FIRST HEARD: Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony

May 7, 1824Premiere of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in Vienna, Austria

The Ninth Symphony was first performed in the Theater am Kärntnertor in Vienna. This was the composer’s first onstage appearance in 12 years, and the hall was packed with an eager audience and a number of musicians.


Theater am Kärntnertor


The premiere of Symphony No. 9 involved the largest orchestra ever assembled by Beethoven, and required the combined efforts of the Kärntnertor house orchestra, the Vienna Music Society (Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde), and a select group of capable amateurs. While no complete list of premiere performers exists, many of Vienna’s most elite performers are known to have participated.

Although the performance was officially directed by Michael Umlauf, the theatre’s  Kapellmeister, Beethoven shared the stage with him. However, two years earlier, Umlauf had watched as the composer’s attempt to conduct a dress rehearsal of his opera Fidelio ended in disaster. So this time, he instructed the singers and musicians to ignore the almost completely deaf Beethoven. At the beginning of every part, Beethoven, who sat by the stage, gave the tempos. He was turning the pages of his score and beating time for an orchestra he could not hear.

If you’d like to hear the symphony that Beethoven could only hear inside his head, click

Continue reading

Posted in Classical Music, Music | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

A Poem for International Nurses Day


Updated version of original 2020 post


Today is International Nurses Day, and nurses are even more essential during this global pandemic. Everywhere, the pressure on nurses, on all medical personnel, is still pushing them to the breaking point. Even under ordinary circumstances, their jobs are stressful, as Linda Leeson shows us in her poem, “I’m Sorry In Advance.” The tide is starting to turn in some places, but all of us still need to wear masks, social distance, wash our hands, and get vaccinated – it could save your life, and the lives of nurses who have risked all to care for the millions of Covid-19 patients. 

______________________________

To read Linda Leeson’s poem “I’m Sorry In Advance” click

Continue reading

Posted in Poetry | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Poems for Bird Day and Respect for Chickens Day

May 4th is Bird Day in the U.S. and Respect for Chickens Day, so here are four poems by four very different poets with four very different views of birds and chickens.

To read the poems by Paul Laurence Dunbar, Elizabeth Madox Roberts, Jack Prelutsky, and Emily Dickinson click: 

Continue reading

Posted in Emily Dickinson, Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

TCS: Now I Become Myself

Good Morning!

______________________________

Welcome to The Coffee Shop, just for you early risers
on Monday mornings. This is an Open Thread forum,
so if you have an off-topic opinion burning a hole in
your brainpan, feel free to add a comment.

______________________________

Loneliness is the poverty of self;
solitude is the richness of self.

– May Sarton

Continue reading

Posted in Poetry, The Coffee Shop | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

What Is a Poem?

Happy Birthday to Annie Dillard, born April 30, 1945

Annie Dillard is an American author, best known for her book Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, which won the 1975 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction. While she is better known for her prose works – essays, literary criticism, and narratives often based on her journals, she also writes poetry.

Defining poetry was a lot easier up until the late 19th Century. The advent of “Modern Poetry” and “free verse” has considerably opened the field, but has also caused confusion among people more accustomed to rhymed iambic pentameter.

So a “found poem” gets really controversial. It is a prose text written by one author which struck a different author as poetical, so they then edited and sometimes rearranged the original text to turn it into a poem. Annie Dillard published a whole book of them, called Mornings Like This: Found Poems.

William Alphonso Murrill (1869-1957) American mycologist. In 1904, he became the assistant curator at the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG). He, along with the NYBG, founded the journal Mycolgia and was its first editor for 16 years. Murrill was known to travel extensively to describe the mycota of Europe and the Americas. He traveled along the East Coast, Pacific Coast, Mexico and the Caribbean. Although Murrill was a very influential person at the NYBG, who worked his way up to become assistant director in 1908, his rather eccentric personality caused problems with his job. He went on annual collecting trips to Mexico, the Caribbean, Europe, and South America, sometimes without informing any of his colleagues prior to leaving. These trips resulted in a cumulative total of 70,000 specimens of fungi, 1,400 of which are deposited in the NYBG., Murrill described 1453 new species and varieties of Agaricales, Boletales, and Polyporales. Four genera he described are still valid to this day:  Marasmiellus, Polymarasmius, Suillellus, and Volvariopsis. Murrill died in 1957 at the age of 88.

To read Annie Dillard’s found poem from entries in William Murrill’s diaries click:

Continue reading

Posted in Poetry | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

C.P. Cavafy – “Things impolitic and dangerous”

C.P. Cavafy (April 29, 1863 – April 29, 1933) the most distinguished and highly influential modern Greek poet, who never lived in Greece, whose work had been ridiculed and rejected early in the last century by the Athenian literati, then almost forgotten by Greece until publication of an anthology of his poems in 1935, two years after his death. He was born in Alexandria, Egypt, which he first left at age nine after his father died, and his mother moved their large brood to Liverpool so his elder brothers could run the family import business, a time when Cavafy learned English and discovered Shakespeare, Robert Browning, and Oscar Wilde. These years influenced his choice of the Anglicized “Cavafy” as his pen name. When he was sixteen, the business failed, and the family returned, in debt-ridden gentility, to the Greek community in Alexandria. He was exiled again when he was nineteen, because his mother wisely removed the family from Alexandria, to the home of her parents in Constantinople during the increasing tension between Egypt and Great Britain over Egyptian nationalism. The British bombarded Alexandria in June of 1882. Their home in Alexandria was destroyed during the bombardment, and most of Cavafy’s early writing was lost. After his return from Constantinople, Cavafy worked in several jobs, then took a permanent position in the Irrigation Department of the Ministry of Public Works. His British superiors valued his excellent English. He would work there for thirty years, and was the assistant director of the department when he retired. Cavafy was homosexual. He had affairs but no love that lasted. Most of his erotic poetry was never published in his lifetime. Poet and Bureaucrat, Hellenic yet Cosmopolitan, he was as contradictory as the country of his family’s origins. Cavafy died of cancer on his birthday in 1933. His tombstone in the Greek Orthodox Cemetery in Alexandria bears a single word epitaph: Poet.

