Saturday, 3 June 2017


“Wonder rather than doubt is the root of all knowledge.” - Abraham Joshua Heschel 

Tomaso Antonio Vitali (March 7, 1663 – May 9, 1745) was an Italian composer and violinist from Bologna, the eldest son of Giovanni Battista Vitali. He is known mainly for a ‘Chaconne in G minor for violin and continuo’, which was published from a manuscript in the Sächsische Landesbibliothek in Dresden in Die Hoch Schule des Violinspiels (1867) edited by German violinist Ferdinand David). That work’s wide-ranging modulations into distant keys have raised speculation that it could not be a genuine baroque work.

Vitali studied composition in Modena with Antonio Maria Pacchioni, and was employed at the Este court orchestra from 1675 to 1742. He was a teacher, whose pupils included Evaristo Felice dall’Abaco, Jean Baptiste Senaillé, Girolamo Nicolò Laurenti and Luca Antonio Predieri. Authentic works by Vitali include a set of trio sonatas published as his opus numbers 1 and 2 (1693), sonatas da camera (chamber sonatas), and violin sonatas (including his opus 6) among other works. Among those that have been recorded include all of the op. 1 (on Naxos 8.570182), three of the violin sonatas (on the Swiss label Gallo), and some of the sonatas from the opp. 2 and 4 sets (opus 4, no. 12 on Classica CL 101 from Finland). He died at Modena.

A chaconne is a musical form used as a vehicle for variation on a repeated short harmonic progression over a ground bass. The Chaconne was marked by the copyist, at the time of transcription, in the upper margin of the first page of the Dresden manuscript as “Parte del Tomaso Vitalino” (Tomaso Vitalino’s part), who may or may not be Vitali. One striking feature of the Vitali Chaconne’s style is the way it wildly changes key, reaching the far-flung territories of B-flat minor and E-flat minor, modulations uncharacteristic of the Baroque era, as change of key signature became typical only in Romanticism. The manuscript, Sächsische Landesbibliothek Dresden, Mus. 2037/R/1, has more recently been identified as being in the hand of Jacob Lindner, a known copyist who was working at the Dresden Hofkapelle between 1710 and 1730, which lends credit to its authenticity.

Despite musicological doubts, the piece has been ever popular amongst violinists. For example, Jascha Heifetz chose it, in a very much arranged and altered version, with organ accompaniment, to open his New York debut in Queen’s Hall on 5 May 1920. Arrangements of it exist for violin and piano by Ferdinand David and by Léopold Charlier, for violin and organ, for violin and orchestra by Ottorino Respighi, and there are transcriptions of it for viola and piano by Friedrich Hermann (1828-1907) and by Alan Arnold (contemporary American violist and music publisher, owner of “Viola World Publications”) and for cello and piano by Luigi Silva.

Here are Vitali’s ‘Trio Sonatas, Op. 1’, played by Semperconsort.

And here is the ‘Chaconne in G Minor’ played by Oliver Colbentson accompanied by Erich Appel.

Friday, 2 June 2017


“One kind word can warm three winter months.” - Japanese Proverb 

A favourite Winter warmer dish that we often have at home is this vegetarian pie. Its rich spicy flavour and the variety of vegetables used, blend with the lentils and potato mash to give a satisfying and filling meal.

Vegetarian Cottage Pie

2 tbsp olive oil
2 large onions, diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup lentils (cleaned and washed)
400ml vegetable stock
200ml water
2 bay leaves
2 parsnips, diced
4 carrots, diced
1 (400 g) tin of diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp allspice
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
4 potatoes (floury type), peeled and diced
3 tablespoons butter
1 sprig fresh thyme
60ml milk
180g grated cheddar cheese

