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

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Albert Anker - Young Mother Contemplating Her Sleeping Child by Candlelight, Hector Berlioz - Waverly Overture Op.1,, Robert Browning - Misconceptions

I'm sending this out two days early this week because I'm going to be busy the next two days helping my daughter-in-law get food into the freezer for the upcoming birth of their new baby, so I won't have internet access for a couple of days, but I didn't want to miss a week....  I've also had trouble being able to answer comments because our computer protections are too strong and I need my husband to temporarily disable them so I can answer comments.  I do read and appreciate any comments!!  I love hearing from you! 

This painting of a mother and her sleeping daughter by Albert Anker warms my heart!

Young Mother Contemplating Her Sleeping Child by Candlelight

Our piece this week is Waverly Overture Op.1 by Hector Berlioz.  Hector Berlioz's music is a bit like our Minnesota weather - if you don't like it, wait a few minutes and it will change.  I'm still having mixed feelings about his music, but there are parts of each piece that I really like.  This piece is no exception.  I've also noticed that each piece seems to end with a dramatic fanfare. 

And our poem by Robert Browning is - Misconceptions

This is a spray the Bird clung to,
Making it blossom with pleasure,
Ere the high tree-top she sprung to,
Fit for her nest and her treasure.
Oh, what a hope beyond measure
Was the poor spray's, which the flying feet hung to,—
So to be singled out, built in, and sung to!

This is a heart the Queen leant on,
Thrilled in a minute erratic,
Ere the true bosom she bent on,
Meet for love's regal dalmatic.
Oh, what a fancy ecstatic
Was the poor heart's, ere the wanderer went on—
Love to be saved for it, proffered to, spent on!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Albert Anker - Girl with Calico Kittens, Hector Berlioz - The Tempest Overture, Robert Browning -

I have a calico cat named Madeline.  This week's painting by Albert Anker reminds me of her.

Our music by Hector Berlioz this week is the first half of The Tempest Overture.  It is another overture based on a work of Shakespeare.  The note on the bottom of this youtube video is a helpful introduction to this piece. 

This week's poem is a bit sad - makes me think of Robert Browning wandering the house missing Elizabeth after she was gone.  

Here is a link to all of Librivox's offerings on or by Robert Browning.  I'd like to recommend the Day With Great Composers - Robert Browning is the last chapter. 

    Love in a life

Room after room,
I hunt the house through
We inhabit together.
Heart, fear nothing, for, heart, thou shalt find her,
Next time, herself!—not the trouble behind her
Left in the curtain, the couch's perfume!
As she brushed it, the cornice-wreath blossomed anew,— 
Yon looking-glass gleamed at the wave of her feather.

Yet the day wears,
And door succeeds door;
I try the fresh fortune— 
Range the wide house from the wing to the centre.
Still the same chance! she goes out as I enter.
Spend my whole day in the quest,—who cares?
But 'tis twilight, you see,—with such suites to explore,
Such closets to search, such alcoves to importune!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Albert Anker - The Devotion of His Grandfather, Hector Berlioz - The Damnation of Faust-Hungarian March, Robert Browning - Epilogue

"The Devotion of His Grandfather" our Albert Anker painting this week, is a touching scene. The sharing of a good book is a wonderful gift.  I wonder if there are older people in our lives who would find a blessing in having our children read to them.

Hector Berlioz - The Damnation of Faust - Hungarian March.

Here is a link to Wikipedia's article on this oratorio.

I'm not sure I understand Robert Browning's poetry - it is complex and illusive, yet I feel that it is beautiful....

 At the midnight in the silence of the sleep-time,
When you set your fancies free,
Will they pass to where--by death, fools think, imprisoned--
Low he lies who once so loved you, whom you loved so,
--Pity me?

Oh to love so, be so loved, yet so mistaken!
What had I on earth to do
With the slothful, with the mawkish, the unmanly?
Like the aimless, helpless, hopeless, did I drivel

One who never turned his back but marched breast forward,
Never doubted clouds would break,
Never dreamed, though right were worsted, wrong would triumph,
Held we fall to rise, are baffled to fight better,
Sleep to wake.

No, at noonday in the bustle of man's work-time
Greet the unseen with a cheer!
Bid him forward, breast and back as either should be,
"Strive and thrive!" cry "Speed,--fight on, fare ever
There as here!"

Friday, May 1, 2015

Albert Anker - Girl with Dominoes, Berlioz - Romeo and Juliet, Robert Browning - Home Thoughts from Abroad

I finally got my Albert Anker paintings printed on card stock at our local Office Max.  It costed about $10 for all fifteen and I'm happy with them .  Somehow looking at a hard copy is much better than veiwing them online.  One of my girls asked, "Are you going to frame them?"  But how would I frame all of them and where would I put them up?  I thought about putting them in plastic sleeves in a 3-ring binder and will probably do that when we switch to a new artist, but for now my daughter suggested that I tape them to the wall in the dining room where we can look at them all regularly - so there the first few are, and we will add one a week as we study them.  Here is the link in case you haven't had a chance to copy them yet and want to do it: Picasa Web Album of Albert Anker Paintings.  This week's painting is a girl playing with dominoes.

This week, another Shakespeare play-based  piece by Hector Berlioz, Romeo and Juliet.  You can listen to it in its entirety Berlioz - Romeo and Juliet

And our poem this week by Robert Browning is Home Thoughts from Abroad --

OH, to be in England
Now that April 's there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England—now!

And after April, when May follows,
And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows!
Hark, where my blossom'd pear-tree in the hedge
Leans to the field and scatters on the clover
Blossoms and dewdrops—at the bent spray's  
That 's the wise thrush; he sings each song twice
Lest you should think he never could recapture
The first fine careless rapture!
And though the fields look rough with hoary dew,
All will be gay when noontide wakes anew
The buttercups, the little children's dower
—Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Albert Anker - Taylor, Hector Berlioz - The Repose of the Holy Family, Robert Browning - Boot and Saddle

This painting by Albert Anker is of an old man threading a needle.  I found quite a few other paintings by this same artist that shared things in common with this painting - perhaps even using the same man as a model for some of them.  I thought it might be interesting to compare and contrast them.  The hat shows up in several of the other paintings.


Our piece this week by Hector Berlioz is The Repose of the Holy Family from The Childhood of Christ.  I don't understand the words except for the Alleluia at the end, but the voice of Roberto Alagna is beautiful!  

Our Robert Browning poem this week is historical and the chorus has a nice ring.  The link at the bottom on Roundheads gives a bit of history if you're interested.
           Boot And Saddle 
by Robert Browning

Boot, saddle, to horse, and away!
Rescue my Castle, before the hot day
Brightens the blue from its silvery grey,

(Chorus) "Boot, saddle, to horse, and away!"

Ride past the suburbs, asleep as you'd say;
Many's the friend there, will listen and pray
"God's luck to gallants that strike up the lay,

(Chorus) "Boot, saddle, to horse, and away!"

Forty miles off, like a roebuck at bay,
Flouts Castle Brancepeth the Roundheads array:*
Who laughs, Good fellows ere this, by my fay,

(Chorus) "Boot, saddle, to horse, and away!"

Who? My wife Gertrude; that, honest and gay,
Laughs when you talk of surrendering, "Nay!
I've better counsellors; what counsel they?"

(Chorus) "Boot, saddle, to horse, and away!" 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Albert Anker - Girl Peeling Potatoes, Hector Berlioz - Roman Carnival Overture, Robert Browning - The Pied Piper

Are you enjoying our new artist, Albert Anker? I love the lighting in this painting -  the girl's fair peach skin is lovely against the reddish light in the background and the golden table in the foreground.
There are fun details to notice - background items, the table, potatoes as well as the girl's clothing and hair.

Here again is the link to my Picasa Web Album of Albert Anker Paintings in case you want to make copies ahead.

Today's music by Hector Berlioz is Roman Carnival Overture.

And here is a link to the The Best of Berlioz.

This week's poem by Robert Browning is very long but it is a familiar story - I hope you enjoy, 

          The Pied Piper

  HAMELIN TOWN ’s in Brunswick,
By famous Hanover City;
  The river Weser, deep and wide,
  Washes its wall on the southern side;
A pleasanter spot you never spied;        5
But when begins my ditty,
  Almost five hundred years ago,
  To see the townsfolk suffer so
From vermin was a pity.
        Rats!        10
They fought the dogs, and killed the cats,
  And bit the babies in the cradles,
And ate the cheeses out of the vats,
  And licked the soup from the cook’s own ladles,
Split open the kegs of salted sprats,        15
Made nests inside men’s Sunday hats,
And even spoiled the women’s chats,
  By drowning their speaking
  With shrieking and squeaking
In fifty different sharps and flats.        20
At last the people in a body
  To the Town Hall came flocking:
“’T is clear,” cried they, “our Mayor ’s a noddy;
  And as for our Corporation,—shocking
To think we buy gowns lined with ermine        25
For dolts that can’t or won’t determine
What ’s best to rid us of our vermin!
You hope, because you ’re old and obese,
To find in the furry civic robe ease?
Rouse up, Sirs! Give your brains a racking        30
To find the remedy we ’re lacking,
Or, sure as fate, we ’ll send you packing!”
At this the Mayor and Corporation
Quaked with a mighty consternation.
An hour they sate in counsel,—        35
  At length the Mayor broke silence:
“For a guilder I ’d my ermine gown sell;
  I wish I were a mile hence!
It ’s easy to bid one rack one’s brain,—
I ’m sure my poor head aches again,        40
I ’ve scratched it so, and all in vain.
O for a trap, a trap, a trap!”
Just as he said this, what should hap
At the chamber door but a gentle tap?
“Bless us,” cried the Mayor, “what ’s that?”        45
(With the Corporation as he sat,
Looking little though wondrous fat;
Nor brighter was his eye, nor moister
Then a too-long-opened oyster,
Save when at noon his paunch grew mutinous        50
For a plate of turtle, green and glutinous,)
“Only a scraping of shoes on the mat?
Anything like the sound of a rat
Makes my heart go pit-a-pat!”
“Come in!”—the Mayor cried, looking bigger;        55
And in did come the strangest figure:
His queer long coat from heel to head
Was half of yellow and half of red;
And he himself was tall and thin;
With sharp blue eyes, each like a pin;        60
And light loose hair, yet swarthy skin;
No tuft on cheek nor beard on chin,
But lips where smiles went out and in—
There was no guessing his kith and kin!
And nobody could enough admire        65
The tall man and his quaint attire.
Quoth one: “It ’s as my great-grandsire,
Starting up at the trump of doom’s tone,
Had walked this way from his painted tombstone!”
He advanced to the council-table:        70
And, “Please your honors,” said he, “I ’m able,
By means of a secret charm, to draw
All creatures living beneath the sun,
That creep or swim or fly or run,
After me so as you never saw!        75
And I chiefly use my charm
On creatures that do people harm—
The mole, and toad, and newt, and viper—
And people call me the Pied Piper.”
(And here they noticed round his neck        80
A scarf of red and yellow stripe,
To match with his coat of the self-same check;
And at the scarf’s end hung a pipe;
And his fingers, they noticed, were ever straying
As if impatient to be playing        85
Upon this pipe, as low it dangled
Over his vesture so old-fangled.)
“Yet,” said he, “poor piper as I am,
In Tartary I freed the Cham,
Last June, from his huge swarm of gnats;        90
I eased in Asia the Nizam
Of a monstrous brood of vampire-bats;
And as for what your brain bewilders,—
If I can rid your town of rats,
Will you give me a thousand guilders?”        95
“One? fifty thousand!” was the exclamation
Of the astonished Mayor and Corporation.
Into the street the piper stept,
  Smiling first a little smile,
As if he knew what magic slept        100
  In his quiet pipe the while;
Then, like a musical adept,
To blow the pipe his lips he wrinkled,
And green and blue his sharp eyes twinkled,
Like a candle flame were salt is sprinkled;        105
And ere three shrill notes the pipe uttered,
You heard as if an army muttered;
And the muttering grew to a grumbling;
And the grumbling grew to a mighty rumbling;
And out of the houses the rats came tumbling.        110
Great rats, small rats, lean rats, brawny rats,
Brown rats, black rats, gray rats, tawny rats,
Grave old plodders, gay young friskers,
  Fathers, mothers, uncles, cousins,
Cocking tails and pricking whiskers;        115
  Families by tens and dozens,
Brothers, sisters, husbands, wives—
Followed the piper for their lives.
From street to street he piped advancing,
And step for step they followed dancing,        120
Until they came to the river Weser,
Wherein all plunged and perished
—Save one who, stout as Julius C├Žsar,
Swam across and lived to carry
(As he the manuscript he cherished)        125
To Rat-land home his commentary,
Which was: “At the first shrill notes of the pipe,
I heard a sound as of scraping tripe,
And putting apples, wondrous ripe,
Into a cider-press’s gripe,—        130
And a moving away of pickle-tub-boards,
And a leaving ajar of conserve-cupboards,
And a drawing the corks of train-oil-flasks,
And a breaking the hoops of butter-casks;
And it seemed as if a voice        135
(Sweeter far than by harp or by psaltery
Is breathed) called out, O rats, rejoice!
The world is grown to one vast drysaltery!
So munch on, crunch on, take your nuncheon,
Breakfast, supper, dinner, luncheon!        140
—And just as a bulky sugar-puncheon,
Already staved, like a great sun shone
Glorious scarce an inch before me,
Just as methought it said, Come, bore me!
—I found the Weser rolling o’er me.”        145
You should have heard the Hamelin people
Ringing the bells till they rocked the steeple;
“Go,” cried the Mayor, “and get long poles!
Poke out the nests and block up the holes!
Consult with carpenters and builders,        150
And leave in our town not even a trace
Of the rats!”—when suddenly, up the face
Of the piper perked in the market-place,
With a “First, if you please, my thousand guilders!”
A thousand guilders! the Mayor looked blue!        155
So did the Corporation too.
For council-dinners made rare havoc
With Claret, Moselle, Vin-de-Grave, Hock;
And half the money would replenish
Their cellar’s biggest butt with Rhenish.        160
To pay this sum to a wandering fellow
With a gypsy coat of red and yellow!
“Beside,” quoth the Mayor, with a knowing wink,
“Our business was done at the river’s brink;
We saw with our eyes the vermin sink,        165
And what ’s dead can’t come to life, I think.
So, friend, we ’re not the folks to shrink
From the duty of giving you something for drink,
And a matter of money to put in your poke;
But as for the guilders, what we spoke        170
Of them, as you very well know, was in joke
Beside, our losses have made us thrifty;
A thousand guilders! Come, take fifty!”
The piper’s face fell, and he cried,
“No trifling! I can’t wait! beside,        175
I ’ve promised to visit by dinner time
Bagdat, and accept the prime
Of the head cook’s pottage, all he ’s rich in,
For having left, in the Caliph’s kitchen,
Of a nest of scorpions no survivor,—        180
With him I proved no bargain-driver;
With you, don’t think I ’ll bate a stiver!
And folks who put me in a passion
May find me pipe to another fashion.”
“How?” cried the Mayor, “d’ ye think I ’ll brook        185
Being worse treated than a cook?
Insulted by a lazy ribald
With idle pipe and vesture piebald?
You threaten us, fellow? Do your worst,
Blow your pipe there till you burst!”        190
Once more he stept into the street;
  And to his lips again
Laid his long pipe of smooth straight cane;
  And ere he blew three notes (such sweet
Soft notes as yet musician’s cunning        195
  Never gave the enraptured air)
There was a rustling that seemed like a bustling
Of merry crowds justling at pitching and hustling;
Small feet were pattering, wooden shoes clattering,
Little hands clapping, and little tongues chattering;        200
And, like fowls in a farm-yard when barley is scattering,
Out came the children running:
All the little boys and girls,
With rosy cheeks and flaxen curls,
And sparkling eyes and teeth like pearls,        205
Tripping and skipping, ran merrily after
The wonderful music with shouting and laughter.
The Mayor was dumb, and the Council stood
As if they were changed into blocks of wood,
Unable to move a step, or cry        210
To the children merrily skipping by,—
And could only follow with the eye
That joyous crowd at the piper’s back.
But how the Mayor was on the rack,
And the wretched Council’s bosoms beat,        215
As the piper turned from the High Street
To where the Weser rolled its waters
Right in the way of their sons and daughters!
However, he turned from south to west,
And to Koppelberg Hill his steps addressed,        220
And after him the children pressed;
Great was the joy in every breast.
“He never can cross that mighty top!
He ’s forced to let the piping drop,
And we shall see our children stop!”        225
When, lo, as they reached the mountain’s side,
A wondrous portal opened wide,
As if a cavern was suddenly hollowed;
And the piper advanced and the children followed;
And when all were in, to the very last,        230
The door in the mountain-side shut fast.
Did I say all? No! One was lame,
And could not dance the whole of the way;
And in after years, if you would blame
His sadness, he was used to say,—        235
“It ’s dull in our town since my playmates left!
I can’t forget that I ’m bereft
Of all the pleasant sights they see,
Which the piper also promised me;
For he led us, he said, to a joyous land,        240
Joining the town and just at hand,
Where waters gushed, and fruit-trees grew,
And flowers put forth a fairer hue,
And everything was strange and new;
The sparrows were brighter than peacocks here,        245
And their dogs outran our fallow deer,
And honey-bees had lost their stings,
And horses were born with eagles’ wings;
And just as I became assured
My lame foot would be speedily cured,        250
The music stopped and I stood still,
And found myself outside the Hill,
Left alone against my will,
To go now limping as before,
And never hear of that country more!”        255
Alas, alas for Hamelin!
There came into many a burgher’s pate
A text which says, that Heaven’s gate
Opes to the rich at as easy rate
As the needle’s eye takes a camel in!        260
The Mayor sent East, West, North, and South,
To offer the Piper by word of mouth,
  Wherever it was men’s lot to find him,
Silver and gold to his heart’s content,
If he ’d only return the way he went,        265
  And bring the children behind him.
But when they saw ’t was a lost endeavor,
And piper and dancers were gone for ever,
They made a decree that lawyers never
  Should think their records dated duly        270
If, after the day of the month and year,
These words did not as well appear,
“And so long after what happened here
  On the Twenty-second of July,
Thirteen Hundred and Seventy-six:”        275
And the better in memory to fix
The place of the Children’s last retreat
They called it the Pied Piper’s Street—
Where any one playing on pipe or tabor
Was sure for the future to lose his labor.        280
Nor suffered they hostelry or tavern
  To shock with mirth a street so solemn;
But opposite the place of the cavern
  They wrote the story on a column,
And on the Great Church window painted        285
The same, to make the world acquainted
How their children were stolen away;
And there it stands to this very day.
And I must not omit to say
That in Transylvania there ’s a tribe        290
Of alien people that ascribe
The outlandish ways and dress
On which their neighbors lay such stress
To their fathers and mothers having risen
Out of some subterranean prison        295
Into which they were trepanned
Long time ago, in a mighty band,
Out of Hamelin town in Brunswick land,
But how or why, they don’t understand.
So, Willy, let you and me be wipers        300
Of scores out with all men—especially pipers;
And, whether they pipe us free from rats or from mice,
If we ’ve promised them aught, let us keep our promise.