Saturday, 18 March 2017


“Tell me what you listen to, and I’ll tell you who you are.” ― Tiffanie DeBartolo 
Dario Castello (c. 1590 – c. 1658) was an Italian composer and instrumentalist from the early Baroque period who worked and published in Venice. As regards his instrument, it is not clear whether he played the cornetto or the bassoon. As a composer, he was a late member of the Venetian School and had a role in the transformation of the instrumental canzona into the sonata.

There is no biographical information about Castello. Even his exact birth and death dates are unknown. It is thought he may possibly have died during the great plague of 1630; certainly, he published no new music after this date. The title page of the 1629 edition of the first volume of the Sonate Concertate records him as Capo di Compagnia de Musichi d’Instrumenti da fiato in Venetia, indicating that he led a Venetian company of piffari, a band that could include trumpets, sackbuts, cornetts, shawms, bagpipes, drums, recorders and viols.

The title page of the second volume (1644 edition) of the “Sonate Concertate” lists him as Musico Della Serenissima Signoria di Venetia in S. Marco, & Capo di Compagnia de Instrumenti, indicating that he worked at the great Basilica of St. Mark’s where Claudio Monteverdi was maestro di capella. Castello’s use of the stile concitato (agitated style), with quick repeated-note figures, is consistent with his association with Monteverdi. There are records of other instrumentalists with the surname Castello working at St Mark’s, and it is possible they were relatives of Dario.

Of his music, 29 separate compositions survive. Castello’s music is inventive and technically challenging. Strictly worked polyphonic sections alternate with dramatic recitatives over basso continuo, in keeping with the title of the publications “in stil moderno”; however he also uses some of the older canzona technique, which uses short sections of highly contrasting texture, and active rather than lyrical melodic lines. Unusually for the time, Castello often specifies the instruments for each part, calling for cornetti, violins, sackbuts (Baroque trombone) and dulcians. That these works were still being reprinted in the 1650s attests to Castello’s influence. Modern editions of the complete sonatas are published by Ut Orpheus Edizione.

Baroque violinist Elizabeth Blumenstock performs the Sonata Prima of Dario Castello from his second book of instrumental music, published in Venice in 1629. This is Video from the Voices of Music Great Artists Series concert in San Francisco, January, 2012.

And here is the Sonata Decima and Sonata Sesta, with The Purcell Quartett.

And finally, the Sonata Quarta with the Accademia del Ricercare.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017


“It is justice, not charity, that is wanting in the world.” - Mary Wollstonecraft

This week, Poets United in its Midweek Motif challenge has as its theme, “The Kindness of Strangers”. I was in two minds about this as soon as I saw it. Kindness is a virtue and we should all be kind to one another, be they family, friends, acquaintances or strangers. But although I have been the beneficiary of the kindness of strangers, I have also been a victim of it. If I were to choose, I would choose the tough love of family, rather than the charitable kindness of strangers…

The Kindness of Strangers

My mother drank and beat me blue,
No tenderness in her stirred;
My father swore and stones he threw
He never had a kind word.

My brothers ran away from there
And from them nothing, ever;
My sisters screaming harpies were
A kiss, a hug? No, never.

I grew up stunted, gnarled and bent
Silent, scared of all the dangers,
And learned, alas, to be content
With kindnesses of strangers.

Our house a place of hellish strife,
Screams, beatings, evil torture;
I would be killed by gun, by knife
My fate as black as vulture.

Abused, defiled, and sold as flesh,
My life a nightmare hateful;
My anger born each day afresh,
My loathing greatly baleful.

And when I managed to break free,
And when I ran to shelter,
It was to strangers that I’d flee
But in their kindness welter.

For strangers may be kind and good
And their deeds may be well-intentioned;
But like a mother’s love for brood
None other can be mentioned.

A stranger’s kindness is not love
And may have many reasons;
It waxes, wanes as it behove
And change, as change the seasons.

I’d rather have my kith and kin
Look after me and love me;
A home to be so safe and cosy in,
With a snug loving roof above me.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017


“In England, one without a trace of Royalty will master. Twenty months he will rule; twenty months he will bleed the lands, then his end comes quickly.” - Nostradamus 

Welcome to the Travel Tuesday meme! Join me every Tuesday and showcase your creativity in photography, painting and drawing, music, poetry, creative writing or a plain old natter about Travel.

There is only one simple rule: Link your own creative work about some aspect of travel and share it with the rest of us.

Please use this meme for your creative endeavours only. Do not use this meme to advertise your products or services as any links or comments by advertisers will be removed immediately.
York is a historic walled city at the confluence of the rivers Ouse and Foss in North Yorkshire, England. The municipality is the traditional county town of Yorkshire to which it gives its name. The city has a rich heritage and has provided the backdrop to major political events in England throughout much of its two millennia of existence. The city offers a wealth of historic attractions, of which York Minster is the most prominent, and a variety of cultural and sporting activities making it a popular tourist destination for millions.

The city was founded by the Romans as Eboracum in 71 AD. It became the capital of the Roman province of Britannia Inferior, and later of the kingdoms of Northumbria and Jórvík. In the Middle Ages, York grew as a major wool trading centre and became the capital of the northern ecclesiastical province of the Church of England, a role it has retained.

In the 19th century, York became a hub of the railway network and a confectionery manufacturing centre. In recent decades, the economy of York has moved from being dominated by its confectionery and railway-related industries to one that provides services. The University of York and health services have become major employers, whilst tourism has become an important element of the local economy.

From 1996, the term City of York describes a unitary authority area which includes rural areas beyond the old city boundaries. In 2011 the urban area had a population of 153,717, while in 2010 the entire unitary authority had an estimated population of 202,400.

The Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of Saint Peter in York, commonly known as York Minster, is the cathedral of York, England, and is one of the largest of its kind in Northern Europe. The minster is the seat of the Archbishop of York, the second-highest office of the Church of England, and is the mother church for the Diocese of York and the Province of York. It is run by a dean and chapter, under the Dean of York. The title “minster” is attributed to churches established in the Anglo-Saxon period as missionary teaching churches, and serves now as an honorific title. Services in the minster are sometimes regarded as on the High Church or Anglo-Catholic end of the Anglican continuum.

The minster has a very wide Decorated Gothic nave and chapter house, a Perpendicular Gothic Quire and east end and Early English North and South transepts. The nave contains the West Window, constructed in 1338, and over the Lady Chapel in the east end is the Great East Window (finished in 1408), the largest expanse of medieval stained glass in the world. In the north transept is the Five Sisters Window, each lancet being over 16 m high. The south transept contains a rose window, while the West Window contains a heart-shaped design colloquially known as “The Heart of Yorkshire”.

This post is part of the Our World Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Wordless Wednesday meme.

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Monday, 13 March 2017


“He who reigns within himself and rules passions, desires, and fears is more than a king.” - John Milton 

Amon, also spelled Amun, Amen, or Ammon, was the Egyptian deity who was revered as king of the gods. Amon may have been originally one of the eight deities of the Hermopolite creation myth; his cult reached Thebes, where he became the patron of the pharaohs by the reign of Mentuhotep I (2008–1957 bce). At that date he was already identified with the sun god Re of Heliopolis and, as Amon-Re, was received as a national god. Represented in human form, sometimes with a ram’s head, or as a ram, Amon-Re was worshipped as part of the Theban triad, which included a goddess, Mut, and a youthful god, Khons. His temple at Karnak was among the largest and wealthiest in the land from the New Kingdom (1539–c. 1075 bce) onward. Local forms of Amon were also worshipped at the Temple of Luxor on the east bank of Thebes and at Madīnat Habu (Medinet Habu) on the west bank.

Amon’s name meant the Hidden One, and his image was painted often blue to denote invisibility. This attribute of invisibility led to a popular belief during the New Kingdom in the knowledge and impartiality of Amon, making him a god for those who felt oppressed. Amon’s influence was, in addition, closely linked to the political well-being of Egypt. During the Hyksos domination (c. 1630–c. 1523 bce), the princes of Thebes sustained his worship. Following the Theban victory over the Hyksos and the creation of an empire, Amon’s stature and the wealth of his temples grew.

In the late 18th dynasty Akhenaton (Amenhotep IV) directed his religious reform against the traditional cult of Amon, but he was unable to convert people from their belief in Amon and the other gods, and, under Tutankhamen, Ay, and Horemheb (1332–1292 bce), Amon was gradually restored as the god of the empire and patron of the pharaoh.

In the New Kingdom, religious speculation among Amon’s priests led to the concept of Amon as part of a triad (with Ptah and Re) or as a single god of whom all the other gods, even Ptah and Re, were manifestations. Under the sacerdotal state ruled by the priests of Amon at Thebes (c. 1075–c. 950 bce), Amon evolved into a universal god who intervened through oracles in many affairs of state.

