Category Archives: Great Artists

Euro18: Belvedere

The view from the Marble Hall.

The Upper Belvedere in Vienna is the home of centuries of Austrian painting and arts.

I spent an afternoon there on Thursday.  And what a lovely afternoon it was.

The Baroque Belvedere palaces, Prince Eugene of Savoy’s summer residence, were designed by Johann Lucas von Hildebrandt, one of Central Europe’s greatest Baroque architects.  (Prince Eugene was a big military genius who was the second most important person in Austria, after the Emperor.)  Flash forward to 1955, and the treaty that returned Austria to an independent state was signed in the Marble Hall; and to 1970, when the SALT talks between the USA and USSR were held in the Marble Hall.  I walked in that very hall today.

The museum is justly famous for its collection of Gustav Klimt.  The entire collection is thoughtfully displayed and coherent in these grand rooms.


Here are some of my favorites from the day:

Iconic paintings of Empress Sisi and Kaiser Franz Joseph I —

A Rodin bust of Mahler–

A Munch painting —

Napoleon —

St. Sebastian —

Young Cupid — 

Stephensdom —

And of course, Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss —

I noticed several of these Messerschmidt busts in the Imperial Furniture Museum on Tuesday.  I’m glad to know more about them now!:

Here’s another painting that really grabbed me —


Klimt is everywhere.

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Euro18: Theatermuseum

The former Palais Lobkowitz is home to one of the state museums, the Theatermuseum.  This place is a melange — theatre artifacts, a library, paintings by Rubens and Van Dyke and Bosch and Cranach the Elder and Titian and the like.

I especially enjoyed this painting ca. 1525 by Joos van Cleve, from Amsterdam.  He titled it “The Holy Family,” but an impish Jesus is pinching Mary’s breast (or maybe he’s just wanting milk), and Joseph looks like an inspiration for “American Gothic” 400 years later.

The collection is deep with Rubens. And the Hieronymous Bosch triptych is truly disturbing.

The Lobkowitz royalty were patrons of Beethoven.  He conducted the premiere of his 4th Symphony in this very hall:

I walked on floors today where Beethoven walked.

Euro18: David

I met David on Tuesday.  He towered over me, and didn’t flinch.  In fact, he seemed carved from marble, so raw was his power and so perfect his form.  And that gaze!  This is one confident kid.

Michelangelo’s David was the one must-see on my trip to Florence. He did not disappoint.  I expected to be moved, and I was.  A few salty wetnesses escaped my eyes as I contemplated this masterpiece, when I stopped examining and reading and listening to the guide, and finally sat in a corner and had my pilgrimage moment of awe and wonder.

This is bravura sculpting, powerfully realized, and deeply moving.

NYC18: The Tony Awards

Thanks to Ball State University Singers alum Luke Meyer, who has over ten years remained a constant and dear one of my ‘kids,’ I attended the 72nd annual Tony Awards on Sunday.

Luke knew one of the cast members of Carousel who had over-purchased his block of tickets, so we had seats four rows from the top of Radio City Music Hall.  And except for distance from stage, there’s not a bad seat in the house.

I’ll add some photos at the end of this post, but will share a few thoughts first:

  • The emotional high point of the evening was the appearance on stage of students from Florida, singing “Seasons of Love” from Rent.
  • For me, the first big “I’m so glad I’m in this room moment” was witnessing Ari’el Stachel’s acceptance speech.  The room was in rapt attention as he spoke of no more being ashamed to be of Middle Eastern descent.
  • DeNiro stopped the show.  And got bleeped on television.  Twice.  He appeared on stage without any big announcement.  In fact, we were still focused on stage left and the end of the previous acceptance speech, and suddenly he was there, using the F word, and exalting in his moment.  The room was electric.
  • Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and Chita Rivera both accepted their honorary Tony Awards prior to live air-time, and both delivered lovely speeches.  They were each perfect in their own way.  But that strange tribute montage during the broadcast was, well, a disaster.
  • And The Band’s Visit?  I’m surprised it cleaned up, but the Tony voters seem to be voting against the commercialization so apparent in the other three nominated new musicals, and they certainly seemed to celebrate this lovely, beautiful, perfect little show.
  • Springsteen.  Wow.  Just wow.

My holiday ended in wonderful fashion, and I’m so grateful to Luke for procuring tickets!

And here’s the New York Times review of the broadcast:

Gerontius

I attended a performance last evening of The Dream of Gerontius at King’s College Cambridge. The soloist was my one-time student Brenden Gunnell. Here we are after the performance, both happy as can be.

Cambridge, like most of southern England, was rainy and dreary, but a joy-filled place to be last evening!

B

Many years ago, while I was in Muncie, I took B to Chicago to attend a performance by the Chicago Symphony of The Dream of Gerontius.

On this day, I will be in attendance at King’s College Cambridge as B sings the title role in the same oratorio.

And I shall weep tears of joy and delight, both at this most wonderful music, and at the thought of my once-student singing something to which I introduced him.

This photo was taken whilst in Chicago for that trip:

Here’s B now: