Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A song at the memorial service

I first heard Hayley Westenra singing at an Auckland Domain concert many years ago,
perhaps 10 years ago.  The song was "Amazing Grace" and Hayley Westenra sang this
song at the memorial service for the Christchurch earthquake victims which was held at beautiful
Hagley Park in Christchurch, New Zealand.  The Prime Minister and also Prince William attended and
gave speeches.

This is the video of Hayley Westenra discussing the meaning of the service and singing "Amazing Grace"from the New Zealand Herald:

  I once visited Christchurch many years ago.  I travelled by train to Wellington and crossed Cook Strait by boat and remember the beauty of the coastline of the South Island as the boat travelled
down the coast to Lyttelton Harbour.  It was very scenic and also seemed a little misty in the distance.
The cathedral in the main square was illumined and beautiful.

My best wishes

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Temptation of Angelique

Camellia Japonica from wikipedia:

The Temptation of Angelique by Sergeanne Golon

Once again the magnificent writing skills of Anne and Serge Golon
make for a wonderful story of adventure and intrigue set in the New
World of the seventeenth century, early pioneering days.

From descriptions of beautiful lakes, wild ocean, virgin forests and the
ever increasing presence of hostilities from different sectors,
setbacks and miscommunications
which seemed to beset
Angelique and her husband, Joffrey de Peyrac, “The Temptation of Angelique”
is an unusual story, yet fascinating and so inspiring.

The characters of the novel as ever breathe real life into the story and imaginings
on the pages of a not so distant time in our recent past. Joffrey de Peyrac, ever so
noble and serene at one time did lose patience with Angelique and he along with
many other people of the community of Gouldsboro believed the worst of Angelique,
which was unfortunate for Angelique. Angelique, as ever determined,
and not about to be displaced from her position by the prejudices and judgements of others continued
with her work of rememdies for the ailing, seemingly unperturbed by the course of
events. Angelique had been looking forward to the summer at Gouldsboro.

As events panned out, the summer season was not as Angelique had imagined. Joffrey and
Angelique had been separated. Angelique was believed to have succumbed to the
attentions of Goldbeard when she was taken aboard his yacht. Goldbeard was previously Colin Paturel, King of the Slaves, from Angelique's time when she had been a
captive at the Sultan's harem in the Mediterranean.

“Angelique in Barbary” or by another title of “Angelique and the Sultan” describes in vivid detail the adventures of Angelique at the Sultan's harem at Meknes. This book is full of wonder, marvellous surprises and is also interspersed with the ancient wisdom and philosophies
of the Sultan's chief advisor and Grand Eunuch, who held a special place in Angelique's heart as she
befriended this man during her time as a captive and benefitted from his friendship.

Colin Paturel had been a life saver for Angelique at the
time, had journeyed through the desert with her and his place as King of the Slaves
during their ordeal had
signified to her his own hardships in captivity and strengthened a special bond with Angelique. However, this bond certainly was
tested in this story and it was unfortunate for Angelique that many of the Huguenots, who had previously been
her friends, believed unsubstantiated rumours. Angelique's innocence is eventually established,
and Angelique hopes to heal the rift with her husband concerning such matters. The bond with
her husband, Joffrey, was found to be the stronger and Angelique realised her great love for Joffrey.

Colin Paturel, King of the Slaves, had been Angelique's devoted friend in the desert at a time when
the scorching sun of the Moroccan desert beat relentlessly down upon them and they journeyed far for their freedom. By the quick witted actions of Colin Paturel, Angelique had survived a venomous snake bite.

tea rose from wikipedia:

Joffrey de Peyrac was Angelique's soul mate. From the moment when she believed that there was
a glimmer of hope of finding him again, Angelique had been on a quest to find her beloved husband. It was this very quest which had brought her to the shores of the Mediterranean in the first place.

Joffrey de Peyrac, in his nobility, showing his strength of character at an uncertain time
in his life, as regards Angelique, promoted Goldbeard to the position of Governor of the
province. This was quite unexpected, but also clearly within his keen character and judgement skills. He recognised Goldbeard's many talents, that Goldbeard was at one with the people,
whereas, he himself, he reflected, may hold the people fascinated but he was not one of them as
Goldbeard was. Colin Paturel, arriving in the guise of Goldbeard, the pirate, was officially in
the New World on the king's business and was commissioned to set up a colony in the area.

There was also Jack Merwin, the Jesuit priest, whom Angelique befriended, another person
whom Angelique had to accept as with a changed identity from the dour and surly sea captain,
who had saved her life in the ocean; also countless
other individuals whom Angelique respected and admired as she journeyed to meet her husband again. I am constantly amazed by the twists and turns of plot and the unexpected and often unpredictable happenings and often unpredictable characters in the Angelique series of books.

It was a harsh time in history and
often the story does reflect some of these harsh aspects of life at the time, their joys and sorrows.
Also the goodness which always does shine through of Angelique and her husband, attempting to
relocate a little girl with her family, always trying to be peace-makers amongst the diverse elements
of society, understanding a different culture and way of life, their humanity and compassion for
fellow pioneers in this unsettled land of wide horizons and great opportunity.

This book certainly was different and almost of another genre from the previous Angelique books as
there was the unexpected arrival of Goldbeard in perhaps a moment of Angelique's uncertainty and weakness and with also the difficulties which Angelique had to resolve with her husband. It was uncanny and so
unexpected for Angelique to be faced with a person from her other life in another place in the
New World where she was now living with her children and reunited with her husband, Joffrey de Peyrac. The writers describe these
events with empathy and beauty. Joffrey de Peyrac plays a significant role in this story, not always
to Angelique's liking, though he became unsettled, believed Angelique had destroyed everything,
and was most likely relieved to finally realise that Angelique was innocent. The love which Angelique has for her husband, Joffrey, and the love which Joffrey has for Angelique is something beautiful and their love story is quite magical in the books. Love over the years, even though they were separated, had brought them together again and this is a wonderful component of the story, the romance and
adventures of Angelique and Joffrey.

My best wishes

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Louis XIV

Gardens at Versailles October 2009

Versailles La Cour from wikipedi:

A picture of Marie Mancini from wikipedia:

An engraving of Vaux-le-Vicomte,
an inspiration for the Chateau of Versailles

Louis XIV holds a special place in history and also for me,
a favourite person to enjoy reading about. His time on the
throne spanned many years and he certainly is remembered
today for the wonderful achievement of the Chateau of Versailles and
the magnificent gardens which hark back to a more structured time in
society. A time of magnificence and grandeur, respect and admiration for
the young king, who became king at such an early age, when his father Louis XIII passed away and
Louis XIV was still at a young and at an impressionable age.
He was brought up by his mother, Anne of Austria, and Cardinal Mazarin,
who in turn brought his three nieces to the court of Versailles, where at
one stage, Louis XIV wished to marry Marie Mancini and Charles II of
England wished to marry her sister, Hortense Manicini. Unfortunately,
at the time, both kings being young, though for very different reasons
these marriages were not approved.

Marie Mancini was considered not a suitable prospect for the king of France.
This situation caused great distress for the young king. There was a musical
play on the stage in Paris “Le Roi Soleil” which was wonderful to watch on
you tube where the king
invites Marie Mancini to dance with him. At the end of the scene Marie
Mancini appears to be seated on a throne.

Had not Louis XIV been a king,
with the prospects of marrying a royal princess not been expected of him,
and perhaps if he had been Louis de Bourbon and not a king, his life would have been
very different. Louis XIV married Infanta Maria Theresa from Spain and
Marie Mancini was sent away from the court.

It was from the time spent with Marie Mancini and the influences of Cardinal
Mazarin that Louis XIV developed a love of Italian culture and art which
later was reflected in the beauty of the artistic designs of the chateau of
Versailles and its surroundings and landscape.

Unfortunately for Charles II of England, although his mother and sister,
Princess Henriette of England, (popularly known as Minette who subsequently
married the king's brother, Monsieur) were welcome at the court, Charles II for
political reasons was expected to move on. Louis XIV was young at this
stage and not in control.

Charles II spent many years in exile in Europe in
poverty, though with many loyal followers, who had also left England during
the Cromwell years. As Charles II was a king without a throne, his prospects
were suitably diminished and Cardinal Mazarin declined the marriage proposal
on behalf of his niece, Hortense Mancini.

Later, in years to come, when Charles II
was restored to the throne of England, Cardinal Mazarin broached the subject of
marriage again with the king regarding Hortense Mancini. By this time,
Charles II would have experienced many adventures during his travels and time
on the Continent and by this stage he did not wish to marry Hortense, probably for
various other reasons as well. Charles II, because of his experiences so different
from those of Louis XIV, may have had a different outlook on life, perhaps
more understanding of poverty and its consequences. Charles II married Katherine
of Braganza.

Charles II had started to build a palace at Winchester of which the plans were drawn by Sir
Christopher Wren, designer and architect of St Paul's Cathedral in London. He viewed the
beginnings of the building works with Nell Gwynn. Unfortunately, even though this palace
was to be built on a similar design of Versailles, surrounded by town houses, this plan did
not come into fruition and the palace was not completed due to the death of Charles II.

Versailles is a magnificent wonder of beauty and is a favourite place to visit. A real showpiece
of seventeenth century endeavour. The Chateau of Vaux-le-Vicomte may also have been an
inspiration for the young king with its wonderful gardens, fountains and outdoor entertainment
venues. Quite modern in concepts and design for the seventeenth century. Previously, many of the
older chateaux may have been more of a gothic design and built for defense purposes. Louis XIV
and his family lived at the Louvre in Paris and St Germain-en-Laye where he was born. When he first visited Vaux-le-Vicomte for the entertainments provided there,
he travelled with his family by carriage from the renaissance palace of Fontainebleau.

Castle of Fontainebleu from wikipedia:  a beautiful and serene place to visit;

Louis XIV by Le Brun

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Son of Enlightenment by Christian Jacq

Mozart and his family from wikipedia:

I enjoyed reading this book and would sing its praises to lovers of music, the theatre, classical music and the culture and life style of eighteenth century Vienna, a different world altogether.  The descriptions of the music, an opera ("The Abduction from the Seraglio") or libretti, the andantes of a quartet, sonatas, the rondo or concertos played seemed to enhance the magic of the world of Mozart
and greatly added to the sense of beauty of  the great music and story which seemed to go hand in hand.
There is a foot note on the page that the end of the movement of the six quartets  in G major where Mozart was striving to move forwards in his music without knowing whether it would one day be played in public, prefigured
a theme from "The Magic Flute."  He was working without worrying about an audience's reaction.

The mood and gathering thoughts of the musician may have been reflected in his music, perhaps even
sometimes quite subtly.

The story revolves around the world of Wolfgang Mozart, his marriage to Constance Weber, his search for freedom and a quest for inner knowledge and spiritual wisdom.  In this quest he is joined by his friend,
the Egyptian, Thamos, who helps to initiate him into the early spiritual brotherhood of the Freemasonry of
the time.  This is a wonderful historical fiction book with many elements of the
seeking of a higher spiritual plane, which is not always available to every person, but hopefully, for Mozart, success will be found  and for most of the book  he was aspiring to reach this Temple Door.

His music and compostitions were endearing to the Viennese public and Mozart was assisted in this endeavour by his many influential friends whom he met when he was staying in Vienna and helped him
on his way to a successful career with their optimism and good wishes.  The enigmatic and forever optimistic
Countess Thun was one such friend who would often invite the young Mozart to play the piano at her home and
introduce him to various members of the aristocracy.  The Emperor, Josef II, son of Maria Theresa, the Empress,
also makes an appearance and also an enquiry into the activities of the Templar Knights and is informed
that they have become more or less extant by this time.  The dialogue of the characters who appear in
the story is authentic and wonderful.   Almost as though not a note out of place.

Sheet Music of Mozart from wikipedia:

  Mozart was impressed and admired the music of Bach, which had not been around for the previous thirty years, and also admired and respected Haydn, whom he met and confided in.  Haydn was working for the Esterhazy court for many years.  Their love of music would have been a
common bond and also an understanding of music which could make the soul soar.  A spiritual sense for
the love and beauty of (perfect?) music.  The composer, Gluck, also congratulated and recognised Mozart
as a composer after the success of his opera.

Of the early life of Mozart, this book is a good start.  His ties of kinship to his father, Leopold, and the necessary approval and permission from his father for his marriage to Constance would be a reflection of the times of eighteenth century society and also of the way in which the musicians and sons were expected to obey their elders,superiors and employers.  Mozart was a little bit of a rebel for the times in that he broke away from bonds of seeming serfdom in Salzburg to set himself free and endeavour to make a successful career on his own in Vienna.

Mozart's sister, Nannerl, also featured in the story, as did his faithful dog, Miss Pimperl, who had been a  friend since his earlier days of childhood.  He was also inspired by the beautiful song of a bird, whom he
purchased and named Starr, as he was particularly grateful, one day in passing along the street, to hear the beautiful bird's song.  Starr continued to remain an inspiration for the composer and became a part of his life and family.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Land of Make Believe

The beautiful purple of flowering jacaranda trees from wikipedia:

  It would be nice to imagine purple flowers for her wedding ceremony
in the chapel at Versailles one evening;  Madame de Maintenon wore these colours well:
Madame de Maintenon was believed to be enchanting
and was often called “La Belle Indienne” in her younger
days, acknowledging her beauty.

“The Frog Princess” seems to evoke reminders of
Madame de Maintenon and of her time at the court of
Versailles;   there is  wonderful depiction of a frog princess
taken at the floriade fashion show in Canberra last year,
wearing green and mauve, or purple, colours which I
associate Madame de Maintenon as wearing:

Madame de Maintenon hailed from obscure beginnings and
after her marriage and subsequent widowhood to the poet Scarron,
Madame de Maintenon became a governess
to the children of the king (Louis XIV) and Madame de Montespan,
thereafter rising to became a companion and spouse of the king;

The Land of Make-Believe

Now we come to the Land of Make-Believe,
Always happening at Lightening Speed;
Fancies' whims and fancies' pleasures
Now we see what are the treasures;
Come what may
It is a ray
Of something golden on the way-
Always a promise of something good
As we always knew it would:

Hopes come knocking for those who care
the promise of freedom and hope to care
In our world of everyday
Things like this become common play
Out on the treasures of a new board-walk
now we come to life and talk
Helping each other in our plans
This is where our friendships span
To help each other for the day
For our times when we can play
And Good will come of the day:

Nature's whiles and past away time
There will always be Sun to shine:
the lights and glimmerings of early spring
The raindrops which do bring
Life a-new upon the earth
Showered down in wondrous mirth:

gone are the pictures of yesterday
glittering and pandering in a play,
Rows and rows of potted plants
and with Chestnut Hall enhanced
with the colours of autumn fall,
Even the leaves which come on the wind,
They have come from a distant wind
A different time and different season
yet still we see them in beauty and ever green;
If not green, in sparkling yellow,
all the colours of an autumn fall;
lost leaves in our magical times
they come with splendour and a kiss
this is not a time to miss
the leaves of eternity, leaves of time,
leaves of splendour and leaves of hope,
never forget the leaves of time
they will always be painted and brushed with time;
In our way, through promise and hope
The glory of our leaves, our scope:

Capturing moments at a glance
not ever knowing of the chance
A place to be
A place to be seen
In all of its equivocacy:

The king decided to lift his game
Improve his image and his name
Evening shadows betokened the same;
Spinners weaved their golden thread
The workers tended flower beds...

The king was intrigued by the Ladies' Games
was enamoured by their charms,
Admired by Courtiers
and thrilled to the Chase
and also enjoyed a steeple race
The king decided to quicken his pace;
lingered at a menagerie
also enjoyed his falconry:
And in his Chivalry
a Note of Courtesy-
An invite for Francois d'Aubigne
To view the flowers and scenery
A promenade in his company;

This became the talk of the court
A former governess companion of the king
Whoever heard of such a thing?

But the King at an older age:
This was what he ordained
In all of his Majesty;
Not like at an earlier stage:
likened almost to a chain
of royal protocol
and kingly role
allowing not the king to be-
dictating not to marry free
Marie Mancini:

A search of a hint of a holy grail,
A glimpse beyond a magic veil?

Married at a chapel
in a beat of time
A Match of Matrimony
with Francoise d'Aubigny;

A ceremony of beauty
in the Night
Palace Candle-light
and Pale Moonlight,
Casting Serenity on the sight;

Not a Show of Pageantry
A Ceremony of Simplicity
As the Wedding was in Secrecy
complying with his Ministry;
As, Rainbows dancing in the Sky
Over the Land
There would have been
A modest lady,
A new Queen;

The Strings of a Strain
Of a Lully Refrain
Rang out clearly in the Night;

The Court did notice her new status,
Kind and merciful
Life more wonderful
Always gracious
In her uncrowned hiatus
This was her new basis:
Sombre also, quiet, tenacious
Noble causes, St Cyr and
scholarly traces:
Fans and laces
Etiquette and graces
St Cyr depicted on a fan
Giving a picture of the land
A play of Esther on the stage
Which defined another age
biblical themes the rage
for the plays on the stage;
and the
a teacher, spouse or nunnery
for noble girls
poor and scholarly:

Princess Marie-Adelaide of Savoy
did turn around
La Maintenon's ideas for the Crown
and a new life adhered
to the vagaries of fun instead
Balls and magic,
Life fantastic
Beauty, companionship
for the king,
This would mean everything:
La Maintenon seeming not so worldly
A settled life for the king more orderly:

Destiny swinging round and round
Hopes and Dreams swing wildly in Time
Fortune's Favours finally found
A Magical Story of a Merry-Go-Round
On an on in the show;
A Fantasy Story
In a Magical Time,
Singing the theme,
On we go
The fairy-tale of dreams comes true;
The Royal Court had no compare,
There was singing and dancing throughout the years;

And then there was the grandest plan,
The grandest plan of all
A Mirrored Hall of a Dancing Hall
A glittering ball which was
A Showcase for all;

The Moon and the Stars in the Sky
Shining in God's good Grace
Bestowed a Fairy-land Trace
Upon the Land;
And glittering still
As a page from a Dream
The soft light on flowers
Shines on.