Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Woolworth Building (1913)

"In 1913, Woolworth laid out 270 million nickels for a New York City headquarters that would serve as a "giant signboard to advertise around the world a spreading chain" of stores. Gilbert's solution—a marriage of 15th-century Gothic and 20th-century verticality—so delighted the discount king that he stamped its image on Woolworth products. His successors held court in the 24th-floor Empire Room, furnished with Napoleonic treasures hauled back from Europe, before the last five-and-dime closed in 1998—a decade after Woolworth lost its spot on the Dow Jones index to Wal-Mart."

Pinnacles of Power: Photo Essay -- Trophy buildings rise at the peak of a company's influence. They survive as monuments to greatness past. August 31, 2005.

Photo credit: Andrew Moore

How Are We To Think About Religion And Economics In Our Modern World?

"I know how close it was to the heart of my great predecessor, the servant of God John Paul II, that this act of historical justice take place and that Europe be able to breathe with two lungs - one western and one eastern," Pope Benedict XVI said [today]."


"Poland's transition to democracy and a free market have left the country with a fast-growing economy, but one that so far has not rewarded everyone. The jobless rate is 18 percent and annual income averages only $9,330. "The revolution has eaten its own children," said protester Edward Roeding."

Monika Scislowska "World Leaders Laud Solidarity Movement" AP via August 31, 2005

Black Madonna, Czestochowa, Poland.

In 1717, the papal nuncio to Poland crowned the Holy Mother of Czestochowa "Queen of Poland". This act of bonding a central Christian symbol with the Polish people symbolically counteracted the famous `Silent Sejm [Parliment]' of that same year, which effectively surrendered the country to Russian political control.

See also Henryck Gorecki's Symphony of Sorrowful Songs (Symphony #3)[1976], the best-selling classical composition of the past 30 years -- the first movement of which sets a Polish Marian text. (The second movement sets a short graffito carved on a Nazi Gestapo prison wall by a Polish female teenage resistance fighter, while the third movement sets a Polish anti-war folk song.)

Gdansk Poland Shipyard 1980

Photo credit: UNESCO

Of Windmills, Lighthouses, and Sea Walls

"As U.S. military engineers struggled to shore up breached levees, experts in the Netherlands expressed surprise that New Orleans' flood systems failed to restrain the raging waters.

With half of the country's population of 16 million living below sea level, the Netherlands prepared for a ''perfect storm'' soon after floods in 1953 killed 2,000 people. The nation installed massive hydraulic sea walls.

''I don't want to sound overly critical, but it's hard to imagine that (the damage caused by Katrina) could happen in a Western country,'' said Ted Sluijter, spokesman for the park where the sea walls are exhibited. ''It seemed like plans for protection and evacuation weren't really in place, and once it happened, the coordination was on loose hinges.''

The sympathy was muted in some corners by a sense that the United States reaped what it sowed, since the country is seen as the main contributor to global warming."

"Katrina Prompts Global Support for Victims" Associated Press via August 31, 2005

The Death of the Seventh Imam Ceremony

"The Shiite Muslim ceremony that pilgrims were marking Wednesday when the Baghdad bridge disaster occurred commemorates the death of the seventh imam, one of 12 imams revered in the Shiite branch of Islam.

That imam, Imam Moussa ibn Jaafar al-Kadhim, died in the year 799.

Each year, on the date on the Islamic calendar that marks his death, devout Shiites gather at the site of a mosque in the northern Baghdad neighborhood of Kazimiyah that is believed to sit atop his tomb.

Dressed in black, the pilgrims walk in groups to the shrine, flogging themselves with iron chains and slicing their foreheads with swords. The self-flagellation slowly turns their cloaks red with blood in a ritual of grief that was banned under ousted dictator Saddam Hussein.

Most shops are closed and pilgrims who travel from around the country to attend the ceremony often sleep on carpets laid out in the streets. They cook camels, cows and sheep in enormous pots shared by neighbors and visitors."

"Description of Shiite Ceremony in Iraq" Associated Press via August 31, 2005

Photo credit: Harvard University

In Memorium: North Baghdad, Iraq 8/31

"More than 600 people were killed and hundreds injured this morning when rumors of a suicide bomber led to a stampede in a vast procession of Shiite pilgrims as they crossed a bridge on their way to a shrine in northern Baghdad."

Robert F. Worth At Least 600 Shiite Pilgrims Killed in Panic on Tigris Bridge New York Times August 31, 2005

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

In Memorium: Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama 8/29

The Idea of the Jihad in Islam Before the Crusades

"The gradual emergence of normative jihad theory must also be seen as a function of the adjustment of the early Islamic world to an apocalypse that never conclusively happened. Roman and Sassanian traditions of war already had established the idea of victory as divine confirmation; and, given the apocalyptic atmosphere that pervades much of the Qur'an, the early Islamic conquests seemed confirmation that Islam was destined to create a universal state. Yet Constantinople and a significant part of the Byzantine Empire remained unconquerable.... By the long reign of the Umayyad Califph Hisham (105/724 - 125/743), Muslim armies suffered setbacks in Western Europe and Central Asia as well as on the Byzantine frontier."

Roy Parviz Mottanhedeh and Ridwan al-Sayyid "The Idea of the Jihad in Islam Before the Crusades" in The Crusades from the Perspective of Byzantium and the Muslim World, edited by Angeliki Laiou and Roy Parviz Mottahedh and published by Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection Washington, D.C. 2001

Great Mosque at Kairouan (modern Tunisia), built in 800 CE.

Почаевский монастырь (Pochayiv Monastery)

Почаевский монастырь, Украина (Pochayiv Monastery, Ukraine). Site of a notorious Stalinist prison during the post World War II period. Today, one of the two most sacred Orthodox shrines in all of Ukraine. While welcoming religious pilgrims from throughout the Slavonic world, the Monastery remains deeply suspicious of cultural tourism from the "developed" Western world. There is no information in the Monastery's large bookstore in any languages other than Ukrainian, Russian, and Greek.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Happy 1000th Anniversary to Kazan, Tatarstan!

KAZAN, Russia (AP) - Tens of thousands of Tatars, Russians and others packed the main square in Kazan on Friday for a gala concert to celebrate the millennial anniversary of the Volga River city, which President Vladimir Putin cast as a model of multiethnic coexistence.

With the majestic Qol Sharif mosque bathed in changing hues and choreographed spotlights raking the night skies, Russian pop stars and other musicians serenaded the crowds with pulsing dance music. A fireworks finale was to cap the night.

Blocks away, the music was opera arias and highlights from famous ballets, as more formal dignitaries and officials from the largely Muslim Tatarstan region and elsewhere marked the 1000th birthday.

The concerts were part of the culmination of events surrounding the festivities in Tatarstan's capital, located about 450 miles east of Moscow.

Mike Eckel Kazan Celebrates 1000th Anniversary Guardian Unlimited August 27, 2005

Suyumbike Tower and domes of the Cathedral of the Annunciation of the Kazan Kremlin.

Interior of the Church of Three Anastasiyas

Interior of the Church of Three Anastasiyas, Hlukhiv, Ukraine (Birthplace of composer Dmitri Bortniansky, a Mozart contemporary.)

Mostly Mozart and Bortniansky

"Exploring the connection between Mozart and Russia is a dubious proposition, because there was none. Not only did Mozart never visit the place, he knew next to nothing about it. But his music was embraced there, thanks in part to the Ukrainian composer Dmitri Bortniansky, a Mozart contemporary who was steeped in Italian music, studied opera in Italy and introduced works like Mozart's Requiem to the imperial court in St. Petersburg.

It was a musically rewarding idea to pair a performance of Bortniansky's inventive and urgent a cappella Te Deum with Mozart's Mass in C minor. To sing the Russian Orthodox work the festival had utterly authoritative interpreters in the Patriarchate Choir of Moscow, an all-male ensemble of 12, conducted by Anatoly Grindenko. And as long as this renowned Russian choir was on hand, why not have them do what they do best? So they preceded the Bortniansky work with a half-hour of Russian sacred music mostly from the 16th and 17th centuries."

Anthony Tommasini A Moscow Choir Fills In for Mozart's Ignorance of Russia New York Times August 29, 2005.

Slavonic Orthodox Cathedral (18th c.) Chernigiv, Ukraine


There are monuments to Dmitri Bortniansky in his hometown of Hlukhiv, Ukraine, and at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, in New York City, where he stands among the twelve composers who contributed most to the development of religious music.

Obituary: Brother Roger

"Establishing a monastic order is always a struggle, not least in the 20th century, and in wartime [1940], and for a Protestant pastor's son whose knowledge of the subject had been gained from his theology studies in Lausanne. He meant, at first, to be a writer. But his father's mysticism infected him; he decided on the religious life, and burned his first published book in the fireplace of the broken-down house he bought in Taizé.

In its first years, the house was mostly a hostel where Jewish refugees were offered soup and a bed on their way through to safety. Brother Roger, a classically trained musician brought up in a household of singing and piano-playing, wanted music at its centre, but not yet. Out of respect for his guests, he would go away and sing Divine Office in the woods, restoring sacred music to the landscape again." ...

Obituary: Brother Roger The Economist August 25, 2005

Benedictine Abbey of Cluny
(1089 - 1131)
South transept vault

Photo credit: Chris Henige, Art Historian.

The Monastery of St. Nil' on Stolobnyi Island (View from the Solarium, 1910)

"The Monastery of St. Nil' on Stolobnyi Island in Lake Seliger in Tver' Province, northwest of Moscow, illustrates the fate of church institutions during the course of Russian history. St. Nil (d. 1554) established a small monastic settlement on the island around 1528. In the early 1600s his disciples built what was to become one of the largest, wealthiest, monasteries in the Russian Empire. The monastery was closed by the Soviet regime in 1927, and the structure was used for various secular purposes, including a concentration camp and orphanage. In 1990 the property was returned to the Russian Orthodox Church and is now a functioning monastic community once more."

Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii.
View of the Monastery from the Solarium, 1910.
Digital color rendering.
Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress
(LC-DIG-ppmsc-03973) (44)
(Please see technical note below.)

Church of St. Dmitrii, Vladimir, Central European Russia

"The Church of St. Dmitrii, built in the 1190s in the town of Vladimir, east of Moscow in central European Russia, illustrates the verticality common to early Russian church architecture. This church served as the model for the Cathedral of St. Nicholas of the Orthodox Church of America on Massachusetts Avenue, in Washington, D.C."

Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii.
Dmitrievskii Church, 1911.
Digital color rendering.
Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress
(LC-DIG-ppmsc-03987) (45)

Friday, August 26, 2005

Pinkhus Karlinskii, Supervisor of the Chernigiv Floodgate

“Pinkhus Karlinskii. Eighty-four years [old].”
Experimentally colorized version of a photographic plate by Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii, 1863-1944.

Please see collection and technical note
Making Color Images from Prokudin-Gorskii's Negatives

Photo credits:
Corresponding photographic print is in album: Views along the Mariinskii Canal and river system, Russian Empire, LOT 10332-A, no. 26.
Digital color composite made for the Library by Blaise Agüera y Arcas, 2004.
Digital color rendering, with hand editing, made by WalterStudio, 2000-2001.
Forms part of: Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii Collection (Library of Congress).
LOT 10332-A, no. 26

A Library and Museum in Chernigiv

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Chernigiv, Ukraine

Chernigiv, Ukraine. Site of one of the finest ensembles of historic Slavonic Church monuments. North of Kyiv and east of the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone, Chernigiv is deserving, in my opinion, of placement on the UNESCO World Heritage Site List.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

R. Murray Schafer's The Enchanted Forest

"R. Murray Schafer's outdoor extravaganza The Enchanted Forest, opening its third production (since 1994) tonight at a new venue -- the Haliburton Forest and Wildlife Reserve, near Ontario's Algonquin Park -- has been in intensive rehearsal for some weeks, with Schafer constantly at the site, deeply and personally involved in every aspect of the production.... The work follows the search for an abducted child by her companions and their encounters with a White Stag, a Wolf, a Marshhawk, a Shapeshifter and other forest denizens and deities on 12 different stages in the forest, the audience migrating through the trees from one to another....

"I was a choir boy myself [Schafer notes]. I know voices and choirs and how to write for them. I'm very fond of these pieces and of the string quartets.... You have a sense of your own value, and you hope your works will survive. But as I age what I would rather do is keep my 'inspiration' to the end, my ability to conceive things. Performances, recordings, a place in the permanent repertoire are desirable, of course, but for me, they slope away from the central thrill of conception."

Schafer's remarkable conceptions have never lacked for audiences. Big North American opera houses would do themselves some lively good if they would bear this in mind and invite Schafer back indoors to push the envelope of opera in our time the way Wagner and Verdi did in theirs. He is certainly the one who could do it."

Ken Winters "Grab your boots and baton" The August 24, 2005 via

"A fine example of eighteenth-century Russian Classicism, the Semenovskoe-Otrada Palace is probably one the largest non-royal residences in Russia and is certainly the largest in the Moscow region. The estate was founded by the brother of Count Grigory Grigorievich Orlov (1734–1783), the famous co-conspirator of Catherine the Great who helped her seize the throne of the Russian Empire. The palace interior was painted in the 1830s by renowned Russian artist Karl Brullov. Édouard André, one of the best-known French landscaper architects of the late-nineteenth century, designed the palace park. The estate mausoleum in which the Orlov brothers are buried was built in late Empire style by the Italian architect Zhilardi. The estate was almost completely restored at the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union but has since fallen into dereliction and is continually attacked by vandals and looters."

Photo and text credit: World Monuments Fund, New York City.

In Memorium, Brock Peters

Gregory Peck and Brock Peters in "To Kill a Mockingbird" (1962).

Also a star in the Otto Preminger film versions of "Carmen Jones" (1954) and the Gershwins's "Porgy and Bess" (1959); and the lead in the Broadway musical revival of Kurt Weill's "Lost in the Stars" (1972) and the later movie version.

Photo credit: Universal Pictures, via Reuters and

Oradea Fortress, Oradea Romania

Oradea Fortress, Oradea Romania. "Founded in the eleventh century when a Romanesque cathedral with defensive walls was built on the site for King Ladislaus (r. 1040–1095), who was responsible for Christianizing Transylvania. A monastery and bishop’s palace were added later, and the cathedral was renovated in the Gothic style in the mid-fourteenth century. Italian architects designed the existing pentagonal fortification walls that replaced the original earthen fortifications. The cathedral withstood centuries of war as the area was ruled by successive regimes of Hungarians, Turks, Austrians, and Romanians but was demolished in 1618 when the Royal(Princely) Palace, designed by Italian architect Giaccomo Resti, replaced it. The new royal residence included a church, warehouses, and stables. Stones carved in Gothic style inside the palace reflect the influence of the original cathedral. The headquarters for the state and secret police under the socialists, today the fortress is owned by the city of Oradea and is used for ecclesiastical, administrative, and educational purposes. The University of Oradea Department of Visual Arts occupies one wing of the palace."

Oradea is my favorite city in Romania.

Photo and text credit: World Monuments Fund, New York City.

Cultural Palaces Trying to Grow Culture, Mideast Edition

"On Sunday, when Daniel Barenboim, the great Israeli conductor, brought his youth orchestra of young Israelis and Arabs into Ramallah, it captured the imagination of the world. In a week that had seen the occupied territories once again hitting global headlines, as 8,000 Jewish settlers finally withdrew from appropriated land in the Gaza strip, the arrival in the West Bank city of an orchestra that was founded to promote the principles of peace and reconciliation seemed to offer some faint hope of normality and harmony. The town's "cultural palace", built last year, was full to bursting, its capacity of 800 boosted by at least another 300 people sitting in the aisles and standing at the back of the hall, and the concert was broadcast live on television in Israel and through much of Europe. But, as the final notes of Nimrod from Elgar's Enigma Variations faded away, what was left in Palestine? What of the artists who are building, brick by painful brick, some semblance of a cultural life under, by any standards, the most difficult of circumstances? ...

As with everything in the occupied territories, politics are only a breath away, even when the talk is of Mozart and Tchaikovsky. For Rima Tarazi [a composer and chairperson of the Palestine National Music Conservatory], the very act of reaching for a violin and starting to play is itself an act of resistance and dignity, and an attempt to forge (or reignite) a national culture and identity. With music, she says, "We are not only resisting occupation but trying to educate a young generation to stand up to the challenges of being a nation."

Charlotte Higgins "The Key to Peace" The Guardian Unlimited August 24, 2005

Subotica Synagogue. Subotica, Serbia-Montenegro. Marcel Komor and Deszo Jakab, Architects (Budapest) 1902.

One of World Monuments Watch's 100 Most Endangered Sites 2006 which was featured nationally on MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour August 23, 2005.

Photo credit: World Monuments Fund, New York City.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Coronation, 1984

Oleg Kudryashov, Coronation, 1984.
72 x 144 inches (4 panels 72 x 36 inches each)
Currently on long-term loan to the World Bank, Washington, D.C.

Photo credit: Courtesy Robert Brown Gallery, Washington, D.C.

A City Within A City In Erbil, Iraq

ERBIL, Iraq - "If a neighborhood is defined as a place where human beings move in and never leave, then the world's oldest could be here at the Citadel, an ancient and teeming city within a city girded by stone walls.

Resting on a layer cake of civilizations that have come and gone for an estimated 7,000 to 10,000 years, the Citadel looms over the apartment blocks of this otherwise rather gray metropolis in Iraqi Kurdistan.

The settlement rivals Jericho and a handful of other famous towns for the title of the oldest continuously inhabited site in the world. The difference is that few people have heard of the Citadel outside Iraq."

James Glanz "Under the Old Neighborhood: In Iraq, an Archaeologist's Paradise" New York Times (Science) August 23, 2005

Please see the article's photo gallery.

The Citadel, Erbil, Iraq

Photo credit: Georg Gensler (1973)/Photo Researchers, Inc via

Monday, August 22, 2005

Too much of the American urban landscape already looks like it was designed while blindfold and drunk

"In tandem with the gentrification of the hilly residential areas to the north [in Central Los Angeles], two areas in particular are drawing cultural tourists and new residents. Bunker Hill tops the bill, crowned by the gleaming stainless steel sails of Frank Gehry's Walt Disney Concert Hall - slightly less gleaming since they were sanded after local residents complained of the glare. His first large-scale work in his home city, it is said to be all the better for having come after the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao.

Other major works are being built in the wake of the concert hall. Rafael Moneo recently completed the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, built of earth-coloured concrete and alabaster for America's largest Roman Catholic congregation.

Further east towards Chinatown - itself burgeoning with new art galleries - a site is being levelled for a new school of the performing arts by the radical Austrian firm Coop Himmelblau, who reject the functionalist approach to architecture in favour of a more spontaneous design process, finding building forms in sketches they make while blindfold and drunk."

"Things are looking up, downtown" August 22, 2005

Music Center at Strathmore, Maryland (A new home of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra). Boston’s William Rawn Associates Architects, with acoustician R. Lawrence Kirkegaard & Associates of Chicago.

Photo credit: AIA

In Memorium, Robert A. Moog

"A deliberate man with brushed-back white hair and a breast pocket packed with pens, Moog drove an aging Toyota painted with a snail, vines and a fish blowing bubbles."

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Saint Nicholas and His Life

Saint Nicholas and his Life, Horlytsi (presently Gorlice, in the Southeastern Polish Carpathian Mountains), ca.1475
National Museum of Ukrainian Art - Lviv

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

On the Subject of Anti-Semitism in Orthodox Icons of the Dormition of the Virgin

"According to some ancient traditions, the mother of Jesus "fell asleep in the Lord" around the year 48 C.E. and was buried near the Garden of Gethsemane. As Christian theology developed, Jesus’ mother came to be regarded with great reverence, and we know that by 450 there was a church built over the traditional gravesite. By the sixth century, the Feast of the Dormition (the "falling asleep" or koimesis) was established as one of the major festivals of the Church, and legends about the death of Mary were recorded: it was believed that the apostles, scattered throughout the world to spread the gospel, were miraculously gathered at her bedside, and because of her privileged position as the mother of Christ, she was said to have been assumed bodily into heaven in a manner similar to the Old Testament figures Enoch and Elijah.

Icons thus depict her death or funeral with the apostles gathered round the bier, with Christ above her holding her soul (shown as a child wrapped in swaddling clothes), angels, and sometimes at the top we see Mary enthroned in heaven.

The most common variants include all these elements, but one version depicting her funeral shows a figure in the foreground with outstretched arms, whose hands have been cut off by a sword-wielding angel.

According to Elisheva Revel-Neher, in her study of "The Image of the Jew in Byzantine Art", the figure is that of Jephonias, a Jew. During Mary’s funeral procession, he contemptuously reached out to touch her catafalque or attempted to overturn her body. The Jephonias legend first appears in apocryphal texts of the fifth and sixth centuries, and three successive elements are present: his hands touching the fabric and becoming stuck, the appearance of an angel who frees him by cutting off his hands, followed by his repentance and conversion with the restoration of his hands. The story of the "Passing of Mary" was attributed to the apostle John, and while a major theme of the account is the hatred of Jews for all things Christian, nevertheless, it allows that Jews are capable of conversion. According to Revel, the earliest known artistic depictions of the legend are from Cappadocia [in modern - day central Turkey] around the ninth and tenth centuries, with subsequent examples from much later periods. What is significant is that by the end of the thirteenth century, a change occurred: the full legend, in which the character eventually repents and has his hands restored is abridged to indicate only the desecration and its divine punishment."

Alifa Saadya "Convert or Desecrator? The Image of the Jew in the "Jephonias Episode" in Icons of the Dormition" from Leon Volovici "Antisemitic Discourse in Post-Communist Eastern Europe: An Overview."

The Dormition, First half of the 18th century. Hetmanate and Sloboda (Central-Eastern) Ukraine. Unknown artist.
National Art Museum of Ukraine (Kyiv).
Via the Leopolis Project. The Lviv Theological Academy (Ihor Zhuk).
[During the period of 2000-2002, this Project
was created with the aid provided
by the International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX)
and International Renaissance Foundation.]

"For the orchestra to survive, it must be flexible, true to itself, and of its time and place"

American music critics Mark Swed, in Los Angeles, and Allan Kozinn, in New York City, have offered exceptionally perceptive essays, the past three days, on the subject of the orchestra in America. And as I noted over a week ago elsewhere, America has nothing like the intellectually stimulating London Proms to get American audiences through the often long and hot summer months.

"Orchestras have become big businesses run by high-salaried executives. Star conductors are enticed with multimillion-dollar contracts for three to four months' worth of concerts. The organizations are overseen by bottom-line managerial boards lacking musical sophistication. It costs a fortune just to open the doors for business each morning.

Meanwhile, hustlers abound. Some tout specially programmed PDAs as a way to attract technological multitaskers. You can have music explained to you while it is played by following real-time commentary on the device's small screen. If that's too boring, you can switch over to the video function and see a fuzzy close-up of the conductor. Still bored? Pull out your Palm Pilot and plan your week or play solitaire. No one will know the difference. ...

The once Big Five are still big and could still be great. But big is not necessarily better. Fresh is better. Engaged is better. Rapport between orchestra and audience is better. Leading is better than following.

Times have changed. Capitals shift. Economies swing. The artistic climate is as unsettled as its meteorological counterpart. For the orchestra to survive, it must be flexible, true to itself and of its time and place. Everything else is fair game."

Music critic Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times, August 14, 2005,0,103874.story?coll=cl-calendar


"Where, to put it differently, were the New York Philharmonic, the American Composers Orchestra, the Orchestra of St. Luke's, the American Symphony Orchestra and all the other orchestras that while away the musical season in a city that regards itself as the center of the musical universe? And what about orchestras elsewhere that might have picked up on the work [the Steven Stucky Pulitzer Prize-winning Second Concerto for Orchestra], then brought it to New York on tour?

If you are an orchestra administrator, and you've just clucked your tongue and muttered, "He knows perfectly well that it doesn't work that way," maybe it's time to think again about how it can work, or should. ...

If orchestras want to make their programming exciting and part of a vibrant cultural dialogue, they might consider ways to boost their metabolism, and one way to do that would be to build scouting and rapid-reaction mechanisms into their operations. When an orchestra is giving a potentially interesting or important premiere, other orchestras should have representatives on the scene. And if the music does prove exciting, their programming departments should kick into action, obtaining the scores and scheduling them quickly - not three years from now but next month. Find a repertory staple and play the new piece instead. ...

I'm not holding my breath. Orchestras seem content to be museums now, even as they wring their hands about dropping subscription sales and graying listeners. But maybe there's someone in a programming department somewhere who sees the percentage in shaking things up, in treating new works as if they not only matter but have the power to breathe life into this sleepy business. It takes only one: if it works, everyone else will follow suit."

Music critic Allan Kozinn, New York Times, August 15, 2005


Thank you, Mssrs Swed and Kozinn.

Stern Grove, San Francisco, California. Lawrence Halprin, Landscape architect.
Photo credit: Alan Geller

"This Is A Story Of A Failed System."

BIRGI DANGOTCHO, Niger -- In a clearing among the millet fields of this starving village, tiny red-earthen graves are sprouting in a row.

Yet what perplexes village chief Issufu Ibrahim, who can count 24 mounds from the past few months alone, is not the tragedy of so many children dying but the apparent unwillingness of anyone to help alleviate the worst spell of hunger in local memory.

Aside from three sacks of grain that arrived from neighboring Nigeria, Ibrahim said, his village of 500 families has seen no evidence that a massive international aid effort is underway.

"We always are hearing, 'They have given something, they have given something.' But on the ground, we have not seen it yet," said Ibrahim, his words tumbling out in a rush of frustration. "We are crying, 'Why are they not giving to us? Why are they not giving to us? Our children are dying.'

Craig Timberg "Global Aid System Stalled as Niger's Crisis Deepened" Washington Post August 17, 2005

See the Washington Post's harrowing photo gallery of Starvation in Niger:


Heaven and Hell, Carpathian Mountain Village of Mshanets, Lviv Region, Western Ukraine, ca. 1600
National Museum of Ukrainian Art - Lviv

Saint Yuri and the Dragon -- The Sequel

Saint Yuri and the Dragon, Slovita, Lviv region, Western Ukraine, ca. 1500
National Museum of Ukrainian Art -- Lviv

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Saint Yuri and the Dragon

Saint Yuri, Stanylia, Drohobych Region, Western Ukraine, ca. 1400
National Museum of Ukrainian Art, Lviv

Monday, August 15, 2005

Orthodox Feasts of the First Saviour, Second Saviour, and Third Saviour

"In the month of August there are three holidays related to the Lord Jesus Christ, our Saviour, which in church parlance are called the First Saviour, the Second Saviour, and the Third Saviour. All three feasts of the Saviour connect between them the days of the Dormition Fast, which lasts from August 14th to the 28th."


"On August 19th (the 6th by the old calendar) the Second Saviour – the Transfiguration of Our Lord is celebrated. This important event in Christ’s life on earth occurred not long before His Crucifixion. In order to sustain His disciples’ faith when they would see Him suffering, the Lord first showed them His divine glory. Taking along three of His disciples – Peter, John and James, the Lord ascended a high mountain, called Mount Tabor, to pray. While Christ was praying, the disciples fell asleep from fatigue. When they awoke, they saw that Christ was transfigured: His face shone like the sun, while His garments had become radiant as light. Two prophets – Moses and Elias – appeared to Him in their heavenly glory and spoke with Him about His forthcoming suffering and death. Seeing all this, the disciples’ hearts were filled with extraordinary joy. When they saw that the prophets were about to withdraw from Christ, Peter, trying to hold them back, cried out: “Lord! It is good for us to be here; if You wish, we will make three tents here: one for You, one for Moses and one for Elias.”

Suddenly a bright cloud enveloped them and out of the cloud they heard the voice of God the Father: “This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased; listen to Him!” In great fear the disciples fell to the ground.

Christ came and touched them, and said: “Arise and do not be afraid.” The disciples arose and saw Christ in His usual appearance. Through His glorious Transfiguration the Lord also showed us how mankind will appear in future life, in the Heavenly Kingdom, and how our entire world will then be transfigured.

In Russian [and Slavonic] folkore the feast of the Second Saviour is associated with the custom of eating apples and other fruits that had been blessed in church, and with the following events in nature:

Ripe apples are picked on this day and blessed in church.
The nights are becoming cold.
The cranes begin to fly away.
It is customary not to eat any fruits or vegetables before the Second Saviour, except cucumbers.
On the feast of the Second Saviour even a beggar will eat an apple."

Source: Transfiguration of Our Lord Russian Orthodox Church, Baltimore, MD, USA.

Transfiguration Icon, Vilshanitsia, Lviv region, ca. 1600
National Museum Of Ukrainian Art - Lviv
(Arguably, the most beautiful museum of art in Ukraine,
based on its large collection of Ukrainian icons from towns and
villages on both sides of the current Polish - Ukrainian border.)

On Violence, Hope, and True Borders

"As part of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's withdrawal plan, Israel also will evacuate four small settlements in the northern West Bank housing some 500 people. Many hope the pullout from the territory Israel captured in 1967 will be the start of a true partition of historic Palestine between Arab and Jew."

Source: Associated Press August 15, 2005.

"Dominating the skyline of Jerusalem, a landmark without doubt, is the beautiful shrine of the Dome of the Rock. Built on a platform over the rock of Mt. Moriah more than 1300 years ago by the Muslim Umayyad Caliph AbdulMalek bin Marwan, the shrine was completed in 691 AD, 6 years after building commenced. It is a shrine in Al-Aqsa Mosque commemorating the Prophet Mohammad's (pbuh) miraculous journey to the Seven Heavens.

Eight stairways with arcades lead to the raked platform of the Dome of the Rock. There is a sun dial atop the center top archway, accurate to within five minutes of the actual time.

The Rock over which the mathematically precise octagonal shrine is built measures 12x15 meters, and rises 2 meters above Al-Aqsa Mosque's level ground. The cave below the rock is known as the Cave of Souls."

Source: Atlas Travel and Tourist Agency

Friday, August 12, 2005

Summertime in the City

Rynok (Market) Square, Lviv, Ukraine
Founded 14th c. Reconstruction
in Renaissance-style 15th -16th centuries.
The whole historic city center of Lviv is a
UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Happy Birthday, N.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

In the Name of Love*

"President Bush said Thursday he understands and respects the views of anti-war advocates like a California mother camped outside his Texas ranch to mourn her soldier son fallen in Iraq, but said it would be a mistake to bring U.S. troops home now. "I understand the anguish that some feel about the death that takes place," Bush said.

Cindy Sheehan has been camped along a road near Bush's ranch since Saturday, asking to talk to Bush about her son Casey and vowing to remain until his Texas vacation ends later this month. Casey was killed five days after he arrived in Iraq last year. He was 24.

By Thursday, about 50 people had joined Sheehan's cause, pitching tents in muddy, shallow ditches and hanging anti-war banners; two dozen others have sent flowers. Her name was among the most popular search topics Wednesday on Internet blogs.

Bush spoke to reporters on a day when he played host to his administration's top national security, foreign policy and defense advisers at a time of increasing violence in Iraq and new nuclear worries involving Iran and North Korea."

Deb Riechmann "Bush: Leaving Iraq Would Be a Bad Signal" AP via August 11, 2005

Siauliai (Hill of Crosses), Lithuania

* U-2 Song first played live: 1984-08-29: Town Hall, Christchurch, New Zealand
Song last played live: 2005-08-09: Estadio Anoeta, San Sebastian, Spain
This song has been played at least 669 times live (either as full song or snippet).

"Selfishness Is Gaining Ground"

"A U.N. report found that prices in markets in Niger have shot up sharply because of profiteering, said James Morris, executive director of the U.N. World Food Program, speaking from San Francisco. Some traders, he said, have raised prices in anticipation of the arrival of aid groups, which often buy food locally to save on transport costs.

In the mostly Muslim nation, where the wealthy have a religious duty to set aside a portion of their income for the poor, some Islamic leaders said fewer and fewer are bothering to do so.

"There is nothing like generosity now," said Malan Hassane, the imam of a neighborhood mosque. "Selfishness is gaining ground." He maintained that humanitarian groups would not need to intervene if people here were more willing to feed one another.

The United Nations is attempting to provide food to 2.7 million people in Niger. Most serious cases already have come to Maradi, a city of 70,000 where Doctors Without Borders, an international aid group, has been treating hundreds of children a day. Admissions for serious malnutrition at the clinic, officials there said, are double the normal rate. ...

Longer-term economic policies may be working against a solution, according to some observers. In 1993, the government scrapped price controls at the urging of the World Bank and stopped heavy-handed interventions in grain markets by an import-export agency."

Craig Timberg "The Rise of a Market Mentality Means Many Go Hungry in Niger" Washington Post, August 11, 2005

Timbuktu, Mali. Gardens are sunken to protect from the desert winds and to be closer to the water table.

Photo credit: Galen Fry Singer

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Economic Liberalism and the Art of Opera in America

"Now, at the age of 59, Oscar [Hammerstein's] obsessive passion for opera would bear remarkable fruit. In 1906, Oscar opened his eighth theatre - his second Manhattan Opera House and assembled a company of opera singers who could act. [He built his first theatre in 1889, the Harlem Opera House, on 125th Street, at a time when Harlem was still a largely uninhabited stretch of goat farms and shantytowns.] He combined his love for opera with his experience as a showman. For four astonishing years Oscar's Manhattan Opera Company would financially and creatively dominate the world of grand opera in New York City. In 1908, he expanded his operatic ambitions nationally by building his ninth theatre - the Philadelphia Opera House [in Philadelphia].

He presented the immensely successful American debuts of Mary Garden and Louisa Tetrazzini. His company included such stellar performers as Nellie Melba, Emma Trentini, Giovanni Zenatello, Allesandro Bonci, Maurice Renaud, Charles Dalmoräs, Mario Sammarco and John McCormack. Oscar emphasized contemporary works, offering the American premieres of Louise, Pellêas et Mêlisande, Elektra, Le Jongleur De Notre Dame, Thais, Sapho and Grisêlidis, and such controversial works as Salome and Hêrodiade. He rediscovered and popularized Les Conte D'Hoffman and Samson et Dalila. He offered outstanding productions of traditional standards such as Aida, Carmen, La Traviata, Otello, La Boheme, Tosca, Rigoletto, Il Barbiere Di Siviglia and scores of others.

He could outwit them for a while, but he could not outspend them in the long run. The competition with the Met had so inflated the cost of opera production and so saturated the public's interest for opera that by his fourth year Oscar was going bankrupt. Oscar's son Arthur Hammerstein stepped in and negotiated a deal with the Met board of directors, led by financier Otto Kahn, which offered Oscar a flat sum of $1,200,000 in exchange for his written promise to refrain from producing grand opera in the United States for 10 years. He begrudgingly accepted the buy-out, but declined the Met directorship's invitation to a conciliatory dinner in his honor with the lament: "Gentlemen, I am not hungry."

Obsessively unstoppable Oscar took the money and promptly moved to England to build his tenth theatre - the London Opera House [no longer existing]. Again, he waged another quixotic and financially ruinous opera war with Covent Garden's royal opera company. A reporter asked Oscar if there was any money in opera. Oscar replied, "Yeah, mine." ... He died almost completely broke in 1919, one year shy of [his agreed ban with the MET on producing grand operas'] conclusion, while negotiating with singers and planning his next return to opera's center stage.

Source: Oscar Hammerstein III "Oscar Hammerstein (1847-1919)"
The Jewish Virtual Library (c) 2005 The American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise

Metropolitan (Philadelphia) Opera House, 1908,
in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
(Currently owned by Center at the MET Inc., Holy Ghost Headquarters Revival. Present exterior condition "below average".)

Photo credit: Data bank of Philadelphia Architects and Buildings

As of August 10, 2005, the PAB database contains more than 216,944 projects and buildings, 20,428 architects, engineers and contractors, and over 80,631 images. The PAB Project is supported by the William Penn Foundation.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Däbrä Gännät Ethiopian Christian Orthodox Church in Jerusalem

Däbrä Gännät, is the name given to the large, round Ethiopian Orthodox Church of Kedana Meherat, work on which was begun by Emperor Yohannes IV, and was completed by Emperor Menilek II (reigned 1889–1913). Situated in what is now Ethiopia Street (formerly Abyssinia Street [in West Jerusalem]), it contains the church of Kedana Meherat, a small nunnery, and a number of houses built for the community. These were erected by several donors, notably by Menilek himself, by his consort Empress Taytu, and by his daughter Empress Zawditu, as well as by seven other individuals.


See also The Assumption At Dabra Gannat - L'Eglise Orthodoxe
Ethiopienne two-CD set produced by Ocora (Radio France)
UPC 093046447120.

Source and photo credit: Jerusalem Municipal government

Trickle-down in a Parched, Consumption-Driven World

"Ethos Water, a tiny startup acquired by Starbucks in April, will donate five cents for every $1.80 bottle of water that it sells to fund drinking water projects in poor countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

[Company President Peter] Thum got the idea for Ethos Water while working as a consultant for McKinsey & Co. in South Africa, studying the wine business. "I ended up spending a lot of time around people who were very poor," he says. "It changed the way that I saw things." He turned for help to Jonathan Greenblatt, his former roommate at Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management, who had worked on development issues for the Clinton administration.

In 2003, they launched Ethos Water and a sister nonprofit to distribute money to water development efforts. "We had never started a company, let alone a nonprofit, or ever done anything in the bottled water industry," Thum says. Most investors turned down their pitches, but Pierre Omidyar, the eBay founder who now runs a network of nonprofits and businesses with social purposes, became a key backer. Before the Starbucks deal, Ethos Water helped finance water projects in Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, India and Kenya.

By selling to Starbucks, they diluted their mission some. Instead of giving away the bulk of their profits, they will give away five cents per bottle. But Thum and Greenblatt say the Starbucks deal will enable them to deliver more money, more quickly, to water projects that will help children, and that's what counts. Starbucks has promised to contribute at least $1 million to humanitarian water projects in 2006, and says it hopes to give away at least $10 million over the next five years."

Source: Marc Gunther "Starbucks Stirs Up the Water Market" August 4, 2005

Timbuktu, Mali. Home of the prestigious Koranic Sankore University and other madrasas, Timbuktu was an intellectual and spiritual capital and a centre for the propagation of Islam throughout Africa in the 15th and 16th centuries. Its three great mosques, Djingareyber, Sankore and Sidi Yahia, recall Timbuktu's golden age. Although continuously restored, these monuments are today under threat from desertification.(A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988)

Photo credit: Professor Grzegorz W. Kolodko

Polish Economic Reform Twelve Years Later

"Poland's growth, although likely to be nearly 4% this year, is tailing off; unemployment, at 17.9%, is the highest in the EU. Among the under-25s it is a startling 39.5%. That, says Pawel Dobrowolski, a reform-minded economist, is because mismanagement has privileged insiders over outsiders and stifled competition, making the economy less liberal and less open than it was when communism collapsed. “Fifteen years ago, a bright multilingual graduate could expect to be a director of a company,” he says. “These days a bright multilingual graduate is happy to get a job in a salad bar.” ... Other countries, such as neighbouring Slovakia, have a cross-party consensus about the need to reform, involving simpler taxes, a better education system and eagerness to learn from abroad. Poland, by contrast, seems introverted and complacent, when its post-communist rivals are managing considerably faster growth rates. “The difference between 7% and 4% growth is the difference between catching up western Europe's standard of living in my lifetime, or my children's,” says one thoughtful Polish businessman. “We are the sleeping tiger of Europe, but it is time we woke up.”

"Too Content by Half" August 4, 2005


I consulted for the U.S. Agency for International Development on
Poland's transition to a market-based economy in 1993-94.

Wilanow Palace, on the outskirts of Warsaw, Poland,
is now undergoing its delayed restoration. We visited
this palace, and its gardens, during the first week of
this year.

Shadowtime IV - The Ruins of Germany and the Rise of a "Greater" Music

"Stockhausen has recently finished Licht ("Light"), an epic opera cycle based on the seven days of the week. He started it in 1977 and the last and seventh part premiered at the Donaueschingen Music Festival in October 2004. Were it to be performed as a whole, it would run to over 30 hours. It is for such grand gestures that he is mocked and venerated in equal measure.

Nevertheless, there are plans to mount the whole thing in 2008, the year of Stockhausen's 80th birthday. "I have planned since the very beginning [for it to be performed all together] but the world does not do what I want it to," he says. "Maybe I can still experience a performance of Licht, the complete cycle. It is an enormous project."

Undeterred, he has already started on another vast project. It's called Klang ("Sound"), a cycle of works based on the 24 hours of the day. The first part is already finished and [premiered]in Milan Cathedral on May 5. As part of his research for the other 23 pieces, Stockhausen says he is studying the different qualities possessed by the various hours of the day, as if savouring their tastes before capturing them in sound. ...

"To compose a large project of music is fascinating because I am divining, as I have in all my works since the beginning, larger organisms from nucleuses," he explains. ...

The composer was born in 1928 in Modrath, a village near Cologne. His father, Simon, was a schoolteacher who was later killed in the Second World War. His mother, Gertrud, suffered from depression and was institutionalised in 1933. She was put to death in 1941, a victim of the Nazi euthanasia policy."

Barry Didcock "The Man Who Fell to Earth - Karlheinz
Stockhausen, Madman or Genius?" The Sunday Herald
[Glasgow] - 27 March 2005 via and


Das Europäische Zentrum der Künste Hellerau (The European
Center for the Arts Hellerau), in Dresden, will stage the
first complete performance of all 30 hours of the Licht
cycle in 2008, for the composer's 80th birthday
(as reported by BBC News).

Semperoper House, Dresden, Germany. Badly damaged in
World War II, with reconstruction completed by the
East German Communist regime in the 1980s. Home
to the world premieres of Western operas by Weber,
Wagner (three), and R. Strauss (nine), and many others,

Wilhelm Kienzl: Urvasi (20 Feb 1886)
Felix Draeseke: Herrat (10 Mar 1892)
Eugen d'Albert: Ghismonda (28 Nov 1895)
August Bungert: Die Odyssee (tetralogy, 1898-1903)
Ignacy Jan Paderewski: Manru (29 May 1901)
Richard Strauss: Feuersnot (21 Nov 1901)
Leo Blech: Das war ich (6 Oct 1902)
Richard Strauss: Salome (9 Dec 1905)
Max von Schillings: Moloch (8 Dec 1906)
Richard Strauss: Elektra (25 Jan 1909)
Richard Strauss: Der Rosenkavalier (26 Jan 1911)
Ernst von Dohnányi: Tante Simona (22 Jan 1913)
Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari: Der Liebhaber als Arzt (4 Dec 1913)
Eugen d'Albert: Die toten Augen (5 Mar 1916)
Hans Pfitzner: Das Christelflein (11 Dec 1917)
Feruccio Busoni: Doktor Faust (21 May 1925)
Kurt Weill: Der Protagonist (27 Mar 1926)
Paul Hindemith: Cardillac (9 Nov 1926)
Othmar Schoeck: Penthesilea (8 Jan 1927)
Richard Strauss: Die ägyptische Helena (6 June 1928)
Othmar Schoeck: Vom Fischer und syner Fru (3 Oct 1930)
Richard Strauss: Arabella (1 July 1933)
Rudolf Wagner-Régeny: Der Günstling (20 Feb 1935)
Richard Strauss: Die schweigsame Frau (24 June 1935)
Othmar Schoeck: Massimilla Doni (2 Mar 1937)
Richard Strauss: Daphne (5 Oct 1938)
Werner Egk: Peer Gynt (1939)
Heinrich Sutermeister: Romeo und Julia (13 Apr 1940)
Heinrich Sutermeister: Die Zauberinsel (31 Oct 1942)
Gottfried von Einem: Prinzessin Turandot (5 Feb 1944)
Josef Haas: Die Hochzeit des Jobs (2 July 1944)
Siegfried Matthus: Die Weise von Liebe und Tod des Cornets Christoph Rilke (1985)
Peter Ruzicka: [Paul] Celan (2001)

Monday, August 08, 2005

Jean-Louis Florentz and the Greater World of Music

Yesterday, N. and I attended the Sunday afternoon
organ recital at Washington's National Cathedral.
For me, by far, the highlight was a performance
of an extract from Jean-Louis Florentz's Laudes, Opus 5,
(1983-85), inspired by the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian
liturgy. The melody of the Ethiopian Magnificat
Watibye Mâryâm appears in pure form
in Mary's harp, the third of the seven
sections of this 30 minute masterpiece.

Jean-Louis Florentz (1947-2004) studied
in Paris under Olivier Messiaen, Pierre Schæffer,
and Antoine Duhamel. He complemented his musical
studies with studies in natural sciences, Arab studies,
ethno-musicology, and the Ethiopian Semitic language.
He lived for substantial periods of time in the Antilles,
in Polynesia, in Kenya, and in Israel, where he
spent his time in close contact with the Orthodox Ethiopian
community of Jerusalem - West -- Monastery Däbrä Gännät.
(Ethiopian Orthodox music from Däbrä Gännät is available
on the Radio France - Ocora label).

In 1978, Florentz won the Prix de composition Lili Boulanger;
and in 1990, Florentz won the Musical Prize of the
Foundation Prince Pierre of Monaco for his Asun
[Assumption Requiem of the Virgin], Opus 7, a 50 minute
choral work for soloists, chorus, children's chorus,
and orchestra. This choral masterpiece is deeply informed
by the French symphonic tradition since Debussy and by
Ethiopian Orthodox music. He taught ethnomusicology at
the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Lyon beginning
in 1984. He was elected member of the Académie des
Beaux-Arts (Institut de France) in 1995. Olivier Messiaen
was reported to be deeply impressed with Florentz's work.
Earlier in his career, Florentz studied the ethno-ecology
of animal communication and Equatorial avian polyphony
-- topics on which he published papers.

The score and recording to Asun
[Requiem of the Virgin] is published by Ricordi.
An excerpt is available for auditioning at the IRCAM (Paris)
web-site at:

Lalibela Orthodox Church, Ethiopia, built in
the 12th c. C.E.

Shadowtime III - The Ruins (and Rebirth) of a Renaissance "Ideal Town"

"The history of Zhovkva town began in 1594 when the Polish magnate Stanislaw Zholkiewski founded a family castle on the territory of Ukrainian village Vynnyky. First mention about Vynnyky we can find in chronicles under year 1368. It's supposed that the planning of Zhovkva town on the model of "Ideal towns" was realized by its architect Pavlo Schastliviy, who at that time was building the castle and then the St. Lawrence Roman Catholic church. In 1603 by the king's privilege Zygmund the Third the town was granted Magdeburg Law. In the first half of the XVII-th century Zhovkva town was transformed into fortified fortress, its protective walls were hidden behind ramparts and moats. The Market Square, planned in front of the Castle, from the northern and eastern sides was surrounded by the stone buildings with opened gallery under the roofing's vault alongside the facade, so called "pidsinnia". From 1678 the Zhovkva's castle became the residence of the king Jan Sobieski the Third. Those were the most flourishing days in the town's history. At that time in Zhovkva town there were five orthodox churches, four roman catholic churches and one synagogue. The collection of arts, drawing, carving, gobelins [tapestries], porcelain and arms of Zhovkva was very famous by its high artistry. Local icon painters and engravers of Zhovkva's art circle brought glory to the town in the end of the XVIII-th centuries."



"Builders repairing a Ukrainian monastery have found mass graves containing the remains of up to 200 children and adults, believed to be victims of Stalin’s secret police.

Skeletons were found lying in layers three deep below the monks’ quarters at the Zhovka monastery near the western Ukrainian city of Lvov [Lviv]. Human rights groups suspect Stalin’s secret police, the NKVD, because the monastery was used in the 1930s [sic] and 1940s as an NKVD garrison.

“Human bones were found by accident during reconstruction in several of the monks’ rooms, under the cement floor. Approximately one third of them were children,” Inna Feduschak, of the Ukrainian branch of Memorial, Russia’s main organisation representing victims of Stalinism, said.""

Robin Sheperd "Stalin blamed for mass grave under monastery" TimesonLine July 18, 2002 (Reported from Moscow)

St. Lawrence Roman Catholic Church (1606-1623),
Zhovka, Ukraine

Friday, August 05, 2005

Shadowtime II - The Ruins of Militarism

"Officials estimate about 140,000 people were killed instantly or died within a few months after the Enola Gay dropped its payload over the city, which then had a population of about 350,000.

Three days later, another U.S. bomber, Bock's Car, dropped a plutonium bomb on the city of Nagasaki, killing about 80,000 people. Japan surrendered on Aug. 15, 1945, bringing World War II to a close."

Source: Eric Talmadge Hiroshima Marks Atomic Bomb Anniversary
Associated Press August 5, 2005 (3:05 PM EDT)

Photo credit: Paul W. Tibbetts

Shadowtime I - The Ruins of Tolerance

Last known photograph (1941) of Lviv, Ukraine's "Golden
Rose" Renaissance-era Synagogue, which was constructed
in 1582. As were most other Lviv Synagogues, it was
destroyed by the Nazis who used Lviv as an administrative
center for their Eastern Front war effort.

The Suburbanisation of Civilization

"Nine enormous and hugely unsophisticated [London] skyscrapers are being mooted by the world's architectural mega-corps. The London model dictates that, where a skyscraper is built, open space must be left around it, creating dim plazas. Consequently, tall buildings, while they do increase office space, fail to increase the density of the city, instead merely prodding the skyline with primitive architectural fingers, the sole aim of which is to create a recognisable logo. This leaves blank, unnecessary plazas, inevitably filled with the usual coffee shops and chain stores, the city becoming in effect suburbanised."

Financial Times August 3, 2005 via

Chechelnik Choral (Great) Synagogue, Western Ukraine, ca. 1775

Choral Synagogue of Drohobych, Ukraine

"With the help of the Rausing Trust of London, the Center for Jewish Art was able to carry out an in depth study of the synagogues of Drohobych, Ukraine. The earliest record of Jews in Drohobych is 1404, just a decade after the first written record of the town itself. The buildings which the Center documented date from the 1840s on, and represent the last stage of evolution of the Drohobych community, from emancipation to annihilation. The Choral (Great) Synagogue pictured here, built between 1842-1865, was returned to the Jewish community in 1993 and is again being used as a synagogue."

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Young Musicians Without Borders

N. and I attended, at noon today, part of the last
day, of three, of the qualifying rounds for the 2005
Rostropovich International Cello Competition, held at
La Maison Francaise - Ambassade de France aux Etats-Unis,
in Washington, D.C. The competition is held every four
years, and this year the Washington qualifying round
featured 32 contestants, aged 14 to 32, from the U.S.A.
and Canada, Continental Western Europe, China and
East Asia, and Chile, Roumania, and Bulgaria.
The contestants were each required to play movements
from the Bach solo literature, as well as a modern solo
sonata by Paul Hindemith,Benjamin Britten, Gyorgy Ligeti,
or George Crumb. The hour that we attended, three of the
contestants chose the Benjamin Britten. The alternation
of young talent playing Bach and Britten made for
an enjoyable and civilized summer afternoon interlude
from the heat and urban madness. Before the competition
began, N. and I had a pleasant chat with
Maestro Rostropovich.

Charles Downey reviewed the first day of the Competition

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Museum - Memorial Complex to Appear in Kazan Kremlin

"Work on designing local museums and museum complexes in territory of the Kazan Kremlin is being conducted these days. Namely here the unique monuments of the Tatar town-planning architecture and masterpieces of world architectural achievements since ancient times and up to now are widely presented.

For example, it is planned to open in the territory of museum - reserve museum -memorial complex " History of Tatarstan and Tatar people statehood ", museum of nature of Tatarstan, picture gallery, museum of history of jeweler art, museum of "Islam - religion of peace ", museum of Orthodox art of peoples of the Volga region, museum of Cannon court yard, and Hermitage center."

Source: "Tatar-inform", August 1, 2005.

View of Kazan Kremlin, Republic of Tatarstan in Russian
Federation In addition to planned museums, the Kazan Kremlin
contains majestic new Islamic Grand Masjid and a collection
of historic Russian Orthodox Cathedrals. The city celebrates
its 1000th anniversary later this month.

Photo credit: Republic of Tatarstan in Russian Federation

Stryisky Park, Lviv, Ukraine -- Museum Opportunity

One of Europe's finest urban landscape parks, Stryisky Park was
founded in Lemberg, Austro-Hungary (later Lwow, Poland; Lvov,
the Soviet Union; and now Lviv, Ukraine) in 1887 by the Austrian
landscape architect and civil servant Arnold Rohring.
The Park was first constructed by the Austro-Hungarian Empire
as the site of an Agricultural Exhibition Fairground,
aimed at highlighting Austro-Hungarian farm and technical
achievements in the Eastern Provinces of the Austro-Hungarian
Empire. This beautiful and exotic park ranges over 58 hectares
and features over 200 species of trees and plants, and
kilometers of walking trails. It also features architectural
follies and a beautiful and popular swan pond. Parts of
the Park feature formal gardens, while other parts
of the Park feature more wild English-style gardens and
landscaping. Under the Soviet Union, the Park featured a
children's railroad, which is now, sadly, in disuse. There
was also a beautiful Austro-Hungarian Empire-style
Palace of Arts constructed in the Park in 1887, which,
while currently being used as an athletic facility by the
Lviv Polytechnic University, is awaiting renewal
and adaptive reuse. There are numerous civic and cultural
organizations headquartered in the Park, as well as a Polish
constructivist cinema from the 1920s, a Soviet modernist
cinema from the 1970s, and the still operating "Sputnik"
restaurant. The Park's Austro-Hungarian Empire-style Palace
of Arts is a major small museum opportunity. (It is not to be
confused with the downtown Palace of Arts, constructed in
the 1990s as an exhibition hall adjacent to the 19th century
Potocki Palace, which is slated to house the distinguished
Lviv Picture Gallery [now that it will no longer be claimed
by former President Kuchma as his western White House]).

Interactive Web-site [in Ukrainian] for Striysky Park
(hosted by the U.S. Department of State and very slow):

Palace of Arts, Striysky Park, Lviv, Ukraine (1887)