1001 Ways to Die – (2) Jacqueline Du Pre, Cellist

Δευτέρα, 31 Ιανουαρίου, 2011

Today I continue with the second part of the series, dedicated to the British cellist Jacqueline du Pre.

She was born in 1945 and considered one of the best cellists ever.

Her life was cust short by multiple sclerosis.

Jacqueline du Pre's Grave in the Golder's Green Jewish Cemetery, London

Jacqueline du Prι learned to play the cello from her mother Iris Greep, a piano teacher at the Royal Academy. Jacqueline was performing in BBC concerts when she was only twelve years old. Her recording with the London Symphony Orchestra of the Elgar Concerto in 1961 made her internationally famous. She played a Stradivarius from 1712 called «The Davidoff» that was given to her by an admirer. On 14 May 1965 she debuted in the United States by playing the Elgar Concerto at the Carnegie Hall in New York.

‘She was immediately acclaimed for her instinctive feeling for style and breadth of understanding as well as technical proficiency,» Noel Goodwin wrote in the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. When Mr. Rostropovich first heard her play, he remarked that he had found somebody to carry on his work.

Arthur Rubinstein, Itzak Perlman, Daniel Barenboim and Jacqueline du Pre.

During Christmas 1966 she met Daniel Barenboim and she converted to judaism and married him the next year. They worked together very succesfully, Barenboim accompanying her on piano or conducting the orchestra. Often compared with Robert and Clara Schumann, they were admired for their energy, musicality and youthful glamour.

Daniel Barenboim and Jacqueline du Pre.

Mr. Barenboim was once asked what it was like to accompany his wife. »Difficult,» he replied. »It doesn’t dawn on her sometimes that we mortals have difficulties in following her.» In the next few years, they performed throughout the world, both separately and as a duo.

The first signs of Miss du Pre’s illness appeared when she was 26 years old and at the height of her fame. »My hands no longer worked,» she recalled in 1978. »I simply couldn’t feel the strings.» She withdrew from concertizing for one year, then returned, to mixed reviews. The diagnosis of multiple sclerosis followed shortly, and Miss du Pre retired.

Throughout her illness, Miss du Pre remained sanguine about the future. »Nobody knows if I’ll ever regain mobility,» she said in 1978. »It could be that next week I’ll find myself walking down the road. I believe in realistic optimism but not wishful thinking.»

Jacqueline’s brother Piers and sisters Hilary wrote a book «A genious in the Family» which chronicles the life and career of their sister. The film «Hilary and Jackie» was based on the book. Both are considered controversial. Hilary claims that she consented to her husband Christopher Finzi having an affair with JAcqueline in the late stage of her illness in order to combfort her anxiety.

Daniel Barenboim and artists who knew them both bitterly and publicly confronted this version of events.  Hilary’s daughter with Christopher  also contradicts her mother saying her father was a violent sadist who had multiple affairs and abused Jacqueline while she was in a vulnerable, emotional state.

Jacqueline du Pre died in 1987.

Σημερα θελω να εκφρασω καποιες αποψεις και σκεψεις για το θεμα της εξ Ανατολης λαθρομεταναστευσης στην Ελλαδα. Αφορμη αποτελεσαν τα οσα εγιναν στη Νομικη Σχολη Αθηνων.

Ορισμος του προβληματος

Ο αριθμος των λαθρομεταναστων που εισερχονται στην Ελλαδα απο την Ανατολη ολο και μεγαλωνει.

Η Ελλαδα θεωρητικα αποτελει ενδιαμεσο σταθμο, ομως στην πραξη το 90% των οσων εισερχονται στην Ελλαδα, παραμενουν και δεν πανε πουθενα.

Οπως αναφερει ευστοχα ο Σταυρος Λυγερος, η Ελλαδα μετατρεπεται σε μια «χωματερη μεταναστων», κατι που βεβαια βολευει τις αλλες Ευρωπαϊκες χωρες, αλλα αποτελει καταστροφη για την Ελλαδα.

Στη συντριπτικη τους πλειοψηφια ολοι αυτοι οι λαθρομεταναστες ειναι μωαμεθανοι.

