Introduction and Welcome

Welcome to All Things Bright and Beautiful. If you are new to this site, I would recommend that you read my very first entry - which is an introduction and welcome to this blog. You can view it here

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Raphael - The School of Athens, Vivaldi - Bassoon Concertos, Rainer Maria Rilke - A Walk, Robert Louis Stevenson - The Sun's Travels

I'd like to feature a mural this week.  Raphael painted several frescoes in the palace in the Vatican in Rome.  This first picture shows the room, the second is the mural itself.

The School of Athens - Raphael
 If you compare the figures in the painting with the door beneath them in the picture of the room, it looks like the figures are full sized - as if they were real people.  It would be wonderful to stand in this room and study this painting up close.  This painting includes many of the great philosphers - the central figures are Plato and Aristotle.  " Commentators have suggested that nearly every great ancient Greek philosopher can be found in the painting, but determining which are depicted is difficult, since Raphael made no designations outside possible likenesses, and no contemporary documents explain the painting."  " What is evident is Raphael’s artistry in orchestrating a beautiful space, continuous with that of viewers in the Stanza, in which a great variety of human figures, each one expressing "mental states by physical actions," interact, in a "polyphony" unlike anything in earlier art, in the ongoing dialogue of Philosophy." From the Wikipedia Article  


You may be interested in Wikipedia's entry on this Frescoe.  It includes possibilities of who the philosophers might be and close-ups of some of them.  - The School of Athens - Wikipedia. 

                                                                    * * * * *

Our music this week by Antonio Vivaldi is Bassoon Concertos beginning with Concerto A Minor.
Playing a Bassoon


Vivaldi's music is so light and happy....

If you haven't read it yet, I recommend the children's picture book, I Vivaldi.  It gives a short, but sweet introduction to his life.  

What do you think of Rainer Maria Rilke's poems so far?  They are definitely different, but interesting.  Today's poem is short but thought provoking and even through the translation by Robert Bly you sense a beauty in the words.

           A Walk

My eyes already touch the sunny hill.
going far ahead of the road I have begun.
So we are grasped by what we cannot grasp;
it has inner light, even from a distance-

and charges us, even if we do not reach it,
into something else, which, hardly sensing it,
we already are; a gesture waves us on
answering our own wave...
but what we feel is the wind in our faces.



 And our poem by Robert Louis Stevenson this week is
     
    The Sun's Travels

The sun is not a-bed, when I
At night upon my pillow lie;
Still round the earth his way he takes,
And morning after morning makes.

While here at home, in shining day,
We round the sunny garden play,
Each little Indian sleepy-head
Is being kissed and put to bed.

And when at eve I rise form tea,
Day dawns beyond the Atlantic Sea;
And all the children in the west
Are getting up and being dressed.
 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Raphael - Madonna, Antonio Vivaldi - Mandolin Concerti, Rainer Maria Rilke - Little Tear-vase, Robert Louis Stevenson - Where Go the Boats?

Here is the fourth and final Madonna by Raphael we'll be studying this term - there are many more painted by Raphael if you want to study more of them you could search Google Images - Paintings by Raphael.  How is this painting like the others?  How is it different?



Our music by Antonio Vivaldi this week is Mandolin Concerti.
I've got a CD of Vivaldi music home from the library and we are enjoying listening to it during meals.  

We also read I, Vivaldi by Janice Shefelman this morning.  It's a children's picture book with lovely paintings.  Gives a great introduction to this composer.  I enjoyed it along with them, and I noticed my 17 year old looking at the paintings when I was done reading.

The children also listened to a story CD - "Vivladi's Ring of Mystery" a tale of Venice and violins.  They seemed to enjoy it (I haven't listened to the whole thing myself).  This is the fourth title in the critically-acclaimed series by CLASSISCAL KIDS,  Other titles include "Beethoven Lives Upstairs", "Mozart's Magic Fantasy" and "Mr. Bach Comes to Call".  It has over two dozen excerpts, including Vivaldi's well-loved Four Seasons. 


I was thinking about our poet, Rainer Maria Rilke and the fact that his poetry is actually translated so it perhaps loses something in the sounds of the words that he would have chosen, but the meaning is beautiful and seems to me a bit ethereal. 

                           Little Tear-Vase

 Other vessels hold wine, other vessels hold oil
inside the hollowed-out vault circumscribed by their clay.
I, as smaller measure, and as the slimmest of all,
humbly hollow myself so that just a few tears can fill me.

Wine becomes richer, oil becomes clear, in its vessel.
What happens with tears?-They made me blind in my
glass,
made me heavy and made my curve iridescent,
made me brittle, and left me empty at last.


And a poem by Robert Louis Stevenson from A Child's Garden of Verses

 Where Go the Boats 

Dark brown is the river, 
   Golden is the sand.
It flows along for ever,
   With trees on either hand.

Green leaves a-floating,
   Castles of the foam,
Boats of mine a-boating--
Where will all come home?

On goes the river
   and out past the mill,
Away down the valley,
   Away down the hill.

Away down the river,
   A hundred miles or more,
Other little children
   Shall bring my boats ashore.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Raphael - Madonna del Granduca, Vivaldi- Concerto for Strings and Basso Continuo in C Major, Rainer Maria Rilke - The Panther

Our third Madonna painting by Raphael this week.  How is this painting similar to the last two and how is it different?

Madonna del Granduca - Raphael

More beautiful music by Antonio Vivaldi today - Concerto for Strings and Basso Continuo in C Major.
 If you want a short piece to focus on you could just choose one or two of the 63 pieces in this playlist to listen to this week or use the whole thing as a playlist for background music throughout the week. 

If you've been to the zoo and seen the big cats pacing in their cages, you can imagine this panther as Rainer Maria Rilke describes it in this poem:

           The Panther
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has grown so weary that it cannot hold
anything else. It seems to him there are
a thousand bars; and behind the bars, no world.

As he paces in cramped circles, over and over,
the movement of his powerful soft strides
is like a ritual dance around a center
in which a mighty will stands paralyzed.

Only at times, the curtain of the pupils
lifts, quietly--. An image enters in,
rushes down through the tensed, arrested muscles,
plunges into the heart and is gone.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Raphael - The Small Cowper Madonna, Antonio Vivaldi - Flute Concerto in D Allegro and Cantibile, Rainer Maria Rilke - The Last Supper, Robert Louis Stevenson - Time to Rise


 

I'd like to feature another Madonna painting by Raphael this week.  Actually we will study four different Madonna paintings by Raphael this term.  What similarities and what differences do you notice as you compare last week's painting to this week's? There are many differences to note, but one thing I noticed is the difference in how this mother and child are holding their heads as opposed to last week's painting, where Mary's head was tilted toward Jesus in a protective sort of pose.  His head was also inclined toward hers.  This mother is more contemplative and the child looks more adventurous.  


The Small Cowper Madonna by Raphael

Looking for music by Antonio Vivaldi I realize we'll only get a taste of his work as there is so much of his beautiful music available!  This week I chose his Flute Concerto in D Allegro and Cantibile played by 9 year old Emma Rasmini.  Lovely music!!  I found a CD at our library with "The Four Seasons" by Vivaldi so we've been listening to that as background music.  I've also ordered in a couple of biographies of Vivaldi, so I'll hopefully be able to find something to recommend if you want a book biography of his life. 

The following was Rainer Maria Rilke's response to seeing Leonardo Da Vinci's "Last Supper"


Ăšltima Cena - Da Vinci 5.jpg
The Last Supper

They are assembled, astonished and disturbed
round him, who like a sage resolved his fate,
and now leaves those to whom he most belonged,
leaving and passing by them like a stranger.
The loneliness of old comes over him
which helped mature him for his deepest acts;
now will he once again walk through the olive grove,
and those who love him still will flee before his sight.

To this last supper he has summoned them,
and (like a shot that scatters birds from trees)
their hands draw back from reaching for the loaves
upon his word: they fly across to him;
they flutter, frightened, round the supper table
searching for an escape. But he is present
everywhere like an all-pervading twilight-hour.


 I've often quoted this short poem by Robert Louis Stevenson to my children if I need to wake them early in the morning.  

                               Time to Rise


A birdie with a yellow bill
Hopped upon my window sill,
Cocked his shining eye and said:
"Ain't you 'shamed, you sleepy-head!"

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Raphael -Madonna of the Chair, Vivaldi - Winter, Ranier Maria Rilke - You see, I want a Lot, Robert Louis Stevenson - My Shadow

A new year - fresh starts and new attempts at old things.  Each day is a new start, but somehow a new year feels even bigger!  At the brink of the new year it seems appropriate to start with a new artist, composer and poet. Italian painter and architect of the High Renaissance, Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, known as Raphael is a well-known artist - I'm a little surprised that I haven't featured him yet, but somehow he's been saved for this moment (at least on this blog).  If you want to preview or print the paintings I plan to feature you can check out my Picasa Web Album of Paintings by Raphael or choose some of your own from the following five links to places on the web featuring short biographies and samples of his paintings.

Biography of Raphael

25 Beautiful Paintings by Raphael

The National Gallery's Raphael paintings

Wikipedia List of Paintings by Raphael

Google images - Raphael Paintings

Raphael painted Mary and the baby Jesus over and over.  Today's painting is one of these. Many artists have painted Mary and Jesus.  I think it is interesting to note how each artist brings his own culture and perspective into the painting with clothes and accessories and even style of painting.  I think the circular format of this painting is interesting and cuts out background details focusing on the people. It makes it seem cozy and intimate.  There are lots of diagonal lines in the painting itself for your eye to run along, giving it energy:   arms, Jesus leg, the lineup of the faces, the stripe on Mary's garment.  Notice how John the Baptist off to the side is present but not prominent, the central focus remains Jesus and his mother.  Here is a link to an article featuring this painting.


Madonna of the Chair


Our new composer is Antonio Vivaldi.  If you'd like a biographical sketch, check out the following two links:  Baroque Composers and Musicians - Antonio Vivaldi or Wikipedia - Antonio Vivaldi.  You also might enjoy the Vox Music Masters CD "The Story of Vivaldi and Corelli", which has Vivaldi's story interspersed with his music.  

Our first piece for this season is Winter from The Four Seasons.  And following is a link to a Vivaldi playlist if you want to listen as background music. 

I just found a copy of poems by Rainer Maria Rilke at our library's used bookstore so I'd like to feature his work this term.  I was first exposed to his poetry in a book about Anne Morrow Lindberg by her daughter.  Anne loved Rilke's poetry.  So, I've only read a few of Rilke's poems so far, but what I've read so far is beautiful and moving so if you don't mind we'll explore his work together.  Since his work is advanced, I'll also feature a poem from Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses each week for those with younger children and those who don't care for Rilke's work.  I never tire of Stevenson's poems!  If you don't already own a copy of this work, it's a book worth owning!  

                    You See, I Want a Lot
                          Rainer Maria Rilke
              (translated from the German by Robert Bly)

You see, I want a lot.
Perhaps I want everything:
the darkness that comes with every infinite fall
and the shivering blaze of every step up.

So many live on and want nothing,
and are raised to the rank of prince
by the slippery ease of their light judgments.

But what you love to see are faces
that do work and feel thirst.

You love most of all those who need you
as they need a crowbar or a hoe.

You have not grown old, and it is not too late
to dive into your increasing depths
where life calmly gives out its own secret.

                       My Shadow 

                           Robert Louis Stevenson

            From: A Child's Garden of Verses

I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,
And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.
He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head;
And I see him jump before me, when I jump into my bed.

The funniest thing about him is the way he likes to grow--
Not at all like proper children, which is always very slow;
For he sometimes shoots up taller like an india-rubber ball,
And he sometimes goes so little that there's none of him at all.

He hasn't got a notion of how children ought to play,
And can only make a fool of me in every sort of way.
He stays so close behind me, he's a coward you can see;
I'd think shame to stick to nursie as that shadow sticks to me!

One morning, very early, before the sun was up,
I rose and found the shining dew on every buttercup;
But my lazy little shadow, like an arrant sleepy-head,
Had stayed at home behind me and was fast asleep in bed.


 

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Adam Pynacker and Jacopo Bassano - The Annunciation to the Shepherds, Highlights from Handel's Messiah, Tomorrow (Manana) by Lope De Vega (translated by William Wordsworth)

This is the end of December so we'll start with a new artist next week. I'm planning to feature the Renaissance painter, Raphael for January-March.  You can check out my Web Album of Paintings by Raphael.  If you are printing them you may want to note that one of the pictures is of a wall in the Vatican, you can print it or not as you please, it is not a painting itself but rather for reference on the blog when we study the paintings from that room.

I got a note from an artist friend this week commenting on the paintings on the blog last week.  She noted the sleeping shepherds in the painting and said, "I am always disturbed at the ones who are asleep, and want to pray for those asleep around me."  Powerful thought!  I had completely missed the sleepers.... I had to look back through all the December paintings looking for sleepers..... 

The two paintings for this week both have angels reaching down from the heavens.  It's interesting to study the clouds and light, too.  Both pictures have a cow.  Jacopo Bassano's angel's wings are dark.  Adam Pynacker's angel wings are gray, but look light (perhaps even white) just grayed by the shadows.  I like to note the responses of the shepherds to seeing an angel and hearing the news as depicted in each painting. 


Adam Pynacker - The Annunciation to the Shepherds


Jacopo Bassano - The Annunciation to the Shepherds


Highlights from Handel's Messiah this week.  This music video has some beautiful paintings and of course the music is wonderful!!  Is some of it becoming familiar?  We've played it quite a few times as background music this month.  

The entry for December 31st in The One Year Book of Poetry compiled and written by Philip Comfort and Daniel Partner is Tomorrow (Manana) by Lope De Vega (translated by William Wordsworth).

                          Tomorrow (Manana)

Lord, what am I, that, with unceasing care,
   Thou didst seek after me, that thou didst wait,
   Wet with unhealthy dews, before my gate,
   And pass the gloomy nights of winter there?
Oh, strange delusion, that I did not greet
   Thy blest approach! and oh, to Heaven how lost,
   If my ingratitude's unkindly frost
   Has chilled the bleeding wouunds upon thy feet!
How oft my guardian angel gently cried,
   "Soul, from thy casement look, and thou shalt see
   How he persists to knock and wait for thee!"
And, oh! how often to that voice of sorrow,
   "To-morrow we will open," I replied,
    And when the morrow came I answered still,
     "To-morrow."



Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Angel's annunciation to the Shepherds - Maitre des Corteges' and Abraham Bloemart, Handel's Messiah, and Let the Stable Still Astonish - Leslie Leyland Fields

I hope you're enjoying this themed study as much as I am!  Maitre des Corteges' painting has some interesting details.  At first I thought it was a cave or a building that the angels were peeking into, but looking closer I think that it is perhaps just the heavy layer as if there was a barrier between earth and heaven he is depicting. I think his animals and people look fairly realistic and skillfully painted. The clothing is interesting. The second painting is by the Dutch painter Abraham Bloemart who was also featured last week.  It would be interesting to compare his two works.  

Maitre des Corteges - Annunciation to the Shepherds

Abraham Bloemaert - The Annunciation to the Shepherds

Here are the links again to Messiah: A Sacred Oratorio or Handel's Messiah.  One of the beautiful things about George Fredrick Handel's Messiah Oratorio is that it is full of Scripture.  

This beautiful poem this week:

Let the Stable Still Astonish

by Leslie Leyland Fields

Let the stable still astonish:
Straw-dirt floor, dull eyes,
Dusty flanks of donkeys, oxen;
Crumbling, crooked walls;
No bed to carry that pain,
And then, the child--
Rag-wrapped, laid to cry
In a trough.
Who would have chosen this?
Who would have said,
“Yes,Let the God of Heaven and Earth
Be born in this place”?
Who but the same God
Who stands in the darker, fouler rooms
Of our hearts
And says,
“Yes,Let the God of Heaven and Earth
Be born in this place.”