Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, death Anniversary

5 December 1791 one of the greatest composers of history of music passed away….. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, at age 35.
The world lost one of the greatest geniuses in history of music.
Along with Ludwig van Beethoven, Mozart is the most famous and most respected composer in all fields of music.
(with the exception that Beethoven composed only one Opera…. “Fidelio”)
Operas, symphonies, Piano Sonatas, Violin Concertos, String quartets, String Quintets, Sacred music, Piano Concertos, Horn Concertos, Woodwind concertos and more.
All of Mozart’s music is a huge, huge treasure for humanity.
I love all Mozart’s music but what made me love and admire Mozart was his extraordinary Operas.
If someone asks me what I would take to a desert Island, besides of his beautiful piano Sonatas, Woodwind concertos, String quartets and Violin Concertos, it would be definitely the Mozart/da Ponte Operas…. the opera of operas… “Don Giovanni” (which in my opinion is the greatest masterpiece of History of Opera) “Le Nozze di Figaro” and “Cosi fan Tutte” which are always a joy to my heart to listen.
His two final Operas, Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) and “La Clemenza di Tito” are also my personal favorites.
The world is a better and more beautiful place, because we all are very lucky and fortunate to listen to all Mozart’s beautiful music.
Yes, on December 5 of 1791, the world lost Mozart but his spirit still lives with all of us, in 2016, through his inmortal, beautiful music which makes our lives richer and more beautiful.
Thank you Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart, for your huge treasure that you gave to humanity

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Ernesto de la Peña, Birthday Anniversary Tribute

e quel savio gentil, che tutto seppe – Inferno, Canto VII
(The Divine Comedy)

This November 21 would have been the Birthday Anniversary of Mexico’s greatest Erudite Ernesto de la Peña. I have written so much about Ernesto de la Peña (I hope that everyone here doesn’t get tired of it but I just love to remember him with love and respect and I always love to talk about him)
The world today need more people like him, with a huge passion for learning everything every day, he was the wisest and most erudite man of Mexico. He knew 33 languages, when people interviewed him and asked him what was the thing that he most loved… Ernesto de la Peña always answered… everything! Opera, classical music, literature, philosophy, languages, religions and food and wine! Destiny wanted Ernesto to be an erudite, he was raised in his Uncle’s library and at age six he larned the Greek Alphabet! And the curiosity for literature grew in young Ernesto in which Dumas’ “The Count of Monte Cristo” was his favorite novel when he was a child. Ernesto de la Peña decided to learn languages because he wanted to read the original books in its original language. Greek for Homer, Latin for Virgil, Italian for Dante, German for Goethe, French for Rabelais, English for Shakespeare, Russian for Tolstoy… etc.
