Sunday, 27 January 2013

Les Patineurs, Die Shlittschuhlaufer, Gli Pattinatori

Inspired by Le Cercle des Patineurs du Bois de Boulogne in Paris, this beautiful waltz composed in 1882 by Emile Waldteufel is perfect for a bright sunny cold Winter day watching the skaters on the Rideau Canal in Ottawa. The other piece of music is an arrangement of Meyerbeer's music by Constant Lambert for the choreographer  Frederick Ashton, Les Patineurs, this version from a Japanese NHK TV production. This second piece I did not know of and it was brought to my attention by our friend D.N. in London.

This is what I saw today in front of our house. Lots of people skating along the 7.8 Km. The Canal is to Ottawa what the Eiffel Tower is to Paris. Something everyone in the Capital enjoys summer or winter.

I did not go to the other end of the skateway which ends at Dow's Lake, on a sunny winter day
its very nice.

Wandteufel, Les Patineurs

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Italian landscape painting in the 18th century

In the 18th century Rome and Italy was the centre of the Art World. The wealthy did the Grand Tour which involved as one of many destinations on this grand tour, Italy and Rome of course was a highlight, a must see, as we say today.  On this tour Greece was also a highlight but for different reasons. Rome and Naples was a centre for music, opera, painting, sculpture and all other forms of art.
Greece was the repository of  ethics, philosophy, democracy, ancient myths, learning and classical theatre.

Rome has always had in Western history a surreal, magical place, the child of Greece who grew up to out shine Greece.  Athens became the client of Rome, then had a long period of dormancy, Constantinople became the centre until its conquest by the Ottoman Turks but remained as Istanbul an Imperial Capital. Rome did go into a demise for about 1000 years until 1450 when with the returns of the Papacy from Avignon, the city is resurrected, re-assuming its Imperial grandeur.

Painters all flocked to Rome to study the techniques of the Italian masters like Tintoretto, Caravaggio, Titian, Veronese, Tiepolo. Most if not all French painters and painters of other countries like the Dutch, Germans and others flocked to Italy.

Playing with light and the clear/obscure shades of many Italian painters inspired them. The paintings are a romantic play on classical themes or on landscapes to inspire Europeans who travelled on the grand tour.

What I like about those paintings is that today some 250 years later you can still see these same scenes with little or no change at all. How often can you visit a place today and see the same undisturbed area
centuries later.

Paul Flandrin, View of the Villa Torlonia at Frascati.

Charles Rémond, View of the Basilica of Constantine from the Palatine Hill, Rome
This view of the Forum and the Ancient Basilica of Constantine is far more bucolic than today.
This majestic monument to Emperor Constantine as been stabilized by archeologists and the area behind it is built up now with the Via dei Fori Imperiali.

Hubert Robert painted this fabricated view of the Port of Ripetta. He was very clever at creating
pictures by putting famous buildings into his paintings inventing a scenery. His view on Paris is interesting he puts all the famous buildings in one frame as if they all look at each other on a piazza.
Here in this painting you have on the right the Senators Palace from the Campidoglio, the Pantheon which is not at all located on Via di Ripetta and look the two columns on each side of the Pantheon are taken from the formal entrance of Villa Borghese on Piazzale Flaminio. The Port of Ripetta no longer exist it disappeared in 1860 when Garibaldi had the embankment walls built in the Tiber River to prevent the annual winter floods of Rome. Via di Ripetta starts in Piazza Del Popolo, the port was located by the Ponte Cavour and Via Tomacelli. But it is nonetheless a beautifully romantic painting.

Finally this view of the Temple of the Sybil at Tivoli near Rome. This is probably a morning view because in the afternoon the sun sets behind these buildings to the right and they appear in a very different light then, more dark golden. Claude Vernet painted this scene in 1740 while in Rome and today it is the same nothing has changed. It is just as magical as ever.

All these painters made Italy famous and encouraged people to visit to this day.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Travel to Italy anyone?

A few weeks ago I became an associate with a group of people who are promoting Italy as a travel destination. Our group offers Italian language courses, Cooking classes and Wine tours in Italy. We can also offer guide tours of Italian regions, advice and services on villa and apartment rentals in Italy, preferred hotels to fit your budget and what ever other services you might need if you wish to travel to la bella Italia.

We are all Italian speakers and we have all lived in Italy, some of us even have family there. Our advice is based on sound knowledge of all aspects to ensure that you will find enjoyment in any part of what we have to offer.

Have a look at the website

 If you want any questions on the information on the website you should mention my name as the associate who referred you, Lorenzo. You can contact me directly here and I will forward any request you may have or you can contact Stefania at the following email:

Marcus-Aurelius, Campidoglio, Roma

Piazza Venezia, Roma

Sunday, 20 January 2013

20 January 2013

Let's wish the best of good luck to President Obama on his second term in Office. In my opinion he is one of the best President the USA has had in many decades.

White House, Blue Room, NY Times photo/Doug Mills.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Alberto Testa

Today in Rome Maestro Alberto Testa is being honoured on his 90th Birthday. The Tribute is being organized by the Accademia Nazionale di Danza a Roma. This will be an all day event to celebrate the life of this great artist who has done so much for dance in Italy. We met him through our friend S.A. while we lived in Rome and spent our Easters with him and friends. He is a delightful person.
I had dinner with him in Rome last March at one of our favourite restaurant I Limoncini on Via del Giuba. He is known amongst many things as the choreographer of the classic movie The Leopard (Il Gattopardo, 1963) with Burt Lancaster and Claudia Cardinale. The movie was an adaptation of the novel of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa. He had some funny stories about the making of the movie and about the main actors.

Before we left Rome in 2011 we went up by train to Spoleto to meet him and to attend a tribute to his career and work, it was a wonderful day.  

A Winter Post from the frozen North

We are in January and it is snowing, the Rideau Canal is open in the section from Pretoria Bridge to Bank street bridge for skating, a distance of 2.3 Km. It's cold and frankly I don't like it.
Nicky and Nora love to run in the snow and stick their noses in the white stuff.
I had a very bad fall on Wednesday, we were going to dinner and walking in the parking area was difficult, thick polished ice is very dangerous and one wrong step and you are sent flying. This is what happened, I took one step and my left foot slipped I landed on my left side very hard on the ice using my arm to break my fall. My left arm and shoulder are still sore and sensitive, however did not break anything and no bruises. My doctor told me that I was very lucky, broken wrists and damaged shoulders are hard to mend. My art class presentation on behalf of the National Gallery of Canada was cancelled this week, labour trouble between the Ontario government and the teachers is playing havoc with our presentations this year.

I have also been reading a lot lately, several books friends recommended, love to read on Kindle. I will write a review of what I have been reading later.

I have been staying close to home, going out for errands but that is it. Puppies keep me company, I think that dogs purpose in life is to amuse us by clowning around. Nicky and Nora always appear to think of something to do to make us smile. Their birthdays is coming up in February, they will be 4 years old, amazing how time goes by quickly.

Yesterday was a bright sunny day and of course Nick the beach boy, like any good hound wants to lie in the sunshine, he will lie there on the carpet for hours not moving, only getting up for a little drink of water. He just loves the sunlight, I think it is his therapy to counter the dark winter days.

This photo was taken in Rome in 2010, I am holding Nicky and Will has little Nora.

Nicky on his blanket in Ottawa this week.

Nora peering from under the blanket, she has an Old Testament look about her.


Friday, 11 January 2013

A Wedding in Rome

On Saturday 12 January in the church of San Lorenzo in Lucina our friends Maria Luisa and Fabrizio will be married. Such a wonderfully nice couple. We wish we could have been present but unfortunately it was not possible.

Basilica of San Lorenzo in Lucina, built in 440 AD. Rome

The reception will be held at the Palace of Prince Brancaccio on Monte Oppio, Rome
A wonderful place for such a happy event.

We dedicate to them this wonderful Danish Wedding Waltz by composer Niels Wiggo Gade for their special day. Tantissimi Auguri!

Monday, 7 January 2013

and now January

Yes the Holidays Season is over and we now enter into January of the blahs. It was for us a quiet Season, very few parties only 2 in fact, one I gave and one we went to. It seems that as time goes by fewer people are willing to give parties on the scale known in the past. Who can blame them, frankly unless you have a very good reason for a party and really want to have a good time, I find and I do not know if a lot of people feel the same way, that I do not have the energy. I much prefer to have a few people over for dinner or a cocktail or just for an afternoon drink, a good scotch, tea, some little thing to eat. Keep it simple, the new motto. It is far nicer, I find to have maybe 2 to 4 people over and just talk and laugh, gossip over drinks. Winter weather eats up a lot of your energy  and this is probably the extreme cold and the difficulty of walking in snow and ice covered sidewalks.

Also the cost is something to keep in mind, it is often better to simply go to a nice restaurant than to entertain at home. If we go out in the evening now, I prefer to take a taxi instead of driving, you can have a drink or two or three and not worry about the issue of who is the designated driver, parking and then driving home often in winter on bad roads. As anyone seen the roads in Ottawa lately, my God! what a mess, snow banks 9 feet high, yes that is 2.7 meter high folks. The City is not cleaning as much as it could and everything is carefully budgeted, called 311 City Services, they don't know, something about a snow removal schedule and something about in 3 weeks time. Called the By-Law Officers, no one is there, I strongly suspect they are all in Florida, in fact I have not seen any of them around, they are usually very good at patrolling for illegally parked cars. Ottawa in winter is a very different city, you try to avoid it at all cost. Nothing has been done about the Canal are they opening this year for skating? I strongly suspect that with the announced 10% budget cuts the National Capital Commission simply has no funds to open the Canal this year. Too bad so few tourists come as it is. Lots of people skating at City Hall today on the rink provided by the striking millionaire hockey players. It's a very nice rink with good quality smooth ice for skating.

So we are in the winter blahs, now and then we have February another dismal month. Lucky for me I have things to do to keep me busy, other wise I would think of escaping to somewhere. All the Christmas decorations have been put away. Though the 6 January for people on the Julian Calendar like the Orthodox Christians it is Christmas. I suppose you could celebrate both Christmases on the 25 Dec and 6 January, thus extending the Season.


In January in Rome on a sunny day at the top of the staircase of Santa Maria Coeli next to the Campidoglio.

In January by the Tiber river in Rome

In January on the Old Via Appia, Rome

I much prefer this type of weather in January as exemplified here than the snow bank, which after Christmas and New Year has lost its appeal entirely. Otherwise why do Canadians by the millions flock to Southern climes.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Wir wünschen Ihnen PROSIT NEUJAHR!!

This is an portion of the New Year Concert broadcasted each year by the Austrian Radio Service, ORF. This year with the broadcasting of the concert, the dance-waltz portion was filmed at the Shönbrunn Palace, which just completed a 20 year renovation project at a cost of 682 Million Euros.

This concert comes every year from the Golden hall of the Musikverein in Vienna, in 2013 we  celebrate the bicentennial of Verdi and Richard Wagner. The concert today under the baton of  Franz Welser-Möst, General Music Director of the Vienna State Opera, conducting the Vienna Philharmonic. This concert is somewhat different from previous years with pieces by Verdi and Wagner and the Strauss Family of course. I re-worked this entry since publication; Correction, I have now learned that the Blue Danube and the Radetsky March are not part of the usual programme and are an encore, some broadcasters may not carry these encore pieces.

It also seems to me that there are more modest floral arrangements compared with past years, last year they were lavish if not extravagant. Nonetheless they are beautiful. If you wish to attend this yearly event you can do so by going to the site of the ORF.

You must register between January 2 and 23 at the site if you wish to purchase tickets. Tickets are drawn by lot. Lucky winners will be notified at the end of March and details given on how to complete the purchase. Tickets are fairly expensive to this prestigious concert.

 Josef Strauss, Hesperus' Paths Waltz.

Finally after reviewing again the Concert and comparing it with other years, I am left somewhat not as happy with this year's edition. The conductor FWM leaves me somewhat indifferent in his style of conducting. So I am wondering is this concert becoming a little too commercial? I should point out that there are other New Year Concerts in the world, one my attention was brought too is the Capodanno Concert from La Fenice Opera House in Venice.

In the end it remains beautiful music.

Auld Lang Syne! Happy New Year 2013

Best Wishes to all on for this New Year 2013. Health and Happiness!

Buon Anno a Tutti, Auguri!

Bonne Année à tous, meilleurs voeux de bonheur et santé!

Parliament in Winter colours, Ottawa, Canada