Armand Marsick and Scenes de Montagne


Armand Marsick (September 20, 1877 — April 30, 1959) was a Belgian composer and a major violinist of the 20th century, the nephew of Martin Pierre Joseph Marsick (1847 – 1924), also a Belgian violin player, composer, and teacher whose violin was made by Antonio Stradivari in 1705 and has since become known as the Ex Marsick Stradivarius.  Armand was born on September 20, 1877, in Liege, Belgium, the son of Martin Pierre’s brother Louis François Marsick (1843-1901).  His grandfather Pierre-Joseph (1819-1888) was a lamp-maker but also a good violinist.  Louis and Martin-Pierre had 16 brothers and sisters, born from two marriages. They were both to become musicians, but Louis sacrificed his career to allow Martin-Pierre to succeed in his. He was, however, as gifted as Martin-Pierre.  Armand, therefore, lived in a very special environment, all the more so as his mother, before her marriage, was a wardrobe mistress at the Liège Royal Opera House. His birth was quite an event. His parents Louis and Marie already had four daughters and his birth gave them everything they could wish for – all the more so when other daughters were born later.

When Armand was five years old, his father gave him his first quarter violin and a bow which he immediately hung on the study wall. It was only when he was aged seven and after two years of music theory that the instrument was taken down and he had his first lesson with his father.  From then on he made fast progress and started composing at the age of nine or ten. At the age of ten, he joined the class of Desiré Heynberg at the Liège Royal Conservatoire. He also studied the piano with J. Lebert and chamber music with R. Massart, and had his first composition lessons with Sylvain Dupuis. At the same period he composed a romance for violin and soprano.   His first “official” composition was “Religious Thought” in 1894, dedicated to his sister, Berthe, the middle daughter of the family. Then in 1895, he wrote an “Adagio Pathétique” for violin and orchestra and, in 1896, a Cantata in two voices for boys and girls entitled “To science.”  In 1897 at the age of nineteen, he won the silver-gilt medal at the higher violin competition, the same as his father had won.

In 1897, Marsick left Liège for Nancy, France, where he was appointed first violin with the Theatre and the Conservatoire Orchestra. He joined the composition class of Guy Ropartz, but he also performed as a soloist, particularly at Le Havre where a fine career as an instrumentalist was predicted for him. Then he arrived in Paris where he was to stay for ten years.  Thanks to his uncle, Armand came onto the Parisian musical scene. While attending lessons with Leneveu and Vincent d’Indy at the Conservatoire, he immediately became first violin at the Concerts Colonne and the Opéra Comique, a function that was rarely entrusted to a foreigner. It was in this position that he performed “La Mer” with Claude Debussy himself.  This period was also his most creative, and Armand then composed the sonata for violin and piano in 1900; “Stèle Funéraire” in memory of his father (1902); “La Jane,” his first lyrical work; the passionate “Improvisation et Final” for cello and orchestra; “La Source” (1908); and “Les Scènes de Montagne,” which he finished later in Greece.

Marsick unsuccessfully attempted the Prix de Rome competition in 1906 and was terribly disappointed at what he felt was an unfair result.  Therefore, at the end of 1908 he embarked for Athens, Greece, where, on the recommendation of Edouard Colonne, he was appointed conductor of the symphony orchestra and professor at the Odeon (the Conservatoire). Everything in the musical field needed to be set up in Athens. G. Nazos had already undertaken great reforms. Armand Marsick skilfully completed them in the theory, harmony and counterpoint classes taking as inspiration the organization of the Paris and Brussels Conservatoires.  In 1909, he was appointed “Ephor” of higher studies at the Odeon. Among his more notable students were G. Sklavos and, above all, Dimitri Mitropoulos, the future conductor. Meanwhile, he married Paola Sampieri in Rome on October 7 1910.  For her and for this ceremony he composed a very moving work for the organ: “Poème Nuptial.”  In 1913, he also studied the organization of the Conservatoires of Italy and Germany.

It was in Athens, in particular, that the talents of Marsick were able to blossom fully. He was revealed as a teacher, a reformer of studies at the Conservatoire, as the creator and conductor of the Symphony Orchestra, as a composer wishing to take his inspiration from Greek, musical folklore and above all noting down the tunes with methods akin to those of an archaeologist and innovator, in particular when transcribing the oriental modulations of this popular music. Soon foreign reinforcements allowed comparison with the best European orchestras. He gave many concerts and not only in Athens – which enabled Greek music-lovers to hear the essential part of the repertoire, even though it was dominated by Saint-Saëns, the followers of Franck and Wagner. He also conducted many compositions of Greek musicians who were totally unknown in the rest of the world. In this field, he was always looking for composers who were little known or unknown to the public. Thus it would seem that he was the first to have conducted the symphonies of Gustave Mahler in Belgium.

Even though Marsick was very taken up with his occupations at the conservatoire and with the orchestra, he composed several great works such as the composition he completed known as Mountain Scenes. Marsick began to explore Greek musical folklore by participating in several expeditions to the Peloponnese and Aegean Islands. He noted all these folklore airs which were later published in Athens.  A number of folklore themes inspired the composer that he was, particularly in the prelude of the second act of his opera Lara, completed in 1914, and in the Greek Tableaux composed during a night crossing between Piraeus and Brindisi. In 1915 he began “The Nuptial Ring,” his last lyrical drama.  His last noteworthy event at Athens was the Saint-Saens festival in 1920.  Aged 85, Saint Saëns came to the festival which took place at the Municipal Theatre and the Herod Atticus Theatre at the foot of the Acropolis.

However, the Turkish-Greek war was making the political climate very unhealthy. The Marsick family left Greece (their son, Paul-Louis, had been born in 1916). The cosmopolitan nature of the family was all the more accentuated by its taking root in Spain. Armand had just been appointed as the first Director of the new conservatoire in Bilbao.  He took up his post on February 25, 1922, and on March 8 conducted the newly-formed orchestra’s first concert. It became the “Orquestra Sinfónica de Bilbao” of today. Armand devoted himself entirely to the conservatoire and the orchestra. He revealed French music to the Spaniards. Concerts were sold out on subscription. Many artists came to perform in Bilbao at the time.  The family remained in Bilbao until 1927.

After exactly thirty years of absence, Marsick returned to Belgium where he was immediately appointed professor of harmony at the Royal Conservatory of Liège (1927-1942). He created the “Liège Association for Popular Concerts,” better known by the name “the Marsick Concerts” (1927-1939).  His return to Belgium had also been marked by new compositions such as “Oriental Pace and Dance” (1929).  In 1933 a great event took place in Jupille (a locality in the suburbs of Liège) when a commemorative plate was inaugurated at the birthplace of Martin-Pierre Marsick. Armand conducted the concert with, in particular, the Triple Concerto by Vivaldi, performed by Carl Flesch, Thibaud, and Enesco. “Tableaux of a Journey” was composed in 1937.  In 1938, he had great pleasure in returning to Greece where he conducted “his” orchestra at the Olympia Theatre, for an evening performance in homage.  The Water Exhibition in Liège, in 1939, marked the end of the Liège concerts.  “Loustics en fête” was composed in 1939. Ten years later he wrote his last works: a “Quatuor for horns” and “Three Symphonic Pieces.”  He conducted the “Marsick Concerts” in Brussels from 1942 to 1945.

