Cities are always changing. In architecture everything gives way and nothing is fixed. Impermanence is the only constant. Every new generation tinkers with the aesthetics of urban space (or lack of it) to create its own place. At the same time, the fabric of the city is resilient and able to harness its own transformative power which gives it a unique character. The history of Second Avenue is a vibrant example. [Read more…] about NYC History: The Stuyvesant Farm to East Village Punk
Having spent three weeks in Boston where he enjoyed an enthusiastic reception, Charles Dickens arrived on February 12, 1842, in South Street, Lower Manhattan, on the packet New York from New Haven. The city depressed him.
In his travelogue American Notes, he contrasted sun-filled Broadway with the filth of The Five Points. In the district’s narrow alleys the visitor was confronted with all that is “loathsome, drooping, and decayed.” Dickens described New York as a city of sunshine and gloom. [Read more…] about Gaslight Foster: Old New York Storyteller & Social Geographer
Musician Nicola Matteis arrived in London in the early 1670s. Describing himself as “Napolitano,” he was the first Baroque violinist of note active in the capital. Very much his own promoter, he published his Arie diverse per il violin in 1676, a collection of 120 pieces for solo violin. A second extended edition with an English title-page appeared two years later. In 1685, he published the third and fourth parts of the famous Ayres for the Violin.
Matteis is credited with changing English taste for violin from the French to the Italian style of playing. Soon after, attention shifted from performer to instrument which sparked a veritable cult of Cremonese violins. The name Stradivari became a metaphor for perfection attained by a combination of individual genius, skill and attention to detail. [Read more…] about Cremona to Central Park: Stradivari & Nahan Franko’s Legacy
Joseph Urban may be a somewhat forgotten figure in America’s annals of culture, but during his lifetime he enjoyed an almost legendary reputation. An all-round creative talent, Urban was a prolific Gilded Age illustrator, set designer, and architect of private dwellings, theaters, and a university building in the city of New York. His Gingerbread Castle was built for a fairy tale themed amusement park in Hamburg, New Jersey.
His feeling for color and choice of materials did much to revitalize American stage design and architecture. The contrast between two of Urban’s extant buildings shows the range of his talent as an architect. It goes beyond that: the marked stylistic difference seemed to foreshadow the divisiveness of contemporary society. [Read more…] about The Architecture of Joseph Urban: Mar-a-Lago & The New School
One of the top-grossing American films of 1940 was the western Santa Fe Trail, the seventh Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland collaboration. The story concerns John Brown’s campaign against slavery just before the outbreak of the Civil War. Starting out on an acting career, young Ronald Reagan appeared in the story line as George Armstrong Custer. [Read more…] about Wilhelm Grosz: The Red Sails of Forced Migration
Washington Irving was the son of immigrants. His father was a Presbyterian Scot, his mother Cornish. He was born on April 3rd, 1783, the same week that New Yorkers celebrated the ceasefire that ended the American Revolution. His parents named their son after George Washington. They had settled at 131 William Street, Manhattan, and were part of the city’s merchant class.
Washington began writing letters to the New York Morning Chronicle in 1802. He gained recognition as a satirical author in 1809 with A History of New York using the pseudonym Dietrich Knickerbocker. He riveted readers with his irreverent combination of fact and fancy. [Read more…] about Andalusian Allure: From Washington Irving to Thomas Edison
The composer was a young man from Trenton, New Jersey. Among his supporters were Erik Satie, Darius Milhaud, and James Joyce. The recital broke up in a riot. To modernists in the audience such disturbances justified their artistic experimentation. [Read more…] about Carnage at Carnegie Hall
Defrocked priest and poet Lorenzo Da Ponte wrote the words for Mozart’s three celebrated operas Don Giovanni, Le nozze di Figaro, and Così fan tutte. As the librettist’s ultimate challenge is creating character whilst thinking music, few could match Lorenzo’s achievement. [Read more…] about A Rascal in Venice, Hero in Vienna, Opera Buff in Manhattan
The Sembrich has launched “Enrico in the Jungle,” the fourth installment of its 20/20: Musical Visionaries summer festival, which looks at the life of Enrico Caruso. [Read more…] about Enrico Caruso & Werner Hertzog’z Fitzcarraldo
Geneva Light Opera (GLO) is set to present a retrospective of its recent work in Geneva’s historic Smith Opera House, in addition to digital recordings made by the cast from this summer’s cancelled production of Rossini’s “La Cenerentola” from “lockdown” locations across the USA, on July 26th, at 3 pm. [Read more…] about Geneva Light Opera Presents Virtual Music Event