Thursday, 6 December 2012

Oscar Niemeyer dies

Oscar Niemeyer died yesterday at the grand old age of 104.
He was the architect of the Milan head office of the Italian printer publisher Mondadori. I worked for them for 15 years so I knew the building quite well and so I took an interest in Niemeyer.
A couple of years ago I did a small series of portraits of architects, including Oscar here on the right. The design is based on the ceiling of the Brasilia cathedral. 
Of course there are numerous obituaries in the press today. Here below is a gallery of photos of some of his work.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Exhibition at Morley Gallery

I'm participating in a group exhibition at the Morley Gallery in London with 16 of my fellow printmakers. We had a private view on Thursday evening which was well attended. 
No red dots for me yet though!
Here's a photo of me and my wall. 

There will be another private view/party on Tuesday 11th December. Everybody welcome.
Here is the invite with information and a map. 

Sunday, 2 December 2012

December Anniversaries of classical composers

Great Classical Composer

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

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Happy Birthday Aaron

Today is Aaron Copland's birthday. He would have been 112.
Here is a video of his arrangement of Happy Birthday conducted by Seiji Ozawa for Bernstein's 70th birthday in 1970.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Death of Tchaikovsky

Tchaikovsky's death mask
Tchaikovsky died on this day, 6 November, in 1893 aged 53 in St.Petersberg.
Officially he died of cholera but for many his death was suspicious and there are various intriguing theories about the true cause.
Cholera was common at the time and everyone knew that you must not drink unboiled water. Certainly for an educated man in high society it is very unlikely that he would have drunk it accidentally.
He was a very important highly regarded person in Russia. He was also gay, which at that time was illegal and could ruin your reputation.
The main theories link his death to his homosexuality:
- suicide due to personal problems including his infatuation with his nephew which could never be revealed.
- contraction of cholera through unhygienic sexual practices
- suicide by "court of honour". Eight of his close circle convened with him and convinced him that the only way for him to avoid a massive scandal was for him to kill himself.
- suicide or murder ordered by Tsar Alexander III, in order to avoid scandal.
You can find plenty of articles and opinions on the internet which make interesting reading. Here are a few:
- Wikipedia
- Daily Telegraph

Sunday, 4 November 2012

The Deaths of Felix and Fanny Mendelssohn

Available from Amazon
Today is the anniversary of the death of Felix Mendelssohn at the age of 38 on 4 November 1847.
His sister Fanny had died less than six months earlier at the age of 41.
Fanny had suffered a sudden stroke or a brain haemorrhage. They were very close and her death had a devastating effect on Felix affecting his work and his health.
Felix died from  a series of strokes.
His grandfather Moses and both his parents had also died from strokes so there was obviously a genetic cause involved.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

November's Composer Anniversaries

Great Classical Composer

3/11/1801 Bellini born
4/11/1847 Mendelssohn died
4/11/1924 Fauré died
6/11/1854 Sousa born
6/11/1893 Tchaikovsky died
8/11/1890 César Franck died
12/11/833 Borodin born
13/11/1868 Rossini died
14/11/1805 Fanny Mendelssohn born
14/11/1900 Copland born
15/11/1787 Gluck died
18/11/1786 Weber born
19/11/1828 Schubert died
20/11/1894 A.Rubinstein died
21/11/1695 Purcell died
22/11/1900 A.Sullivan died
22/11/1913 Britten born
23/11/1585 Thomas Tallis died
24/11/1868 Scott Joplin born
28/11/1829 A.Rubinstein born
29/11/1643 Monteverdi died
29/11/1797 Donizetti born
29/11/1924 Puccini died

I have done a webpage with composer anniversaries for the whole year at:

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Spotted Dick

Today I made Spotted Dick and custard for Sunday lunch. It went down well!
As my first contribution to the Helm Family Cookbook, proposed by my brother Mike, I post the recipe below.
It is not your classic school dinner pudding, stodgy steamed suet, but rather a lighter spongy lemony version. Different.

One day soon I'll do the 'original'.
There is of course a website:
And a Wikipedia entry
Heinz do a tinned version (which isn't bad at all!)
And of course someone has produced a T-shirt

Serves 6 (or 8 who will be wishing for more)
175 g butter, softened, plus a little extra for greasing the basin
175 g caster sugar
1 lemon, grated zest, and juice.
1 orange, grated zest
3 eggs, beaten
200 g self-raising flour
50 cc milk
80 g sultanas and/or currants (for adults - soak them overnight  in calvados or some such spirit)
1. Grease a 1.2 litre pudding basin with butter.
2. In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
3. Add the lemon and orange zest, followed by the lemon juice, and whisk in the beaten egg, a little at a time.
4. Sift in the flour and gently whisk the mixture together.
5. Add just enough milk for the mixture to drop easily from a spoon.
6. Fold in the sultanas and currants.
7. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pudding basin and firstly cover with a disc of greaseproof paper, then with a  piece of foil, tied under the rim of the basin with string.
8. To steam the pudding, place a small saucer into the base of a large pan. Place the basin onto the saucer and fill the pan with boiling water two-thirds up the side of the basin.
9. Cover and steam for 1 hour and 30 minutes to 2 hours. Continue to top up the water to the two-thirds mark, as the water will evaporate. Take care not let the water dry out.

February classical composers anniversaries

Late again, but here are February's anniversaries:

Great Classical Composer

2/02/1594 Palestrina died
3/02/1809 Mendelssohn born
7/02/1652 Allegri died

13/02/1883 Wagner died
15/02/1857 Glinka died
17/2/1653 Corelli born
20/2/1961 P.Grainger died

23/2/1934 Elgar died
23/2/1685 Handel born
27/2/1887 Borodin died
29/2/1792 Rossini born

Delius Anniversary

29th January was the 150th birthday of the english composer Frederick Delius (1862 - 1934).

Not one of my favourite composers. However as it is his anniversary I have done his portrait and added a profile to my website.
He was born 'Fritz' a name which he used until he was 40, when he changed it to Frederick.
He spent most of his adult life abroad in America, Germany, Norway and mainly France.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Here are the composer anniversaries for January:

Great Classical Composer

1/1/1782 J C Bach died
2/1/1837 Balakirev born
2/1/1905 M Tippett born
4/1/1710 Pergolesi born
6/1/1838 Max Bruch born
7/1/1899 Poulenc born
8/1/1713 Corelli died
8/1/1990 M Tippett died
11/1/1801 Cimarosa died
16/1/1886 Ponchielli died
16/1/1891 Delibes died
17/1/1751 Albinoni died
18/1/1835 Cesar Cui
23/1/1981 S.Barber died
27/1/1756 Mozart born
27/1/1813Verdi died
29/1/1862 Delius born
30/1/1963 Poulenc died
31/1/1797 Schubert born