Beijing romanized as Peking, is the capital of the People's Republic of China, the world's third most populous city proper, most populous capital city. The city, located in northern China, is governed as a municipality under the direct administration of the central government with 16 urban and rural districts. Beijing Municipality is surrounded by Hebei Province with the exception of neighboring Tianjin Municipality to the southeast. Beijing is an important world capital and global power city, one of the world's leading centers for culture and politics, business and economy, education and science and technology. A megacity, Beijing is the second largest Chinese city by urban population after Shanghai and is the nation's cultural and political center, it is home to the headquarters of most of China's largest state-owned companies and houses the largest number of Fortune Global 500 companies in the world, as well as the world's four biggest financial institutions. It is a major hub for the national highway, expressway and high-speed rail networks.
The Beijing Capital International Airport has been the second busiest in the world by passenger traffic since 2010, and, as of 2016, the city's subway network is the busiest and longest in the world. Combining both modern and traditional architecture, Beijing is one of the oldest cities in the world, with a rich history dating back three millennia; as the last of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China, Beijing has been the political center of the country for most of the past eight centuries, was the largest city in the world by population for much of the second millennium AD. Encyclopædia Britannica notes that "few cities in the world have served for so long as the political headquarters and cultural center of an area as immense as China." With mountains surrounding the inland city on three sides, in addition to the old inner and outer city walls, Beijing was strategically poised and developed to be the residence of the emperor and thus was the perfect location for the imperial capital. The city is renowned for its opulent palaces, parks, tombs and gates.
It has seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites—the Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace, Ming Tombs and parts of the Great Wall and the Grand Canal— all tourist locations. Siheyuans, the city's traditional housing style, hutongs, the narrow alleys between siheyuans, are major tourist attractions and are common in urban Beijing. Many of Beijing's 91 universities rank among the best in China, such as the Peking University and Tsinghua University. Beijing CBD is a center for Beijing's economic expansion, with the ongoing or completed construction of multiple skyscrapers. Beijing's Zhongguancun area is known as China's Silicon Valley and is a center of scientific and technological innovation as well as entrepreneurship. Over the past 3,000 years, the city of Beijing has had numerous other names; the name Beijing, which means "Northern Capital", was applied to the city in 1403 during the Ming dynasty to distinguish the city from Nanjing. The English spelling is based on the pinyin romanization of the two characters as they are pronounced in Standard Mandarin.
An older English spelling, Peking, is the postal romanization of the same two characters as they are pronounced in Chinese dialects spoken in the southern port towns first visited by European traders and missionaries. Those dialects preserve the Middle Chinese pronunciation of 京 as kjaeng, prior to a phonetic shift in the northern dialects to the modern pronunciation. Although Peking is no longer the common name for the city, some of the city's older locations and facilities, such as Beijing Capital International Airport, with IATA Code PEK, Peking University, still use the former romanization; the single Chinese character abbreviation for Beijing is 京, which appears on automobile license plates in the city. The official Latin alphabet abbreviation for Beijing is "BJ"; the earliest traces of human habitation in the Beijing municipality were found in the caves of Dragon Bone Hill near the village of Zhoukoudian in Fangshan District, where Peking Man lived. Homo erectus fossils from the caves date to 230,000 to 250,000 years ago.
Paleolithic Homo sapiens lived there more about 27,000 years ago. Archaeologists have found neolithic settlements throughout the municipality, including in Wangfujing, located in downtown Beijing; the first walled city in Beijing was Jicheng, the capital city of the state of Ji and was built in 1045 BC. Within modern Beijing, Jicheng was located around the present Guang'anmen area in the south of Xicheng District; this settlement was conquered by the state of Yan and made its capital. After the First Emperor unified China, Jicheng became a prefectural capital for the region. During the Three Kingdoms period, it was held by Gongsun Zan and Yuan Shao before falling to the Wei Kingdom of Cao Cao; the AD 3rd-century Western Jin demoted the town, placing the prefectural seat in neighboring Zhuozhou. During the Sixteen Kingdoms period when northern China was conquered and divided by the Wu Hu, Jicheng was the capital of the Xianbei Former Yan Kingdom. After China was reunified during the Sui dynasty, Jicheng known as Zhuojun, became the northern terminus of the Grand Canal.
Sylvia Clark Molloy, born Sylvia Clark Leyden, was a British Realist and Impressionist artist and teacher. Leyden was born in 1914 in United Kingdom. A graduate of Durham University, she lived abroad for much of her life. In 1940 she traveled to Maymyo, Burma, she was evacuated from Burma in 1942 after the Japanese Invasion in World War II. After time spent in Simla, Lahore and the United Kingdom, the Molloys settled in South Africa in 1947. In Johannesburg, Molloy ran an art school, she disregarded the country's apartheid laws by teaching black students at her studio. During the 1940s Molloy's reputation as a portrait painter grew; the Molloys returned to England in the mid-1960s. Her many paintings and sketches of the peoples of South Africa and Burma in particular, capture a broad cross section of society; some can be viewed at the British Library. In life she taught at Stratton School, before becoming Head of Art at St Francis College, Letchworth Garden City, her work has been exhibited at the Paris Salon.
Victor Nicholas Alessandro was an American orchestral conductor. In 1938, at age 22, he became conductor of the Oklahoma City Symphony Orchestra, an organization that he led from a WPA project to an accomplished ensemble with broad civic support; when Max Reiter, conductor of the San Antonio Symphony Orchestra, died in December 1950, Alessandro took over much of the remaining season. The next year he assumed leadership of the San Antonio Symphony Society's Grand Opera Festival. Alessandro was at his best in works by Tchaikovsky and Richard Strauss, he was a sympathetic interpreter of Johannes Brahms and the odd-numbered symphonies of Ludwig van Beethoven. He introduced works by Anton Bruckner, Gustav Mahler, Alban Berg to San Antonio audiences before they became fashionable elsewhere, he conducted memorable performances of Elektra, Nabucco, Boris Godunov, Die Meistersinger, the standard operas of Giuseppe Verdi and Giacomo Puccini. In building the San Antonio orchestra he was an exacting irascible taskmaster of high musical standards.
But he was capable of less formidable moments as well. He was born in Waco, Texas, on November 27, 1915, his father, Victor Alessandro was a prominent music teacher in public schools. The Alessandros moved to Houston in 1919. Victor was studied French horn with his father, he made his conducting debut at age four, when he led a children's band in a performance of Victor Herbert's March of the Toys. In 1932, he entered the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, where he studied composition with Howard Hanson, he studied at the Salzburg Mozarteum and the St. Cecilia Academy in Rome, where he studied with Ildebrando Pizzetti. Alessandro received three honorary doctorates: Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester, 1948 Southwestern University, Texas, May 1975 Doctor of Humanities, Southern Methodist University, May 1956In 1956, he received the Alice M. Ditson Award for service to American music. Recordings of his work include Claude Debussy's Martyrdom of St. Sebastian, light accompaniments, Antonio Vivaldi and Rodrigo guitar concertos and works by Richard Strauss and John Corigliano.
In 1956, he married flutist Ruth Drisko. They had Victor Tabbut Alessandro and Ruth Ann Alessandro. With his health declining, Alessandro retired in 1976, he died in San Antonio on his sixty-first birthday. The Conductor General references Theodore Albrecht, "101 Years of Symphonic Music in San Antonio," Southwestern Musician/Texas Music Educator, November 1975 Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, 1978 Hope Stoddard, Symphony Conductors of the U. S. A.. Theodore Albrecht Edited by Victor T. Alessandro 2012 The New Encyclopedia of the Opera. By David Ewen. New York: Hill & Wang, 1971 Who's Who in Opera. An international biographical directory of singers, directors and administrators. Including profiles of 101 opera companies. Edited by Maria F. Rich. New York: Arno Press, 1976 Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians. Sixth edition. Revised by Nicolas Slonimsky. London: Collier Macmillan Publishers Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians. Seventh edition. Revised by Nicolas Slonimsky. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co.
Schirmer Books, 1984 Biography Index. A cumulative index to biographical material in books and magazines. Volume 4: September, 1955-August, 1958. New York: H. W. Wilson Co. 1960 Biography Index. A cumulative index to biographical material in books and magazines. Volume 8: September, 1967-August, 1970. New York: H. W. Wilson Co. 1971 Biography Index. A cumulative index to biographical material in books and magazines. Volume 11: September, 1976-August, 1979. New York: H. W. Wilson Co. 1980 The New Grove Dictionary of American Music. Four volumes. Edited by H. Wiley Hitchcock & Stanley Sadie. London: Macmillan Press, 1986 The New York Times Biographical Service. A compilation of current biographical information of general interest. Volume 7, Numbers 1- 12. New York: Arno Press, 1976 The Blue Book. Leaders of the English-speaking world. 1976 edition. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1976 Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians. Eighth edition. Revised by Nicolas Slonimsky. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co. 1992 Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians.
Ninth edition. Edited by Laura Kuhn. New York: Schirmer Books, 2001 Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Twentieth-Century Classical Musicians. By Nicolas Slonimsky. New York: Schirmer Books, 1997 International Who's Who in Music and Musicians' Directory. Ninth edition. Edited by Adrian Gaster. Cambridge, England: International Who's Who in Music, 1980. Earlier editions published as Who's Who in Music and Musicians' International Directory Who Was Who in America. Volume 7, 1977-1981. Chicago: Marquis Who's Who, 1981 The International Who's Who. 38th edition. London: Europa Publications, 1974 The International Who's Who. 39th edition. London: Europa Publications, 1975 The International Who's Who. 40th edition. London: Europa Publications, 1976 International Who's Who in Music and Musicians' Directory. Eighth edition. Cambridge, England: International Who's Who in Music, 1977. Earlier editions published as Who's Who in Musicians' International Directory. Who's Who in America. 38th edition, 1974-1975. Wilmette, IL: Marquis Who's Who, 19