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Saturday, February 28, 2009


Major's VC raid


MAJOR Kenneth Muir died a hero in Korea. An air strike accidentally attacked two companies of the 1st Battalion The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders on September 23, 1950.

To allow casualties to be evacuated, Major Muir, 38, led 30 men against an enemy-held hill. He fought on, even when mortally wounded, and was posthumously awarded the VC.

Friday, February 27, 2009


Walter Scott Monument

George Meikle Kemp



It is almost a definition of a gentleman to say he is one who never inflicts pain. This description is both refined and, as far as it goes, accurate. He is mainly occupied in merely removing the obstacles which hinder the free and unembarrassed action of those about him; and he concurs with their movements rather than takes the initiative himself.

His benefits may be considered as parallel to what are called comforts or conveniences in arrangements of a personal nature: like an easy chair or a good fire, which do their part in dispelling cold and fatigue, though nature provides both means of rest and animal heat without them.

The true gentleman in like manner carefully avoids whatever may cause ajar or a jolt in the minds of those with whom he is cast; -- all clashing of opinion, or collision of feeling, all restraint, or suspicion, or gloom, or resentment; his great concern being to make every one at their case and at home.

He has his eyes on all his company; he is tender towards the bashful, gentle towards the distant, and merciful towards the absurd; he can recollect to whom he is speaking; he guards against unseasonable allusions, or topics which may irritate; he is seldom prominent in conversation, and never wearisome. He makes light of favours while he does them, and seems to be receiving when he is conferring.

He never speaks of himself except when compelled, never defends himself by a mere retort, he has no ears for slander or gossip, is scrupulous in imputing motives to those who interfere with him, and interprets everything for the best.

He is never mean or little in his disputes, never takes unfair advantage, never mistakes personalities or sharp sayings for arguments, or insinuates evil which he dare not say out. From a long-sighted prudence, he observes the maxim of the ancient sage, that we should ever conduct ourselves towards our enemy as if he were one day to be our friend.

He has too much good sense to be affronted at insults, he is too well employed to remember injuries, and too indolent to bear malice. He is patient, forbearing, and resigned, on philosophical principles; he submits to pain, because it is inevitable, to bereavement, because it is irreparable, and to death, because it is his destiny. If he engages in controversy of any kind, his disciplined intellect preserves him from the blunder. [From The Idea of a University, 1852]

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Musings of a Scottish Catholic Teuchtar

Thursday, 26 February 2009
..I think faith implies sincerity, that is a gift that does not dwell in dishonest minds. To be sincere a man must battle with causes of error that beset every mind. He must pour constant streams of electric light into the deep recesses where prejudice dwells and passion, hasty judgements, and willful blindness deem themselves unseen… develop and perfect and arm conscience is the greatest achievement of history, and the chief business of every life, and the first agent therein is religion of what resembles religion.

(Lord Acton, letter to Mary Gladstone, March 31, 1883)

The Spirit of Lent
by Victor Hoagland, C.P.

Begin with the gospel for Ash Wednesday. Nothing offers better guidance on our lenten journey than the words Jesus spoke to his disciples, read during the liturgy of this day:

“Give alms...Pray to your Father...Fast without a gloomy face...” (Matthew 6: 1-18)
Give... pray... fast.


Giving alms, Jesus teaches, means making the needs of others our own, especially the needy of our world. They are all around us: children and the old, the sick and the suffering, families and individuals, next-door neighbors and people in lands faraway.

We easily forget them. Rather than just looking out for ourselves — what people say today — see those in need, Jesus says.

Giving will make you live.

And what shall we give? Some time, some of our talent, material resources, perhaps. Almsgiving is not just for the rich. Poor or rich, we all have something to give.

Whatever we give, though, should be something of ourselves, something that costs us. Paradoxically, Jesus also teaches, when we give, we receive some blessing from God in return.

What shall we give to the needy this lent? In deciding, decide generously. After all, before us is the great alms Jesus gave: “He loved us, and gave himself up for us.”

Posted by RICHARD K. MUNRO at 06:06

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

musings on the Trinity, Patrick and the Shamrock

The Enlightenment fathers often compared Socrates and Jesus as merely great teachers. As a minor historian I would say we have to allow for the fact that Jesus may just have been another gifted Rabbi. So if that were the case, I think he still would have to be rated the most influential teacher of all time (In the Western World but it remains to be seen if the Western World will survive; if it doesn’t then it is a moot point.) I would argue he MUST remain the greatest teacher of the West or the West is doomed. Those in the West must not ignore Jesus of Nazareth in any case either as a man –a Great Teacher- or as the Son of Mary and the Son of God. Of course in my book ALL THREE of those facts are true. The first should be obvious even to the secular historian; the second and third is a matter of emphasis and opinion. I happen to believe it myself. Jesus was human completely human –everyone can agree on that- but he also was part of the Holy Trinity.

The Trinity is one of the most difficult Christian concepts to explain however. In fact, teaching young people about the Holy Trinity is a dilemma. How God can be one yet three is one of the deepest mysteries of our faith? Some will respond, “We’re not supposed to understand it. Just believe Church teachings.” That is not a very satisfactory answer. St. Patrick must have had the same difficulty during his apostleship in ancient Ireland.

When I teach the concept of the Holy Trinity, I use the symbol of the shamrock. St. Patrick himself knew this, which is why he used the metaphor of the shamrock. There is an old charm (freely translated from the Gaelic oral tradition):

Three folds of the cloth, yet only one napkin is there,
Three joints in the finger but still one finger fair,
Three leaves of the shamrock yet no more than one shamrock to wear,
Frost, snow-flakes and ice, all in water their origin share
Three Persons in God; to one God alone to we make prayer.

Secularists point out that there is no ancient document source linking St. Patrick to the shamrock belief than three centuries or four centuries at most. See for example the BBC
“Old Irish manuscripts make no reference to this in connection with St Patrick, so this is likely to be pure mythology.”

But considering that 90% or more of Irish literature was destroyed by the English invasions this should not surprise anyone. It is also a great prejudice of the modern that only the written is true (when the written is often false or falsified) and oral tradition is not true.
In fact, the oldest occurrences of “shamrock occur in ENGLISH” not Irish Gaelic (there is no source older than the 18th century to have this word; the word “shamrock” derived obviously from the Gaelic word is attributed to about 1572. ) This indirect evidence is telling.

To dismiss the St. Patrick legend as pure mythology also forgets the fact that three was a mystical number for Celts. The druids in Ireland looked at the shamrock as a sacred plant because its leaves formed a triad. It would not have been unusual at all for St. Patrick to have explained the Trinity in the way he did. So I have always believed in the shamrock story. There is also the evidence of the Gaelic tree alphabet. The Saints and Scholars of ancient days used sacred plants and trees to teach the alphabet to the Gaels (the letters of the Gaelic alphabet stand for plants and trees; this was obviously a mnemonic device though perhaps predating St. Patrick and his disciples)

The presence of the Trinity on the day when Jesus is baptized by John in the River Jordan is clearly affirmed in the Gospel.
13 Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to the Jordan, unto John, to be baptized by him. 14 But John stayed him, saying: I ought to be baptized by thee, and comest thou to me? 15 And Jesus answering, said to him: Suffer it to be so now. For so it becometh us to fulfill all justice. Then he suffered him.

It is here were meet also the figure of the Christ, the Messiah who brings the divine plan of salvation to fulfillment and humbly accepts his baptism as any ordinary man or woman, sinner or saint.

It is this voluntary humbling in this great Trinitarian scene which wins him the praise of God, the Father who proclaims his love for his Son:
16 And Jesus being baptized, forthwith came out of the water: and lo, the heavens were opened to him: and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming upon him. 17 And behold a voice from heaven, saying: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
Of course the dove symbolizes the end of the flood in Noah’s day and the dawn of a new era. Ever since, the dove has symbolized deliverance and God's forgiveness. Gn 8:8-12). The dove in flight is the symbol of the Ascension of Christ or of the entry into glory of the martyrs and saints (cf. Psalm 123:7 “Our soul is escaped as a bird from the snare of the hunters, the snare is broken and we are delivered." In like manner the caged dove signifies the human soul yet imprisoned in the flesh and held captive during the period of mortal life. The dove signifies also the Christian soul, not the human soul per se as such, but as indwelt by the Holy Spirit
Indeed, The dove is a universal symbol of peace and innocence. In ancient Greek myth it was a bird of Athena which represented the renewal of life. According to ancient Scottish legend the devil and witches can turn themselves into any bird shape except the dove. As a Christian symbol the dove is of very frequent occurrence in ancient ecclesiastical art. Two doves on a funeral monument sometimes signify the conjugal love and affection of the parties buried there.
The authors of the Gospels lay great stress on the idea that the major events in Jesus' life can be seen as predicted by the Jewish prophets, especially Isaiah. In the following passage (Isaiah 40: 1-5) Isaiah announces the coming of the Christ or Messiah. These words were memorably set to music in George Frederick Handel's Messiah.
Comfort, O comfort my people,
says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem
and cry to her
that she has served her term,
that her penalty is paid,
that she has received from the Lord's hand
double for all her sins.

A voice cries out:
"In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,
Make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all people shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken."


Saturday, February 21, 2009


In my fantasy I see a fair world,
Where everyone lives in peace and honesty.
I dream of a place to live that is always free,
Like a cloud that floats,
Full of humanity in the depths of the soul.

In my fantasy I see a bright world
Where each night there is less darkness.
I dream of spirits that are always free,
Like the cloud that floats.

In my fantasy exists a warm wind,
That breathes into the city, like a friend.
I dream of souls that are always free,
Like the cloud that floats,
Full of humanity in the depths of the soul.

Nella fantasia io vedo un mondo giusto,
Li tutti vivono in pace e in onestà.
Io sogno d'anime che sono sempre libere,
Come le nuvole che volano,
Pien' d'umanità in fondo all'anima.

Nella fantasia io vedo un mondo chiaro,
Li anche la notte è meno oscura.
Io sogno d'anime che sono sempre libere,
Come le nuvole che volano.

Nella fantasia esiste un vento caldo,
Che soffia sulle città, come amico.
Io sogno d'anime che sono sempre libere,
Come le nuvole che volano,
Pien' d'umanità in fondo all'anima.

Monday, February 9, 2009


An raibh tú ag an gCarraig?
nó a' bhfaca tú féin mó grá
nó a' bhfaca tú gile,
finne agus scéimh na mná?
Nó a' bhfaca tú t-úll
ba chumhra is ba mhilse bláth?
nó a' bhfaca tú mo Vailintín
Nó a' bhfuil sí á cloí mar táim.
Ó bhí mé ag an gCarraig,
is chonaic mé mé féin dó grá
Ó chonaic mé gile
finne agus scéimh na mná
Ó chonaic mé an t-ull
ba chumhra is ba mhilse bláth
Agus chonaic mé do Vailintín
agus ní sí á cloí mar 'táir.

Were You at the Rock?
Or did you yourself see my love,
Or did you see a brightness,
the fairness and the beauty of the woman?
Or did you see the apple,
the sweetest and most fragrant blossom?
Or did you see my Valentine?
Is she pining as I am?
O, I was at the rock
And I myself saw your love
O, I saw a brightness,
the fairness and the beauty of the woman
O, I did see the apple
the sweetest and most fragrant blossom
and I saw your Valentine
she is not pining as thou art !

This song speaks of Penal Days (Circa 1673-1830) during a time of great persecution when the Mass was celebrated in secret at remote gatherings. The "Carraig" was the "Mass rock" used as a meeting-place and altar.

Death was the penalty for those caught at Mass. In Penal Times, a price of 30 pounds (about $1500 in today’s currency) was offered for the head of a priest or hedge-school master (teacher), the same as for that of a wolf.


Ode II-XVI “Otium”
Quintus Horatius Flaccus

In this lyrical ode echoing many traditional Epicurean themes, Horace tells us that “otium” or peace is to be valued above wealth or power:

Otium divos rogat in patenti
prensus Aegaeo, simul atra nubes
condidit lunam neque certa fulgent
sidera nautis;

(Peace the sailor prays, caught in a storm on the open Aegean, when dark-clad clouds have hid the moon and the stars shine no longer certain)

otium bello furiosa Thrace,
otium Medi pharetra decori,
Grosphe, non gemmis neque purpura ve-
nale neque auro.

(Peace prays Thrace furious in war; peace prays the Mede with quiver richly adorned; peace Grosphus, that cannot be bought with gems nor with purple nor with gold.)

non enim gazae neque consularis
summovet lictor miseros tumultus
mentis et curas laqueata circum
tecta volantes.

(It isn't treasure nor even the consul's lictor that can banish the soul's miserable tumults and the cares that fly unseen about the paneled ceilings.)

vivitur parvo bene, cui paternum
splendet in mensa tenui salinum
nec leves somnos timor aut cupido
sordidus aufert.

(He lives happily on a little, on whose frugal table shines the ancestral salt-dish, and whose soft slumbers are not carried away by fear or sordid greed.)

quid brevi tortes iaculamur aevo
multa? quid terras alio calentes
sole mutamus? patriae quis exsul
se quoque fugit?

(Why do we strive so hard in our brief lives for great possessions? Why do we change our country for climes warmed by a different sun? What exile from his fatherland ever escaped himself as well?)

scandit aeratas vitiosa naves
cura nec turmas equitum relinquit,
ocior cervis et agente nimbos
ocior Euro.

(Care mounts even the brass-bound galley nor fails to leave behind the troops of horse, swifter than stags, swifter than Eurus when he drives the storm before him.)

laetus in praesens animus quod ultra est
oderit curare et amara lento
temperet risu. nihil est ab omni
parte beatum.

(Joyful let the soul be in the present, let it disdain to trouble about what is beyond and temper bitterness with a laugh. Nothing is blessed forever.)

abstulit clarum cita mors Achillem,
longa Tithonum minuit senectus;
et mihi forsan, tibi quod negarit,
porriget hora.

(Achilles for all his glory was quickly snatched away by death; Tithonus, though living longer into old age, shrank away; and to me perhaps the passing hour will grant what it denies to you.)

te greges centum Siculaeque circum
mugiunt vaccae, tibi tollit hinnitum
apta quadrigis equa, te bis Afro
murice tinctae

(Around you moo a hundred herds of Sicilian cows; in your stables whinnies the racing-mare; in wool twice-dipped in African purple)

vestiunt lanae; mihi parva rura et
spiritum Graiae tenuem Camenae
Parca non mendax dedit et malignum
spernere are dressed.

(To me Fate that does not belie her name has given a small domain, the fine breath of Muses' Grecian song, and the spiteful crowd to spurn.)

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Incomparable Victoria de Los Angeles

Canción española

From The Times

It was in the Argyll Hotel in Glasgow just after I had met with Mairi MacInnes, the Scottish Gaelic singer and her family. Just the night before I had heard Miss MacInnes sing in Wendy Weatherby's SUNSET SONG. We were talking about music and favorite singers and I mentioned my fondness not only for Scottish and Irish folk music but classical repetorie as well and of course VICTORIA DE LOS ANGELES came up in the conversation. It was a Saturday, January 15, 2005.

January 17, 2005

Victoria de los Angeles
Enchanting Spanish soprano who must be counted among the finest singers of the past 50 years

VICTORIA DE LOS ANGELES was a singer whose charismatic personality and knockdown charm secured her a vast public, but in the process sometimes obscured that her deep musicality, remarkable technical accomplishment, catholicity of taste and — above all — a lyric soprano voice of unsurpassed beauty must cause her to be rated among the greatest singers of the second half of the 20th century.
She was first heard in Britain in 1948 when the BBC astutely engaged her for a broadcast performance of Falla’s La vida breve. Her Covent Garden debut (as Mimì in La bohème) followed in 1950. She became a regular visitor to the house for the next decade, excelling in Puccini and Massenet. Habitués counted her Butterfly and Manon, especially when conducted by Kempe, as among the most exquisite in living memory.

Outside the theatre a devoted audience thronged her regular London recitals, first at the Royal Festival Hall and later at the Wigmore Hall, which she continued to give until well into her seventies. In the autumn of 2003, on her 80th birthday, she could look back on a career that had lasted 60 years.

Victoria de los Angeles was born Victoria Gómez Cima into a poor Catalan family in Barcelona in 1923. Her father was a porter and caretaker at the university and her mother a cleaner. The Spanish Civil War played havoc with her schooling, but eventually, against the wishes of her father, she got into the Conservatory in Barcelona to study singing and the piano in 1940.

It did not take her long to make her mark. Though she became a competent performer on the piano, the guitar and the recorder, it was principally as a soprano with a voice amazingly developed for her age that she attracted attention, and by the time she came to graduate she had won every vocal prize available to students. When she was only 16 she was heard on Radio Barcelona and the following year made her opera debut in a Bohème sponsored by the Tres Cosacos cognac company.

De los Angeles gave her first public recital, devoted — perhaps for diplomatic reasons — to German lieder, in Barcelona in 1944. Her debut on the operatic stage followed the same year as the Countess in Le nozze di Figaro at the Teatro Liceu, and her early career was notable for some appearances with the 57-year-old Gigli in Madrid in Bohème and Manon, when the famous tenor was said to have been displeased by the enthusiasm aroused in the madrileños by the rising young star.

The door to an international career was opened for de los Angeles by the ending of war and by her winning first prize in the Geneva international competition in 1947.

In the interim she returned to Barcelona to sing Elsa in Lohengrin and Agathe in Der Freischütz. Her success in Geneva having led to the invitation from the BBC, this in turn provoked the interest of EMI, the record company with which de los Angeles was to have a lifelong association.

Sadly, an audition for Sir David Webster at Covent Garden came to nothing, at least for the time being. Meanwhile, she had made her debut at the Paris Opera in 1949 (as Marguérite in a very ancient production of Faust), which was followed by her Covent Garden debut and a Wigmore Hall recital.

Her Mimì and her Madama Butterfly in London won golden opinions, and her enchanting Manon, in which her regular partner was Walter Midgley. She was also heard in the soprano leads in both Cavalleria rusticana and I Pagliacci on the same evening.

In February 1950 she made her first appearances in Stockholm and Copenhagen, and in March 1951 she arrived in New York to sing Marguérite on one of the Met’s more humdrum evenings, causing Virgil Thomson to write that she made everyone else on stage seem amateurish and to add: “I think she has the makings of a great star.”

They were prophetic words in that from this time onwards her success can be said to have been worldwide and unfailing.

Nor was it only in the French and Italian repertory. It is easily overlooked that de los Angeles made her La Scala debut as Strauss’s Ariadne (under Dobrowen in May 1950), and that in 1961 she went to Bayreuth to sing Elisabeth in Tannhäuser in Wieland Wagner’s production. It was conducted by Sawallisch, and the cast included Windgassen in the title role, Bumbry and Fischer-Dieskau.

Always keen to avoid being typecast as a “Spanish specialist”, she later said she thought of these Bayreuth performances as in some ways the culmination of her career.

A lot of the de los Angeles repertoire coincided with that of her older contemporary and rival Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, and many will recall the two divas joining together in a concert in honour of Gerald Moore at the Royal Festival Hall when the point was made by an EMI record of the pair singing Rossini’s Duetto dei due gatti which became a bestseller.

Although de los Angeles’s appearances in the opera house tapered off in the 1960s, she finally retired from the theatre only in 1980, when she sang her last Mélisande, and a list of places where she sang would include almost every major house in the Western hemisphere. But she continued to grace the recital platform with her powers seemingly little diminished. The breadth of her repertory remained astonishing, from Monteverdi through Handel and Mozart to Stravinsky and Vaughan Williams; but however satisfying her published programme, her admirers always looked forward to the moment when, for her encores, she would pick up her guitar and accompany herself in Clavelitos or Adiós Granada.

Her recording career for EMI spanned more than 30 years and included 22 complete operas and some 40 recital records, in which her command of the florid music of Handel or Rossini is as conspicuous as the refined sensibility of her singing of Brahms or Schubert. There is hardly a dud among them, a rare achievement. Among her outstanding recordings are the Bohème she did with Beecham, which remains a classic set, her Manon with Monteux and her Marguérite ( Faust) for Cluytens.

Her Carmen (also with Beecham), aside from being beautifully sung, is one of the few in which the character’s humour is done justice to. It is a list, again, that could be much extended.

Her voice was a lyric soprano of gorgeous refulgence and limpidity, extending in her early years to the D above the stave. It also went down solidly enough to enable her to sing Carmen and Rossini’s Rosina in its original mezzo-soprano key.

De los Angeles was one of those rare singers for whom singing seemed a complete method of self-expression; when she sang the whole person sang. Yet her command of such matters as enunciation, phrasing and colouring,as well as of coloratura, attested to her deep musicality. To all this she united excellent stagecraft and an enchanting persona.

She was a tireless advocate of her country’s music, and if her singing of Spanish song struck some as overpolite, her fastidiousness paid off in German lieder and elsewhere.

She married Enrique Magriñá in 1948, who became her manager, and leaves two sons by the marriage.

Victoria de los Angeles, opera and concert soprano, was born on November 1, 1923, and died on January 15, 2005, aged 81.


Concha. De España vengo, soy española,
en mis ojos me traigo luz de su cielo
y en mi cuerpo la gracia de la manola!

De España vengo, de España soy
y mi cara serrana lo va diciendo.
He nacido en España por donde voy.

A mi lo madrileño, me vuelve loca
y cuando yo me arranco con una copla
el acento gitano de mi canción
toman vida las flores de mi mantón.

De España vengo, de España soy
y mi cara serrana lo va diciendo.
Yo he nacido en España por donde voy.

Campana de la Torre de Maravillas
si es que tocas a fuego toca de prisa:
mira que ardo por culpa de unos ojos
que estoy mirando. Madre, me muero,
por culpa de unos ojos negros, muy negros,
que los tengo "metíos" dentro del alma
y que son los ojazos de mi gitano.

Muriendo estoy, mi vida, por tu desvío;
te quiero y no me quieres, gitano mío.
Mira que pena verse así, despreciada,
siendo morena!

De España vengo, de España soy
y mi cara serrana lo va diciendo.
Yo he nacido en España, por donde voy!

Concha. I come from Spain, I am a Spaniard,
my eyes reflect the bright light of her sky
and my body the grace of her people!

I come from Spain, I am Spanish,
and my highland face shows it plainly.
I am Spanish born , that's for sure.

Anything from Madrid drives me wild,
and when I break into song
the gypsy style of my singing
makes the flowers on my shawl bloom.

I come from Spain, I am Spanish,
and my face shows it plainly.
I am Spanish born , that's for sure.

Bell of the Tower of Wonders,
if you must raise the fire alarm, ring quickly:
see how I'm burning because of a pair of eyes
that I've fallen for. God, I'm dying
because of a pair of dark eyes, so dark,
they have stripped me to the soul,
the eyes of my gypsy boy.

I am dying, my love, of your disdain;
I love you and you don't love me, my lad.
See how sad it is to be despised,
for being dark!

I come from Spain, I am Spanish,
and my face shows it plainly.
I am Spanish born , that's for sure!


Friday, February 6, 2009

An Die Musik (Schubert)

Schubert's famous ode to the wonders of music, on a poem by Franz von Schober.

This lied, D. 547 (Op. 88, No. 4), dates from 1817. Schubert's famous ode to the wonders of music, on a poem by Franz von Schober. This lied, D. 547 (Op. 88, No. 4), dates from 1817. Von Schober, while a law student in 1816, heard a few of Schubert's songs and found out he was still barely surviving the drudgery of school and looking for work. Von Schober proposed to install him in his own household, so Schubert could concentrate on just composing. Schubert agreed to this after his father's consent was given. Incidentally, Franz (Adolf Friedrich) von Schober was half Austrian half Swede. He grew up in a German and Swedish-speaking household. He was born at Torup Castle near Malmö, Sweden of an Austrian mother.

(GIVING) LIBERALITY Generosity is the key to a life of abundance. Seeking gratification in dead objects indicates a dead soul.
Sharing what’s valuable in life means not just giving away material goods, but also time, attention, wisdom and energy — the things that create a strong, rich and diverse community. This song just overflows with beauty, joy and thankfullness!

AN DIE MUSIK BY Franz von Schober

Du holde Kunst, in wieviel grauen Stunden,
Wo mich des Lebens wilder Kreis umstrickt,
Hast du mein Herz zu warmer Lieb entzunden,
Hast mich in eine beßre Welt entrückt!

Oft hat ein Seufzer, deiner Harf' entflossen,
Ein süßer, heiliger Akkord von dir
Den Himmel beßrer Zeiten mir erschlossen,
Du holde Kunst, ich danke dir dafür!

Oh 'tis THEE SACRED ART, in those many black-dog hours,
When the wild net of life takes hold of me,
'Tis thee who have fired my heart with joy!
'Tis thee who have carried me ahead to glimpse of yon better world,

Oft have I heard the soft sigh from thy harp,
Chords so sweet! Chords so blissful!
Thou openest my eyes to a heaven of better times!
'Tis thee I thank for all this, SACRED ART!
(translation R.K. MUNRO)

A la música

Oh, Tú arte benévolo, en cuántas horas sombrías,
cuando me agarra la red traidora de la vida,
Tú has inflamado mi corazón con un cálido amor,
Tú me has conducido hacia un mundo mejor!

Con frecuencia se ha escapado un suspiro de tu arpa,
un dulce y sagrado acorde tuyo
me has abierto el cielo de tiempos mejores.
¡Oh,Tú arte benévolo, te doy mil gracias por ello!

À la musique

O toi, art tout de noblesse,
que de fois, en ces tristes heures
où la vie resserrait son étau,
m'as-tu réchauffé le coeur,
m'as-tu transporté dans un monde plus clément!

Souvent, un soupir échappé de ta harpe,
un doux accord céleste
m'a ouvert d'autres cieux.
O toi, art tout de noblesse, sois en remercié!


VICTORIA DE LOS ANGELES (I was blessed to see her in person several times in New York and Madrid)


PLACIDO DOMINGO La Marseillaise ; I can never forget my uncles, my grandfather and many of my kinsmen fought and some died for the freedom of Belgium and France 1914-1918 and 1939-1945. NE OBLIVISCARIS


Robert Louis Stevenson (Set to music by VAUGHN WILLIAMS)

WILL make you brooches and toys for your delight
Of bird-song at morning and star-shine at night.
I will make a palace fit for you and me,
Of green days in forests and blue days at sea.

I will make my kitchen, and you shall keep your room, 5
Where white flows the river and bright blows the broom,
And you shall wash your linen and keep your body white
In rainfall at morning and dewfall at night.

And this shall be for music when no one else is near,
The fine song for singing, the rare song to hear! 10
That only I remember, that only you admire,
Of the broad road that stretches and the roadside fire.

Lawrence Tibbett - Myself When Young


Myself when young did eagerly frequent
Doctor and Saint, and heard great Argument
About it and about; but evermore
Came out by the same Door as in I went.

With them the Seed of Wisdom did I sow,
And with my own hand labour'd it to grow:
And this was all the Harvest that I reap'd --
"I came like Water and like Wind I go."

MUSIC BY Liza Lehmann (1862-1918)

Ah, moon of my delight, [that knows]1 no wane,
The moon of Heav'n is rising once again:
How oft hereafter rising shall she look
Through this same garden after me - in vain!

And when thyself with shining foot shall pass
Among the guests star-scatter'd on the grass,
And in thy joyous errand reach the spot
Where I made one - turn down an empty glass!

THE GREAT JOHN MCCORMACK (My father and grandfather saw him perform in person!)

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Based on the great Spanish play DON ALVARO by El Duque de Rivas

MARIO LANZA a splendid version from DEC 26 1945


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Webster Booth (tenor) sings "Sound an Alarm" from Handel's oratorio, "Judas Maccabeus".

YOUNGER THAN SPRINGTIME. BILL TABBERT was the orignial Lt. Joe Cable and he was a friend of my parents. He sang this song at our home and that was the first time I ever heard this song and others like NESSUM DORMA.

HERE Is a modern version


EZIO PINZA was BIll Tabbert's great friend; when he died they say Bill's career died too

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Montage: STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN & Lt. Col David Niven, formerly of the HLI

From the great film duo of
Writen/Directed: Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
DP: Jack Cardiff
Peter: David Niven
June: Kim Hunter

One of Lt Colonel Niven’s first film after six years of active service mostly in the Rifle Brigade and SAS (Commandos; North Africa, Sicly, D-Day, Normandy). He was very modest about his military service some of which appears to have been top secret. He claimed to have been born in Kirriemuir, Scotland but this was a polite fiction; he was actually born in London from a family of Scottish descent. Nonetheless, he loved Scotland and had an emotional tie to the land of his ancestors. He was a Leal Mon.

He was a graduate of Sandhurst and served 11 years in the British Army beginning his career with the HLI (Highland Light Infantry). His first choice was the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. His father was killed at Gallipoli and he was partially raised by a wounded piper of the Argylls. His semi-fictional autobiographies are charming .

I read them in Spanish while living in Spain in the late 70’s and early 80’s.
The Moon's a Balloon: Reminiscences, London, 1971.
Bring on the Empty Horses, London, 1975.

He had a small part in DODSWORTH with Walter Huston and MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY with Clark Gable and Charles Laughton

The Dawn Patrol (1938 with Errol Flynn (as Lt. Scott) was really his break out role; if you think about it he made a career of playing himself (a debonair British officer with derring-do)

One of the few glimpses we have of his WWII service he was giving his men a pep talk before a particularly dangerous mission and Niven is reported to have said: “ You chaps have to remember you only have to do this once. I’ll have do to it all over again with Errol Flynn!” It got a lot of laughs from his men. He was, it was said a very brave and beloved commander. He was an acquaintance of Winston Churchill who admired him greatly because he knew that Niven –already a star in America- did not have to come back to England in 1939.

Some of my favorite Niven films are: The Bishop's Wife (1947) with Loretta Young and Cary Grant

Enchantment 1948) with Teresa Wright (From the Rumer Godden novel Take Three Tenses: A Fugue in Time, which I found charming; 2007 is Rumer Godden's Centenary Year; she was a very religious and spiritual woman; Rumer Godden converted to Roman Catholicism in 1968. "I like the way everything is clear and concise," she remarked propos her new religion. "You'll always be forgiven but you must know the rules.”
Around the World in Eighty Days (as charming a Phileas Fogg as you will meet and Ronald Colman had a cameo in that film) ; as a boy I read every Jules Verne Novel
Separate Tables ( with Deborah Kerr; he won an Oscar for his performance as a phoney Major)
I think the first film I ever saw him in was Please don’t Eat the Daisies (1961) with Doris Day. It was a nice family movie.
The Guns of Navarone (1961) I saw in the movies as a small boy and thought it was the greatest film of all time. It wasn’t but it was grand entertainment and beautifully filmed and acted.
55 Days at Peking (1963) with Charlton Heston was also one of my favorite films of all time; I am very fond of the soundtrack which is right up my alley. This film is as close to an international Tattoo as you will every find and is still entertaining even if an aging , overweight boozy Ava Gardner is not very convincing as a glamorous beauty.
The Pink Panther (1964) may be his most famous film after all these years and he certainly helped make that charming comedy tick.
His later films were much less memorable.