Rentarō Taki and “Moon on the Ruined Castle”


Rentarō Taki (August 24, 1879 – June 29, 1903) was a pianist and one of the best-known composers of Japan.   Taki was born in Tokyo, Japan, on August 24, 1879, but moved to many places during his childhood owing to his father’s job. He graduated from the Tokyo Music School in 1901. One of his famous pieces is Kōjō no Tsuki (“The Moon over the Ruined Castle”).   Taki composed the music as a music lesson song without instrumental accompaniment in 1901. The music of the song was inspired by the ruins of Oka Castle whereas the lyrics, written by Bansui Doi, were inspired by the ruins of Aoba Castle and Aizuwakamatsu Castle.

The song was included in the songbook for Junior High School students, along with the Hakone-Hachiri.  Hana (“Flower”) is a well-known song, too.  In the same year, Taki went to the Leipzig Conservatory, Germany to study music further, but fell seriously ill with tuberculosis of the lungs and came back to Japan. He lived quietly in the country afterwards, but soon died at the age of 23 on June 29, 1903, at Oita City in Oita Prefecture, Japan.  Taki’s posthumous work is a solo piano piece called Urami, which he wrote four months before he died. It is said that he laid the meaning of “regret” in the title of his last piece.

Japanese tenor singer Yoshie Fujiwara put his singing of Kōjō no Tsuki on a record in 1925. He was the first Japanese singer to popularize the song throughout the world.  A jazz arrangement was recorded by Thelonious Monk under the title “Japanese Folk Song” on his 1967 album Straight, No Chaser.  The German rock band Scorpions did a cover of Kōjō no Tsuki on the 1978 album Tokyo Tapes.  The Argentinean folk group Los Cantores de Quilla Huasi recorded a version of “Kojo no Tsuki.”  The song was also live sung by Japanese enka singer Kiyoshi Hikawa in 2008  and by Jackie Evancho in 2012, her version titled in English as “Moon Over Ruined Castle.”

My collection includes the following work by Rentaro Taki:

Moon on the Ruined Castle (1901).

How Has Tim Tebow’s Faith Affected Young Christians?

How Has Tim Tebow’s Faith Affected Young Christians?
Kara Bettis
WORLD News Service, Saturday, January 21, 2012
via CrossWalk Homeschool News, Thursday, January 26, 2012

Tim Tebow is back in the news with questions about his possibly playing football again in the XFL.

Here is an article from six years ago about the homeschooled young athlete’s influence:

Germaine Tailleferre and the Ballade for Piano and Orchestra


Marcelle Germaine Tailleferre (April 19, 1892 –November 7, 1983) was a French composer and the only female member of the group of composers known as Les Six.  She was born Marcelle Taillefesse on April 19, 1892, at Saint-Maur-des-Fossés, Val-de-Marne, France, but as a young woman she changed her last name to “Tailleferre” to spite her father, who had refused to support her musical studies. She studied piano with her mother at home, composing short works of her own, after which she began studying at the Paris Conservatory where she met Louis Durey, Francis Poulenc, Darius Milhaud, Georges Auric, and Arthur Honegger. At the Paris Conservatory her skills were rewarded with prizes in several categories. Most notably, Tailleferre wrote 18 short works in the Petit livre de harpe de Madame Tardieu for Caroline Luigini, the Conservatory’s Assistant Professor of harp.

With her new friends, Tailleferre soon was associating with the artistic crowd in the Paris districts of Montmartre and Montparnasse, including the sculptor Emmanuel Centore who later married her sister Jeanne. It was in the Montparnasse atelier of one of her painter friends where the initial idea for Les Six began. The publication of Jean Cocteau’s manifesto Le coq et l’Arlequin resulted in Henri Collet’s media articles that led to instant fame for the group, of which Tailleferre was the only female member.  In 1923, Tailleferre began to spend a great deal of time with Maurice Ravel at his home in Montfort-l’Amaury. Ravel encouraged her to enter the Prix de Rome Competition. In 1926, she married Ralph Barton, an American caricaturist, and moved to Manhattan, New York. She remained in the United States until 1927, when she and her husband returned to France.

Tailleferre wrote many of her most important works during the 1920s, including her 1st Piano Concerto, the Harp Concertino, the ballets Le marchand d’oiseaux (the most frequently performed ballet in the repertoire of the Ballets suédois during the 1920s), La nouvelle Cythère, which was commissioned by Sergei Diaghilev for the ill-fated 1929 season of the famous Ballets Russes, and Sous les ramparts d’Athènes in collaboration with Paul Claudel, as well as several pioneering film scores, including B’anda, in which she used African themes.  The 1930s were even more fruitful, with the Concerto for Two Pianos, Chorus, Saxophones, and Orchestra, the Violin Concerto, the opera cycle Du style galant au style méchant, the operas Zoulaïna and Le marin de Bolivar, and her masterwork, La cantate de Narcisse, in collaboration with Paul Valéry. Her work in film music included Le petit chose by Maurice Cloche and a series of documentaries.

