Thursday, February 28, 2008

Word of The Day

Subtopia: Pejorative term derived from 'suburb' and 'utopia', meaning an area that is neither urban nor rural.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Word of The Day

Benefic: Of, having, or exerting a favorable influence.

News; Climate Change, Water Use Threaten Lake Mead

Sid Perkins

If climate changes as expected, and future water use goes unchecked, there's a 50 percent chance that Lake Mead—one of the southwestern United States' key reservoirs—will become functionally dry in the next couple of decades, a new study suggests.


BATHTUB RING. Water levels in Lake Mead have dropped significantly in recent years, as chronicled by the white mineral deposits on rocks that were formerly submerged.

Besides providing water for millions, flow from Lake Mead—the reservoir formed as the Colorado River collects behind Hoover Dam—generates prodigious amounts of hydroelectric power. Over the past century, on average, about 18.5 cubic kilometers of water flowed into Lake Mead each year, says Tim P. Barnett, a climatologist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, Calif. Of that amount, about 2.1 km3 evaporate into the dry desert air or soak into the ground beneath the lake each year. What's left in the lake is more than spoken for: The amount of water drawn from Lake Mead this year to meet demand in cities as far-flung as Los Angeles and San Diego will exceed 16.6 km3.

And the situation will likely get worse, Barnett and colleague David W. Pierce speculate in an upcoming Water Resources Research. By 2030, the researchers note, annual demand for Lake Mead's water is projected to rise to 17.4 km3. Also, some climate studies suggest that the Colorado's flow will drop between 10 and 30 percent in the next 30 to 50 years. Using these data, as well as weather simulations that impose random but reasonable annual variations in river flow volume, Barnett and Pierce used a computer model to estimate the remaining useful life of the Lake Mead reservoir.

Thanks in part to the worst drought in the Southwest in the past 500 years (SN: 6/26/04, p. 406), Lake Mead is now at about 50 percent capacity. If current allocations of water persist, there's a 50 percent chance that by 2023 Lake Mead won't provide water without pumping, and a 10 percent chance that it won't by 2013. Moreover, there's a 50 percent chance that Hoover Dam won't be able to generate power by 2017, the researchers estimate.

"We were stunned at the magnitude of the problem and how fast it was coming at us," says Barnett.

Results of the new study are "fairly provocative, an eye-opener," says Connie Woodhouse, a climatologist at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Using estimates of river flow based on an average of the past century may be optimistic, she adds, because tree ring–based reconstructions of the region's climate suggest that the 20th century was one of the wettest in the past 500 years. "The more we learn about the Colorado River and its hydrology, the more worried we need to be," says Peter H. Gleick, a hydrologist at the Pacific Institute in Oakland, Calif.

Today In History; Victor Hugo, Poet

1802: Victor Hugo was one of France's most powerful and popular Romantic authors. He wrote a large number of poems and was as important and innovative a poet for the French as Wordsworth was for the English, even though outside of France Hugo's novels are better known than his poems. As a republican he was exiled during the reign of Napoleon III and lived in the Channel Islands, but his death threw France into collective mourning.

Monday, February 25, 2008

News; Harriet Tubman: Civil War Spy

Text by Catherine Clarke Fox

Tubman was often called Moses, after a Biblical hero who led his people out of slavery in Egypt.

Photograph by James A. Gensheimer

In this painting, Harriet Tubman, in the dark blue dress, leads escaped slaves to freedom.

Harriet Tubman is well known for risking her life as a “conductor” in the Underground Railroad, which led escaped slaves to freedom in the North. But did you know that the former slave also served as a spy for the Union during the Civil War and was the first woman in American history to lead a military expedition?

During a time when women were usually restricted to traditional roles like cooking and nursing, she did her share of those jobs. But she also worked side-by-side with men, says writer Tom Allen, who tells her exciting story in the National Geographic book, Harriet Tubman, Secret Agent.

Tubman decided to help the Union Army because she wanted freedom for all of the people who were forced into slavery, not just the few she could help by herself. And she convinced many other brave African Americans to join her as spies, even at the risk of being hanged if they were caught.

In one of her most dramatic and dangerous roles, Tubman helped Colonel James Montgomery plan a raid to free slaves from plantations along the Combahee (pronounced “KUM-bee”) River in South Carolina. Early on the morning of June 1, 1863, three gunboats carrying several hundred male soldiers along with Harriet Tubman set out on their mission.

Tubman had gathered key information from her scouts about the Confederate positions. She knew where they were hiding along the shore. She also found out where they had placed torpedoes, or barrels filled with gunpowder, in the water.

As the early morning fog lifted on some of the South’s most important rice plantations, the Union expedition hit hard. The raiders set fire to buildings and destroyed bridges, so they couldn’t be used by the Confederate Army. They also freed about 750 slaves—men, women, children, and babies—and did not lose one soldier in the attack.

Allen, who writes about this adventure and many others, got to know Tubman well through the months of research he did for the book. The historic details he shares bring Tubman and many other important figures of her time to life.

To gather the facts, Allen searched libraries and the Internet, and even walked in Tubman’s footsteps. “I went on the river just south of the area where the raid took place,” he says. “You are in that kind of country she would have known, with plenty of mosquitoes and snakes, and there are still dirt roads there today—so you get a feeling of what it was like.”

Allen says his most exciting moment came when a librarian led him to written accounts by people who actually saw Tubman and the raiders in action.

“She was five feet two inches (157 centimeters) tall, born a slave, had a debilitating illness, and was unable to read or write. Yet here was this tough woman who could take charge and lead men. Put all that together and you get Harriet Tubman. I got to like her pretty quickly because of her strength and her spirit,” Allen says.

To find out more about this courageous and adventuresome woman, read the book, Harriet Tubman, Secret Agent.

