Posts Tagged ‘Bach’

Viola da Gamba and the Theorbo

May 16, 2022

IMG_3172 autumn in Mittagong

Autumn in Mittagong.

Last Sunday,  a nice friend invited me to see a concert at a local village hall at Berrima about a 15 minute drive from here. Her daughter is free lance soprano living here in The Southern Highlands with a diploma of Opera from London and a Masters of Music at the Royal Northern College of Music.

The concert played baroque music which according to my limited knowledge of music covers early music between 1600 to the 1850’s or so. Vivaldi’s four seasons and Bach’s piano pieces are included in the more known works.

Here I quote from Google;

“The work that distinguishes the Baroque period is stylistically complex and even contradictory. Currents of naturalism and Classicism, for example, coexisted and intermingled with the typical Baroque style. In general, however, the desire to evoke emotional states by appealing to the senses, often in dramatic ways, underlies its manifestations. Some of the qualities most frequently associated with the Baroque are grandeur, sensuous richness, drama, dynamism, movement, tension, emotional exuberance, and a tendency to blur distinctions between the various arts.”

The instruments  that were used in my concert were the Viola da Gamba which as the name suggests is a type of violin but much larger and instead of being tucked under the chin stands on the ground like a cello.

The Theorbo is an instrument I never heard of. However, that is proof of my ignorance and not that it is not a worthy instrument. It certainly looks dramatic and so is its sound. I loved it in combination of the singers performing pieces especially arranged to be sung and played on those instruments.

Here is an introduction of the Theorbo, for those interested in a music career.

Only a few nights ago I watched Bohemian Rhapsody which is a totally different music and singing oeuvre with Freddy Mercury. It was played by more modern instruments accompanying Freddy. I wonder if his music will last the same as Vivaldi, Bach, Monteverdi, Henry Purcell and so many other?

My friend’s daughter’s singing was sublime and it brought tears to my eyes. Good art does that, doesn’t it?

The Paris daisy.

June 22, 2017

IMG_1105 Parisian Daisy

The Paris Daisy

There is just nothing more comforting than a single, little and insignificant flower. I say ‘insignificant’ in its beauty being so shy and modest. It’s not like a brutal rose for instance, with its hostile thorns and short flowering duration. The only rose daring to raise its head in the garden is our Iceberg,  bravely defying neglect and lack of attention. We do not like the rose, in spite of  Shakespeare. No, give us the sun of a Paris daisy.

It is strange how last year our Paris Daisy bush had hundreds of flowers lasting weeks. Their obstinacy in clinging to stay the top-flower in preference to the majestically towering Bay trees and Royal Hydrangeas is remarkable, surely worthy of lofty praise and curtsying  respect!

I mention their strangeness, because ever since their copious flower-show last year came to end, it all stopped. Not a single bud since its flower explosion six months ago. Was it some form of protest. Was it trying to tell us something? We raised it lovingly from a cutting we took from our next-door neighbour, Harley. We asked for it and he gladly gave his blessings. His Paris daisy fronts the street and gives passers-by so much beauty and pleasure. All free. All it might want in return are a few kind words, something in the order of; ‘oh, what a lovely plant,’ or even ‘great little yellow daisy, isn’t it?’  It doesn’t mind being called pretty or even described as a ‘pretty bush.’ It’s rarely insulted by people not really knowing it is a daisy. Milo lifting its hind led is even tolerated by this Paris Daisy. Isn’t that proof of symbiotic relations? No wonder its flowers so profusely.

We had a friend many years ago who named every flowering plant under the sun a pretty tulip. He knew I was Dutch and thought it safe to show some horticultural insights. He might also have thought he was witty. I prefer this last summation and showed my pleasure with accompanying laughter, which often takes me a considerable effort. There is nothing wrong with boosting the ego of another person. Things are often so frail and precarious amongst us, and an encouragement is the least I ought to practise and ‘share.’

Have we noticed that this verb ‘sharing’ has become very popular? We are knee-deep in the West with our ‘sharing’. It is particularly popular amongst those that practise psychology or hold alternative health certificates with a preponderance for prescribing herbal medications including Bach remedies to Gurdjieff followers and his teachings of The Fourth Way.

The taking of the Paris Daisy photo above was irresistible. Isn’t it beautiful? It stopped me in my tracks. I have been watching its tiny bud over the last few weeks. This morning it opened. Is it trying to make amends? Helvi told me she had trimmed it last year, but that was at the very end of its flowering and should not have minded the daisy at all.

Nature has a way to do things on its own accord and we should just let it get on with giving us its beauty.

Isn’t that such an act of sublime generosity?


The Strasbourg knob.

