Friday, January 24, 2020

Happy Chinese New Year!

And so we come to another new year according to the Chinese calendar (25th January, but for China that's in the course of today in the Dutch timezone). This one is the year of the rat (or mouse). We wish our family and friends in Shanghai and Singapore, as well as all readers of this blog who celebrate the event, a happy, healthy and auspicious new year!

Copyright statement: image in public domain.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Weimar chic

Yesterday I came across this beautiful fashion illustration at the linked Art Deco blog. There was no information provided, but I managed to find out that this illustration is for publications on Jews' fashion in the Germany of the twenties. It was created by Annie Offterdinger (1894 - ?), and although undated, it is quite in line style-wise with her dated works from around 1920.

Copyright statement: situation unclear. Likely in public domain, if not likely fair use.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Hunky Dory

A classic album with a classic album cover: Davd Bowie's Hunky Dory from 1971. The style of the cover, photographed by Brian Ward and air brushed by Terry Pastor, was influenced by a Marlene Dietrich photo book that Bowie took with him to the photo shoot. It is a perfect representation of the ambiguous sexuality he was projecting at the time.

Copyright statement: low resolution images of album covers deemed fair use.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

The big moon

Time for yet another masterpiece by German expressionist Marianne von Werefkin (1860-1938). This painting from 1923 is one of my favourites in her repertoire. More about von Werefkin in the linked Wikipedia article.

Copyright statement: image in public domain.

Monday, January 20, 2020

IKEA Assembly Service

A perfect advertisement in many ways. It is simple, even minimalist. It uses optical illusions (one of my favourite subjects). It hammers home the message - better let the IKEA experts assemble the furniture. Last but not least, it shows a considerable degree of self mockery about the legendary difficulty to put IKEA furniture together right. Excellent work by German advertising agency DDB Tribal.

Copyright statement: images of advertisements considered fair use.

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Sunday, January 19, 2020

Unsung composers: Aulis Sallinen

This is a new series for the blog, although partly similar to a series of posts 5-10 years ago, which I now converted to draft status. I will focus on composers I like very much that did not make the top100 composers list as compiled from personal preferences of 56 Talk Classical members (link).

Aulis Sallinen (1935) is a Finnish contemporary classical music composer. His music has been variously described as "remorselessly harsh", a "beautifully crafted amalgam of several 20th-century styles", and "neo-romantic" (Wikipedia). I recognize the middle one more than the others, and I consider him one of my favourite living composers. His works include seven operas, eight symphonies, five concerto, as well as several chamber works. He has been well served by Finnish CD labels (primarily BIS and Ondine), but some works are also available on Naxos. My first encounter with his compositions was the Kronos Quartet's version of Winter was hard.

Some recommended works: symphonies 2, 6 From a New Zealand diary and 7 The dreams of Gandalf, Cello concerto and violin concerto, String Quartet 3 Some Aspects of Peltoniemi Hintrik's Funeral March,  the opera The red line, and perhaps his masterpiece, Songs of Life and Death, for baritone, choir and orchestra. A good starting CD would be the CD with that 46 minutes song cycle and a substantial bonus (The Iron Age suite) on Ondine (Amazon link).

Copyright statement: image created by Soppakanuuna - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Unusual concertos [1]: Harp

The first concertante instrument in the new edition of this subject (background link) is perhaps not that unusual. The harp is a well-known stringed musical instrument that has a number of individual strings running at an angle to its soundboard; the strings are plucked with the fingers (Wikipedia). Concertos in the classical and romantic era were largely limited to harp specialists, but in the 20th and 21st century a number of bigger names under the composers took to composing concertos for the instrument. Some examples: Glière, Ginastera, Higdon, Rodrigo, Rautavaara, Cowell, Aho, Dohnányi, Milhaud, Rota, Tailleferre, Villa-Lobos, Tveitt, and perhaps the most famous harp concerto of all, and certainly my favourite, Alwyn's "Lyra Angelica". For the illustrative example, I have selected the less known but beautiful 1970 harp concerto by Welsh composer William Mathias, which I have on a Lyrita CD in a version by Osian Ellis and the London Symphony Orchestra under David Atherton (Amazon link).

