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The Book of the Courtier

The Book of the Courtier by Baldassare Castiglione, is a lengthy philosophical dialogue on the topic of what constitutes an ideal courtier or court lady, worthy to befriend and advise a Prince or political leader. The book became enormously popular and was assimilated by its readers into the genre of prescriptive courtesy books or books of manners, dealing with issues of etiquette, self-presentation, morals at princely, or royal courts, books such as Giovanni Della Casa's Galateo and Stefano Guazzo's The civil conversation; the Book of the Courtier was much more than that, having the character of a drama, an open-ended philosophical discussion, an essay. It has been seen as a poignantly nostalgic evocation of an idealized milieu — that of the small courts of the High Renaissance which were vanishing in the Italian Wars, it was composed over the course of twenty years, beginning in 1508, published in 1528 by the Aldine Press in Venice just before the author's death. An influential English translation by Thomas Hoby was published in 1561.

The book is organized as a series of conversations that were supposed to have taken place over four nights in 1507 between the courtiers of the Duchy of Urbino, at a time when Castiglione was himself a member of the Duke's Court), although he is not portrayed as one of the interlocutors. In the book, the courtier is described as having a cool mind, a good voice along with proper bearing and gestures. At the same time though, the courtier is expected to have a warrior spirit, to be athletic, have good knowledge of the humanities and fine arts. Over the course of four evenings, members of the court try to describe the perfect gentleman of the court. In the process they debate the nature of nobility, humor and love; the Book of the Courtier was one of the most distributed books of the 16th century, with editions printed in six languages and in twenty European centers. The 1561 English translation by Thomas Hoby had a great influence on the English upper class's conception of English gentlemen; the Courtier enjoyed influence for some generations, not least in Elizabethan England following its first translation by Sir Thomas Hoby in 1561, a time when Italian culture was much in fashion.

Of the many qualities Castiglione's characters attribute to their perfect courtier and the manner in which the courtier presents himself while speaking is amongst the most discussed. Wayne Rebhorn, a Castiglione scholar, states that the courtier's speech and behavior in general is “designed to make people marvel at him, to transform himself into a beautiful spectacle for others to contemplate." As explained by Count Ludovico, the success of the courtier depends on his reception by the audience from the first impression. This explains why the group considers the courtier's dress so vital to his success. Castiglione's characters opine about how their courtier can impress his audience and win its approval. Similar to the Classical Roman rhetoricians Cicero and Quintilian, Castiglione stresses the importance of delivery while speaking. In Book I, the Count states that when the courtier speaks he must have a “sonorous, clear and well sounding” voice, neither too effeminate nor too rough and be “tempered by a calm face and with a play of the eyes that shall give an effect of grace.”

This grace, or grazia, becomes an important element in the courtier's appearance to the audience. Edoardo Saccone states in his analysis of Castiglione, “grazia consists of, or rather is obtained through, sprezzatura.”According to the Count, sprezzatura is amongst one of the most important, if not the most important, rhetorical device the courtier needs. Peter Burke describes sprezzatura in The Book of the Courtier as “nonchalance”, “careful negligence”, “effortless and ease.” The ideal courtier is someone who “conceals art, presents what is done and said as if it was done without effort and without thought.”. The Count advocates the courtier engage in sprezzatura, or this “certain nonchalance”, in all the activities he participates in speech. In Book I, he states, "Accordingly we may affirm that to be true art which does not appear to be art; the Count reasons that by obscuring his knowledge of letters, the courtier gives the appearance that his “orations were composed simply” as if they sprang up from “nature and truth than from study and art.”.

This much more natural appearance though it is not natural by any means, is more advantageous to the courtier. The Count contends that if the courtier wants to attain grazia and be esteemed excellent, it would be in his best interest to have this appearance of nonchalance. By failing to employ sprezzatura, he destroys his opportunity for grace. By applying sprezzatura to his speech and everything else he does, the courtier appears to have grazia and impresses his audience, thereby achieving excellence and perfection.. Another feature of rhetoric which Castiglione discusses is the role of written style. Castiglione declined to write in Tuscan Italian, as was customary at the time.

