Archive for the 'Americas' Category

The Little Train of the Caipira

July 12 2014

O trenzinho do caipira: a country train transporting coffee berry-pickers and farm labourers between villages in São Paulo state, 1930. The last movement, also called Toccata, of the second Bachianas brasileiras by Villa-Lobos.

I would have despised this in my more idealistic youth. Now I admire it, though there is nothing very Bachian in it. The tune sounds like a Brazilian folk melody, but I have never heard it called one. Caipira means bush-cutter or inhabitant of the rural backlands. Whence caipirinha.

I hope the Brazilians can do better tonight. People say there is no incentive in this game, but for them there is.

Royal Philharmonic, Enrique Arturo Diemecke. Picture is of the composer.

Version conducted by composer, Orchestre national de la Radiodiffusion française, 1956.

Portinari’s paintings of coffee workers.

Station, SP, 1885

Cruzeiro, São Paulo state, late nineteenth century

Argentina and Holland

July 9 2014

Alberto Ginastera, Harp Concerto (1956-65), Remy van Kesteren, harp, National Youth Orchestra of the Netherlands (NJO), Clark Rundell, Nijmegen, August 14 2011.

Old post.

Brazil vs Germany

July 8 2014

England vs Germany in 1966 was, at some level, a reenactment of the war. France vs Germany was, perhaps, for some, even in 2014. Brazil vs Germany will, one assumes, have no historical charge to it, but Brazil did declare war on Germany and Italy on August 22 1942.

Increasing cooperation with the Allies had led the government to announce at the Pan American States Conference in Rio on January 28 1942 a decision to sever diplomatic relations with Germany, Japan and Italy, though Brazil remained technically neutral.

As a result, 21 German and two Italian submarines sank 36 Brazilian merchant ships. 1,691 Brazilians drowned, and there were 1,079 other casualties. Berlin Radio pronouncements made the population increasingly nervous. Ultimately, the government declared war.

The Brazilian Navy and Air Force acted in the Atlantic from the middle of 1942 until May 1945.

Brazil was the only independent South American country to commit ground troops in any theatre. It sent an Expeditionary Force to Italy, which lost a thousand people across all three services between September 1944 and May 1945.

Brazil had also declared war on Germany in 1917, and sent troops to Europe, and nearly sent them to fight the Turks in Mesopotamia. Was it the only South American combatant then as well?

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In 1943 Villa-Lobos wrote an Invocação em defesa da pátria for soprano, choir and orchestra on a text by Manuel Bandeira.

Orchestre national de la Radiodiffusion française, Heitor Villa-Lobos, Chorale des Jeunesses musicales de France, Maria Kareska, recorded 1956:

Marcha solene brasileira

July 8 2014

More Gottschalk, and a more interesting piece than the last, though it uses the anthem in the stormy coda. Performers not stated. As far as I know, he orchestrated this himself. He composed it during a visit to Brazil in 1869, where he died in November.

It is sometimes called Humaitá, after the site of Brazil’s victory over Paraguay in 1868 in the War of the Triple Alliance (Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay against Paraguay), the bloodiest war of the nineteenth century.

Grande fantaisie sur l’hymne national brésilien

July 8 2014

Actually, Grande fantaisie triomphale sur l’hymne national brésilien.

Louis Moreau Gottschalk was a francophone pianist and composer from New Orleans who performed in Europe in front of Liszt, in the US (on the Union side) in the Civil War, and in the Caribbean and South America as a gallant and idolised musical ambassador of North to South. His Notes of a Pianist are worth reading. I must return to him.

The anthem still has the original tune composed by Francisco Manuel da Silva in 1831. The lyrics have changed. Gottschalk’s Fantasy (1869) was written for piano. This orchestration is by Samuel Adler. Eugene List and the Berlin Symphony Orchestra under Adler:

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Glorious Hector

July 7 2014

I have celebrated Villa-Lobos occasionally in this blog. One day I will write a long article about him, the last great twentieth-century composer to receive his due if that is what is happening now. Here, in homage to Brazil, are a few works of his which speak for themselves. They do not show his full range.

Charm (I do wish Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi could pick up a guitar): the Gavota-choro in Suíte popular brasileira, more often called Suite populaire brésilienne, because he published it in France in the ’50s as a collection of pieces written in his youth. This is from 1912. I love Fabio Zanon’s playing; Bream is too artful here:

Modernism: Chôros 7, 1924. Chorões were street musicians in Rio at the turn of the century. Instrumentalists without voices. Choro means weeping. I think I am getting the Portuguese accents right. Villa-Lobos wrote a series of compositions in the ’20s called Chôros (in the plural even when one is referring to just one of them). They are for anything from one instrument to orchestra with voices and can last for anything from a couple of minutes to over an hour. No 7, called Setemino (Seventh), is for seven players – violin, cello, saxophone, flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon (Daniel Guilet, Bernard Greenhouse, Vincent Abato, Paul Renzi Jr, Paolo Renzi, Bernard Portnoy, Elias Carmen) – and offstage tam-tam (William Blankfort; it doesn’t sound offstage here) under Izel Solomon (US ensemble, I think):

The grand pianistic manner, although this is restrained, and fine, playing by Isabel Mourão, Brazilian, in 1953. Impressões seresteiras (Impressions of a Serenader) from the Ciclo brasileiro of 1936:

And a bassoon concertino of which Richard Strauss would not have been ashamed, the Ciranda das sete notas of 1933. That means round dance on seven notes. There are three identifiable sections. Lobosian string harmonies. As with all good bassoon writing, the soloist seems to be a human voice, the instrument is saying things that we can almost understand as words. I like the delicacy of this performance. Others drive it too hard. Orquesta de Cámara del Conservatorio Superior de Música de Aragón, Zaragoza, under Rolando Prusak, Stefano Canuti bassoon; this is worth your calm and alert eleven minutes:

Why should we not end with the remarkable and haunting, however tired we may be of hearing it, fifth Bachianas brasileiras? Plurale tantum. It was composed for soprano and eight cellos. The first movement, called Ária (Cantilena), is the well-known one, from 1938. It starts as a vocalise. Then there are some words about the moon, by Ruth Corrêa. Then the soprano returns to the tune and hums. It must all have irritated Stravinsky.

The second, less Bachian, part, from 1945, is called Dança (Martelo), with lyrics by Manuel Bandeira. But let’s have the Ária. I am not sure that it has ever had its ideal interpreter. There are the two sopranos with whom Villa-Lobos recorded the piece: Bidu Sayão and Victoria de los Angeles. You can hear it with Joan Baez, who is led by Maurice Abravanel. Or with Natania Davrath, who is led by Leonard Bernstein. Some versions use more than eight cellos. Here is Bidu Sayão:

Afterthought: opening credits of O Índio de Casaca (The Indian in a Tailcoat), director Roberto Feith, a documentary shown on Rede Manchete, 1987, give a sense of the man and of his presence in Brazilian society. Start at 1:55 and watch the first minute. At 2:50 he is coming out of hospital near the end of his life. The music is a sultry passage from the second Bachianas:

Sebastião! Protetor do Brasil

July 6 2014

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Dean Frey in The Villa-Lobos Magazine:

“‘[The Brazilian composer Heitor] Villa-Lobos found that his concerts were often poorly attended because of the public’s preference for soccer. This led him to denounce the sport violently. [...] “Soccer causes human intelligence to detour from the head to the feet!” The Brazilian soccer fans responded vigorously [...]. In one town they bombarded the touring musicians with rotten eggs, and the threat of similar treatment caused the group to leave another town in the early morning hours.’

David E. Vassberg, Villa-Lobos as Pedagogue: Music in the Service of the State, Journal of Research in Music Education, Vol. 23, No. 3 (Autumn, 1975), p. 165.

No matter what Villa-Lobos thought about the game, I’m cheering big for A Seleção!

There was actually a movement in the third, lost, A prole do bebê suite called Futebol.

St Sebastian may be watching Brazil vs Germany in Belo Horizonte. The pierced saint is the patron saint of Rio de Janeiro and, according to Villa-Lobos, of Brazil.

The names of the sections of Villa-Lobos’s a cappella Missa São Sebastião juxtapose the ecumenical and the local in the same way as the names of the sections of his Bachianas brasileiras:

Kyrie (Sebastião! O virtuoso)

Glória (Sebastião! Soldado romano)

Credo (Sebastião! Defensor da igreja)

Sanctus (Sebastião! O mártir)

Benedictus (Sebastião! O santo)

Agnus Dei (Sebastião! Protetor do Brasil)

He wrote the Mass in 1937, at roughly the same time as his huge score for Umberto Mauro’s rather inept film O descobrimento do Brasil, which derives all its dignity from Villa-Lobos’s music.

That film ends with a tableau which in the fourth Descobrimento suite is called Primeira missa no Brasil. On a shoreline five hundred miles northeast of Rio, in 1500, the Portuguese sailors and crew sing a polyphonic Mass against the juxtaposed incantations of the newly found Amerindians.

In 1933, with the help of the orfeonic choirs Villa-Lobos was assembling in the service of the national ideology of Getúlio Vargas, he had given the Brazilian premieres of Palestrina’s Missa Papae Marcelli and of Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis. Now he decided to write his own Mass, his second (if you discount the unrelated film music). Simon Wright, notes to a Hyperion recording of the Missa São Sebastião:

“In the Mass, raw nationalism gives way to an idealized and serene view of the powerful Catholic heritage of his country. Subtle glances at the chants of macumba (as at ‘et sepultus est’ in the Credo) are, however, reminders that in Brazil even the rites of Roman Catholicism have been (and still are) tinged with elements from the magical beliefs transported to Brazil by the millions of black slaves brought over the Atlantic by the colonists [...]. The Missa São Sebastião stands unique and radiantly beautiful in Villa-Lobos’s huge output.”

It is a touching work if you know the whole story. It will not overwhelm a listener who doesn’t bring any culture to it. There is an over-reliance on sequences at times. Here is an incomplete YouTube performance posted by Wellesz, sung by the Associação de Canto Coral, directed by Cleofe Person de Mattos.

We have the Kyrie and the Gloria, then the last two lines of the Creed, then the Sanctus and Benedictus. And no Agnus Dei. (So the blurb under the video is wrong, as well as self-contradictory. The captions in the video are wrong at one point as well and they also contradict the blurb: they show the Sanctus starting when what we are hearing is the end of the Creed.)

The Hyperion performance with the Corydon singers under Matthew Best is more polished, but less earthy and Catholic.

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Of course, the real protector of Rio is Christ the Redeemer.

Photos via the Flickr channel of the Arquidiocese de São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro.

Sebastião! (old post).

Absit omen

April 27 2014

Pan-Islamism is dormant – yet we have to reckon with the possibility that the sleeper may awake if ever the cosmopolitan proletariat of a “Westernized” world revolts against Western domination and cries out for anti-Western leadership. That call might have incalculable psychological effects in evoking the militant spirit of Islam – even if it had slumbered as long as the Seven Sleepers – because it might awaken echoes of a heroic age. On two historic occasions in the past, Islam has been the sign [under] which an Oriental society has risen up victoriously against an Occidental intruder. Under the first successors of the Prophet, Islam liberated Syria and Egypt from a Hellenic domination which had weighed on them for nearly a thousand years. Under Zangi and Nur-ad-Din and Saladin and the Mamluks, Islam held the fort against the assaults of Crusaders and Mongols. [In] the present situation of mankind [...] Islam might be moved to play her historic role once again. Absit omen.

Civilization on Trial, OUP, 1948

Chesterton speaking on Canada

April 11 2014

At the Canadian lunch in London in 1933 at which Kipling proposed the toast (last post), the seconder was Chesterton. No film (or none that I am aware of), but here is a complete sound recording.

Is there a complete recording of Kipling? The YouTube poster and commenters wrongly assume that Chesterton is speaking in Canada. Also, he is not “introducing” Kipling.

He refers to the President of the Royal Society of Literature, Lord Crewe.

I like his phrase “our more fatigued society” about Britain compared with North America.

When he reads poetry, Chesterton’s voice sounds almost classless, but there is an occasional lower middle-class twang here. Kipling’s accent is that of the broad English educated class, of which the Oxford accent and the BBC accent were distinct offshoots.

Kipling on film

April 10 2014

Who even knew that there was film of Kipling, and with sound?

July 12 1933, Claridge’s, London, luncheon of the Royal Society of Literature for visiting members of the Canadian Authors’ Association:

Full text here (the Kipling Society has the year wrong and contradicts itself as to the day), with a link to notes. It’s a subtle set of remarks and a fine tribute to Canada.

Tony Benn and The Building of Britain

April 3 2014

Tristram Hunt in his Benn lecture (last post) quotes from a chapter called How I Became a Philistine! in Benn’s Dare to be a Daniel:

“During my childhood and growing up no attempt was made to develop the artistic, musical and literary side of life.”

I had an encounter with Benn which suggested that. The magazine Artists and Illustrators interviewed him for its March 2006 issue to ask him about a favourite painting. He chose one by my great-grandfather. The Wikipedia article on George Clausen isn’t very good, so that is a link to one of my own posts.

The English People Reading Wycliffe’s English Bible, by Sir George Clausen. It’s part of a series of murals entitled The Building of Britain that were commissioned for St Stephen’s Hall in the Palace of Westminster and painted in 1926-27. I think it was my father who pointed out the original to me, when I first visited St Stephen’s Hall in 1937. I passed it regularly after I was first elected as an MP in 1950. I have two copies of it, one of which hangs in my bedroom.” I once had it in mine.

“On the surface it looks like a peaceful rural scene, but when you look closely you realise it tells the story of a group of people – a lawyer, some women and farm workers, one of whom is looking out in case they are spotted – meeting in secret to listen to a reading of the Bible. In the 14th century it was a criminal offence to read the Bible, which was then a revolutionary document, if you were not a priest.

“The painting reminds me of things that are important today. Moses, Jesus, Mohammed and Buddha all taught us how to lead our lives in peace, but the painting symbolises how a religious group that gets control can use their power to kill and persecute others – Guy Fawkes, for example, whose 400th anniversary was in 2005, was protesting against the persecution of Catholics.

“[...] Any one of the people in the painting, if they were caught, could have been burnt at the stake. In my view it’s rather like the Terrorism Act today – anyone thought of being [sic] a Muslim extremist will he held in prison without a trial. [...]

“I am not a great collector of art, but I do have various things that people have sent me. The Yorkshire miners gave me one of their banners, which hangs in my back corridor. On it are the words ‘Out of the darkness cometh light and heat’. [Source?] It’s a reminder that the coal that keeps us warm and lights us comes from the depths of the earth. I find it very moving and that’s the sort of thing I like.

“I rarely dip into art galleries and don’t claim to be an art critic but I have put up quite a few things in the House of Commons. I put up a plaque in a broom cupboard to mark the place where a suffragette called Emily Wilding Davison [post here] hid on the night of the census in 1911. She wanted to be able to say that she lived in the House of Commons to make her point about women’s right to the vote.

“Something else I like is a statue of Lord Falkland, again in St Stephen’s Hall. One of his spurs got broken off after a suffragette [Marjory Hume in 1909] chained herself to it [...] it is the social, historical and political interest in art that I find useful. [...]”

He might have been interested to know that a suffragette named Maude Smith, alias Mary Spencer, attacked a Clausen painting, a nude called Primavera, as it hung in the Royal Academy in the early summer of 1914. Clausen supervised its repair and then it disappeared from public view and knowledge until last November, when it was auctioned in Connecticut. It will probably turn up soon, close to the centenary of its first hanging, in a more important auction in London.

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St Stephen’s Hall is the neo-Gothic public approach to the public Central Lobby which separates the two Houses. It stands on the site of the royal Chapel of St Stephen’s, where the House of Commons sat until the Chapel was destroyed by the fire of 1834.

The only structures of the old Palace of Westminster to survive the fire were Westminster Hall (old post), the cloisters of St Stephen’s, the chapel of St Mary Undercroft and the Jewel Tower. The Queen gave permission for Benn’s body to lie (not “in state”) in St Mary Undercroft on the eve of his funeral.

In 1843 Sir Charles Barry suggested that panels be commissioned for St Stephen’s Hall on events in British history. Daniel Maclise was approached in 1857, but nothing resulted. Both sides of the Hall were lined then with marble statues of statesmen. Are any still there? Where did they go?

In 1909 work started on a scheme directed by the Royal Academy. One painting was completed by Andrew Carrick Gow (Speaker Finch Held in His Chair by Holles and Valentine, 1629) and was hung in 1912. By 1924 only two more had been added, by Seymour Lucas and Frank Salisbury. Of what, and where are they now? Presumably none were real murals.

In 1925 the Speaker, John Henry Whitley, proposed a new series and spoke to Salisbury and to Frank Dicksee, President of the Royal Academy. Sir David Young Cameron was appointed to find eight artists.

It was to be called The Building of BritainSir Henry NewboltGM Trevelyan (whose first book had been about Wycliffe), AF Pollard and others advised on the history. A working committee included the Speaker, Lord Peel, the First Commissioner of Works, Lord Crawford, the Chairman of the Fine Arts Commission and Newbolt.

The eventual series:

Colin GillKing Alfred’s long-ships, newly built for defence of the realm, attack vessels of the Danish invaders storm-beaten in Swanage Bay. 877.

Glyn PhilpotKing Richard the First, afterwards called Cœur de Lion, leaves England with an expeditionary force, to join the Crusade in Palestine for the recovery of Jerusalem from the Saracens. Dec. 11. 1189.

Charles SimsKing John confronted by his Barons assembled in force at Runnymede gives unwilling consent to Magna Carta, the foundation of justice and individual freedom in England. 1215.

George ClausenThe English people, in spite of prosecution for heresy, persist in gathering secretly to read aloud Wycliffe’s English Bible.

Vivian ForbesSir Thomas More, as speaker of the Commons, in spite of Cardinal Wolsey’s imperious demand, refuses to grant King Henry the Eighth a subsidy without due debate by the House. 1523.

Alfred Kingsley LawrenceQueen Elizabeth, the Fairie Queen of her Knights and Merchant Venturers, commissions Sir Walter Raleigh to sail for America and discover new countries.

William RothensteinSir Thomas Roe, envoy from King James the First of England to the Moghul Emperor, succeeds, by his mingled courtesy and firmness at the Court of the Ajmir, in laying the foundation of British Influence in India. 1614.

Walter Thomas MonningtonThe English and Scottish Commissioners present to Queen Anne at St James’s Palace the Articles of Agreement for the Parliamentary Union of the two countries. 1707.

The original choice for the last had been William Orpen.

Two of the painters, Philpot and Rothenstein, also did portraits of the Speaker.

Donors were found for each of the works. The donor for the Clausen was the Duke of Portland.

The pictures were large canvases in wooden mounts set into stone bays, not strictly murals, but in part the product of a revived interest between the wars, not only in Britain, in mural painting. It had pre-1914 roots, and in England pre-Raphaelite roots. The fresco colours of medieval wall painting, applied with the pre-oil medium of tempera, were imitated in oil. My grandfather owned magnificent volumes by EW Tristram on English Medieval Wall Painting which were like buildings themselves.

McConkey calls the series an “imperialist fanfare”, but it was that grafted onto a domestic constitutional fanfare. The sense of “the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire” was powerful between 1918 and 1945, and was sharpest when Churchill used those words in 1940.

“Mingled courtesy and firmness.” Thus might the British have described their conduct abroad. Alla marcia quasi andante. Through courtesy and firmness they chanced upon their Empire.

King George V and Queen Mary were given a private view of The Building of Britain on June 26 1927.

Stanley Baldwin unveiled the eight paintings with one pull of a cord on June 28. He declared that Clausen’s canvas represented “… the incident fullest of imagination and possibilities for the future of any of the pictures which we have here today”. The Times, June 29. McConkey speaks of platitudes, but surely Baldwin was thinking of the fragility of freedom and parliamentary democracy in Europe. (Toynbee quotes from a speech by him in the Albert Hall on December 4 1924 on that. See The World after the Peace Conference, Being an Epilogue to the “History of the Peace Conference of Paris” and a Prologue to the “Survey of International Affairs, 1920-1923”, OUP, 1925.)

“At the end of the ceremony Mr. Baldwin announced that the King, in honour of the occasion, had been pleased to confer a knighthood on Mr. George Clausen, R.A., as representing the artists concerned in the work.” In the illustrations on the back page are the Philpot and the Clausen and a recent Clausen self-portrait.

Clausen was knighted at Buckingham Palace on July 7.

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Herbert Furst reviewed the series in ApolloThe Building of Britain, With the Speaker in St Stephen’s Hall, Vol 6, No 33, September 1927.

Benn would have agreed with Furst’s “Pictures should have a concrete relation to life”.

Furst was buffeted by a crowd which had come to see the paintings. It was a Saturday and the House was not in session. As he was making notes, the policeman in the Hall asked him: “Which is the best picture here?” Furst equivocated, but the constable pointed a finger at the fourth, The English people, in spite of prosecution for heresy, persist in gathering secretly to read aloud Wycliffe’s English Bible, then walked away and came back with the Speaker.

“This was an unexpected honour and good fortune, for the Speaker was, in Sir Henry Newbolt’s words [where?], ‘the initiator and sympathetic director of the whole scheme.’”

“I ventured to comment on the fact that all the subjects seemed remote and hardly in contact with the present at any point. In reply to this criticism Mr. Whitley told me that the committee [...] had [...] decided that the eight subjects should illustrate eight main incidents symbolic of the building of Britain. First comes the beginning of the British Navy [under Alfred, defending us against Vikings]; next expansion of power [Third Crusade]; then the foundation of the British constitution based on individual liberty [Magna Carta]; after this the freedom of religious faith [Wycliffe]; then the control by the people of the purse of the nation [More as Speaker]; then the beginning of colonial enterprise [Raleigh in the Americas], and thereafter the spirit in which England deals with an ancient civilization ‘destined to mingle with ours under a constitution unexampled elsewhere’ [Thomas Roe with the Mughals]; and, finally, the union of ‘our two nations at home’.” (Speaker’s words?)

“[...] The Speaker assured me that Mr. George Trevelyan, the historian, had described the pictures as historically unexceptionable and, if I remember rightly, had pronounced the hall as now the most beautiful in Europe. We then discussed the medium in which the pictures are painted and its durability. And here I record with satisfaction Mr. Whitely’s statement: ‘No, the paintings will not be glazed. We think it is better that they should last a hundred years and be enjoyed during that time by all who come to see them, than that they should be for ever under glass and be enjoyed by no one. A future generation may have some other pictures when these have perished.’” They were worried about their exposure to crowds. There was nothing wrong with the medium, oil.

“‘Many people,’ he continued, ‘are rather startled by the bright positive colours, but they are in keeping with the decoration of medieval churches; and although this particular building is not ancient, it is in the Gothic style, and stands upon the old crypt and exactly follows the outline of the old chapel.’ [...]

“Coming now to the critical part of my duty, I must confess that the first impression of the pictures is: plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.” Conservatism, perhaps, but sameness? The Sims is out of place and does not have the “static quality” necessary in a mural. The Gill combines “a certain restlessness in design with a timidity in draughtsmanship” which comes from a lack of confidence in the project, not of skill. In the Philpot, on the other hand, “there is [...] an unexpected stiffness and staginess, and a lack of linear rhythm. But this picture keeps its place, like Mr. Gill’s, and is, moreover, relieved by some quite enchanting detail [...].” “The Forbes is – of the paintings we have so far considered – the best. Mr. Forbes has cleverly utilized the Holbein portraits, and there is dramatic action without staginess.” “Professor W. Rothenstein has also had recourse to contemporary documents, Moghul illuminations to wit [...].” “Mr. A. K. Lawrence had obviously the frescoes of the Italian Quattrocento in his mind [...] and has admirably succeeded in his task.” Monnington, the youngest in the group, is only twenty-four. His painting is still unfinished, but promises to be one of the most successful.

“Sir George Clausen is the doyen of the team, and all things considered one must agree with the aforementioned policeman that his picture is the best of the series. It has its faults: it is not unexceptionable qua illustration, for there is really no secrecy at all about this meeting in the open, which could easily be espied from the tower of the little church in the delightful distance. Nor can one honestly say that the grouping is free from staginess. Against this, however, must be set its overwhelming merits. It is simple in arrangement; each of the four times three figures can be easily seen, and each, particularly the charming maid in the centre, is worth looking at. The landscape setting is of singular beauty; the treatment of the foreground, the care bestowed upon each little flower and plant, deeply moving. The colour-scheme, but for its one brilliant red note in the cloak of the man, is cool and reticent. The linear rhythm is most satisfying. The picture, as a whole, sits comfortably on the wall, though it is by no means a flat pattern. For this picture alone, not counting his long and honourable career as a virile protagonist of English painting, Sir George deserved his knighthood.”

The Times, anon, St Stephen’s Hall – The New Mural Paintings – An Artistic Unity, June 28, praised the picture’s “architectural stability of design, depth of sentiment, and [...] full interpretation of the national character in the lovely landscape.” The reviewer again finds the Sims below the level of the others. (I find it quite interesting, especially in the context of his other late paintings.)

Frank Rutter (a champion of the suffragettes) agreed with Furst and with the policeman and wrote in Art in My Time, Rich and Cowan, 1933:

“Justice would demand homage to Sir George Clausen, that Grand Old Man of English painting, who when nearing eighty had so clear an eye and so steady a hand that he could conceive and execute his Wycliffe panel in firmer line and in fresher and younger colour than any of his juniors could attain. For sheer beauty the Clausen must be awarded the palm.”

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Clausen had had some experience in mural painting in 1918-19, when he painted four lunettes for a house near Huddersfield. He had experimented with a mural-like scale in his canvases before the war.

His Wycliffe studies are mainly at the RA: you can see the design evolving. Artists were required to submit studies for approval. A monk appears in some of them.

The final caption does not include a date. It had been commissioned as The Wycliffe Bible read in secret meetings, 1390. By the time the full scheme was presented to the Commons in January 1926, 1390 had been revised to 1400-1430, in order to relate the picture to the Heresy Act of 1401.

On the Lollards, see letters patent of 1382 of Richard II, the Heresy Act 1401 (De heretico comburendo) of Henry IV and the Heresy Act 1414 of Henry V. The 1401 Act was repealed under Henry VIII (1533, or 1534 Act of Supremacy?), the others under Edward VI; all three were revived under Mary and repealed again under Elizabeth in the Act of Supremacy 1559.

While completing the painting (with help from his daughter Kitty), Clausen was called in as a caretaker Keeper of the Royal Academy Schools following the sudden departure of Charles Sims. Sims killed himself in the following year.

McConkey: “The scene opens out to an idealized English summer derived from Clausen’s deep immersion in the fields around Tilty and Clavering [in Essex].”

In several early paintings, the “one brilliant red note” had been the neckerchief of a peasant.

Furst is right about the absence of any feeling of secrecy. Clausen could paint the drama of nature, and the drama of field workers struggling with heat, wind or rain. Political and psychological drama were outside his range.

There are older pictures by William Frederick Yeames, painter of “And when did you last see your father?”, perhaps at the Suter Art Gallery in New Zealand, of Wycliffe giving copies of his Bible to his followers; and by Ford Madox Brown of The Trial of Wycliffe, A.D. 1377, a mural in Manchester Town Hall in which Wycliffe is defended by John of Gaunt, while Chaucer, another protégé of Gaunt, acts as recorder.

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Benn grew up on Millbank, next to the Tate Gallery, but the family never went inside.

As I read the magazine piece, I thought: “I bet he doesn’t know that the artist who painted this favourite painting of his also painted his grandfather.”

If he had heard of a portrait somewhere in the collections of the defunct LCC and GLC, I was sure he had not connected it with the painter of the panel in St Stephen’s Hall. There was nothing about it on the internet then, certainly no image.

It is, I now know, in the Guildhall Art Gallery. It’s not bad, but official portraits did not bring out the best in Clausen. He painted fine ones of peasants early in his career and of family members and higher craftsmen of one sort or another later.

Bored at work, I rang the House of Commons. The switchboard answered instantly, with no menu. A man, without apparent searching and without asking questions, gave me a number which was Benn’s home.

Benn had, after all, retired in 2001 (“to devote more time to politics”). The Data Protection Act had been passed in 1998. Was this ease of access because the House of Commons still had proper rules for a democracy or because Benn had given special instructions?

He answered immediately. “Astonishing! I had no idea! I must look it up.”

As to the Wycliffe painting, “I thought it was eighteenth century!”

Was I disabusing him of that idea then and there or had the magazine already done so? They had probably edited the dates into his remarks after interviewing him.

I asked whether he remembered my uncle Paul Derrick. He said he remembered him well. Paul, a Christian Socialist and an unremitting lobbyist for the Cooperative movement, shared with Benn a strong consciousness of his own archive, but Benn’s, I think, was more organised. I thought Paul had sent his papers – tomato-trays full of typescripts, cuttings and pamphlets – to New Lanark itself, but some of them, I see, are at the Bishopsgate Institute in London.

___

This isn’t the only Clausen in a legislature. In 1918, Lord Beaverbook’s Canadian War Memorials Fund (established November 1916) commissioned eight artists to paint scenes in France and Flanders. The paintings are now in the Senate chamber in Ottawa. Were they originally intended for it or for a war museum?

Edgar Bundy. Landing of the First Canadian Division at Saint-Nazaire, 1915.

Algernon Talmage. A mobile veterinary unit in France.

Leonard RichmondRailway construction in France.

James Kerr-LawsonArras, the dead city.

Clare Atwood. On leave.

James Kerr-Lawson. The Cloth Hall, Ypres.

William Rothenstein. The watch on the Rhine.

George Clausen. Returning to the reconquered land.

Clausen was expected to paint agriculture behind the lines. Having recovered from influenza, he set out on January 28 1919 to visit the snow-covered battlefields of Arras, Bapaume, Cambrai and Lens, and returned on February 7. The visit affected him. The large picture which he eventually painted showed a line of refugees returning through the snow to their homes after the Armistice.

McConkey: “A young mother, wrapped in a shawl and carrying an infant calls to a girl in a red scarf [another “brilliant red note”] at the front of the cart, gesturing towards an elderly woman who has slumped down in the snow. Melodrama was not his forte. In other hands, this incident might be played to effect, but here it merely passes with the flow of humanity. When shown in Canada [at an exhibition of war paintings] in 1920, the picture was associated with Frederick Varley’s Some day the people will return, a complementary picture of a [French] war-torn graveyard [which] carried the caption: ‘Some day the people will return to their village which is not; they will look for their little church which is not; and they will go to the cemetery and look for their own dead, and even they are not – in a land pounded and churned and poisoned, that once was fertile and rich with golden grain and good things for the welfare of the race.’”

Clausen’s canvas was despatched to Canada on March 26.

___

Britain had no propaganda department at the war’s outbreak. A War Propaganda Bureau was established at Wellington House under Charles Masterman in 1914, but for most of the war responsibility for propaganda was divided between various agencies. The Bureau turned into the Department of Information in 1917 and a Ministry of Information in 1918, the last under Beaverbrook.

In 1917 the Department of Information commissioned nine artists to produce six lithographs each on aspects of the war “Effort”, and a further twelve to produce a single image (or “up to twelve”, McConkey) representing the “Ideals” for which the war was fought. Clausen’s son-in-law, Thomas Derrick, an instructor at the Royal College of Art, was in charge of the series, having been assigned to assist Masterman at Wellington House. It belonged to the initiatives which, it was hoped, would bring the US into the war.

Clausen’s Efforts were six monochrome lithographs called Making Guns. His Ideal lithograph was The Reconstruction of Belgium, which contained no more drama than the Canadian painting.

A War Memorial Committee was formed by the Ministry of Information on the Canadian model to give out more substantial commissions. Derrick set strict briefs which discouraged artistic fantasy. Derrick’s own mural-like American troops at Southampton embarking for the Western front, 1918 (Imperial War Museum, oil) certainly had the “static quality” which Furst misses in Sims, and perhaps the “lack of linear rhythm” which he finds in Philpot.

The Committee commissioned the large and sonorous In the Gun Factory at Woolwich Arsenal from Clausen in 1918 (Imperial War Museum, oil). It was intended for a large Hall of Remembrance which was never built. Clausen based it on one of his Efforts lithographs.

A later Derrick from this time was Canadian troops crossing the Rhine. Its history is obscure, at least to me. Could it have been rejected for the Senate? It was shown in Canada in an unfinished state (why?) at the same exhibition of war paintings that showed Returning to the Reconquered Land. What happened to it after that? I have only ever seen one photograph of it and don’t have it to hand. The 1st Battalion, 1st Canadian Division, crossed by the Suspension Bridge at Cologne on December 3 1918. The twin spires of the cathedral made a pattern with the Canadian bayonets.

___

Westminster behind Closed Doors, 50-minute BBC documentary by Benn on the 700th anniversary of Parliament, defined not as the Parliament of Simon de Montfort, unrecognised by Henry III, but as the Model Parliament of Edward I:

1995 seems a long time ago here. Can one imagine anything as eccentric, as expert, as light-hearted and as deep done about the German Bundestag? This is in a fine tradition of English documentary-making and institution-exploring.

Benn mentions (without naming the artists) the Clausen and the Philpot.

He calls the Third Crusade the First Gulf War because it was a war between Christianity and Islam. Leaving aside the things wrong with that statement, he makes a comment which was wise in 1995, if not quite accurate in what it foresaw: “Unless we are very careful the religious war between Christianity and Islam will curse the next generation as the Cold War did the last.”

It was provoked by the assertion in that year by Willy Claes, Secretary-General of NATO, that the new threat to the West, with the passing of Communism, was Islam.

A dreary BBC radio series some years ago explored the art of Parliament as something dusty and oppressive. But I can see no reason why the walls of St Stephen’s Hall should not be covered in 2025 with a new series. Would Speaker Whitley not have given that idea his blessing? The old paintings could be rolled up whether they have perished or not and kept in an archive or preserved digitally. Digitisation and holograms can be our liberation from monuments. If a series were commissioned now, it would be about immigration.

McConkey does not mention the Benn accounts I refer to, but another, in this footnote:

“For its insistence on ‘the right to read what you wanted to read’ the [Wycliffe] picture has been a seminal influence on the thinking of the Labour politician Tony Benn. He stated in 2006, ‘I … have a copy of it at home and draw comfort from the courage of those who have risked their lives by defying the law as the only way to enjoy the freedom in which they believed passionately’ (The Guardian Magazine, 2 September 2006, p.78.).”

I can’t find a good colour image of the Wycliffe painting. I once gave up doing a Clausen blog because I wasn’t happy with the way scans were coming out or how I could adjust them.

In the Hall, front right; Flickr, source lost:

St Stephen's Hall

Royal Academy Collections, silver gelatin print with pencil doodling, given by Hugh Clausen, the artist’s son, 1970:

Clausen, Wycliffe

“McConkey” here refers to Kenneth McConkey, George Clausen and the Picture of English Rural Life, Atelier Books, 2012; or his catalogue for the Clausen exhibition organised in 1980 by Bradford Art Galleries and Museums and Tyne and Wear County Council Museums and held at Cartwright Hall, Bradford; Royal Academy, London; Bristol City Art Gallery; Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

On Thomas Derrick’s war work, see also Meirion and Susie Harries, The War Artists, Michael Joseph, 1983.

Old post:

London in 1927.

The chair of Kichwa

February 24 2014

The Roman Catholic Christian missionaries [in the Americas and in the Philippines] disregarded the Spanish secular authorities’ injunction to impose the Castilian language on the Indians as the medium of religious instruction. In their single-minded concern to preach the Gospel, the missionaries refused to be diverted by raison d’état from taking the shortest way to reach the Indians’ hearts. Even in the Philippines, where there was no pre-Castilian lingua franca, they learnt, and preached in, the local languages; and they went much farther in the Viceroyalty of Peru, where a native lingua franca had already been put into currency by the Spanish conquerors’ Inca predecessors. The missionaries in Peru reduced this Quichua lingua franca to writing in the Latin Alphabet; in A.D. 1576 a chair of Quichua was founded at the University of Lima, where it was maintained until A.D. 1770; and in 1680 a knowledge of Quichua was made an obligatory qualification for any candidate for ordination in Peru to the Roman Catholic Christian priesthood.

The Inca, unlike the Aztecs, had not had a writing system.

An Historian’s Approach to Religion, OUP, 1956

San Juan Chamula

February 24 2014

In Mexico [...] the Indians, though they had been converted to Christianity by force and had never been given freedom to reject it, displayed their voluntary attachment to it, 300 years later, in their resistance to the militant anti-clericalism which was in the ascendant during one stage of the long revolution that started in Mexico in A.D. 1910. In A.D. 1953 the Indian peasants were once more free to show their pride in their village churches and their zest for the Roman Catholic Christian liturgy. In the same year, however, the writer found a different spirit prevailing among the Chamulas – a highland people on the remote Las Casas plateau, in the south-western corner of the Mexican Republic [in the state of Chiapas], where Spanish military and political power had been so near to the end of their tether that the local tribesmen had been able to hold their own.

Even in 1953 the city of Las Casas, inhabited by Ladino descendants of sixteenth-century Spanish and Tlascalec colonists, felt like an island of Western Civilization set in an alien sea; and the short drive from this insulated Western city to the village capital of the unassimilated Chamula tribe carried the visitor into another world.

The Tlaxcaltec were indigenous allies of the Spanish against the Aztecs. Their home was in the area of the present state of Tlaxcala.

Among the buildings round the village green, the most prominent was a fine Baroque church; but there was no tabernacle on the altar; the priest from Las Casas ventured to come to officiate there on sufferance not more than once or twice a year, so it was said; and the church was in the hands of shamans who, for decency’s sake, were called “sacristans”. The effigies of the Christian saints on their litters had been transfigured into representations of pre-Christian gods in the eyes of their Chamula worshippers, who, squatting on the rush-covered floor, were making weird music on outlandish-looking instruments. The crosses planted in the open had turned into living presences that were aniconic embodiments of the rain-god. In short, in Chamula the West’s sixteenth-century assault in the form of a Roman Catholic Christian mission had been successfully repelled, and it remained to be seen what would be the outcome of the West’s twentieth-century return to the charge. This post-Christian Western assault upon the Chamula had been mounted in the brand-new co-operative store and brand-new clinic by which the de-Christianized church was now flanked. Would Western medicine and Western business organization prove more effective than Western religion as engines for capturing this obstinately pagan fastness?

The answer to that question seems to be “not much”. Wikipedia (edited):

“San Juan Chamula is a municipio (municipality) and township in the Mexican state of Chiapas, with over 50,000 inhabitants. It is situated some 10 km (6.2 mi) from San Cristóbal de las Casas.

“Chamula is located in the Chiapas highlands, at an altitude of 2,200 meters (7,200 feet), inhabited by the indigenous Tzotzil Maya people, whose Tzotzil language is one of the Mayan languages.

“The town enjoys a unique autonomous status within Mexico. No outside police or military are allowed in the village. Chamulas have their own police force.

“The church of San Juan, in the municipal cabecera (headtown), is filled with colourful candles and smoke from burning copal resin incense, commonly used throughout southern Mexico. Along the walls of the church, as in many Catholic churches, are dressed-up wooden statues of saints in large wooden cases, many wearing mirrors to deflect evil. The local form of Catholicism is a blend of pre-conquest Maya customs, Spanish Catholic traditions, and subsequent innovations.

“There are no pews in the church, and the floor area is completely covered in a carpet of green pine boughs dotted with soda bottles (mostly Coca-Cola). Curanderos (medicine men) diagnose medical, psychological or ‘evil-eye’ afflictions and prescribe remedies such as candles of specific colours and sizes, specific flower petals or feathers, or – in a dire situation – a live chicken. The specified remedies are brought to a healing ceremony. Chamula families kneel on the floor of the church with sacrificial items, stick candles to the floor with melted wax, drink ceremonial cups of Posh, artisanal sugar-cane-based liquor, Coca-Cola or Pepsi, and chant prayers in an archaic dialect of Tzotzil.

“Photography in the town is very difficult as parents will hide their children or they themselves will turn away as soon as they spot a camera. Photography within the church is strictly prohibited, as is photographing the Christmas procession to the church. They can throw you out of town if you attempt to violate this rule.

“The main agricultural products are corn, beans, potatoes, and cabbage.

“Women often make traditional clothing, blankets, and souvenirs that include Zapatista-related items, such as pens with a clay figure on top in the figure of Subcomandante Marcos or Comandante Tacho.”

An Historian’s Approach to Religion, OUP, 1956

Spirit of Teotihuacan

February 23 2014

In Mexico the spirit of a benignant vein in Meso-American visual art that had always been subordinate and had latterly been almost entirely submerged under the savagery of an Aztec ascendancy was reproduced, and given predominance, in a cheerfully extravagant version of the Early Modern Western baroque style. In the ultra-Baroque village churches of the Puebla district the writer found himself in the presence of the aesthetic and emotional equivalent of a pre-Columbian fresco, depicting the merry paradise of the usually grim Mexican rain-god Tlaloc, which he had seen a few days before at Teotihuacán; and the sixteenth-century missionaries’ success in divining and meeting their Indian peasant converts’ spiritual needs was attested in A.D. 1953 by the loving care that the converts’ descendants were still lavishing on these magnificent works of an exotic architecture and art that had been bequeathed to them by the Spanish friars who had arrived in the wake of the conquistadores.

In 1942, Alfonso Caso had identified the central figures in the murals in the Tepantitla apartment complex at Teotihuacan, which are from roughly 400-700 CE, as a Teotihuacan equivalent of Tlaloc (the name Tlaloc is Aztec, but the idea of a rain god identified with mountaintop shrines is as old as Teotihuacan).

This was the consensus when Toynbee was writing, but in 1974 Peter Furst suggested that the figures showed a feminine deity. Esther Pasztory concluded that they represented a vegetation and fertility goddess who was a predecessor of the much later Aztec goddess Xochiquetzal. She is now known as the Great Goddess of Teotihuacan and sometimes as the Teotihuacan Spider Woman.

Great Goddess of Teotihuacan

Reproduction of one of the Teotihuacan murals depicting the Great Goddess, National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City

The Indian boy (old post).

An Historian’s Approach to Religion, OUP, 1956

Cotton pickers

February 17 2014

Cotton

Similar to image yesterday and to others by George Clausen here.

Cotton, not swedes. Mississippi, perhaps, not Hertfordshire. I know nothing about this picture, but am guessing early or mid-1880s. Clausen used photography in preparing his outdoor paintings circa 1882 to ’84.

Spanish cities in the Americas

February 13 2014

[The] practice of diffusing Hellenism in the Roman Empire by means of the foundation of city-states was reproduced in the Spanish Empire of the Indies; and the Medieval Spanish institution which was thus propagated in the Americas in an Early Modern Age of Western history was in truth a renaissance of the Hellenic institution that had originally been propagated in Spain by Roman conquistadores from Italy. [Footnote: See Haring, C. H.: The Spanish Empire in America (New York 1947, Oxford University Press), p. 159.] Like the Hellenic cities planted in the post-Alexandrine Age by Macedonian empire-builders in South-West Asia and Egypt and by Roman empire-builders round all the shores of the Mediterranean, these Spanish cities in the Americas had individual founders; [footnote: See ibid., p. 160.] they were laid out on the rectangular plan that, in the history of Hellenic town-planning, had been inaugurated in the fifth century B.C. [footnote: See ibid., p. 161.] by Hippodamus’s layout of the Peiraeus; and each civitas had a rural territorium attributed to it, to use the Roman technical term. [Footnote reference to an earlier part of the Study.] In the more settled regions of the Spanish Empire these municipal territoria were conterminous; and, in the undeveloped regions on the fringes, some of them were of vast extent. [Footnote: See Haring, op. cit., pp. 161-2.] By A.D. 1574 about a hundred Spanish city-states had already been founded within the area of the Incaic Empire’s former domain. [Footnote: See ibid., p. 160, n. 4.]

So is all this about the Viceroyalty of Peru rather than of New Spain?

“The Spanish American provinces, therefore, were in many instances a collection of municipalities, the latter … being the bricks of which the whole political structure was compacted.” [Footnote: Ibid., p. 162.]

If these Spanish colonial city-states thus resembled the post-Alexandrine Hellenic colonial city-states in serving as the cells of an intrusive alien régime’s administrative and judicial organization, they likewise resembled them in enjoying little more than a simulacrum of local self-government; for they had no sooner been founded than the Crown took into its own hands the appointment of the municipal officers. [Footnote: See ibid., pp. 164-5.] Above all, they resembled their Hellenic prototypes in being parasitic.

“In the Anglo-American colonies the towns grew up to meet the needs of the inhabitants of the country: in the Spanish colonies the population of the country grew to meet the needs of the towns. The primary object of the English colonist was generally to live on the land and derive his support from its cultivation; the primary plan of the Spaniard was to live in town and derive his support from the Indians or Negroes at work on plantations or in the mines. … Owing to the presence of aboriginal labour to exploit in fields and mines, the rural population remained almost entirely Indian.” [Footnote: Haring, op. cit., pp. 160 and 159.]

A Study of History, Vol VII, OUP, 1954

Sarasota 1965

January 30 2014

Part of David of Sarasota, a silly undated film sponsored by the Sarasota County Chamber of Commerce, produced by LeRoy Crooks. Via Florida Memory, an initiative of State Archives of Florida. The 14-minute version has a clip of Toynbee, a charter faculty member of New College and in residence from December 20 (probably) 1964 until April 8 1965.

The College, an initiative of local citizens led by the Chamber of Commerce, had been founded in 1960. Toynbee’s appointment was announced October 5 1963 (St Petersburg Times, October 6, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, October 6). The College opened its doors to students in the fall of 1964.

The trustees had bought the former Charles Edward Ringling estate on Sarasota Bay and an area of airport land for the campus and were bequeathed the former home of Ellen and Ralph Caples.

Charles Ringling (1863-1926) of the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus was the older brother of John Nicholas Ringling (1866-1936). The Ringling Brothers Circus acquired Barnum and Bailey in 1907.

Near the campus is the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, John Ringling’s gift to Florida, “the museum the circus built”, with its bronze replica of Michelangelo’s David; on its property are the Museum of the Circus and the Asolo Repertory Theater, whose late eighteenth-century interior was shipped from Asolo, near Venice, in 1949.

We are shown the Ringling complex, and the Players Community Theater, Florida West Coast Symphony Orchestra, Sarasota Concert Band, Sarasota High School and its Sailor Circus, Emmett Kelly, Ben Stahl, Thornton Outes, Syd SolomonAl BuellJohn D McDonaldIrving Vendig, beach life and sport, Florida Ballet Art School and Hilton Leech Gallery.

Material from Toynbee’s New College lectures found its way into Change and Habit. From 1955 to 1967, Toynbee exploited the possibilities of the American lecture circuit. “Each time he used his host institutions as a base from which to travel far and wide in pursuit of additional lecture fees.” (McNeill) 

Tempting as it would be to call this post Bread from circuses, New College was not a Ringling foundation (though the Ringling School of Art was).

The lectures – one was on Food and Population – are likely to have been in the usual mould. Did these recycled talks justify the fees? And as McNeill asks, were his side-trips fair on his hosts, who were paying to have him on their campus?

Florida Memory is wrong in dating the film to “ca. 1950s”. It is 1965, though, admittedly, most of the time Sarasota looks as if it is stuck in a more than ordinarily complete southern time-warp.

Toynbee to Columba Cary-Elwes, February 24:

The students here (all 100 of them, all straight of out high school) are of a very high level, and are very much worth trying to help, but we don’t like this part of Florida. After Denver, where we were very happy, it seems un-genuine.

