy of the catalogue click the link below.
Francis Bacon

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Gaza protest march - London

Today I went to London with my wife, daughter and two grandchildren. We joined the Gaza protest march from Westminster Bridge to Trafalgar Square. My wife threw a shoe at Downing Street! as did many others.

The turnout was impressive. There is the usual discrepancy between the police estimate and the organisers estimate of the number of protesters. The police say 10 - 12,000, the organisers say 75,000.

We heard speeches by Tony Benn, Bianca Jagger, Brian Eno, Ken Livingstone and others.

We got home to find that the Israelis had launched their ground offensive in Gaza. Where will it end?

I usually restrain myself from making political posts in this blog, but this matter is tragic indeed and I feel very strongly about the injustice and the disproportionate action of Israel and the inaction of Britain and the USA.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

2009 Composer Anniversaries

Happy New Year everybody!
2009 is a great year for anniversaries of composers. For example:
  • Isaac Albeniz - died 18 May 1909 (100 years)
  • George Frideric Handel - died 14 April 1759 (250 years)
  • Franz Josef Haydn - died 31 May 1809 (200 years)
  • Felix Mendelssohn - born 3 February 1809 (200 years)
  • Henry Purcell - born 10 September 1759 (350 years)

    Go to my 52composers.com website for more details