At the outbreak of World War II, Tailleferre was forced to leave the majority of her scores at her home in Grasse, with the exception of her recently completed Three Études for Piano and Orchestra. Escaping across Spain to Portugal, she found passage on a boat that brought her to the United States, where she lived the war years in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  After the war, in 1946, she returned to her home in France, where she composed orchestral and chamber music, plus numerous other works including the ballets Paris-Magie (with Lise Delarme) and Parisiana (for the Royal Ballet of Copenhagen), the operas Il était un petit navire (with Henri Jeanson), Dolores, La petite sirène (with Philippe Soupault, based on Hans Christian Andersen’s story “The Little Mermaid”), and Le maître (to a libretto by Ionesco), the musical comedy Parfums, the Concerto des vaines paroles for baritone voice, piano, and orchestra, the Concerto for Soprano and Orchestra, the Concertino for Flute, Piano, and Orchestra, the Second Piano Concerto, the Concerto for Two Guitars and Orchestra, her Second Sonata for Violin and Piano, and the Sonata for Harp, as well as an impressive number of film and television scores. The majority of this music was not published until after her death.

In 1976, Tailleferre accepted the post of accompanist for a children’s music and movement class at the École alsacienne, a private school in Paris. During the last period of her life, she concentrated mainly on smaller forms due to increasing problems with arthritis in her hands. She nevertheless produced the Sonate champêtre for oboe, clarinet, bassoon, and piano; the Sonata for Two Pianos; Chorale and Variations for Two Pianos or Orchestra; a series of children’s songs (on texts by Jean Tardieu); and pieces for young pianists. Her last major work was the Concerto de la fidelité for coloratura soprano and orchestra, which was premièred at the Paris Opera the year before her death.  Tailleferre continued to compose right up until a few weeks before her death, on November 7, 1983, at age 91 in Paris. Her remains are buried in Quincy-Voisins, Seine-et-Marne, France.

The following work by Germaine Tailleferre is contained in my collection:

Ballade for Piano and Orchestra (1923)

Hessville Park Little Red Schoolhouse, Hammond, IN

Hessville The_Little_Red_School_House_Hammond

The Hessville Park Little Red Schoolhouse

7205 Kennedy Ave.

Hammond, IN 46323

The building, also known as the Joseph Hess School, was built in 1859 and was a working schoolhouse from 1869-1896. The original building was from the current chalkboard to the front of the house with the later part being added on. The schoolhouse was built from limestone from the Thornton Quarry however costs of transporting the stone became too much to bear. Eventually a clay pit just north of the Little Calumet River was discovered and the bricks were then made on site. The building was originally located near 169th and Kennedy Avenue (where the current day Burger King and Chase Bank are located) on the highest ground in the city. While it was a schoolhouse, students from kindergarten to 8th grade were educated within its walls during their short three month school year. Mr. Ferguson was the first teacher and was paid $13 a month. Teachers back were forbidden to marry and they could only date once a month.  After the construction of a larger schoolhouse, this location was used as a community center. Other uses include a funeral parlor and even a victory celebration for President William McKinley. It was then taken over by Hessing and Hutcher as a dance parlor. Rather than its being razed, V.E. Iliff had the structure moved to its current location in Hessville Park in 1971. After its move, a modern bathroom and basement were added, and owned by the Hessville Historical Society it now serves as the park’s museum.  Several original desks still exist inside as well as the bell in the tower.

James Swearingen and “Proud Spirit March”


James Swearingen (b. September 26, 1947) is an American composer, performer, educator, and arranger. Born on September 26, 1947, in Ohio, he holds a Bachelor’s degree from Bowling Green State University and a Master’s Degree from the Ohio State University and is Professor of Music Emeritus, Department Chair of Music Education at Capital University, Columbus, Ohio. Prior to his appointment at Capital in 1987, he spent eighteen years teaching instrumental music in the public schools of central Ohio. His first teaching assignment was in Sunbury, Ohio. He then spent fourteen years as Director of Instrumental Music at Grove City High School, teaching marching, concert and jazz bands, where his ensembles all received acclaim for their high standards of performing excellence. He is currently one of several resident composers at Capital University and is also a staff arranger for the Ohio State University Marching Band.

Swearingen is also a guest conductor, adjudicator, and educational clinician. He has travelled throughout the United States, Japan, Australia, Europe, Canada, Norway, Singapore, and The Republic of China.  The music he writes is part of a small genre played in American high school band classes as Concert Literature, generally two- to six-minute-long pieces played for high school band concerts.  School directors, student performers, and audiences worldwide have enthusiastically received Mr. Swearingen’s numerous contributions for band.  With over 600 published works, he has written band compositions and arrangements in a variety of musical forms and styles. Many of his pieces, including 116 commissioned works, have been chosen for contest and festival lists. He is a recipient of several ASCAP awards for published compositions and in 1992 was selected as an Accomplished Graduate of the Fine and Performing Arts from Bowling Green State University.

In March 2000, Swearingen was invited to join the American Bandmasters Association, considered to be the most prestigious bandmaster organization in the world.  Most recently, he received the 2002 Community Music Educator Award given annually by the Columbus Symphony Orchestra. In that same year, he became conductor of the Grove City Community Winds. This highly talented ensemble consists of many fine musicians from the central Ohio area.   He is a member of numerous professional and honorary organizations including the Ohio Music Education Association (OMEA), The National Association for Music Education (NAfME), American School Band Directors Association (ASBDA), Phi Beta Mu, Pi Kappa Lambda, and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia.  Several of Swearingen’s band compositions have been recorded by The Washington Winds and are available on compact discs from Walking Frog Records. His recordings include In All Its Glory, Exaltation, Panther in the Sky, Celebration For Winds And Percussion, The Light Of Dawn, and the newest release, Flight of Valor.

On June 20, 2009, The American School Band Directors Association, Inc., presented Mr. Swearingen with the A. Austin Harding Award. This prestigious award is presented annually by the organization and is reflective of valuable and dedicated service to the school bands of America. In 2011, he received the Hall of Fame Award presented by the Ohio Chapter (Mu) of Phi Beta Mu. The OMEA Distinguished Service Award was presented to him at the 2014 OMEA Professional Development Conference. Later that year, he was presented the Signature Sinfonian Award by Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia. On April 21, 2015, The Ohio State School of Music honored Mr. Swearingen with their Distinguished Alumnus Award.   James Swearingen is one of the most performed composers of band music in the world.

My collection includes the following work by James Swearingen:

Proud Spirit March.

Don Swander and “Deep in the Heart of Texas”


Don Swander (March 25, 1905-July 28, 1996), was an American songwriter who more than a half century ago said he was “ashamed” that he had written the musical classic “Deep in the Heart of Texas.”  Swander was born March 25, 1905, in Marshal Town, Iowa. Raised in Washington state, he played piano professionally at age 12.  When he was 16, he moved to Los Angeles, where he studied at UCLA and at a musical conservatory.  He married June Hershey, and they had a son, Steven.

In 1941 Swander and his wife, June, who provided the lyrics , wrote a song entitled “Deep in the Heart of Texas,” an American popular song about Texas.  The first recording was made by Alvino Rey and his Orchestra with vocal by Bill Schallen and Skeets Herfurt, on November 21, 1941, for Bluebird ; this topped the Billboard charts in 1942 during a ten-week stay.  Bing Crosby made the song a hit in 1942, and the song was one of the popular American ballads during World War II. There were no fewer than five versions in the Billboard charts in 1942. “Deep in the Heart of Texas” spent five weeks at the top of Your Hit Parade in 1942 during its twelve weeks stay.

In 1942 the song’s title was borrowed for the name of a 1942 Western film of the same name starring Johnny Mack Brown as a man instrumental in restoring Texas to the United States following the American Civil War. It featured Tex Ritter and the Jimmy Wakely Trio singing the title song. Over the years, the song has been recorded by every major artist from Bing Crosby to Tex Ritter. It is estimated the song has been played on the radio more than a million times throughout the world. The songwriter composed more than 3,000 other tunes during his life, but only “Deep in the Heart of Texas” became a big hit. Swander and his wife moved to Las Vegas in 1960.   In the early 1970s, Swander took a weekend piano-playing job at the Bonnie Springs Ranch because he didn’t want to retire. He died at the age of 91 on Sunday, July 28, 1996, in Las Vegas, NV, where he had lived for the past 36 years.

The following work by Don Swander is contained in my collection:

Deep in the Heart of Texas (1941).

