The Pickwick Portfolio
In this issue:
- “A Unique Creature” by Theodore Winstint
- “The Renaissance: a Rebirth” by Theodore Winstint
- “Showing Kindness and Courtesy” by Augustus Snodgrass
- “Things That Make Me Happy” by Augustus Snodgrass
- “Thoughts about Spring” by Sam Weller
- “What I Expect from Life” by Augustus Snodgrass
- “Identifying Nature: Flowers” by Nathaniel Winkle
- Quotes to Note – compiled by Augustus Snodgrass, Sam Weller, Theodore Winstint
- Note-able Composers –“Alessandro Scarlatti” compiled by Augustus Snodgrass“Johannes Brahms” compiled by Augustus Snodgrass“Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky” compiled by Augustus Snodgrass“Gabriel Faure” compiled by Augustus Snodgrass“Claudio Monteverdi” compiled by Augustus Snodgrass“Richard Wagner” compiled by Augustus Snodgrass“Isaac Albeniz” compiled by Augustus Snodgrass
- Story Time – “C. S. Lewis” by Sam Weller
- Poet’s Corner – “The Birthplace” by Robert Frost
“Mountains at Sunset” by Kathleen Davidson
“The Last Defile” by Amy Carmichael
“Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll
This paper is part of a club called “The Pickwick Club.” “The Pickwick Portfolio,” as this paper is called, is designed for the good of the readers. Its purpose is to serve as a paper of news, entertainment, and fun. Enjoy!
READ, LAUGH, ENJOY!
A UNIQUE CREATURE
by Theodore Winstint
Imagine walking and exploring through the safari when all of a sudden you meet an animal that is as tall as a tree and its skin colour is grey and dirty? Guessing the animal this is speaking of is not too hard, because of the grey colour hint. It is the elephant. Elephants are large mammals and are represented by three species. These animals have their habitat in Asia and Africa in various climates, which makes studying them interesting. Although some species of elephants like to live in desert-like areas, others would prefer wet climates. By having a very interesting appearance, elephants are very unique. Vitally important is their way of communication and it greatly affects their behaviour.
Appearing majestic and impressive, elephants use these tools to display some of their characteristics. Since these animals are huge, they weigh 4000 kilograms. The trunk is long. Heavily weighted objects can be lifted and moved using this handy tool of the elephants, because they have massive muscles in their trunk. By using their ears, elephants can fan themselves, which is extremely useful in the hot summer days of the safari. Immense in size, the elephants still have the ability to quietly sneak as a mouse. Majestic is the elephant’s appearance, although it is sometimes unusual.
In behaviour, the elephant normally is very gentle but sometimes acts peculiar. He never forgets any human who hurt him in any way. On the other hand, the elephant never forgets someone who was kind to him. Friendly humans call him a gentle and forgiving giant. Sometimes, they suddenly take flight. This happens when humans usually did not hear anything, and therefore this is a rather peculiar behaviour of the elephant. An interesting behaviour of the elephants is that occasionally a society will act cruelly. When the dominant male or king becomes old, a few young elephants gang together and drive the old chief away, because they think that the old elephant is not able to lead them anymore. Behaving gently for most of the time, the elephant sometimes acts peculiar.
In addition to the sounds that we hear, the elephants use infrasound, which is a rumbling that humans cannot hear, to communicate. Humans can hear sounds in a range of about ten octaves, while the elephants can hear two octaves higher than we can. Using infrasonic and high-pitched sounds, elephants can converse and communicate while grazing. They can hear these sounds from up to five kilometers away. Usually the females are the ones who talk. The males listen. While the elephants use infrasound to communicate, they also use it to track their families. Clearly, the infrasonic rumblings elephants use are extremely important, because they use it to talk and communicate with each other.
The elephant’s appearance is fascinating. Notably, their behaviour is also affected by their extraordinary yet effective way of communication. Communication clearly is the most significant characteristic which sets the elephant apart from other animals. Using infrasound, they can communicate and converse with each other without other animals hearing them. If a herd of elephants is planning to attack some animal, they can notify each other without scaring their prey away, because of their ability to use infrasonic sounds. Infrasound also allows the elephants to communicate even if they are five kilometres away from each other. By studying elephants, one will find that they are a very unique creature helpful to mankind.
