Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Eiffel: Tower

Gustave Eiffel was born on December 15, 1832, in Dijon, France. He died on December 27, 1923, at the age of 91.

As a child Eiffel was smart but lazy. Slowly his habits of study improved. His family had a lot of money. In the end, he was able to go to a famous, important, but hard university in Paris called Central School (École Centrale des Arts et Manufactures). He graduated with a master’s degree in science in 1855. He then went to work leading others in building railway bridges.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Camus: The Plague

Albert Camus was born on November 7, 1913 in Mondovi, French Algeria (now Dréan, Algeria). His father died ten months later in one of the early battles of World War I. Camus and his mother then moved to a poor area of Algiers. He developed tuberculosis when he was 17.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Tchaikovsky: Swan Lake (1876)

Peter Tchaikovsky remains Russia’s greatest composer. He was born on May 7, 1840 and died on November 6, 1893 at the age of 53.

Music written by Tchaikovsky was first played at a public concert in September 1865. Ten years later he started to write music for a ballet called Swan Lake.

Friday, February 24, 2012

David: Bernini (1624)

Gian Lorenzo Bernini was born in Naples on December 7, 1598. He died in Rome on November 28, 1680. He finished his first important sculpture in 1615 at the very young age of 16.

Bernini started his sculpture of David in 1623. He finished it a year later. One hundred twenty years earlier, Michelangelo had finished his sculpture of David.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

David: Caravaggio (1599, 1607, 1610)

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio was born on September 29, 1571 in Milan. The first painting we have of his was completed in 1592. The last was painted in 1610. He died, in Tuscany on his way back to Rome, on July 18, 1610 at the age of 38.

He painted David and Goliath three times. The first time was in 1599. We may see this painting now in the Prado Museum in Madrid, Spain.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

David: Michelangelo (1504)

Over 3,000 years ago, a small teenager named David won a fight against a big man named Goliath. Ever since then, David’s victory has been celebrated in stories, paintings, and sculptures.

Michelangelo (1475-1564) was one person who celebrated David’s victory in sculpture. He worked on a statue of David between 1501 and 1504. He made a statue of David, but it is 17 feet (over 5 meters) tall: 8 feet taller than the original Goliath.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17)

The story of David and Goliath is found in the Bible, in a book called 1 Samuel, in chapter 17 of that book.

Over 3,000 years ago, the people of Israel and the people of Philistia were fighting each other. At one time, the army of Israel camped on one side of a valley and the army of Philistia camped on the other.

The Philistine army had a great hero named Goliath. He was a huge man: 9 feet (3 m) tall. Each day Goliath would walk into the valley. Then he would tell the Israelites to send out their great hero to fight him. If their great hero won the fight, then the Philistines would serve the Israelites. But if he, Goliath, won the fight, then the Israelites would serve the Philistines.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Erik Satie: “Gymnopedie No. 1” (1888)

Eric Satie was born in Honfleur, France. Honfleur is a small port where the Seine River meets the sea.

Satie was born on May 17, 1866. His father Alfred was French and his mother Jane was British. He had a younger brother named Conrad. Satie died on July 1, 1925 at the age of 59.

When Satie was four, he and his family moved to Paris. His father worked there as a translator. When his mother died in 1872, his father sent Satie and his younger brother back to Honfleur to live with their grandmother. Satie learned how to play the organ. When their grandmother died in 1878, he and his brother went back to Paris to live with their father.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Michelangelo: Pieta (1499)

Michelangelo was born on March 6, 1475 in the village of Caprese, about 60 miles (100 km) east of Florence. He was almost 89 years old when he died on February 18, 1564, in Rome. He was buried in the church of Santa Croce in Florence.

Michelangelo first moved to Rome in June 1496 at the age of 21. Two years later he was hired to sculpt the Pietá. He finished the work a year later. It is made of marble from Carrara, Italy, and measures 68.5 x 76.8 inches (174 x 195 cm).

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Icarus: Bruegel, Auden, Devenish

Landscape with the Fall of Icarus (Pieter Bruegel, 1558)

Long ago and far away, Greek parents told their children the story of Daedalus and Icarus. Daedalus told his son Icarus the truth: stay away from the sun. Then, with his son, Daedalus flew to freedom. But only Daedalus got there. His son did not stay away from the sun and died on the way. Daedalus got there, but he never wanted to be there with no son.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Bruegel: Auden's Thoughts (1939)

Landscape with the Fall of Icarus (Pieter Bruegel, 1558)

Pieter Bruegel painted Landscape with the Fall of Icarus in 1558 while living in Antwerp. It is a small painting, only 29 x 44 inches (74 x 112 cm). We may see it in the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium in Brussels.

W. H. Auden was a poet. He was born in York, England, in 1907; graduated from Oxford University in 1928; moved to the United States in 1939; and died there in 1973. Just before Auden left Europe for America, he went to Brussels and saw Landscape with the Fall of Icarus by Bruegel. In response, he wrote the poem, “Museé des Beaux Arts.”

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Bruegel: Icarus

Landscape with the Fall of Icarus (Pieter Bruegel, 1558)

Pieter Bruegel (c. 1525-1569) painted Landscape with the Fall of Icarus in 1558 while living in Antwerp. It is a small painting, only 29 x 44 inches (74 x 112 cm). We may see it in the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium in Brussels.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Daedalus and Icarus

Long ago, Greeks told the story of Daedalus and Icarus to their children. Daedalus was a very clever man from Athens. King Minos of Crete had him do some very clever work.

But then King Minos feared that Daedalus would tell other people about his very clever work. So King Minos told Daedalus that he could not go home to Athens. He had to stay on the island of Crete.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Pieter Bruegel (1525-1569)

The exact year and place of Pieter Bruegel’s birth are not known. He was born around the year 1525. He may have been born in the town of Bruegel near Dordrecht (in today's Netherlands).

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Da Vinci: Mona Lisa

Leonardo da Vinci was born on April 15, 1452, in the village of Vinci near FlorenceHe died on May 2, 1519, at the age of 67, in Amboise, France.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Sergei Rachmaninoff: Early Life (1873-92)

Sergei Rachmaninoff was born on March 20, 1873. His mother, Lubov, was a rich aristocrat; his father, Vasily, was an army officer. The family lived in Semyonovo, Russia, near Novgorod. Novgorod was an old and culturally important city.