Stanisław Moniuszko

Stanisław Moniuszko was a Polish composer and teacher. He wrote many popular art songs and operas, his music is filled with patriotic folk themes of the peoples of the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, he is referred to as "the father of Polish national opera". Moniuszko was born in Ubiel, Minsk Governorate in 1819 to a szlachta nobility of landowners from the eastern fringe of the Vilna Governorate of the partitioned Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, its eastern subject, Grand Duchy of Lithuania, his mother had Polish-Hungarian-Armenian roots. Moniuszko displayed an early ability in music, began private piano lessons with August Freyer in 1827. In 1837, once his talent and interest justified it, Moniuszko began to formally study composition in Berlin with Carl Friedrich Rungenhagen, the director of the "Sing-Akademie" Music Society, who instructed him in choral conducting. At the same time Moniuszko studied major works of the classical repertoire as well as the process involved in staging music.

While in Berlin, he had an unexpected early success when he set three songs to the words of the Polish national poet, Adam Mickiewicz. Several of his songs composed during this period were published by Bote & Bock and were favorably received by the music critics. After three years in Berlin, he returned to Poland in 1840 to marry Aleksandra Müller, he obtained a post as an organist in Vilnius and worked as a private piano tutor. He had to face financial difficulties as his happy married life was blessed with an ever-growing family; the Moniuszkos had ten children and together with the nurses and servants there came a time when 18 people sat down at their table every day. He contributed to music in the local area, staging performances of large choral works such as Mozart's requiem, excerpts from Haydn's The Creation and Mendelssohn's St. Paul. There were orchestral performances of works by Spontini and Beethoven. During that time he became acquainted with the novelist Józef Ignacy Kraszewski and playwright-satirist Aleksander Fredro, who stimulated his interest in dramatic music.

Around 1840, he began to compose intensively, writing his first operas and several other stage works, as well as sacred music and secular cantatas. At around this time he began work on the collection of songs entitled Śpiewnik domowy, which came to have wide appeal to Polish public; the first volume of this collection was published in 1843 and over the years the collection grew to 12 volumes containing 267 songs with piano accompaniment in total. During his lifetime Moniuszko traveled numerous times to St. Petersburg where his concerts were well received. In St. Petersburg Mikhail Glinka and Alexander Dargomyzhsky showed appreciation of Moniuszko's talent, he knew Mily Balakirev, Modest Mussorgsky and Alexander Serov, his style was appreciated by Hans von Bülow. Serov, the young Russian critic of the time, referred to Moniuszko's compositions as "brilliant works", he was the mentor of César Cui. Most crucial to Moniuszko's career was, his visit to Warsaw in 1848, he met there Jozef Sikorski, the future editor of the most notable Polish music journal "Ruch Muzyczny", Oscar Kolberg a well-known folk song collector, Włodzimierz Wolski, a poet and future librettist of Moniuszko's best known opera Halka.

In 1848 in Vilnius, he staged and conducted the premiere performance of the first, two-act version of his opera Halka. It took ten years before the political climate cooled enough to be able to perform such a nationalist-themed opera again. After the triumph of his new four-act version of Halka during the Warsaw premiere on 1 January 1858, he toured France, thanks to the help of the pianist Maria Kalergis, where he met Auber and Rossini. After a visit to Berlin, he met Smetana in Prague, who prepared the Prague premiere of Halka, Moniuszko visited Weimar, where he met Liszt. Named after its heroine, after being shown in two acts in 1848 in Vilnius, was premiered with great success in 1858 in Warsaw in its final four-act form. On that evening the composer and limping thanked the audience, bowing many times to incessant applause, it was soon staged in Prague, Moscow and St. Petersburg, where it met with great success. On 1 August 1858 he was appointed principal conductor of the Polish Opera in the Grand Theatre in Warsaw.