From then on, after the war, Marsick shared his time between chairing panels and his new vocation as a grandfather. He was an indefatigable walker and took his grandchildren into the Soignes Forest (to the south-east of Brussels where he had lived from 1927) and on rainy days took them to museums, especially the 50th Anniversary Art and History Museum, near his home. But he also went with them to the theatre, concerts, opera.  From this blessed time onwards there remained one of the last concerts of Jacques Thibaud in Belgium under his leadership and the festivities organized in Brussels for his 80th birthday in 1957.  On the night of his death, he sang all his operas for the last time and took his last breath at 81 years old in the early morning of April 30, 1959, at his home in Haine-Saint-Paul, Belgium.  On May 1, his son, Paul-Louis, performed “The Grecian Tableaux” with the Belgian National Orchestra. Ten years later, to the day, Paul-Louis died.

The following works by Armand Marsick are contained in my CD collection:

La Source (symphonic poem).

Scenes de Montagne (symphonic poem).

Stele (symphonic poem).

Beaver Township School, York, ND



Beaver Township School

Highway 30

York, ND

Outside of Rugby ND, there is a one room schoolhouse that is sitting in the middle of nowhere. Rugby, founded in 1886, is the county seat of Pierce County, has a population of 2,876 in the 2010 census, making it the eighteenth largest city in the state, and is often billed as the geographic center of North America.  The Beaver Township Country School/Township Hall, on Mud Lake in Benson County, is about 23 miles southeast of Rugby, just a short drive south of York, which is a city in Benson County with a population of 23 in the 2010 census.  Beaver Township is also in Benson County, and in the 2000 census its population was 39.  The location of the school, right on the water, is very beautiful. Inside are two chairs, a blackboard, a bench, an old desk, a picture of the Ten Commandments, information maps about the county, and a furnace, along with a voting booth and cans to put the votes in.  Beaver Township is on the front door.  There is also a two seat outhouse.

It is evident that the pioneers of the area realized the immediate need of an education for their children, for on July 3, 1894, Beaver School District No. 15 was created and on August 11, 1894, the first Beaver School Board was organized.  Records available show that the first board consisted of five members. At a special meeting held at the Kingsbury home on September 25, 1894, it was decided to have 6 weeks of school, this to be held upstairs of the Kingsbury home.  The district operated one to two month sessions in farm homes until Beaver #1 was opened in 1898. The first register shows that there were 9 pupils enrolled.  On October 28, 1902, a special election was held to select a site for a second schoolhouse in the northwest part of the township. It is evident that a site for school No. 3 was selected at the same time. Beaver #2 was opened in 1903 and #3 in 1904. School No. 4 located in the southeast part of the township was approved in 1924 and opened in 1916.  Beaver School District #15 became part of Leeds School District #6 on June 30, 1958. Beaver School #3, located on Hwy. 30, is still in existence and is as of 2008 used as the Township Hall.

Ames Schoolhouse, Dedham, MA



Ames Schoolhouse

450 Washington St.

Dedham, Massachusetts 02026

The Ames Schoolhouse is a historic school building at 450 Washington Street in Dedham, Massachusetts. The Colonial Revival structure was built in 1897. It was named in honor of American Revolution-era politician Fisher Ames. It is a large H-shaped brick building, with a central section flanked by symmetrical projecting bays on either side. It has a hip roof with a deep dentillated eave, and pilastered corners. The main entrance is set under broad arch at the center, with a Palladian window above. In 1937, it was painted and renovated by the Works Progress Administration.  The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.  At the 2014 Spring Annual Town Meeting, the Town of Dedham voted to repurchase the building for $5.85 million and renovate it to be used as the planned location of a new Town Hall and Senior Center.

Arcola One-Room Schoolhouse, Warrenton, NC



Arcola One-Room Schoolhouse

2216 NC-43

Warrenton, NC 27589

The village of Arcola, in Warren County NC, is named for one of Napoleon’s battlefields (Arcola).  Beginning in 1839 the North Carolina state legislature saw a need for public schools and mandated that each county would hold an election with the simple choice: “Schools or No Schools.” Rising to this call, by 1846 every single county was home to one or two public schools. It’s important to know two things about these schools that were quite common prior to the Civil War:  First, while the schools were mandated by a vote and law, no money was available.  As a result, mothers created books by gluing newspaper articles to cardboard and tying the “pages” together, and school was held in private homes or other existing buildings. Second, the longest school terms were less than four months, sometimes two and sometimes only a few weeks, based on the needs of local families to have their children available for work. The ability to pay teachers also factored heavily into the length of school terms. When the Civil War broke out, the entire public school system collapsed and wouldn’t show life again until some years into Reconstruction.  Fifteen years after the end of the Civil War, local merchant George Davis convinced the county to spend $80 to pay a teacher – his niece, Mary Davis Allen – and open a public school in Arcola. February of 1880 saw the launch of a four-month term school to serve the 50 or so school-age children in the district.  With no money available for a school building, the first year’s students met in the office of the home “Summerseat” with 25 pupils.

February, 1881, saw Mrs. Davis returning to the classroom in a brand new building. The teaching methods of those early years were almost always adapted to the students and the instructional materials.  Attendance was largely based on the weather. Some boys came when it was too wet to work on the farm, others came for just a single day, but there was a regular, functioning public school in Arcola. The Arcola School featured backless benches and a shelf along the wall that students used for writing. A fireplace knocked the chill off the early spring mornings, and two windows game a little light. It wasn’t until 1883 that the Arcola School obtained a blackboard, maps and a sand table to augment the lessons. This was also the first year that formal commencement exercises were held. The children sat in the school-room, the audience sat under a brush arbor in front, and the speaker stood in the door. This one-room schoolhouse served the Village of Arcola into the 20th century when it began bursting at the seams. Land on the opposite side of the church was sold by George W. Davis for $1. Building Chairman W.T. Davis recorded the progress, and the new school was complete in the fall of 1913. The Old Arcola one-room School, nestled among ancient oaks and sitting on Highway 43 at the grounds beside Bethlehem Methodist Church, is the oldest public school building standing in Warren County.  Elmer Harris restored this one-room schoolhouse in 1979 so that it can be seen today. It has been a school, a community center, a meeting place, and best of all, a standing example of the rich history in Warren County for over 136 years.

 Igor Markevitch and Icare


Igor Borisovitch Markevitch (July 27, 1912 – March 7, 1983) was an avant-garde Ukrainian composer and eminent conductor who studied and worked in Paris, became a naturalized Italian and French citizen in 1947 and 1982 respectively, and was commissioned in 1929 for a piano concerto by impresario Serge Diaghilev of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. Markevitch was born in Kiev, now the capital of Ukraine but at that time part of imperial Russia, to an old family of Cossacks starshyna who were ennobled in the 18th century. A great-great-grandfather, Mykola Markevych, was a Ukrainian historian, ethnographer, composer and poet. A great-grandfather, Andriy Markevitch, was an activist, ethnographer, lawyer, philanthropist, and musician, who was a Secretary of State at the time of Alexander II of Russia, Actual Privy Councilor in St. Petersburg and co-founder of the Russian Musical Society. Igor was the son of pianist Boris Markevitch and Zoia Pokhitonova Markevitch (daughter of painter Ivan Pokhitonov). The family moved to Paris in 1914 when Igor was two years old. They moved again to neutral Switzerland in 1916 during World War I because of his father’s failing health (he later died of tuberculosis).

Pianist Alfred Cortot, perhaps the greatest French pianist of his time, recognized the boy’s talent. He advised him at age 14 in 1926 to go to Paris for training in both composition and piano at the École Normale, where he studied piano under Cortot and composition under Nadia Boulanger.  Markevitch gained important recognition in 1929 when choreographer-impresario Serge Diaghilev discovered him and commissioned a piano concerto from him. In addition, Diaghilev invited him to collaborate on a ballet with Boris Kochno, a dancer and librettist. The ballet project came to an end with Diaghilev’s death on August 19, 1929, but Markevitch’s compositions were accepted by the publisher Schott.  He débuted as a conductor in 1930 at age 18 with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. He produced at least one major work per year during the 1930s. He was rated among the leading contemporary composers of the time.  Markevitch collaborated on the ballet score Rébus with Leonid Massine in 1931; and L’envol d’Icare in 1932 with Serge Lifar. Neither was staged, but both scores were performed in concert.

After presiding at the Dutch premiere of Rébus, Markevitch studied conducting with Pierre Monteux and Hermann Scherchen.  L’envol d’Icare, based on the legend of the fall of Icarus, which Markevitch recorded in 1938 conducting the Belgian National Orchestra, was especially radical, introducing quarter-tones in both woodwinds and strings.  Markevitch continued composing as war approached, but in October 1941, not long after completing his last original work, the Variations, Fugue and Envoi on a Theme of Handel for piano, he fell seriously ill. After recovering, he decided to give up his composition and focus exclusively on conducting. His last compositional projects were the revision of L’envol d’Icare in 1943 under the title Icare, eliminating the quarter tones and simplifying the rhythms and orchestration, and arrangements of other composers’ music. His version of J. S. Bach’s Musikalisches Opfer (Musical Offering) is especially notable.

Markevitch settled in Italy during World War II, and during the Second World War was active in the partisan movement. He married and moved to Switzerland in 1947 following the war. He had an international conducting career from there and pursued his conducting career worldwide.   As a conductor, he was much admired for his interpretations of the French, Russian, and Austro-German repertory, and of twentieth-century music in general.  Markevitch became permanent conductor of the Orchestre Lamoureux in Paris in the 1950s, conducted the Spanish RTVE Orchestra in 1965, the London Symphony Orchestra in 1966 and was also permanent conductor of the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra.  In 1970, after ignoring his own compositions for nearly 30 years, Markevitch began to conduct his own music frequently, triggering its slow revival. His last concert was in Kiev, his birthplace. He died suddenly from a heart attack in Antibes, France, on March 7, 1983, after a concert tour in Japan and Russia.

My CD collection includes the following works by Igor Markevitch:

Cantate (1930).

Cinema Ouverture.

Icare (1932/1943).

Le Nouvel Age.

Piano Concerto (1929).

Sinfonietta in F.

John Adams School, Weymouth, MA



John Adams School

16 Church Street,

Weymouth, Massachusetts

The John Adams School is a historic school building in Weymouth, Massachusetts. The Greek Revival/Italianate school building was built in 1855, on the site of Weymouth’s first school building (1681). It is Weymouth’s oldest surviving school building. It is 2-1/2 stories tall, with a front-facing gable roof that has a bracketed gable. The main facade is three bays wide, with windows that have bracketed surrounds, and a pair of entrances with bracketed cornices above.  The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985. It presently houses a daycare center.

Jean-Marie Leclair and his Violin Concerti


Jean-Marie Leclair l’aîné, or Jean-Marie Leclair the Elder (May 10, 1697 – October 22, 1764), was a French Baroque violinist, composer, and dancing master who is considered to have founded the French school of violin playing. Leclair, referred to as “the elder” to distinguish him from a younger brother who went by the same name, was born on May 10, 1697, in Lyon, France, to a French lacemaker and cellist.  By the time he reached adulthood, Leclair was considered a master of both the violin and his father’s lacemaking trade. His skill as a dancer earned him a position with the Lyons Opera (1716 or perhaps a little earlier), and in the next few years it is probable that he either lived in or was a frequent visitor to Paris (an assumption scholars base on a 1721 Parisian musical publication which included ten of Leclair’s violin sonatas). In 1716, he married Marie-Rose Casthanie, a dancer.

Around 1720 Leclair found his way to Turin, Italy, to study dance and the violin and in 1722 was principal dancer and ballet master at Turin where he composed some ballet interludes (now lost) for opera productions at the Teatro Regio Ducale.. After finishing his violin studies with violinist-composer G.B. Somis, he moved to Paris, France, where in 1723 he played at the Concert Spirituel, the main semi-public music series. His works included several sonatas for flute and basso continuo.   By 1723 Leclair had convinced Joseph Bonnier, one of France’s wealthiest aristocrats, to publish his Opus 1 collection of violin sonatas, which were received with great admiration by the Parisian musical establishment.  A second opus of violin sonatas was published in 1728, and during that same year Leclair made his debut as a violinist at the Concert Spirituel.

Performances of his own music in London, Kassel (where Leclair engaged in a musical “duel” with famed Italian violinist Pietro Locatelli) and Paris earned Leclair a reputation as one of the leading figures of the new French school of violinist-composers. After that, in 1728 he began a brilliant career as a violinist-composer.   His wife died about 1728, and in 1730, Leclair married for the second time. His new wife was the engraver Louise Roussel, who prepared for printing all his works from Opus 2 onward. By 1732 he was the subject of an article in J.G. Walther’s Musicalisches Lexicon.  Formal recognition came when he was named ordinaire de la musique in 1733 at the musical court of Louis XV, to whom Leclair dedicated his third opus of violin sonatas as a display of gratitude. Leclair resigned in 1737 after a clash with Guidon over control of the musique du Roy.

Leclair divided his time between a number of court appointments for the remaining decades of his life.  He was then engaged by the Princess of Orange – a fine harpsichordist and former student of Handel – and from 1738 until 1743, served three months annually at her court in Leeuwarden, also working in The Hague, Netherlands, as a private maestro di cappella for the remainder of the year. From 1740 until his death in Paris, he served the Duke of Gramont (a former pupil of the composer), in whose private theatre at Puteaux were staged works to which Leclair is known to have contributed.  He returned to Paris in 1743 where he later became a musician of the royal chamber and visited several princely courts. His only opera Scylla et Glaucus was first performed in 1746 and has been revived in modern times. His other works included, in  particular, a lengthy divertissement for the comedy Les danger des épreuves (1749) and one complete entrée, Apollon et Climène, for the opéra-ballet by various authors, Les amusemens lyriques (1750).

Leclair was renowned as a violinist and as a composer. He successfully drew upon all of Europe’s national styles. Many suites, sonatas, and concertos survive along with his opera, while some vocal works, ballets, and other stage music are lost. He published four books of sonatas for violin and continuo, two books of sonatas for two unaccompanied violins, five sets of Récréations for two violins and continuo, and two sets of string concerti.  His brothers Jean-Marie Leclair the younger (1703–77), Pierre Leclair (1709–84) and Jean-Benoît Leclair (1714–after 1759) were also musicians.   In 1758, after the break-up of his second marriage, Leclair, whose last years were clouded by despair and distrust, purchased a small house in a dangerous Parisian neighborhood in the northern part of Le Marais near the old Temple, where he was found stabbed to death on October 23, 1764.   Although the murder remains a mystery, there is a possibility that his ex-wife may have been behind it – her motive being financial gain – although the strongest suspicion rests on his nephew, Guillaume-François Vial, but neither was ever formally charged with his murder.

Leclair is remembered for an effective synthesis of his own Parisian musical heritage with the Italian sonata style brought into vogue by Corelli.  He took the Italian sonata da chiesa and the sonata da camera and infused them with a stylistic elegance derived largely from the ballet music of Jean-Baptiste Lully. Fittingly, he composed almost exclusively for the violin (he did compose the one opera in 1746, but the work never entered the Parisian repertory). His significance as a teacher of the violin, however, is perhaps greater than his place in the annals of composition: with a string of pupils including notable French violinists L’abbé le fils, Jean-Josephe Rudolphe, and Pierre Gaviniès, Leclair can truly be called the father of the modern French violin school.

My CD collection includes the following works by Jean-Marie Leclair:

Violin Concerto in DM, op. 7, no. 2.

Violin Concerto in am, op. 7, no. 5.

Violin Concerto in BbM, op. 10, no. 1.

Violin Concerto in em, op. 10, no. 5.


Hillside Schoolhouse, Barryville, NY



Hillside Schoolhouse

259 Van Tuyl Road

Barryville, New York 12719

This classic one-room schoolhouse from the 1800s was built in 1893, served as a one-room schoolhouse until 1949, then was transformed into a Gospel Chapel for the next 50 years. Now, lovingly restored, it is a stunning, unique residence. Combining historic charm with contemporary flair this extremely cool, eclectic home, landmarked as Hillside Schoolhouse, was lovingly restored and converted into a boutique inn in Lumberland, New York. The inn’s proprietor is Bronson Bigelow, a woodworker and craftsman who designs bespoke pieces and reimagines and restores salvaged and vintage finds.  After 10 years of practicing law, Bronson, with his wife and two English Bulldogs, traded life in New York City for a simpler life in the country. After a year of restoration and renovation, Bronson opened the doors to Hillside Schoolhouse in the summer of 2013. The Schoolhouse also serves as a showroom for his work, including a 13-foot custom dining table, up-cycled antique iceboxes, and handcrafted coffee and accent tables.  Currently operating as a boutique inn, it is completely furnished with distinctive handcrafted pieces custom made for the home and many restored vintage and salvaged items.  The house has the original stately double doors from the 1800s.  The ceilings are 16 feet high on the first floor.  The schoolhouse has 2 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, and 2,500 square feet.  The Belfry is a spacious guest suite situated beneath the Schoolhouse bell tower, which has been restored and enclosed in glass, affording guests an exclusive view of the original cast iron school bell.  The second story rooms were finished in 2013.  The schoolhouse sits on a one-acre property about 90 miles from New York City.

Scholastic Books Not Safe for Children

Scholastic ‘Not Safe for Your Child’ Because of Pro-LGBT Books, One Million Moms Warns
By Samuel Smith, Christian Post Reporter

A socially conservative family group is warning parents that leading children’s publishing company Scholastic is “not safe for your child” and is calling on supporters to pressure the corporation to stop producing materials that promote homosexuality and transgender identity.

The group One Million Moms has launched a campaign against Scholastic, which is known for holding book fairs and events at schools across the United States and reaches up to 6 million children a week. The organization is warning that Scholastic is “marketing transgender picture books for children.”

One Million Moms, which is a division of the social conservative advocacy group American Family Association that is dedicated to “stopping the exploitation of our children,” specifically has a problem with the 2015 book George, which focuses on the story of a transgender fourth-grader who wants to play a female role in a school play.

Read more:

Franz Lachner and Festouverture


Franz Paul Lachner (April 2, 1803 –January 20, 1890) was well-known German composer and an important conductor of the early half of the Romantic era, whose music is well-crafted and enjoyable, though not highly original or important in the history of musical evolution.  Lachner was born on April 2, 1803, in Rain am Lech, Germany, to a musical family.  His father, Anton, was the city organist, and his brothers Ignaz, Theodor, and Vinzenz also became musicians.  His father died in 1822. At that point, the boy went to Munich and eked out a living playing in the orchestra of the Zisartor theater as an organist and even as a music teacher. In 1823, he became organist of the Lutheran church in Viennam, which enabled him to study music with Simon Sechter and the Abbé Maximilian Stadler. Through them, he met Beethoven, but he mainly socialized with musicians his own generation, including Franz Schubert, who was a close friend. As such, he was a valuable contributor of first-hand information to early biographies of the great composer.