“Things impolitic and dangerous” comes from Cavafy’s poem “Julian in Nicomedia” which refers to the Emperor Julian, who was raised in Christianity, but was known as Julian the Apostate, because as Emperor he rejected Christianity, and tried but failed to restore paganism to the Eastern Roman Empire. Not to be confused with the Orthodox Church Holy Martyr Julian of Nicomedia, who refused to renounce Christianity, and was hacked into pieces which were burned. Cavafy’s work is full of these ironic connections.

In 1904, Cavafy wrote one of his best-known poems, “Waiting for the Barbarians” which still  sizzles and stings, eerily topical, well over a hundred years later. To read his poem click:

Continue reading

Posted in Poetry | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Always Marry an April Girl

Ogden Nash (1902-1971) American humorous light verse poet who wrote well over 500 poems, one of the best- known and liked U.S. poets.  He was born in Rye, NY, but his family moved frequently because of his father’s import-export business. He spent a year at Harvard University in 1920, but dropped out, then taught briefly, tried to sell bonds in New York City, and then became a writer of streetcar card ads. After that, he worked as an editor at Doubleday Publishing. Nash submitted some of his short rhymes to The New Yorker, and editor Harold Ross asked him for more, “They are about the most original stuff we have had lately.” Nash spent three months in 1931 in working on the editorial staff for The New Yorker, and married Frances Leonard. They moved to Baltimore in 1934, were they lived for the rest of their lives. Nash wrote in a parody of poet Richard Lovelace, “I could have loved New York had I not loved Balti-more.” He wrote the lyrics for the Broadway shows One Touch of Venus, and Two’s Company. He also collaborated with S.J.Perelman and Kurt Weill. Nash died in Baltimore at age 68 in May, 1971, of complications from Crohn’s disease aggravated by a lactobacillus infection transmitted by improperly prepared coleslaw.

To read Nash’s “Always Marry an April Girl” click:

Continue reading

Posted in Humor, Poetry | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

TCS: “Today in America People Were Bought and Sold”

Good Morning!

______________________________

Welcome to The Coffee Shop, just for you early risers
on Monday mornings. This is an Open Thread forum,
so if you have an off-topic opinion burning a hole in
your brainpan, feel free to add a comment.

______________________________

“No black woman writer in this culture can write ‘too much.’
Indeed, no woman writer can write ‘too much’. . . No woman
has ever written enough.”

– bell hooks

Continue reading

Posted in Poetry, The Coffee Shop | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Word Cloud: DELIGHT revisited

originally posted April 23, 2016

Word Cloud Resized
by Nona Blyth Cloud

Happy Birthday, William Shakespeare!

Tradition says Shakespeare was born April 23.

While Shakespeare (1564-1616) is best remembered  for his plays, his sonnets are what first brought him fame. There’s been much speculation about just who inspired them. Most are addressed to a fair young man, who was probably Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton and Shakespeare’s patron, which has caused much speculation about Shakespeare’s sexual orientation, but the later sonnets feature a ‘dark lady’— there’s been a frenzy of guesswork about this lady, even contributing to the never-ending debate about Shakespeare’s ‘true’ identity. Unless a hitherto unknown diary or a cache of letters addressed by name to his beloved show up, we’ll never know.

But we can rejoice in these works by the greatest writer in the English language, and that is more than enough for me. Here are three of his springtime sonnets.

_______________________________

He’s lamenting a long separation from his beloved, and feels that the joys of spring and summer have passed him by, their flowers but pale imitations of his love, while he feels as if it were still winter:

Sonnet XCVIIILily White Rose Red

From you have I been absent in the spring,
When proud pied April, dressed in all his trim,
Hath put a spirit of youth in every thing,
That heavy Saturn laughed and leapt with him.
Yet nor the lays of birds, nor the sweet smell
Of different flowers in odour and in hue,
Could make me any summer’s story tell,
Or from their proud lap pluck them where they grew:
Nor did I wonder at the lily’s white,
Nor praise the deep vermilion in the rose;
They were but sweet, but figures of delight,
Drawn after you, you pattern of all those.
Yet seemed it winter still, and you away,
As with your shadow I with these did play.

_______________________________

Continue reading

Posted in Poetry, Word Cloud | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

TCS: Bicycle Day – Only Moving Does It Have a Soul

.Good Morning!

______________________________

Welcome to The Coffee Shop, just for you early risers
on Monday mornings. This is an Open Thread forum,
so if you have an off-topic opinion burning a hole in
your brainpan, feel free to add a comment.

______________________________

She who succeeds in gaining the mastery
of the bicycle will gain the mastery of life.

– Susan B. Anthony

Continue reading

Posted in Poetry, The Coffee Shop | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments