Saturday, April 30, 2011

Further Adventures In British Dentistry

Which is worse: the hat or the teeth?

I nominate the teeth, because the hat may be discarded.

Cannot the British Royal Family afford proper dentistry?

The "Times" Has Spoken

There’s a thin line between high fashion and foolishness.

The daughters of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice, crossed that line when they arrived for the Royal Wedding in little matronly outfits and hideous hats.

Princess Eugenie wore an outfit by Vivienne Westwood. Irish designer Philip Treacy completed her blue and floral print ensemble (which resembled a curtain) with a hideous hat.

Her sister, Princess Beatrice, wore a beige Valentino couture ensemble with gloves by Cornelia James and an even more ridiculous Philip Treacy creation. Her headpiece sat in the front of her head and was more of a small structure than a hat.

She looked like she was wearing antlers.

The Times (London), 30 April 2011

Friday, April 15, 2011


A distant relative of my mother—an elderly woman, living alone, whose husband died two years ago and whose only son died nine years ago—was brutally murdered in her Victorian home in Southern Virginia last evening around 9:00 p.m.

The photo above, with police cars and crime-scene yellow tape visible, was taken this morning.

Why would anyone choose to kill a harmless, kind, gentle 84-year-old woman?

I am shaken.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Furtwangler In Color

A rare color photograph of Wilhelm Furtwangler, obviously from the very last months of his life.

Furtwangler was a fascinating figure.

Some odd facts about Furtwangler I recently learned, all of which surprised me greatly:

Furtwangler never conducted the Dresden Staatskapelle.

Furtwangler never conducted the Czech Philharmonic.

Furtwangler conducted performances of Handel’s oratorio, “Judas Maccabaeus”.

Furtwangler conducted performances of Tchaikovsky’s opera, “Iolanta”.

Furtwangler disliked the symphonies (but not the songs) of Mahler, yet Furtwangler nonetheless conducted a performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 in 1920.

Furtwangler disliked the symphonies of Shostakovich, yet Furtwangler nonetheless conducted at least two performances of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 9 in 1950.

Furtwangler did not conduct the premiere of his own first symphony. Bruno Walter conducted the premiere performance of Furtwangler’s Symphony No.1.

On two of the three occasions on which Furtwangler came to America to conduct the New York Philharmonic (and only the New York Philharmonic), he took the New York Philharmonic on tour, appearing with the orchestra as far south as Washington and as far west as Pittsburgh.

During World War I, Furtwangler conducted in a portion of France under German occupation. Furtwangler conducted wartime performances in Lille while the city was under German control (Lille was occupied by Germany for most of the war).

During World War II, Furtwangler conducted in occupied Denmark. Furtwangler on two separate occasions conducted a Danish orchestra in wartime performances in Copenhagen while Denmark was under German occupation. (Furtwangler had also been in Copenhagen, preparing concerts, on the day Germany invaded Denmark. Those particular concerts were cancelled.)

The latter appearances contradict Furtwangler’s oft-repeated public claim that he never conducted during wartime in countries or territories occupied by Germany.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Music In Wartime For Armaments Workers

February 1942: Wilhelm Furtwangler conducts the Vienna Philharmonic in a factory concert for armaments workers at Vienna's AEG-Werk.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Funeral Cortege Of Emperor Franz Joseph

The funeral cortege of Emperor Franz Joseph.

At the time of his death in November 1916, Franz Joseph believed The Great War to be no longer winnable—yet he had been powerless to affect the course or conduct of the war since autumn 1914.

The Austro-Hungarian Empire had lost control over wartime decision-making involving The Central Powers in the war’s very earliest months, when the armed forces of The Austro-Hungarian Empire had failed miserably on The Eastern Front and had had to be bailed out by The German Army. After its debacle on The Eastern Front, The Austro-Hungarian Empire had become effectively a vassal state of Germany—and it was to remain so until the war’s conclusion.

Kaiser Wilhelm did not attend Franz Joseph’s funeral. The Kaiser sent German Crown Prince Wilhelm to Vienna to represent him.

After Franz Joseph’s death, the war was to grind on for another twenty-four months.

Two days before the 1918 cease-fire that finally ended hostilities, The House Of Hohenzollern fell.

One day after the cease-fire, The House Of Habsburg met a similar fate.