He had taught at the University of Denver in the last quarter of 1964. April 5:

Though the students at New College are good, in every sense, we shall not be sorry to leave Sarasota: you have here the worst side of American life: frivolity combined with militant conservatism.

Sunday April 11 1965 New College news release to Bradenton Herald (extracts):

“His three months here included:

“Seven major lectures to New College students and guests.

“Appearances on campuses in South Carolina, Tennessee, Gainesville and Miami, Florida [on March 4 he had spoken on The Role of the Generalist in the University Stadium, University of Florida, Gainesville].

“Weekly seminars with students.

“‘Bull Sessions’ with students after each of his formal lectures.

“Appearance with other world figures at the ‘Pacem in Terris’ conference in New York to discuss ways to achieve world peace.

“Broadcasts and telecasts on every major television and radio network at the time of the death of Sir Winston Churchill.

“Special appearance on the Today Show on the NBC network.

“Selected guest appearances, numerous dinners and social occasions.

“Completion of the manuscript for a new book [Hannibal’s Legacy].

“Aside from his public appearances and rigorous class and work schedule, Dr. Toynbee lived quietly with his wife in a home in the Uplands. They were often seen walking in the neighbourhood and the sight of the historian crossing the campus from his home to College Hall was a familiar one.

“Student recollections of Dr. Toynbee will always be of a man of great gentleness, unfailing kindness, simplicity in his approach to even great matters, and directness in his reply to even the most complex questions.”

He had been honest enough to share something of the feeling about Florida that he had expressed to Columba:

“Interesting was his comment that life in Florida somehow seems to be ‘unreal’. He explained that so many people now in Florida had formed their lives in different communities, had lived their working days elsewhere, and had then moved here attempting to begin another life, often a different way of living.”

It was becoming a state of migrants. Low taxes, air conditioning and the Interstate highway system had brought retirees from the Northeast, Midwest and Canada. The Cuban Revolution of 1959 produced a wave of Cuban immigration. There were Haitian and other Caribbean and Central and South American migrants. Since the early twentieth century much of the old African American population had been migrating to the north.

The black population of Florida had been 44 percent at the beginning of the century. It was still 16.5 percent, and Sarasota was presumably not a statistical exception, but you don’t see a single black face in the fourteen minutes of David of Sarasota. De facto apartheid will have added to the feeling of unreality. (Stanley K Smith, Florida Population Growth: Past, Present and Future, Bureau of Economic and Business Research, University of Florida, Gainesville, June 2005)

We have met Toynbee at that first, 1965 Pacem in Terris conference already: New York 1965: Ideology and Intervention (old post). If the audio links there and in Santa Barbara 1967, and the age of planning aren’t working, I hope to restore them.

To Columba, February 24:

I got back late last night from the Pacem in Terris Convocation (I was one of the speakers yesterday morning, [footnote: A.J.T.’s speech was the basis of “Change – Minus Bloodshed,” published in Rotarian 106, no. 6 (June 1965): 40-41.] with Senator Fulbright in the chair). The best of the chairmen was Barbara Ward.

According to the Online Archive of California, the event had ended on February 20. Fulbright opposed the Vietnam policy of the Johnson administration.

My main impression was that Pope John’s love and concern for his fellow human beings has broken through all barriers. Communists, Asians, Africans all spoke about him with affection and gratitude, and I am sure they were being sincere. This is one of those timely acts that cannot be undone. Pope John has “made history”, I should say, in the deepest sense.

He is referring to Pacem in Terris, the encyclical John issued on April 11 1963, a few weeks before he died. It made history because it was explicitly addressed not only to Catholics, but to “all men of good will”.

My second impression is that the American people are committing, pretty heavily, the sin of pride, and are thereby drawing on themselves the moral disapproval of the rest of the world. They are refusing to admit that they may have made a mistake [in Vietnam], that mistakes have to be paid for, and that America cannot be – and ought not to be – always 100 per cent victorious. The choice before them, and this in the near future, is either a compromise over Vietnam or MacNamara’s 1 to 7 million American casualties [where does he get that from?], but they do not seem to be facing the choice. Certainly they are not in our “blood and tears” mood of June, 1940. This is very disturbing in a nation which has mankind’s fate in its hands.

News release, op cit:

“Thursday the college officially bade the Toynbees farewell at a tea in their honor in College Hall. Students, faculty, and staff gathered in the Music Room and many of the College family found it difficult to move away from the historian after they had shaken his hand, reluctant to say goodby [sic] to this British couple who had been such a part of their lives.”

Reminiscences of his time there are in Sarasota Herald-Tribune, October 23 1975. He had a high opinion of the Florida students. He believed that the “bull sessions” and seminars were of more value to them than the lectures.

Christian B Peper, editor, An Historian’s Conscience, The Correspondence of Arnold J. Toynbee and Columba Cary-Elwes, Monk of Ampleforth, with a Foreword by Lawrence L Toynbee, OUP, by arrangement with Beacon Press, Boston, 1986, posthumous

Industrial epigoni

December 9 2013

There are certain alarming indications [...] that England in our day is paying her penalty for the perilous honour of having been the first country to achieve the Industrial Revolution.

In our day the country that gave birth to the Industrial System of production is a by-word for its technological conservatism; and its arch-conservatives are not the surviving representatives of the pre-industrial dispensation in those rare patches of the English country-side that have contrived to resist the penetrating and pervasive influence of a latter-day English world of mines and mills. On the contrary, they are the colliers and the textile-manufacturers whose grandfathers and great-grandfathers were the pioneers in the discovery of our modern industrial technique. These pioneers led the way in the Industrial Revolution not only for England but for the World; and it is evidently just for this reason that the epigoni are now making themselves notorious for an êthos which is the exact antithesis of the adventurous, experimental, adaptable, creative spirit that made the pioneers’ fortune. The epigoni cannot believe that all is not “for the best” in a technique which gave its inventors a virtual monopoly of the world market for industrial products for the greater part of a century; and even the belief that they are still living “in the best of all possible worlds” for British manufacturers dies singularly hard in the face of a growing array of increasingly successful foreign competitors. It is now more than half a century since Germany and the United States – relieved, by the outcome of the wars of 1861-71, from their former handicaps of geographical disunity and political preoccupation – first entered the lists of the industrial tournament and threw down the gauntlet to Great Britain; and since the war of 1914-18 the ranks of Great Britain’s industrial competitors have been joined by Japan, who was an alter orbis, unacquainted with any form of Western technique, until “the eighteen-sixties”, and even by France, who missed her opportunity, at the turn of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, of making the inventions which Great Britain then invented, and winning the rewards which Great Britain duly won, because she then allowed Napoleon to recall her from a new industrial adventure to the old enterprise – already proved barren by a series of abortive essays – of establishing a political hegemony over Europe by military force. Yet even this formidable and ubiquitous competition with which the ci-devant “Workshop of the World” is now confronted has not led the British manufacturer to overhaul the technique by which his ancestors once made an easy conquest of a virgin world market; and a fortiori it has not led him to adopt the technique through which his ancestors’ English monopoly has been successfully disputed by his own foreign competitors.

These German, American, and Japanese poachers upon old English industrial preserves have had to face the problem of forcing an entry into a field already occupied by the English pioneers; and they have solved it by working out new kinds of technique which the Englishman had never thought of – or needed to think of – before their intrusion upon the scene: for instance, the technique of co-ordinating under a single management all the successive economic processes from the production of the raw materials to the marketing of the manufactured product, and the technique of procuring an unprecedentedly intimate and effective co-operation between the producer and the financier and between a nationally organized industry and the national Government. Like the English pioneers in their heyday, the present foreign competitors of the English epigoni have been free from the handicap of inheriting an older technique with a record of past efficacity which invites its present possessors to continue to bow down and worship it; and so, like the English pioneers, they have been free to make creative inventions. It is the English epigoni – in contrast to both their English predecessors and their foreign contemporaries – who are captivated by the idolization of an ephemeral technique; and the seriousness of the handicap can be gauged by the plight in which our English industry finds itself to-day.

In this light we can see that Great Britain is suffering doubly from her success, since 1914, in avoiding both the two calamities of invasion and inflation which have overtaken France and Germany respectively. It is not only that these two industrial competitors of hers have been positively strengthened by the stimulus of blows to which they have effectively responded. From the English point of view it is perhaps even more serious that Great Britain herself, in escaping these blows, has lost a golden opportunity of relieving herself from the incubus of her own industrial past. She might have faced an industrially rejuvenated France and Germany with less cause for apprehension if only the same stroke of Fortune which has reinvigorated them had at the same time shattered the British idol of an obsolete pioneer technique.

In other words, she failed to develop a coherent industrial policy. Her later industrialists were amateurs who did not fully understand or respect the craftsman and engineer. They were ignorant of science. The class system widened the gulf between them and their workforces.

The complacent “idolization of an ephemeral technique” is one of many forms of idolatry that Toynbee considers.

Correlli Barnett is a historian of, inter alia, Britain’s industrial decline. Pride and Fall sequence (the last paragraph but one is not a summary of its arguments):

The Collapse of British Power, Methuen, 1972

The Audit of War: The Illusion and Reality of Britain as a Great Nation, Macmillan, 1986

The Lost Victory: British Dreams, British Realities, 1945-50, Macmillan, 1995

The Verdict of Peace: Britain Between Her Yesterday and the Future, Macmillan, 2001

A Study of History, Vol IV, OUP, 1939

Corcovado

December 2 2013

Milhaud, seventh of the Saudades do Brasil, opus 67 (1920), a suite of twelve dances originally for piano. The orchestral transcription has a short overture. Orchestre National de France, conductor not stated. Probably Milhaud 1956.

Corcovado is a mountain in Rio de Janeiro on whose peak is a statue of Cristo Redentor (1922-31). From 1917 to 1918 (nearly two years) Milhaud was secretary to Paul Claudel, the French ambassador to Brazil.

Laranjeiras

December 1 2013

Milhaud, penultimate of the Saudades do Brasil, opus 67 (1920), a suite of twelve dances originally for piano. The orchestral transcription has a short overture. Orchestre National de France, Milhaud, 1956.

Laranjeiras is a neighbouhood of Rio de Janeiro. From 1917 to 1918 (nearly two years) Milhaud was secretary to Paul Claudel, the French ambassador to Brazil.

Canção do poeta do século XVIII

November 26 2013

Heitor Villa-Lobos, music (1948). A modinha or sentimental song. Alfredo Ferreira, words (shown in a comment below in Portuguese). Teresa Berganza, mezzo. Juan Antonio Álvarez Parejo, piano.

Is this the title of Ferreira’s poem or was he an an eighteenth-century poet?

A war of amateurs

November 25 2013

One reason why the American Civil War was so perversely fruitful in the improvement of military technique was because it was mainly a war of amateurs, who were fairly representative of all the talent that the community could muster, and who were not inhibited from applying their wits to military affairs by the cramping effect of a hide-bound military tradition. The majority of our great Western wars in the Modern Age have been fought under the command of professional officers; and some instinct of self-preservation has inspired our modern Western Society to recruit its military officers from among its less able members, and then to cripple the abilities which they possess by a rigid routine. The exception which proves this rule is the school of professional officers in Prussia who won the European wars of 1864-71 .

Lions led by donkeys” (Wikipedia).

A Study of History, Vol IV, OUP, 1939 (footnote)

Elegies for Kennedy

November 22 2013

Igor Stravinsky, Elegy for JFK (1964), for voice and three clarinets setting text by Auden (see comment below), Italian premiere, Cathy Berberian, players of Orchestra Filarmonica Romana, Pierre Boulez, Rome, March 4 1965; as far as I know not commissioned:

Darius Milhaud, Meurtre d’un grand chef d’état, à la mémoire de John F Kennedy, opus 405 (1963), Orchestre National de lORTF, Eleazar de Carvalho, Paris, March 16 1967; commissioned by the Oakland Symphony and performed in December the same year:

Roy Harris, Epilogue to Profiles in Courage: JFK (1964), National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine, Theodore Kuchar; commissioned by Broadcast Music, Incorporated, to be played at the International Festival of Los Angeles County, spring 1964:

Herbert Howells, Take him, Earth, for cherishing (1964), text from Helen Waddell, translator, Prudentius (348-413), Hymnus circa Exsequias Defuncti (text, or the part set, in comment below), Indiana University Contemporary Vocal Ensemble, Dominick DiOrio; commissioned for a joint American and Canadian memorial service for Kennedy in the National Cathedral, Washington:

Roger Sessions, Piano Sonata 3 (1964-65), Robert Helps, live, Merkin Hall, New York, March 6 1996; commissioned?:

Leonard Bernstein dedicated his recently-finished Symphony 3, Kaddish, to Kennedy’s memory.

Putin fact-checked

September 12 2013

By Max Fisher, Washington Post. There’s a kind of historical interest in all this.

San Francisco

September 2 2013

Spanish mission, New Spain, Mexico, US, 1776-.

Mexican-American War, Alta California to US, 1846-48.

Gold rush, making of San Francisco, 1848-55.

San Francisco Examiner, 1863-.

San Francisco Chronicle, 1865-.

Lurid portrayal of Barbary Coast, “curse-mark on San Francisco’s brow”, in BE Lloyd, Lights and Shades of San Francisco, San Francisco, AL Bancroft, 1876.

A Trip Down Market Street: San Francisco from 8th Street down Market Street to the Ferry Building, shot by the Miles Brothers from the front of a cable car. The Library of Congress had dated it to September 1905, based on the state of construction of buildings, but an ad in the New York Clipper on April 28 1906 claims that it was shot a week before the earthquake of April 18. The uploader says “Stunden”, hours. Number plate evidence dates it to no earlier than February. Cars were recruited to circle around the camera. About the film.

Bubonic plague, 1900-04.

Earthquake and fire, 1906.

Report by Jack London, Collier’s, May 5: “Not in history has a modern imperial city been so completely destroyed. San Francisco is gone.”

Trailer for San Francisco, 1936 movie directed by WS Van Dyke, starring Clark Gable, Jeanette MacDonald, Spencer Tracy, about “the lusty days when the Barbary Coast was the boldest district from Singapore to Paris”:

Earthquake; but was even the Barbary Coast this lusty at 5.13 am?:

San Francisco Symphony, 1911-.

Panama-Pacific International Exposition, 1915. Documentary starts here.

San Francisco Opera, 1923-.

Golden Gate Bridge construction 1933-37.

Bridge opening, 1937:

Colour film by Harold T O’Neal, August 1940, so pre-war, via GLBT Historical Society:

Thousands of gay servicemen and women were dishonourably discharged, 1941-45. Many were processed out in San Francisco. Some settled there rather than going home. The city became a magnet for others.

City Lights Bookstore, 1953.

Roy Harris, eighth symphony, San Francisco, 1961-62.

Paul Hoefler Productions, bland travelogue and history with no mention of earthquake, 1963:

Summer of love and Scott McKenzie’s song, 1967.

Emergence of Castro as hub, circa 1970.

Silicon Valley (southern Bay Area), first use of name 1971.

Election and assassination of Harvey Milk, 1978.

AIDS, June 5 1981-, first reported cases, though they were in LA.

June 28 1969 (Stonewall riots, New York) to June 5 1981 is a US era. June 5 1981 to July 16 1996 (close of 11th AIDS conference, Vancouver, where HAART therapy was promulgated) is another.

Clip about PBS documentary about AIDS in San Francisco by David Weissman, We Were Here, 2011:

sfgate.com:

SF

SF Bay

Jan Morris, Independent, circa January 1991, reprinted in Locations, OUP, 1992:

“A lady leaning from her balcony admires the flowers and foliage in the gully below and remarks to me out of the blue, as I come sauntering by, ‘Sometimes I thank God just for making that particular tree down there.’”

Russian America (old post).

Frost-Nixon

September 1 2013

The interviews were conducted over several days in 1977 and shown in four 90-minute programmes in various countries in May of that year, nearly three years after Nixon’s resignation.

The first to be broadcast was on Watergate, second on Nixon and the world, third on war, fourth on Nixon the man. Frost himself funded them or got private money, John Birt produced them, and they were syndicated in the US and worldwide. Nixon was paid $600,000 and a share of the royalties. Here’s the Watergate interview:

Martin Luther King and Toynbee

August 28 2013

King’s Beyond Vietnam speech, delivered at the Riverside Church in Manhattan on April 4 1967, a year to the day before he was murdered, possibly by the state, a very old thirty-nine, was his most outspoken statement on the war. Text.

Time magazine called it “demagogic slander that sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi”. The Washington Post declared that King had “diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country, his people.”

Some of it is very Toynbeeish (not only the opposition to Vietnam). Especially this passage, from 49:09, which ends with a quotation:

“Our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies.

“This call for a worldwide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one’s tribe, race, class, and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing – embracing and unconditional love for all mankind. This oft misunderstood, this oft misinterpreted concept, so readily dismissed by the Nietzsches of the world as a weak and cowardly force, has now become an absolute necessity for the survival of man. When I speak of love I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. I am not speaking of that force which is just emotional bosh. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life.

“Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. This Hindu-Muslim-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate – ultimate reality is beautifully summed up in the first epistle of Saint John: ‘Let us love one another, for love is God. And every one that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love.’ ‘If we love one another, God dwelleth in us and his love is perfected in us.’ Let us hope that this spirit will become the order of the day.

“We can no longer afford to worship the god of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation. The oceans of history are made turbulent by the ever-rising tides of hate. History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path of hate. As Arnold Toynbee says: ‘Love is the ultimate force that makes for the saving choice of life and good against the damning choice of death and evil. Therefore the first hope in our inventory must be the hope that love is going to have the last word.’”

He had quoted the same words in his Nobel Lecture, The Quest for Peace and Justice, at the University of Oslo on December 11 1964 (not in the acceptance speech for the Peace Prize on the previous day). Text. I can’t find complete audio.

I don’t know where he took them from. They are not in Toynbee’s article Is a ‘Race War’ Shaping Up? which had appeared in The New York Times on September 27 1963, a month after King’s I Have a Dream speech.

The March on Washington took place, and that speech was given, fifty years ago today. Immediately after it, CBS broadcast a television discussion with James Baldwin, Harry Belafonte, Marlon Brando, Charlton Heston, Joseph Mankiewicz and Sidney Poitier. I linked to it here.

Malcolm X refers to Toynbee in his autobiography. Details here. Other X post here.

List of King speeches and sermons.

Baghdad 2007

August 21 2013

Guardian today.

Bradley Manning Support Network.

July 12 2007 Baghdad airstrike.

Wikileaks, Woodrow Wilson, WW1 (old post).

___

David Miranda and Jean Charles de Menezes: “we’ve come a long way”, Matthew Norman grimly points out in the Independent.

1966

August 21 2013

Alberto Ginastera of Argentina, Concerto per archi, Concerto for strings, Orchestre de Picardie, Edmon Colomer. Composed 1965, first performed Inter-American Festival, Caracas, May 14 1966, Philadelphia Orchestra, Eugene Ormandy.

“Onganía ordered repression of all forms of ‘immoralism’, proscribing miniskirts, long hair for boys, and all avant-garde artistic movements.” Wikipedia.

He banned Ginastera’s opera Bomarzo (1966-67).

Variazioni per i solisti
Scherzo fantastico
Adagio angoscioso
Finale furioso

Ginastera’s Cantata para América Mágica (1960), for dramatic soprano and percussion, had been based on pre-Columbian legends.

Toynbee in Argentina

August 20 2013

With wife Veronica (woman in pale coat), September 14 1966. Via difilm-argentina.com, an archive of television and cinema footage. No sound.

“En un avión de la empresa Aerolíneas Argentinas arriba al Aeropuerto Internacional de Ezeiza, el filosofo e historiador ingles, Profesor Arnold Joseph Toynbee junto a su esposa; tras descender del avión es recibido por un grupo de personas.”

There had been a military coup in June. The first of the three dictators of the so-called Revolución Argentina was in power.

Argentina endured five periods of military rule between 1930 and 1983, of which the last was the worst: 1930 (first coup) to ’32, ’43 to ’46, ’55 to ’58, ’66 to ’73 (Revolución Argentina), ’76 to ’83 (Dirty War). The Falklands War with Britain took place during the last.

The Brazilians’ nationalism is ironic and light-hearted; the Argentinians’ nationalism is romantic and intense.

Toynbee says in Between Maule and Amazon that he was in Córdoba on September 28 1966 when (not his words) nineteen young, armed Argentine nationalists calling themselves Condors hijacked an Aerolíneas Argentinas DC4 during an internal flight and landed on Stanley Racecourse in the Falklands/Malvinas to plant the flag there.

It does not seem to have occurred to him that the new junta might have welcomed or even staged the event. The organiser, Dardo Cabo, spent a short time in prison, moved from right to left, and was executed during the Dirty War. I am writing this while Spain is agitating about Gibraltar.

A light plane piloted by a Miguel Fitzgerald had touched down on the racecourse in 1964. In October 1968 a group of Argentine naval special forces conducted covert landings from a submarine. The leader of the team, Juan Jose Lombardo, later, as Chief of Naval Operations, planned the 1982 invasion. In November 1968, Fitzgerald tried to repeat his landing and failed. Fitzgerald died in Buenos Aires in 2010. Lombardo is still alive.

On December 21 1966 Toynbee hand-delivered Between Maule and Amazon to OUP in London. The Maule had been the southern frontier of the Inca Empire. It runs east to west a little more than halfway down Chile.

Most of the book describes travels in Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and Chile in 1966. There are also impressions of places beyond the Amazon: Mexico in 1953, Guatemala in 1958, Puerto Rico in 1962, Venezuela in 1963. It does not contain detailed itineraries. I will reconstruct what I can and put the details on the page here called Itinerary. Nothing is said about previous publication, but at least part of the content had been syndicated by the Observer Foreign News Service.

___

The difilm archive lists other clips which can’t be seen online. All sin sonido, silent. In date order and adding links, they are, with times:

Buenos Aires, August 19 (which should surely be September), 1:07: “El filosofo e historiador ingles, profesor Arnold J. Toynbee, visita el Museo Histórico Nacional y recorre las instalaciones acompañado por su director, el capitán de navío (re) Humberto F. Burzio, seguidamente el profesor Toynbee firma un libro de visitante ilustre.”

Córdoba, October 6, 4:49: “El filosofo e historiador ingles, profesor Arnold J. Toynbee, visita la Provincia de Córdoba. Descripción del film: 1. El profesor Toynbee asiste a una recepción ofrecida por autoridades de la fábrica de automóviles Industrias Kaiser Argentina (I.K.A.). 2. El profesor Toynbee visita la Catedral de Córdoba y realiza una recorrida por sus instalaciones. 3. El profesor Toynbee se reúne probablemente con el Gobernador de Córdoba. 4. El profesor Toynbee realiza una conferencia de prensa para los medios de esa provincia. 5. El profesor Toynbee se reúne con el Arzobispo de Córdoba, Raúl Francisco Primatesta. 6. El profesor Toynbee realiza una disertación en teatro.”

Córdoba, October 6, 0:31: “El filósofo e historiador ingles, profesor Arnold J. Toynbee, visita la fabrica de automóviles de la empresa Industrias Kaiser Argentina (I.K.A.) y recorre las instalaciones.”

Buenos Aires, October 9, 0:24: “En el Consejo Deliberante se lleva a cabo el 4° Congreso Internacional de Historia de América en la Academia Nacional de la Historia, asiste el Presidente de la Comisión Académica Organizadora, doctor Ernesto J. Fitte, y el Presidente del Congreso, doctor Ricardo Zorraquin Becu, entre otros; y se ve una disertación del filosofo e historiador ingles, profesor Arnold J. Toynbee.”

Buenos Aires?, 1966 (no exact date), 0:19: “El filosofo e historiador ingles, profesor Arnold J. Toynbee, realiza una disertación en la Universidad Católica Argentina, se encuentra a su lado el señor Emilio Stebanovich, quien hace de traductor.” Which campus not stated.

Buenos Aires, 1966 (no exact date), 0:20: “El filosofo e historiador ingles, profesor Arnold J. Toynbee, realiza una disertación en la escuela superior de guerra.”

Between Maule and Amazon, OUP, 1967

Stolen elections

August 15 2013

Dr Omar Ashour, Director, Middle East Graduate Studies Programme, Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter, The World Tonight, BBC Radio 4, August 14: “Chile 1973, Argentina post-1976, in Algeria 1992, in Tajikistan 1992, in Spain 1936.”

He wasn’t allowed to continue. Wikipedia list of “incidents involving direct voter fraud or in which the results were procedurally contested, massively or violently protested, or recognized as fraudulent by a reliable international organization”. That covers elections, like the recent one in Zimbabwe, which were contested by those with legitimate grievances, but not counter-coups of the kind that has been staged in Egypt.

List of coups d’état and coup attempts.

Has Egypt had a civil war since pharaonic times? It is hard to imagine one in that old country, but also hard to imagine any way out of this impasse.

___

United States Presidents and control of Congress: historical charts.

Chinatown

August 15 2013

Chinatowns

Chinatowns in Africa

Chinatowns in Asia

Chinatowns in Australia

Chinatowns in Canada

Chinatowns in Europe

Chinatowns in Latin America

Chinatowns in the Middle East, but are any real?

Chinatowns in Oceania

Chinatowns in the United States

Oldest. Anywhere: Manila. In Japan: Nagasaki. In Americas: Mexico City. In US: San Francisco. In Canada: Victoria. In Australia: Melbourne. In Europe: Liverpool. The oldest are never the largest.

Largest. In US: New York, followed by San Francisco. In Canada: Vancouver, followed by Toronto. In Japan: Yokohama, followed by Kobe, followed by Nagasaki (the three official Chinatowns). In Australia: Sydney, followed by Melbourne. In Britain: London, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Newcastle.

In the Netherlands: Amsterdam, followed by The Hague, followed by Rotterdam. In Belgium: Antwerp (the only official one). In France: Paris, the main one in the 13th arrondissement.

The only official Chinatown in Korea is in Incheon. There are Chinatowns in Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur. Jakarta’s is in a district called Glodok. The only real Chinatown in India is in Kolkata.

It is odd, in the case of Singapore, to have a Chinatown in a country that is ethnically Chinese. The word at least pays lip service to Singapore’s multiculturalism. There is no Chinatown in Tokyo.

Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo do not have well-defined areas. Buenos Aires has a small Chinatown. Moscow and Berlin do not have historic Chinatowns.

Many Chinatowns are in decline or are being replaced by China-themed malls. Flight of upwardly-mobile Chinese in US to the suburbs.

Chinese laundries in North America.

See chinatownology.com.

Chinatown cooks

Manhattan, Wikimedia Commons

Trotsky and Assange

August 6 2013

The historical parallel.

Snowden and Swartz seemed to be men of conscience. I feel I know less about Manning’s motives. Maybe a hundred years from now we will see them as a vanguard. A pity that the godfather of the movement isn’t a more sympathetic figure. I will be happy if Manning gets no more than ten years, but that hope is unrealistic.

Swartz’s reading in 2010 and 2011. I envy his speed. Educated Americans would recognise most of this, some of it probably dull. There is hardly any classical literature and no history. He still makes me feel unread.

Bison and Indians

August 5 2013

The English-speaking Protestant settlers in the New World exterminated the North American Indian, as well as the bison, from coast to coast of the Continent, whereas the Spanish Catholics only exterminated the Indian in the Caribbean Islands and were content, on the Continent, to step into the shoes of the Aztecs and the Incas – sparing the conquered in order to rule them as subject populations, converting their subjects to their own religion, and inter-breeding with their converts.

A Study of History, Vol I, OUP, 1934

Art in Haiti

August 5 2013

United States Information Service film in French with subtitles. YouTube channel: Haitian History.

The Centre d’art de Port-au-Prince was founded in 1944 by Dewitt Peters, a gay Californian Quaker and conscientious objector who had been sent to Haiti by the US Office of Education as an alternative to military service. It was Roosevelt who had ended the 1915–34 American occupation.

The Centre supported Hector Hyppolite, Castera Bazile, Philomé Obin. Peters wasn’t the “father” of Haitian art, but he brought it to the world’s, and tourists’, attention, as Jim Thompson did the Thai silk industry in the same years. He died in New York in 1966. Was the Centre merged into the Musée d’Art Haïtien, which was built in 1972? Did the Church eventually allow Haitian murals in the cathedral? They would have been destroyed anyway with the rest of the building in the 2010 earthquake.

Below, a pristine Port-au-Prince in the late ’40s. Some shots may be later. French, no subtitles. Good music. Film, via Haitian Today, unidentified. Mentions a visit in 1944 by Aimé Fernand David Césaire (post); and the foundation in 1945 of an Institut de France by Pierre Mabille. This was followed by a visit by André Breton and the Cuban painter Wifredo Lam. Was it related to the original Institut? It still exists. Did it function under the Duvaliers?

Portrait of Papa Doc

July 28 2013

Alan Whicker’s film on Haiti, shown on ITV (Yorkshire Television) on June 17 1969. Graham Greene had published The Comedians in January 1966.

Whicker meets and converses with the black-clad Papa Doc himself. The Doctor would die, of natural causes, two years later (April 21 1971), but he had been morally assassinated by Greene and Whicker. Greene in his dedication: “Poor Haiti itself and the character of Doctor Duvalier’s rule are not invented, the latter not even blackened for dramatic effect. Impossible to deepen that night.”

He also meets Madame Max Adolphe, Duvalier’s right-hand woman and leading figure of the Tontons Macoutes; and Aubelin Jolicoeur, the gossip-columnist in Le Nouvelliste who was the model for Greene’s Petit Pierre. We glimpse the first lady, Simone, or Mama Doc.

Greene on Jolicoeur: “A métis in a country where the half-castes are the aristocrats waiting for the tumbrils to roll. He was believed by some to have connexions with the Tontons, for how otherwise had he escaped a beating-up or worse? And yet there were occasional passages in his gossip-column that showed an odd satirical courage – perhaps he depended on the police not to read between the lines.”

Old piece in New York Times: “tidbits of gossip to armchair philosophy, tenaciously maintaining his position as the informal keeper of the social history of Haiti and its leading eccentric.” There have been similar maverick columnists in other unfree and half-free countries, licensed jesters and philosophers whose remarks have sometimes had an edge.

Duvalier demoted Christianity, promoted Voodoo. Demoted the army and established and promoted the Tontons Macoutes.

Haitian Voodoo (Vodou, Vodun) originated in the French slave colony of Saint-Domingue in the eighteenth century, when African religious practice was suppressed and enslaved Africans were forcibly converted to Christianity. It is a synthesis of the Voodoo of coastal West Africa, village witchcraft, other African elements, indigenous Caribbean Taíno religion, Freemasonry, Christian mysticism, Catholicism. There are similar syncretised religions in Brazil, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Louisiana, Puerto Rico, Surinam.

The Tontons Macoutes were Duvalier’s secret police, created in 1959, two years after he came to power. They remained active even after the presidency of Baby Doc ended in 1986. They were officially the Milice de Volontaires de la Sécurité Nationale, but Haitians named them after a Voodoo bogeyman who kidnaps and punishes children by snaring them in a gunny sack (macoute) and carrying them off to be eaten for breakfast.

The most important members of the Tontons Macoutes were Voodoo leaders. The religious affiliation gave the Macoutes an unearthly authority in the eyes of the public. They wore straw hats, blue denim shirts and dark glasses and were armed with machetes and guns. Papa Doc was a kind of avatar of Baron Samedi.

He was a doctor who entered politics, and black. His aim was to end the economic and political dominance of the Haitian mulattos. That got him support among the peasantry and helped him to win a presidential election in 1957.

The giant slum known as Cité Soleil began in 1958 with a gesture by Duvalier’s wife: the construction of homes for fifty-two families. It was to have been called Cité Simone.

Piece in The Harvard Crimson, June 3 1963. It was not the nature, but the scale of his abuses that was extraordinary. The US could not afford to support him publicly as a counterweight to the communists who, from 1959, controlled the other side of the Windward Passage. No doubt it did it covertly. Duvalier’s overt position was one of hostility to the US and its business interests.

Between 1966 and ’69 British television evolved beyond shaky black and white. BBC2 started colour broadcasting on July 1 1967. BBC1 and ITV on November 15 1969. The Papa Doc film was made for colour, but must have been shown first in black and white. Whicker had been a pioneer in a golden age of British documentaries. Soon after this, he did a programme on Stroessner.

Jean-Claude Duvalier, Baby Doc, succeeded his father and held on until he was forced out by a popular revolt in 1986.

The Duvaliers belong to a club which includes (in descending alphabetical, not moral, order) Stalin, Hoxha, Hitler and Ceaușescu in Europe; Pol Pot, Mao and the Kims in Asia; Mugabe, Mobutu, Gaddafi, Bokassa and Amin in Africa. What characterises them all? After watching Papa Doc, one is tempted to answer: an immense moral stupidity and an equally immense dullness.

The black Mozart

July 27 2013

The man who prepared the ground for the first post-colonial black state (he did not live to see it inaugurated), Toussaint Louverture (last post), was born a slave in Saint-Domingue circa 1743.

The first important black performer and composer of Western classical music, the Chevalier de Saint-George (not Georges), was born to a black mother and a white plantation owner on Guadeloupe (capital Basse-Terre) circa 1745. Residual racism makes us call him black.

This is the slow movement of a G major violin concerto of 1777. Fine, if a little sentimental by Mozartian standards. Anne-Claude Villars, violin; Orchestre de Chambre de Versailles, Bernard Wahl. YouTube image: Fragonard, Progress of Love: the Meeting (detail), Frick Collection, New York.

He was born Joseph Boulogne and acquired the name Saint-George after one of his father’s properties.

His father, Georges Boulogne, was convicted of murder in 1748 and fled Guadeloupe, where he was hanged in effigy. He may have spent his exile in Saint-Domingue. Did he take his family?

In 1755 or earlier, he returned to Basse-Terre, having been pardoned.

Joseph began to study under a black or mulatto violinist, his father’s estate manager, Joseph Platon. (On April 25 1780, Platon would play an unspecified Saint-George violin concerto at Port-au-Prince.)

Georges was ennobled in 1757 as Gentilhomme Ordinaire de la Chambre du Roi, a title that could only be inherited by children born in wedlock. But his family claimed noble ancestry anyway.

In 1759, he moved with his wife, daughter, slave-mistress and Joseph to Paris.

Joseph became an equally adept fencer and violinist. He took lessons in fencing and swordsmanship with La Boëssière and music lessons with Leclair and Gossec and perhaps Lolli.

La Boëssière, Wikipedia: “At seventeen he had acquired the greatest speed. In time, he combined with his prompt execution an expertise that finally made him without peer.”

In 1761, on completing his education, he joined the royal military household. He was also a swimmer, skater and duellist.

His music teacher Leclair was murdered in 1764, possibly on the orders of his ex-wife or other relative, or those of a jealous musician. (At least two attempts were made on Saint-George’s own life, for reasons that are unclear, in Paris in 1779 and in London in 1790.)

At some point in the late 1760s, Saint-George’s father returned alone to Guadeloupe, where he died in 1774. His wife and daughter were his only heirs. Joseph had to live on his earnings.

In 1769 Joseph became a member of Gossec’s new orchestra, the Concert des Amateurs, immediately holding the position of first violin. In 1773, he took charge of the ensemble and held the position until they were disbanded eight years later.

He was considered for appointment as director of the Royal Opera of Louis XVI, but was blocked by three Parisian divas who petitioned the Queen, insisting that it would be beneath their dignity and injurious to their professional reputations for them to sing on stage under the direction of a mulatto. Did Saint-George meet Mozart? He conducted the first performances of Haydn’s six Paris symphonies.