He wasted no time in staging his opera Flis that year, during his 15-year tenure he conducted solely his own work. In 1862 Moniuszko travelled to Paris again, hoping to have one of his operas staged there, but this didn't happen, his early return from France, was due to a change in the political climate caused by the January Uprising, unfavourable to artistic activity. Moniuszko's composition was affected. In 1864, Moniuszko started lecturing in harmony and composition in the Music Institute in Warsaw, where he directed a choir, his disciples included, among Zygmunt Noskowski and Henryk Jarecki. In 1865, a staging of his Straszny Dwór enjoyed an enthusiastic reception, his new opera proved to be a success comparable to that of Halka. From the success of Halka to other major operatic compositions; the common trait shared by all these works are librettos that—while depicting Polish nobility and gentry


Heterandria is a genus of livebearing fishes within the family Poeciliidae. Most species occur in Guatemala and its surroundings Mexico, but the midget livebearer comes from the southeastern United States. Though many Poecilidae are familiar aquarium fishes, e.g. guppies, mollies and swordtails, species within Heterandria are not kept as fish. Somewhat more found in aquaria is H. formosa because it is one of the smallest known fish species in the world. Species in this genus resemble egg-laying Cyprinodontoidei such as Fundulidae at first glance, are thus sometimes called "killifish" though this is technically erroneous. FishBase recognize 3 species in this genus, but based on genetics, external characters and meristics H. formosa is not related to the remaining, which have been moved to their own genus, Pseudoxiphophorus. There are more remaining undiscovered as these fishes are rather inconspicuous. However, it is not likely that many species remain unknown to science as this genus is only found in a rather restricted region, only one new species has been discovered since 1980.

The three species classified under this genus are: Heterandria attenuata D. E. Rosen & R. M. Bailey, 1979 Heterandria formosa Girard, 1859 Heterandria tuxtlaensis McEachran & T. J. DeWitt, 2008

Franz Xaver von Zach

Baron Franz Xaver von Zach was a Hungarian astronomer born at Pest, Hungary. Zach studied physics at the Royal University of Pest, served for some time in the Austrian army, he taught at the University of Lemberg. He lived in Paris in 1780–83, in London from 1783 to 1786 as tutor in the house of the Saxon ambassador, Hans Moritz von Brühl. In Paris and London he entered the circles of astronomers like Joseph de Lalande, Pierre-Simon Laplace and William Herschel. In 1786 he was appointed by Ernest II, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg director of the new observatory on Seeberg hill at Gotha, finished in 1791. At the close of the 18th century, he organised the "Celestial Police", a group of twenty-four astronomers, to prepare for a systematic search for the "missing planet" predicted by the Titius-Bode law between Mars and Jupiter. Ceres was discovered by accident. Using predictions made of the position of Ceres by Carl Friedrich Gauss, on 31 December 1801/1 January 1802, Zach recovered Ceres after it was lost during its passage behind the Sun.

After the death of the duke in 1804, Zach accompanied the duke's widow on her travels in the south of Europe, the two settled in Genoa in 1815 where he directed an observatory. He moved back to Paris in 1827 and died there in 1832. Zach published Tables of the Sun, numerous papers on geographical subjects on the geographical positions of many towns and places, which he determined on his travels with a sextant, his principal importance was, however, as editor of three scientific journals of great value: Allgemeine Geographische Ephemeriden, Monatliche Correspondenz zur Beförderung der Erd- und Himmels-Kunde, Correspondance astronomique, hydrographique, et statistique. He was elected as a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1794, a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1798, a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1804, an honorary member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in 1832. In 1808, von Zach was in Marseille where he observed and explained the phenomenon of the Canigou mountain in eastern Pyrénées which can be seen twice a year from there, 250 km away, by refraction of light.

Asteroid 999 Zachia and the crater Zach on the Moon are named after him, while asteroid 64 Angelina is named after an astronomical station he set up near Marseille. Brosche, P.: Der Astronom der Herzogin, Acta Historica Astronomiae Vol. 12 Frankfurt am Main: Deutsch, 2nd ed. 2009 ISBN 978-3-944913-06-3 Cunningham, C.: The Collected Correspondence of Baron Franz von Zach. Vol. 1: Letters between Zach and Jan Sniadecki 1800–1803 Surfside, Fla.: Star Lab Press ISBN 0-9708162-4-3 Cunningham, C.: The Collected Correspondence of Baron Franz von Zach. Vol. 2: Letters between Zach and Lajos Schedius. Surfside, Fla.: Star Lab Press ISBN 0-9708162-7-8 Szabados, Laszlo: Zach, Janos Ferenc in Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers, edited by Thomas Hockney, Springer 2007. Vargha, M. 2005: Franz Xaver von Zach: His Life and Times. Konkoly Obs. Monographs No. 5, Budapest. Gosteli, L. Franz Xaver von Zach's letters to Rudolf Abraham von Schiferli 1821–1832", Gesnerus. Supplement, 45, pp. 1–382, PMID 9847463