Archive for October, 2011

La 95 de ani Gica Manescu este pentru toti cei care au norocul sa il cunoasca direct sau din scrierile sale in presa sau pe Internet un fenomen de claritate, cu o memorie a trecutului si o acuitate a observatiei prezentului pe care rar le-am intalnit. Iata-l prezent pe blog cu o noua contributie despre ‘Gene’.

——

 

Am vizionat recent, la un  canal de TV german, discutiile in jurul unei mese rotunde cu 6 invitati, de diferite varste si profesii.

Ma opresc la o  femeie de 40 ani, figura frumoasa, prezentabila, mebru in parlament. Dar surdo–muta, nu din  nastere, ci dupa un traumatism cranian accidental la 2 ani. Ambii  parinti surdo-muti din nastere.

Cu posibilitati oferite de  organele existente pentru ajutorarea acestora si cu vointa  de admirat, a invatat “ limba semnelor “, si asa a inceput scolarizare cu 2  “ traducatori “ permanenti. A suit scara invatamantului pana la doctorat, s-a inscrs intr-un partid politic, e una dintre cei mai activi membri. Tine discursuri, e prezenta in multe ocazii. Casatorita cu un italian surdo-mut, a nascut  o  fetita normala. Le era indiferenta starea fetitei.

 

source http://www.ubthenews.com/Biochemistry_Genetics.htm

 

De ce scriu asta? Pentruca in  familia mea a fost o impartire a mostenirii genetice in decursul a peste 100 de ani, cunoscuta si poate analizata un  pic, din cele ce imi amintesc sau gandesc. Se poate sa nu fi fost asa,  dar nu am dovezi. Doar pesupuneri. Ce stim, ca aceste  “gene”  de care nu se stia de inainte nu cu multi ani, isi trag numele de la Genealogie. Stiinta cunoscuta si dezvoltata deja de sute de ani. Se cunosteau stari patologice  (hemofilia de exemplu) sau malformatii corporale si ramanerea in  urma a activitatii cerebrale. Erau mostenite, dar cand, cum si prin ce? La cine, in fiecare generatie ? S-a dovedit ca ele “ sar “ si intra in  componenta structurala a unei fiinte umane.

S-a sustinut ca anumite maladii grave, cancere (de san, la femei peste 40 ani) se transmit mai des la membri unei familii de evrei askenazi. Nu s-a putut dovedi cu exactitate. Se stie ca multe femei tinere, cu antecedente de membri de familie care au suferit si apropiati ca rudenie (mama, bunica, matuse) cer sa fie operate, mutilandu-se, ramanand fara sani, prevenind raul, daca ar fi s-o atinga.

 

source http://www.molwick.com/en/intelligence/050-genetics-intelligence.html

 

Azi exista posibiltatea, prin examene de laborator,  foarte costisitoare, sa se faca tabloul genelor oricarei persoane si cu posibilitatile de a fi atinsa de boala. O examinare  recomandata de  unii.

Scriu gandurile ce mi-au venit, avand in memorie unele stari de fapte.

In familia mea paternala am avut situatii de acest fel pe care vreau sa le analizez si petrecute in peste 100 de ani. Bunica a murit la nici 30 de ani, lasand o fetita si un baietel, pe tata. Dupa catva timp bunicul s-a recasatorit si sotia a devenit ca mama a copiiilor pe care i-a intalnit si crescut, aducand si ea pe lume  2 baieti, fratii parintelui meu si unchii nostri.

Bunica naturala, a avut 2 frati si 3 surori. Doua dintre ele, gemene, erau surdo-mute. Una s-a casatorit tot cu un surdo-mut si  s-a nascut o fata care vorbea, de o inteligenta sclipitoare, harnica si care a  facut cariera stiintifica la Institutul “Cantacuzino“. N-a avut  urmasi.

Unul dintre frati a suferit de diabet grav, nu se stiau multe pe atunci (eram copil) si a murit dupa  amputatie de gamba gangrenata. S-a spus ca :”a murit batranul Z”.  Avea vreo 54 ani.

 

source http://makingdollarsathome.com/oif-warlord-boer-goat-genetics-in-usa/

 

Eu am mostenit niste calitati deosebite de fratele si sora mea, avand alta structura genetica, mult mai favorabila, de la stramosi diferiti  ai mei.

Am avut si am o curiozitate de a sti, a cunoaste, nu a ramane  o intrebare fara raspuns daca se poate. Memoria mea e “maladiva“ cum a caraterizat-o cineva din familie.  Si eu ma sperii uneori.

Constitutia mea fizica e acceptabila, nu sunt suferind, examenele medicale periodice dau rezultate bune. Am 95 ani, si ii simt in unele ocazii, cand trebuie sa fiu ajutat. Si am cine s-o faca. Intelectul mi s-a redus cate putin in unele domenii, fara a ma deranja sau necaji.

Mi-am dat seama ca si sistemul meu osos si cel imunitar de protectie, sunt destul de puternice si m-au salvat de urmarile unor  accidente si boli.

In urma cu vreo 15 ani, m-am rostogolit pe scarile de piatra ale garii din Frankfurt si m-am ridicat sa-mi scutur hainele,  pe cand sotia mea, incremenita, cu mainile la gura se uita in jos. Nu-i venea sa creada ca o  chem sa ne continuam drumul.

Sau acum 5 ani m-am impiedicat de un obiect pe cimentul de la noi din curte, m-am intins pe toata lungimea mea, cu fata in   jos. La Urgenta spitaliceasca nu s-a gasit nimic deosebit, decat julituri ale pielii. Pansamente ad-hoc si acasa.

 

source faithandsurvival.com

 

In anul 1923 o epidemie de poliomielita, “ Paralizia infantila “ cum se stia, boala grea  si usor molipsitoare a lovit multi copii de varste diferite din Focsani. Era vara, vacante scolare si noi cei trei frati, ne jucam impreuna, si sora mea, care implinise 3 ani, era fericita. O indrageam. O febra ridicata i-a atins pe cei doi si medicul a diagnosticat o gripa si le-a dat medicamentele adecvate.  Febra le-a scazut, dar dupa doua zile, fiecare avea un picior paralizat.  Cu masaje si un fel de fizioterapie, fratelui meu i-au aparut semne de imbunatatire. Era mai mare cu 8 ani. Cazuri de adulti cu sechele grave, erau rare. Presedintele USA . F.D.Roosevelt, de ex.

Dupa operatii de specialitate si incaltaminte ortopedica sora mea a putut merge shiopatand. Acum cateva luni am condus-o in Natania pe ultimul drum. Fratelui meu i-au ramas o usoara subtiere a gambei si o scurtare a piciorului cam de un  cm. redusa prin taloneta. Nu a avut nici o greutate la mers,  alpinism, inot, tenis.

Si in  aceasta situatie grava a sanatatii  copiiilor, imunitatea mea  naturala a fost puternca si m-a ferit.  Mai tarziu, la inceputul anilor 50, a aparut  vaccinul descoperit de microbiologul american, Salk. Cazurile de poliomielita n-au mai aparut, in tarile in care s-a facut vaccinarea preventiva a copiilor.

Ma opresc , dar mai am in minte semne de intrebare.  Probabil nu le voi gasi raspunsul. De fapt nici nu-l caut. Poate  va veni de la altcineva.

Gica Manescu

Octombrie 2011

The 60s was the decade of hope in the history of Communist Romania. After the frozen 50s which had seen the pick of the repression but also the death of Stalin, the grip of the Communist rule seemed to slowly soften on Eastern Europe. Since the first years of the decade the Romanian leader Gheorghiu-Dej had set the country on what seemed to be an independent path from the Soviet Union, and when he died in 1965 the younger successor seemed for the first few years to continue on the same path. Culture seemed to renew the continuity with the tradition broken by censorship and the strict ideological rules of socialist-realism. Theater was one of the arts flourishing in this decade, especially in Bucharest, although extremely interesting theater was also made in Ploiesti, Piatra Neamt, Targu Mures. In cinema, for the first time a Romanian director received an important prize in Cannes. The name of the director was Liviu Ciulei, and he also was the manager of the ‘Municipal’ or ‘Bulandra’ theater, the best in Bucharest.

 

source http://theactingcompany.org/about/alumni/directors

 

For one decade the Bulandra Theater was the symbol of inventiveness in continuity, of courage and emotion on stage. Ciulei himself directed memorable performances that I remember until today – ‘The 12th Night’, ‘The Tempest’, ‘Leonce and Lena’, ‘Danton’. Each of his stagings were an event, he seemed to read every text in a different way anybody else had read it before, to discover secret meanings, to create a world of magic and beauty on screens. Actors became under his direction wizards and exceeded what they had ever believed themselves to be able to do on stage. He also brought aboard some of the best younger directors and mentored among other Lucian Pintilie, the other great name of the Romanian theater. The saga of the Bulandra theater is told in this article from Observatorul Cultural – http://www.observatorcultural.ro/Cu-ginduri-si-cu-imagini-Liviu-Ciulei-%287-iulie-1923-25-octombrie-2011%29*articleID_26083-articles_details.html

 

(video source magiclamp122)

 

After all promises of the 60s were broken and Romania turned back to progress and liberalization at the begining of the 70s, Ciulei was sacked from the direction of the theater and as many other creators he took the road of exile working for almost two decades exclusively in the West.  The New York Times dedicated to the Romanian director an obituary which pays respect to the man of theater and film and also provides more information about Ciulei’s career after he left Romania - http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/27/arts/liviu-ciulei-daring-theater-director-dies-at-88.html?_r=2&hpw. It ends with the following:

“The most beautiful scene I have ever directed in my career is the last scene of ‘Padurea Spanzuratilor,’ ” he said. “We see a young peasant woman preparing the last meal for the man she loves who is sentenced to death by hanging — a man, a woman, bread, salt and wine, love, life and death.”

Unfortunately I could not find this scene on youTube. Yet I keep it in memory as many other of his creations, especially in theater. The unique magic of the true theater moments on stage continue to live in the heart of the viewers who shared them.


How comes it that I did not know at least her name before? Sanda Weigl is a superb musician, with a deep and moving voice, whose art has its roots in the Gypsy and Romanian traditional music which she processed with the help of her colleagues in formats specific to the jazz and cabaret genres. In a good location but with too little publicity and out of the circuit of the jazz concerts she succeeded to give tonight in Tel Aviv one of the best music shows I have attended in the last few years.

 

Sanda Weigl at Tzavta in Tel Aviv

 

Born in Bucharest (as I was) Sanda was exposed and attracted since childhood by the music of the Gypsies she could here in the streets of the city. Her out-of-ordinary biography that can be read at http://www.barbesrecords.com/SandaWeigl.html tells about a life of permanent wandering and search, search for art and for freedom.

‘Sanda’s family was forced into exile in the early 1960s, due to persecution by the harsh communist regime in Romania.  They settled in East Berlin, joining her aunt Helene Weigel. Bertolt Brecht’s widow and director of the Berliner Ensemble, Weigel immersed her niece in the innovative musical and theatrical world of Brecht and Weill. Sanda put her training to use a few years later when she joined the popular rock band Team 4 (lead by future East German Deputy Minister of Culture Hartmut Koenig). While she tried to find an audience for the Gypsy music she loved, Romanian songs had no cache in East Germany, particularly among young people who were looking to the West and rock ‘n’ roll.

Her insistence at sharing her passion for Roma music gained traction when the 17-year-old Sanda won a gold medal at Dresden’s International Song Festival with a riveting performance of the Gypsy song “Recruti.” But her career in East Germany was cut short when East Bloc tanks rolled into Czechoslovakia in 1968 to put an end to the liberalizing Prague Spring. Joining an underground student group to protest the Prague occupation and the government’s repressive rule, she was arrested and sentenced to two and a half years in prison (though international pressure led the government to replace prison time with hard labor).

Barred from performing, Sanda once again found herself forced to leave her home when East Germany expelled her as an enemy of the state. Landing in West Berlin, she reinvented herself at the Schiller Theater, where she worked with a glittering cast of directors and performers, including the celebrated playwright/actor Klaus Pohl (whom she married) and Robert Wilson. It was through Wilson and Tom Waits’ “The Black Rider” that Sanda returned to her first love, as she recruited the production’s musicians for her band and returned to singing Romanian Gypsy songs. With Wilson’s support, Sanda and Pohl ended up moving to New York City in the early 1990s, another relocation that took her by surprise.’


(video source shokonoagaiproject)

 

After settling in New York Sanda found there not only a home but also a musical environment to express herself. The concert in Tel Aviv was the same full show that she takes wherever she travels in the last years, telling about her life and and her music, and the way they came together. Many of the songs she is singing are very familiar to the Romanian audiences belonging to the traditional music songbook, part of them sung more than half a century back by Maria Tanase, the greatest singer of Romanian folklore music in the 20th century. Sanda has a voice that fills the musical space of the hall, and together with the three Japanese musicians she works with – Shoko Nagai, Satoshi Takeishi, Stomu Takeishi – she creates one of the best incarnations of the concept of fusion I have ever heard. While the voice performance is fully Romanian traditional, each of the instruments creates its own space – jazzy piano, gypsy style accordion, exceptionally rich bass guitar texture and traditional Japanese drums on the rhythmic register.

 

(video source shokonoagaiproject)


The clips on youTube are the first two in a series that presents the same show that she performed in Tel Aviv. The ‘Gypsy in a Tree’ album is available on streaming over the Internet at http://sandaweigl.bandcamp.com/.

 

 

 

Stieg Larsson was an interesting character, worth a novel or a movie by himself. A journalist and a writer of science-fiction, a left-winger who spent part of his youth training guerrillas in Eritrea, he wrote three crime novels as a hobby and did not plan to publish them until shortly before his death. When they went out posthumously they created a sensation and in a few years the Millennium trilogy  (the name comes from the newspaper that employs the main hero, who happens to be an investigative journalist as Larsson was) became a world-wide sensation, and Larsson one of the best selling authors of the second half of the dist decade of the third millenium.

 

Stieg Larsson - source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Stieg_Larsson.jpg

 

The films inspired by the books were not late to come, and luckily the Swedes were fast enough to make the first series of films. This may be my first encounter with the Scandinavian crime novels (very successful actually, many other authors from the Northern countries of Europe enjoy world-wide celebrity lately), but certainly not with the Scandinavian cinema. Director Niels Arden Oplev may have in his biography prior to this film only TV series, but he masters the atmosphere, the work with the actors, the cinematographic rendition of the landscapes of the North. Much of the action happens in winter on a frozen island, and we FEEL the cold radiating from the blueish landscape with the light always falling on a sharp angle. I doubt that anybody but a Scandinavian can ever render the feeling of men’s loneliness in a frozen landscape.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1132620/

 

The structure of the story is actually quite standard. Investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyquist) loses a libel trial to a corporate giant to be hired by another corporate tycoon (the facts are not really unrelated as you may guess) to find the truth behind the disappearance of a young girl many decades earlier. He travels to a remote island (a frozen version of Polanski’s ‘Ghost Writer’ island) and meets the first and second generation of a family that has a lot to hide and from which a criminal (or maybe more than one) is yet to be found. Remote place, a set of characters related by visible and invisible links, here we have a setting that would have made Agatha Christie happy. We are however at the dawn of the third millennium, computer and Internet age, and the character of the technologist and hacker replaced the mustached Poirot, and what a character. Noomi Rapace’s Lisbeth is by herself a dark, thin, tattooed, face pierced and sexy appearance, with many hidden secrets of herself. The two fascinating characters will engage in a game that brings them close to violence, hidden secrets from the past, real dangers in the present, sex and cold, attraction and fear.

 

(video source trailers)

 

Agatha Christie meets Hitchcock meets the Scandinavian darkness of the first films by van Trier. This film has a quality that is hard to equal in its cinematography, in its pace and building of thrill, in its chose of cast and superb acting. As much as I admire Daniel Craig as an actor and David Fincher as a director I fear that the American remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo comes too early and has too little chance to wipe form the memory this strange, dark and vibrant Scandinavian thriller, one of the best I have seen lately.

 

 

 

The plot to kill Adolf Hitler put together in July 1944 by a group of military was the last in a series of attempts to kill the head of the Third Reich and save what could be saved of the German honor, and spare Germany the total defeat and unconditional surrender. This is one of the most fascinating and intriguing pages of the history of World War II and any film that is inspired by this action has interesting premises to base upon despite the fact that the end is known to everybody. The plot failed and the was continued for another ten months, Adolf Hitler committed suicide and escaped human justice, but not the justice of history.

 

Claus von Stauffenberg, source http://poopdeck90210.com/ww2his/stauffenberg.htm

 

The man who led the plot and who had the courage to put a bomb in the meeting room where the commanders of the German army were gathered together with Adolf Hitler is one of the fascinating characters of history. He was a complex character, that his wife Nina von Stauffenberg who survived him for more than half a century described in the following words:

He let things come to him, and then he made up his mind … one of his characteristics was that he really enjoyed playing the devil’s advocate. Conservatives were convinced that he was a ferocious Nazi, and ferocious Nazis were convinced he was an unreconstructed conservative. He was neither (source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claus_Schenk_Graf_von_Stauffenberg)

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0985699/

 

Claus von Stauffenberg is the principal character in Valkyrie, the historic thriller directed by Bryan Singer. Tom Cruise could have been the ideal casting, even if he is about ten years older than the age of 37 that Stauffenberg had at the time of the events. He was not, as both director and lead actor seem to focus on the action side of the story, on the details of the plot that involved activating a program designed by Hitler himself that mobilized the reserve army in the eventuality of a successful plot to the life of the Fuhrer, and on the reasons – mostly of human nature and of hazard – that lead to the failure of the plot.  The historic details are interesting, but the documentary quality is not enough to fully sustain a Hollywood production with stars of such quality, and too little of the human dimensions, dilemmas, fears of the plotters make it beyond the screen.

 

(video source watch Culturerainment)

 

‘Valkyrie’ could have been a much more interesting film, a drama focused on the tragic complicity of the German military class with the criminal Nazi regime and the choice that few of them made to become traitors to their country in order to save something of the honor of the nation. Instead of that we get a docu-drama made with the expensive means of the Hollywood studios, which bows respectfully to the plotters of July 1944, but fails to bring on screen their human and true historic dimensions.

 

The turn of events made that I first received the catalog of the the exhibition From Dada to Surrealism dedicated to the Jewish Avant-Garde Artists from Romania organized at the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam. I visited Amsterdam in May, a few weeks before the opening of the exhibition so I could not see the initial installment, and as it will be also hosted starting with November at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, I will visit it only in a few weeks. However, a friend of mine from the Netherlands bought and brought me (to Quebec City from all places) the catalog created by Radu Stern, the curator of the exhibition. It’s an exceptional book, both from a graphic and content point of view, and it made for an exquisite Yom Kippur reading.