In 1825, he joined the staff of the Kartnerthor Theater in Vienna, Austria, as a coach. By 1828, he worked his way up to the post of music director. He made a bad career move when he went to Berlin to try to make his way there. In 1834, he ended up on the conducting staff of the Mannheim Opera as Kapelmeister for a couple of years.   As a result of composers’ aesthetic comparisons of Beethoven’s symphonic output with efforts afterwards, in 1835, there was a competition in Vienna for the best new symphony sponsored by Tobias Haslinger of the music publishing firm with no fewer than 57 entries. Lachner received first prize with his 5th Symphony Sinfonia passionata, or Preis-Symphonie, and returned to Munich in 1836, where became royal Kapellmeister, becoming a major figure in its musical life, conducting at the opera and various concerts and festivals.  For performances of Luigi Cherubini’s Médée in Frankfurt in 1855, Lachner composed recitatives to replace the original spoken dialogue, and it was this version, translated into Italian, which was used in many twentieth-century revivals and recordings of that opera.

Lachner had great success in the court opera of King Ludwig I. He became highly prominent in the musical world of that city, eventually becoming conductor of the court opera, director of the Musikalishe Akademie concerts, and often conducted at the Königliche Vokalkapelle. Lachner built musical life in Munich into the most impressive in western Germany. In 1862, he was named general music director of Munich. Under his direction, the opera became the leading center of musical theater in Germany, with the possible exception of Berlin. Moreover, he exercised the power and influence of his position in a highly responsible and non-partisan way. For instance, he was not personally fond of Wagner’s music but, recognizing its importance, he saw to it that Wagner’s music got performed on his concert and operatic stages. It was the high standards to which he had drilled his opera theater and their familiarity with previous Wagnerian operas that made Munich the only possible place where Tristan und Isolde could be premiered. However, in the spring of 1864, the 18-year-old King Ludwig II ascended the throne of Bavaria, and Lachner’s career there came to a sudden end after Richard Wagner’s disciple Hans von Bülow took over Lachner’s duties.

At that time, the premiere of Tristan was scheduled to occur under on May 15 under the baton of Hans Von Bülow. On April 30, Wagner received an unsolicited letter from the King, pledging undying devotion and inviting Wagner to settle in Bavaria, where every possible resource would be dedicated to realizing Wagner’s theatrical dreams. By the time Tristan was staged (it was delayed a month due to the soprano’s illness), Lachner had been effectively discarded as director of the opera in favor of the de facto leadership of Von Bülow. Lachner had no choice but to apply for retirement. To save face, he remained officially in his post and accepted the fiction that he had been granted an extended vacation for a few years until his contract expired in 1868. He was kicked out of his other leadership positions as well, in favor of Von Bülow.   Lachner was given good terms as part of his retirement settlement and became a respected elder statesman of music by the time he died 23 years later. He refused to become bitter and even sought to defuse the critical battles between supporters of Brahms and Wagner as representatives of the right path in music by arranging that both of them would be presented the Royal Order of Maximilian in 1873.

A well-known and prolific composer in his day, Lachner wrote six operas between 1828 and 1852. Of them, Caterina Cornaro (1841, preceding Donizetti’s opera by three years) was especially successful in its time. Other examples of his best work are the Requiem, Op. 146, and Orchestral Suite No. 7 in D minor, Op. 190 (1881).   His output also included his organ sonatas (Opp. 175, 176, 177) and some chamber music, such as pieces for wind instruments and string quartets, along with his eight symphonies. His songs, some of which are set to the same texts that Schubert used, contributed to the development of the German Lied. His work, influenced by Ludwig van Beethoven and his friend Franz Schubert, is regarded as competent and craftsman-like, but is now generally little known, and he is not now considered a major composer.  His music is written with great skill and command of the orchestra or instruments. Much of it enjoyed considerable success but found no lasting place in the repertoire. The best music is still interesting as a representation of the above average but not great composers of its time.  Lachner died on January 20, 1890, in Munich, Germany.

The following works by Franz Lachner are contained in my CD collection:


Symphony No. 3 in dm, op. 41.