THE RENAISSANCE: A REBIRTH
by Theodore Winstint
Suddenly, someone is telling you, a scientist, that what you are teaching and believing is not true. What would you feel like? Or what if there would be an invention to produce a very expensive item in large quantities and therefore reduce the price drastically? The years 1300 to 1600 included many of such instances, and because of this, this era was named the Renaissance. It was a rebirth. It was a revival. It was a renewal. Earlier, the “Middle Ages” were dark, and exceedingly little was accomplished. During the Renaissance, it was the total opposite. The countries most affected by this age were France, Germany, England, Italy, and the Low Countries. Including much more drama than just inventions and discoveries, the Renaissance era contained the Hundred Years War, which was fought among the French and English, and the Black Death, while a power war among the Roman Catholic Church and the Holy Roman Empire was also part of this era. Artists became interested and inspired again in particular by the ancient Greek and Roman architecture. While the field of science also held many interesting and helpful discoveries in store for Renaissance era scientists. Also, many inventions were made, including the printing press.
Art during the Renaissance changed greatly. Also, becoming very popular during this time was the architecture of ancient Greece and Rome. Unconcerned about finances, famous artists did not have to worry about making enough money to live on, because patrons were valuing and paying high amounts for paintings and statues, as people today pay high amounts to see musicians perform. Notably, many of these paintings and statues still trade in for a large amount of money today. Because of the distribution of more printed books, the new ideas of art and architecture were spread quickly. One famous artist of the Renaissance was Leonardo da Vinci, whose paintings included the “Mona Lisa” and the “Last Supper.” These paintings are among the most well known and well recognized today. The famous sculptor, Michelangelo, who sculpted “‘Pieta’ in Rome and the ‘David’ in Florence”(Nat’l Geo Almanac page 165), also lived during this time. Significantly, he studied the human form, which made him capable of sculpting accurate resemblances of people. Raphael, although not quite as famous as the previously mentioned artists, was known to bring proportion and harmony into his drawings. Clearly, Renaissance art was realistic. While there was a renewed interest in art, the world of science also got more attention, and many discoveries were made during the Renaissance.
When science during this era advanced greatly, it was because of a revival of interest to study science. Interested in all fields of science, people were studying everything starting from plants to animals to humans, while many investigations also included astronomy and geology. Nicolaus Copernicus, who was a famous yet not so well loved scientist during this time, stated, taught and “realized that the Earth moved around the sun,” although he did not dare “publish his views until he was actually on his deathbed” (Kingfisher page 203). Notably, today this is the accepted theory. But what was the world’s reaction at the time of the discovery? Because of the church’s insisting the Earth was the center of the universe, Copernicus had great opposition during his lifetime concerning this theory. This greatly hindered his work. Nevertheless, Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler carried on his work after he died. In fact, these scientists were unconsciously laying the groundwork for the scientific revolution. It was clear that much was learned in science during the Renaissance, which was the result of a renewed interest to study it, but the most dramatic change done during this time was the invention of the printing press.
There has scarcely been nor will be another invention that changed the world as much as did the printing press. In the 1450s, Johan Gutenberg invented the printing press. Before the printing press was invented, scribes copied entire books by hand, which often took many months to complete. Only the wealthiest people could afford books then, because they were very expensive. In fact, even they did not usually have a great, grand, and glorious collection. When the printing press was introduced, books were able to be produced quickly and cheaply. Finally, this made them available to the people of the middle class. Books helped spread new ideas. Living during this time, Shakespeare, as stated in the National Geographic Almanac, is:
“held to be a writer for all times. Nevertheless, he was first a man of the English Renaissance, and the humanist and classical trends of the time can be seen clearly in plays such as Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra, and many others. Utopian ideas shine forth in The Tempest. In his attention to the human condition, his broad interests in all aspects of the world, and his joy in his native language, Shakespeare, who lived from 1564 to 1616, is a prime example of a Renaissance man – though not as popular in his own time as he would come to be in the 19th century.” (Nat’l Geo Almanac page 167)
Thus, printed books changed the world as probably nothing else would.
Undoubtedly, because of a great change in the art culture; because of the great advances in science; because the printing press, which is perhaps the most influential invention, was invented, the Renaissance is one of the most important time periods in the history of the world. Although the advances in science played a great and tremendous role in change of history, it was the invention of the printing press that most changed the world. Before Johan Gutenberg invented it, books were written by hand and thus took a lot of time. Therefore, books were scarce. Because of the scarceness of books, they were also expensive, as precious stones are today. The printing press allowed people to produce many more books in a shorter amount of time, and, in effect, books were a lot cheaper. This enabled lower class people to also buy books. Being able to spread new ideas much more quickly, inventors and scientists were writing and publishing more books. Lower class people also had the opportunity to be more educated, which gave them a whole new world of opportunities. Clearly, the Renaissance is one of the most fascinating and changing time eras in world history.
SHOWING KINDESS AND COURTESY
by Augustus Snodgrass
I have witnessed many incidents in which someone showed kindness or courtesy, but I know of one family, whose kindness and courtesy stands out to me. If they are present at a trip or anywhere one goes, one is almost guaranteed that one of them will be standing at the doors and holding them open for everyone. They seem to see everyone’s needs, and one does not feel like they only have eyes for themselves and ignore everyone else. If one word should describe them, it would be “selfless.” Every one of the family is so pleasant to be around, and after being with them, one feels inspired to be like them…to have one’s eyes open for others. They are always sincere and ready to help. Imagine if everyone in today’s world would see the needs and wants of others…never to be in a hurry to finish what they themselves set out to do, but to be ready to help whenever their help is needed. Let us look for opportunities to help others and to be a blessing for those around us.
THINGS THAT MAKE ME HAPPY
by Augustus Snodgrass
There are many things that make me happy, and I want to tell you about some of them. First of all, certain foods make me happy, because I enjoy them. Chocolate is definitely one of them! I mean, who does not love the feeling of the silky texture rolling over their tongue? Whether just pure chocolate or chocolate in a croissant, chocolate is one of my favorite things. I also absolutely love “Wareneki,” which are Mennonite perogies with a cottage cheese mixture inside and sweet rhubarb sauce on top. Besides food, I enjoy running. After a nice, hard run, one feels fresh and ready to get back to lots of school work! I also like just relaxing in my bungee chair, maybe grabbing my computer, and editing the Pickwick Portfolio! There is nothing better than reading good literature written by fellow literature-lovers! Most importantly, reading God’s Word makes me feel happy, comforted, and loved. When I read about how He loves us so much, cares for us, and will never leave our side, how can I feel sad or lonely? Finally, I think it is important to list the things that make one happy. Focusing on happy things boosts your spirit and mood! I also love good quotes, and so I will leave you with a very special quote that I think is very applicable: “It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness.” – Charles Spurgeon
THOUGHTS ABOUT SPRING
by Sam Weller
Well, spring is finally here! At long last the snow is gone, the robins have come, eggs are in nests, and the trees are budding. Gardens are being planted, the earth is soft and moist. Everything lives and breathes life. Be sure you don't miss it! This fresh change comes but once a year…soon it will be hot, and you will wish it was cold. Soon, things will be dry, and you will wish it was wet; so don't miss what is happening NOW! Go outside…RIGHT NOW. Run barefoot in the grass; do cartwheels in the sun (or rain!). Find a robin's nest, and watch the eggs! Weave a crown out of budding leaves, and wear it. Don't worry about being dirty; revel in the mud! Enjoy, and breath in the life. Don't miss it!