Today In History; Elizabeth I of England Excommunicated

1570: At the end of the 16th century, England was religiously divided and Elizabeth's reign marked by religious tension. She had restored the Anglican Church's status after the Catholic interlude by her elder sister, Mary, now Queen of Scots. Negotiating the succession, Elizabeth demanded that Prince James be brought up in England. Mary Stuart declined, and was consequently imprisoned at Sheffield Castle. Pope Pius V, giving way to his antagonism to Elizabeth, retaliated. He excommunicated her and published a bull which released her subjects from their allegiance.

Word of The Day

Dodgery: Evasion, trickery.


Thieves are very good at dodgery.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Jane Austen


Jane Austen was an English novelist whose books, set amongst the English middle and upper classes, are notable for their wit, social observation and insights into the lives of early 19th century women.

Jane Austen was born on 16 December 1775 in the village of Steventon in Hampshire. She was one of eight children of a clergyman and grew up in a close-knit family. She began to write as a teenager. In 1801 the family moved to Bath. After the death of Jane's father in 1805 Jane, her sister Cassandra and their mother moved several times eventually settling in Chawton, near Steventon.

Jane's brother Henry helped her negotiate with a publisher and her first novel, 'Sense and Sensibility', appeared in 1811. Her next novel 'Pride and Prejudice', which she described as her "own darling child" received highly favourable reviews. 'Mansfield Park' was published in 1814, then 'Emma' in 1816. 'Emma' was dedicated to the Prince Regent, an admirer of her work. All of Jane Austen's novels were published anonymously.

In 1816, Jane began to suffer from ill-health, probably due to Addison's disease. She travelled to Winchester to receive treatment, and died there on 18 July 1817. Two more novels, 'Persuasion' and 'Northanger Abbey' were published posthumously and a final novel was left incomplete.

/\/ \|":Biography:"|/ \/\

Jane Austen was born on 16 December, 1775, at the rectory in the village of Steventon, near Basingstoke, in Hampshire. The seventh of eight children of the Reverend George Austen and his wife, Cassandra, she was educated mainly at home and never lived apart from her family. She had a happy childhood amongst all her brothers and the other boys who lodged with the family and whom Mr Austen tutored. From her older sister, Cassandra, she was inseparable. To amuse themselves, the children wrote and performed plays and charades, and even as a little girl Jane was encouraged to write. The reading that she did of the books in her father's extensive library provided material for the short satirical sketches she wrote as a girl.

At the age of 14 she wrote her first novel, Love and Freindship (sic) and then A History of England by a partial, prejudiced and ignorant Historian, together with other very amusing juvenilia. In her early twenties Jane Austen wrote the novels that were later to be re-worked and published as Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice and Northanger Abbey. She also began a novel called The Watsons which was never completed.

The first 25 years of her life Jane spent in Hampshire. On her father's unexpected retirement, the family sold off everything, including Jane's piano, and moved to Bath. Jane, aged twenty-five, and Cassandra, her elder sister, aged twenty-eight, were considered by contemporary standards confirmed old maid, and followed their parents. Torn from her friends and rural roots in Steventon, Austen abandoned her literary career for a decade.

As a young woman Jane enjoyed dancing (an activity which features frequently in her novels) and she attended balls in many of the great houses of the neighbourhood. She loved the country, enjoyed long country walks, and had many Hampshire friends. It therefore came as a considerable shock when her parents suddenly announced in 1801 that the family would be moving away to Bath. Mr Austen gave the Steventon living to his son James and retired to Bath with his wife and two daughters. The next four years were difficult ones for Jane Austen. She disliked the confines of a busy town and missed her Steventon life. After her father's death in 1805, his widow and daughters also suffered financial difficulties and were forced to rely on the charity of the Austen sons. It was also at this time that, while on holiday in the West country, Jane fell in love, and when the young man died, she was deeply upset. Later she accepted a proposal of marriage from Harris Bigg-Wither, a wealthy landowner and brother to some of her closest friends, but she changed her mind the next morning and was greatly upset by the whole episode.

After the death of Mr Austen, the Austen ladies moved to Southampton to share the home of Jane's naval brother Frank and his wife Mary. There were occasional visits to London, where Jane stayed with her favourite brother Henry, at that time a prosperous banker, and where she enjoyed visits to the theatre and art exhibitions. However, she wrote little in Bath and nothing at all in Southampton.

Then, in July, 1809, on her brother Edward offering his mother and sisters a permanent home on his Chawton estate, the Austen ladies moved back to their beloved Hampshire countryside. It was a small but comfortable house, with a pretty garden, and most importantly it provided the settled home which Jane Austen needed in order to write. In the seven and a half years that she lived in this house, she revised Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice and published them ( in 1811 and 1813) and then embarked on a period of intense productivity. Mansfield Park came out in 1814, followed by Emma in 1816 and she completed Persuasion (which was published together with Northanger Abbey in 1818, the year after her death). None of the books published in her life-time had her name on them — they were described as being written "By a Lady". In the winter of 1816 she started Sanditon, but illness prevented its completion.

Possibly suffering from Addington’s disease, Jane Austen died on 18 July, 1817. She lies buried in the north aisle of the nave in Winchester Cathedral in Winchester, England.

In the Memory of

Jane Austen

youngest daughter of the Late

Rev.d George Austen

formerly rector of Steventon in this County

She departed this Life on the 18th of July, 1817,

Aged 41, after a long illness supported with

the patience and the hopes of a Christian

''^^Quick Facts^^''

Dates: December 16, 1775 - July 18, 1817

Occupation: novelist, Romantic period.

Jane Austen's Family:

  • Father: George Austen, Anglican clergyman, died 1805
  • Mother: Cassandra Leigh
  • Siblings: Jane Austen was the seventh of eight children.
    • James, also a Church of England clergyman
    • George, institutionalized, disability uncertain (may have been mental retardation, may have been deaf)
    • Henry, banker then Anglican clergyman, served essentially as Jane's agent with her publishers
    • Francis and Charles, fought in the Napoleonic wars, became admirals
    • Edward, adopted by a wealthy cousin, Thomas Knight
    • older sister Cassandra who also never married

  • Aunt: Ann Cawley; Jane Austen and her sister Cassandra studied at her home 1782-3
  • Aunt: Jane Leigh Perrot, who hosted the family for a time after George Austen retired
  • Cousin: Eliza, Comtesse of Feuillide, whose husband was guillotined during the Reign of Terror in France, and who later married Henry

The family was associated with the Tories and maintained a sympathy for the Stuart succession rather than the Hanoverian.


  • Early education at home, as was usual for girls of the time; her brothers were educated at Oxford
  • widely read; her father had a large library of books including novels
  • 1782-1783 - Jane Austen and her sister Cassandra studied at home of their aunt, Ann Cawley
  • 1784-1786 - boarding school in Reading, with her sister Cassandra

Novels Published:

  • Northanger Abbey - sold 1803, not published until 1819
  • Sense and Sensibility - published 1811 but Austen had to pay the printing costs
  • Pride and Prejudice - 1812
  • Mansfield Park - 1814
  • Emma - 1815
  • Persuasion - 1819


I do not want people to be agreeable, as it saves me the trouble of liking them.

To sit in the shade on a fine day, and look upon verdure is the most perfect refreshment.

Where so many hours have been spent in convincing myself that I am right, is there not some reason to fear I may be wrong?

One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other.

Silly things do cease to be silly if they are done by sensible people in an impudent way.

A large income is the best recipe for happiness I ever heard of.

Everybody likes to go their own way--to choose their own time and manner of devotion.

I cannot think well of a man who sports with any woman's feelings; and there may often be a great deal more suffered than a stander-by can judge of.

I pay very little what any young person says on the subject of marriage. If they profess a disinclination for it, I only set it down that they have not yet seen the right person.

If any one faculty of our nature may be called more wonderful than the rest, I do think it is memory. There seems something more speakingly incomprehensible in the powers, the failures, the inequalities of memory, than in any other of our intelligences. The memory is sometimes so retentive, so serviceable, so obedient; at others, so bewildered and so weak; and at others again, so tyrannic, so beyond control! We are, to be sure, a miracle every way; but our powers of recollecting and of forgetting do seem peculiarly past finding out.

It will, I believe, be everywhere found, that as the clergy are, or are not what they ought to be, so are the rest of the nation.

Nothing amuses me more than the easy manner with which everybody settles the abundance of those who have a great deal less than themselves.

Oh! Do not attack me with your watch. A watch is always too fast or too slow. I cannot be dictated to by a watch.

One cannot fix one's eyes on the commonest natural production without finding food for a rambling fancy.

The enthusiasm of a woman's love is even beyond the biographer's.

There will be little rubs and disappointments everywhere, and we are all apt to expect too much; but then, if one scheme of happiness fails, human nature turns to another; if the first calculation is wrong, we make a second better: we find comfort somewhere.

We have all a better guide in ourselves, if we would attend to it, than any other person can be.

Where any one body of educated men, of whatever denomination, are condemned indiscriminately, there must be a deficiency of information, or...of something else.

But when a young lady is to be a heroine, the perverseness of forty surrounding families cannot prevent her. Something must and will happen to throw a hero in her way.

Friendship is certainly the finest balm for the pangs of disappointed love.

In every power, of which taste is the foundation, excellence is pretty fairly divided between the sexes.

For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours, and laugh at them in our turn?

Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance. If the dispositions of the parties are ever so well known to each other or ever so similar beforehand, it does not advance their felicity in the least. They always continue to grow sufficiently unlike afterwards to have their share of vexation; and it is better to know as little as possible of the defects of the person with _______



News; The Secret Language of Dolphins

Photo: three dolphins

Scientists are studying wild and captive dolphins to decipher their secret language.

Photo: three dolphins

Dolphins can swim at a speed of 20 miles (32 kilometers) an hour.

Photo: dolphins

Dolphins compete for dominance.

Photo: two dolphinsCheck it Out

Deciphering "dolphin speak" is tricky because their language is dependant on what they are doing.

Here's a conversation worth talking about: A mother dolphin chats with her baby…over the telephone! The special call was made in an aquarium in Hawaii, where the mother and her two-year-old calf swam in separate tanks connected by a special underwater audio link. The two dolphins began squawking and chirping to each other—distinctive dolphin chatter.

Cracking the Code
"It seemed clear that they knew who they were talking with," says Don White, whose Project Delphis ran the experiment. "Information was passing back and forth pretty quickly." But what were they saying? That's what scientists are trying to find out by studying wild and captive dolphins all over the world to decipher their secret language. They haven't completely cracked the code yet, but they're listening…and learning.

Chatty Mammals
In many ways, you are just like the more than 30 species of dolphins that swim in the world's oceans and rivers. Dolphins are mammals, like you are, and must swim to the surface to breathe air. Just as you might, they team up in pods, or groups, to accomplish tasks. And they're smart.

They also talk to each other. Starting from birth, dolphins squawk, whistle, click, and squeak. "Sometimes one dolphin will vocalize and then another will seem to answer," says Sara Waller, who studies bottlenose dolphins off the California coast. "And sometimes members of a pod vocalize in different patterns at the same time, much like many people chattering at a party." And just as you gesture and change facial expressions as you talk, dolphins communicate nonverbally through body postures, jaw claps, bubble blowing, and fin caresses.