April 22, 2015

My paternal grandparents wedding

My paternal grandparents wedding

It has been a long time in coming but are now getting warm to taking another trip overseas. The closest I have been lately to anything away from these fair shores, is the eating of the occasional Danish biscuit or a generous thick slice of Strasbourg sausage sometimes called a ‘knob of Strasbourg.’. The latter I get at special events. I never get much encouragement when eating anything with bits of white fat embedded in a sausage with H wrinkling up her nose and chucking it back dismissively between its bulging brothers waiting in the frigidly cold part of miles of other waiting and competing sausages with white goods.

The history of the sausage is interesting and dates back to Roman times when the left bank of the Rhine( Alsace)already then supplied sausages to the Romans. In fact, even the word knackwurst dates back a few thousand  years. The work ‘knack’ relating to the sound a good tight sausage makes when biting into it. It is even suggested that long pauses in German composers incidental pieces of music is thought to be caused by the composer taking a break to get stuck into another bite of a good sausage. If a lunga pausa ( long pause) together with a fermata (pause) is indicated on a piece of music it is not always that the composer took a breather, no he simply took a bite of knackwurst. It is well known amongst students of German and Italian music that Bach was known to fancy a bite or two. Glenn Gould, rest his genius soul, indicated that by a humming at every pause while playing the piano. Of course in the performance of an opera one could hardly expect a long pause by Pavarotti or Dame Sutherland taking a bite of a sausage instead of catching their breath.

It was a kind, bearded and ruddy looking man in the supermarket who saw me looking pensively at a Strasbourg knob who said; ‘ I buy one of these every week, they are fantastic value’. I appreciated his honesty and effort to include me in his culinary secrets and answered somewhat meekly; ‘I never had one of these.’. ‘Oh, you should, I love them,I would not go without the Strasbourg, I really love them, one a week for me, I tell the wife each time’.

I tried one after that inclusive and intimate conversation. I did like it but not at the rate of one a week. I have one a year or even less. The one in the fridge I bought yesterday in the lull of a terrible storm, is the third in my life. I just felt a need for it. They are 99% energy, according to the inscription on its taut skin.

Who can resist that during this cold weather?

The second Piano Concerto by Johannes Kipfler, Opus 33 with sauce vierge.

May 22, 2013


Why do words lend themselves, at times, with associations totally removed from reality? You would never associate Kipfler with a potato; yet, I have no trouble in accepting he could have been a composer born in Leipzig, 1862. His mother thought he was a dear little boy and even at the age of two he already showed great promise when he started banging on his Blechtrommel. (Tin drum).

Gunter Grass has a timbre to his name that can only ever be associated with being a writer of words in a certain order. He wrote the Tin Drum. You would be hard pushed to respect a writer called ‘Essenfrescher’, would you?  Perhaps this is why in the world of the famous, especially movie-stars, names are sometimes perceived as hindering fame and are changed to a more appropriate sounding pseudo. I mean Boris Karloff could never have gotten there if he was called by his real name of William Pratt or Dean Martin as Dino Crocetti, Doris Day as Doris Kappelhoff.

Names can be fluid or grindingly rasping with associations far removed from what they stand for or are. I mean, I don’t think there are many still called Hitler. The telephone book in Germany or Austria reveals not a single person named Hitler anymore. Apparently his father did not like the sound of Schicklgruber and preferred Hitler. Even the name Schicklgruber is now rare, as is Goebbels etc.

So, what to make of words and names? Why is a name change perceived to add to possible achievements. If Bach was called Kohlrabi, would his music have found less acceptance? Who was it again with, “what’s in a name?” or, “That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Shakespeare was destined to write brilliantly with a name like that. Mozart-Concert is so symbiotic in name. It had to happen.

Would Villa Lobos have written Bachianas if named Gauncho Pistachio? Who knows?

However, after my nonsense, what seems that what ‘is’ counts most and not the given name. Hmm, I am not so sure.

I went to get my hair cut last week and when I was asked how I want it cut, I said to the girl; “I would like to look a bit more like Justin Bieber”. “Can you do that?” Why? She said, a bit bewildered looking. Much to H’s embarrassment, I sometimes act stupidly convincing. I made it worse by saying; “I want to be mobbed by teen-age girls again”.

( I was only ever shunned by teenage girls) I then realized that my joke didn’t get traction and I recanted somewhat by saying. “Only joking”, “please cut it any way you like, perhaps as it was eight weeks ago’.”  “ Please, go for it, you cut so well,” I smarmed while surrendering totally to her comb and scissors.

She took her revenge at the end of the cut by asking very loudly; “what about your eyebrows, shall I trim them ‘somewhat”. The sting was in the ‘somewhat’ indicating my eyebrows were so verdantly overgrown it was more in need of weed-killer. Ah, old age is advancing especially in ear hairs and brows. It made me repent my Bieber remark. For days I was sulking over it. H reckoned it served me right and was secretly gloating.

