Literature: English Classic and William Shakespeare

Dinner Topics

William Shakespeare

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

ShakespeareWilliam Shakespeare (/ˈʃkspɪər/;[1] 26 April 1564 (baptised) – 23 April 1616)[nb 1] was an English poet, playwright and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s pre-eminent dramatist.[2] He is often called England’s national poet and the “Bard of Avon”.[3][nb 2] His extant works, including some collaborations, consist of about 38 plays,[nb 3] 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and a few other verses, the authorship of some of which is uncertain. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright.[4]

Shakespeare was born and brought up in Stratford-upon-Avon. At the age of 18, he married Anne Hathaway, with whom he had three children: Susanna, and twins Hamnet and Judith. Between 1585 and 1592, he began a successful career in London as an actor, writer, and part-owner of a playing company called the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, later known as the King’s Men. He appears to have retired to Stratford around 1613 at age 49, where he died three years later. Few records of Shakespeare’s private life survive, and there has been considerable speculation about such matters as his physical appearance, sexuality, religious beliefs, and whether the works attributed to him were written by others.[5]

Shakespeare produced most of his known work between 1589 and 1613.[6][nb 4] His early plays were mainly comedies and histories, genres he raised to the peak of sophistication and artistry by the end of the 16th century. He then wrote mainly tragedies until about 1608, including Hamlet, King Lear, Othello, and Macbeth, considered some of the finest works in the English language. In his last phase, he wrote tragicomedies, also known as romances, and collaborated with other playwrights.

Many of his plays were published in editions of varying quality and accuracy during his lifetime. In 1623, John Heminges and Henry Condell, two friends and fellow actors of Shakespeare, published the First Folio, a collected edition of his dramatic works that included all but two of the plays now recognised as Shakespeare’s. It was prefaced with a poem by Ben Jonson, in which Shakespeare is hailed, presciently, as “not of an age, but for all time.”[7]

Shakespeare was a respected poet and playwright in his own day, but his reputation did not rise to its present heights until the 19th century. The Romantics, in particular, acclaimed Shakespeare’s genius, and the Victorians worshipped Shakespeare with a reverence that George Bernard Shaw called “bardolatry“.[8] In the 20th century, his work was repeatedly adopted and rediscovered by new movements in scholarship and performance. His plays remain highly popular today and are constantly studied, performed, and reinterpreted in diverse cultural and political contexts throughout the world.

More about Shakespeare

 

YouTube Music: Classic Prokofiev

Dinner Topics for Friday

 

peterwolf2Do you have a wolf at your door? Join Peter to defeat the wolf, and get stress relief from Classical Music.

 

From Wikipedia

Sergei Sergeyevich Prokofiev (pron.: /prəˈkɒfiɛv/; Russian: Сергей Сергеевич Прокофьев; 23 April 1891 – 5 March 1953) was a Russian composer, pianist and conductor who mastered numerous musical genres and is regarded as one of the major composers of the 20th century. His best-known works are the five piano concertos, nine completed piano sonatas and seven symphonies. Besides many other works, Prokofiev also composed family favourites, such as the March from The Love for Three Oranges, the suite Lieutenant Kijé, the ballet Romeo and Juliet – from which “Dance of the Knights” is taken – and Peter and the Wolf.

A graduate of the St Petersburg Conservatory, Prokofiev initially made his name as an iconoclastic composer-pianist, achieving notoriety with a series of ferociously dissonant and virtuosic works for his instrument and his first two piano concertos. Prokofiev’s first major success breaking out of the composer-pianist mould was with his purely orchestral Scythian Suite, compiled from music originally composed for a ballet commissioned by Sergei Diaghilev of the Ballets Russes; Diaghilev commissioned three further ballets from Prokofiev – Chout, Le pas d’acier and The Prodigal Son – which at the time of their original production were all highly successful. Prokofiev’s greatest interest, however, was opera, and he composed several works in that genre, including The Gambler and The Fiery Angel. Prokofiev’s one relative success in that genre during his lifetime was The Love for Three Oranges, composed for Chicago and subsequently performed over the following decade in Europe and Russia.

After the Revolution, Prokofiev left Russia with the official blessing of the Soviet minister Anatoly Lunacharsky, and he lived in the United States, then Germany, then Paris, during which time he married a Spanish singer, Carolina Codina, with whom he had two sons. Because of the increasing economic deprivation of Europe, Prokofiev returned to Russia in 1936. He enjoyed some success there – notably with Lieutenant Kijé, Peter and the Wolf, Romeo and Juliet, and perhaps above all with Alexander Nevsky. The Nazi invasion of the USSR spurred him to compose his most ambitious work, an operatic version of Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace. In 1948 Prokofiev was criticized for “anti-democratic formalism“, and with his income severely curtailed was forced to compose Stalinist works such as On Guard for Peace. However, he also enjoyed personal and artistic support from a new generation of Russian performers, notably Sviatoslav Richter and Mstislav Rostropovich and for the latter he composed his Symphony-Concerto.

Childhood compositions

Prokofiev was born in 1891[1] in Sontsovka (now Krasne in the Donetsk Oblast province of eastern Ukraine), an isolated rural estate in the Yekaterinoslav Governorate of the Russian Empire. His father, originally from Moscow, was an agricultural engineer, while his mother was described by Reinhold Glière as: “a tall woman with magnificent, intelligent eyes … who knew how to create around herself a warm, natural atmosphere.” Having lost two daughters she devoted her life to music and spent two months a year in Moscow or St. Petersburg taking piano lessons.[2] Sergei Prokofiev was inspired by hearing his mother practising the piano in the evenings – mostly works by Chopin and Beethoven – and composed his first piano composition at the age of five, an ‘Indian Gallop’, which was written down by his mother: this was in the Lydian mode (a major scale with a raised 4th scale degree) as the young Prokofiev felt ‘reluctance to tackle the black notes’.[3] By seven, he had also learned to play chess.[4] Much like music, chess would remain a passion, and he became acquainted with world chess champions José Raúl Capablanca, whom he beat in a simultaneous exhibition match in 1914, and Mikhail Botvinnik.[5] At the age of nine he was composing his first opera, The Giant,[6] as well as an overture and various other pieces.

Read More

 

US Constitution Series 4: Church, State, and Religion in American Life

Dinner Topics for Thursday

The Founders’ Basic Principles: 28 Great Ideas that changed the world

From The 5,000 Year Leap—A Miracle that Changed the World

By W. Cleon Skousen

US Constitution Series 4: Church, State, and Religion in American Life

Principle #4

christianchurchWithout religion the government of a free people cannot be maintained.

Many Americans fail to realize that the Founders felt the role of religion would be as important in our own day as it was in theirs. In 1787, the very year the Constitution was written and approved by Congress, that same Congress passed the famous Northwest Ordinance. In it they emphasized the essential need to teach religion and morality in the schools. (Skousen, p. 75)

In it, they stated that formal education was to include among its responsibilities the teaching of three important subjects:

1. Religion, which might be defined as a “fundamental system of beliefs concerning man’s origin and relationship to the cosmic universe as well as his relationship with his fellowmen.”

2. Morality, which may be described as “a standard of behavior distinguishing right from wrong.”

3. Knowledge, which is “an intellectual awareness and understanding of established facts relating to any field of human experience or inquiry (i.e., history, geography, science, etc.).”

How to Teach your family about Church and State

George Washington

“Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion …Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail to the exclusion of religious principle.

“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, relgion and morality are indispensable supports …Who that is a sincere friend to it can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?”

Washington issued this solemn warning because in Franc, shortly before he wrote his Farewell Address (1796), the promoters of atheism and amorality had seized control and turned the French Revolution into a shocking blood bath of wild excesses and violence. Washington obviously never wanted anything like that to happen in the United States. Therefore he had said: “In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness [religion and morality].” (Skousen, p.79)

225px-BenFranklin2Benjamin Franklin

Here is my creed: I believe in one God, the Creator of the universe. That he governs it by his providence. That he ought to be worshipped. That the most acceptable service we render to him is in doing good to his other  children. That the soul of man is immortal, and will be treated with justice in another life respecting its conduct in this. These I take to be the fundamental points in all sound religion.

The “Fundamental Points” to Be Taught in the Schools

The five points of fundamental religious belief expressed or implied in Franklin’s statement are these:

1. There exists a Creator who made all things, and mankind should recognize and worship Him.

2. The Creator has revealed a moral code of behavior for happy living shich distinguishes right from wrong.

3. The Creator holds mankind responsible for the way they treat each other.

4. All mankind live beyond this life.

5. In the next life mankind are judged for their conduct in this one.

All five of these tenets run through practically all of the Founders’ writings. These are the beliefs which the Founders sometimes referred to as the “religion of America,” and they felt these fundamentals were so important in providing “good government and the happiness of mankind” that they wanted them taught in the public schools along with morality and knowledge. (Skousen, p.78)

In fact, the Founders had taken the five truths we have already identified as ”religion” and had built the whole Constitutional framework on top of them. (Skousen, p.92)

Thomas_Jefferson_by_Rembrandt_Peale,_1800Thomas Jefferson

Special provision has been made by one of the amendments to the Constitution, which expressly declares that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …”, thereby guarding in the same sentence, and under the same words, the freedom of religion, of speech, and of the press, insomuch that whatever violates either throws down the sanctuary which covers the others; and that libels, falsehood, and defamation, equally with heresy and false religions, are withheld from the cognizance of federal tribunals.

The Federal “Wall” Between Church and State

In a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association dated January 1, 1802, [Jefferson] explained his position and said the Constitution had created “a wall of separation between church and state.”

In recent years the Supreme Court has undertaken to use this metaphor as an excuse for meddling in the religious issues arising within the various states. It has not only presumed to take jurisdiction in these disputes, but has actually forced the states to take the same hands-off position toward religious matters even thought his restriction originally applied only to the federal government.

justice gavelNOTE: In its 1963 ruling, the Supreme Court in actuality did not take a hands-off position. Instead, it established atheism as the national religion. (Atheism, as a system of beliefs, qualifies as a religion.) Today, the preferred religion in schools is Islam, while Christianity continues to be banned, even persecuted. The Supreme Court violated the clause in the US Constitution which forbids the federal government from both “establishing” religion and “prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Because of this national decree by the Supreme Court, the states are failing to protect religious freedom on the state level. Hence, the rampant atheist and Islamic indoctrination in the state schools. ~C.A. Davidson

This obvious distortion of the original intent of Jefferson (when he used the metaphor of a “wall” separating church and state) becomes entirely apparent when the statements and actions of Jefferson are examined in their historical context. (Skousen, p.89-90)

Jefferson and Madison were anxious that the states intervene in religious matters so as to provide for equality among all religions, and that all churches or religions assigned preferential treatment should be disestablished from such preferment. They further joined with the other Founders in expressing an anxiety that ALL religions be encouraged in order to promote the moral fiber and religious tone of the people. This, of course, would be impossible if there were an impenetrable “wall” between church and state on the state level.

Jefferson’s “wall” was obviously intended only for the federal government, and the Supreme Court application of this metaphor to the states has come under severe criticism. (Dallin Oaks, ed., The Wall Between Church and State, 1963, 99.2-3)

Alexis de Tocqueville

He emphasized the fact that this religious undergirding of the political structure was a common denominator of moral teachings in different denominations and not the political pressure of some national church hierarchy.

                De Tocqueville Describes the Role of Religion in the Schools

De Tocqueville found that the schools, especially in New England, incorporated the basic tenets of religion right along with history and political science in order to prepare the student for adult life.

                De Tocqueville Describes the Role of the American Clergy

After noting that all the clergy seemed anxious to maintain “separation of church and state,” he nevertheless observed that collectively they had a great influence on the morals and customs of public life.

In America, he noted, the clergy remained politically separated from the government but nevertheless provided a moral stability among the people which permitted the government to prosper. In other words, there was separation of church and state but no separation of state and religion. (Skousen, p. 82-83)

Why the Founders Wanted the Federal Government Excluded from All Problems Relating to Religion and Churches

The Supreme Court has stated on numerous occasions that to most people freedom of religion is the most precious of all the unalienable rights next to life itself. When the United States was founded, there were many Americans who were not enjoying freedom of religion to the fullest possible extent. At least seven of the states had officially established religions or denominations at the time the Constitution was adopted.

Under these circumstances the Founders felt it would have been catastrophic …if the federal government had tried to establish a national policy on religion or disestablish the denominations which the states had adopted. Nevertheless, the Founders who were examining this problem were anxious to eventually see complete freedom of all faiths and an equality of all relations, both Christian and non-Christian. (Skousen, p.86)

Read more about Church, State, and the Court Decision to Ban the Bible

Principle 3: Virtuous and Moral Leaders

Principle 5: The Role of the Creator

 

Culture Wars Warning! Why Religious Freedom Matters; What’s at Stake

Culture Wars Warning!

Why Religious Freedom Matters; What’s at Stake

Freedom to choose. That’s what the War in Heaven was all about. We couldn’t afford to lose agency then, and we can’t afford to lose it now. And that includes the freedom to “worship how, where, or what [we] may” (Articles of Faith 1:11). That’s why the Prophet Joseph Smith said, “I am bold to declare before Heaven that I am just as ready to die in defending the rights of a Presbyterian, a Baptist, or a good man of any other denomination [as for a Mormon]; for the same principle which would trample upon the rights of the Latter-day Saints would trample upon the rights of the Roman Catholics, or of any other denomination who may be unpopular and too weak to defend themselves” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 345).

In addition to maintaining religious freedom as an eternal principle (even God will not remove the agency of any of His children), there are some potentially severe consequences if we lose the freedom to worship, speak, and live according to our beliefs.

  • You could lose your job or leadership positions for expressing religious beliefs—even outside of work. For instance, CEOs, newscasters, judges, teachers, doctors, professors, firefighters, Olympians, graduate students, and many others have been fired, pressured to resign, or intimidated for donating money or simply saying that they support the traditional view of marriage.
  • You might be required to hide your religion or perform tasks at work that go against your beliefs. Does it seem fair, for example, that a doctor who opposes abortion on a religious or moral basis be required to perform one even though numerous other doctors nearby are willing? Should you be forced to wear an immodest uniform when it’s not necessary for your job function?
  • You may be required to work on the Sabbath or religious holidays even when others are willing to take your shift and your employer accommodates other nonreligious interests.
  • Your children in public schools may be required to learn about sexual and gender theories that contradict basic Church teachings. Many public schools already teach sex education in a way that’s fundamentally contrary to Church teachings, and some have required reading lists with explicit content.
  • You may not be able to adopt children or become a foster parent because of your religious beliefs or views on the family.
  • As a business owner or professional, you might lose your license or be fined if you refuse to perform services that are contrary to your religious beliefs. You might even lose professional credentials if you don’t participate in certain activities, even if other coworkers are willing to perform them in your place.
  • You might not be able to create faith-based clubs on college campuses without being required to let people become club members—or even officers—who oppose the club’s religious beliefs.
  • Churches may be forced to employ people who disagree with or refuse to live core values of their faith, threatening their ability to carry out their religious missions.
  • Churches could lose their tax-exempt status by maintaining doctrines, policies, and standards that conflict with secular beliefs regarding marriage, family, gender, and sexuality, resulting in a huge increase in costs to build houses of worship or to purchase and provide goods for humanitarian aid.
  • You might lose tax exemptions for charitable donations like tithes and offerings if the Church loses its status as a tax-exempt, nonprofit organization.
  • Churches may not be able to access government lands for camps on equal terms with other groups, limiting youth conferences and camps.
  • Housing units, such as dorms, at religious colleges could be forced to abandon moral standards that protect privacy, modesty, and morality, denying people the right to room with those who uphold the same standards.
  • Religious schools that maintain honor codes may lose their accreditation and be denied research funds and even federal student loans and grants, diminishing the value of their degrees, undermining the quality of their education, and making it financially impossible for many students to attend.
  • There’s a lot at stake, and this is just a sampling. As society continues to move away from eternal truths and God-given commandments, we can’t predict all the consequences that may result if religious freedom and the right to act on our beliefs are taken away.
  • So we need to raise our voices to defend religious freedom. If we don’t raise them for the protection of religion now, vital religious freedoms will be lost. 
  • When we join the cause together, we can make a difference that will protect religious freedom for followers of all religions.

Teach your family why Religious Freedom Matters

 

https://www.lds.org/religious-freedom/understand/why-it-matters-whats-at-stake

Easter YouTube Music: Jesus, Redeemer of my Soul

Dinner Topics for Thursday

Easter YouTube Music: Jesus, Redeemer of My Soul

Rescuing the one

Rescuing the One Sheep; vintage oil by Wilhelmena Davidson

I Stand All Amazed

Charles H. Gabriel

I marvel that he would descend from his throne divine

To rescue a soul so rebellious and proud as mine,

That he should extend his great love unto such as I,

Sufficient to own, to redeem, and to justify.

 

 

 

 

“Rescue Me” from Solace Album by Jordan

Teaching Children about Easter

Teaching Children about Easter

Can kids comprehend the cross?

Teddy James

American Family Association Journal

Jesus and ChildrenExcept for a few details such as being “with child from the Holy Spirit,” children don’t seem to have much problem understanding the Christmas story. God came to earth as a baby. His mother was Mary; his earthy father, Joseph. They had traveled a long way and were sleeping in a barn the night He was born. The good guys, like the shepherds and the wise men, celebrated His birth, but others did not.

Compare that story with the 33-year-old Jesus voluntarily traveling to Jerusalem, celebrating Passover, staying silent before His accusers, being flogged, beaten, spat upon, having a crown of thorns forced onto His head, carrying the instrument of His homicide, nailed to a rough, wooden cross, and suffering for six hours until He died. Easter is difficult to explain and understand for adults, but much more so for children.

It is here that traditions can help families explain the tragedy and hope of Easter. Using tactile items to tell the story of Easter helps children understand the events on a level appropriate for their sensitivity and maturity. It also leaves room for their understanding to grow through the years. On top of that, new traditions help families mark, remember, and celebrate the most important of holy days in Christendom.

Resurrection Eggs
The ubiquitous plastic eggs have become synonymous with the Easter season. This has led some families to create a new tradition that embraces them but also points away from the commercialization of Easter and toward the reason we celebrate.

Parents get children to help them create or find items that go inside the eggs to symbolize the events of Easter. Most limit the items to 12 so the eggs can be kept in a common egg carton.

teaching-children-easterFamilies choose different symbols including: a cracker to symbolize the Last Supper (Matthew 26:26), silver coins (Matthew 26:14-16), a piece of leather or rope (John 19:1), a twig of thorns (Matthew 27:29), a cross (19:16-17), a large nail (John 19:18), a sign reading “King of the Jews” (Luke 23:38), a sponge (Matthew 27:48), a spear (John 19:34), cloves or spices (Luke 24:1), a rock (Matthew 27:59-60), and a white piece of linen (John 20:7). The last egg is left empty to show that Jesus left the tomb on the third day.

No matter what items are chosen, it is important to include a Scripture reference inside each egg. This will also help children see Scripture as living, breathing, and applicable rather than dry and boring.

Resurrection Tree
Building on the idea of gathering items that symbolize Easter, many families build a Resurrection Tree. The tree is unique in that it takes families from Creation to Jesus’ resurrection. Some families take 30 days to decorate the tree and spend a few minutes each day leading up to Resurrection Sunday to read Scripture and create ornaments.  (See sidebar below.)

On the first day, parents read Genesis 1-2 and children place an ornament that resembles earth on the tree. That ornament can be papier-mâché or a colored balloon. On day seven, families can read Genesis 37, 40-46 (or excerpts from those chapters) and place an ornament symbolizing Joseph’s coat of many colors. On day eight, a lamb is placed on a branch while reading Exodus 12, the story of the Passover. This is a perfect time to discuss how the Passover is a foreshadowing of Easter. Families continue working their way through God’s story of redemption to its culmination in the resurrection.

But the Resurrection Tree doesn’t have to take 30 days. Some families make one ornament for every week of Lent. (See sidebar.) Others choose to make only four ornaments the first year, carefully explaining each symbol. They add a few more the next year and further explain the ramifications of Easter to their children.

Seder Meal
Messianic Jewish congregations possess a great way of teaching that the gospel did not begin in the New Testament but was in God’s plan from the very beginning. They celebrate Passover with a Seder meal, and some choose to end the dinner with Communion.

The Seder meal consists of many elements including the washing of hands, a time during which children ask four questions and are answered by the leader of the Seder meal, the hiding and finding of the Afkomen (unleavened bread), the four cups of wine that involve a reading and response filled with history and Scripture, the partaking of the Seder plate consisting of Karpas (greens), Beltzah (a boiled egg), Maror (a bitter herb), Charoset (a sweet mixture of chopped apples, nuts, honey, and cinnamon), and the shank bone of a lamb.

Every aspect of the Seder meal has a powerful, symbolic meaning. That meaning is amplified when viewed through the lens of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. The Seder meal is a tradition thousands of years in the making and will bring extra meaning to your family’s Easter celebration.

Easter is certainly difficult to explain and hard to understand, especially for children. However, it can also be the most celebratory, meaningful, and maturing seasons in a Christian child’s life. These traditions, and many others like them, will ensure that your children remember that Easter isn’t about new clothes, candy, and an oversized bunny. It is about the Creator of the Universe clothing Himself in flesh and offering Himself as a sacrifice for our sins. Whatever traditions you choose to establish, make sure they will be remembered, treasured, and repeated.

_____________________________

Lent – This year, Lent began on February 18, Ash Wednesday. Although the Lenten season is almost complete, it isn’t too late to prepare your family for Easter through this traditional time marked by self-examination, prayer, fasting, self-denial, and repentance.

Here are some ideas for Lent to help you get started.

  • Practice self-denial. Give up something important to you. A few examples include withholding food for one meal a day, giving up coffee or tea, abstaining from television, or choosing to read only Scripture.
  • Serve those around you. Make a special effort to follow Jesus’s life of service by finding families in your community to bless, or by making a sacrificial gift to a gospel ministry.
  • Make pretzels. Pretzels are a traditional Lenten food symbolizing arms crossed in prayer. Making pretzels is a memorable way to include children in the Lenten season.
  • Prepare your heart. Like an annual physical exam, use this time to access your relationship with Christ. Pray through the verses of Psalm 51 and meditate on it daily.
  • Begin a focused family Bible time. If your family is not in the habit of studying Scripture together, Lent is a great time to begin. The Easter story found in Mark 14-16 is an appropriate passage.

http://www.afajournal.org/recent-issues/2015/april/can-kids-comprehend-the-cross/

_____________________________

New Easter traditions

Resurrection Eggs kit
1-800-358-6329

Resurrection Tree

Seder Meal Resources

Full copy of a Haggadah

How to make an Easter Garden

How and why to celebrate the 40 days Jesus stayed on earth after His resurrection

40-day journey to Easter

YouTube Music: Classic Rachmaninoff

YouTube Music: Classic Rachmaninoff

keyNote below what Rachmaninoff lost when he fled the Russian revolution—all of his worldly possessions, including any music he may have written. See how God blessed him and us with his incredible talent and memory. Our blessing—Russia’s loss. ~C. A. Davidson

Hear  Concerto no. 3— one of my favorites!

Rachmaninoff,_CaliforniaSergei Vasilievich Rachmaninoff[1] 1 April 1873 – 28 March 1943) was a Russian[2] composer, pianist, and conductor. Rachmaninoff is widely considered one of the finest pianists of his day and, as a composer, one of the last great representatives of Romanticism in Russian classical music.[3] Early influences of Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, and other Russian composers gave way to a thoroughly personal idiom that included a pronounced lyricism, expressive breadth, structural ingenuity, and a tonal palette of rich, distinctive orchestral colors.[4] The piano is featured prominently in Rachmaninoff’s compositional output. He made a point of using his own skills as a performer to explore fully the expressive possibilities of the instrument. Even in his earliest works he revealed a sure grasp of idiomatic piano writing and a striking gift for melody.

In Moscow, he met the composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, who became an important mentor and commissioned the teenage Rachmaninoff to arrange a piano transcription of the suite from his ballet The Sleeping Beauty. This commission was first offered to Siloti, who declined, but instead suggested Rachmaninoff would be more than capable. This alternative was accepted; Siloti supervised the arrangement.[8] Rachmaninoff confided in Zverev his desire to compose more, requesting a private room where he could compose in silence. Zverev saw him only as a pianist and severed his links with the boy, refusing even to speak to him for three years. Rachmaninoff moved out and continued to compose.

The sudden death of Tchaikovsky in 1893 made a strong impression on Rachmaninoff; he immediately began writing a second Trio élégiaque to his memory, clearly revealing the depth and sincerity of his grief in the music’s overwhelming aura of gloom.

In 1900, Rachmaninoff began a course of autosuggestive therapy with psychologist Nikolai Dahl, himself an amateur musician. Rachmaninoff quickly recovered confidence and overcame his writer’s block. A result of these sessions was the composition of Piano Concerto No. 2 (Op. 18, 1900-01), dedicated to Dr. Dahl. The piece was very well received at its premiere, at which Rachmaninoff was soloist.

Rachmaninoff made his first tour of the United States as a pianist in 1909, an event for which he composed the Piano Concerto No. 3 (Op. 30, 1909) as a calling card. This successful tour made him a popular figure in America.

Rachmaninoff’s spirits were further bolstered when, after years of engagement, he was finally allowed to marry his cousin Natalia.

Russian Revolution

The 1917 Russian Revolution meant the end of Russia as the composer had known it. With this change followed the loss of his estate, his way of life, his livelihood and essentially his world. On 22 December 1917, he left St. Petersburg for Helsinki with his wife and two daughters on an open sled, having only a few notebooks with sketches of his own compositions and two orchestral scores, his unfinished opera Monna Vanna and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov‘s opera The Golden Cockerel. He spent a year giving concerts in Scandinavia while also laboring to widen his concert repertoire. Near the end of 1918, he received three offers of lucrative American contracts. Although he declined all three, he decided the United States might offer a solution to his financial concerns. He departed Kristiania (Oslo) for New York on 1 November 1918. Once there, Rachmaninoff quickly chose an agent, Charles Ellis, and accepted the gift of a piano from Steinway before playing 40 concerts in a four-month period. At the end of the 1919-20 season, he also signed a contract with the Victor Talking Machine Company. In 1921, the Rachmaninoffs bought a house in the United States, where they consciously recreated the atmosphere of Ivanovka, entertaining Russian guests, employing Russian servants, and observing Russian customs.[22]

As a pianist, Rachmaninoff ranked among the finest pianists of his time, along with Leopold Godowsky, Ignaz Friedman, Moriz Rosenthal and Josef Hofmann, and perhaps one of the greatest pianists in the history of classical music. He was famed for possessing a flawless, clean and inhuman virtuoso piano technique. His playing was marked by precision, rhythmic drive, an exceptionally accurate staccato and the ability to maintain complete clarity when playing works with complex textures. Rachmaninoff applied these qualities to excellent effect in music by Chopin, especially the B flat minor Piano Sonata. Rachmaninoff’s repertoire, excepting his own works, consisted mainly of standard 19th Century virtuoso works plus music by Bach, Beethoven, Borodin, Debussy, Grieg, Liszt, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Schubert, Schumann and Tchaikovsky.[42]

Rhythmically, Rachmaninoff was one of the best Romantic performers. He never lost the basic metric pulse, yet he constantly varied it. Harold C. Schonberg suggests the young Vladimir Horowitz might have gotten this kind of rhythmic snap from Rachmaninoff. In addition, Rachmaninoff’s playing had extreme musical elegance, with attention paid to the shape of the melodic line. His playing possessed a masculine, aristocratic kind of poetry. While never becoming sentimental, he managed to wring dry the emotional essence of the music. He did so through subtly nuanced phrasing within his strong, clear, unmannered projection of melodic lines.[43]

He had extremely large hands. From those barely moving fingers came an unforced, bronzelike sonority and an accuracy bordering on infallibility. Correct notes seemed to be built into his constitution. . .

Memory

Rachmaninoff also possessed an uncanny memory-one that would help put him in good stead when he had to learn the standard piano repertoire as a 45-year-old exile. He could hear a piece of music, even a symphony, then play it back the next day, the next year, or a decade after that. Siloti would give him a long and demanding piece to learn, such as Brahms’ Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel. Two days later Rachmaninoff would play it “with complete artistic finish.” Alexander Goldenweiser said, “Whatever composition was ever mentioned-piano, orchestral, operatic, or other-by a Classical or contemporary composer, if Rachmaninoff had at any time heard it, and most of all if he liked it, he played it as though it were a work he had studied thoroughly.”[52]

Complete article

Parents Teaching Children Character: Respect vs. Ego

Dinner Topics for Thursday

Parenting Value: Respect, Part 1.  General Guidelines. Don’t miss these helpful points on character education.

Richard and Linda Eyre

key Children born between 1980 and 1995, called “millennials,” now saturate the job market …They are typically demanding, impertinent, and narcissistic. They need constant affirmation and expect to be catered to. ~Reb Bradley

childhelpingotherMore respect for others, less egocentric. Becoming more extra-centered and less self-centered. Learning empathy. ~ Richard and Linda Eyre

Some children have a natural and seemingly inherent sense of caring and sensitivity. Such cases are rather rare, however, and the self-centered “surrounded by mirrors” perspective of life is typical of most children, particularly adolescents. In fact most of the problems teenagers face (whether taking the form of rebellion or of extreme shyness and withdrawal) stem from their rather intense preoccupation with self.

Sample Method for Preschool Age: “Put Yourself in the Picture” Game

This game lets children practice at empathizing with someone they have never met or spoken to. Watch for pictures in magazine that show people in situations that are unusual to you and your children. These could range from a man on a horse in the mountains to a girl in a magazine clothing ad. Almost any magazine has several pictures or advertisements that will work for this exercise.

The game consists of looking at the picture and attempting to describe how the person in the picture feels. This can start on a physical level as you try to imagine what he sees and hears, whether she is cold or warm, and so forth. Then try to go beyond the physical and speculate how he or she might feel emotionally. Have a discussion about it. Let each person imagine how the subject feels and express his or her own observations.

A variation of the game is to give each player a different picture to study, then have them give a short speech or write a brief theme on what the subject feels.

Sample Method for Elementary Age: The Noticing Game

boytieshoeThis game trains children to see more that is outside themselves and thus to be less self-aware. Form a habit of playing “the noticing game” when you are traveling or going to any unfamiliar place with children. Ask them, without notice or warning, to close and cover their eyes. Then ask them to describe, as best they can, the room or scene they are in (the walls, the lighting, the carpet, the trees, the sky, etc.). Let them also play the game on you. The exercise in observing and being aware of where you are and what is around you is good training for empathy and sensitivity.

 

 

Sample Method for Adolescents: The Mirror-Window Lesson

Make an effort to tell your children how the things they do make you feel. This will help children be more aware of your feelings and be more sensitive toward them. If a teenager tells you that you are weird, tell him that that hurts your feelings. Sometimes children think of parents as people on whom they can vent their feelings without making a dent.

This lesson can help adolescents conceptualize and appreciate the difference between self-centeredness and extra-centeredness. Try to get a piece of one-way glass (mirror windowfrom one side, window from other). If you can’t find one, a plain piece of glass will do. Point out that when it is dark behind the glass, it is a mirror — all you see in it is yourself. When it is light behind it, you see through it — you see other people and not your own reflection. Point out to your children that life is much the same. When our minds are dark and self-centered, we only see ourselves (“What’s best for me?” “How will that affect me?” “What can this person do for me?”) In this mode we are always unhappy and self-conscious.

 

youthservingBut when we light up and look at other people — trying to listen, trying to see their needs, and so on — we “lose ourselves” and quit worrying about ourselves and feeling self-conscious.

Remember that unselfishness does not come naturally. Try to maintain your patience as you implement this “month.” Everyone, although in varying degrees, is born with a certain amount of selfishness. There is no quick fix for learning to be unselfish. It is a process that takes thinking and practicing and a certain amount of maturity to develop.