In a large saucepan add the olive oil and heat. Add the onions and garlic and stir until golden. Add the lentils and bay leaves and stir through, adding the water and stock.
Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes. Add parsnip and carrot, return to a boil then reduce to a simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until the vegetables and lentils are soft. Stir in the tinned tomatoes and tomato paste, spices, Worcestershire sauce and heat through, simmering for 10 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and discard the bay leaves.
Put the potatoes on to boil and when soft, drain and discard the water. Mash the potatoes with the butter, salt and thyme. Whisk in the milk until light and fluffy then add 1 cup of the cheese. In a baking dish pour the lentil mixture then top with a layer of mashed potato. Bake in a 180˚C oven until warmed through, sprinkle with remaining cheese then serve.
Instead of making up in a single large baking dish, you may use individual serve ramekins, if you so desire.

This post is part of the Food Friday meme.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017


“Smoking is related to practically every terrible thing that can happen to you.” - Loni Anderson

This week, Poets United is celebrating the World No Tobacco Day, 31 May 2017. The Challenge for participants is to: “Write a new poem in which you address your experience (or thoughts) about smoking tobacco.” Here is mine:


That tawny booze in sparkling glass
Promises me forgetfulness;
And I drink it, sip after stinging sip,
Even though it burns my mouth
And ignites the lining of my gullet.
I drink it seeking solace…

That hateful cigarette in elegant packaging,
Promises me comfort;
And I smoke it, puff after stifling puff,
Even though it chokes my breath
And irritates the lining of my raw airways.
I smoke it seeking solace…

That pitiful ageing woman, made up to hide her sins
Promises me intimacy;
And I buss her, kiss after cardboard kiss,
Even though her lips are like sandpaper
And abrade the self esteem of my skin.
I kiss her seeking solace…

That crashing discordant noise, passing off as music
Promises me fun;
And I hear it, chord after jangling chord,
Even though the crashing rhythm deadens me
And rasps my eardrums till they puncture.
I hear it seeking solace…

That medication in the prescription bottle
Promises me sleep;
And I swallow it, pill after sugar-coated pill,
Even though it dulls my intellect,
And gives me nightmares in fitful sedation.
I swallow it seeking solace…

And solace I find not, it is long gone,
Like your promises;
And I seek you and find you not,
For you have disappeared, vanished, gone away,
And left me here bereft, disconsolate,
Seeking the solace I’ll never find
In alcohol, nicotine, sex, rock’n’roll or drugs…

Tuesday, 30 May 2017


"Inspiration is an awakening, a quickening of all man's faculties, and it is manifested in all high artistic achievements." - Giacomo Puccini 

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.   
Lucca is a city on the Serchio river in Italy’s Tuscany region. It’s known for the well-preserved Renaissance walls encircling its historic city centre and its cobblestone streets and the medieval houses.

The walls encircling the old town remained intact, even as the city expanded and modernised, unusual for cities in the region. Initially, built as a defensive rampart, once the walls lost their military importance, they became a pedestrian promenade, the Passeggiata delle Mura Urbane, a street atop the walls linking the bastions. Each of the four principal sides of the structure is lined with a different tree species than the others.

The town includes a number of public squares, most notably the Piazza dell'Anfiteatro, site of ancient Roman amphitheatre; but also Piazzale Verdi; Piazza Napoleone'; and Piazza San Michele. The 'Casa di Puccini' is the house of the opera composer, Giacomo Puccini, which is now  a museum. At the nearby Torre del Lago, where the composer summered, a Puccini opera festival takes place every July-August.

Lucca Cathedral (Italian: Duomo di Lucca, Cattedrale di San Martino) is a Roman Catholic cathedral dedicated to Saint Martin. It is the seat of the Archbishop of Lucca. Construction was begun in 1063 by Bishop Anselm (later Pope Alexander II). Of the original structure, the great apse with its tall columnar arcades and the fine campanile remain. The nave and transepts of the cathedral were rebuilt in the Gothic style in the 14th century, while the west front was begun in 1204 by Guido Bigarelli of Como, and consists of a vast portico of three magnificent arches, and above them three ranges of open galleries adorned with sculptures.

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

Add your own travel posts using the Linky tool below, and don't forget to be nice and leave a comment here, and link back to this page from your own post:

Monday, 29 May 2017


“The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living.” - Marcus Tullius Cicero 

Imentet (Ament, Amentent or Imentit, meaning “She of the West”) was a goddess in Ancient Egyptian religion representing the necropolises west of the Nile. She was the consort of Aqen, a god who guided Ra through parts of the underworld. Although she was never officially worshipped in her own cult, she was mentioned in various hymns and passages of the Book of the Dead.

As goddess of the deceased, she lived in a tree looking out at the entrance to the Underworld. Her main duty, other than being a minor fertility goddess, was to offer food and drink to the newly dead, which would restore their spirits enough to travel to the “field of reeds” which was essentially paradise in Ancient Egyptian religion, however, she was so closely linked with Hathor and Isis in their afterlife roles that she may be less an independent deity than an alternate form of those two goddesses. Though she might have been considered in some contexts as the daughter of Hathor and Horus.

She was usually depicted as a queen in robes wearing the hieroglyph for west on her head or a sceptre and an Ankh in her hands. She often appears in tombs welcoming the deceased into the afterlife, sometimes with wings, and sometimes as a Kite because of her connection to Isis and Nephthys.

Her title “She of the West” is not just a statement related to geography, but also related as her role in mythology because, as the sun sets towards the west, it was to be accompanied by death, which was where Imentet usually reigned. Additionally, amenti (or amentet) was thought to be where the sun set, and where the entrance to the Underworld was located, although later the term began to associate itself with graveyards and tombs as well.

Sunday, 28 May 2017


“The Holocaust illustrates the consequences of prejudice, racism and stereotyping on a society. It forces us to examine the responsibilities of citizenship and confront the powerful ramifications of indifference and inaction.” - Tim Holden

Imre Ámos (1907 in Nagykálló, Hungary – 1944 or 1945 in Ohrdruf, Germany) was a twentieth century Hungarian Jewish painter. Following his studies at the Technical University, Budapest from 1927 to 1929, he enrolled in the Art School where he was a pupil of Gyula Rudnay. He married Margit Anna, also a painter.

His painting was initially influenced by József Rippl-Rónai and Róbert Berény. From the mid-1930s onwards, his style emulated that of Chagall whose influence affected his artwork in his paintings such as ‘The Old Church Servant Thinks of Heaven’, and ‘The Dream of Bear Leader’. In 1936, he was elected to be a member of the New Society of Artists, which entailed working in Szentendre during the summer months.

He visited Paris in 1937 where he met Chagall. Ámos became a member of the National Salon in 1938. Some of his works show the influence of legends about the famous Chassidic Kaliver Rebbe, Rabbi Yitzchak Isaac Taub (1744–1828), who was also from Nagykálló.

In 1940 during World War II he became a victim of the Holocaust because he was Jewish. He was taken to a forced labour camp in Vojvodina, then to the battlefield in the east. In 1944 he was deported to a concentration camp in Saxony where he later died cruelly. Throughout the war he painted about his tragic experiences in shocking visions such as ‘A Series of Dark Times’, ‘Escaping’, and ‘War’.

He died aged only 37 or 38. Some of the works by Imre Ámos and his wife can be seen in the Museum of Margit Anna and Imre Ámos in Szentendre. On 23 June 2014, the Jewish Historical Institute opened the exhibit “Where is your brother? - Imre Ámos and the 20th century.”

The painting above is “Sötet Idok VIII: Ember par Apokalipszis ben”. I have been unable to find a good translation of this title, but it encapsulates the notion of a dark couple in an apocalyptic setting. It is a rich yet sombre work, looking toward the past but somehow being oddly prophetic too. It has the immediate appeal of a depiction of a couple enjoying music and literature (perhaps Abelard and Heloise?), but in the background through the open window, the world seems to be collapsing, as it was happening in WWII Europe…