Ernesto de la Peña had his radio program, (in which I always loved to listen), in which he talked about the history of culture, history of art, philosophy, Opera (of course) languages, religion, etc. It was so fascinating to listen to him to talk about Hypatia from Alexandria, Plato, Dante, Gilgamesh, Goethe, Tolstoy, Cervantes, Homer, the Greek Tragedies, Wagner, Mozart, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Elizabeth Barret Browning, Marcel Proust, the great german poets, from Friedrich Hölderlin, Heinrich Wilhelm von Kleist and Johann Georg Hamann to Rainer Maria Rilke.
Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Russian, Arabic, Sanskrit, Chinese, French, German, English, Portuguese, those were some of the many languages (33 in total!!!) that Ernesto de la Peña knew. The Coptic language was the final language that Ernesto de la Peña learned before his passing in 2012.
Ernesto de la Peña translated into Spanish poets as Valery, Nerval, Mallarmé, Hölderlin, Novalis, Rilke, Milosz, Ginsberg, among others and he also translated all the text of Anaxagoras and Hippocrates. My favorite books of Ernesto de la Peña are two excellent essays about Cervantes and Don Quijote and also about Homer.
Ernesto de la Peña’s final book was an excellent essay about French Humanist, François Rabelais, author of Gargantua and Pantagruel. Ernesto de la Peña had multiple distinctions, for example, he was appointed collaborator of the Encyclopedia Dantesque, (L’Enciclopedia Dantesca) and he was the only Mexican who had this honor.
Homer, Plato, Dante, Cervantes, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Mozart, Beethoven, Verdi, Schubert, were many of his heroes and he also loved Opera so much, all Operas were his favorites, Tosca, Turandot, La Boheme, La Cenerentola, Guglielmo Tell, Eugene Onegin, Don Carlo, Otello, Le Nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, the Flying Dutchman, Wagner’s Ring Cycle, Tristan und Isolde, Boris Godunov, Cavalleria Rusticana, Pagliacci, Wozzeck, Bluebeard’s Castle…. all! Because of his huge love for Opera and Classical music, Ernesto de la Peña received the “Mozart Medal Award.”
Ernesto de la Peña had a library of more of 26 thousand books and he also had 112 thousand records of opera and classical music! Among, 736 to Greek authors, 552 of Italian Authors, 494 on classical music, 482 of German literature, 314 in Latin, 250 old books, 105 on Czech literature, 104 in Arabic language, without leaving aside a smaller number dedicated to Chinese literature, Austrian literature, African literature, Armenian literature, Belgian literature, Brazilian literature, Bulgarian literature, Catalan literature, Egyptian literature, Galician literature, Persian literature, among other languages. Ernesto de la Peña was also a lover of good food and wine and he specially loved the French, Italian and Mexican food. Because of his huge erudition, Ernesto de la Peña received the “Alfonso Reyes” award (a very important award in honor of the also high cultivated, Mexican erudite Alfonso Reyes) and the Alfonso Méndez Plancarte award.
When Ernesto de la Peña passed away in 2012, they played for him, in the program “Operomania” (in which Ernesto de la Peña conducted with his friend, Mexican poet and also Opera lover Eduardo Lizalde) the music of “Siegfried’s Death and Funeral March” from Wagner’s Götterdämmerung.
Remembering with love, Mexican erudite Ernesto de la Peña on his Birthday anniversary.

 

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Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, the Tenth Muse of Mexico

“I study not because I want to know more but because I want to ignore less….. ”

(Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz)

November 12 was the Birth Anniversary of the greatest female poet-writer of Mexico. Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. “The Tenth Muse of Mexico”.
Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz was born in November 12 of 1651, in the Spanish Baroque era of Mexico, when Mexico was “The New Spain” and she lived in a time difficult for women to have the rights of studying and reading.
Sor Juana was a genius, since she was a child she always had the hunger of learning everything… she was a self-taught scholar because women in that time couldn’t go to the university.
Sor Juana learned to read in secret in her maternal Grandfather’s library. She learned to read at age 3… and in secret because it was forbidden for girls. Another important thing is that she learned to write and read in Latin. Many erudites, including Ernesto de la Peña, have compared the genius of Sor Juana to Mozart’s.
Her complete name was Juana Inés de Asbaje y Ramírez de Santillana. She was an illegitimate child of Pedro Manuel de Asbaje and she was raised only by her mother, Isabel Ramirez who was a strong woman for that time.
Besides of Latin, Sor Juana also learned the Aztec language of Nahuatl and she even composed some poems in Nahuatl.
When she was an adolescent, she already knew so much about the classics (Greek and Latin) and she wanted to disguise herself as a boy because she wanted to go to the university. But she had to continue with her studies alone.
Knowing the genius of Juana Inés.. she was sent to the court of the Viceroy and she received the protection of the Vicereine Leonor Carreto.
There is a very famous incident that is now history… many men had the doubts that a young woman like Juana Inés could be so wise and erudite… so… they made a special test for her…. several erudites like theologians, philosophers, poets and jurists had a special meeting, with her, and they obligated her to answer, unprepared, many difficult questions about many scientific and literary subjects. And of course, Sor Juane, who was 17 at that time, answered all questions correctly.
(Sor Juana later she identified herself with St Catherine of Alexandria, another erudite woman who had a smiliar experience and at age 17, she was also tested by many erudite men and for that reason, Sor Juana wrote a poem dedicated to the Victory of the wisdom and erudition of St Catherine of Alexandria over the men who tested her)
To not make this post longer, hehehe, later Juana Inés had to choose between marriage or going to a convent… (There are rumors that she suffered a bad love experience in the court of the Viceroy and that is why she also wrote later many poems of delusional love) and of course, she entered to the convent because in the convent, she would have all the time that she wanted for more studying and learning.
One of her greatest poems is “Primero Sueño” (First Dream”) a philosophical-cosmic poem in which is about the eternal search of learning. “Primero Sueño” (First Dream) has been compared by Octavio Paz to to Mallarmé’s (also sophisticated poem) “Un coup de dés jamais n’abolira le hasard ” and also to Luis de Góngora y Argote’s “Solitude Poems” (One of Spain’s most famous poets of the “golden century of Spanish Literature”).
“Primero Sueño” (First Dream) is one of the greatest, most difficult and most deep poems of history of Spanish literature and in this poem it has many references of the Greek and Latin literature.
And…. the bigest gift that Sor Juana Left us was her famous letter-response to the Archbishop of Mexico, Francisco de Aguiar y Seijas, who was completely against of her writings and that a woman like Juana Inpes could be an intellectual.
Sor Juana, unfortunately had many enemies who were against of her because she was erudite and her most powerful enemy was the Archbishop of Mexico.
He wrote her a letter about it… and Sor Juana, wrote her famous and powerful “response”. It is a letter of more of 50 pages but in this letter we read about the huge erudition of Sor Juana, she mentions in this letter the many historical references about the many famous women in history, literature and also in the Bible and she defended the rights of women to study and learning.
Octavio Paz, in his famous essay of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz and the Traps of Faith, compared Sor Juana to “Hipatia of Alexandria” (the most famous erudite woman who had a terrible tragic death) and Octavio Paz mentioned the similarities between Sor Juana and Hipatia. Both women, in different times and era, had powerful men enemies.
Unfortunately, Sor Juana, with the threat of the church had to give up her rich and huge libraryand her studies and died two years later, at age 46.

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Happy Birthday, Stefan Kocan!

Today, November 17,  is the Birthday of one of the world’s most acclaimed and one of the greatest Bass Singers of modern Opera, Slovak Bass Singer, Stefan Kocan!

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Stefan Kocan has one of the most beautiful and most rich voices ever. He is one of the greatest Bass singers of modern day Opera and he has performed in many wonderful HD broadcasts from the Metropolitan Opera House, like the two broadcasts of “Il Trovatore”, “Prince Igor”, “Rigoletto” and “Aida”. His Sparafucile, in Verdi’s “Rigoletto” is one of the best (His low f in the fabulous Rigoletto and Sparafucile duet is amazing!) his Ferrando in Verdi’s “Il Trovatore” (his Di Due Figli opening moment in Il Trovatore is one of the greatest!) his Ramfis in Aida was also magnificent, his Il Commendatore in “Don Giovanni” is one of the most extraordinary ever, his Konchak in the recent production of “Prince Igor” was also excellent,  his “so many wonderful roles… Ferrando, Sparafucile, Ramfis, Gremin, Konchak, Don Basilio, Mefistofele, Vodnik, Banco, Il Commendatore, Leporello, Attila, Filippo II and many, many, more roles to come!

 

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Right now in these moments Stefan Kocan is performing the role of Banco, in Verdi’s masterpiece “Macbeth” at the Theater an der Wien, in Vienna and recently he made his debut at the Royal Opera House as Le Veilleur in Enescu’s masterpiece “Oedipe”.

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Stefan Kocan recently released his first album with the “Songs of love and Death”, very beautiful, poetic songs by Rubinstein and Mussorgsky and I highly recommend this beautiful recording very much!

 

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY, STEFAN KOCAN!!!!!!!!!!
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Happy Birthday, Feliz Cumpleaños, Carlos Miguel Prieto!

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Happy Birthday, Feliz Cumpleaños to Mexican Maestro Carlos Miguel Prieto!  
Carlos Miguel Prieto is one of the most important Orchestra conductors of Mexico.
He is conductor of two of the most important orchestras of Mexico, “La Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional” and also “La Orquesta Sinfónica de Minería”.
Music conductor and violinist, Carlos Miguel Prieto is the son of famous and very well respected Mexican Cellist Carlos Prieto, in which I had the honor of meeting last year and I have to mention that the Prieto family is one of most respected and most beloved families of the cultural life in Mexico and they form the musical ensemble “Prieto String Quartet” in which Carlos Prieto plays the Cello (a Stradivarius Cello nicknamed as the “Piatti or Cello Prieto”) , his brother, Juan Luis Prieto plays the Viola and Carlos’ two sons, Carlos Miguel (Which I am celebrating today) and Juan (Carlos Miguel’s brother) with the violin.
The Prieto String Quartet have performed in the most important halls of Mexico, the United States and Europe.
Carlos Miguel Prieto is known as one of the most beloved and most enthusiastic conductors of Mexico and he always conducts with positive energy every concert, and his wonderful concerts of Mahler, Shostakovich, Beethoven, Haydn, Brahms, Mendelssohn and Tchaikovsky, are always a treasure to watch and listen.
Also Carlos Miguel Prieto has performed as a guest conductor in many different cities around the world and he has also supported and promoted the Latin American music around the world.

Feliz Cumpleaños, Happy Birthday Carlos Miguel Prieto!

Gabriela Jacqueline's photo.
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Eduardo Lizalde, winner of the Carlos Fuentes Award!

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I am very happy to announce that Mexican poet, Eduardo Lizalde, won the Carlos Fuentes Award!

Eduardo Lizalde, known affectionately  as “The Tiger” (because he mentions the Tiger in many of his works, just like Kipling, Borges and Salgari) just won the “Carlos Fuentes International award for Literature!

The “Carlos Fuentes” Award was created in memory of late novelist Carlos Fuentes, who was one of the greatest and most beloved writers of Mexico, who passed away on May 15, 2012 at age 83.

It is important to mention that Eduardo Lizalde became the first Mexican to win this award, since it was created recently in 2012, some months later after the passing of Carlos Fuentes.

The first winner of this award was the Nobel Prize in Literature 2010, Mario Vargas Llosa (From Perú), the second winner was writer Sergio Ramírez (From Nicaragua) and now in this year, Eduardo Lizalde became the first Mexican to win this award, in memory of Carlos Fuentes.

Eduardo Lizalde is considered one of the most important poets of Mexico, one of his most important works is “The Third Tenochtitlan”, which I highly recommend very much and besides of his beautiful poetry, Eduardo Lizalde is also an Opera Lover,  he has a huge knowledge of Operas, composers and Opera artists and he event wrote his chronicles of Opera in “The Opera of Yesterday, The Opera of Today and the Opera of Tomorrow”.

Eduardo Lizalde had, along with his beloved friend and also the very erudite Ernesto de la Peña (1927-2012) the famous tv program “Operamania” in which both talked about many things about the history of Opera.

Congratulations, Muchas Felicidades Eduardo Lizalde for winning the “Carlos Fuentes Award”!

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Remembering Robert Vaughn (1932-2016)

Today, in this awful, awful week for the world, we saddly lost the last of the Magnificent Seven and the Man from Uncle…. the great actor Robert Vaughn.

Besides of being one of the one of the Magnificent Seven and secret agent Napoleon Solo,  Robert Vaughn recieved and Oscar nominations for best supporting actor for “The Young Philadelphians” and he also played the villain Ross Webster in Superman III.

Robert Vaughn was the last surviving member of the film’s original Magnificent Seven.

Rest in peace, dear Robert Vaughn. We will never forget you.

 

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