Copyright statement: image in public domain.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Gone with the wind

Playing around once more with the on-line program at the DeepArt site (blogged here). Here we have the result of mixing a photograph I took myself of umbrellas hanging in a street in Deventer (link), and one of Zao Wou Ki's shimmering abstract, 01.03.99 (link). The image created this way is a nice impressionist piece suggesting movement like an autumn storm.

Copyright statement: image created via the DeepArt site from one of my original images. Copyright Hennie Schaper.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Beko vacuum cleaners

Simply brilliant in its brilliant simplicity - the way this vacuum cleaner and the carpet are turned into an empty musical notation to signify the silent operation of this brand. Designed by TBWA, Istanbul.

Copyright statement: images of advertisements considered fair use.

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Monday, January 13, 2020

Unusual concertos [0]: Background

Unusual concertos (i.e. concertos for unusual solo instruments and orchestra) have been a topic in this blog in three different incarnations, all now reset to draft. In all cases I defined 'unusual' as anything beyond piano and violin. Let's look at the history of concertos as a bit of background. Until the start of the romantic period, many concertante instruments were used, but in the romantic era, piano and violin really started to dominate the field, accounting for 90%+ of all concertos. The 20th century was another turning point. Although piano and violin concertos were still composed regularly, other instruments were selected as well. In recent decades, this was further extended with many non-Western instruments and electronic instruments coming into the picture. For the third incarnation of this subject, I have focused on the period from 1900 until now.  The major change is that I will be excluding groups of players as concertante ensemble, so this time around there will be no concerto for string quartet and orchestra or rock band and orchestra, and so on.

Copyright statement: image in public domain.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

The collections of the Paris Museums

Seen in Hyperallergic (link): Paris Musées announced yesterday that it is now offering 100,000 digital reproductions of artworks in the city’s museums as Open Access (free of charge and without restrictions) via its Collections portal. Paris Musées is a public entity that oversees the 14 municipal museums of Paris, including the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Petit Palais, and the Catacombs. To get an impression, I downloaded the 1879 work Portrait of Victor Hugo by Bonnat, which came as a 2.86 MB file (4195x5247px). This high resolution allows zooming in for details, as shown above: this is less than 10% of the total painting. Well worth checking out.

Copyright statement: image in public domain.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Unsung composers: Arnold Bax

This is a new series for the blog, although partly similar to a series of posts 5-10 years ago, which I now converted to draft status. I will focus on composers I like very much that did not make the top100 composers list as compiled from personal preferences of 56 Talk Classical members (link).

Sir Arnold Bax (188 - 1953) was an English composer, whose prolific output includes orchestral music, songs, choral music, chamber pieces, and solo piano works. In addition to a series of symphonic poems he wrote seven numbered symphonies and a number of concertante works. His fame declined over the years, but a revival has been coming, thanks especially to a excellent series of CD's on the Chandos label and the later efforts by Naxos. His style is rooted in late romanticism with Celtic undertones.

Some recommended works: symphonies 1,3,6 and the unnumbered Spring Fire symphony; symphonic poems Tintagel, November woods; Cello concerto, violin concerto and Winter legends for piano and orchestra; Harp quintet and string quartets. A good starting CD would be a collection of five prominent symphonic poems on Naxos (Amazon link).

Copyright statement: image in public domain.

Friday, January 10, 2020


Frankly, I have doubts about the authenticity of this cover. Wikipedia includes this as the cover for Roxy Musics second single Pyjamarama from 1973 (without posting information on the designer), but style-wise it's completely different from the other Roxy single covers of the early seventies. Authentic or not, it's a cover well worth looking at.

Copyright statement: lower resolution images of single covers considered fair use.

Thursday, January 09, 2020

My Mother (The Hour-Glass)

Sometimes you come across a painting that does not fit the styles you prefer, but that still grabs you from the moment you see it. This happened to me last Sunday when I saw this 1900 painting by American artist Mary Lizzie Macomber (1861 - 1916) in a Facebook post. The monochrome setting, the symbolism, it all works perfectly for me. More about Macomber in the link.

Copyright statement: image in public domain.

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Classical music enthusiasts' favourite composers

For the Talk Classical bulletin board, I recently embarked on a project to produce a ranked list of 100 favourite classical composers, based on the  top 30 favourite composers of 56 TC members. The resulting list is partly in line with previous efforts by panels of experts or the wider classical music audience, and partly showing off niche interests from real aficionados. Anyway, I wanted to share it here, also because it will probably be the basis of a planned new blog topic "Unsung composers", the ones I like very much, but who did not make the list.

