“Twenty-two members of the same family would sit around adjoined tables in a café and eat ice cream. ‘Europe’ […] appeared eternal, poor but well-dressed, fiercely macho, Catholic and so little subject to change that all four generations of a family could laugh heartily at the same jokes.”
Edmund White, midwesterner, on the Costa Brava in the mid-’60s in The Guardian, January 17 2004.
Archive for the 'Americas' Category
The order of Second World War bombing raids by the number of immediate fatalities is Hiroshima, Tokyo, Nagasaki, Hamburg. More people were killed in the March 1945 Tokyo raid than by the atomic bomb in Nagasaki.
And why is Dresden discussed more often than Hamburg?
… A discovery and a question from the post before last.
Was the firebombing of Dresden by the British and Americans the worst thing done before Hiroshima? The British had the larger role.
“It seems to me that the moment has come when the question of the so called ‘area-bombing’ of German cities should be reviewed from the point of view of our own interests. If we come into control of an entirely ruined land, there will be a great shortage of accommodation for ourselves and our allies. … We must see to it that our attacks do no more harm to ourselves in the long run than they do to the enemy’s war effort.”
He seems to have had moral doubts as well, but did not press his intervention.
In 1963, the holocaust-denier David Irving published The Destruction of Dresden. The Queen Mother, on the other hand, who lived for the rest of her days on a reputation gained by a visit to the blitzed East End, admired “Bomber Harris”.
According to onlinemilitaryeducation.org, the ten most destructive campaigns were as follows. The periods in question are of different lengths. In one case, the raids were conducted by Germans. In the other cases by the Americans and/or British. In descending order of total deaths by city (not by raid):
1. Tokyo, November 1944-August 1945, 100,000 plus killed
USAAF. (Minor raid in April 1942.) Raid of March 9-10 1945 is considered the single most destructive conventional bombing raid in history.
2. Hamburg, September 1939-April 1945, 42,600 killed
RAF and USAAF. Most severe raid ever on a European city came from a combined force during the last week of July 1943. The British conducted the night raids, the Americans the day raids.
3. Dresden, October 1944-April 1945, 25,000 killed
RAF and USAAF. Most destructive raid came from a combined force (RAF majority) February 13-15 1945.
4. Berlin, 1940-45, 20,000-50,000 killed
RAF and USAAF. 363 raids.
5. London, September 1940-May 1941, 20,000 killed
6. Swinoujscie, March 12 1945, 5,000-23,000 killed
USAAF. Raid on Polish city and port.
7. Pforzheim, April 1944-March 1945, 21,200 killed
RAF and USAAF. Main raid RAF February 23 1945.
8. Darmstadt, September 1943-February 1945, 12,300 killed
RAF. Main raid September 11-12 1944.
9. Kassel, February 1942-March 1945, 10,000 killed
RAF and USAAF. Main raid RAF October 22-23 1943.
10. Osaka, March-August 1945, 10,000 killed
USAAF. Main raid March 13-14 1945.
So the order is Hiroshima, Tokyo, Nagasaki, Hamburg. More people were killed in the March 1945 Tokyo raid than by the atomic bomb in Nagasaki.
And why is Dresden discussed more often than Hamburg? Because Irving wrote a book?
The Germans area-bombed or firebombed parts of London and Coventry in 1940. Bomber Command was authorised before the Blitz, on May 15 1940, to attack German targets east of the Rhine. It began area-bombing Germany in early 1942. This was supposed to undermine the morale of the civilian population and in particular of industrial workers. Factories were no longer the main targets.
The Americans had a policy of precision bombing in Europe and yet firebombed Japan. But on a few occasions, particularly towards the end of the war, they firebombed cities in Germany such as Dresden and Berlin in support of the British. That caused disquiet in the American ranks and was never the general policy as it was in Japan. The double standard was surely racist.
Victor Gregg was born in London in 1919, joined the army in 1937 and served with the Rifle Brigade in India and Palestine and in the Western Desert. He was taken prisoner at the Arnhem and was awaiting execution in Dresden when the raids happened. He is alive and outspoken on the bombing:
Adam Curtis’s extraordinary documentary is here on the BBC website. It was produced for iPlayer because of the “rigid formats and schedules of network television”. In other words, it was deemed too long or demanding. Here on YouTube.
The jury is out for me on this: I need to watch it more carefully. An introduction on Curtis’s blog is here. Extract (edited):
“Journalism – that used to tell a grand, unfurling narrative – now […] just relays disjointed and often wildly contradictory fragments of information. Events come and go like waves of a fever. We […] live in a state of continual delirium, constantly waiting for the next news event to loom out of the fog – and then disappear again, unexplained. And the formats – in news and documentaries – have become so rigid and repetitive that the audiences never really look at them. In the face of this people retreat from journalism and politics. They turn away into their own worlds, and the stories they and their friends tell each other. I think this is wrong, sad, and bad for democracy – because it means the politicians become more and more unaccountable.
“I have made a film that tries to respond to this in two ways. It tells a big story about why the stories we are told today have stopped making sense. But it is also an experiment in a new way of reporting the world. To do this I’ve used techniques that you wouldn’t normally associate with TV journalism. My aim is to make something more emotional and involving […].
“The film is called Bitter Lake. […] It tells a big historical narrative that interweaves America, Britain, Russia and Saudi Arabia. It shows how politicians in the west lost confidence – and began to simplify the stories they told. It explains why this happened – because they increasingly gave their power away to other forces, above all global finance.
“But there is one other country at the centre of the film. Afghanistan. This is because Afghanistan is the place that has repeatedly confronted politicians, as their power declines, with the terrible truth – that they cannot understand what is going on any longer. Let alone control it. The film shows in detail how all the foreigners who went to Afghanistan created an almost totally fictional version of the country in their minds. They couldn’t see the complex reality that was in front of them – because the stories they had been told about the world had become so simplified that they lacked the perceptual apparatus to see reality any longer. And this blindness led to a terrible disaster – support for a blatantly undemocratic government, wholesale financial corruption and thousands of needless deaths. A horrific scandal that we, […] here in Britain, seem hardly aware of. And even if we are – it is dismissed as being just too complex to understand.
“I have got hold of the unedited rushes of almost everything the BBC has ever shot in Afghanistan. It is thousands of hours – some of it is very dull, but large parts of it are extraordinary. Shots that record amazing moments, but also others that are touching, funny and sometimes very odd. These complicated, fragmentary and emotional images evoke the chaos of real experience. And out of them I have tried to build a different and more emotional way of depicting what really happened in Afghanistan.”
His statements about politicians may explain why they all (certainly in Britain, except for Farage) wear such puzzled expressions on their faces now. They are no longer sure what to say to us.
The Bitter Lake is a saltwater lake through which the Suez Canal flows. On Valentine’s Day 1945, after Yalta, President Roosevelt met King Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia on board a warship there. A remarkable photograph was taken, which I saw consciously for the first time last year in the King Abdulaziz Memorial Hall in Riyad. The kneeling figure is the ambassador to the Kingdom, William Eddy. It’s hardly less historically important than the Yalta photograph.
Charlie Beckett presented a programme on our bad news diet (Good News Is No News) on BBC Radio 4 recently (producer Simon Hollis), asking, intelligently, what sort of reality modern journalism is presenting. It plays into Curtis’s points. Listen here. (BBC iPlayer Radio must be the worst-designed site on the web.)
Melvyn Bragg’s radio specials are usually better than In Our Time, his regular slot. He recently did a series on Magna Carta (BBC Radio 4, producer Thomas Morris).
JC Holt, the modern historian of Magna Carta, the charter of rights obtained from King John by his barons on a meadow by the Thames in Surrey eight hundred years ago this June 15, died last year, and is not in the programme. Telegraph obituary. He also wrote about Robin Hood.
Magna Carta was, in its time, neither unique nor successful. But it had an afterlife.
“Among other things, [Holt] highlighted the fact that many of the broad concepts, such as judgment by peers and protection against arbitrary disseisin (seizure of property) were hot topics all over Europe in the 13th century. Similar charters were issued in Germany, Sicily and France in the 13th and early 14th centuries. Only one thing set England’s Magna Carta apart from the rest: its survival.”
I went to a talk by Holt early in my first term at Oxford. He was then teaching at Reading and would go on to the Professorship of Medieval History at Cambridge. It was a moment of disillusionment. I don’t know what, in my naïveté, I had expected. Did I think dons would be giants? Did I expect some kind of Jowett? He seemed like a civil servant. Which was no way to think of Holt.
With David Carpenter, Professor of Medieval History, King’s College London; Nicholas Vincent, Professor of Medieval History, University of East Anglia; Cressida Williams, Cathedral and City Archivist, Canterbury Cathedral; Louise Wilkinson, Professor of Medieval History, Canterbury Christ Church University.
With David Carpenter, Professor of Medieval History, King’s College London; Claire Breay, Curator, British Library Magna Carta exhibition; Nicholas Vincent, Professor of Medieval History, University of East Anglia.
“Melvyn Bragg visits Canterbury, seat of Archbishop Stephen Langton, one of the key figures in the peace negotiations.”
With Louise Wilkinson, Professor of Medieval History, Canterbury Christ Church University; Cressida Williams, Cathedral and City Archivist, Canterbury Cathedral; David Carpenter, Professor of Medieval History, King’s College London; Nicholas Vincent, Professor of Medieval History, University of East Anglia; Claire Breay, Curator, British Library Magna Carta exhibition.
“Within a few weeks the agreement had failed, and both sides disavowed it. How did a failed peace treaty turn into the best known legal document in the English-speaking world? Melvyn Bragg looks at the complex politics of thirteenth-century England and discovers how John’s Great Charter was revived and reinvented over the course of the next hundred years.”
With Nicholas Vincent, Professor of Medieval History, University of East Anglia; Daniel Hannan, writer and MEP, South East England; Justin Champion, Professor of the History of Early Modern Ideas, Royal Holloway, University of London; Kathleen Burk, Professor Emerita of Modern and Contemporary History, University College, London.
“How Magna Carta became a cause célèbre during the English Civil War and later exerted a crucial influence on American constitutional thought. 800 years after it was sealed, Magna Carta remains a document of global importance.”
1969 edition of Holt, Magna Carta, CUP, 1965
Rambling piece by Paul Krugman on the “gunpowder empires” and the Atlantic seaboard. And what European sailors had in common with Asian nomads. The New York Times, January 18.
Many Muslims in Dar al-Islam feel that things have drifted off course since the pristine days of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs. Many citizens of the US look back to the Founding Fathers and feel that they have lost something.
In the Islamic world the nostalgia for lost unity and virtue isn’t confined to Shiites, and it has been present for centuries. In the US it isn’t confined to conservative sentimentalists.
Perhaps it is to do with a feeling of powerlessness among ordinary people.
Both societies are, in different ways, paralysed and tortured by their fundamentalist obsession with a text associated with their founders: the Quran and the Constitution.
Real Billings (see last post).
“Let tyrants shake their iron rod,
And slav’ry clank her galling chains,
We fear them not, we trust in God,
New England’s God forever reigns.
When God inspir’d us for the fight,
Their ranks were broke, their lines were forc’d,
Their ships were shatter’d in our sight,
Or swiftly driven from our coast.
The foe comes on with haughty stride;
Our troops advance with martial noise,
Their vet’rans flee before our youth,
And gen’rals yield to beardless boys.
What grateful off’ring shall we bring?
What shall we render to the Lord?
Loud Halleluiahs let us sing,
And praise his name on ev’ry chord.”
Africa, same performers; words by Isaac Watts; Billings published the original version in 1770 in his hymn book The New England Psalm Singer, but revised and reprinted it in 1778 in The Singing Master’s Assistant, and then after later revisions in Music in Miniature in 1779; this appears to be the first version:
“Now shall my inward joys arise,
And burst into a song;
Almighty love inspires my heart,
And pleasure tunes my tongue.
God on his thirsty Sion’s hill
Some mercy-drops has thrown,
And solemn oaths have bound his love
To show’r salvation down.
Why do we then indulge our fears,
Suspicions and complaints?
Is he a God, and shall his grace
Grow weary of his saints?
Can a kind woman e’er forget
The infant of her womb,
Amongst a thousand tender thoughts
Her suckling have no room?
Yet, saith the Lord, should nature change,
And mothers monsters prove,
Sion still dwells upon the heart
Of everlasting love.
Deep on the palms of both my hands
I have engrav’d her name;
My hands shall raise her ruin’d walls,
And build her broken frame.”
St Anne (old post).
Why have Ives’s, Schuman’s and Piston’s New England triptyches never been put onto one LP or CD?
Or can somebody prove to me that they have? It’s nearly as strange as the fact that no record company has ever managed to issue a complete set of Cowell’s eighteen works called Hymn and Fuguing Tune, even though Americana sells and the pieces are historically important and enjoyable (unless you are depressed by Cowell).
Here are the triptyches.
Charles Ives composed Three Places in New England (or Orchestral Set no 1; two more would follow) mainly between 1911 and ’14, but elements in it go back to 1903-04. In 1929 he rescored it for a smaller orchestra so that it could be performed. James Sinclair has tried to reconstruct the 1914 version. The recording here has him conducting the Orchestra of New England in the later version.
I The “St.-Gaudens” in Boston Common (Col. Shaw and his Colored Regiment):
The St.-Gaudens is a monument on the corner of Beacon and Park Streets in Boston created by Augustus Saint-Gaudens in honour of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, the first all-black regiment to serve in the Union Army during the American Civil War. Officially it is the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial. Shaw was the white commander who led the regiment in its assault on Fort Wagner, SC. Of the six hundred men who stormed the fort, 270, including Shaw, were killed.
Ives alludes to Stephen Foster’s parlour songs Massa’s in the Cold Ground and Old Black Joe (were they also slave plantation songs?); to Marching through Georgia and The Battle Cry of Freedom, patriotic American Civil War tunes; and to Reveille, Deep River and ragtime.
II Putnam’s Camp, Redding, Connecticut:
The Connecticut legislature established Putnam’s Camp as a historic site in 1887 in honour of General Israel Putnam, who set up a camp at Redding during the winter of 1778-79. Fourth of July celebrations are held there. Putnam had fought the British at the Battle of Bunker Hill, a British Pyrrhic victory.
Ives alludes to The British Grenadiers; Marching through Georgia; The Girl I Left Behind; The Arkansas Traveler; Massa’s in the Cold Ground; The Battle Cry of Freedom; Yankee Doodle; Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean; Hail, Columbia; Tramp! Tramp! Tramp! and The Star-Spangled Banner.
Most these tunes had not been written in 1778.
III The Housatonic at Stockbridge:
William Schuman based an orchestral New England Triptych (1956) on hymn tunes by William Billings. He prefaced his score with a note.
“William Billings (1746-1800) is a major figure in the history of American music. His works capture the spirit of sinewy ruggedness, deep religiosity, and patriotic fervor that we associate with the Revolutionary period in American history. I am not alone among American composers who feel a sense of identity with Billings, which accounts for my use of his music as a departure point. These three pieces are not a ‘fantasy’ nor ‘variations’ on themes of Billings, but rather a fusion of styles and musical language.”
The score prints the pertinent lines from three hymns.
Schuman had withdrawn a William Billings Overture composed in 1943.
Recording by Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Max Rudolf.
I Be Glad Then, America:
“Yea, the Lord will answer
And say unto his people – behold
I will send you corn and wine and oil
And ye shall be satisfied therewith.
Be glad then, America,
Shout and rejoice.
Fear not O land,
Be glad and rejoice.
Many of Billings’s texts come from the poetry of Isaac Watts, but these are lines from the Book of Joel adapted by Billings (for example, Zion becomes America).
II When Jesus Wept:
“When Jesus wept, the falling tear
In mercy flowed beyond all bound;
When Jesus mourned, a trembling fear
Seized all the guilty world around.”
Quotes a phrase from John 11:35. Rest by Billings.
“Let tyrants shake their iron rod,
And slavery clank her galling chains,
We fear them not, we trust in God,
New England’s God forever reigns.
The foe comes on with haughty stride,
Our troops advance with martial noise,
Their vet’rans flee before our youth,
And gen’rals yield to beardless boys.”
Billings himself seems to have written the words. It was originally a church hymn, but was adopted by the Continental Army as a marching song. The name Chester is just an example of the convention of arbitrarily assigning place-names to hymn tunes.
Walter Piston composed his Three New England Sketches in 1959. The movement titles
“were the subjects that prompted me to compose. I did not intend to openly suggest the subject matter, but a man came up to me, following the premiere, and said, ‘I hope you don’t mind my saying that I smelled clams during the first movement.’ I said, ‘No, that is quite all right. They are your clams.’ Each individual is free to interpret as he wishes.”
Walter Piston, Can Music Be Nationalistic?, Music Journal 19, no 7, October 1961, pp 25 and 86, via Wikipedia.
University of Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Barbara Schubert.
I Seaside (Adagio)
II Summer Evening (Delicato)
III Mountains (Maestoso; risoluto) (Brahmsian opening, immediately followed by Vaughan Williams 9):
Piston was a dignified, even academic, figure who didn’t chase the ratings. Nor did Schuman or the highly unacademic Ives. Yet, curiously enough, since there are no borrowed tunes, this, of the three, is likely to be the crowd-pleaser.
Did the later composers state explicitly that they were paying homage to Ives?
Thanksgiving (old post).
Aaron Copland, violin sonata, the piece immediately preceding Appalachian Spring.
Andante semplice – Lento – Allegretto giusto.
Isaac Stern, Aaron Copland, recorded 1968.
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken,
Or like stout Cortez when, with eagle eyes,
He stared at the Pacific, and all his men
Look’d at each other with a wild surmise,
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.
Keats, of course. From On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer. A Petrarchan sonnet written in iambic pentameters.
The planet was Uranus, identified by Hershel in 1781, the year of the Iron Bridge, before Keats was born, and the first to be added to the list since antiquity. It is visible to the naked eye, but had been thought to be a star.
The discovery of four moons of Jupiter by Galileo, and of five of Saturn, one by Huygens, four by Cassini, preceded Hershel’s discovery. Jupiter’s Ganymede and Callisto may just be visible with the naked eye.
Herschel went on, after a few years, to discover two Uranian moons, followed by two more of Saturn.
The first four asteroids were discovered during Keats’s boyhood. Three of them are at the extreme margin of visibility with the naked eye. The first was observed on the first day of the nineteenth century.
The first Europeans to see the east coast of the Pacific were members of Vasco Núñez de Balboa’s expedition. Wikipedia: “Keats had been reading William Robertson’s History of America and […] conflated two scenes there described: Balboa’s finding of the Pacific  and Cortés’s first view of the Valley of Mexico . The Balboa passage: ‘At length the Indians assured them, that from the top of the next mountain they should discover the ocean which was the object of their wishes. When, with infinite toil, they had climbed up the greater part of the steep ascent, Balboa commanded his men to halt, and advanced alone to the summit, that he might be the first who should enjoy a spectacle which he had so long desired. As soon as he beheld the South Sea [Mar del Sur] stretching in endless prospect below him, he fell on his knees, and lifting up his hands to Heaven, returned thanks to God, who had conducted him to a discovery so beneficial to his country, and so honourable to himself. His followers, observing his transports of joy, rushed forward to join in his wonder, exultation, and gratitude’ (Vol. III).”
“Keats’ generation was familiar enough with the polished literary translations of John Dryden and Alexander Pope, which gave Homer an urbane gloss similar to Virgil, but expressed in blank verse or heroic couplets. Chapman’s vigorous and earthy paraphrase (1616) was put before Keats by Charles Cowden Clarke, a friend from his days as a pupil at a boarding school in Enfield Town. They sat up together till daylight to read it: ‘Keats shouting with delight as some passage of especial energy struck his imagination. At ten o’clock the next morning, Mr. Clarke found the sonnet on his breakfast-table.’” No source given for the quotation.
The earlier lines:
“Much have I travell’d in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
That deep-browed Homer ruled as his demesne;
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:”
Landscapes (old post).
A Study of History, Vol X, OUP, 1954
“Réalisé à New York (Manhattan Center Studios) en octobre 1992, ce fut le premier enregistrement, par Marin Alsop dirigeant le Concordia Orchestra et cinq solistes vocaux, de l’intégralité du petit ‘opéra noir’ en un acte intitulé Blue Monday, rebaptisé plus tard 135th Street Blues, que George Gershwin composa en 1922 à l’aube de sa brillante carrière. Avec ses maladresses, ses lacunes et ses naïvetés, ce mini-opéra fait certes pâle figure comparé au chef-d’oeuvre que sera Porgy and Bess treize ans plus tard. Éric Lipmann, spécialiste de Gershwin, voit toutefois en Blue Monday ‘une tentative passionnante qui visait à donner au théâtre lyrique une oeuvre originale puisant ses sources dans l’expression populaire’, une sorte de ‘petite maquette’ de Porgy and Bess.
Les solistes sont: Amy Burton (Vi), soprano, Gregory Hopkins (Joe), ténor, William Sharp (Tom et Sweet Pea), baryton, Arthur Woodley (Sam), baryton, et Jamie J. Offenbach (Mike), baryton-basse. Se succèdent sans interruption:
[00:00] Overture and Prologue
[03:24] Blue Monday Blues
[07:04] Has one of you seen Joe?
[10:37] Blue Monday Blues (reprise)
[12:10] I’m Goin’ to see my Mother
[18:30] Vi, I’m expecting a telegram”
Gershwin. But not as you know it. Rosa Linda, piano. Paul Whiteman and His Concert Orchestra. Recorded 1938. Version, I think, by Frank Campbell Watson, who was in charge of Gershwin’s scores after his death.
So a work (watered-down Gershwin, but enjoyable enough, and the original is not his best work) to add to the Concerto in F and the Second Rhapsody.
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.
Cruzeiro, São Paulo state, late nineteenth century
Alberto Ginastera, Harp Concerto (1956-65), Remy van Kesteren, harp, National Youth Orchestra of the Netherlands (NJO), Clark Rundell, Nijmegen, August 14 2011.
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?
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:
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.
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:
I have celebrated Villa-Lobos occasionally in this blog. One day I will write a long piece about this wildly uneven artist, the last great twentieth-century composer to receive his due. Here are a few short works of his. 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 (plurale tantum). 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. Number 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 (a US ensemble, I think):
The grand pianistic manner, though 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, with its unforgettable opening phrase. That means round dance on seven notes. 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:
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.
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).
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
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.
Who even knew that there was film of Kipling, and with sound?
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. Chesterton was present.
“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.
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 Britain. Sir Henry Newbolt, GM 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 Gill. King Alfred’s long-ships, newly built for defence of the realm, attack vessels of the Danish invaders storm-beaten in Swanage Bay. 877.
Glyn Philpot. King 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 Sims. King 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 Clausen. English people, in spite of prosecution for heresy, persist in gathering secretly to read aloud Wycliffe’s English Bible.
Vivian Forbes. Sir 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 Lawrence. Queen Elizabeth, the Fairie Queen of her Knights and Merchant Venturers, commissions Sir Walter Raleigh to sail for America and discover new countries.
William Rothenstein. Sir 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 Monnington. The 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.
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.)
“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.”
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.
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 Richmond. Railway construction in France.
James Kerr-Lawson. Arras, 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:
Royal Academy Collections, silver gelatin print with pencil doodling, given by Hugh Clausen, the artist’s son, 1970:
“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.
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
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.
“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
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.
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
[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 [bordered on each other]; 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
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.
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 Solomon, Al Buell, John D McDonald, Irving 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.
“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
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 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
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.
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.
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?
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)
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 l’ORTF, 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:
Leonard Bernstein dedicated his recently-finished Symphony 3, Kaddish, to Kennedy’s memory.
By Max Fisher, Washington Post. There’s a kind of historical interest in all this.
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-.
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.
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-.
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:
Emergence of Castro as hub, circa 1970.
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.
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).
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: