Monday, 6 December 2010

Photographer of the Year

Yesterday we popped into the National Theatre on the South Bank to see the annual jewellery exhibition Dazzle.
Some excellent work on show and for sale.
While there I noticed there was the exhibition of entries for the 4th Landscape Photographer of the Year competition. Very impressive, some wonderful photos.
 You can see the winners here:
Photographer of the Year

There is a well produced book of all the photos for £25 (£5 discount in the National Theatre shop but even better only £12.15 at Amazon UK)
Landscape Photographer of the Year: Collection 4 (Photography)

Thursday, 2 December 2010

December Anniversaries of the Great Classical Composers

2/12/1990 Copland died
4/12/1976 Britten died
5/12/1791 Mozart died
5/12/2007 Stockhausen died
7/12/1863 Mascagni born
8/12/1865 Sibelius born
8/12/1890 Martinu born
10/12/1822 César Franck born
10/12/1908 Messiaen born
11/12/1803 Berlioz born
16/12/1770 Beethoven born
16/12/1921 Saint Saëns died
17/12/1749 Cimarosa born
22/12/1858 Puccini born
25/12/1871 Scriabin born
28/12/1937 Ravel died

Friday, 22 October 2010

Happy 199th Birthday Franz Liszt

Today is the 199th birthday of the Hungarian composer Franz Liszt. So next year will be the BIG one 200 years!! I'm looking forward to some big celebrations.
Celebrate Liszt's birthday with last ever portrait at the Royal Academy Budapest Treasures show | Culture24

Illustration: Mihaly Munkacsy, Franz Liszt, 1886
© Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Art in the Caribbean

Last night we went to the October Gallery in London for the book launch of our friend Anne Walmsley's new book 'Art in the Caribbean'.
It is a beautifully produced book with a 'Gallery' of 40 artists from 1940s to 2000s and an interesting 'Historical Background' from Pre-Columbian 5000BC to Contemporary 2010.
Anne is a writer specialising in Caribbean art and writing. She herself has quite an art collection, some of which I had the pleasure of framing for her.

Art in the Caribbean: an Introduction

Monday, 4 October 2010

The Shame of the billboards of Venice

One of my favourite applications of computer printing is the ability to produce huge prints, as big as buildings, on weatherproof materials. It is quite common to use this process to reproduce the facade of a building on awnings which are then hung on to scaffolding to hide the work being done behind it and to maintain the external appearance of the building.
Unfortunately this technology is being used instead to hang huge advertisements onto buildings, often partially covering the more tasteful reproduction facade.
The photo above shows the church of San Simeon Piccolo in Venice - the first building you see as you come out of the railway station. You can see that they have gone to the trouble of erecting a reproduction of the building to hide the restoration work which would otherwise be quite an eyesore. On top of this they have applied an  advertisement for Calvin Klein jeans!
There are many much much worse examples of this practice.
I was pleased to read in the Observer this week That Sir Norman Foster, the directors of The British Museum, The V& A and New York's Museum of Modern Art are joining a protest against this practice in Venice. Read the interesting article at:

(photo courtesy Michael Tinkler at Flickr)

Sunday, 3 October 2010

I'm 'Blogger of the Week' at EBSQ

I'm flattered at being featured as 'Blogger of the Week' on the EBSQ blog.
EBSQ is a very active site for self-representing independent artists. I have a portfolio gallery there with a selection of my work. They run monthly competitions, a busy forum and provide useful artist tools.
I have been a member of this community for some years and I highly recommend it.

(click the logo to see the blog post)

Friday, 1 October 2010

October anniversaries of classical composers

Great Classical Composer

1/10/1865 Paul Dukas born
3/10/1920 Max Bruch died
3/10/1931 Carl Nielsen died
5/10/1880 Offenbach died
Verdi born
Saint-Saƫns born
Bruckner died
Vaughan Williams born
Bernstein died
Chopin died
Gounod died
20/10/1874 Charles Ives born
Liszt born
24/10/1725 A Scarlatti died
25/11/1825 J Strauss Jr born
Bizet born
26/11/1685 D Scarlatti born
27/11/1782 Paganini born

Monday, 27 September 2010

2011 Classical Music Calendars

We are nearly into October and I am working to finish my 2011 Classical Music calendars. So far I have finished:
  • Great Composers
  • Opera
  • Russian Composers
  • Piano composers
  • Italian composers
This week I hope to publish French Composers and then German composers by mid-October.

So far I have published them on zazzle and some on cafepress

Thursday, 23 September 2010

175th Anniversary of the death of Vincenzo Bellini

On 23 September 1835 the great Italian composer Vincenzo Bellini died at the tragically young age of 33.
He died near Paris of acute inflammation of the intestine. In 1876 his remains were transferred to his home town Catania in Sicily.
He was a child prodigy and led a busy productive life. He was a bit of a dandy and very popular. He never married, but had several relationships with beautiful society women.

You can find out more about him at

Monday, 13 September 2010

Italian Classical Composers

Following my Russian composers project I am doing the same for Italian composers.
On I now have a page which links to each individual composer.
I have also published a poster (illustrated right) on zazzle with greetings cards and other merchandise. Later this week I hope to have the calendar published.
Featured composers are:
  • Bellini
  • Corelli
  • Donizetti
  • Leoncavallo
  • Mascagni
  • Monteverdi
  • Palestrina
  • Pergolesi
  • Puccini
  • Rossini
  • Verdi
  • Vivaldi

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

History of Radio - 1924

I found this 1924 children's book the other day in a junk shop.
Interesting the illustration of an early radio receiver with headphones or is that a Dell computer on the table? Early mp3 player?
Of course the boy wears the headphones while the girl looks on admiringly! Is he wearing tights?

I have put it on zazzle so you can buy a print if you want.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Russian Classical Composers

Having completed portraits of 12 Russian composers I have put up a page at which links to the profile pages I have done so far.
I have also done a 2011 calendar and a poster (illustrated right). They are available at zazzle
Composers included are:
  • Balakirev
  • Borodin
  • Glinka
  • Khachaturian
  • Mussorgsky
  • Prokofiev
  • Rachmaninoff
  • Rimsky-Korsakov
  • Scriabin
  • Shostakovich
  • Stravinsky
  • Tchaikovsky
I hope to do similar publications for Italian, French and German composers before Christmas.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

September classical composer anniversaries

  • 1/9/1854 Humperdinck born
  • 4/9/1824 Bruckner born
  • 4/9/1892 Milhaud born
  • 4/9/1907 Grieg died
  • 5/9/1735 J Christian Bach born
  • 5/9/1912 John Cage born
  • 8/9/1813 Gesualdo died
  • 8/9/1841 Dvorak born
  • 8/9/1949 Richard Strauss died
  • 10/9/1659 Purcell born
  • 13/9/1819 Clara Schumann born
  • 13/9/1874 Schoenberg born
  • 17/9/1179 Hildegard von Bingen died
  • 20/9/1957 Sibelius died
  • 21/9/1874 Holst born
  • 23/9/1836 Bellini died
  • 25/9/1906 Shostakovich born
  • 25/9/1849 J Strauss Sr died
  • 26/9/1898 Gershwin born
  • 26/9/1945 Bartok died
  • 25/9/1921 Humperdinck died

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

First record to sell a million copies

So Elvis Presley wasn't the first to sell a million copies of a record!!

In 1907 the Italian tenor Enrico Caruso recorded on the Victrola label "Vesti la giubba" from "Pagliacci" by Leoncavallo.

The video below is of the actual record being played.

The photo (courtesy Wikipedia) is of Caruso playing a "Victrola" phonograph.


Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Great Composers - 16 month calendar

It's calendar time again.
My first one this year is 'Great Composers'. It is a sixteen month calendar with a start date of September 2010 so it is ready for the academic year.

Composers included are:
Mozart, Beethoven, Rossini, Debussy, Dvorak, Aaron Copland, Charles Ives, Stravinsky, Wagner, Prokofiev, Mahler, Haydn, Holst, Bizet, Donizetti and Puccini.

Also included are the birth and death anniversaries of composers relative to each month.

It is available from zazzle

Monday, 7 June 2010

Schubert's Bicentenary

8 June is Robert Schumann's 200th birthday.
Happy Birthday Robert. I bet they will be having a great party up there!
What a pity he died so early at the age of 46.

Yesterday, Sunday, was Schumann Day on BBC Radio 3. There was a series of programmes throughout the day. You can listen to them for another 6 days on BBC iplayer. Here is the programme.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

June anniversaries of classical composers

You can see a comprehensive listing of composer anniversaries at the Classical Composer Database

Happy Birthday Elgar - Goodbye Elgar banknote

Today is Elgar's 153rd birthday.
I see that the £20 banknote featuring the portrait of Elgar and Worcester cathedral will no longer be legal tender from the end of this month. See BBC report here.
The banknote was introduced in 1999.
It was controversially discontinued in 2007 - the year of his 150th anniversary.
Bad timing.
Elgar's image was replaced by that of Adam Smith, the Scottish economist.
Could it be because our Chancellor of the Exchequer at the time was Gordon Brown - a Scotsman.
I can't see the Scots putting the portrait of an English economist on their banknotes.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Happy Birthday Brahms and Tchaikovsky

Tchaikovsky is 170 today.
Google did a special Google logo featuring Swan Lake (see above).

Also today is Brahms's 177th birthday.
Happy Birthday Johannes

Saturday, 1 May 2010

May anniversaries of classical composers

Wow, where did April go? Here in London we had such a wonderful spring April which was appreciated all the more after such a long and miserable winter.

So May has arrived - should be interesting - with a new government.
It is certainly an interesting month for composer anniversaries:

1/05/1904 Dvorak died
1/05/1978 Khachaturian died
7/05/1833 Brahms born
7/05/1840 Tchaikovsky born
12/05/1884 Smetana died
15/05/1567 Monteverdi born
17/05/1866 Satie born
18/05/1909 Albeniz died
18/05/1911 Mahler died
22/05/1813 Wagner born
25/05/1934 Holst died
29/05/1860 Albeniz born
31/05/1809 Haydn died

For a very complete list of May anniversaries I recommend you take a look at the Classical Composers Database

Friday, 23 April 2010

Happy Birthday Ruggiero Leoncavallo

Ruggiero Leoncavallo was born on 23 aprile 1857, 153 years ago.
However he used to tell people that he was born on 8 March 1858. This was to make himself appear younger than his great rival Giacomo Puccini who was born on 22 dicembre 1858.

What a 'pagliaccio'!!

Thanks to Antonio Pisanti for this interesting factoid.

Sunday, 28 February 2010

Happy Birthday Gioachino!

Well it is almost his birthday.
Rossini is one of those unfortunate prople being born on a February 29 gets a birthday only every leap year. So he only had 19 birthdays in his lifetime.
Anyway, to celebrate I have put a Rossini video of the week on the home page of It is animated version of The Thieving Magpie by the wonderful Italian artists Gianini and Luzzati. Superb!

Gesualdo - Renaissance composer and murderer

The latest addition to my site is Carlo Gesualdo, Prince of Venosa - a composer, lutenist and nobleman of 16th century Italy.
Thanks to my printmaking tutor and mentor Frank Connelly of Morley College. He kept nagging me to do Gesualdo (whom I had never heard of!) . He is better known for having murdered his first wife who he caught in delicto flagrante with her lover - another young Italian prince. He murdered him too - and there is more.
It is a great story. Bernardo Bertolucci is said have it on his 'to do' list with Joseph Fiennes as Gesualdo. If anyone has any information about it please let me know.
Anyway I'm quite pleased with my print. You can read more about dear Carlo at

more at Zazzle .

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Happy Birthday George!!

Happy Birthday to George Frideric Handel.
Last year was the 250th anniversary of his death and there were numerous celebrations everywhere.

Handel and Bach were born less than a month apart and less than 80 miles apart, yet they never met although they both new and admired each others music.

Another odd coincidence is that both in later life were treated for failing eyesight by a quack English eye surgeon, John Taylor. Both operations were botched and indeed Bach died probably as a result of Taylor's incompetence.
Taylor himself eventually went blind.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

The Music Instinct

The Music Instinct - how music works and why we can't do without it - by Philip Ball
Our friend Philip has come out with yet another superb book. This one about music.
On Tuesday we went to the Royal Institution where he was lecturing on the subject of his book and very fascinating it was too.
The lecture hall and gallery were sold out and we ended up sitting on the steps as we were a bit late. Anyway I managed to catch up with what we had missed by listening to the audio recording which is conveniently included on the Royal Institution website

There are more great reviews in today's papers. Here are a couple:

The Independent on Sunday

The Observer

Philip is repeating the lecture at the Royal Institution on 27 February.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Mahler and the Grammies

Congratulations to Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and of course to Gustav Mahler for winning 3 Grammies at last Sunday's awards:
- Best Classical Album,
- Best Choral Performance, and
- Best Engineered Classical Album
The album is Mahler: Symphony # 8

This is the seventh Grammy won by the SFS and Tilson's cycle of Mahler symphonies.

Other 'Best Orchestral Performance' Grammies won by Mahler were:
2007 - 7th Symphony - Michael Tilson Thomas - San Francisco Symphony
2004 - 3rd Symphony - Pier Boulez - Vienna Philharmonic
2003 - 6th Symphony - Michael Tilson Thomas - San Francisco Symphony
2001 - 10th Symphony - Sir Simon Rattle - Berliner Philharmonic
1999 - 9th Symphony - Piere Boulez - Chicago Symphony Orchestra
1993 - 9th Symphony - Leonard Bernstein - Berlin Philharmonic
1990 - 3rd Symphony - Leonard Bernstein - New York Philharmonic

Monday, 1 February 2010

February composer anniversaries

3/02/1809 Mendelssohn born
13/2/1883 Wagner died
17/2/1653 Corelli born
23/2/1934 Elgar died
23/2/1685 Handel born
27/2/1887 Borodin died
29/2/1792 Rossini born

For a really comprehensive list of February births, deaths and events visit the excellent site

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Happy Birthday Schubert

Another composer who died tragically young.
Only 31 - even younger than Mozart.

Here is the etching I did of him last year.
I have also done a profile of him on my composer website at:

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Happy Birthday Wolfgang

Today is Mozart's birthday.
Happy Birthday Wolfgang!

I have just found on YouTube some beautiful animations by the late Emanuele Luzzati, Italian ilustrator and stage designer.

Together with Giulio Gianini he produced some stunning animations and they won an Oscar nomination for their production of Rossini's Thieving Magpie

Here is a link to the first part of Mozart's Magic Flute.


Monday, 25 January 2010

Arcangelo Corelli

I have finished my Corelli portrait and put a short profile on

He was one of the few great composers to die a very rich man. Thanks to the patronage first of Queen Christina of Sweden, then of various cardinals, he amassed not only great wealth but also a fantastic art collection.

I will be making available prints next month.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Photographers protest in Tafalgar Square

Today professional and amateur photographers protested in London's Trafalgar Square about the increasing phenomenon of police 'stopping and searching' anyone (including tourists) photographing certain public buildings or police officers.
Last week the European Court of Human Rights ruled that this indiscriminate practice is illegal, so the government has appealed.
Meanwhile - be warned!!

Read the story here

Monday, 11 January 2010

'The Welder' - Art of the Day on EBSQ

Yesterday my painting 'The Welder' was featured as Art of the Day on the home page of EBSQ - the excellent site for Self Representing Artists.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Victorian exercise bike

If you really can't face cycling outside in this weather then get one of these gadgets to enable you to exercise indoors:

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Aerial Velocipede

Even better than the Ice Cycle I suggested yesterday would be the Aerial Velocipede.
This would be useful all year round. Great idea - pity it never took off!

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Ice Cycle

Where can I get one of these?
Just the job for cycling in this weather.
A large spiked wheel, steerable runners, great!

Monday, 4 January 2010

300th Anniversary of Pergolesi's birth

Today is the tercentenary of the birth of Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, the 'Father of Comic Opera'.
He only had 26 birthdays while on this earth - if he had lived longer would he have been another Mozart? But then Mozart died young as well at 35.

So here is my new portrait of Pergolesi which I completed last week. I have also published a profile of him on my site

Saturday, 2 January 2010

January anniversaries of famous composers

Here is a list of anniversaries of some prominent classical composers that fall in January:

4/1/1710 Pergolesi born
6/1/1872 Scriabin born
6/1/1838 Bruch born
7/1/1899 Poulenc born
27/1/1756 Mozart born
27/1/1813Verdi died
29/1/1862 Delius born
30/1/1963 Poulenc died
31/1/1797 Schubert born

2010 Classical composer anniversaries

2009 was a great year for famous composer anniversaries and 2010 is also a good year. Strangely a lot more anniversaries of births than of deaths.

Scarlatti (Alessandro) 350 years
Pergolesi 300 years
Cherubini 250 years
Chopin 200 years
Schumann 200 years
Albeniz 150 years
Mahler 150 years
Stravinsky 100 years

Balakirev 100 years

Friday, 1 January 2010

Happy New Year everyone!

I wish everyone a happy and successful new year - and indeed a happy and successful new decade. Let's hope it doesn't go as fast as the last one. I can't believe it is 10 years since the millenium celebrations.

So today we went to the London New Year Parade. It was the first sunny day we have had for some time and there were lots of happy faces (and gossepimples). It is a great show and there were participants from 20 different countries.

Of particular interest are the several marching bands who come all the way from the States just for this parade. So I got some good photos of sousaphones to use on my Sousa page on my site.