Heinrich Suso and Good Christian Men, Rejoice (In Dulce Jubilo)


Heinrich (Henry) Amandus von Berg Suso, also spelled Seuse, (March 21, 1295?— Jan. 25, 1366), was a German Dominican friar who was the most popular vernacular writer of the fourteenth century and one of the chief German mystics and leaders of the Friends of God (Gottesfreunde), a circle of devout ascetic Rhinelanders who opposed contemporary evils and aimed for a close association with God. Suso is thought to have been born on March 21, 1295 (or perhaps on that date up to 1297-9), probably in Constance  (Konstanz), Swabia, Germany, or the nearby Free imperial city of Überlingen on Lake Constance.  Of noble birth, he joined the Dominicans as a novitiate of their priory at 13 years of age in Constance.  After completing a year of probation, he advanced to do his preparatory, philosophical, and theological studies there, where five years later he experienced a profound religious awakening to a deeper form of religious life through the intervention of Divine Wisdom.

Suso was then sent on for further studies in philosophy and theology, probably first at the Dominican monastery in Strasbourg, perhaps between 1319 and 1321.  Between c. 1322 and c. 1325 he was at the Dominican Studium Generale in Cologne for theological studies under Meister Eckehart, considered to be one of the greatest German speculative mystics and probably also Johannes Tauler, another celebrated mystic. Suso returned c. 1326 to teach at Constance, where he wrote c. 1327 his first work, Little Book of Truth, in defense of Eckehart, who for his controversial works had been tried (1327). Suso’s masterpiece is considered to be his Little Book of Eternal Wisdom (c. 1328) , a short defence of Eckhart’s teaching. Although containing some mystical topics and theological reflections, Eternal Wisdom is essentially a practical work written in simple language. In 1330 this treatise, and another, were denounced as heretical by enemies in the Order. Suso traveled to the Dominican General Chapter held at Maastricht in 1330 to defend himself. The consequence is not entirely known

In 1327/30 Suso was removed from his professorship for his doctrine and for his defense of Eckehart, who was condemned by the Pope in 1329, though he was not personally condemned. Knowledge of Suso’s activities in subsequent years is somewhat sketchy. It is known that he served as prior of the Constance convent – most likely between 1330 and 1334, though possibly in the 1340s. Some scholars hold that he wrote c. 1334/48 Horologium sapientie (“Clock of Wisdom”), a Latin adaptation of Eternal Wisdom, with hopes of securing Eckehart’s approval. Others believe that the Horologium preceded Eternal Wisdom. It is also known that he had various devoted disciples, a group including both men and women, especially those connected to the Friends of God movement. His influence was especially strong in many religious communities of women, particularly in the Dominican Monastery of St. Katharinental in the Argau, a famous nursery of mysticism in the 13th and 14th centuries. In the mid-1330s, during his visits to various communities of Dominican nuns and Beguines, Suso became acquainted with Elsbeth Stagel, prioress of the monastery of Dominican nuns in Töss. The two became close friends. She translated some of his Latin writings into German, collected and preserved most of his extant letters, and at some point began gathering the materials that Suso eventually put together into his Life of the Servant.

Wolfgang Wackernagel and others have called Suso a “Minnesinger in prose and in the spiritual order” or a “Minnesinger of the Love of God” both for his use of images and themes from secular, courtly, romantic poetry and for his rich musical vocabulary. From Suso, there are twelve poems translated by Frances Bevan.  Suso claimed that one year on the “Angel’s Night,” which precedes Michaelmas, he lay ill and experienced a vision of rare, entrancing power in which a host of beautiful, stately angels came in a heavenly dance towards him, took him by the hand, and evoked in him a feeling of having been transported to the awesome and incomprehensible depths of the divine mystery. The leader of the angels is said to have sung a joyous carol of the little Child Jesus which Suso later set down.  Folklore has it that supposedly this transcendent experience made him forget all about his illness and pains and join the angels’ dance. Suso left an autobiography entitled The Life of Blessed Henry Suso By Himself before his death.

Suso later became a well-known preacher, particularly in Switzerland and the upper Rhine, and shared in the exile of the Dominican community from Constance between 1339 and 1346, during the most heated years of the quarrel between Pope John XXII and the Holy Roman Emperor.  He was the prior of the Friends of God in Constance (1343–44), then exiled to Diessenhofen, Switz., by the German king Louis IV the Bavarian. He was transferred to the monastery at Ulm in about 1348. He seems to have remained there for the rest of his life. Here, during his final years (possibly 1361-3), he edited his four vernacular works into The Exemplar.  Before moving to Ulm c. 1347, Suso was broken by hardships, persecutions, and slander, and he died on January 25, 1365 or 1366, at Ulm, Germany.

My collection includes the following work by Heinrich Suso:

Good Christian Men, Rejoice (In Dulce Jubilo).