Even so, Justin Bieber’s name wasn’t a hindrance to his genius, was it? Mind you his fame might well be waning. He was booed a couple of nights ago. Those sort of fames based on talent quests are so fickle, they come and go like falling stars, they light the scene for a second and fall spectacularly down into darkness to be forgotten forever.

Still, I sometimes secretly wish for a light mobbing by hordes of screaming teenage girls, after all those years. Grow up Mr Oosterman, your eyebrows are showing. Keep clinging to your wreckage.  🙂

Of Old Age and Carking it

May 29, 2010

Gerard Oosterman

Gerard Oosterman

Surely, one of the most comforting companions during one’s life is the knowledge that it does not last forever. It is one of a few truths that have stood the test of time.

One can safely hitch one’s horse on that post; and it would be a brave man who could ensure us that death is not inevitable and, that, with some luck we might get out of it alive! Many a time and many of us must have gone through some periods of gloom or clear sighted despair and fallen gratefully back on this knowledge, perhaps thinking, ‘ah well, it’s not going to last forever’.

This of course, when getting older, gives us the comfort and insight in accepting that this truth is unassailable and no one, so far, has ever escaped it. No matter how optimistic or positive our outlook on life, we all have to finally face that our stay here is limited. This then gives us the freedom, as this truth is getting closer, to finally give time to all the things one might still wish to do. For many it might also be a time in not doing much at all anymore, and just relax a little, have a nap, bingo arvos with the magic of the Friday night meat tray raffle at the local club or bending to bowl on the Saturdays or swinging the golf club for the more agile.

When I look at the statistics of the living, the over sixties are a formidable group to reckon with. The Government is worried sick about the sheer numbers queuing for future pensions. In fact, super contributions from employers have just been increased to 12 per cent to stave off a blow out in the cost for retirees.

Even burial places are now at such a premium, it has been suggested to utilise roads and footpaths below existing cemeteries to bury the dearly departed. I would not mind resting underneath Argyle Cut at The Rocks in Sydney or even underneath the stern looking Queen Victoria in front of that building with the same name, but would object to being underneath Parramatta Rd, in front of Lighting for You or Brides & Grooms. There are traffic grid-locks even after deaths.

There are of course now so many ways of getting life extended. All sorts of medical interventions are being encouraged and foisted on us to extend old age into a Methuselah’s like status. Blocked arteries, which in the normal course of life in old age would give relief and death a fair chance, are now a mere bagatelle. There are tiny balloons that ferret inside the blood arteries till it gets to the blockage and inflate, allowing the blockage to flow somewhere else. It’s almost par for course that we extend life to the very maximum. Nappies and pull-ups for the incontinent are no worries. Many problems of the aged are taken under the microscope and like magic; the industry is flat out providing all sorts of aids and gadgets to make ageing as comfortable and profitable as possible. Soon, the battery operated carriages, so popular around shopping centres will have their satellite navigation gadget, safely steering us between Bakers Delight and Bunnings . Bowel rumblings and the occasional bout of intestinal hurry are as acceptable as the more frequent lapse in remembering where all the public toilets might be situated.

Does it really matter that we live to 89 instead of 94? Many would argue that if life is enjoyable and still worthwhile, why not keep going. Indeed, why not? The problem is that life is lived on the day and not into the future. It’s just not possible to live tomorrow. As we are told by many gurus, all we have got is ‘now’,’ this moment.’ The other consoling factor is that when dead, you don’t or can’t regret to having carked it. It’s not as if you can then say, ‘oh I would just love to have gone once more to Gloria Jeans and got a cappuccino or have another one of those spine tingling colonoscopies at Concord Repatriation Hospital…’

No, after you cark it, and provided you have arranged for a nice little incineration, your remnants will probably be raked over by the metal detector for your gold teeth or platinum hip bone. The undertakers have strict instruction to share any handy little remnants of you with the ash and urn gatherers. This is understood as part of the job. After all, dressing Uncle Harvey with his gangrene leg and weeping bowels, in his best suit, does require some courage and strong constitution. Anyway, it is a nice little top up for the boys in the back room.

Of course in western society, more than anywhere we do our best and pretend dying doesn’t exist or if it does, we get it over with as unobtrusively as possible and keep it well hidden. The gasket glides into the fire without even a witness to the flames consuming our dearly departed. It is all so hygienic and sterile. We might have the benefit of a Bach’s hymn electronically bleeping away with a final Prelude and Fugue, but by and large we keep it all a bit mum and oh so discreet.

We don’t celebrate death the same as birth or even a marriage. No confetti or tins rattling at the back of the Zephyr Ute when on our final journey to Rookwood…

Of course, we ought to celebrate the event as much as a birth. Isn’t it a final reward for having lived a life?