Friday, January 26, 2007

Japanese Architect Toyo Ito Charged To Lead Berkeley, California Renaissance In Architectural/Environmental Sustainability And Transparency

"The University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA), one of the nation's leading university art museums — and one of a select group of institutions internationally presenting both art and film — [announced on September 26, 2006] that Toyo Ito & Associates, Architects has been selected to design a new center for the visual arts in downtown Berkeley.

"We are delighted to announce that Toyo Ito & Associates, Architects has been chosen from an international field of architects to design the new museum and film archive," says BAM/PFA Director Kevin E. Consey. "The firm was chosen for its robust and imaginative body of work, that balances poetry and elegance of design with proven constructability and innovative use of technology. It is especially exciting that this project will be the first in the U.S. for this internationally acclaimed and admired architect. We believe Ito's design will be an inspiration to generations of California's best and brightest students attending the nation's finest public university."

Toyo Ito & Associates, Architects was selected by a committee made up of BAM/PFA trustees and staff, and UC Berkeley staff, including faculty members from the College of Environmental Design. This committee solicited qualifications from 141 architects and narrowed that selection to twenty, then five. The committee then made site visits and interviewed each of the five architects under consideration for the project, before making a recommendation that was approved by UC Berkeley's Chancellor, Robert Birgeneau.

"Toyo Ito is the perfect choice for this project. His designs embrace values that align with those of the Berkeley community, such as environmental sensitivity and sustainability, and the importance of accessibility and transparency for public institutions. It is appropriate that UC Berkeley will be home to the first major U.S. project by this important and innovative architect, whose work embodies the experimental and innovative tradition of the campus," says Noel Nellis, BAM/PFA Board President. "Our new facility will be an architectural and cultural icon for generations of UC Berkeley students, the Berkeley community, the Bay Area, and beyond."" ...



"Toyo Ito has been an inspiration for generations of architects worldwide since his work started to receive international acclaim in the 1970s. For thirty years he has been a leading figure in architecture."

—Jack Pringle, President, Royal Institute of British Architects

Competition design image for Toyo Ito and Associate's Sendai, Japan Médiathèque.

Photo credit: City of Sendai, Japan Archive. With thanks.

International Holocaust Day: Partially Economically Revived Southern And Eastern European Ancient Jewish Ghettos Greet Rash of Property Speculators

"As a boy, in October 1943, Pacifico Disegni watched from his window as two German trucks hauled people from the ghetto in Rome, a city where Jews have lived for 2,000 years.

Last year, in blessedly more peaceful times, a rich visitor from Boston took in the view from that same window. A magnificent front-row view of the Theater of Marcellus, first planned by Julius Caesar, somehow salves the sting of history.

Mr. Disegni, now 78, said the man produced a blank check and offered to buy the apartment on the spot.

“He said, ‘You write how many millions you want,’ ” Mr. Disegni said.

Mr. Disegni, who is Jewish, refused. But these bookend events at his window cast light on a paradox in the city with the oldest Jewish population in Europe. High real estate prices, not violence or bias, are driving the last Jews from their homes in the old ghetto, which is slowly transforming itself into a trendy enclave for the rich and famous.

Experts say only 200 or 300 Jews remain, in a neighborhood that numbered perhaps 9,000 after the deportation of 2,000 or more during World War II.

But there is a second paradox. Even as the number of Jews living in the ghetto drops to near nothing, Jewish life is thriving.

Rome’s Jewish school recently moved to the ghetto from a neighboring area. Jewish shops, including the first kosher fast-food restaurants, are popular. Visits to the museum at the grand synagogue have doubled in two years.

“Even if Jews no longer live in the area, they come to open their shops,” said Daniela Di Castro, director of the Jewish Museum of Rome. “So there is always Jewish life around, to work, to go to the synagogue, to buy from the kosher market, bring their children to school.

“You always have a reason to come here if you are Jew.”

It is a dynamic of complex layers, defying media alarmism about the loss of Jewish character in central Rome, but not quite assuring that character’s ultimate survival.

On the other hand, this is Italy, where history moves at its own unpredictable pace. For now, few locals can imagine the ghetto as having a soul that is anything other than Jewish.

“It would be impossible to erase it,” said Luciano Calò, 45, a Jew who owns Bartaruga, a bar next to one of Rome’s most sublime fountains, featuring four boys playing with turtles, a whimsy Bernini added 83 years after the fountain was finished.

“History was born here,” Mr. Calò added. “And the tourists come here because of that history in the walls of these buildings. You feel the desperation of the people who lived here.”

Jews are documented in Rome as early as the second century B.C., first as respected guests from the empire’s far reaches, later as slaves who helped build the Colosseum, finished in A.D. 80.

In 1516 the Jews of Venice were the first in Europe to be segregated — and there the word “ghetto” was born, from the local dialect for the slag heaps in the area where Jews were forced to live.

In 1555 a papal bull established a ghetto in Rome, laid out near the Tiber, amid the nubby, desiccated ruins, and locked at night. That entity was not abolished until Italy’s unification in 1870, but Jews continued to live there, often in deep poverty, in buildings with inadequate heat and plumbing.

Those conditions drove many Jews to leave the ghetto after World War II, settling in more modern apartments in Monteverde or near Viale Marconi, to the south. Many moved to Israel.

As the years went on, the rich began buying up homes all around central Rome, including in the ghetto. Prices and quality went up — and then up much more when Italy converted to the euro in 2002.

A real estate operator, Daniela Di Maulo, said apartments in the ghetto now cost as much as $1,000 a square foot.

“It’s only for tourists, for people on the magazine covers,” she said.

Speculation exploded, and the choicest properties were often those of the district’s remaining Jews, many of them elderly. One is Roberto Calò, 75, who said he had fended off at least 10 offers for millions of euros." ...

Ivan Fisher "Renewal, in Real Estate and in Culture, for Ancient People" New York Times January 26, 2007


Lwów/L'viv [Ukraine] Jewish Ghetto from Wikipedia.

Once holding over 120,000 Jews, killings and deportations to death camps reduced the L'viv ghetto population to less than 200 by the end of the war.

Kraków [Poland] Jewish Ghetto from Wikipedia.

Before the war, Kraków was an influential cultural center for the 60,000-80,000 Jews that resided in the separated Kraków - Kazimierz Ghetto.

Minsk [Belarus] Jewish Ghetto from

By 22 June 1941 and the outbreak of hostilities between Germany and the Soviet Union, the Jewish population of Minsk has been estimated to have risen to 90,000 [from 54,000 in 1926 Census]. The increase was largely as a consequence of the arrival of those fleeing eastwards following the German occupation of Poland beginning September 1, 1939.

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Lviv, Ukraine, Future European Union, in 1905. [Known officially as Lemberg, Austro-Hungarian Empire until 1917; and subsequently Lwów, Poland, until 1939].

Reproduced courtesy of the Ukrainian Philatelic and Numismatic Society.

Photo credit: []. With thanks.

Paging Solar-Powered Boats: A Diminished Role For Jet Travel As The International World Integrates Technologically And Culturally - And Partially?

"Flying by jet may become uncool. I'm concluding that based on early signs I've picked up this year at the [elite World Economic Forum] in Davos [Switzerland]. When you fly, you become a polluter. And for the first time, that reality may be sinking in.

Last night at a meeting of top journalists and leaders of media companies, I talked to Peter Gabriel, the rock musician and social activist. I was struck by how he started talking, spontaneously, about his worry that global understanding could wane as people fly less.

Gabriel says a number of his friends are starting to take significantly fewer trips by airplane because they've come to believe that flying is environmentally irresponsible. The energy used per passenger mile by someone in a jet is generally far higher than in any other form of transportation.

Gabriel was the second person I've talked to in Davos this week who, out of the blue, brought up the notion that flying may wane. An environmental activist CEO who lives in London separately told me, unprompted, that he is convinced flying may significantly diminish within five years as people get more and more worried about global warming.

Gabriel, who has devoted much of his career to promoting world music, has a specific concern, even as he sympathizes with the desire to fly less. Music is a bridge to cross-cultural understanding, and encourages our interest in learning more about others, something he believes is deeply important. He is concerned that our perception of others and sense of all being in this world together could change for the worse if we travel less. But it sounded to me like he believes it could easily happen." ...

David Kirkpatrick "The Peak: Dispatches from the World Economic Forum in Davos" January 29, 2007


Free, Web-based Carbon-Offset Calculators

Conservation International

World Land Trust

David Suzuki Foundation

Climate Care

The Carbon Neutral Company

The Solar Navigator.

So far, most prototypes of solar-powered boats are fairly small, emphasizing the importance for excellent and swift terrestrial rail transportation systems, in order to save present-technology petroleum-based air flight more for trans-oceanic transport.

Furthermore, the integration of Eurasia will require prompt correction of the rail-gauge problem isolating the eastern, non-EU part of core Eastern Europe, as defined by the United Nations, from the 'advanced' Western Europe and East Asia [By the end of 2008, the three most 'advanced' nation-states in the world, in terms of GDP, will be the United States, Japan, and China. China will surpass Germany in 2008, in economic size.]

Photo credit: (c) Nelson Kruschandl. All rights reserved. With thanks.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Today's Debate: Are The Montgomery County Classic Youth Orchestras Capable Of Delivering Highly Polished Interpretations Of Early Mendelssohn Works?

First, some announcements and then the debate:

NSO Classical Sponsored By General Dynamics

National Symphony Orchestra: Iván Fischer, conductor, with an all-Mendelssohn program

Feb 8 - 10, 2007
Concert Hall, Kennedy Center
Running Time: 1 hour 45 minutes

Iván Fischer, conductor
Carolyn Betty, soprano
Kelly O'Connor, mezzo-soprano
Women of the University of Maryland Concert Choir
Edward Maclary, director

The NSO's New Principal Guest Conductor Iván Fischer leads Mendelssohn's Incidental Music to A Midsummer Night's Dream as part of Shakespeare in Washington Festival, as well as the composer's First Symphony.


MENDELSSOHN - Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 11
MENDELSSOHN - Incidental Music to A Midsummer Night's Dream, Op. 61

Remember, students can often attend the NSO at the Kennedy Center for $10 a ticket! Non-students are invited to subscribe to a three-concert mini-subscription of rear orchestral level seats for $99 [see bottom of linked page]!


Maryland Classic Youth Orchestras at the Music Center at Strathmore

Founded in 1946, serving Maryland, Washington D.C., and Northern Virginia

SUNDAY, MARCH 11, 2006, 3:00 P.M. and 7:00 PM

Music by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Liszt, Tchaikovsky, Brahms, and Elgar.

These concerts sponsored by Friends of Maryland Classic Youth Orchestras

MCYO needs your financial support. Consider becoming a friend of MCYO or placing a concert ad in one of our upcoming performances and help keep fine music alive! Your contribution or your ad ensures that our young musicians, regardless of financial circumstances, have access to a full orchestra experience. Participation stimulates their musical growth and provides them with unique performance opportunities.


And now for the debate which began on the pages of last October 18-23, 2006. The initial debaters were Jens Laurson, music critic, and Garth Trinkl, sometime artist and idealist. They were joined on January 25, 2007 by Christine Cox, Assistant Operations Manager, Maryland Classical Youth Orchestras, Strathmore Music Center, North Bethesday, Maryland:

Congratulations, Jens, on this important interview of an increasingly important presence on the Nation's Capital's musical scene. And good luck on all your future musical and educational work with WGMS and its web-affiliate.

However, I believe that the following sentence in your review above requires clarification:

"His opening concert, meanwhile, opens with a tribute to the NSO and Maestro Slatkin in the form of the new American work [sic], Robert Henderson’s “Einstein’s Violin”."

How is this ten year old work by, I believe, a still London-based American music critic and composer, a tribute to the NSO and Maestro Slatkin? Did Mr Slatkin commission the work for one of his British affiliate orchestras a decade or so ago?

And frankly, while I welcome Ivan Fischer's more formalized return to the Nation's Capital, and the NSO, as NSO principal guest conductor, his programming for the next season strikes me as uninspired, except perhaps for the program matching shorter works by Sibelius, Kodaly, and Richard Strauss. Don't you think that perhaps the American Youth Orchestra or the Montgomery County Classic Youth Orchestra could have been retained by Michael Kaiser and the Kennedy Center for the not that difficult to perform all-Mendelssohn and Shakespeare tribute, freeing the NSO for more challenging European, American, and Asian classical repertoire, including important repetoire from the 20th century?

Unless he quickly shows greater independence and programming strength, I personally will not look forward to the possibility, mentioned by some, of Mr Fisher replacing Mr Slatkin as the NSO new chief music director. (The importance of this position going to a world-renowned American conductor, such as Kent Nagano, versus a European, Asian, or Latin American conductor is another subject...)

Lastly, I compliment the Kennedy Center and the NSO on finally facing reality and lowering in price by 10 per cent the rear orchestra seats (20% of the floor?),which are hardly ever filled thus costing the Kennedy Center precious box office revenues, citizen good-will, and classical music education and outreach.

By Garth Trinkl, at October 18, 2006 9:55 AM


Next time I talk to Fischer, I'll suggest that his program choices are uninspired. :) If it takes Fischer to make the NSO play Mendelssohn well, I'll take it. Call me a snob, but I don't want to hear the American Youth Orchestra or the Montgomery County Classic Youth Orchestra do Mendelssohn.

I would not worry about him replacing Slatkin, at any rate. I think the rumor (is there a substantial one) is not going to materialize at all.



By jfl, at October 18, 2006 5:57 PM


Well, Jens, then there will remain a HUGE amount of Shakespeare-themed humanist, Western classical music that Washington regional audiences will probably never hear in their lifetimes because of the NSO's largely unimaginative programming and your insistence that you only want to hear the musicians of the NSO perform Mendelssohn, rather than comparably fine younger semi-professional musical talent. I also hope you will quickly let Mr Fischer and the NSO know that you disapprove of the NSO uniting with the Women of the University of Maryland Concert Choir for these February concerts, when there are 'much finer' and more professional choristers available in the Washington region.


(I apologize for misspelling Fischer one time above.)




By Garth Trinkl, at October 19, 2006 12:37 PM

I am not saying they should not play it... just that I would not likely be there to hear it. Aside: What is the problem with Mendelssohn played well by the NSO? It's not precluding other bands to play whatever music they should like to play. Shakespeare-related or not.

By jfl, at October 19, 2006 11:10 PM

"What is the problem with Mendelssohn played well by the NSO?"

No problem, Jens. The NSO has performed well, and recently, many of the symphonies, overtures, the violin concerto, and some of the Mendelssohn oratorios. In my view, the NSO's very expensive professional services are not required for the 'incidental' music to Midsummer Nights Dream -- given the other highly skilled talent in the region (if not a world-class music conservatory). Up to a half dozen, lesser explored, world emerging classical music masterpieces -- from Europe, the United States, Canada, Latin America, and Asia -- could be explored in the 50 or 55 minutes it takes to perform the complete incidental music to MsND.

In my view, it is yours and Charles job, as new national intellectual and musical leaders, to think about and propose the best use of the NSO's resources.

Would you have been happy (had you been here) with Washington's musical, intellectual, and spiritual life before Robert Aubry Davis launched, on WETA public radio, 'Millennium of Music' over a generation ago, and introduced dozens of pre-Bach masterpieces to national listeners -- works now in the musical consciousnesses of many in the Washington regional audience members?

I personally look forward to the time that the Kennedy Center's and the NSO's classical programming is as well curated as the programs of the National Gallery of Art or the Freer-Sackler Galleries -- or even the Library of Congress.


By Garth Trinkl, at October 23, 2006 9:47 AM


From: Christine Cox []
Sent: Thursday, January 25, 2007 12:33 PM
Subject: Correction

Just saw your post from October in which you refer to our orchestras incorrectly. We are The Maryland Classic Youth Orchestras. I’m sorry that you feel the way you do about hearing youth orchestras perform classical music. Perhaps it’s feelings like yours that contribute to the overall decline of musical culture among today’s young people.

Our kids are amazing, talented musicians, many of whom go on to become the snob-worthy musicians of tomorrow.

Christine Cox
Maryland Classic Youth Orchestras
Assistant Operations Manager
The Music Center At Strathmore
North Bethesda, Maryland
(301) 581-5209

The Lviv, Ukraine Conservatory of Music.

Unlike Washington, D.C., Lviv, Ukraine has an excellent and well-funded Conservatory of Music. The current 'experts' at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts -- to date -- are hesitant to support the concept of Washington, D.C. having a world-class music and performing arts conservatory.

Photo credit: With thanks!


Others are encouraged to join the debate and also to support classical music radio, classical music education, and youth classical orchestra experiences here in the United States and elsewhere in the 'developed' and 'developing' world.

Please use the comment button below. Thank you.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

50th Annual Warsaw Autumn Contemporary Music Festival To Be Held In Late September 2007

Warsaw Autumn 2006

September 22-30, 2006

Index of Composers

Agata Zubel

Aleksander Lasoń

Aleksander Szczetyński

Aleksandra Gryka

Alex Buess

Andrzej Dobrowolski

Andrzej Krzanowski

Andrzej Panufnik

Anna Zawadzka-Gołosz

Arnoud Noordegraaf

Augustyn Bloch

Barbara Buczek

Bernd Alois Zimmermann

Bogusław Schaeffer

Caspar Johannes Walter

Cezary Duchnowski

Enno Poppe

Erik Oña

Eugeniusz Knapik

Eugeniusz Knapik

Filippo Perocco

Gérard Grisey

Grażyna Bacewicz

Guo Wenjing

György Kurtág

Helmut Lachenmann

Henryk Mikołaj Górecki

Jacek Kochan

Jarosław Siwiński

Jerzy Kornowicz

Joanna Woźny

John Adams

John Cage

Juraj Beneš

Krzysztof Knittel

Krzysztof Meyer

Krzysztof Penderecki

Luciano Berio

Luigi Nono

Magdalena Długosz

Magdalena Długosz

Michel Roth

Michel van der Aa

Nicolaus A. Huber

Paweł Mykietyn

Paweł Szymański

Peter Eötvös

Pierre Boulez

Roderik de Man

Roman Haubenstock-Ramati

Salvatore Sciarrino

Siergiej Newski

Stanisław Krupowicz

Steve Reich

Sławomir Kupczak

Tadeusz Baird

Tadeusz Wielecki

Tomasz Sikorski

Ton Bruynèl

Tristan Murail

Vykintas Baltakas

Witold Lutosławski

Witold Szalonek

Younghi Paagh-Paan

Zbigniew Bagiński

Zbigniew Bargielski

Zbigniew Bujarski

Zbigniew Penherski

Zygmunt Krauze

Sir Norman Foster's projects -- like this one next to the Warsaw Great Opera House and the Saxon Gardens--are playing a large role in rebuilding downtown, Warsaw, Poland, European Union. However, the mayor of Warsaw still believes that it will take another generation before Warsaw regains its pre-September 1, 1939 beauty.

Photo credit: Architecture and Skyscrapers With thanks.

In Memorium, Ryszard Kapuscinski: Observer, Journalist, And Writer Of The World As It Currently Is

"Ryszard Kapuscinski, a Polish writer and journalist who gained international acclaim for his books chronicling wars, coups and revolutions in Africa, the Middle East and other parts of the world, died of a heart attack, his literary agent said. He was 74.

Kapuscinski died Tuesday at Warsaw's Banacha hospital, Czeslaw Apiecionek, one of his literary agents, told The Associated Press.

Poland's parliament honored him with a moment of silence Wednesday morning, and Speaker Marek Jurek praised him as ''a witness of human suffering and a witness of people's hopes.''

''There is no one among Poland's writers to fill in the space left by him,'' said Marek Zakowski, president of the Czytelnik publishing house, which published several of Kapuscinski's books and is editing a new one, ''Lappidarium 6.''

He described Kapuscinski as ''a rare kind of great personality. He was always curious to learn more about the world, he was curious to meet people.''" ...

Associated Press "Polish Writer Ryszard Kapuscinski Dies" New York Times January 24, 2007

Ryszard Kapuscinski, born in Pinsk, Poland [now Belarus], in 1932

His "Travels with Herodotus" is reportedly forthcoming early this year [2007].

Photo credits: Wikipedia and [Poland]. With thanks.


Also see Adam Goodman's The Being Had Times blog for more on contemporary Belarus and Pinsk.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Classical Opera On American Television As Well As Radio? Public Broadcasting System (PBS) Launches Great Performances @ The Metropolitan Opera House

Opera on Film: Great Performances at the Met: "The Magic Flute" (Condensed)
Air date: January 24, 2007 9 PM (check local listings)

Opera on Film: Great Performances at the Met: "I Puritani"
Air date: February 2007 (check local listings)

Opera on Film: Great Performances at the Met: "The First Emperor"
Air date: March 2007 (check local listings)

Opera on Film: Great Performances at the Met: "Eugene Onegin"
Air date: April 2007 (check local listings)

Opera on Film: Great Performances at the Met: "The Barber of Seville"
Air date: May 2007 (check local listings)

Opera on Film: Great Performances at the Met: "Il Trittico"
Air date: June 2007 (check local listings)

Major corporate support for Great Performances at the MET is provided by Toll Brothers, America's Luxury Homebuilders, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Corporation for Public broadcasting, the Charles E. Culpeper Foundation, the Arthur F. and Alice E. Adams Charitable Foundation, Miami, Florida, and PBS.

Source: PBS/WNET

American singer Nathan Gunn, as Papageno in The Magic Flute, leads 21st century American television viewers, and American culture as a whole, into uncharted and mythic territory.

Photo credits: Ken Howard/The Metropolitan Opera via PBS Great Performances @ The MET homepage. With thanks.

David Gockley Threatens To Nationalize San Francisco Opera By Presenting Seasonal Back-To-Back World Premieres By Glass/Hampton And Wallace/Tan

"Dwayne Croft will sing Robert E. Lee and Andrew Shore will portray Ulysses S. Grant when the San Francisco Opera presents the world premiere of Philip Glass' "Appomattox" on Oct. 5 [2007].

Dennis Russell Davies will conduct and George C. Wolfe will direct in the San Francisco Opera debut for both, the company announced Monday. The libretto is by Tony Award winner Christopher Hampton.

San Francisco's season also includes a new production of Wagner's "Tannhaeuser," a new staging of Wagner's "Das Rheingold" coproduced with the Washington National Opera, the company premiere of Handel's "Ariodante," a new production of Stravinsky's "The Rake's Progress" and the West Coast premiere of Rachel Portman's "The Little Prince."

Soprano Angela Gheorghiu is to make her company debut in Puccini's "La Rodine," a coproduction with The Royal Opera and the Theatre du Capitole de Toulouse that may travel to New York's Metropolitan Opera in 2008-9. Natalie Dessay will star in Donizetti's "Lucia di Lammermoor," a new Mary Zimmerman production that is slated to open the Met's 2007-8 season.

The season is the first mostly planned by general director David Gockley, hired in February 2005 to take over from Pamela Rosenberg the following January. Ten of the 11 productions have not been seen in San Francisco before.

"This is a company coming off a near-death experience, as the board describes it," Gockley said Friday in a telephone interview. "One had to be very pragmatic about this season, stretching but not making it unaffordable or sending the company back in a direction of great financial risk."

The San Francisco Opera had an 88.9 percent capacity last fall, up from an 82.2 percent capacity in the fall of 2005, spokeswoman Karen Ames said.

Gockley already has made several moves to the future. The head of the Houston Grand Opera from 1972 until leaving for San Francisco, Gockley brought the Glass project to San Francisco with him. San Francisco's 2008-09 season features the world premiere of Stewart Wallace's "The Bonesetter's Daughter," based on Amy Tan's novel..."

Ronald Blum Associated Press "San Francisco Opera season to include Philip Glass world premiere" via Monteray January 22, 2007

Ruins of the Navy Yard at Norfolk, Virginia, December 1864. Photographed by James Gardner. 165-SB-18

Image credit: United States National Archives.

Monday, January 22, 2007

A Look Back At Ukrainian President Victor Yushchenko's Reunion Day Speech From One Year Ago

21 JANUARY 2006

Press office of President Victor Yushchenko

Reunion Day

Dear fellow citizens!

Today, I will speak about Reunion Day. Recent events make us carefully reconsider dramatic pages of our history and analyze mistakes committed by the great Ukrainians and discover ways to respond to modern challenges.

We recall the Reunion Act, proclaimed in Kyiv’s Sophia Square on January 22, 1919. Back then, the People’s Republic of Ukraine and the People’s Republic of Western Ukraine became one democratic country. Different people marched under the Ukrainian flag. Although their backgrounds differed, the people realized they could be a united nation.

The Reunion Act is, in fact, a political act, which has not been appreciated yet. The thirty-million-people nation, which had been divided for centuries, not only gained freedom but also united without any long negotiations.

Although the national revolution was defeated and Ukraine again became parted, divided and split, a message was sent to eternity. Thousands of patriots living in the evil empire fought for Ukraine’s independence.

To mark Reunion Day in 1990, thousands of Ukrainians made a human chain between Kyiv and Lviv. This event was a significant stage of our spiritual renaissance. It accelerated the downfall of the Soviet Union and helped us gain independence, for it had convincingly confirmed the spiritual unity of all regions of Ukraine.

Thus the ceremony in Sophia Square in 1919 heralded the collapse of the Soviet system and the revival of the national state.

We understood that we were powerful when united, which is the most important lesson of Reunion Day. The defeat of the People’s Republic of Ukraine and the whole chain of mistakes remind us that the only sacred value we share is independence and freedom of our country. Being politically and economically independent, we can make Ukraine take its worthy place in the world. Only a powerful state and powerful government can prevent their nation from serving other countries. This is why we must cherish our unity, giving it our energy and abilities.

The new era gives us new challenges. The greatest of them is not economic or social. We can solve these problems effectively if we unite, ready to face these challenges and overcome them. As President of Ukraine, I believe my most important mission is to unite the people.

I will not let any political force in Ukraine to destabilize the country and use religious, lingual or ideological differences to split it during this year’s campaign. I will not allow any political force to speculate about separatism or federalism.

My nation has proved that Ukraine can never be deprived of freedom. It is no longer possible to divide the people into westerners and easterners. Kyiv is Ukraine’s heart, the west is its conscience and its south and east with industrial giants can be regarded as its locomotive.

Our nation has passed a democracy exam. Unfortunately, our political elite, which are wasting their time on rows and electoral wars, have failed to pass it. Our politicians should learn to be responsible and correct and eventually live with Ukraine in their hearts and stop thinking about their interests in Ukraine.

This is why I would like to urge all political leaders to demonstrate to society we have common values which are higher than electoral battles. Let us together mark Reunion Day and show that Ukrainians can learn lessons from their own history.

I invite the government, parliamentarians and all political leaders to come to the Teacher’s House in Kyiv, where the Fourth Decree was signed, to pay homage to our history.

Never forget about the 1919 Sophia Square and the 1990 human chain, and the 2004 Maidan! Let us remember the days when we together chose the future for our country.

Let us unite to make our future better. We are powerful when united.

God bless you!"


The Orthodox Pochayiv Monastery and Caves of Western Ukraine, dating back to 1527, has for centuries been the foremost spiritual and ideological center for various Orthodox denominations in Western Ukraine, Ukraine, and Russia.

Photo credit: (c) Yuri Buslenko. All rights reserved. With thanks.

Repudiating I-PODs And Globalizing Commercialization, WETA-FM To Resume Broadcasting Full Classical Symphonies And Oratorios Tonight At 8 PM

Extra! Extra! "WETA (90.9) will go back to playing classical music at 8 p.m. tonight [January 22, 2007], abandoning the news and talk programming that had replaced its classical broadcasts in February 2005....

WETA has perhaps the most powerful FM signal in the Washington area; it is the only station in the area authorized to broadcast at 75,000 watts. What's more, as a non-commercial station, it does not broadcast commercials, which frequently interrupted long classical pieces on WGMS." ...

Paul Farhi "WETA to Resume Classical Music Broadcast: Move Comes as WGMS Changes Programming" Washington Post January 22, 2007


Now, local readers, please continue to support the Washington region's superb live classical music scenes. And despite generally lackluster programming by the National Symphony Orchestra, as noted by critic Tim Page in the Washington Post last Friday, please consider buying one of the NSO's new three-concert mini-subscription packages for $99 [rear orchestra seating]. The new, fairly priced NSO mini-packages were reportedly a big seller during the recent holiday seasons. [Tickets may also be available for $25 or $20; but these partially obstructed-view balcony tickets always sell out first.]


With thanks to Jens and Charles at for the heads-up on this breaking local [national?] cultural news.

[Click on image for greater detail.]

Corot, Jean-Baptiste-Camille (1796-1875). French painter.
Orpheus Leading Eurydice from the Underworld
1861 (180 Kb); Oil on canvas, 112.3 x 137.1 cm (44 1/4 x 54 in); Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas, United States

Image credit: Courtesy of Nicolas Pioch,, and the WebMuseum, Paris. With thanks. [The WebMuseum receives support from the BMW Foundation.]

Kyiv National Opera Showcases Ukrainian Operas By Artemovsky, Lysenko, And Skoryk - And Eight Other World Operatic Masterpieces As Well - In January

The Kyiv, Ukraine National Opera, which has been described as one of the top five opera houses in Europe, manages to present eleven operas in January 2007, including three by Ukrainian national composers: Semen Hulak-Artemovsky's Zaporozhets za Dunaem [The Zaporozhian/Cossack Beyond the Danube], Mykola Lysenko's Natalka Poltavka, and Myroslav Skoryk's Moses [2001]. [Myroslav Skorik is best known in the "West" for his soundtrack to the film "Tini Zabutykh Predkiv" ["Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors"], of 1964, by filmmaker Sergei Paradjanov, who was born in Tbilisi, Georgia [to Armenian parents], studied in Moscow, Russia, and began his career in Kyiv, Ukraine -- all countries, including Armenia, of which are part of 'Europe', according to the United Nations geographical classification system. After the filming of "Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors" several outstanding works of Hutsel [Gutsel]-East Carpathian folk art were donated by the film team to the National Art Museum, Kyiv.]

I hope that the "experts" at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Washington National Opera; as well as many staff members of the new American Democratic Congress and aides to all the Democratic Presidential Candidates, are beginning to pay attention to the issue of America's national culture and its tarnished image both at home and in the world at large.

Kyiv, Ukraine National Opera
January 2007 Event Composer Type

1. Coppelia L. Delibes Ballet
3. Nutcracker P. Tchaikovsky Ballet
3. Barber from Seville G. Rossini Opera
4. Nutcracker P. Tchaikovsky Ballet
4. Tsar's Bride M. Rimsky-Korsakov Opera
5 Nutcracker P. Tchaikovsky Ballet
5 Madame Butterfly G. Puccini Opera
6. Kiev Orchestra and Choir Various Concert
7. Christmas [Orthodox] Show Various Concert
9 Bayaderka L. Minkus Ballet
10 Zaporozhets za Dunaem S. G. Artemovski Opera
11 La Sylphide H. von Lovenskjold Ballet
11 Panyanka i Khuligan D. Shostakovich Ballet
12 Lucia di Lammermoor G. Donizetti Opera
13 Carmen Suite G. Bizet/R. Shedrin Ballet
13 Bolero M. Ravel Ballet
14 Moses M. Skorik Opera
16 Swan Lake P. Tchaikovsky Ballet
17 Rigoletto G. Verdi Opera
18 Nutcracker P. Tchaikovsky Ballet
19 Natalka Poltavka M. Lysenko Opera
20 La Sylphide H. von Lovenskjold Ballet
21 Carmen G. Bizet Opera
22 Reunion Day Gala Evening Various Concert
23 La Traviata G. Verdi Opera
24 Carmen Suite G. Bizet/R. Shedrin Ballet
24 Paquita L. Minkus Ballet
25 Nabucco G. Verdi Opera
27 Eugene Onegin P. Tchaikovsky Drama
28 Nutcracker P. Tchaikovsky Ballet
30 Barber from Seville G. Rossini Opera
31 Vienna Waltz Strauss Family Ballet

Ticket prices range from 5 to 50 Hryvnia ($1.00 to $10.00) per performance and are available at the National Opera House ticket box office (234-7165) or from ticket outlets located throughout the city and shopping malls. Prices for special events may be higher in cost. The National Opera House is located at 50 Volodymyrska Street (corner of Bohdana Khmelnystkoho Street [and near the new 'Opera' Luxury-Boutique Hotel]) and is one the best cultural event values for the money, in Kyiv.

[Click image for enlargement.]

Moses and the Evil Spirit...
The Evil Spirit Makes Fun of Moses, Taunts Him, Laughs At Him, Tempts Him

Scene from Act II of Myroslav Skoryk's Moses, based upon the Ukrainian poem by Ivan Franko. The opera premiered in Lviv, Ukraine, Europe, in the Spring of 2001.

Photo credit: (c) and Pro-W International Corp.(Ukraine). All rights reserved. With thanks.

Mr Cogito Ponders Russian Priest Father Georgii Gapon, His Friend Pinhas Rutenberg, And Past Crimes Of The Soul And Crimes Of The State

"Bloody Sunday (Russian: Кровавое воскресенье) was an incident on 22 January 1905 [O.S. 9 January] in St. Petersburg, Russia, where unarmed, peaceful demonstrators marching to present a petition to Tsar Nicholas II [the last Emperor of Russia, King of Poland, and Grand Duke of Finland] were gunned down by the Imperial Guard. The event was organized by Father Gapon, who was paid by the Okhranka, the Tsarist secret police, and thus considered to be its agent provocateur. Bloody Sunday was a serious blunder on the part of the Okhranka, and an event with grave consequences for the Tsarist regime, as the blatant disregard for ordinary people shown by the massacre undermined support for the state. Despite the consequences of this action, the Tsar was never fully blamed because he was not in the city at the time of protest.

Father George Gapon founded the Assembly of Russian Factory and Plant Workers, an officially sanctioned and police-sponsored organization designed to divert unrest away from revolutionary activities. In late December, there was a strike at Putilov plant. Sympathy strikes in other parts of the city raised the number of strikers above 80,000. By January 8, the city had no electricity and no newspapers. All public areas were declared closed. Father Gapon organized a peaceful 'workers' procession' to the Winter Palace to deliver a petition to the Tsar that Sunday. He was warned not to act. Troops had been deployed around the Winter Palace and at other key points. The Tsar left the city on January 8 for Tsarskoe Selo.

On the fated Sunday, striking workers and their families gathered at six points in the city. Clutching religious icons and singing hymns, they proceeded towards the Winter Palace without police interference. The demonstrators deliberately placed women and children in the front ranks of the procession in the hope that it would prevent troops from attacking. However, the army pickets near the palace fired warning shots, and then fired directly into the crowds to disperse them. Gapon was fired upon near the Narva Gate. Around forty people surrounding him were killed, but he was uninjured.

Estimates of the number killed are uncertain. The Tsar's officials recorded 96 dead and 333 injured; anti-government sources claimed over 4,000 dead; moderate estimates still average around 1,000 killed or wounded, both from shots and trampled during the panic. Nicholas II described the day as 'painful', but as reports spread across the city, disorder and looting broke out. Gapon's Assembly was closed down that day, and he quickly left Russia [for a safe house in London]. Returning in October, he was assassinated [hanged in a Finnish cottage] by his friend Pinhas Rutenberg when Gapon revealed that he was working for the Secret Police.

This event sparked revolutionary activities in Russia that resulted in the Revolution of 1905."


Petition Prepared for Presentation to Nicholas II

on "Bloody Sunday" (January 22/9, 1905)


We, workers and inhabitants of the city of St. Petersburg, members of various sosloviia (estates of the realm), our wives, children, and helpless old parents, have come to you, Sovereign, to seek justice and protection. We are impoverished and oppressed, we are burdened with work, and insulted. We are treated not like humans [but] like slaves who must suffer a bitter fate and keep silent. And we have suffered, but we only get pushed deeper and deeper into a gulf of misery, ignorance, and lack of rights. Despotism and arbitrariness are suffocating us, we are gasping for breath. Sovereign, we have no strength left. We have reached the limit of our patience. We have come to that terrible moment when it is better to die than to continue unbearable sufferings.

And so we left our work and declared to our employers that we will not return to work until they meet our demands. We do not ask much; we only want that without which life is hard labor and eternal suffering. Our first request was that our employers discuss our needs together with us. But they refused to do this; they denied us the right to speak about our needs, on the grounds that the law does not provide us with such a right. Also unlawful were our other requests: to reduce the working day to eight hours; for them to set wages together with us and by agreement with us; to examine our disputes with lower-level factory administrators; to increase the wages of unskilled workers and women to one ruble per day; to abolish overtime work; to provide medical care attentively and without insult; to build shops so that it is possible to work there and not face death from the awful drafts, rain and snow.

Our employers and the factory administrators considered all this to be illegal: every one of our requests was a crime, and our desire to improve our condition was slanderous insolence.

Sovereign, there are thousands of us here; outwardly we are human beings, but in reality neither we nor the Russian people[1] as a whole are provided with any human rights, even the right to speak, to think, to assemble, to discuss our needs, or to take measure to improve our conditions. They have enslaved us and they did so under the protection of your officials, with their aid and with their cooperation. They imprison and send into exile any one of us who has the courage to speak on behalf of the interests of the working class and of the people. They punish us for a good heart and a responsive spirit as if for a crime. To pity a downtrodden and tormented person with no rights is to commit a grave crime. The entire working people and the peasants are subjected to the proizvol (arbitrariness) of a bureaucratic administration composed of embezzlers of public funds and thieves who not only have not concern at all for the interests of the Russian people but who harm those interests. The bureaucratic administration has reduced the country to complete destitution, drawn it into a shameful war, and brings Russia ever further towards ruin. We, the workers and the people, have no voice in the expenditure of the enormous sums that are collected from us. We do not even know where the money collected from the impoverished people goes. The people is deprived of any possibility of expressing its wishes and demands, or of participating in the establishment of taxes and in their expenditure. Workers are deprived of the possibility of organizing into unions to defend their interests. Sovereign! Does all this accord with the law of God, by Whose grace you reign? And is it possible to live under such laws? Would it not be better if we, the toiling people of all Russia, died? Let the capitalists--exploiters of the working class--and the bureaucrats--embezzlers of public funds and the pillagers of the Russian people--live and enjoy themselves.

Sovereign, this is what we face and this is the reason that we have gathered before the walls of your palace. Here we seek our last salvation. Do not refuse to come to the aid of your people; lead it out of the grave of poverty, ignorance, and lack of rights; grant it the opportunity to determine its own destiny, and deliver it from them the unbearable yoke of the bureaucrats. Tear down the wall that separates you from your people and let it rule the country together with you. You have been placed [on the throne] for the happiness of the people; the bureaucrats, however, snatch this happiness out of our hands, and it never reaches us; we get only grief and humiliation. Sovereign, examine our requests attentively and without any anger; they incline not to evil, but to the good, both for us and for you. Ours is not the voice of insolence but of the realization that we must get out of a situation that is unbearable for everyone. Russia is too big, her needs are to diverse and many, for her to be ruled only by bureaucrats. We need popular representation; it is necessary for the people to help itself and to administer itself. After all, only the people knows its real needs. Do not fend off its help, accept it, and order immediately, at once, that representatives of the Russian land from all classes, all estates of the realm be summoned, including representatives from the workers. Let the capitalist be there, and the worker, and the bureaucrat, and the priest, and the doctor and the teacher--let everyone, whoever they are, elect their representatives. Let everyone be free and equal in his voting rights, and to that end order that elections to the Constituent Assembly be conducted under universal, secret and equal suffrage.

This is our main request, everything is based on it; it is the main and only poultice for our painful wounds, without which those wounds must freely bleed and bring us to a quick death.

But no single measure can heal all our wounds. Other measures are necessary, and we, representing of all of Russia's toiling class, frankly and openly speak to you, Sovereign, as to a father, about them.

The following are necessary:

I. Measures against the ignorance of the Russian people
and against its lack of rights

1. Immediate freedom and return home for all those who have suffered for their political and religious convictions, for strike activity, and for peasant disorders.

2. Immediate proclamation of the freedom and inviolability of the person, of freedom of speech and of the press, of freedom of assembly, and of freedom of conscience in matters of religion.

3. Universal and compulsory public education at state expense.

4. Accountability of government ministers to the people and a guarantee of lawful administration.

5. Equality of all before the law without exception.

6. Separation of church and state

II. Measures against the poverty of the people

1. Abolition of indirect taxes and their replacement by a direct, progressive income tax.

2. Abolition of redemption payments, cheap credit, and the gradual transfer of land to the people.

3. Naval Ministry contracts should be filled in Russia, not abroad.

4. Termination of the war according to the will of the people.

III. Measures against the oppression of labor by capital

1. Abolition of the office of factory inspector.

2. Establishment in factories and plants of permanent commissions elected by the workers, which jointly with the administration are to investigate all complaints coming from individual workers. A worker cannot be fired except by a resolution of this commission.

3. Freedom for producer-consumer cooperatives and workers' trade unions--at once.

4. An eight-hour working day and regulation of overtime work.

5. Freedom for labor to struggle with capital--at once.

6. Wage regulation--at once.

7. Guaranteed participation of representatives of the working classes in drafting a law on state insurance for workers--at once.

These, sovereign, are our main needs, about which we have come to you; only when they are satisfied will the liberation of our Motherland from slavery and destitution be possible, only then can she flourish, only then can workers organize to defend their interests from insolent exploitation by capitalists and by the bureaucratic administration that plunders and suffocates the people. Give the order, swear to meet these needs, and you will make Russia both happy and glorious, and your name will be fixed in our hearts and the hearts of our posterity for all time--but if you do not give the order, if you do not respond to our prayer, then we shall die here, on this square, in front of your palace. We have nowhere else to go and no reason to. There are only two roads for us, one to freedom and happiness, the other to the grave. Let our lives be sacrificed for suffering Russia. We do not regret that sacrifice, we embrace it eagerly.

Georgii Gapon, priest

Ivan Vasimov, worker."

-- Translated by Daniel Field

The Tsar's soldiers shooting at demonstrators at the Winter Palace, January 22, 1905

Text, source, and image credits: and With thanks.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Leading Central European Art And Architecture Scholar Publishes New Tome On Grand Pidhirtsi Castle-Palace-Church Complex Near Lviv, Ukraine

Jan K. Ostrowski, the director of the Wawel Castle Museum and Cathedral Complex in Krakow, Poland, Europe, and the author or co-author of 'The Land of the Winged Horsemen: Art in Poland 1572-1764'; 'Wawel: Castle and Cathedral'; 'Masters of Polish Painting'; 'Krakow' [Poland]; and 'Lviv' [Ukraine]; has just published a large-scale scholarly study of the Grand Pidhirtsi Castle-Palace [1635-1640] near Lviv, Ukraine, which is a highlight of the "Golden Horseshoe" of Castles and Palaces in the Lviv Region. This grand Eastern European Castle-Palace Complex was used by the Nazis and the Soviets as a headquarters and as a political prison. After the war and until the 1990s, the property was used as a sanatorium. The property awaits UNESCO World Heritage site designation and funding, which would allow for cultural heritage and related commercial development of the site.

As well as the Renaissance Castle-Palace complex, founded by the Rzewuski family, the site contains a beautiful wooden church of St. Michael from 1720 (said to have been miraculously transported to its site), and the Baroque church of St. Joseph (1752-1766), which was recently restored by cultural scientists from Lviv, Ukraine; Krakow, Poland; and Petersburg, Russia.

Further publication ordering details on this tome will be posted when located. [NB: The volume is published using the Polish name of the Pidhirtsi Castle-Palace.]

Pidhirtsi Renaissance Castle-Palace and Churches Complex, Lviv Region, Ukraine, Future European Union.

Photo credit: Lviv Ecotourism, Ukraine. With thanks.

Hot-Headed Movie Stars And Speculators, And Warm-Hearted Investors, Flocking To Coastlines And Historic Districts Of Bulgaria, Romania, And Ukraine

"Real estate sales in parts of Bulgaria have topped Europe’s hottest properties lists for the last two years, fed by a booming tourism sector and investment-hungry British and Irish buyers. In contrast, neighboring Romania continues to see big gains, but without yet appearing on the foreign buyer’s radar.

Both countries joined the European Union on Jan. 1, and real estate analysts say the effects include an increase in confidence — and, eventually more sales — from foreigners wanting second homes or investment properties.

“It’s more of a psychological factor from the viewpoint of foreigners who thought Bulgaria and Romania were risky countries,” said Georgi Dutchev, the editor in chief of Properties Xpress, a magazine published in English and Bulgarian here. For them, E.U. membership “means transparency and certainty for investment, even though it’s not that way, or at least not immediately.”

The countries have the lowest property prices in the 27-member bloc, even though they have experienced years of sharp price increases.

For example, a 70-square-meter, or about 750-square-foot, apartment in Sofia would have sold last year for about 48,160 euros, or $62,608, according to figures from the country’s National Statistical Institute. That is twice as much as the apartment would have sold for in 1993, when it would have been the equivalent of 24,364 euros, or $31,500. (One square meter is about 11 square feet.)

And in Romania, the real estate company DTZ Echinox estimates that residential properties in middle-class parts of Bucharest sell for an average of 1,000 euros, or $1,292, per square meter.

For comparison, average sale prices in London, where real estate prices are the highest in the European market, are the equivalent of 5,758 euros, or $7,444, per square meter, while those in Genoa, Italy, considered a mid-sized market, average 3,500 euros, or $4,524, according to Colliers International, a real estate consulting firm.

Milan Khatri, chief economist at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in London, said two key factors — lending and increasing incomes — indicate that local buyers will continue to fuel price increases, at least for now.

Mortgage lending, which began on a large scale in both countries during the last few years, will expand as banks see there is less risk and interest rates decline, he said. Also, rising incomes will add to residents’ buying power, while giving investors added security. “In that sense, the picture is very positive,” Mr. Khatri said.

Another major factor in both countries is the growing demand of people who live in shabby communist-era apartments for bigger, more modern and comfortable housing — and the shortage of supply.

“I don’t see a massive price rise, I see a flight to quality,” said Mike Lloyd, chief executive of TriNation, the Romanian development company that is building the 1.1 million-square-meter, or 11.8 million-square-feet, Baneasa project in Bucharest. The 1.2 billion euro, or $1.55 billion, development will create an entire neighborhood, with residential, commercial and office components.

Mr. Lloyd said that, while he has encountered speculators who want to buy now in the expectation of selling at higher prices later, he thinks the main impact of E.U. membership will be to educate Romanian buyers about European property standards. “The junk being built now will struggle to find prices,” he said. Romanians “won’t accept the low quality that they have in the past.”

But Orlin Vladikov, chairman of the Bulgarian national property association, said that the country’s E.U. membership and the resulting increase in foreign investment will help sustain Bulgaria’s property boom.

For example, he said, last September the European Commission confirmed Bulgaria’s membership — and foreign investment in the fourth quarter of 2006 rose 24 percent over the same period in the previous year.

Mr. Vladikov also noted that, while Bulgaria’s sales to foreigners initially were along the Black Sea coast and in the Bankso ski zone, new projects are near historical, cultural and natural sites, especially spa areas like Sandanski and Velingrad." ...

Matthew Brunwasser "In E.U.’s Newest States, a Hotter Market" New York Times January 17, 2007

UNESCO World Heritage Site Lviv, Ukraine, as photographed in summertime and wintertime.

Photo credits: (c) and Roman Zakharii. With thanks.


Please visit the superb Lviv and Greater Lviv Region web-pages of Roman Zakharii. Mr Zakharii was born in Berezhany, Ukraine, but has studied and worked the past few years in Lviv, Ukraine; Oslo, Norway; Leipzig, Germany, and elsewhere. He is a specialist in Pan European Medieval Studies.

Those wishing to visit and learn more deeply about Lviv and Western and Central Ukraine -- or the Crimea, or the South Coast areas near Odesa and Izmail -- before investing may wish to contact Mr Zahkarii [], Vladyslav "Slav" Tsarynnyk at Lviv Ecotourism Company, or other humane Ukrainian ecological and cultural heritage tourism companies.

DI Zbigniew Herbert And DS Olga Grushin Probe The Crimes Of The Soul Underlying Contemporary Life And Culture

Olga Grushin reads at the National Museum of Women In The Arts, Washington, D.C., United States

January 25, 2007 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Reservations required.
Call 202-783-7370 or email

Olga Grushin reads from her extraordinary debut novel, The Dream Life of Sukhanov (2006), which was short-listed for the Orange Award for New Writers and compared to the works of Nabokov, Tolstoy, and Gogol. Russian-born Grushin drew partly upon memories of her childhood in communist Moscow to craft a novel full of richly complex characters who explore the interplay between art and politics, hope and regret at the end of the Soviet era. A reception and book signing follow the program.


Ms Grushin will also be reading at Politics and Prose Bookstore, Connecticut Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C., on Saturday, January 27, 2007, at 1 PM [6 PM? Check beforehand.]


In December 2006, The Washington Post's Book World named The Dream Life of Sukhanov one of the ten best books of the year.


Excerpt from Olga Grushin's The Dream Life of Sukhanov

"Sukhanov no longer wrote any articles himself: at his level of importance, creation had by necessity sunk to the bottom of his list of priorities. He was content with regulating the general flow of things -- supervising the obsequiously smooth workings of his staff, distributing a monthly set of preselected themes among a trusted handful of critics, then poring through their texts to weed out a few chance occurrences of names better left unmentioned or to nudge two or three carelessly straying phrases back into the herd. He prepared each glossy, pleasantly substantial issue of Art of the World according to the same simple yet unfailing recipe: Take a doughy theoretical discourse on the methods and principles of Revolutionary art, stuff it with two or three well-seasoned essays portraying Repin and Fedotov as precursors of socialist realism and Levitan as an enemy of tsarism, mix in a sugarcoated biography of a famous Soviet master in the vein of Malinin and a spicy discovery of some unjustly ignored genius of the Italian Renaissance who was vilely persecuted by the Church, whisk in, for a bit of exotic flavor, an interview with this or that diamond-in-the-rough from a remote Asian republic . . . and finally, generously pepper the whole with quotations from Marx and Lenin."


Why the Classics
by Zbigniew Herbert

in the fourth book of the Peloponnesian War
Thucydides tells among other things
the story of his unsuccessful expedition

among long speeches of chiefs
battles sieges plague
dense net of intrigues of diplomatic endeavours
the episode is like a pin
in a forest

the Greek colony Amphipolis
fell into the hands of Brasidos
because Thucydides was late with relief

for this he paid his native city
with lifelong exile

exiles of all times
know what price that is

generals of the most recent wars
if a similar affair happens to them
whine on their knees before posterity
praise their heroism and innocence

they accuse their subordinates
envious collegues
unfavourable winds

Thucydides says only
that he had seven ships
it was winter
and he sailed quickly

if art for its subject
will have a broken jar
a small broken soul
with a great self-pity

what will remain after us
will it be lovers' weeping
in a small dirty hotel
when wall-paper dawns

Translated by Peter Dale Scott and Czeslaw Milosz

[And with apologies to John Carpenter & Bogdana Carpenter for, in my haste, neglecting to cite them, last month, as the translators of Zbigniew Herbert's The Envoy of Mr Cogito.]

Detective Inspector Zbigniew Herbert and Detective Sergeant Olga Grushin

Photo credits: Olga Grushin photo (c) Tamara Beckwith. All rights reserved. With thanks.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Mr Cogito Politely Declines Invitation To Join American Idol Bloggers And To Make A Positive Contribution To Humanity

"January 17, 2007

Dear blog author:

We recently came across your site,, while searching for bloggers who blog about the hit tv show American Idol [sic], now starting its sixth season.

A small group of us have started a new site called American Idol Bloggers. Our intent is to bring American Idol bloggers closer together, and make a positive contribution to the Internet community.

Would you be interested in joining American Idol Bloggers? Please take a few minutes to have a look at what we are trying to do, and if you are interested, there is a sign up page to get the ball rolling. We would greatly appreciate your support in this endeavour.

If you do not feel that your blog would be a good fit for American Idol Bloggers, but are an American Iool fan [sic], come visit us and one of our member bloggers. You can also check our FAQ Section to learn more about American Idol Bloggers.

We look forward to hearing from you and seeing you on American Idol Bloggers.

Craig C*****
American Idol Bloggers

Please note: you will receive this email no more than twice. If you do not respond to this email, we will send out a second and final email in approximately 3 weeks time. If you respond, by joining or by declining the invitation, we will not intentionally send this invite a second time.

You can join or visit American Idol Bloggers at any time, but we do not believe in spam, and will not intentionally send this invite more than twice. If you have any concerns regarding our anti-spam policy, please do not hesitate to contact us."


"I turn to history not for lessons in hope, but to confront my experience with the experience of others and to win for myself something which I should call universal compassion - a sense of responsibility for the human conscience."

-- European and World Poet Zbigniew Herbert, 1924 - 1998


A fragment from a Zbigniew Herbert poem is on a bronze plaque on a landing outside of the Rector's Offices and the Academic Senate Hall of Collegium Novum, the main Administrative Building of Jagellonian University, Krakow, Poland. The plaque remembers the Professors, Administrators, Workers, and Students who were Victims of Nazi and Soviet Terror in Krakow, Poland during the period 1939 to 1989.

Collegium Novum, the main Administrative Building of Jagellonian University, Krakow, Poland. The European and World University was first founded in 1364 CE.

Photo credit: Jagellonian University. With thanks.


I thank the United States Agency for International Development and the University of Maryland, College Park which funded my first visit to Warsaw, Krakow, and Jagellonian University's Collegium Maius and Collegium Novum in 1993.

Council of 'Europe' Announces Kyiv Initiative Regional Program For Sustainable Community Development Through Integrated Culture And Heritage Policies

Kyiv Initiative Regional Program: Sustainable community development through integrated culture and heritage policies

The Kyiv Initiative is a regional and transversal program of cultural co-operation between five countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ukraine, and Moldova.

The Kyiv Initiative Regional Program reflects the Council of Europe’s vision of sustainable development which takes into account culture, heritage, environment protection, and urban planning as interconnected elements. Its main objective is to foster a trans-sectoral approach to the management of culture and cultural heritage, through multilateral regional co-operation.

Presentation of the program

Ministerial Conference to launch the Kyiv Initiative Regional Program (15 December 2006, Bucharest, Romania)

Saint Andrew's Orthodox Christian Church, Kyiv, Ukraine, Europe.

Photo credit: With thanks.

A Spiritually Time-Warped Envoy To Galina Ustvolskaya

Composer Galina Ustvolskaya, who was born in 1919 in her beloved Petrograd, Russia; died on December 22, 2006, in her, again, beloved Petersburg, Russia. I look forward to reexploring her powerful expressionist and religious music of the 20th century, and encourage others to do so too.

I was unaware of her passing when I last posted here on December 24 and 31; and was again yesterday as I listened, on my return flight from Ukraine, Poland, and London, to Valery Gergiev and Yuri Bashmet perform the August 18, 2006 London Proms concert featuring Shostakovich, Schnittke's Viola Concerto, and Tchaikovsky's Symphony #6.


Last Thursday, my wife -- who works as an assistant to Peter I. Tchaikovsky's great grand nephew -- and I listened to the Wroclaw Academic Chamber Orchestra expertly perform, in the historic Marian Oratorio of the Leopoldium Collegium (Wroclaw University) [where Brahms received an honorary musical doctorate from the city and university fathers of Prussian Breslau, Germany] works by Lipinsky [a clarinet concerto], T. Baird, and Villa Lobos [his guitar concerto]. Alas, the expert musicians were not able also to incorporate a chamber music tribute to Galina Ustvolskaya. Perhaps the ensemble will honor her with a full program when Wroclaw soon assumes the position --following Krakow [and Sibiu, Romania] -- of 'European' Capital City of Culture.


Yuri Bashmet and the Moscow Soloists, with Wu Man, at the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., Wednesday, January 24, 2007.

Perhaps there could be an addition of a work by Galina Ustvolskaya?

Galina Ustvolskaya, 1919-2006

Photo credit: Boosey and Hawkes. With thanks.