1927 Luigi Pastega, Italian artist
born on 18 November 1858.
1940 Day 59 of Winter War: USSR aggression against Finland.
More deaths due to Stalin's desire to grab Finnish territory.
Enemy artillery continues to pound
main defensive position
Karelian Isthmus: the
enemy artillery continues its increasingly fierce pounding of the
main Finnish defensive position on the Isthmus.
The 'Million Fort' in the Lähde sector
to the east of Lake Summajärvi is badly damaged by the enemy's heavy
Ladoga Karelia: near Pitkäranta,
Soviet troops take the offshore island of Putkisaari.
IV Army Corps' combat detachment
and battalion commanders hold talks at the 13th Division's command
Major-General Hägglund gives the
command to take the 'mottis' at Kelivaara and West Lemetti.
Abroad: Count Eric von Rosen, the
Swedish Finnophile who donated the first aircraft in the Finnish
Air Force, believes Finland can withstand the Soviet pressure and
does not believe the air raids will undermine Finnish resistance.
An editorial in the Red Army paper
Krasnaya Zvezda claims the "Red Army is fulfilling an honourable
international obligation in Finland."
The American daily The Chicago News
suggests the 1940 Nobel Peace Prize be awarded to Finland.
Sweden's Foreign Minister warns the
Soviet Ambassador in Stockholm, Madame Alexandra Kollontai, that
continuation of the war against Finland could lead to the involvement
of the Western powers
Vihollisen tykistö jatkaa pääpuolustusaseman
Talvisodan 59. päivä, 27.tammikuuta.1940
jatkaa kiihtyvällä voimalla pääpuolustusaseman murentamista Kannaksella.
Summajärven itäpuolella Lähteen lohkolla
Kannaksella sijaitseva ns. Miljoonalinnake vaurioituu pahoin vihollisen
raskaan tykistön tulessa.
Neuvostojoukot valtaavat Pitkärannan
edustalla olevan Putkisaaren.
IV Armeijakunnan taisteluosastojen
ja pataljoonien komentajien neuvottelu pidetään 13. Divisioonan
Kenraalimajuri Hägglund antaa määräyksen
Kelivaaran ja Läntisen Lemetin motin valtaamiseksi.
Ulkomailta: Suomen ilmavoimien ensimmäisen
koneen lahjoittaja, ruotsalainen Suomen-ystävä, kreivi Eric von
Rosen, uskoo Suomen kestävän eikä usko pommihyökkäysten murtavan
Puna-armeijan lehti Krasnaja Zvezdan
pääkirjoituksen mukaan "Puna-armeija täyttää kunniakasta kansainvälistä
Amerikkalainen päivälehti The Chicago
News esittää Nobelin rauhanpalkinnon myöntämistä Suomelle 1940.
Ruotsin ulkoministeri varoittaa Moskovan
Tukholman-suurlähettilästä rouva Aleksandra Kollontaita toteamalla
että sota Suomea vastaan saattaa myötävaikuttaa länsivaltojen haluun
liittyä sotaan mukaan.
Fiendens artilleri fortsätter att bryta ner
huvudförsvarsställningarna Vinterkrigets 59 dag,
den 27 januari 1940
artilleri fortsätter med accelererande kraft att bryta ner huvudförsvarsställningarna
Den så kallade Miljonbunkern
öster om Summajärvi i Lähdeavsnittet på Näset får omfattande skador
av fiendens tunga artillerield.
De ryska trupperna invaderar ön Putkisaari utanför Pitkäranta.
Kommendörerna för den IV Armékårens
stridsavdelningar och bataljoner samlas till möte vid den 13. Divisionens
Hägglund ger order om att erövra mottin i Kelivaara och västra Lemetti.
Utrikes: Den svenska Finlandsvännen,
greve Eric von Rosen, som donerade det första planet åt flygvärnet,
tror att Finland kommer att hålla ut och att bombanfallen inte kommer
att krossa Finlands motstånd.
Enligt en ledare i Röda Arméns tidning Krasnaja Zvezda uppfyller
Röda Armén "en ärorik internationell uppgift i Finland".
Den amerikanska dagstidningen The
Chicago News föreslår att Nobels fredspris år 1940 ska beviljas
Den svenska utrikesministern
varnar Moskvas ambassadör i Stockholm, fru Alexandra Kollontaj i
sitt konstaterande att kriget mot Finland kan bidra till att väststaterna
vill gå med i kriget
Schreyvogel, US artist born on 04 January 1861.
1864 Leo van Klenze, dies at age 79 about one month before
his 20th birthday. He was a German artist born on 29 February 1784.
1901 Giuseppe Fortunino
Francesco Verdi, born on 10 October 1813. He was
the leading Italian composer of opera in the 19th century, noted
for operas such as Rigoletto (1851), Il trovatore
(1853), La traviata (1853), Don Carlos (1867),
Aida (1871), Otello (1887), Nabucco [quote >],
and Falstaff (1893) and for his Requiem Mass (1874).
Va, pensiero, sull'ali dorate;
Va, ti posa sui clivi, sui colli,
Ove olezzano tepide e molli
L'aure dolci del suolo natal!
Del Giordano le rive saluta,
Di Sïon le torri atterrate...
Oh mia patria sì bella e perduta!
Oh membranza sì cara e fatal!
Arpa d'ôr dei fatidici vati,
Perchè muta dal salice pendi?
Le memorie nel petto raccendi,
Ci favella del tempo che fu!
O simìle di Solima ai fati
Traggi un suono di crudo lamento,
O t'ispiri il Signore un concento
Che ne infonda al patire virtù,
Che ne infonda al patire virtù,
Che ne infonda al patire virtù, al patire virtù!
G. Verdi // T. Solera
Verdi's father, Carlo Giuseppe
Verdi, an innkeeper and owner of a small farm, gave his son the
best education that could be mustered in a tiny village, near a
small town of about 4,000 inhabitants, in the then-impoverished
Po Valley. The child must have shown unusual talent, for he was
given lessons from his fourth year, a spinet was bought for him,
and by age 9 he was standing in for his teacher as organist in the
village church. He attended the village school and at 10 the ginnasio
(secondary school) in Busseto.
A little later he composed music (now lost) for the town church
and the largely amateur orchestra. One of Busseto's leading citizens,
Antonio Barezzi, a merchant and fanatical music enthusiast, became
a second father to the young prodigy, taking him into his home,
sending him to study in Milan, and in 1836 giving him his daughter
Margherita in marriage. Refused by the Milan Conservatory, he was
past the admission age and played the piano poorly, Verdi studied
privately under Vincenzo Lavigna, an older composer and an associate
of the opera house Teatro alla Scala. Milan was the intellectual
and operatic center of Italy, and in the years 1832–1835 Verdi
seems to have learned much about literature and politics there as
well as counterpoint and the elements of opera. Later, after his
great success with Nabucco, he attended literary salons in the city
and made lasting friendships with some cultivated aristocrats.
Barezzi's plan was for Verdi to return
to Busseto as music director, but when this post fell open in 1833
a furious political storm developed leading to long delays. Soured
by this, Verdi nonetheless took a compromise position and stayed
from March 1836 to October 1838, teaching and composing a good deal,
though all he published was a set of songs in 1838.
Needless to say, he had his eye on greater things. The music that
he had written during these years must have impressed the right
people, for after some difficulty he succeeded in getting an opera,
Oberto, conte di San Bonifacio, produced at La Scala in
March 1839. Ordinary as the piece may seem today, it succeeded well
enough to travel to Genoa and Turin and to gain him a commission
for three more operas at Italy's leading theatre. His rising career
was deflected by tragedy: in 1840 his young wife died, following
the deaths of two infant children. In addition to this personal
grief, Verdi saw his next opera, Un giorno di regno, a
comedy, hissed off the stage. This compounded trauma led to a severe
depression and either caused or fixed the dour, fatalistic, sometimes
harsh aspects of Verdi's character.
Verdi overcame his despair by composing Nabucodonoser (composed
1841, first performed 1842; known as Nabucco), based on
the biblical Nebuchadnezzar (Nebuchadrezzar II), though the well-known
story is no longer credited which he told later about snapping out
of his lethargy only when the libretto fell open at the chorus “Va,
pensiero”, by that time one of his most beloved works. (The
older Verdi embroidered on various aspects of his early life, exaggerating
the lowliness of his origins, for example.) Nabucco succeeded
as sensationally as Un giorno had failed abjectly, and
Verdi at age 28 became the new hero of Italian music. The work sped
across Italy and the whole world of opera; within a decade it had
reached as far as St. Petersburg and Buenos Aires, Argentina. While
its musical style is primitive by the composer's later standards,
Nabucco's raw energy has kept it alive a century and a
There followed a
period (1843–1849) during which Verdi drove himself like a
galley slave, as hehimself put it, and to the detriment of his health,
to produce nearly two operas a year. His aim was to make enough
money for early retirement as a gentleman farmer at Sant'Agata,
close toRoncole, where his forebears had settled. He purchased land
there as early as 1844. To “produce” an opera meant,
at that time, to negotiate with an impresario, secure and edit (often
heavily) a libretto, find or approve the singers, compose the music,
supervise rehearsals, conduct the first three performances, deal
with publishers, and more—all this while shuttling from one
end of Italy to the other in the days before railroads.
Though masterpieces were unlikely to emerge from a schedule like
this, Verdi's next two operas were, amazingly, just as wildly successful:
I Lombardi alla prima crociata (1843) and Ernani
(1844). The latter became the only work of the “galley-slave”
period to gain a steady place in the opera repertory worldwide.