 

Jewish Historical Museum Amsterdam, source http://www.flickr.com/photos/mandywax/3294207937/

 

The book is organized in three sections. The first one includes three essays written by Radu Stern – one asking and answering the question ‘Why so many Jews?’ (in the Romanian avant-garde movement), and the other two analyze the moments ‘Zurich’ and ‘Bucharest’ in the evolution of the Dada and other avant-garde currents in Romanian culture in general and graphic arts in particular. The key theme of the essays are the cultural environment and the historical conditions that pushed many of the artists of Jewish origins to detach themselves from the mainstream currents in the Romanian culture characterized by the search for the Romanian ‘national specificity’ and look for alternate ways of expressing their own personalities, their search for new means of expression and for social justice. With the raise of extreme nationalism and antisemitism in Romania in the years between the two world wars the choice of modernity and synchronicity with the developments in modern art in Europe was both an aesthetic and a political choice. The most important in the group of artists presented in the exhibition were not only synchronous with the most advanced trends in European art, but actually part of the avant-garde of the avant-garde from the period of the first world war and of the Dada movement. The current exhibition as well as the book by Andrei Codrescu Post-Human Dada Guide make a convincing case of the roots of the personal, artistic and political choices made by these Jewish artists born in Romania in their becoming leaders of the avant-garde movement. (Codrescu’s book makes one step further in pointing to the fact that the anarchistic and creative nature of the Dada avant-garde ends by entering in conflict with the Communist doctrine, fact confirmed by the ultimate abandonment of the extreme left leanings by that part of the artists who were for a while tempted by the mirage of the proletarian revolution.)

 

source http://fondane.net/2011/05/22/from-dada-to-surrealism-exhibition/

 

The second section of the book presents the works of art. As I said I have not visited the exhibition yet, so I do not know if all the works are reproduced in the catalog, but even if these are not all, the selection is superb, the graphical conditions and the format make for a very comfortable reading, and the comments of many of the works are eyes-opening. The selection of the seven artists starts with precursor Arthur Segal, continue with some of the graphical works of Tristan Tzara, and bring many of the major works of Marcel Janco (Iancu), M.H.Maxy and Victor Brauner. The last two artists in the exhibition, Paul Paun and Jules Perahim belong to the second generation of avant-garde, the one who started their careers in the 1930s and continued it under the duress of the Communist dictatorship. Actually with the exception of Maxy all the other artists ended by leaving Romania, and either starting in new directions (as Janco who became one of the pillars of the Israeli school of art) or got back to their styles in the young days (Perahim in Paris, after leaving Romania and two decades of Socialist Realist intermezzo). The only observation I would make is that the selection could have benefited from including a few of the works of Janco in Israel, or of the late Perahim works (he had an exhibition in Romania earlier this year with works of surprising good quality) which would have shown their later evolutions (only Maxy is present with two later works). But even so, the gathering is remarkable, and I cannot wait to see directly for example the early works of Victor Brauner, or the works of Maxy, a testimony how great a painter this controversial figure (later) was  in the period between the two wars.

 

Victor Brauner - Portrait of Andre Breton, source http://imaginarypart.wordpress.com/2011/08/10/jewish-identity-and-radical-modernity/

 

The last section in the catalog is documentary and includes detailed biographies of the seven artists and a historical chronology by Mijke Derksen which traces in parallel the history of the Jewish presence in Romania with the milestones of the evolution of the avant-garde and the biographies of the artists present in the exhibition. These are very useful for the overall putting in context that this exhibition succeeds to make. One information missing is whether the figures of the Romanian Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust (280,000 to 380,000) include the Jews from Northern Transylvania occupied by Hungary during the war, most of them deported to the death camps. Also mentioning the number of Jews currently living in Romania (below 10,000) would have added to the overall picture of a country where Jews lived for centuries and brought such an important contribution in art and other fields.

 

M.H.Maxy - Electrical Madonna, source http://www.arttown.nl/Actueel-729.html?language=_L2

 

The exhibition opens in November at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. Until then a virtual tour of the exhibition with some of the exposed works and more commentary is available at http://exhibitions.europeana.eu/exhibits/show/dada-to-surrealism-en.

It’s the eve of Yom Kippur and the Jewish world prepares for the fasting and the prayers. As I start to build a tradition also for the Jewish holidays on ‘The Catcher in the Sand’ here are a few works of art and pieces of music inspired by The Day of Atonement, as well as youTube clips related to the way Yom Kippur is happening in Israel.

 

 

(source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Gottlieb-Jews_Praying_in_the_Synagogue_on_Yom_Kippur.jpg)

 

One of the most famous paintings inspired by Yom Kippur is ‘Jews Praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur’ by the Jewish Galician painter Maurycy Gottlieb. The gathering of the Jews in the synagogue, their passion to prayer, the overall atmosphere has both historical accuracy as well as a timeliness that crosses the centuries.

 

(source http://www.judaicaposters.com/pages/jp303.html)


Here is another work inspired by Yom Kippur painted by the Hungarian-born painter Isidor Kaufmann.

 

(video source rebezra)

 

Today in Israel the traditions differ from the different communities that returned from exile. In Jerusalem Sephardic community a month of Slikhot (Forgiveness) prayers culminate in the eve on Yom Kippur (by the time I am writing this blog entry) with a huge gathering and a community prayer at the Western Wall.

 

(video source damcenenroe)

 

You may know one of the famous songs of Leonard Cohen  ‘Who by Fire’. Here is a version recorded with the great jazz saxophonist Sony Rollins in 1989.

 

(video source jordannnnnn)

 

The song is actually an adaptation of a Yom Kippur prayer. Here it is in another version sang by Leonard Cohen, with the Hebrew and English words.

 

(video source Bigratus)

 

The most famous text related to Yom Kippur is Kol Nidre, the declaration of repentance and the pledge taken at the opening of the service in the synagogue. In the traditional service the text is in Aramaic. It inspired a number of musical pieces. A traditional variant is featured in the first spoken (and sang) film The Jazz Singer (1927) by Al Jolson (Asa Yoelon). The story of the song in the famous film is described in a New York Times article.

 

(video source lynnharrell)

 

The Kol Nidrei for cello & orchestra, Op. 47, Composed by Max Bruch is the most famous classical music variant. Last year I brought here the splendid interpretation of Jacqueline du Pres, here is another exquisite rendering by Lynn Harrell at the Papal Concert to commemorate the Holocaust as the Vatican in Rome on April 7, 1994.

 

(video source rapunzelrow)

 

On a lighter note, not everybody fasts and prays on Yom Kippur in Israel.  As traffic completely stops kids on bicycles (and not only kids) take control of the streets for one full day.

 

Gmar Hatima Tova – May you be inscribed (in the Book of Life) for Good

A life of invention, a career  that changed the industry and our lives.

 

source http://thegadgetsite.com/tag/steve-jobs/

 

Best homage I read this morning is the portfolio of his inventions that is being drawn by NYT


http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/08/24/technology/steve-jobs-patents.html?smid=fb-nytimes

 

His vision combined technical thinking with the extraordinary capability of anticipating the needs of customers tomorrow.

 

May his memory be blessed.

 

This is my first encounter with the novels of Batya Gur, one of the best known Israeli crime fiction writers. She was the author of six novels whose hero is the Jerusalem police detective Michael Ohayon. The title in Hebrew is HaMerhak HaNahon which would literally translate by The Right Distance, but each translation in other languages re-invented the title its own way. The English edition was named Murder Guet: a musical case, and the title of the French translation that I read is Meurtre au Philharmonique (in the Livre de Poche series).

 

source http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f2/Batya_Gur_2003.jpg

 

Let me first say that beyond the genre she wrote in Batya Gur was a good novelist. It’s not that I have any disregard for crime novels or for any other literary genre, as I first judge books according to the quality of their writing and the truth of their characters. Meurtre au Philharmonique allows for a travel in time, despite the fact that the story happens just 15 years ago. And yet, so many things changed in this country in the last 15 years, that the story of two murders in a family of musicians in Jerusalem written by Batya Gur could have rather happened in a different country on a different continent and many decades apart from today. We do have in the overall atmosphere of the civilized and culture-prone city and in the characters that seem to have each of them some kind of born style of nobility from the main character of police detective Ohayun, to the family of musicians and second generation of Holocaust survivors Van Helden, and even in the more popular characters like the Ohayun’s colleague Balilti as a reflection of another Israel with better human relations, with less conflicts. Even the political situation is completely absent from the story, which could well have happened in any other civilized city in the Western hemisphere. I wonder how and if Batya Gur would have written such novels nowadays.

 

source http://www.amazon.fr/Meurtre-au-philharmonique-Batya-Gour/dp/2253148253

 

The first almost one hundred pages have actually nothing detective in them, but say a lot about the loneliness of men dedicated to their professions and about the need to get salvation through the discovery of a child and by answering the fragility and need for protection. Despite the detective story being restored in its rights as the book advances the mood of melancholy and the personal dilemmas of the main character stay in the attention of the author and of the readers all the time. There is a formula in each of Gur’s books and this is related to the hero entering a specific profession or institution, learning its secrets, and solving the mystery based on the understanding of the new world that he entered, but also, or most of all of the human nature. This book is no exception and the new world to explore is here the one of the classical music. Batya Gur succeeds to build its story around the music the characters hear or play, even the chapters have names of parts in musical composition. This is another strong aspect of this well written book, which can be satisfying for music lovers, for fans of crime stories or just for people who like to read good books.

 

I knew nothing about Stefan and Franciszka Themerson before seeing the documentary directed by Wiktoria Szymanska on ARTE TV. The film starts by filming the couple of artists – he was a writer, a composer and a film maker, she was a painter and illustrator at their old age, settled in Britain. It was the end of a long road that took them from their native Poland where they began as avant-garde artists in the 1920s, to Paris, the capital of arts in the 30s. When war broke Franciszka flew to England, Stefan stayed for a while in occupied France (that was the only time when they were separated after they had met), then joined her. They made films with the Polish propaganda studios during the war, and then stayed in England for the coming decades.

 

source http://deckert-distribution.com/film-catalogue/art-music-culture/themerson-themerson/

 

In the dull after-war British landscape they created colorful and merry art, were in the center of the artistic and intellectual life and opened an editing house Gaberbocchus Press. Here they translated and made known to the English readers some of the earlier decades French experimental writers and poets like Alfred Jarry and Guillaume Apollinaire. In the 60s Franciszka worked stage sets for theater in Sweden, and then the two moved for a few years in the Netherlands. They spent their final years in England, and died a few months apart one of the other.

 

source http://strawdogs.wordpress.com/2011/05/03/franciszka-themerson/franciszka-themerson-4/

 

Here is one of drawings created by Franciszka typical to the style she used in the many book illustrations that she created.

 

(video source richubertson)

 

The first minutes of the documentary filmed presented by ARTE can be seen here. The film traces the lives of the two artists, their multiple directions and means of expression, their careers with ups and downs but first of all it is a love story of two charming people who seem to have radiated goodness and joie de vivre – the joy of living and creating to all who met them and now remember them dearly.

 

(video source BolVVVerk)

 

Calling Mr. Smith (you can see it above) is the first of the two films made by the Themersons in England during the war. It tells about the atrocities committed by the Nazis in occupied Poland.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6_pe29WgQM

(video source sellarco)


Here is Oko I Ucho (The Eye and The Year), the second film made during the war at the Polish Studios in London in 1944/45, an example of experimental animation inspired by four songs by the Polish composer Karol Szymanowsky.

 

sourcehttp://www.themersonarchive.com/pageCmed.htm

 

Franciszka’s style change towards the end of her life, she painted om larger canvases on almost abstract representations in a more dramatic mood. Here is ‘And so it goes’ - painting from 1977.

Seeing this documentary made me think that some of the avant-garde artists of the 20th century resemble the Renaissance artists in their multiple means of expression, their holistic view of the world, their thirst of exploring, discovering imagining. The Themerson Archives Web site allow all of you to learn more about these two wonderful artists and people – http://www.themersonarchive.com/index.htm