Thinking Dolphin
Scientists think dolphins "talk" about everything from basic facts like their age to their emotional state. "I speculate that they say things like 'there are some good fish over here,' or 'watch out for that shark because he's hunting,'" says Denise Herzing, who studies dolphins in the Bahamas.

When the going gets tough, for instance, some dolphins call for backup. After being bullied by a duo of bottlenose dolphins, one spotted dolphin returned to the scene the next day with a few pals to chase and harass one of the bully bottlenose dolphins. "It's as if the spotted dolphin communicated to his buddies that he needed their help, then led them in search of this guy," says Herzing, who watched the scuffle.

Language Lessons
Kathleen Dudzinski, director of the Dolphin Communication Project, has listened to dolphins for more than 17 years, using high-tech gear to record and analyze every nuance of their language. But she says she's far from speaking "dolphin" yet. Part of the reason is the elusiveness of the animals. Dolphins are fast swimmers who can stay underwater for up to ten minutes between breaths. "It's like studying an iceberg because they spend most of their lives underwater," Dudzinski says.

Deciphering "dolphin speak" is also tricky because their language is so dependent on what they're doing, whether they're playing, fighting, or going after tasty fish. It's no different for humans. Think about when you raise a hand to say hello. Under other circumstances, the same gesture can mean good-bye, stop, or that something costs five bucks. It's the same for dolphins. During fights, for example, dolphins clap their jaws to say "back off!" But they jaw clap while playing, too, as if to show who's king of the underwater playground.

"I have not found one particular dolphin behavior that means the same thing every time you see it," says Dudzinski. "If you like mysteries and detective work, then this is the job for you." And who knows—maybe someday you'll get a phone call from a dolphin.

Today in History; Cloning of Dolly Announced

Dolly was the first mammal to have been successfully cloned from an adult cell at the Roslin Institute in Scotland. The technique used places the nucleus from one of the donor's non-reproductive cells into a de-nucleated embryonic cell. This is called somatic cell nuclear transfer. The controversy about cloning still continues today.

Word of The Day

Logy: Marked by sluggishness and lack of vitality, groggy.


I felt logy and sleepy after working so hard.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Dramatic Rescue For Indian Tiger

The tiger leapt powerfully to freedom.

Forest guards in India have carried out the dramatic rescue of a pregnant tigress who had hidden in a palm tree after being chased away by villagers.

They tranquilised and then caught the Royal Bengal tigress that had strayed into a village near the Sundarbans Tiger Reserve in eastern India.

The animal was released back into the wild after receiving treatment for minor injuries, officials say.

Tigers have been slowly disappearing from India, mostly because of poaching.

Kanti Ganguly, the Sundarbans affairs minister of the Indian state of West Bengal, told the Associated Press news agency that it took officials nearly 14 hours to tranquilise and catch the tiger on Monday.

He said the animal suffered only minor injuries from stones and burning sticks thrown at her by the frightened villagers in Deulbari, about 250km (150 miles) south of the state capital, Calcutta.

Released Royal Bengal tiger
The tiger quickly made for the safety of the forest

Guards nursed her wounds and then took her in a boat to be released deep inside a mangrove reserve on Tuesday.

Officials say that she was only freed after it was felt that she was fit enough to be released into the reserve.

The Sundarbans is a UN designated world heritage site.

It covers nearly 10,000 square kilometres (3,860 square miles) of marshlands and mangrove forests along the coast of the Bay of Bengal, straddling India and Bangladesh.

Correspondents say it is one of the few remaining natural tiger habitats in India.

Tigers have been slowly disappearing from the country because of poaching, a shortage of space, human encroachment on their territory and a lack of properly trained forestry guards.

Incidents of Royal Bengal tigers being attacked by villagers in the Sundarbans are also becoming increasingly commonplace.

The government says India's tiger population has dropped from nearly 3,600 five years ago to about 1,411 today.

Today in History; Joan of Arc's trial begins

1431: During the Hundred Years' War, Joan led the French against the English, claiming to hear the voices of St. Michael, St. Catherine and St. Margaret telling her to free France. She was later accused of heresy and tried for communicating with demons and disobedience to the Church. Trying to save her life, she recanted, but retracted her "confession" two days later. She was burned at Rouen, and, since heretics could not receive a Christian burial, her remains were cast into the Seine River.

Word of The Day

Relegate: To assign to an inferior position, place, or condition. To assign to an appropriate category or class. To assign or refer (a matter or task, for example) to another for appropriate action. To send into exile; to banish.

Franz Liszt


Franz Liszt (Hungarian; Liszt Ferenc) (October 22, 1811 – July 31, 1886) was a Hungarian composer and virtuoso pianist of the 19th century. He was a renowned performer throughout Europe, noted especially for his showmanship and great skill with the piano. Until today, he is by some considered to have been the greatest pianist in history. As a composer, Liszt was one of the most prominent representatives of the "Neudeutsche Schule"" ("New German School"). He left behind a huge oeuvre, including works from nearly all musical genres.

Franz Liszt (1811-1886)


As pianist, composer and personality, Franz Liszt (b.1811) strides across the whole of the nineteenth century and is seminal in his influence on the twentieth. Although Liszt was born along with the first generation of romantic composers (Berlioz, Chopin, Schumann and Mendelssohn), he outlived them all

to become a friend of Wagner and proponent of the "music of the future."

Franz Liszt was born in Hungary to a father who worked for the Esterhazy family, and who soon recognized his son's prodigious gifts. After studies with Czerny and Salieri in Vienna in 1821, Liszt quickly made a name as a piano virtuoso, performing in London and Paris. By fourteen, he had written Don Sanche, an operetta that was produced in Paris. Here he lived from 1823 to 1835, becoming friends with leading literary figures and painters as well as with Berlioz and Chopin. These two composers along with Paganini, who he heard with amazement in 1831, were the primary influences in forming Lizst's complex aesthetic character.

Berlioz inspired thinking in the largest, grandest, and most colorful terms. This was musical thought that was often inspired by literature and that contained programmatic implications. In fact one can think of Berlioz as the beginning of that stream of Romanticism that goes through Liszt to Wagner and beyond into the music of Mahler and Richard Strauss. Liszt was at the center of what became the definitive split between this path and the more conservative and ultimately less influential romantic tradition embodied in the music of Mendelssohn, Schumann and Brahms.

It was Paganini's violin playing that inspired Liszt to the greatest heights of virtuosity and showmanship. Liszt stated clearly that he wanted to do for the piano what Paganini had done for the violin, and Liszt went so far as to transcribe a number of the solo violin caprices into highly effective and virtuosic piano music- the Paganini Etudes. The greatest pianists of the time, including Chopin and Mendelssohn, while repelled by some of the vulgar showmanship of Liszt's playing, were none the less awed by probably the greatest technical pianist the world has known. Clara Schumann stated that "Liszt played at sight what we toil over and at the end get nowhere with."

Both Paganini and Liszt combined the highest caliber of virtuosity and musicianship with a conscious and charismatic talent for holding their largely middle class audiences enthrall. In terms of their social impact, they are the prototypes for the performing artist who is most approximated by the rock stars of our time. Liszt's concerts were famous for the fainting and swooning of women in the audience, and while Liszt may have played Beethoven in his studio, his public concerts at this period were not short on display music, mainly composed by himself. In fact, it was Liszt in his egomania who invented the modern solo recital, at first calling them "soliloquies."

From Chopin however, Liszt developed his sense of the piano's potential for intimate poetic expression, meaningful rather than bombastic ornamentation, and the piano's possibilities for the most subtle colorings and shadings. From Chopin's Barcarolle, Op.60 through Liszt's Le Jeaux d'eau a la Villa de Este, we are clearly on the way to the impressionism of Debussy and Ravel. And thus we have in one man, a range of qualities-from poet and visionary to showman and even charlatan - that explains why we are still sorting out the stature of Liszt, the composer.

Liszt developed more slowly as a composer than as a performer. Until 1834, much of his activity was transcribing the works of others into repertoire for his concerts. 1835 to 1839 is the period of the Transcendental Etudes (including No.3, Paysage; No.7, Eroica, and No.10, Allegro agitato molto-Etude in f) and the three books of the Annees de Pelerinages, which contain many important piano works, such as Vallee d'Obermann and the Tre Sonetti di Petrarca. After this came many of the Hungarian Rhapsodies (such us such as No.2; No.8; and No.12), operatic paraphrases (including the Waltz from Gounod's "Faust"; Verdi's "Rigoletto", and the Overture to "Tannheuser" by Wagner), and songs (such as Das Wandern; from Schubert's song cycle, "Die shöne Müllerin" and Der Lindenbaum from his "Wintereisse").

In 1847, Liszt gave up his full time performing career. Since 1834, he had been having a somewhat scandalous affair with the Countess d'Agoult. In 1842 they made Geneva their home and had three children. Cosima, the only one who survived childhood, was born in 1837, later married Hans von Bulow, Liszt's first great pupil, and later left him for Wagner. (Like her father in more ways than one, she lived a long life, dying in 1930.)

The affair with the countess came to an end in 1844. On Lizst's final tour, he played in Kiev where he met Princess Carolyne Sayn-Wittgenstein. Although she couldn't get the divorce she wanted, the Princess created another scandal by joining Liszt in Weimar in 1849 where he had been appointed Grand Ducal Director of Music Extraordinaire. Freed of the demands of touring, Liszt made Weimar the center of the progressive musical movement. Pianists came from all over Europe to study with him and it was here that Liszt began conducting the works of Berlioz, Wagner and others. The freedom of his piano style was translated to a conducting style that also proved to be influential to the future.

Liszt stayed in Weimar until 1859. These important years produced the Dante ( 1.Inferno; 2.Purgatorio and Magnificat) and Faust (3.Mephistopheles) symphonies, as well as the twelve Symphonic Poems (including No.1, Ce qu'on entend sur la montagne; No.6, Mazeppa; No.9, Hungaria, and No.10, Hamlet), a genre he invented. Perhaps Liszt's greatest piano piece, the Sonata in B , is also from this time (1854). This huge one movement sonata is dominated by a single theme that is ingeniously transformed into strongly contrasting characters and a diabolical fugue toward the end of the piece that some see as a brilliant programmatic telling of Goethe's Faust.

In 1860, Liszt moved to Rome to live a the Villa d'Este and took minor orders becoming Abbe Liszt in 1865. Liszt had long had religious tendencies both sincere and ostentatious. Now dividing his time between Rome, Weimar and Budapest, Liszt also still had affairs that were the talk of Europe. His late style further explored the outer reaches of chromatic harmony (the famous "Tristan" of Wagner had been anticipated by Liszt in a song of 1845) and works such as Nuage Gris and Czardas Macabre clearly anticipate Debussy and even Bartok. Liszt died in 1886 in Bayreuth after making a final jubilee tour that revisited Paris and London.

Franz Liszt, genius, showman, vain but generous, worldly but religious, friend and influence on many of the greatest musicians of the period, remains a complex figure for us. While some of his more flamboyant music may be taken less seriously, great pianists have shown that some of the seeming bravura elements have a spiritual element when properly understood and assimilated. Bela Bartok, a composer who would seem to represent the antithesis of some of Liszt's more questionable qualities, said in an essay: "The essence of these works we must find in the new ideas, to which Liszt was the first to give expression, and in the bold pointing toward the future. These things raise Liszt as a composer to the ranks of the great."