Το φαινομενο οφειλεται στην ανισοτητα που υπαρχει αναμεσα στον υποαναπτυκτο και τον ανεπτυγμενο κοσμο. Ειναι τετοιες οι διαφορες, που δεν υπαρχει περιπτωση να σταματησει.

Οι συνεπειες ολων αυτων στην Ελλαδα ειναι συντριπτικες. Οι λαθρομεταναστες αργα η γρηγορα καταληγουν στην Αθηνα, και δη στην περιοχη του ιστορικου κεντρου. Επειδη δεν υπαρχουν πια δουλειες, καταληγουν στο εγκλημα μικρο η μεγαλο. Οι πιεσεις που δημιουργουνται στους κατοικους των περιοχων ειναι τεραστιες. Πρακτικα μιλαμε για πολλαπλες πυριτιδαποθηκες στην Αθηνα, που ειναι ετοιμες να εκραγουν.

Το φαινομενο της μεταναστευσης εξ ανατολων εχει ορισμενα διακριτικα χαρακτηριστικα που πρεπει να υπενθυμισω. Οι μωαμεθανοι μεταναστες δεν αφομοιωνονται  απο την κοινωνια. Σε αντιθεση με τους μεταναστες που ηρθαν στην Ελλαδα την δεκαετια του 1990 απο την πρωην Ανατολικη Ευρωπη, που δουλεψαν και ενσωματωθηκαν σχεδον πληρως στην ελληνικη κοινωνια. Οι αριθμοι ειναι απειλητικοι. Συμφωνα με συντηρητικες εκτιμησεις, σημερα στην Αθηνα  υπαρχουν περισσοτεροι απο 120,000 μουσουλμανοι που σε πεντε χρονια θα εχουν ξεπερασει το μισο εκατομμυριο.

Τα προσφατα γεγονοτα

Τα προσσφατα γεγονοτα στη Νομικη ειναι κωμικοτραγικα. Η Ελλαδα φανηκε για μια ακομη φορα να ειναι φυλλο φτερο στον ανεμο, ανημποτη και ανυπερασπιστη μπροστα στα γεγονοτα.  Με τη βοηθεια καποιων (δεν εχει σημασια ποιων) 250 λαθρομεταναστες κατελαβαν ενα μερος της Νομικης, απαιτωντας νομιμοποιηση της παραμονης τους στην Ελλαδα.

Το θεμα εγινε και και θεμα Πανεπιστημιακου Ασυλου, Ρατσισμου και Αντιρατσισμου.

Ενδεικτικα αναφερω τα ακολουθα γραφικα:

Ο κ. Αλαβανος εδηλωσε:  «οποιος ειναι κατα του ασυλου δεν ειναι ελληνας».

Ο ΛΑΟΣ εδηλωσε δυσφορια που δεν μπορεσε να φιλοξενησει τους μεταναστες σε σουιτες ξενοδοχειων.

Τελικα μετα απο ενα κρυφτουλι οι Πρυτανικες Αρχες εζητησαν την αρση του Ασυλου, εγιναν διαπραγματευσεις με τους μεταναστες, και αυτοι μεταφερθηκαν σε κτηρια που ενοικιασε η Νομικη Σχολη(!)

Οπως ειναι φυσικο, το τι λεχθηκε και το τι ακουστηκε αυτες τις ημερες ειναι περισσοτερο συναισθηματικες αερολογιες η φτηνα πολιτικαντικα συνθηματα (δυστυχως ο κ. Αλαβανος κανει πλεον παρεα με το ΛΑΟΣ) η γενικολογιες ανθρωπιστικου περιεχομενου. Επι της ουσιας σχεδον μηδεν.

Η Ουσια

Η Ελλαδα δεν πρεπει να συνεχισει να ειναι ξεφραγο αμπελι.

Οσο και αν συγκινει η ανθρωπιστικη πλευρα της ταλαιπωριας των μεταναστων, δεν αποτελει λυση η νομιμοποιηση τους στην Ελλαδα, αφου η οικονομια δεν μπορει να τους απορροφησει πια. Ολοι αυτοι πρεπει να απελαθουν, οσο γρηγορωτερα τοσο το καλυτερο. Η δε δεδηλωμενη και προφανης πολιτιστικη τους γκετοποιηση και αδυναμια ενσωματωσης επιδεινωνει τη συνολικη κατασταση και δημιουργει συνθηκες εκρηκτικες στις γειτονιες της Αθηνας.

