Monday, May 22, 2023

Blog on hold

Usually I have a few posts lined up in advance, but not at the moment. Low on inspiration, and the current format requires quite some effort for a post. I'm putting the blog on hold until I have at least three posts pre-prepared again.
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Thursday, May 18, 2023

The Compositions of Anton Bruckner

Anton Bruckner (1824 - 1896) was an Austrian composer and organist best known for his symphonies and sacred music. The symphonies are considered emblematic of the final stage of Austro-German Romanticism because of their rich harmonic language, strongly polyphonic character, and considerable length. Bruckner's compositions helped to define contemporary musical radicalism, owing to their dissonances, unprepared modulations, and roving harmonies. They are also noted for existing in many different versions, which can elad to quite some confusion for the novice.

As with all posts dedicated to one composer, I will select my 12 favourite works, listed in chronological order. All depicted CD's are from my own collection. Text is sometimes copied from the Wikipedia entries.
Requiem (1849) 

The Requiem in D minor is a setting of the Missa pro defunctis for mixed choir, vocal soloists, three trombones, one horn, strings and organ with figured bass. It was composed in memory of Franz Sailer, the notary of the St. Florian Monastery. A very early work, and no match for the more famous Requiems, this is still a delight to listen to. The version shown above is by the Corydon Singers and English Chamber Orchestra under Matthew Best, featuring Michael George, Catherine Denley, Joan Rodgers and Maldwyn Davies, on Hyperion.
 String Quartet (1862)

The String Quartet in C minor was composed during his tuition by Otto Kitzler. It is of course an early work (even though the composer was already 38), but it is a delightful quartet, which makes one wonder what if... he had focused less on symphonies and more on chamber music. Of course we'll never know. The version shown above is by the Fine Arts Quartet on Naxos.

Symphony No. 2 (1872)
Symphony No. 2 in C minor, sometimes known as the "Symphony of Pauses", was actually the fourth symphony composed by Bruckner, after the Symphony in F minor "00" (1863), the Symphony No. 1 in C minor (1866), and the Symphony in D minor "0" (1869). It is the only numbered Bruckner symphony without a dedication. The version shown above is from the complete symphonies box by the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Saarbrücken under Stanislaw Skrowaczewski on Oehms Classics.

Symphony No. 3 (1873)

Symphony No. 3 in D minor,was dedicated to Richard Wagner and is sometimes known as his "Wagner Symphony". According to one critic, the third symphony "opens the sequence of Bruckner's masterpieces, in which his creativity meets monumental ability of symphonic construction." The work is notorious as the most-revised of Bruckner's symphonies, and there exist no fewer than six versions, with three of them being widely performed today. The version shown above is from the complete symphonies box by the Philharmonisches Staatsorchester Hamburg under Simone Young on Oehms Classics.
Symphony No. 4 (1874)
Symphony No. 4 in E-flat major was dedicated to Prince Konstantin of Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst. The symphony's nickname of Romantic was used by the composer himself. It is generally seen as one of his most accessible symphonies and therefore a good stepping stone in the world of Bruckner. The version shown above is from the complete symphonies box by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra under Riccardo Chailly on Decca.
Symphony No. 5 (1876)

Symphony No. 5 in B-flat major came at a time of trouble and disillusion for the composer: a lawsuit, from which he was exonerated, and a reduction in salary. It was sedicated to Karl von Stremayr, education minister in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Bruckner himself referred to it as the "Fantastic" without applying this or any other name formally. Of the famous seven (symphonies 3-9), this is my least favourite, but still a very good work. The version shown above is by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra under Georg Tintner on Naxos.
String Quintet (1879) 

String Quintet in F major is the only chamber music Bruckner composed after he had become an established symphonist. Bruckner's superior Joseph Hellmesberger Sr. requested Bruckner for a string quartet. Instead, Bruckner composed a viola quintet. He dedicated the Quintet to Duke Max Emanuel of Bavaria. After the Brahms and Dvorak masterpieces, this is my favourite string quintet of the 19th century. The version shown above is by the Vienna Philharmonia Quintet on Decca.
Symphony No. 6 (1881)
Symphony No. 6 in A major was dedicated to his landlord, Anton van Ölzelt-Newin. Only two movements from it were performed in public in the composer's lifetime. Though it possesses many characteristic features of a Bruckner symphony, it differs the most from the rest of his symphonic repertory. It is not commonly performed and often thought of as the ugly duckling of Bruckner's symphonic body of work. Personally, I like it a lot. The version shown above is by the Berliner Philharmoniker under Herbert von Karajan on Deutsche Grammophon.
Symphony No. 7 (1883)

Symphony No. 7 in E major is dedicated to Ludwig II of Bavaria. The first two movements are for me among the best he composed. It is generally accepted as one of his very best works. The version shown above is from the complete symphonies box by the SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden Und Freiburg under Michael Gielen on SWR Music.
Te Deum (1884)
The Te Deum in C major is a setting of the Te Deum hymn for SATB choir and soloists, orchestra, and organ ad libitum. The composer dedicated the piece A.M.D.G. "in gratitude for having safely brought me through so much anguish in Vienna." It is generally accepted as his best work among his Sacred choral music. The version shown above is by the Corydon Singers and Corydon Orchestra under Matthew Best, featuring Joan Rodgers, Catherine Wyn-Rogers, Keith Lewis andAlastair Miles, on a Hyperion CD.

Symphony No. 8 (1887)

Symphony No. 8 in C minor is the last symphony the composer completed. It is dedicated to the Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria. This symphony is sometimes nicknamed The Apocalyptic, but this was not a name Bruckner gave to the work himself. A brilliant work, often cited as his best, but as good as it is, I think his ninth is even better. The version shown above is by the Wiener Philharmoniker under Pierre Boulez on Deutsche Grammophon.

Symphony No. 9 (1896)

Symphony No. 9 in D minor is the last symphony on which Anton Bruckner worked, leaving the last movement incomplete at the time of his death in 1896; Bruckner dedicated it "to the beloved God" (in German, dem lieben Gott). Although attempts have been made to create a fourth movement based on Bruckner's sketches, I think the work is perfect as it is, in three movement ending with the gorgeous adagio. After Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde, this is my favourite symphony. The version shown above is by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra under Bernard Haitink on Philips.
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Sunday, May 14, 2023

Vintage Ireland Posters


Vintage advertisement posters are much sought after, and have been recognized for their artistic merit as well giving us a chance to look at days gone by. There have even been dedicated exhibitions of such posters in art museums. I like these nostalgic images and will post a few grouped per theme. Today's theme is Ireland, a collection of twelve travel posters which I am sharing without further information. The image above is created via Photofunia and is free from copyright issues.

Copyright statement: posting lower quality vintage advertisement posters is deemed fair use.

Saturday, May 06, 2023


My interest in photography as a hobby has dwindled over the years, especially since the start of the pandemic. For today's post I plundered my archives for shots with a uniting theme: animals as models. The image above was made with Photofunia.

You looking at me? A chance encounter with a goat on a small hill in the city of Naarden. A stunning silhouette, which was picked as one of the illustrations in an online article on that subject.

Longing for the other side. During the first 1-2 years of my photography, I often took shots of herons, ducks, geese and swans. Most of these are eminently forgettable, but I always liked this one, where the low viewpoint makes the goose look big compared to the wall.

Time for a nap. Love this one after all these years. I encountered this dog in a shop in Utrecht.

Mandarin duck. One of a number of shots taken in the Shanghai Zoo. I am not a fan of the traditional zoo concept, but it did give some nice photo opportunities. Good reactions on this one.

Lucky turtle. I spotted this critter in a pond at Xintiandi, Shanghai's latest hot spot for tourists and locals. It made no impression whatsoever on Flickr, but I include it, because the turtle is our lucky animal.

Nuts. My pick from a series of squirrel shots I took on a business trip in Houston, where this critter visited the hotel's parking lot.

Swan family in June. This family snapshot is one of a series I took from the shores of the park near our Almere home. My favourite of the bunch.

Quench. Another zoo shot, one of my favourites. I like the composition, but it got little response at Flickr.

Crocodile rock. Another zoo shot that tanked on Flickr. I like the diagonal composition though, and the tight crop to give an extra impression of strength.

Alternative title: Close encounters of the equine kind. On a walk through a forest in nearby Hattem we came across this friendly horse grazing in the meadows. When he saw us stopping and looking he came running to the fence. Unfortunately, no carrots in our pockets.

Swans silhouettes. Of the many swans shots I've taken over the years this one stands out in its uniqueness. Plenty of faves as well.

Jazz in Paris. A personal favourite for obvious reasons. After we had to let him go in 2017, aged 15, I had this one printed on aluminium and it has been at my desk ever since.

Copyright statement: all images copyright Hennie Schaper unless marked otherwise. Contact me if you like to use them.

Tuesday, May 02, 2023

Pan Magazine Covers

Pan was a London-based Bohemian-style periodical published for a few years after World War I. Difficult to find more information because there was a more famous German magazine with the same title (1895–1915). I picked twelve Art Deco style Pan covers for today's post. In most cases it was not possible to retrieve the names of the designers, so here they are without any further comment. The image above was made at the Photofunia site, which has no copyright issues. 

November 1919

December 1919
December 1919
December 1919
January 1920
March 1920
May 1920
May 1920
June 1920
June 1920
Copyright statement: posting lower quality magazine covers is deemed fair use.