Born: October 22, 1811 in Raiding, Kingdom of Hungary.

Genres: Romantic

Occupation: Composer, Pianist, Conductor, Pedagogue.

Instrument(s): Piano

Liszt was:

The teacher of Hans von Bülow,

The friend of Erkel, Ferenc

The lover of Hagn, Charlotte von

Connected sentimentally with Kemble, Adelaide

Painted by Franz von Lenbach,

Knew by Anton Romako, and

An Admirer of Richard Wagner


OPERA: Don Sanche (1824-5, collab. Paer).

SYMPHONIES: A Faust Symphony, for ten., male ch., orch. (1854-7, rev. 1880); Dante Symphony (1855-6, with choral Magnificat as last movt.).

SYMPHONIC-POEMS: Ce qu'on entend sur la montagne (‘Bergsymphonie’) (What one hears on the mountain) (1848-9, orch. Raff, rev. 1850, 1854); Tasso: lamento e trionfo (1849, orch. Conradi, rev. 1850-1, orch. Raff, rev. 1854); Les Préludes (1848, rev. before 1854); Orpheus (1853-4); Prometheus (1850, orch. Raff, rev. 1855); Mazeppa (1851, orch. with Raff, rev. before 1854; based on 1840 pf. study); Festklänge (1853); Héroïde funèbre (1849-50, orch. Raff, rev. c.1854); Hungaria (1854); Hamlet (1858); Hunnenschlacht (1856-7); Die Ideale (1857); Von der Wiege bis zum Grabe (From the Cradle to the Grave) (1881-2).

MISC. ORCH.: 2 Episodes from Lenau's Faust: 1. Der nächtliche Zug (The Night Ride), 2. Der Tanz in der Dorfschenke (Dance in the Village Inn, also Mephisto Waltz No.1) (before 1861); Mephisto Waltz No.2 (1880-1); Huldigungsmarsch (1853, rev. 1857, orig. for pf.); 3 Odes funèbres (Les Morts; La Notte; Le triomphe funèbre du Tasse (1860-6); Rákóczy March (1865); 6 Hungarian Rhapsodies (orch., in collab. with F. Doppler, from pf. solos. Orch. No.1 is pf. No.14, No.2 (No.12), No.3 (No.6), No.4 (No.2), No.5 (No.5), No.6 (No.9, 2nd version) (date unknown).

PIANO & ORCH.: conc. No.1 in Eb (1849, collab. Raff; rev. 1853, 1856), No.2 in A major (1839, rev. 1849-61); Malédiction, pf., str. (c.1840); Fantasia on Themes from Beethoven's Ruins of Athens (?1852); Fantasia on Hungarian Folk Melodies (Hungarian Fantasia, based on Hungarian Rhapsody No.14 in F minor for solo pf.) (?1852); Totentanz (1849, rev. 1853, 1859); Rapsodie espagnole (c.1863 solo pf., orch. Busoni).

SACRED CHORAL: Die Legende von der heiligen Elisabeth, oratorio, sop., cont., ten., 3 bar., bass, ch., org., orch. (1857-62); Christus, oratorio, sop., cont., ten., bar., bass, ch., org., orch. (1862-7); Cantico del Sol di S. Francesco d'Assisi, bar., male ch., org., orch. (1862, rev. 1880-1); Mass, 4 male vv., org. (1848, rev. 1859; 2nd version, 1869); Missa solemnis, sop., cont., ten., bass, ch., orch. (1855, rev. 1857-8); Missa Choralis, ch., org. (1865); Hungarian Coronation Mass, sop., cont., ten., bass, orch. (1867); Requiem, 2 ten., 2 bass, male vv., org., opt. brass (1867-8); Psalm 13, ten., ch., orch. (1855, rev. 1859); Psalm 116, male vv., pf. (1869); Ave verum corpus, ch., opt. org. (1871); St Christopher, bar., women's ch., pf., harmonium (after 1874); Via Crucis (1878-9); Rosario (1879); Psalm 129, bar., male vv., org. (1881); Qui seminant in lacrimis, mixed ch., org. (1884); Salve Regina, unacc. ch. (1885).

SECULAR CHORAL: Second Beethoven Cantata, sop., cont., ten., bass, double ch., orch. (1869-70); An die Künstler, 2 ten., 2 bass, male ch., orch. (1853, orch. Raff, rev. 1853, 1856); Choruses from Herder's Entfesseltem Prometheus, sop., cont., 2 ten., 2 bass, double ch., orch. (1850, orch. Raff, rev. 1855); Hungaria 1848, cantata, sop., ten., bass, male vv., orch. (1848, orch. Conradi); Für Männergesang, 12 songs, some with acc. (1842-59).

CHAMBER MUSIC: Romance oubliée, pf. qt. (1880); La lugubre gondola, pf. trio (1882, also pf. solo); At Richard Wagner's Grave, str. qt., harp (1883).

PIANO: Étude en 12 Exercises (1826); 24 Grandes Études (1837); Mazeppa (1840, orch. 1851); 6 Études d'exécution transcendante d'après Paganini (1838, rev. 1851 as Grandes Études de Paganini); 12 Études d'exécution transcendante (Transcendental Studies) (1851); Apparitions (1834); Album d'un voyageur (3 books, 1835-6); 3 Sonetti del Petrarca (?1839-46); Venezia e Napoli (c.1840, rev. 1859); Années de pèlerinage, Book 1 ‘Switzerland’, 9 pieces (1848-54, all but 2 pieces based on Album d'un voyageur), Book 2 ‘Italy’, 7 pieces (1837-49), Book 3, 7 pieces (1867-77); Harmonies poétiques et réligieuses, 10 pieces (1845-52); 6 Consolations (1849-50); Grosses Konzertsolo (?1849, arr. 2 pf. c.1855 as Concerto pathétique, and for pf. and orch. as Grand Solo de Concert ?1850); Liebesträume—3 Notturnos (c.1850, transcr. of songs); Scherzo und Marsch (1851); Sonata in B minor (1852-3); Huldigungsmarsch (1853, arr. for orch. 1853, rev. 1857); Berceuse (1854, rev. 1862); 2 Concert Studies (Waldesrauschen, Gnomenreigen) (?1862-3); 2 Légendes (St Francis of Assisi preaching to the birds, St Francis of Paule walking on the waves) (1863); ‘Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen’ prelude (1859); Rapsodie espagnole (c.1863); Weihnachtsbaum, 12 pieces (1874-6); Nuages gris (1881); La lugubre gondola (1882); R.W.-Venezia (1883); Mephisto Waltz No.3 (1883); 4 Valses oubliées (1881-?1885); Csárdás macabre (1881-2); Mephisto Waltz No.4 (1885); Csárdás obstiné (1886); 19 Hungarian Rhapsodies (1846-85, see also ORCH.) (No.1 in C#, 1846; No.2 in C#, 1847; No.3 in Bb; No.4 in Eb; No. 5 Heroïde-élégiaque in E minor; No.6 in Db; No.7 in D minor; No.8 in F#; No.9 in Eb, 1st version pubd. 1848, 2nd version pubd. 1853; No.10 in E; No.11 in A minor; No.12 in C#; No.13 in A minor; No.14 in F minor; No.15 Rákóczy March, 1st version pubd. 1851, 2nd version pubd. 1871; No.16 in A minor, 1882; No.17 in D minor; No.18 in C#, 1885; No.19 in D minor, 1885).

PIANO TRANSCRIPTIONS: Liszt's transcr. of his own works are too numerous for listing here. A selective list follows of his transcr. of works by other composers (operatic transcr. are listed separately): J. S. BACH: Fantasia and Fugue in G minor (BWV 542) (1863); BEETHOVEN: Syms. Nos. 5, 6, and 7 (1837), remaining 6 (1863-4), Septet, Op.20 (1841); BERLIOZ: Symphonie fantastique (1833, finale rev. 1864-5), Harold en Italie (c.1836, rev. 1862), Danse des Sylphes (c.1860); CHOPIN: 6 Chants Polonais (1847-60); MENDELSSOHN: 7 Lieder (1840); PAGANINI: Grand Fantasia de bravoure sur La Clochette (on La Campanella from Violin Conc. in B minor, Op.7) (1831-2, rev. as No.3 of Études d'exécution transcendante d'après Paganini, 1838); ROSSINI: 12 Soirées Musicales (1837), Ov., William Tell (1838); SAINT-SAËNS: Danse macabre (1876); SCHUBERT: 12 Lieder (1837-8), Schwanengesang (1838-9), Winterreise (1839); SCHUMANN: Widmung (1848).

PIANO TRANSCRIPTIONS FROM OPERAS: BELLINI: Réminiscences des Puritains (1836), Hexaméron (vars. on march from I Puritani, collab. with Thalberg, Pixis, Herz, Czerny, Chopin) (1837), Fantaisie sur les motifs favoris de l'opéra La Sonnambula (1839, rev. 1840-1), Réminiscences de Norma (1841); DONIZETTI: Réminiscences de Lucia di Lammermoor (1835-6), Réminiscences de Lucrezia Borgia (1840); HALÉVY: Réminiscences de La Juive (1835); MEYERBEER: Grande Fantaisie sur des thèmes de l'opéra Les Huguenots (1836), Réminiscences de Robert le Diable (1841); MOZART: Réminiscences de Don Juan (1841); TCHAIKOVSKY: Eugene Onegin: Polonaise (1880); VERDI: Concert Paraphrase on Themes from Ernani (1847), Miserere du Trovatore (1859), Rigoletto: paraphrase de concert (1859), Don Carlos: Coro di festa e marcia funebre (1867-8), Réminiscences de Simon Boccanegra (1882); WAGNER: Phantasiestück on themes from Rienzi (1859), Ov. Tannhäuser (1848), 2 Pieces from Lohengrin (1854), Isoldes Liebestod (1867), Am stillen Herd from Die Meistersinger (1871), Feierlicher Marsch zum heiligen Gral, Parsifal (1882); WEBER: Fantasia on Themes from Der Freischütz (1840), Ov. Oberon (1843), Ov. Der Freischütz (1846).

ORGAN: Prelude and Fugue on the Name of Bach (1885, rev. 1870); Requiem (1879); At Richard Wagner's Grave (1883).

SONGS (selected list): Tre Sonetti di Petrarca (1838-9); Die Loreley (Heine) (1841); Mignons Lied (Goethe) (1842); Es war ein König in Thule (Goethe) (1842); Oh! quand je dors (Hugo) (1842); Du bist wie eine Blume (Heine) (c.1843); Jeanne d'Arc au bûcher (Dumas) (1845, arr. v. and orch. 1858, rev. 1874); En ces lieux (Monnier) (1854); Die drei Zigeuner (Lenau) (1860); Go not, happy day (Tennyson) (1879); Verlassen (Michell) (1880).


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Looted Art Seeks Owners in Jerusalem

Looking for Owners, the new exhibition at Jerusalem's Israel Museum, is like peering through painted windows of the past.

Museum director James Snyder in front Time Conquered by Cupid, Venus and Hope, by Simon Vouet
James Snyder says the exhibits have special significance to Israel
It is the first time that art looted in France by the Nazis and never re-claimed is on display in Israel.

James Snyder, the Director the Israel Museum, says hosting the exhibits in Israel, the Jewish state, has special significance.

"The state of Israel itself, in a way, grew from the ashes of the tragedy of WWII so it is very meaningful in a sentimental way and in an emotional way to have an exhibition on the subject of works taken during the War, here in Israel," he said.

Between 1933 and 1945, the Nazis looted, destroyed and hoarded art on a scale unprecedented in history.

The exhibition's catalogue shows black and white pictures of German warehouses packed full of paintings. There is even one of Hitler beaming as he receives a work of art on his birthday.

Hundreds of thousands of paintings were stolen by the Nazis from Jewish families and others. If you include furniture, sculptures and other artefacts, experts say the figure soars in to the millions.

Some items were destined to enrich the personal collections of prominent Nazis, others were swapped on the international art market for artefacts considered more "desirable" and less "degenerate" in the Third Reich. Some were simply sold to fill the coffers of Nazi Germany.

Famed artists

In France alone, an estimated 100,000 paintings were stolen. After the war, thousands were found stashed away in German salt mines, depots and private homes.

Isabelle le Masne de Charmont
We want to show the efforts made by France, even now, more than 60 years after the war, to find the rightful owners of the artwork
Exhibition curator Isabelle le Masne de Charmont
Most were returned to France and either reclaimed or auctioned but about 2,000 paintings remain unclaimed.

These include works worth millions of dollars by famed European artists such as Claude Monet, Eugene Delacroix and George Seurat.

The French curator of the exhibition, Isabelle le Masne de Charmont, says her government decided to assemble the works partly as a tribute to memory, but also to show the efforts made by France, even now, more than 60 years after the war, to find the rightful owners of the artwork.

The unclaimed works of art have also been archived online for the public to view, in an effort to help return more art.

Whether its paintings are Monets or minor works by unknown artists, this exhibition is about more than art.

It is about the history of those who stole it and the people the works were stolen from. For some of those visiting the Israel Museum, the paintings are a last tangible link to a family lost or a past destroyed.

Sense of loss

Holocaust survivor Norbert Seigal came from Tel Aviv to see the exhibition. It brought back a lot of memories, he told me.

Norbert Seigal inspects Woman in Turban (anonymous)
I didn't know what they were doing at the time but I know now they were looking for paintings
Norbert Seigal
"I was born in Tschernowitz, then part of Romania. It was known as a cultural city, full of painters. I was a little boy when the Nazis came in 1941 but I remember when German soldiers broke down the door of our house with guns and started looking at the walls.

"I didn't know what they were doing at the time but I know now they were looking for paintings. My parents and I stood there with our hands up, waiting for the end. But they didn't kill us, they sent us to a concentration camp instead."

Leah Oz-Ari said she grew up feeling the terrible losses caused by the Holocaust, even though she was born in Israel.

"I remember my mother crying a lot. She lost all her family. My father used to search the newspapers desperately for news, to know if any of his family had survived.

"It's so important to me to be able to come to this exhibition and see what people and countries have done to save these paintings. To me, it's more important than seeing the paintings themselves. It's very emotional."

There is an international effort under way to return art stolen by the Nazis. But many collectors died in concentration camps.

The paintings they left behind are a surviving testimony to the horrors of the Holocaust.

Today in History

Spotlight: Sky-watchers in South America, most of North America, and much of Western Europe, Africa and western Asia will be treated to a full lunar eclipse tonight. A lunar eclipse occurs at a time of a full moon, when the sun, earth and moon are lined up exactly, with the earth in the middle. The earth casts a shadow composed of two cone-shaped parts — the umbra and the penumbra, one inside the other. When the entire moon passes through the umbral shadow, a total lunar eclipse occurs. Tonight's eclipse will last about 3 1/2 hours; the total eclipse will start about 90 minutes into the event and last about 50 minutes.

Word of The Day

Electronic Wallet: Computer technology that stores a coded credit card number in the hard drive and permits purchases at web sites without reentering card information.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Soviet Prima Ballerina Dies at 66

Natalia Bessmertnova
Bessmertnova was a star of the Bolshoi's "golden age"

Russian prima ballerina Natalia Bessmertnova has died after a long illness at the age of 66, the Bolshoi Theatre announced in Moscow.

Bessmertnova became a Bolshoi star in the Soviet period in 1961, marrying artistic director, Yuri Grigorovich, and later teaching in retirement.

Her husband gave her lead roles in his own productions, such as Spartacus.

In 1995, she took part in a historic strike at the Bolshoi over changes which prompted Grigorovich to resign.

Their refusal to perform Romeo and Juliet resulted in the first cancellation in more than 200 years of the company's history.

Bessmertnova died at a Moscow hospital after suffering from an unspecified grave illness, Bolshoi spokeswoman Yekaterina Novikova said.

Bolshoi director Anatoly Iksanov reacted by calling her death a "huge loss for the Bolshoi Theatre and for our whole culture".

She had been "the pride and glory of the company to which she devoted her entire life", he added.

Despite the strike of 1995, she returned to the Bolshoi in 2001-03 to teach, according to the company's website.

She won many Soviet prizes for her dancing, and is especially remembered for the part of Giselle.

She is survived by her husband.

Nicolaus Copernicus, Astronomer

1473: Nicolaus Copernicus, astronomer, mathematician, church canon, governor, administrator, jurist, astrologer and doctor, was born on this day in 1473 in Poland, then Royal Prussia. He proposed a heliocentric theory of the solar system, meaning that the planets revolve around the Sun as the fixed point and that Earth is a planet which also turns once daily on its own axis. His discoveries completely overturned the traditional geocentric theory and is the fundamental starting point of modern astronomy. He published his theory in the book De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Bodies).