He was ready to embrace the Revolution. He was put in charge of a black and mulatto regiment of 800 foot soldiers and 200 mounted cavalry. They received the name Légion franche de cavalerie des Américains et du Midi, but were referred to as the Légion Saint-George. He appointed as squadron commander a mulatto born in Haiti: the future father and grandfather of the two authors called Alexandre Dumas.

The Legion helped General Menou turn back the Austrian invasion of Northern France and General Dumouriez defeat pro-Monarchy forces in Belgium.

In 1793, Saint-George played a role in the exposure of Dumouriez when he secretly turned against the Convention.

Despite military success, he was repeatedly denounced because of his aristocratic parentage and past association with the royal court (he had been a friend of Marie Antoinette). He was accused of a misappropriation of funds, dismissed from the army on September 25 1793, and imprisoned for eighteen months.

According to chevalierdesaintgeorge.com, he visited Haiti at some point after this, but no years are given. He is said to have been disillusioned there by “the struggle between Toussaint [...] and reactionaries like the mulatto general, Rigaud, who wished to restore the old order, including the reintroduction of slavery”. Rigaud later helped Napoleon in that reintroduction. If Saint-George had lived longer, he would have been disillusioned with Napoleon. He is said to have had contact with the Société des amis des Noirs.

Saint-George continued to lead orchestras, but struggled to find his place in a society no longer led by an indulgent aristocracy. He tried to rejoin the army in 1797, but was refused. He died in 1799 in comparative obscurity at the age of fifty-four. His mother seems to have died and his half-sister had disappeared.

He had had a reputation as a playboy, deserved or foisted on him, but never married. It was all but impossible for a Frenchwoman to marry a mulatto, even a fencing champion and “God of Arms”.

Saint-George, D'Eon, Robineau

Charles Jean Robineau, The fencing-match between the Chevalier de Saint-George and the Chevalier d’Éon, probably painted for George IV, Royal Collection

The Chevalier d’Éon was a transgendered French diplomat, spy and soldier whose first forty-nine years were spent as a man and last thirty-three as a woman. An engraving of the painting says: “The Assaut, or Fencing Match, which took place at Carlton House on the 9th of April 1787, between Mademoiselle La chevalière D’EON DE BEAUMONT and Monsieur DE SAINT GEORGE.”

Robineau may be unknown, but this, enlarged, is a charming picture with many layers of interest. At the very least a fine eighteenth-century sporting image, like Raeburn’s skater and Zoffany’s cockfighters.

Chevalier de Saint-George is also the French name for the Old Pretender.

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Columbus visited Guadeloupe on his second voyage and named it after the monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe in Extremadura. The French began to settle it after 1635. The French crown annexed it in 1674 during the Dutch wars. For a time it was under the control of the governor of Martinique. Britain held it for a time during the Seven Years’ War and during the revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.

In 1794 the National Convention abolished slavery in all French colonies. Louis Delgrès, a mulatto officer, led an uprising in 1802. Napoleon reinstated slavery when the French retook the island. It was held by Sweden in 1813-14. The Congress of Vienna gave it back to France.

In 1848, slavery was abolished completely. In place of the black slaves, indentured servants were imported from India to work in the sugar cane fields. (Why were freed black slaves not enough?) The first arrived on December 24 aboard the Aurelie. They came from the Coromandel Coast, Pondicherry, Madras, Calcutta and Malabar.

Just after the war, in 1923, Guadeloupe exported its first bananas. In 1925, after two decades of agitation, Poincaré granted French nationality and the right to vote to the Indian workers. The island fell under the Vichy government during the Second World War. In 1946 it became an overseas department of France. It is in the eurozone.

French Antilles (Wikipedia).

A rough guide to Hispaniola

July 26 2013

Lies between Cuba and Puerto Rico and contains Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Christopher Columbus’s flagship, the Santa Maria, was wrecked there on Christmas Day 1492, during his first voyage. He returned in 1493. The island was inhabited by Taíno, one of the indigenous Arawak peoples.

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Santo Domingo

Columbus’s brother Bartolomeo brought 3,000 men from Spain. Colonisation began. The capital and name of the colony was Santo Domingo.

In 1501, it began to import African slaves. They were thought to be better workers than the Taíno. Many Taíno were massacred. Whole tribes succumbed to smallpox.

With the conquest of the mainland, Hispaniola declined. Most Spanish colonists left for the silver-mines of Mexico and Peru. Agriculture declined. New imports of slaves ceased. White colonists, free blacks, and slaves alike lived in poverty, weakening the racial hierarchy.

In 1586, Sir Francis Drake captured the city of Santo Domingo and collected a ransom for its return to Spain.

In 1606, Philip IV ordered all inhabitants of Hispaniola to move close to Santo Domingo to avoid pirates. Rather than securing the island, his action meant that French, English and Dutch pirates and settlers established their own bases on the abandoned north and west coasts.

The French ejected the Spanish in 1795. They were reinstalled with British support 1809-21. Below.

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Saint-Domingue

In 1665, Louis XIV recognised French colonisation in the west. The colony was given the name Saint-Domingue. (The colonial terms Saint-Domingue and Santo Domingo are sometimes still applied to the whole island.) The capital was Cap-Français, the modern Cap-Haïtien.

In the Treaty of Ryswick (1697), Spain formally ceded the western third of the island. The French remained there until the end of 1803.

In 1770, the capital was transferred to Port-au-Prince.

Saint-Domingue came to overshadow the east in wealth and population (why?), with a slave society based on sugar cane production. Also beef, hides, mahogany, tobacco. It was an important entry port for the Americas.

French wars: the British occupied Saint-Domingue from 1793 to ’98.

The National Convention abolished slavery in the French colonies on February 4 1794. Spain saw in the unrest on the French side an opportunity to regain all or part of the western third of the island in an alliance with the British and the rebellious slaves.

But the slaves and French were reconciled. The French forces of the black Jacobin General Toussaint Louverture (he had begun his military career as a rebel slave in 1791) defeated the Spanish. In 1795, Spain ceded Santo Domingo to France under the Peace of Basel.

In 1798 Toussaint expelled the British.

Napoleon reimposed slavery in 1802. The renewed revolt by the emancipated black slaves was the final chapter in the career of Toussaint. He was deported to France, where he died in 1803. The Haitian Revolution continued under his lieutenant, Jean-Jacques Dessalines.

The rebels declared independence as Haiti in early 1804: the first post-colonial black state and the second republic in the western hemisphere. They claimed the whole island, but the French resisted in Saint-Domingue (some of Napoleon’s Polish forces refused to fight against blacks, supporting the principles of liberty, and a few actually joined the rebels).

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Dominican Republic

With British help, the Spanish were reinstalled in the eastern two-thirds in 1809.

They were ousted in 1821 by the Haitians, who began an occupation which lasted until 1844, when the Dominicans won independence and the Dominican Republic was formed.

The Spanish took over again 1861-65.

Second period of independence, 1865-1916.

The US occupied the Republic 1916-24 and again 1965-66. Democracy established itself in the late ’90s.

The capital is still called Santo Domingo.

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Haiti

Haiti became an independent black republic in 1804, led by Jean-Jacques Dessalines. Later that year – and ahead of Napoleon – he proclaimed himself Emperor (Jacques).

He was assassinated two years later, and a rival polity was set up in the south – the one that has survived.

The north continued separately until 1820, with Henri Christophe as provisional head of the government, then President, then King.

The south was a republic from 1806, an Empire 1849-59 (Faustin), then a republic again. From 1915 to ’34 it was under US occupation.

There have been a number of other, short-lived, secessions of parts of the country.

The US and the European powers refused to recognise Haiti. France demanded a high payment for compensation to slaveholders who lost their property, and Haiti was saddled with unmanageable debt for decades. It became the poorest country in the Americas, while the Dominican Republic flourished – a reversal of the position in the eighteenth century.

Democracy has made some progress since Baby Doc was ousted by a popular revolt in 1986.

Haiti suffered a catastrophic earthquake on January 12 2010.

Toussaint Louverture by al brazyly

Toussaint, by Daniel Jorge Marques Filho at deviantart.com

Alfredo Stroessner’s Paraguay

July 19 2013

Alan Whicker on Stroessner’s Paraguay, Yorkshire Television, April 7 1970.

His programme, Whicker’s World, ran on BBC television from 1959 through the ’60s and on ITV (Yorkshire Television) from the late ’60s to 1988. Obituaries.

We meet the simpatico Manuel Segura Morales, Father Provincial of Paraguay’s seventy-seven Jesuits. A small number when you remember the force they had been under the Spanish.

Father Manuel was a university teacher and social worker as well as a priest. He survived, the web tells us, two assassination attempts, obviously for being a thorn in the side of Stroessner. He is still, or was recently, alive. His godfather at his baptism in Granada was Manuel de Falla.

The English and Amish/Mennonite farmers seem classic white settler types in their different ways. The right-wing New Zealand cattle man with the World Bank is a neo- or proto-colonialist doing good.

Above all, we get an impression of the bovine Stroessner.

Paraguay is a centre in 1970 for alcohol and tobacco smuggling. Hard drugs are not mentioned.

A rough guide to Paraguay

Welsh in Patagonia

Protestants and Jesuits

July 18 2013

Between [the] Protestant method of conversion by extermination and the methods of the Jesuit missionaries in Canada and Paraguay there is indeed a great gulf fixed.

The Italian senator.

A Study of History, Vol I, OUP, 1934

A rough guide to Paraguay

July 18 2013

Paraguay was part of the Viceroyalty of Peru from 1542 until 1776, when it passed to the new Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata.

The Jesuits were in Paraguay from 1588 until 1767, when Charles III expelled them from Spain and all its possessions.

They had had an uneasy relationship with the secular Spanish authorities, not only in Paraguay, but especially there. The Jesuit-run reducciones de indios for the indigenous Guaraní were in direct and often humane opposition to the encomienda system of the Spanish settlers, where the indigenous people were virtual slaves.

See Robert Bontine Cunninghame GrahamA Vanished Arcadia: Being Some Account of the Jesuits in Paraguay, 1607 to 1767 (1901). 1607 was the year when the Jesuits were first granted territorial privileges.

In 1773, Pope Clement XIV suppressed the order itself, which took refuge in non-Catholic countries, particularly Prussia and Russia.

The Spanish were ejected from Paraguay in 1811. A republic was declared in 1813, so this is a bicentenary. Most of its history since then has been one of dictatorships, often military.

Pius VII restored the Jesuits in 1814.

Actual slavery, Guaraní and black, was officially abolished in 1842, but continued for another generation.

The calamitous Paraguayan War or War of the Triple Alliance (Paraguay against Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, 1864-70) led to the loss of half of Paraguay’s territory to Brazil and Argentina and the deaths of three-quarters of its male population. The president who started it was an army man.

The Chaco War (Paraguay against Bolivia, 1932-35), over the Gran Chaco scrubland, which was thought to have oil, was won by Paraguay. It was the bloodiest war fought in South America during the twentieth century.

Only Castro, among Latin American dictators, had a longer reign than Alfredo Stroessner, who came to power in 1954 in a coup. He was ousted by one of his generals in another of the revolutions of 1989. In 1993 Paraguay got its first civilian government for nearly forty years. It has had civilian rule since then.

Stroessner spent his exile in Brazil and died in his bed on August 16 2006, only a few weeks before Augusto Pinochet, who also died in his bed, only a few years younger, in Chile.

The Colorado Party has been out of power since 2008, when it lost the presidential elections for the first time since 1947.

Our Town

July 4 2013

Aaron Copland wrote the music for Sam Wood’s 1940 film adaptation of Thornton Wilder’s 1938 play Our Town. This is the suite extracted from it, for which there is also a piano version. London Symphony Orchestra, Copland, 1967.

The Story of Our TownConversation at the Soda FountainThe Resting Place on the Hill.

He considered making Our Town into an opera. So did Bernstein. Ned Rorem eventually did make one from it (premiere Indiana University Opera Theater with student performers, February 25 2006).

I suppose there is Satie in this, but there is none of Satie’s absurdism.

Wilder and music.