The succeeding 22nd and 23rd dynasties, the invasion of Egypt by Assyria (671–c. 663 bce), and the sack of Thebes (c. 663 bce) did not reduce the stature of the cult, which had acquired a second main centre at Tanis in the Nile River delta. Moreover, the worship of Amon had become established among the inhabitants of Kush in the Sudan, who were accepted by Egyptian worshippers of Amon when they invaded Egypt and ruled as the 25th dynasty (715–664 bce). From this period onward, resistance to foreign occupation of Egypt was strongest in Thebes.

Amon’s cult spread to the oases, especially Siwa in Egypt’s western desert, where Amon was linked with Jupiter. Alexander the Great won acceptance as pharaoh by consulting the oracle at Siwa, and he also rebuilt the sanctuary of Amon’s temple at Luxor. The early Ptolemaic rulers contained Egyptian nationalism by supporting the temples, but, starting with Ptolemy IV Philopator in 207 bce, nationalistic rebellions in Upper Egypt erupted. During the revolt of 88–85 bce, Ptolemy IX Soter II sacked Thebes, dealing Amon’s cult a severe blow. In 27 bce a strong earthquake devastated the Theban temples, while in the Graeco-Roman world the cult of Isis and Osiris gradually displaced that of Amon.

Incidentally the word "ammonia" and "ammoniac" comes from the Greek word ammōniakos ‘of Ammon’, used as a name for the salt (sal ammoniac) and gum obtained near the temple of Jupiter Ammon at Siwa in Egypt.

Sunday, 12 March 2017


“Women’s liberation is the liberation of the feminine in the man and the masculine in the woman.” – Corita Kent

Marianne von Werefkin (Russian: Мариа́нна Влади́мировна Верёвкина; 10 September [O.S. 29 August] 1860, Tula, Russia – 6 February 1938, Ascona, Switzerland), born Marianna Wladimirowna Werewkina (transliteration Marianna Vladimirovna Verëvkina), was a Russian-German-Swiss Expressionist painter.

Marianne von Werefkin was born in the Russian town of Tula as the daughter of the commander of the Ekaterinaburg Regiment. She had her first private academic drawing lessons at the age of fourteen. In 1880, she became a student of Ilya Repin, the most important painter of Russian Realism. Her progress was dealt a setback by a hunting accident in 1888 in which she accidentally shot her right hand, which remained crippled after a lengthy period of recovery.

By practicing persistently she finally managed to use drawing and painting instruments with her right hand again. In 1892 she met Alexej von Jawlensky, who desired to be her protégé, and in 1896 she, Jawlensky, and their servant moved to Munich. For the sake of Jawlensky’s painting, Werefkin interrupted her painting for almost ten years. She initiated a Salon in Munich which soon became a centre of lively artistic exchange. She also founded the “Lukasbruderschaft” of which also Kandinsky was a member.

She began painting again in 1906. In 1907 she created her first expressionist works; in these she followed Paul Gauguin’s and Louis Anquetin’s style of “surface painting”, while also showing the influence of Edvard Munch. She and Jawlensky spent in 1908 several periods working with Kandinsky and Münter after their discovery of the picturesque rural town of Murnau near Munich, where Gabriele Münter owned a house. The four artists frequently painted together in open air in and around Murnau.

They founded a new artist-group in 1909, the Neue Künstlervereinigung München (New Association of Artists in Munich, NKVM). It became a forum of exhibitions and programming. After a few years Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc distanced themselves from this group and formed the Blaue Reiter (Blue Rider). The group was founded by a number of Russian emigrants, including Wassily Kandinsky, Alexej von Jawlensky and a number of native German artists, such as Franz Marc, August Macke and Gabriele Münter. Werefkin began exhibiting together with this group in 1913.

At the outbreak of the First World War, Werefkin and Jawlensky immigrated to Switzerland, near Geneva. They later moved to Zurich. By 1918, they had separated, and Werefkin moved alone to Ascona, on Lago Maggiore where she painted many colourful, landscapes in an expressionist style. In 1924 she founded the artist group “Großer Bär” (i.e., Big Bear, Ursa Major). In her later years, she painted posters. Her friends “Carmen” and “Diego Hagmann” protected her from poverty. Marianne von Werefkin died in Ascona on 6 February 1938. She was buried in the Russian graveyard in Ascona.

The painting above is her “Skaters” of 1911. She painted an almost identical tableau in the same year, but that one is more cluttered and busy, so I prefer the simpler one above. The dark figures of the skaters under moonlight resemble an unearthly dance of spirits away from the comfort and security of the brightly lit abode of humans in the background, right.