Η συνεχιζομενη διογκωση του μεταναστευτικου κυματος προς την Ελλαδα παιζει πλεον ρολο απορρυθμισης και αποσταθεροποιησης της Ελλαδας, κατι που ειναι ιδιαιτερα θετικο για την Τουρκια, η οποια με την απαραδεκτη σταση που κρατει ουσιαστικα υποστηριζει την παρανομη μεταναστευση, αφου δεν δεχεται να επιστρεψουν οι λαθρομεταναστες στην Τουρκια (πανω απο το 80% εισερχονται στην Ελλαδα μεσω Τουρκιας).

Η Ευρωπαϊκη Ενωση σφυριζει αδιαφορα και αφηνει την Ελλαδα στην καταστροφικη αυτη πορεια χωρις καμμια ουσιαστικη βοηθεια. Ειναι σκανδαλωδες να διδονται τεραστιες επιχορηγησεις σε χωρες οπως η Δανια (!) για να αντιμετωπισει το μεταναστευτικο, και να μη διδονται υπερπολλαπλασιες βοθηθειες στην Ελλαδα.

Η αμεση ληψη μετρων ειναι απαραιτητη με στοχο την σημαντικη μειωση του ρυθμου εισοδου λαρομεταναστων στη χωρα. Ο τοιχος του κ. Παπουτση δεν ειναι ιδεωδης λυση, ειναι ομως ενα βημα προς την κατευθυνση αυτη. Οσοι διαμαρτυρονται ας μας πουνε ποσο θα τους αρεσε να αναλαβουν να «φιλοξενησουν» στο σπιτι τους μια οικογενεια λαθρομεταναστων.  Η «εκ τους ασφαλους» διακηρυξη περι ανθρωπιστικων δικαιωματων μεριδας της αριστερας αποτελει υποκριτικη και  ανευθυνη πρακτικη, επειδη «δηθεν» προασπιζει τα διακιωματα των μεταναστων, και ετσι μετατρεπει ενα ζητημα γεωπολιτικης και κοινωνικης ισσοροπιας σε σαπουνοπερα ανθρωπιστικου περιεχομενου.

Απαιτουνται σε κρατικο επιπεδο πολλα μετρα – πρωτοβουλιες και αμεσα, οπως:

1. Ενισχυση απο την Ευρωπαϊκη Ενωση.  Αναδειξη του θεματος ως θεματος της Ευρωπαϊκης Ενωσης και οχι απλα της Ελλαδος. Κλιμακωση στα Ηνωμενα Εθνη και το Συμβουλιο Ασφαλειας. Επειδη το θεμα τορπιλλιζει την εθνικη ασφαλεια της Ελλαδος.

2. Διαπραγματευση με την Τουρια για την επιστροφη των λαθρομεταναστων στην Τουρκια αμεσως μετα την συλληψη τους. Το προβλημα εδω δεν ειναι η αποδοχη τους απο την Τουρκια. Η αποδοχη αυτη θα πρεπει να προστεθει ως ορος για την συνεχιση των διαπραγματευσεων της εισοδου της Τουρκιας στην Ευρωπαϊκη Ενωση.

3. Ενισχυση ολων των συνοριακων μετρων προς αποθαρρυνση της εισοδου στην Ελλαδα.

Παραλληλα, σε προσωπικο επιπεδο, ο καθενας μας θα πρεπει να ενισχυσει καθε μετρο και πρωτοβουλια ενσωματωσης των ηδη υπαρχοντων μεταναστων στην κοινωνια, οσο και αν αυτο ακουγεται δυσκολο, και ειναι δυσκολο. Στο σημειο αυτο δεν πρεπει να ξεχναμε οτι οι κατοικοι των «δυσκολων» περιοχων χρειαζονται και αυτη οση ενισχυση χρειαζονται και οι λαθρομεταναστες, αντι να αντιμετωπιζουν την εχθροτητα και την λοιδωρια των «αριστερων» τυπου ΣΥΡΙΖΑ.

1001 Ways to Die – (1) Fritz Wunderlich, Tenor

Σάββατο, 22 Ιανουαρίου, 2011

Today I embark on a sequence of posts, under the title «1001 ways to die». The inspiration for this came to me back in 1980 when I was a graduate student in the USA. The vastness of the country, the incredible gap between the avarage person and the ultra high net worth individuals, among other things, led me one night to declare among my fellow students that at some stage of my life I will compile this as a study of human affairs during a life long journey.

On January 2011, 31 years laters, I am embarking on it, starting with Fritz Wunderlich, a German Tenor who died accidentally in 1966 before arriving at t the peak of his career.

He fell from a stairway onto the stone floor below in a friend’s country house in Oberderdingen near Maulbronn. He died in the University Clinic of Heidelberg just days before his 36th birthday. In the documentary that I have appended at the end of the post, his wife mentioned that Wunderlich was on the phone prior to descending the stairs, and while talking on the phone, he untied his boots. As he started the descend, he got tangled up, and fell on the stone ground.

Herman Prey, a contemporary German baritone, who had become a friend with Wunderlich and sang together since 1959, wrote in his diary after the tenor’s death in 1966:

«My friend Fritz is dead. This simple sentence becomes more incomprehensible to me with every day. Our friendly and artistic collaboration developed into something very rare in the last few years. We shared many amusing adventures and spent many contemplative hours together. He could discuss life’s problems and musical issues for nights on end. The most beautiful hours of my career were those spent together with him on the stage or in front of a microphone. We never discussed phrasing in advance or how we would colour certain passages – the sympathy was simply there. We used to play piano duets for hours, or roamed the forests making plans for the future.

When we first mounted the stage together during the «Schweigsame Frau» rehearsals at Salzburg in 1959, we knew that our paths would converge then on. In those brief years we learned how to complement one another. He knew a tremendous amount about singing. I learned a lot from him. With his immense natural musical talent, this son of the gods was still at the beginning of a meteoric career. What might he not have achieved, given the time? At Schubert’s graveside Grillparzer said: «Here Death buried a rich treasure, and even richer promise.» How this statement applies to Fritz too! When we were last together he told me: «The best years are yet to come; a singer only gains command over tears at forty.» He did not know that he already had it.

Wunderlich sings Schubert, Strauss and Wolf (1965)

Our dreams were truly boundless. We wanted to become the heavenly twins of song. Fate decided otherwise, decreeing that I be left alone, a deserted twin. We virtually improvised this record, our last one, together with Fritz Neumeyer and his musicians. Listening to it today, there are points at which I cannot really tell who is singing what. Our voices melted together to form one. The world is mourning for a gifted singer of his generation. I mourn for a friend and brother in song the likes of whom I will never find again.»


In addition to listening to his divine voice, in what ever he has recorded, I strongly recommend to those of you who can understand German, to view the wonderful documentary of «arte». It comes in 7 pieces. Every minute is worth it!

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Today’s post is about a song, written by the contemporary German composer Hans Werner Henze, to words of a poem by Michalis Katsaros. The translation of the poem from the Greek to the German language was done by the German poet Hans Magnus Enzensberger.

Hans Werner Henze

I was lucky to meet the Maestro in London in 1996, in one of his lectures before the opening of the performance of his opera «Der junge Lord». I had no idea at that time that he had composed a song using a poem by Katsaros. I found out when I bought «Voices» a compilation of twenty one songs he has wrtiten over the years.

Michalis Katsaros

An End

An end to the newsreels

An end to private housing

An end to the Te Deums

after the spent revolts

An end to all those

who define new directions

for our time

An end to genuine meetings

at ambassadorial level

An end to all those who pretend

to be our friends

An end to interpreters

An end to the public

and above all to me

who is telling you all this

When we have put an end to all that

we can begin

the Liberation

Hans Magnus Enzensberger

The interpeter of the poem in German, Hans Magnus Enzensberger, is one of the major living writers of Germany.

And now the song, sung by Joachim Vogt, tenor, and musicians of the Leipzig Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Horst Neumann.

10 Schluß

Abyss – The Loss of the Face

Σάββατο, 15 Ιανουαρίου, 2011

Edward Munch - The Kiss of Death

«If you stare long enough into the abyss, the abyss will stare back at you»

Friedrich Nietzsche

Frank Auerbach - R.B. Kitaj

…the face is being absorbed into abstract space

Frank Auerbach - Helen Gillespie

…the abyss is swallowing the face

Max Beckmann - Stepping back from the Abyss

…a temporary regression, escape from the absolute emptiness

Francis Bacon - Head IV

…ascending screaming into black hell

Leon Kossof - Portrait of Phillip

….turning into mud

Klee - Embrace

… the embrace is another way out

Edward Munch - Death and Love

… but it could be the wrong one

Today’s dish is simple, light, with delicate flavors of the earth and the sea.

I got a very fresh sea bass and filleted it. The flesh was firm and the smell wonderful! Such a good piece of fish should not be cooked at all! I submerged it for a couple of hours in cold water with the juice of one lemon and a bit of coarse salt, while I was preparing the accompanying ingredient of the dish: a puree of split yellow peas.

As always, I use yellow split peas  («fava» in Greek) from the island of Santorini (Thira) whose volcanic soil produces the best «fava» in Greece. Once the puree is ready, I add lemon juice, finely chopped dry onions, coriander, olive oil, salt and pepper.

I slice the sea bass fillet, and place on top of the puree with fresh coriander.

Enjoy with a glass of asyrtico white from Santorini, and please tell me what you make of this divine dish!

The itinerant John the Baptist has baptized Christ. In the Gospels, John announces the coming of Jesus and is therefore considered the «forerunner». He died a cruel death by beheading. One of the variants of the story is that his death was the result of the wish of Herod’s stepdaughter, Salome.

There have been many renderings of the beheading of St John the Baptist by Salome.

In my view the best is the interpretation by the sublime brush of Caravaggio.

Salome looks away, although she is carrying the tray with the motionless head. The sword-man contemplates the fate of humans, while the servant observes in silence. This is a silent motionless picture full of tension.

There have also been a few «staged» photos. Frantisek Dritkol’s black and white photo shows an ecstatic Salome, delirious with joy, holding the head to her chest.

Finally, in prints Aubrey Beardsley’s depiction is minimal, but in my view highly effective.

Umayyad Mosque in Damascus Syria, built on the Christian Basilica dedicated to St John the Baptist, is one of the places claiming to have St John’s head.

Umayyad Mosque: St John's Shrine

The mosque holds a shrine which still today may contain the head of John the Baptist(Yahya), honored as a prophet by both Christians and Muslims alike. (Source wikipedia).

There is no better end to such a quick tour of the macabre end to the story, than Salome’s dance as interpreted by Karita Mattila. to the music of Richard Strauss’s opera «Salome».

The opera is based on a the Oscar Wilde’s play «Salome».

«In Salome, Oscar Wilde expresses a dangerous relationship between sight and sexual desire that leads to death.  The play depicts a night in a royal court on which Herod, the Tetrarch of Judea, and his wife, Herodias, hold a dinner party for some Jewish officials.  Herodias’s daughter Salome leaves the party and occupies the terrace, where she attracts the gaze of other male characters, while she herself becomes attracted to the prophet, Iokanaan.  Her carnal desire for Iokanaan leads to his beheading, an act that brings her sexual gratification and leads her to kiss the lips of his severed head.  Similarly, Herod comes to desire his step-daughter Salome, and, after persuading her to dance a highly sexualized dance, he is disgusted when she kisses Iokanaan’s lips and orders his soldiers to kill her.»

More on the play in the excellent article by Leland Tabares, which is the source of the above summary.

Birgit Nilsson as Salome

“A scherzo with a fatal conclusion” was Richard Strauss’ own tongue-in-cheek description of Salome. Upon hearing the freshly composed score played at the keyboard, his father—a famous musician himself—declared that it conjured the feeling of countless bugs crawling inside his pants. (From Washington National Opera’s feature article on Salome).