001 Ludwig van Beethoven
002 Johann Sebastian Bach
003 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
004 Gustav Mahler
005 Johannes Brahms
006 Franz Schubert
007 Dmitry Shostakovich
008 Jean Sibelius
009 Robert Schumann
010 Claude Debussy

011 Richard Wagner
012 Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
013 Sergei Prokofiev
014 Joseph Haydn
015 Maurice Ravel
016 Antonín Dvořák
017 Igor Stravinsky
018 Frédéric Chopin
019 Felix Mendelssohn
020 Béla Bartók

021 George Frideric Handel
022 Anton Bruckner
023 Richard Strauss
024 Franz Liszt
025 Ralph Vaughan Williams
026 Sergei Rachmaninoff
027 Hector Berlioz
028 Gabriel Fauré
029 Arnold Schoenberg
030 Alexander Scriabin

031 Antonio Vivaldi
032 Giuseppe Verdi
033 Giacomo Puccini
034 Claudio Monteverdi
035 Leoš Janáček
036 Edward Elgar
037 Olivier Messiaen
038 Aaron Copland
039 Benjamin Britten
040 Alban Berg

041 Francis Poulenc
042 Camille Saint-Saëns
043 Carl Nielsen
044 Gioachino Rossini
045 Josquin des Prez
046 Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina
047 Edvard Grieg
048 Alfred Schnittke
049 Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
050 Modest Mussorgsky

051 Anton Webern
052 Samuel Barber
053 Carl Maria von Weber
054 Georg Philipp Telemann
055 Charles Ives
056 Bohuslav Martinů
057 César Franck
058 Philip Glass
059 György Ligeti
060 Toru Takemitsu

061 Guillaume de Machaut
062 Max Reger
063 Guillaume Dufay
064 Georges Bizet
065 Frederick Delius
066 Paul Hindemith
067 Steve Reich
068 Mieczysław Weinberg
069 Christoph Willibald Gluck
070 Hugo Wolf

071 Ottorino Respighi
072 Arvo Pärt
073 Vincenzo Bellini
074 Johannes Ockeghem
075 Gaetano Donizetti
076 Erich Wolfgang Korngold
077 Alexander Borodin
078 Leonard Bernstein
079 William Walton
080 Alexander von Zemlinsky

081 Arcangelo Corelli
082 Nikolai Myaskovsky
083 Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber
084 Giovanni Battista Pergolesi
085 Carlo Gesualdo
086 Henry Purcell
087 Gustav Holst
088 Gerald Finzi
089 Sofia Gubaidulina
090 Jean-Philippe Rameau

091 Heitor Villa-Lobos
092 Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach
093 John Coolidge Adams
094 Witold Lutosławski
095 Kaija Saariaho
096 George Gershwin
097 Per Nørgård
098 Domenico Scarlatti
099 Thomas Tallis
100 John Williams

Copyright statement: image in public domain.

Tuesday, January 07, 2020

Vogue October 1925

Another beautiful vintage Vogue cover, albeit posted one season too late.... No surprise it is once more Georges Lepape who illustrated this gem.

Copyright statement: low resolution images of magazine covers deemed fair use.

Monday, January 06, 2020

Visiting galleries may help you live longer!

The linked art-icle discusses a recent academic study which strongly suggests that visiting museums and galleries may help people live longer. Great news for ourselves, but also for people in the wider Kampen area who can drop in at our gallery for free every Friday and Saturday afternoon. :)

Copyright statement: image created by myself. Copyright Hennie Schaper.

Sunday, January 05, 2020

Lego "doing it wrong"

Lego was one of my favourite toys in the sixties, but then we just got a big box full of pieces and let our fantasy run wild. When they later switched to sets of pieces meant to be put together to create a certain building, ship, or whatever, I felt they really went the wrong way. In a set of advertisements of a decade ago (by Leo Burnett), Lego seem to have realized that as well - with highly imaginative creations made out of their dedicated boxes, such as this spaceship from the Taj Mahal box.

Copyright statement: images of advertisements considered fair use.

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