His other operas had varying receptions. A list made in 1844 of
possible subjects for librettos shows Verdi's high-minded concern
for literary and dramatic values. It included King Lear, a project
he would return to and abandon several times in later years. In
the 1840s he drew on Victor Hugo [26 Feb 1802 – 22 May 1885]
for Ernani, Lord Byron for I due Foscari (1844)
and Il corsaro (1848), Friedrich von Schiller for Giovanna
d'Arco (1845), I masnadieri (1847; “The Bandits”),
and Luisa Miller (1849), Voltaire for Alzira (1845),
and Zacharias Werner for Attila (1846).
Only with Macbeth (1847), however, was Verdi inspired to
fashion an opera that is as gripping as it is original and, in many
ways, independent of tradition. Just as the biblical theme had contributed
to the grandeur of Nabucco, so the tragic theme of Shakespeare's
drama called forth the best in him. Verdi knew the value of this
work and revised it in 1865, excising some of its crudities; but
its greatest number, the harrowing sleepwalking scene of Lady Macbeth,
could be left just as it was written in 1847.
By that time he was receiving lucrative commissions from abroad:
from London (I masnadieri) and Paris (Jérusalem,
a thorough revision of I Lombardi, 1847). La battaglia
di Legnano (1849), a tale of love and jealousy set against
the Lombard League's victory over Frederick Barbarossa in 1176,
was Verdi's emphatic response to the Risorgimento, which spilled
over into open warfare in 1848, the year of revolutions. Greeted
ecstatically at the time, this opera later faded.
It is often said that in the earlier operas, too, choruses and other
numbers calling for liberation or revolt were taken metaphorically
as revolutionary rallying cries, and evidently this did happen on
isolated occasions. However, it was only after unification in 1861,
when the conte di Cavour, seeking to involve as many important Italians
as possible, persuaded the composer to stand for the Chamber of
Deputies, which he attended faithfully but soon resigned from, that
Verdi came to be widely celebrated as a national hero. “Va,
pensiero,” the song of the enslaved Hebrews in Nabucco,
assumed the status of an unofficial national anthem. That the vision
of Verdi as “singer of the Risorgimento” owes less to
historical fact than to patriotic nostalgia should not be thought
to diminish its significance; adapted to words about the downtrodden
masses, “Va, pensiero” could still be heard at Italian
Communist rallies in the 1990s.
prima donna who created Abigaille in Nabucco, Giuseppina
Strepponi, who also had helped Verdi as early as 1839 with Oberto,
ultimately became his second wife. Her love, support, and practical
assistance on behalf of Verdi, over half a century, was boundless,
though he was not an easy husband.
Born in 1815, Strepponi had a quite successful, if short, career.
Living for a time with her agent, one Camillo Cirelli, in effect
as common-law wife, she had borne three children, the oldest of
whom (her only son, Camillino) was reared by her former maid. (The
two other children were daughters and were given up for adoption.)
When her voice began to deteriorate she set up as a teacher in Paris,
where Verdi met her again in 1847 while there to produce Jérusalem.
They fell in love and were soon living together, though they did
not marry until 1859. Strepponi, a devout Catholic, seems to have
felt herself unworthy to be Verdi's wife, a feeling that one suspects
Verdi may have shared on some level. It also seems possible that
marriage was put off until her son came of age in 1859.
The new richness and depth of Verdi's musico-dramatic characterization
in these years, especially though not exclusively of women, may
have developed out of his relationship with Strepponi. She is often
evoked in connection with the sympathetic and radiant portrayal
of Violetta in La traviata (a rough analogy, to be sure,
for Violetta the courtesan had fallen a great deal farther than
Strepponi the singer). Yet Verdi showed scant sympathy for the real-life
woman when he determined to move back with her to Busseto in 1849
and then to Sant'Agata, where small-town outrage at their liaison
reached a peak. For some time he refused to allow her to accompany
him on his many travels, which left her alonein a very hostile environment.
He himself responded furiously to local censure and refused to have
anything to do with Busseto and its musical activities, having first
scrupulously repaid with interest the contribution made by the commune
to his musical education.
the meantime he had composed three operas that remain his best knownand
best loved: Rigoletto (1851), Il trovatore (1853),
and La traviata (1853). The tunes were better than any
he had written before, the drama tighter and more exciting, and
the characterization altogether original. Rigoletto makes an important
technical advance toward a coherent presentation of the drama in
music, especially in the famous thirdact; there is less distinction
between the recitatives (the parts of the score that carry the plot
forward in imitation of speech), which tend toward arioso(melodic,
lyric quality), and the arias, which are treated less formally and
dovetailed into their surroundings, sometimes almost unobtrusively.
Even greater is the contrast of style in La traviata, with
its intimate mood and lyrical pathos, a vein Verdi had previously
explored in Luisa Miller.
this time he had honed his skills as a competitor in the rapacious
marketplace that was 19th-century Italian opera—or, as he
always saw it, the grim site of major battles, endless skirmishes,
and equivocal victories. He drove hard bargains, complained bitterly
at every reverse, stonewalled, and sued. He tried to insist that
his operas be performed exactly as written,without cuts, transpositions,
He met his
match with the censors, especially after 1848. The plot of Le
roi s'amuse, the play by Hugo that inspired Rigoletto,
features a curse that was deemed blasphemous and the attempted murder
of a king that was politically taboo; only after the king was demoted
to a duke and various other modifications were made could the text
be approved. Traviata experienced problems of another kind. With
La Dame aux camélias, Alexandre Dumas fils had just
caused a considerable scandal in Paris, and Verdi's operatic version,
though at first performed in 17th-century costumes, too obviously
broke from operatic convention in setting a present-day subject,
and a risqué one at that. For this reason and also because
a stout prima donna had been cast as the consumptive heroine, the
first performance was a rare Verdi fiasco. “Is it my fault
or the singers'? Time will show,” was Verdi's characteristically
laconic comment. After minor revisions and a new production, the
opera carried all before it.
Verdi had become an international celebrity, and the change in his
status was reflected in his art. From 1855 to 1870 he devoted himself
to providing works for the Opéra at Paris and other theatres
conforming to the Parisian operatic standard, which demanded spectacular
dramas on subjects of high seriousness in five acts with a ballet.
He was pointedly challenging Giacomo Meyerbeer [05 Sep 1791 –
02 May 1864], the one European composer more renowned and wealthier
than he was, on Meyerbeer's own ground. While these operas show
advances in many areas and include superb scenes, none of them is
as satisfactory as a whole as any of the three great operas of the
His first essay
in the new manner, Les Vêpres siciliennes (1855),
is a rather cold piece that has had only lukewarm success from its
premiere on. The fault lay partly in the libretto, by Meyerbeer's
own librettist, the poet Eugène Scribe [24 Dec 1791 –
20 Feb 1861]; Scribe merely refashioned an old piece he had written
for Gaetano Donizetti [29 Nov 1797 – 08 Apr 1848].
Two pieces for Italian theatres, Simon Boccanegra (1857)
and Un ballo in maschera (1859), affected to a lesser extent
by the impact of the grand operatic style, show the enrichment of
Verdi's power as an interpreter of human character and as a master
of orchestral colour. Boccanegra, despite a gloomy and
excessively complex plot, includes powerful scenes and creates a
special windswept atmosphere appropriate to its Genoese pirate protagonist.
(Verdi often spoke of the unique “tinta” of each of
his operas.) Much more successful with the public was Ballo,
a romantic version of the assassination of Gustav III of Sweden,
even though again the censorship barred the murder of a king and
so made nonsense of the story, its setting transported from 18th-century
Stockholm to Puritan Boston, a hundred years earlier. These years
also saw Aroldo (1857), an unsuccessful revision of Stiffelio
In 1862 Verdi represented
Italian musicians at the London Exhibition, for which he composeda
cantata to words by the up-and-coming poet and composer Arrigo Boito.
In opera the big money came from foreign commissions, and in the
same year his next work, La forza del destino, was produced
at St. Petersburg. Always on the lookout for novel dramatic material,
Verdi had wanted to tackle the epic narrative extending over many
years and many locations, with scenes of high life and low. This
he managed in Forza, which also includes the most extended
religious scene in a Verdi opera and his first substantial comic
role, that of the irascible Friar Melitone. Verdi finally surpassed
Meyerbeer at the ParisOpéra (at least according to opinion
at the turn of the 21st century, though not at the time) with Don
Carlos (1867), a setting of another play by Schiller that is
for once worthy of the original, and in which religion is portrayed
much more harshly, and much more in accordance with Verdi's lifelong
strong anticlerical sentiments, than in Forza. Despite
its problematic ending, Don Carlos is regarded by some
as Verdi's masterpiece, or at least his masterpiece prior to the
Shakespeare operas of his last years.
Verdi felt that both operas with foreign commissions required revision
for Italian theatres; this he accomplished for Forza in 1869 and
Don Carlo (as it is now usually called) in 1884 and 1887. He needed
none with the piece in which at last he fashioned a libretto exactly
to his needs, Aida. Verdi wrote a detailed scenario, much
simpler than those of the previous two operas, employing Antonio
Ghislanzoni, a competent poet, to turn it into verse, the metres
ofwhich were often dictated by the composer. Commissioned by the
khedive of Egypt to celebrate the opening of Cairo's new Opera House
in 1869 (Verdi had earlier declined a commission for an inaugural
hymn celebrating the opening of the Suez Canal), Aida finally
premiered there in 1871 and went on to receive worldwide acclaim.
Verdi had achieved the grandeur and the gravitas of the Parisian
style without its notorious excess padding and without any weak
spots, and onto it he had grafted an emotional intensity that only
he could furnish.
Rossini [29 Feb 1792 – 13 Nov 1868], the most revered figure
in modern Italian music, died, Verdi proposed that a requiem mass
in his honor be composed by himself and a dozen of his contemporaries.
The project collapsed and Angelo Mariani, who was to have conducted
the performance, seemed to Verdi less than wholehearted in his support.
Verdi, who could not bear being thwarted, visited his wrath on the
unfortunate Mariani, who was the most distinguished Italian conductor
of the day and, until then, had been one of his closest friends.
The quarrel shows both Verdi and Giuseppina at their worst. Verdi
could never forgive an injury, real or imagined, as attested to
by his lifelong hatred of La Scala and its audience, which had rejected
Un giorno di regno, and his contempt for the town of Busseto. The
breach with Mariani widened when the conductor refused to go to
Cairo to direct the first performanceof Aida. He pleaded illness
and was indeed suffering terribly from cancer, of which he died
in 1873. Things reached a very ugly pitch when a scurrilous newspaper
story accused Verdi of stealing Mariani's fiancée, the soprano
is known for certain, Giuseppina's private papers reveal her great
distress. She worked valiantly to preserve the marriage, persevering
in the most cordial relations possible with Stolz, who finally made
some kind of break when she left Italy in 1876. Apparently Giuseppina
had put her foot down. But two years later Stolz resumed visits
to Sant'Agata, and it was clear the relationship had not blown over.
Twenty years later, letters from Verdi that somehow escaped destruction
speak of his love for Stolz. She was present at the composer's deathbed.
In 1873, while waiting in a Naples
hotel for a production of Aida, Verdi wrote a string quartet, the
only instrumental composition of his maturity. In the same year,
he was moved by the death of the Italian patriot and poet Alessandro
Manzoni [07 Mar 1785 – 22 May 1873] to compose a requiem mass
in his honor. He was able to incorporate into it the final movement
(“Libera me”) that he had written for the abortive Rossini
mass. One of the masterpieces in the oratorio tradition, often heard
in concert series into the 21st century, the Manzoni Requiem is
an impressive testimony to what Verdi could do outside of the field
After 1873 the maestro
considered himself retired, at long last, from that world of opera
to which he had been bound for so many years in a love-hate relationship.
He settled in at Sant'Agata, where the same iron hand and obsessive
attention to detail that he had applied tooperatic rehearsals came
to control all aspects of his farming enterprise. A 20-year program
of enlargement and improvement of his estates made him a major landholder
and a very wealthy man. He funded major charities, of which the
best known is the Casa di Riposo per Musicisti, a home for aged
musicians that is still in operation in Milan.
His unintended and unimagined return to the stage, many years after
Aida, was entirely due to the initiative of his publisher,
Giulio Ricordi. Reluctant to allow his most profitable composer
to rest on his laurels, Ricordi contrived a reconciliation with
Arrigo Boito, who had offended Verdi by some youthful criticism.
A proposal that Boito should write a libretto based on Othello
of Shakespeare [26 Apr 1564 – 23 Apr 1616] attracted the old
composer, and, as a sort of test, the now-prominent man of letters
and composer of the opera Mefistofele agreed to revise
the unsatisfactory libretto of Simon Boccanegra. The latter
opera is still performed because of Boito's revision of 1881. The
Othello project then took shape, very slowly, on and off, until
the opera finally opened at La Scala in 1887. In his 74th year,
Verdi, stimulated by a libretto far superior to anything he had
previously set, had produced his tragic masterpiece. In Otello
the drama is absorbed into a continuous and flexible musical score
vastly advanced in style overthat of Aida, reflecting every aspect
of the characters and every nuance of the action.
After a rapturous tour with Otello throughout Europe, Verdi
once more retreated to Sant'Agata, declaring that he had composed
his last opera. Yet Ricordi and Boito, who had grown very close
to the old man, managed to intervene one more time. With infinite
skill, Boito converted Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor,
strengthened with passages adapted from the Henry IV plays, into
the perfect comic libretto, Falstaff, which Verdi set to
miraculously fresh and mercurial music (and this time with fewer
delays). This, his last dramatic work, produced at La Scala in 1893,
avenged the cruel failure of Verdi's only other comedy in the same
theater half a century earlier.
Even after Falstaff Verdi still interested himself in composition.
His list of works ends with sacred music for chorus: a Stabat Mater
and a Te Deum published, along with the somewhat earlier and slighter
Ave Maria and Laudi alla Vergine Maria, under the title Quattro
pezzi sacri in 1898. After a long decline Giuseppina had died
in 1897, and Verdi himself gradually grew weaker and died four years
Born in the same year,
Verdi and Richard Wagner created parallel, mutually exclusive types
of opera that figure equally among the greatest achievements of
19th-century culture. Their works remain at the heart of opera repertory
at the beginning of the 21st century.
Verdi appeared on the operatic scene just as the Italian bel canto
tradition of Rossini, Vincenzo Bellini, and Donizetti, in the quarter-century
from about 1815 to 1845, entered its waning phase. He transformed
it and dominated Italian opera alone for another 30 years. It was
a period of constant experimentation, constant refinement of musical
and dramatic means—a process that seems to have continued
underground to germinate the two transcendent Shakespeare operas
written 20 years after his supposed retirement.
At first it was mainly his vigor and dramatic intelligence that
distinguished his operas, works that audiences could feel were continuing
safely in his predecessors' footsteps. But step by step Verdi modified
the rigid conventions of bel canto opera, which showed off singers
at theexpense of dramatic values. Verdi's genius was to dismantle
the system while still giving thesingers (and their audiences) melody
and brilliance in ample measure. All of this was in the service
of drama, as Verdi always stressed, and drama, as he saw it, emerged
from the interaction of people in striking, usually dire situations,
people who were characterized unforgettably by Verdi's music. No
opera composer has ever assembled a more varied and vivid portrait
gallery: Rigoletto, evil jester and loving father; self-sacrificing
Violetta of La traviata and self-destructive Amneris of
Aida; implacable Fiesco in Simon Boccanegra; the
page Oscar in Ballo; the passionate Leonora of Trovatore
and the tormented Leonora of Forza; the truly Shakespearean
Lady Macbeth; and Verdi's own Desdemona.
His operas move rapidly, with unerring dramatic rhythm. He developed
a whole new musical vocabulary, which broadened the role of the
orchestra without compromising the primacy of the voice. He introduced
a range of subject matter never before touched in opera; the later
Verdi could be subtle, gentle, and atmospheric as well as powerful.
Generations of listeners the world over, in and out of the opera
house, have loved Verdi's melodies. The best of them serve the drama,
capturing his characters' emotions with a warmth and directness
achieved by few other composers.
Bolyai, 57, Hungarian mathematician born on 15 December 1802.
1851 John James Audubon, born on 26 April 1785, naturalist
and artist famous for his drawings and paintings of North American
ON AUDUBON AT ART 4 APRIL
with links to images. —(060126)
Philipp Strack, German artist born in 1761.
Hutton, English mathematician born on 14 August 1737.
1816 Admiral Samuel
Hood, British admiral born on 12 December 1724.
Hood entered the navy in 1741, becoming
a lieutenant in 1746. During the Seven Years' War he served in the
English Channel and then the Mediterranean. In 1778, after further
service in North America, he became commissioner of the dockyard
at Portsmouth and governor of the naval academy.
He was promoted rear admiral in 1780 and sent to the West Indies
and the coast of North America as second in command under Admiral
George Rodney [bap. 13 Feb 1718 – 24 May 1792].
In the West Indies he was for a time in independent command because
of Rodney's absence in England: and, when the British islands of
St. Kitts and Nevis were attacked by the French admiral Comte
de Grasse [13 Sep 1722 – 11
Jan 1788], Hood, after initial defeats, succeeded in beating
off the attacks of the enemy. He was made an Irish peer for his
share in the defeat of de Grasse on 09 April and 12 April near Dominica.
On the outbreak of the French Revolutionary
War, Hood was sent to the Mediterranean as commander in chief. His
period of command (May 1793 - October 1794) was extremely active.
On 28 August 1793 Hood occupied Toulon on the invitation of the
French royalists and in cooperation with the Spaniards. The allies,
who did not work harmoniously together, were driven out of the city
by 19 December 1793, mainly by the generalship of Napoleon [15 Aug
1769 – 05 May 1821].
October 1794 Hood, who was then a full admiral, was recalled to
England. He held no further command at sea, but in 1796 he was named
governor of Greenwich Hospital, a post he held until his death.
1811 Jean-Baptiste Huet, French artist
born on 15 October 1735. MORE
ON HUET AT ART 4 JANUARY with
links to images.
Gottlieb Fichte, German philosopher and patriot,
born on 19 May 1762. He was one of the great transcendental idealists.
Fichte was the son of a ribbon weaver.
Educated at the Pforta school (1774–1780) and at the universities
of Jena (1780) and of Leipzig (1781–1784), he started work
as a tutor. In this capacity he went to Zürich in 1788 and
to Warsaw in 1791 but left after two weeks' probation.
The major influence on his thought at this time was that of Immanuel
Kant, whose doctrine of the inherent moral worth of man harmonized
with Fichte's character; and he resolved to devote himself to perfecting
a true philosophy, the principles of which should be practical maxims.
He went from Warsaw to see Kant himself at Königsberg, but
this first interview was disappointing. Later, when Fichte submitted
his Versuch einer Kritik aller Offenbarung to Kant, the
latter was favourably impressed by it and helped find a publisher
(1792). Fichte's name and preface were accidentally omitted from
the first edition, and the work was ascribed by its earliest readers
to Kant himself; when Kant corrected the mistake while commending
the essay, Fichte's reputation was made.
In the Versuch, Fichte sought to explain the conditions
under which revealed religionis possible; his exposition turns upon
the absolute requirements of the moral law. Religion itself is the
belief in this moral law as divine, and such belief is a practical
postulate, necessary in order to add force to the law. The revelation
of this divine character of morality is possible only to someone
in whom the lower impulses have been, or are, successful in overcoming
reverence for the law. In such a case it is conceivable that a revelation
might be given in order to add strength to the moral law. Religion
ultimately then rests upon the practical reason and satisfies the
needs of man, insofar as he stands under the moral law. In this
conclusion are evident the prominence assigned by Fichte to the
practical element and the tendency to make the moral requirements
of the ego the ground for all judgment on reality.
In 1793 Fichte married Johanna Maria Rahn, whom he had met during
his stay in Zürich. In the same year, he published anonymously
two remarkable political works, of which Beitrag zur Berichtigung
der Urteile des Publikums über die französische Revolution
was the more important. It was intended to explain the true nature
of the French Revolution, to demonstrate how inextricably the right
of liberty is interwoven with the very existence of man as an intelligent
agent, and to point out the inherent progressiveness of the state
and the consequent necessity of reform or amendment. As in the Versuch,
the rational nature of man and the conditions necessary for its
realization are made the standard for political philosophy.
The philosophy of Fichte falls chronologically
into a period of residence in Jena (1793–1798) and a period
in Berlin (1799–1806), which are also different in their fundamental
philosophic conceptions. The former period is marked by its ethical
emphasis, the latter by the emergence of a mystical and theological
theory of Being. Fichte was prompted to change his original position
because he came to appreciate that religious faith surpasses moral
reason. He was also influenced by the general trend that the development
of thought took toward Romanticism.
In 1793 there was a vacant chair of philosophy at the University
of Jena, and Fichte was called to fill it. To the ensuing period
belongs his most important philosophical work. In this period he
published, among other works: Einige Vorlesungen über die
Bestimmung des Gelehrten (1794), lectures on the importance
of the highest intellectual culture and on the duties that it imposed;
several works on the science of knowledge (Wissenschaftslehre),
which were revised and developed continually throughout his life;
the practical Grundlage des Naturrechts nach Prinzipien der
Wissenschaftslehre (1796); and Das System der Sittenlehre
nach den Prinzipien der Wissenschaftslehre (1798), in which
his moral philosophy, grounded in the notion of duty, is most notably
The system of 1794
was the most original and also the most characteristic work that
Fichte produced. It was incited by Kant's critical philosophy and
especially by his Kritik der praktischen Vernunft (1788; Critique
of Practical Reason . . .). From the outset it was less critical,
precisely because it was more systematic, aiming at a self-sufficient
doctrine in which the science of knowledge and ethics were intimatelyunited.
Fichte's ambition was to demonstrate that practical (moral) reason
is really (as Kant had only intimated) the root of reason in its
entirety, the absolute ground ofall knowledge as well as of humanity
altogether. To prove this, he started from a supreme principle,
the ego, which was supposed to be independent and sovereign, so
that all other knowledge was deduced from it. Fichte did not assert
that this supreme principle was self-evident but rather that it
had to be postulated by pure thought. He followed, thereby, Kant's
doctrine that pure, practical reason postulates the existence of
God, but he tried to transform Kant's rational faith into a speculative
knowledge on which he based both his theory of science and his ethics.
In 1795 Fichte became one of the
editors of the Philosophisches Journal, and in 1798 his
friend F.K. Forberg, a young, unknown philosopher, sent him an essay
on the development of the idea of religion. Before printing this,
Fichte, to prevent misunderstanding, composed a short preface, “On
the Grounds of Our Belief in a Divine Government of the Universe,”
in which God is defined as the moral order of the universe, the
eternal law of right that is the foundation of all man's being.
The cry of atheism was raised, and the electoral government of Saxony,
followed by all of the German states except Prussia, suppressed
the Journal and demanded Fichte's expulsion from Jena. After publishing
two defenses, Fichte threatened to resign in case of reprimand.
Much to his discomfort, his threat was taken as an offer to resign
and was duly accepted.
for the summer of 1805, Fichte resided in Berlin from 1799 to 1806.