Mirel Wagner

Mirel Wagner, is a Finnish singer-songwriter. She was raised in Espoo, Finland. Wagner has been writing songs since the age of 16, her self-titled debut album was released in February 2011 by the Finnish indie label Kioski. It was released in United Kingdom and Europe by Bone Voyage Recordings and in North America by Friendly Fire Recordings. In August 2012 Time Magazine listed Wagner as one of the ″11 Great Bands You Don’t Know ″. Although her debut album was not a big success, it caused a lot of attention and in February 2014 Wagner was signed by the American record label Sub Pop. Wagner's second album When the Cellar Children See the Light of Day was released in August 2014; the album peaked number one at the Finnish Album Chart. It was a nominee for the 2014 Nordic Music Prize, an annual award for the Best Nordic Album Of The Year, she won the prize. On 21 April 2015, Wagner performed on the music television show Later... with Jools Holland. She did the trailer song for Gore Verbinski's 2017 film A Cure for Wellness, a cover of The Ramones song "I Wanna Be Sedated".

AlbumsMirel Wagner When the Cellar Children See the Light of Day Singles"No Death" "Lean" "Oak Tree"

The Blackbirds (Norwegian band)

The Blackbirds is a Norwegian rock band from Oslo. The band was formed in 1996, but it was not until 2001, when five became four, that they developed their own style. Two guitars, bass guitar and drums was the recipe for The Blackbirds elegant sound; the four had known each other for many years and this can be heard when they are playing. The Blackbirds is a good live band with experience from hundreds of live shows throughout the country. In 2002, The Blackbirds song "Naked" was used as the main theme music for the TV show Trigger on NRK. On the final show, 10 May 2002, The Blackbirds played, but only seven days after this important appearance for the band, Thor Lønning suffered from pneumothorax. This set the band for a whole year; when the band was back on track again, they played a lot of gigs in Norway before they met Martin Abrahamsen and Stein Bull Hansen and recorded the single "Easy" in Fagerborg Studio, [Oslo. "Easy" was played on over 30 local radios in Norway and stayed for 11 weeks on the playlist of Norway's biggest radio channel NRK P1.

In 2005, The Blackbirds started recording their album Riddles & affairs in Grand Sport Studio. Lars Håvard Haugen from the Norwegian bandHellbillies produced the album and Nikolai Eilertsen from BigBang and The National Bank was the engineer. Kai Andersen at Athletic Sound in Halden did the mixing and Björn Engelmann at Cutting Room Studios in Stockholm, did the mastering; when the album was finished, The Blackbirds signed with Voices Music & Entertainment AS. They got a new manager, Jon Christian Foss from Boheme Entertainment. Riddles & Affairs "Naked" "Easy" "Lovesong" "Getting Close to You" The Big Indie Comeback Vol 2 Norwegian Wood Music For China vol 7

Shah Jahan

Shahab-ud-din Muhammad Khurram, better known by his regnal name Shah Jahan, was the fifth Mughal emperor, who reigned from 1628 to 1658. His reign represented the height of the Mughal architecture, most notably the Taj Mahal, his relationship with his wife Mumtaz Mahal has been adapted into Indian art and cinema. Shah Jahan was considered the most competent of Emperor Jahangir's four sons and after Jahangir's death in late 1627, when a war of succession ensued, Shah Jahan emerged victorious, he put to death all of his rivals for the throne and crowned himself emperor in January 1628 in Agra under the regnal title "Shah Jahan". Although an able military commander, Shah Jahan is best remembered for his architectural achievements; the period of his reign is considered the golden age of Mughal architecture. Shah Jahan commissioned many monuments, the best known of, the Taj Mahal in Agra, which entombs his wife Mumtaz Mahal. In September 1657, Shah Jahan fell ill; this set off a war of succession among his four sons in which his third son, emerged victorious.

Shah Jahan recovered from his illness, but Aurangzeb put his father under house arrest in Agra Fort from July 1658 until his death in January 1666. On 31 July 1658, Aurangzeb crowned himself emperor under the title "Alamgir"; the Mughal Empire reached the pinnacle of its glory during Shah Jahan's reign and he is considered to be one of the greatest Mughal emperors. Shahab-ud-din Muhammad Khurram was born on 5 January 1592 in Lahore, in modern-day Pakistan, was the third son of Prince Salim, his mother was a Rajput princess from Marwar called Princess Jagat Gosaini. The name "Khurram" was chosen for the young prince by his grandfather, Emperor Akbar, with whom the young prince shared a close relationship. Just prior to Khurram's birth, a soothsayer had predicted to the childless Empress Ruqaiya Sultan Begum, Akbar's first wife and chief consort, that the still unborn child was destined for imperial greatness. So, when Khurram was born in 1592 and was only six days old, Akbar ordered that the prince be taken away from his mother and handed over to Ruqaiya so that he could grow up under her care, Akbar could fulfill his wife's wish to raise a Mughal emperor.

Ruqaiya assumed the primary responsibility for Khurram's upbringing and he grew up under her care. The two shared a close relationship with each other. Jahangir noted in his memoirs that Ruqaiya had loved his son, Khurram, "a thousand times more than if he had been her own."Khurram remained with her until he turned 14. After Akbar's death in 1605, the young prince was allowed to return to his father's household, thus, be closer to his biological mother; as a child, Khurram received a broad education befitting his status as a Mughal prince, which included martial training and exposure to a wide variety of cultural arts, such as poetry and Hindustani classical music, most of, inculcated, according to court chroniclers, by Akbar and Ruqaiya. In 1605, as Akbar lay on his deathbed, who at this point was 13, remained by his bedside and refused to move after his mother tried to retrieve him. Given the politically uncertain times preceding Akbar's death, Khurram was in a fair amount of physical danger from political opponents of his father, His conduct at this time can be understood as a precursor to the bravery that he would be known for.

In 1605, his father succeeded to the throne, after crushing a rebellion by Prince Khusrau – Khurram remained distant from court politics and intrigues in the immediate aftermath of that event, a conscious decision on Jahangir's part. As the third son, Khurram did not challenge the two major power blocs of the time, his father's and his step-brother's; this quiet and stable period of his life allowed Khurram to build his own support base in the Mughal court, which would be useful on in his life. Due to the long period of tensions between his father and step-brother, Khurram began to drift closer to his father and over time started to be considered the de facto heir-apparent by court chroniclers; this status was given official sanction when Jahangir granted the sarkar of Hissar-Feroza, which had traditionally been the fief of the heir-apparent, to Khurram in 1608. Nur Jahan was an beautiful lady with an excellent educational background, she was an active participant in the decisions made by Jahangir.

And she became the actual power behind the throne, as Jahangir became more indulgent in wine and opium. Coins began to be struck containing her name along with Jahangir's name, her near and dear relatives acquired important positions in the Mughal court, termed as the Nur Jahan junta by historians. After the death of Jahangir in 1627, Nur Jahan was led a quiet life. In 1607, Khurram became engaged to Arjumand Banu Begum, known as Mumtaz Mahal, they met in their youth. They were about 14 and 15 when they were engaged, five years they got married; the young girl belonged to an illustrious Persian noble family, serving Mughal Emperors since the reign of Akbar. The family's patriarch was Mirza Ghiyas Beg, known by his title I'timād-ud-Daulah or "Pillar of the State", he had been Jahangir's finance minister and his son, Asaf Khan – Arjumand Banu's

Martin Riseley

Martin Riseley is a violinist and Head of Strings at the New Zealand School of Music. He was concertmaster of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. Riseley began violin studies at age 6, gave his first solo concert at age 10, he studied with Carl Pini, Dorothy DeLay, Felix Galimir. He graduated from the Juilliard School in 1996 with a Doctorate of Musical Arts. In August 1994, Riseley was appointed concertmaster of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, a position he held until August 2010, he has performed the North American premieres of the violin concerto The Bulls of Bashan by Gavin Bryars, the Violin Concerto by Allan Gilliland. He performed as soloist with the ESO, in a variety of major concerti, he served as Interim Associate Concertmaster of the National Arts Centre Orchestra, was guest concertmaster of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra in 2003. He has two daughters and Izzie, they both played violin for many years. Martin Riseley's biography on the New Zealand School of Music's website

Island of Stroma

The Island of Stroma or Stroma, is an island off the northern coast of the mainland of Scotland. It is the most southerly of the islands in the Pentland Firth between the Orkney islands and Caithness, the northeasternmost part of the mainland. Stroma is part of the county of Caithness; the name is from the Old Norse Straumr-øy meaning "island in the stream". Ancient stone structures testify to the presence of Stroma's earliest residents, while a Norse presence around 900–1,000 years ago is recorded in the Orkneyinga Saga, it has been politically united with Caithness since at least the 15th century. Although Stroma lies only a few miles off the Scottish coast, the savage weather and ferociously strong tides of the Pentland Firth meant that the island's inhabitants were isolated, causing them to be self-sufficient, trading agricultural produce and fish with the mainlanders. Most of the islanders were crofters; the tides and currents meant that shipwrecks were frequent—the most recent occurring in 1993—and salvage provided an additional though illegal supplement to the islanders' incomes.

A lighthouse still operates under automation. Stroma is now abandoned, with the houses of its former inhabitants falling into ruin, its population fell through the first half of the 20th century as inhabitants drifted away to seek opportunities elsewhere, as economic problems and Stroma's isolation made life on the island unsupportable. From an all-time peak of 375 people in 1901, the population fell to just 12 by 1961 and the last islanders left at the end of the following year. Stroma's final abandonment came in 1997 when their families departed; the island is now owned by one of its former inhabitants. Stroma is located in the Pentland Firth about 2 miles northwest of John o' Groats on the mainland; the island divides the firth into two channels, the Inner Sound to the south and the Outer Sound to the north. It is low-lying and flat, covering an area of around 375 hectares and rising to a height of 53 m at Cairn Hill in the southeast, it is oriented in a north-south direction, measuring about 2 mi long by 1 mi wide.

The island is ringed by cliffs that vary in height from around 33 m on the west coast to low cliffs with a narrow rocky foreshore elsewhere. The eastern side of the island slopes downward in an easterly or southeasterly direction, with the angle of the slope increasing from around 3 degrees in the centre of the island to about 30 degrees on the east coast; the bedrock of the island consists of flat layers of weathered Middle Old Red Sandstone, known as Rousay flags. A six-foot band of the fine-grained stone used to be quarried on a small scale for use on the mainland as roofing material, it is similar in composition to the Mey Beds on the mainland, though in some places on Stroma it is replaced by beds of angular and rounded masses of sandstone in a nodular matrix, similar to the Ackergill Beds in Caithness. Only fragmentary fossil remains have been found. Stroma is bisected by a fault which runs in a north-south direction through its centre, intersected by another fault running in an east-northeast direction across the north of the island.

The soil on either side of the fault line is different. The indented coastline has a circumference of about 7 mi, punctuated by numerous geos or inlets created by the waves eroding the sea cliffs along fault lines. A collapsed sea cave called The Gloup is located in the northwest of the island; this feature is a deep rocky pit, filled with sea water. It is located at the junction of the two fault lines and is connected to the sea by a subterranean passage 165 yd long, created by erosion along the east-northeast fault; the passage is said to have been used for smuggling. The flora and fauna of Stroma are similar to those of the mainland; the island is treeless. Seals are sometimes found inland during the breeding season. Both grey seals and harbour seals are present, with around 650 grey seal pups being born each year. Otters may be present, as in other parts of mainland Caithness; the western cliffs are the site of colonies of terns, guillemots and eider ducks. The cliffs are designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest within the North Caithness Cliffs Special Protection Area.

The waters off Stroma support a number of cetacean species including minke whale, white-beaked dolphin and harbour porpoise. Two settlements existed on Stroma: Nethertown, in the north of the island, Uppertown or Overtown, in the south, they belonged to the Freswick estate, which owned Nethertown, the Mey estate, which owned Uppertown. Between the two was Mains of Stroma, the island's principal farm. A track runs the entire length of the island, connecting the lighthouse at the north tip with the two settlements and the harbour on the south coast; the island is now uninhabited.