Showing posts from 2014

Edward Cahill Biography Completed

Just to say briefly to the 'happy few' who may be following this blog that the first draft of my biography of my great-uncle the brilliant Australian concert pianist Edward Cahill (1885-1975) announced in June this year has now been fully edited and completely revised. The work has been recast from being a straight biography to the far more entertaining form of a 'family quest', the subject of the search being my great-uncle. 
The story is so similar  to that of Billy Elliot. An artist emerges from a humble working class background full of prejudice but with extraordinary artistic perseverance and courage triumphs. The difference is that the experience of his formative years takes place in another country (Australia) and in different art (music). This the story of a man wanting to play the piano as a career in outback Australia, a macho, unapologetically masculine late nineteenth century Australia and the prejudices he battled against in the family, in his home town but…

Grigory Sokolov - Warsaw, 16 November 2014 - A shattering musical experience

Strangely I go to few concerts in Warsaw these days. The reason became perfectly clear last night. As Thomas Mann said in Dr. Faustus 'Music is a cabbalistic craft.' The problem is that few musicians touch the soul with arcane magic, the spiritual source of all music as in the manner of this evening. I felt the entire programme was perhaps overshadowed, possibly even inspired, by reflections and elegiac thoughts on the recent death of the pianist's wife. Fanciful? Possibly. Certainly there was nothing 'interpretatively standard', no obeisance made towards the conventional in this recital. The utterance was of a creative artist.
Sokolov is what Russians call 'a soul' and this became evident from the opening note of his recital. The tempo he adopted throughout was rather moderate for those accustomed to a sparkling, energetic Bach. For me this was all to the good in the Bach Partita in B major BMV 825 (1726). I play the harpsichord and many feel such works sho…

'Golden October' Autumnal Excursion to Somianka Dwór, the Open Air Museum at Ciechanowiec and Liw Castle, Sunday 5th October 2014

Yes, I have been neglecting concerts in Warsaw lately but then I do have a life outside music!
This applied to the recent Krystian Zimerman concert for which I found it impossible to buy a ticket and received mixed reports - not the musicianship which was as ever at the highest level but on his diffident attitude to his loving Polish audience. 

The frankly rather strange personality traits of famous concert pianists deserves psychological study...a unique bunch to say the least. Perhaps it is the necessarily obsessive time spent alone compulsively attempting to dominate the 'great machine' known as the pianoforte. Arthur Rubinstein is a great exception to my mind being a wonderfully broad, intelligent, discriminating, amusing and sophisticated human being as well as being a great artist. His playing always reflected these rich character qualities.

The behavior of the majority of concert artists and the ossified format of the conventional classical concert in 2014 does little to e…

'Wings of Glory' Historical Air Picnic, Saturday 13th September 2014, Sobienie-Jezioro, Poland

If you have been wondering what I have been up to recently click on to discover the details of the indulgence of my private passion:

75th Anniversary of the Invasion of Poland, September 1st 1944

Well might the Prime Minster of Poland Mr. Donald Tusk warn Europe today in Gdansk against 'naive optimism' when considering the inflammable situation in Ukraine. Poland has much to remember and betrayals aplenty. 
As a small gesture of solidarity I thought I might post a small extract from my book on Poland concerning my own visit to historic Gdansk many years ago - a foreign traveller's view.
The scream of seagulls next to my ear woke me from a deep sleep like an attempted murder. I sat up violently and struck my head on the low attic ceiling. As Gdańsk is situated on the Amber Road, I thought it appropriate to stay at the Hotel Jantar (AmberHotel) on the Długi Targ (Long Market) among the magnificently restored Renaissance and Baroque burgher houses. Exuberant strapwork, scrolls, swags of fruit, antelopes and bears in flight, drums and cannon and scenes of classical combat fight for space with portraits of Shakespeare. The gulls swept raucously away from their perch towar…

'Polska. Spring into.' My contribution to the 25th Anniversary of Free Elections in Poland (4/18 June 1989) via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Click on photos to enlarge - far better rendition

On Saturday morning August 23rd I contributed to an Australian national radio programme celebrating the 25th Anniversary of free elections in Poland. 
You may wonder why Australia celebrates this anniversary with a programme on national radio. 
The history of Polish immigration to Australia is a distinguished one with a history of many outstanding Polish individuals or those of Polish descent.  There are some 50,000 Polish-born people living in Australia according to the 2011 census. The number continues to fall slowly.
If you are interested in this subject the Australian Commonwealth Government website is of present statistical interest:
And the Embassy of the Polish Republic in Canberra, Australia is also informative:

Polish contact with Australia dates as early as 1696 wh…

Poland in Summer

My good friend Simon Target, the brilliant English film maker who lives in Australia, recently sent me a really uplifting and joyful short film (5 minutes) he made in a highly picturesque town on the Vistula River called Kazimierz Dolny, about  150 kms from Warsaw.
Do have a look as it quickly overturns the ridiculous received idea of Poland only being dull, grey and depressing.
He and his wife, a Polish medical doctor Beata Zatorska, have also produced two (from a projected four) prize-winning superb cook books set around the seasons in Poland. There are recipes and moving personal reminiscences illustrated with some of the most artistic and finest photographs of the country I have yet seen.
Rose Petal Jam: Recipes and Stories from Summer in Poland:
Sugared Orange…

70th Anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising August 1st. 1944

The artistic delights of the Duszniki Zdroj International Chopin Festival always console me for the memories of this conflagration which arise precisely at the same time of year.
In order not to repeat myself I refer you to this link to my account of the Warsaw Uprising from my literary travel book on Poland - in English and Polish.

69th Duszniki-Zdroj Chopin Festival August 1-9 2014

Click on photographs to enlarge - far superior rendition

Link to the 70th Duszniki-Zdroj International Chopin Festival, 7 -15 August 2015

                                                                   *  *  *  *  *  *

I shall be covering this year's festival in my customary fashion. 
The Artistic Director Piotr Paleczny has assembled an outstanding group of pianistsfor our refined pleasure and spiritual enhancement in this increasingly heartless world where children are murdered wholesale in various pits and slaughterhouses in wars beyond my understanding. The veneer of our achieved  'civilization' is wafer thin. A platitude perhaps but true nevertheless...

This was written before the horrors now unfolding hourly in Gaza, Ukraine, Syria and Iraq. 

The barbarians are well within the castle walls but we still feel safe in our distant 'civilized' rooms listening to disturbances beyond. For how much…