Among his friends were the leaders of German Romanticism, A.W. and
F. Schlegel and Friedrich Schleiermacher. His works of this period
include Die Bestimmung des Menschen (1800), in which he
defines God as the infinite moral will of the universe who becomes
conscious of himself in individuals; Der geschlossene Handelsstaat
(1800), an intensely socialistic treatise in favor of tariff protection;
two new versions of the Wissenschaftslehre (composed in
1801 and in 1804; published posthumously), marking a great change
in the character of the doctrine; Die Grundzüge des gegenwärtigen
Zeitalters (1806; lectures delivered 1804–1805), analyzing
the Enlightenment and defining its place in the historical evolution
of the general human consciousness butalso indicating its defects
and looking forward to belief in the divine order of the universe
as the highest aspect of the life of reason; and Die Anweisung
zum seligen Leben, oder auch die Religions lehre (1806). In
this last-named work the union between the finite self-consciousness
and the infinite ego, or God, is handled in a deeply religious fashion
reminiscent of the Saint John's Gospel. The knowledge and love of
God is declared to be the end of life. God is the All; the world
of independent objects is the result of reflection or self-consciousness,
by which the infinite unity is broken up. God is thus over and above
the distinction of subject and object; man's knowledge is but a
reflex or picture of the infinite essence.
The French victories over the Prussians in 1806 drove Fichte from
Berlin to Königsberg (where he lectured for a time), then to
Copenhagen. He returned to Berlinin August 1807. From this time
his published writings were practical in character; not until after
the appearance of the Nachgelassene Werke and of the Sämmtliche
Werke was the shape of his final speculations known. In 1807
he drew up a plan for the proposed new University of Berlin. In
1807–1808 he delivered at Berlin his Reden an die deutsche
Nation, full of practical views on the only true foundation
for national recovery and glory. From 1810 to 1812 he was rector
of the new University of Berlin. During the great effort of Germany
for national independence in1813, he lectured “Über den
Begriff des wahrhaften Krieges”.
At the beginning of 1814, Fichte caught a virulent hospital fever
from his wife, who had volunteered for work as a hospital nurse;
he died shortly thereafter.
1738 Alessandro Marchesini,
Italian painter born in 1664. — more
with link to an image.
1747 Willem van Mieris,
Dutch painter born on 03 June 1662. MORE
ON VAN MIERIS AT ART 4 JANUARY
with links to images.
1669 Gaspar de Crayer,
Flemish artist born on 18 November 1584. MORE
ON DE CRAYER AT ART 4 JANUARY
with links to images.
Saint-Vincent, Belgian Jesuit priest mathematician born on
08 September 1584.
1651 Abraham Bloemaert, influential
Dutch painter born on 25 December 1564. MORE
ON BLOEMAERT AT ART 4 DECEMBER
with links to images.
0672 Pope (657-672) Saint
0847 Sergius II,
Of noble birth, Sergius
was made cardinal by Pope St. Paschal I and became an archpriest
under Pope Gregory IV, whom he was elected to succeed by the Roman
nobility against the wishes of the populace, which, on
25 January 844 enthroned the deacon John as antipope. Although
John momentarily occupied the Lateran Palace in Rome, he was soon
imprisoned in a monastery by Sergius, who was consecrated in January
844 without waiting for the sanction of the Frankish emperor Lothair
I. The emperor accordingly sent his son Louis II [822 – 12
Aug 875], later his successor, with an army to punish the breach
of the Roman Constitution of 824, which had affirmed imperial sovereignty
over the pope.
A peaceful settlement
was arranged, in which Sergius agreed that no one could become pope
without imperial consent, and Louis swore not to attack Rome. On
15 June 844, Sergius crowned Louis as king of the Lombards. He rejected,
however, Roman fealty to Louis as proposed by Bishop Drogo of Metz,
arranging, instead, an oath of allegiance to Lothair. In 844 he
made Drogo his legate to the Frankish kingdoms.
Sergius' pontificate was dominated by his brother, Bishop Benedict
of Albano, to whom, partly because of his severe gout, he delegated
most of the papal business. Benedict proved opportunistic, however,
usurping power and finagling money while executing a large building
program that included the enlargement of the Saint-John Lateran
Basilica. The worst blow to Sergius' reign was the brutal raid on
the Roman walls by the Saracens, who pillaged the basilicas of Saint
Peter and Saint Paul. Sergius was accused of failing to provide
protection. He died while trying to mediate a dispute between the
Italian patriarchs of Aquileia and Grado.
0098 Marius Cocceius
Nerva, born in 30, Emperor of Rome since the assassination of
the tyrannical emperor Domitian [24 Oct 51 – 18 September 96. Nerva
is succeeded by his choice: Trajan [15 Sep 53 – 08 Aug 117]. The
“Five Good Emperors” are Nerva, Trajan, and the immediate
successors Hadrian [24 Jan 76 – 10
Jul 138], Antoninus Pius [19 Sep 86 – 07 Mar 161], and Marcus Aurelius
[26 Apr 121 – 17 Mar 180].