WHAT I EXPECT FROM LIFE
by Augustus Snodgrass
Many people have visions or dreams of what they expect their future and the rest of their life should look like and bring…perhaps riches, beauty, fame, a successful career, or a family. We all want to be well off financially, so that we can obtain anything we want and live a comfortable life. Beauty brings popularity and fame, and fame feels good, at least as long as it lasts. A successful career also brings fame and money, and a family is a part of many people’s dreams; but is that all that life has to offer? Are these your goals and ideals of life on earth? Is there not so, so much more that we should strive for and work towards? Are we in control of the future? Will a comfortable life or popularity give you true happiness? Will pleasing men here on earth satisfy your soul? Is not pleasing God a much higher and more desirable calling? Can God not satisfy so much better and make your life complete? God has so much more to offer than all material things of the world! God has a plan for your life, whether it agrees with your own plan or not. Following His plan will make you so much happier. Living in a shack without any money, feeling completely unloved and forgotten, but having God has your Friend would be a thousand times a happier life than the life of one who owns everything imaginable. Do you not want to try out the wonderful life God has planned for you? Imagine all the blessing you could receive and give on to others if God’s blessing and approval were on everything you did! This is what I expect from life…I expect God to bless and protect me from sin, because He said in His Word: “He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly; He guards the path of justice, And preserves the way of His saints.” (Proverbs 2:7-8) I know He will not leave my side, as long as I follow in His footsteps and walk where he wants me to walk. Let us forget our own plans and dreams and following where He leads. His plan is always the better one!
IDENTIFYING NATURE: FLOWERS
by Nathaniel Winkle
They say that April showers bring May flowers, but do you know what you are looking at? Perhaps you are a gardener and know every flower on this list. (I certainly can't tell a petunia from a pansy!) If you are not into gardening but wish to try, I hope your garden makes it; (I have tried my hand at it, and, year after year, only the peas survive.) but, “If at first you don't succeed, plant and water again.” This list will help you identify flowers you may want to plant in your garden, as well as flowers that are probably already growing there. I am sure it won't be necessary to point out to you what a dandelion looks like. (If you don't know, count yourself lucky!)
Queen Anne's Lace
(there are many types of lilies in many different colors.)
(You may have heard that it is illegal to pick a Trillium in Ontario; you could get into trouble picking a Trillium on public property or land owned by conservation. There are exceptions though…if you are lucky enough to have one growing in your backyard. Legal stuff aside, if you pick the leaves of the flowers, the plant will die. The plant will grow a new flower every spring if the leaves are intact.)
QUOTES TO NOTE
compiled by Augustus Snodgrass, Sam Weller, and Theodore Winstint
“My fake plants died because I did not pretend to water them.” – Mitch Hedberg
“A man doesn't know what he knows until he knows what he doesn't know.” – Laurence J. Peter
“A friend is one who believes in you when you have ceased to believe in yourself.” – Unknown
“Anyone can give up, it's the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that's true strength.” – Unknown
“Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else.” – Margaret Mead
“All right, everyone line up alphabetically according to your height.” – Casey Stengel
“A painter paints pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their picture on silence.” – Leopold Stokowski
“Music speaks what cannot be expressed, soothes the minds and gives it rest, heals the heart and makes it whole, flows from heaven to the soul.” – Unknown
"In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt." – Margaret Atwood, Bluebeard's Egg
“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.” – George Bernard Shaw
“Thank you, God, for this good life and forgive us if we do not love it enough.” – Garrison Keillor
“Easter is meant to be a symbol of hope, renewal, and new life.” – Janine di Giovanni
“Dream no small dreams for they have no power to move the hearts of men.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
“Your sacred space is where you can find yourself again and again.” – Joseph Campbell
“Quality is not an act, it is a habit.” – Aristotle
“While we are postponing, life speeds by.” – Lucius Annaeus Seneca
“Talent does what it can; genius does what it must.” – Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton
“There is no such thing as a good tax.” – Winston Churchill
“Better to fight for something than live for nothing.” – George S. Patton
compiled by Augustus SnodgrassHappy Birthday, Alessandro Scarlatti!
Alessandro Scarlatti (May 2, 1660 – October 22, 1725) was an Italian Baroque composer, especially famous for his operas and chamber cantatas. He is considered the founder of the Neapolitan school of opera. He was the father of two other composers, Domenico Scarlatti and Pietro Filippo Scarlatti.
Perhaps one of Scarlatti’s most famous pieces of music is Telemaco: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_mx1108NGpc.
compiled by Augustus SnodgrassHappy Birthday, Johannes Brahms!
Johannes Brahms (May 7, 1833 – April 3, 1897) was a German composer and pianist. Born in Hamburg into a Lutheran family, Brahms spent much of his professional life in Vienna, Austria. In his lifetime, Brahms's popularity and influence were considerable. He is sometimes grouped with Johann Sebastian Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven as one of the "Three Bs", a comment originally made by the nineteenth-century conductor Hans von Bülow.
Brahms composed for piano, chamber ensembles, symphony orchestra, and for voice and chorus. A virtuoso pianist, he premiered many of his own works; he worked with some of the leading performers of his time, including the pianist Clara Schumann and the violinist Joseph Joachim (the three were close friends). Many of his works have become staples of the modern concert repertoire. Brahms, an uncompromising perfectionist, destroyed some of his works and left others unpublished.
Brahms is often considered both a traditionalist and an innovator. His music is firmly rooted in the structures and compositional techniques of the Baroque and Classical masters. He was a master of counterpoint, the complex and highly disciplined art for which Johann Sebastian Bach is famous, and of development, a compositional ethos pioneered by Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, and other composers. Brahms aimed to honor the “purity” of these venerable “German” structures and advance them into a Romantic idiom, in the process creating bold new approaches to harmony and melody. While many contemporaries found his music too academic, his contribution and craftsmanship have been admired by subsequent figures as diverse as Arnold Schoenberg and Edward Elgar. The diligent, highly constructed nature of Brahms's works was a starting point and an inspiration for a generation of composers.
Perhaps one of Brahms’s most famous pieces of music is Hungarian Dance No. 5: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3X9LvC9WkkQ.
PYOTR ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY
compiled by Augustus Snodgrass
Happy Birthday, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky!
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (May 7, 1840 – November 6, 1893), often anglicised as Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, was a Russian composer whose works included symphonies, concertos, operas, ballets, chamber music, and a choral setting of the Russian Orthodox Divine Liturgy. Some of these are among the most popular theatrical music in the classical repertoire. He was the first Russian composer whose music made a lasting impression internationally, which he bolstered with appearances as a guest conductor later in his career in Europe and the United States. One of these appearances was at the inaugural concert of Carnegie Hall in New York City in 1891. Tchaikovsky was honored in 1884 by Emperor Alexander III, and awarded a lifetime pension in the late 1880s.
Although musically precocious, Tchaikovsky was educated for a career as a civil servant. There was scant opportunity for a musical career in Russia at that time, and no system of public music education. When an opportunity for such an education arose, he entered the nascent Saint Petersburg Conservatory, from which he graduated in 1865. The formal Western-oriented teaching he received there set him apart from composers of the contemporary nationalist movement embodied by the Russian composers of The Five, with whom his professional relationship was mixed. Tchaikovsky's training set him on a path to reconcile what he had learned with the native musical practices to which he had been exposed from childhood. From this reconciliation, he forged a personal but unmistakably Russian style—a task that did not prove easy. The principles that governed melody, harmony and other fundamentals of Russian music ran completely counter to those that governed Western European music; this seemed to defeat the potential for using Russian music in large-scale Western composition or from forming a composite style, and it caused personal antipathies that dented Tchaikovsky's self-confidence. Russian culture exhibited a split personality, with its native and adopted elements having drifted apart increasingly since the time of Peter the Great, and this resulted in uncertainty among the intelligentsia of the country's national identity.
Despite his many popular successes, Tchaikovsky's life was punctuated by personal crises and depression. Contributory factors included his leaving his mother for boarding school, his mother's early death, as well as that of his close friend and colleague Nikolai Rubinstein, and the collapse of the one enduring relationship of his adult life, his 13-year association with the wealthy widow Nadezhda von Meck. His homosexuality, which he kept private, has traditionally also been considered a major factor, though some musicologists now downplay its importance. His sudden death at the age of 53 is generally ascribed to cholera; there is an ongoing debate as to whether it was accidental or self-inflicted.
While his music has remained popular among audiences, critical opinions were initially mixed. Some Russians did not feel it was sufficiently representative of native musical values and were suspicious that Europeans accepted it for its Western elements. In apparent reinforcement of the latter claim, some Europeans lauded Tchaikovsky for offering music more substantive than base exoticism, and thus transcending stereotypes of Russian classical music. Tchaikovsky's music was dismissed as “lacking in elevated thought,” according to longtime New York Times music critic Harold C. Schonberg, and its formal workings were derided as deficient for not stringently following Western principles.
Perhaps one of Tchaikovsky’s most famous pieces of music is Romeo and Juliet “Fantasy Overture”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psFHjnIaaFU.
compiled by Augustus Snodgrass
Happy Birthday, Gabriel Faure!
Gabriel Urbain Fauré (May 12, 1845 – November 4, 1924) was a French composer, organist, pianist and teacher. He was one of the foremost French composers of his generation, and his musical style influenced many 20th-century composers. Among his best-known works are his Pavane, Requiem, nocturnes for piano and the songs “Après un rêve” and “Clair de lune.” Although his best-known and most accessible compositions are generally his earlier ones, Fauré composed many of his most highly regarded works in his later years, in a more harmonically and melodically complex style.
Fauré was born into a cultured but not especially musical family. His talent became clear when he was a small boy. At the age of nine, he was sent to a music college in Paris, where he was trained to be a church organist and choirmaster. Among his teachers was Camille Saint-Saëns, who became a lifelong friend. After graduating from the college in 1865, Fauré earned a modest living as an organist and teacher, leaving him little time for composition. When he became successful in his middle age, holding the important posts of organist of the Église de la Madeleine and director of the Paris Conservatoire, he still lacked time for composing; he retreated to the countryside in the summer holidays to concentrate on composition. By his last years, Fauré was recognized in France as the leading French composer of his day. An unprecedented national musical tribute was held for him in Paris in 1922, headed by the president of the French Republic. Outside France, Fauré’s music took decades to become widely accepted, except in Britain, where he had many admirers during his lifetime.
Fauré's music has been described as linking the end of Romanticism with the modernism of the second quarter of the 20th century. When he was born, Chopin was still composing, and by the time of Fauré's death, jazz and the atonal music of the Second Viennese School were being heard. The Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, which describes him as the most advanced composer of his generation in France, notes that his harmonic and melodic innovations influenced the teaching of harmony for later generations. During the last twenty years of his life, he suffered from increasing
deafness. In contrast with the charm of his earlier music, his works from this period are sometimes elusive and withdrawn in character, and at other times turbulent and impassioned.
Perhaps one of Faure’s most famous pieces of music is Requiem: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UnilUPXmipM.
compiled by Augustus Snodgrass
Happy Birthday, Claudio Monterverdi!
Claudio Giovanni Antonio Monteverdi (May 15, 1567 (baptized) – November 29, 1643) was an Italian composer, gambist, singer and Roman Catholic priest.
Monteverdi's work, often regarded as revolutionary, marked the change from the Renaissance style of music to that of the Baroque period. He developed two styles of composition – the heritage of Renaissance polyphony and the new basso continuo technique of the Baroque. Monteverdi wrote one of the earliest operas, L'Orfeo, a novel work that is the earliest surviving opera still regularly performed. He is widely recognized as an inventive composer who enjoyed considerable fame in his life-time.
Perhaps one of Monteverdi’s most famous pieces of music is “Magnificat”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RajAq0Yd-s4.
compiled by Augustus Snodgrass
Happy Birthday, Richard Wagner!
Wilhelm Richard Wagner (May 22, 1813 – February 13, 1883) was a German composer, theatre director, polemicist, and conductor who is primarily known for his operas (or, as some of his later works were later known, “music dramas”). Unlike most opera composers, Wagner wrote both the libretto and the music for each of his stage works. Initially establishing his reputation as a composer of works in the romantic vein of Weber and Meyerbeer, Wagner revolutionized opera through his concept of the “Gesamtkunstwerk” (“total work of art”), by which he sought to synthesize the poetic, visual, musical and dramatic arts, with music subsidiary to drama, and which was announced in a series of essays between 1849 and 1852. Wagner realized these ideas most fully in the first half of the four-opera cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung). His compositions, particularly those of his later period, are notable for their complex textures, rich harmonies and orchestration, and the elaborate use of leitmotifs—musical phrases associated with individual characters, places, ideas, or plot elements. His advances in musical language, such as extreme chromaticism and quickly shifting tonal centers, greatly influenced the development of classical music. His Tristan und Isolde is sometimes described as marking the start of modern music.
Wagner had his own opera house built, the “Bayreuth Festspielhaus,” which embodied many novel design features. It was here that the Ring and Parsifal received their premieres and where his most important stage works continue to be performed in an annual festival run by his descendants. His thoughts on the relative contributions of music and drama in opera were to change again, and he reintroduced some traditional forms into his last few stage works, including Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (The Mastersingers of Nuremberg).
Until his final years, Wagner's life was characterized by political exile, turbulent love affairs, poverty, and repeated flight from his creditors. His controversial writings on music, drama, and politics have attracted extensive comment in recent decades, especially where they express antisemitic sentiments. The effect of his ideas can be traced in many of the arts throughout the 20th century; their influence spread beyond composition into conducting, philosophy, literature, the visual arts and theatre.
Perhaps one of Wagner’s most famous pieces of music is Der Ring des Nibelungen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-HujjNQPv2U.
compiled by Augustus Snodgrass
Happy Birthday, Isaac Albeniz!
Isaac Manuel Francisco Albéniz y Pascual (May 29, 1860 – May 18, 1909) was a Spanish pianist and composer best known for his piano works based on folk music idioms. Transcriptions of many of his pieces, such as “Asturias” (“Leyenda”), “Granada,” “Sevilla,” “Cádiz,” “Córdoba,” “Cataluña,” and the Tango in D, are important pieces for classical guitar, though he never composed for the guitar. The personal papers of Isaac Albéniz are preserved, among other institutions, in the “Biblioteca de Catalunya.”
Perhaps one of Albeniz’s most famous pieces of music is “Asturias”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oEfFbuT3I6A.
Note: Summaries of composers’ lives taken from Wikipedia.
C. S. LEWIS
by Sam Weller
“I have seen landscapes…which, under a particular light, make me feel that at any moment a giant might raise his head over the next ridge.” Do you know who said that? C. S. Lewis did, about some mountains he had seen, and those mountains later became some of the inspiration for The Chronicles of Narnia. In this little piece, I will be telling you about my literary hero, C.S. Lewis. Clive Staples Lewis, or Jack to his friends and family, was born November 29, 1898, in Belfast Ireland. His only sibling was his older brother Warren. Jack had a rather turbulent childhood. He was tutored until his mother died when he was only ten; then he was sent to school. In the next five years, he would move to four different schools. It was during this time of change that Jack became an atheist. Eventually, when he was fifteen, he was once again tutored, and continued his education this way until his time at Oxford. Before Jack was able to enter Oxford, he was drafted into the army during World War I, when he was nineteen. He fought in the trenches and was wounded. Upon his recovery, he was sent to a post in England, but soon after was demobilized. He enrolled in Oxford, and won several honors and awards there. Jack was also a part of the Inklings group. The Inklings was an “…informal discussion society…” comprised of himself, his brother Warren, J. R. R. Tolkien (a very close friend of Jack's), and a few other literary friends. Jack held various different academic positions at Cambridge University and Oxford University. One of these positions was the chair of Medieval and Renaissance Literature. His work at these universities continued for nearly thirty years. Jack was converted back to Christianity in 1929 with the help of J. R. R. Tolkien and Hugo Dyson. When World War II began, Jack tried to re-enlist, offering to train cadets, but he was refused. Why? I don't exactly know; maybe it was because of his past injuries, maybe not. Anyhow, he was offered a position writing columns for the Ministry of Information, but refused, saying he didn't want to “write lies.” He did take in children evacuees, and eventually served on the Home Guard in Oxford, which was an internal defence system, should England be invaded. In 1956, Jack married Joy Davidman Gresham, who had two sons, David and Douglas. They lived together for around four years; then she died in 1960. Jack passed away himself three years later on November 22, 1963. But Jack had left behind a legacy of writing, which now is some of the world's most well loved literature. Some of his greatest works are The Screwtape Letters, The Space Trilogy, The Allegory of Love, Mere Christianity, and The Chronicles of Narnia.
Okay, so now you know a little bit about C.S. Lewis; but why is he my personal literary hero? Well, most importantly, he wrote The Chronicles of Narnia! To me, that is a good enough reason, but I'll give a few more. The way he wrote The Chronicles is just astounding. He writes so simply, so matter-of-factly, yet he can rivet you to the pages and captivate you. He will add little bits of humor that make you laugh out loud. He makes the characters so real and human and easy to relate to. He doesn't spend pages and pages describing the setting or what is happening but gives you just enough information to picture it and lets you make up the rest. When he describes magically beautiful midnight dances around
a fire with dryads and fauns under the light of the dancing stars, it's like he has been there, that he has danced with them, and he is describing a pleasant memory to you. It's like he has drawn a picture of the scene with his words. It's a very simple picture, but somehow, you see everything perfectly. You can feel that he believes the impossible: that magic lands, talking beasts, flying horses, magic portals, fauns, centaurs, and dryads all exist, and he encourages you to believe it, too...to let your imagination soar and grow. I'm sure that he would not think you silly if, at any age, you came to him saying you believed in Narnia or any other magic land, for that matter! To me, C.S. Lewis is like the kindred spirit I have never met. I love that he enjoyed good literature, that he encouraged one's imagination, that he enjoyed fairy tales, and thought that children should be allowed to read them. I love how he weaves moral and Biblical truths into his stories. It feels sometimes that through his characters he is speaking wisdom to you and sharing his opinion. I love his sense of humour, his style of writing. I love that he enjoyed eating and reading at the same time...that he loved a big cup of tea and a long book…that he understood what it felt like to be carried to another place and time. He even said, “But in reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself.” For these reasons, C.S. Lewis is my favorite author. For these reasons I love The Chronicles of Narnia the way I do. To close, here is the dedication found at the beginning of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. It says:
To Lucy Barfield
My dear Lucy,
I wrote this story for you, but when I began it I had not realized that girls grow quicker than books. As a result you are already too old for fairy tales, and by the time it is printed and bound you will be older still. But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again. You can then take it down from some upper shelf, dust it, and tell me what you think of it. I shall probably be too deaf to hear, and too old to understand a word you say, but I shall still be your affectionate Godfather,
C. S. Lewis
by Robert Frost
Here further up the mountain slope
Than there was ever any hope,
My father built, enclosed a spring,
Strung chains of wall round everything,
Subdued the growth of earth to pass,
And brought our various lives to pass.
A dozen girls and boys we were.
The mountain seemed to like the stir,
And made of us a little while–
With always something in her smile.
Today she wouldn’t know our name.
(No girl’s, of course, has stayed the same.)
The mountain pushed us off her knees.And now her lap is full of trees.
MOUNTAINS AT SUNSET
by Kathleen Davidson
Like aged squaws the mountains crouch and huddle
To warm their bony hands
Above the embers of the flaming sunset.
In little bands
They huddle, and their snowy tresses
Are dazzling with silver, then with gold.
For one long moment, young they are and tender,
Then suddenly grey and old.
Slowly they draw their shawls of mist around them
To dream the dreams of those
Who know eternity and stars as you and I knowMoments, or the dewdrops on a rose.
THE LAST DEFILE
by Amy Carmichael
Make us Thy mountaineers;
We would not linger on the lower slope,
Fill us afresh with hope, O God of Hope,
That undefeated we may climb the hill
As seeing Him who is invisible.
Let us die climbing. When this little while
Lies far behind us, and the last defile
Is all alight, and in that light we seeOur Leader and our Lord, what will it be?
by Lewis Carroll
‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”
He took his vorpal sword in hand;
Long time the manxome foe he sought–
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.
And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!
One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade when snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.
“And has thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh, Callay!”
He chortled in his joy.
He chortled in his joy.
‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.