The Diary of One Who Disappeared is the title of a song cycle written by the Czech composer Leoš Janáček. One of the purposes of this site is to act as a diary where I can keep a record of some of the things that I have spent my time doing, as well as memories that I want to preserve. The tabs above also contain some essays that I have written on subjects that interest me.
Although I am English I have disappeared from my native land and for the past two decades I have split my life between the south-west of France and the north-east of Italy. This has given me the opportunity to pursue a range of activities and interests, including completing a PhD in social history, teaching art history and English in Italy, going to art exhibitions throughout Europe, attending concerts and operas by favourite composers such as Janáček, Mahler, Shostakovich and others and travelling and exploring as much as possible.
At the exhibition ‘Leonardo da Vinci – A Life in Drawing’ in the Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace. The exhibition is a survey of the drawings of Leonardo from throughout his career, from Florence to Milan and on to Rome, and then north again via Tuscany and Lombardy, eventually ending up in France, where he spent the final years of his life in the service of Francis I at the Château de Chambord.
The drawings range from preparatory studies for paintings to anatomical sketches and architectural designs. The exhibition contains over 200 drawings, which were bought by Charles II for the Royal Collection in the seventeenth century.
Leonardo da Vinci ‘A Man tricked by Gypsies’ (c.1493)
Leonardo da Vinci ‘The Head of Leda’ (c.1505 – 08)
Leonardo da Vinci ‘A Star-of-Bethlehem and other Plants’ (c.1506 – 12)
Leonardo da Vinci ‘The Fetus in the Womb’ (c.1511)
Back at the Royal Albert Hall for another Proms concert. Six Bach organ works played by Michael Schönheit made up the first half. The second half was a superb performance of Bruckner’s 8th symphony played by the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig led by the wonderful Andris Nelsons.
Bach: ‘Fantasia in G minor’, BWV 542; ‘Cantata no. 147’, BWV 147; ‘Jesus bleibet meine Freude’; ‘Prelude in E flat major’, BWV 552; ‘Chorale Prelude Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme’, BWV 645; ‘Fugue in E Flat major’ BWV 552; Bruckner: ‘Symphony no. 8 in C minor’.
At the Royal Albert Hall, London, for an excellent Proms concert. Two world premieres were performed in the first half: ‘We Are One Fire’, a choral work by Jonathan Dove, and Swiss composer Dieter Ammann’s ‘Piano Concerto’, with soloist Andreas Haefliger.
The second half saw an extremely enjoyable Symphony no. 9 by Beethoven, with the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sakari Orama.
Dove: ‘We Are One Fire’; Ammann: ‘Piano Concerto’; Beethoven: ‘Symphony no.9 in D minor
At Tate Modern in London for the exhibition ‘Natalia Goncharova’. Goncharova (1881 – 1962) was the most high-profile female artist of the Russian avant-garde. Together with her lifelong partner, Mikhail Larionov, she was at the forefront of artistic developments in Russia in the early years of the twentieth century. Her reputation in the west grew after 1915 when she moved with Larionov to Paris to work with Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, designing both set and costume design.
Natalia Goncharova ‘Self-Portrait with Yellow Lilies’ (1907 – 08)
Natalia Goncharova ‘Peasants Picking Apples’ (1911)
Natalia Goncharova ‘The Four Evangelists’ (1911)
Natalia Goncharova ‘Cyclist’ (1913)
Natalia Goncharova Theatre costume for the Prince in ‘Sadko’ (1916)
Natalia Goncharova Costume design for Peasant Woman in ‘Le Coq d’Or’ (1937)
At Kenwood House, Hampstead, London to see its impressive collection of paintings, including the amazing ‘Self-Portrait’ by Rembrandt and Vermeer’s ‘The Guitar Player’.
Frans Hals ‘Pieter van den Broecke’ (c.1633)
Rembrandt ‘Self-Portrait’ (1665 – 69)
Johannes Vermeer ‘The Guitar Player’ (1670 – 72)
JMW Turner ‘Coastal Scene with Fishermen’ (c.1803 – 04)
In Montcabrier in the Lot for the annual visit to the Festival du 8 de Montcabrier. A very eclectic selection of works, with a first half of pieces connected by the theme of travel, with Felicien David’s ‘Marche de la Caravane’ from his ode-symphony ‘Le Desért’, Henri Duparc’s setting of Charles Baudelaire’s poem ‘L’Invitation au voyage’, and Camille Saint-Saëns’ ‘Tournoiements’ from ‘Mélodies persanes’. They were followed by Felix Mendelssohn’s overture ‘The Hebrides’ and four pieces by Hector Berlioz: ‘Villanelle’ and ‘L’île inconnue’ from ‘Les nuits d’été’, extracts from ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and ‘Le Bal’ from ‘Symphonie fantastique’.
David: ‘Marche de la Caravane’; Duparc: ‘L’Invitation au voyage’; Saint-Saëns: ‘Tournoiements’ from ‘Mélodies persanes’; Mendelssohn: overture ‘The Hebrides’; Berlioz: ‘Villanelle’, ‘L’île inconnue’, extracts from ‘Romeo and Juliet’, ‘Le Bal’ from ‘Symphonie fantastique’.
An extremely enjoyable concert in Saint-Chamassy in the Dordogne, part of the XXXI Festival Musique en Périgord. Quatuor Akitania played a very varied programme, including Bach and Mozart, Shostakovich String Quartet no. 8 and works by two new, to me, composers from Azerbaijan: Khayyam Mirzazadeh and Moussa Mirzoyev.
J.S. Bach: 2 Fugues, BWV 1080, counterpoints 1 & 5; Mozart: Divertimento in D, KV 136; Mirzazadeh: 8 miniatures; Mirzoyev: String Quartet no. 1; Shostakovich: String Quartet no. 8