Walid Georges Gholmieh and “Ardulfuratini Watan”


Walid Georges Gholmieh (1938 –June 7, 2011) was an Arabic Lebanese conductor and composer who directed the Le Conservatoire libanais national supérieur de musique or The Lebanese National Higher Conservatory of Music and was considered one of the most prominent Middle Eastern conductors and composers.  Born in 1938 at Marjeyoun, Lebanon, Gholmieh initially studied mathematics at the American University of Beirut before dedicating his education and life to music.  He composed the former Iraqi national anthem, “Ardulfurataini Watan” (English: Land of Euphrates, also known as the “Land of The Two Rivers”) that was in use from 1981 until 2003, during the Ba’athist regime of Saddam Hussein.

The lyrics to “Arḍ ul-Furātayn” were written by Shafiq al-Kamali who died in 1984.  The song makes  mention of important historical figures in Iraqi history, such as Saladin, Harun al-Rashid, and al-Muthanna ibn Haritha, with the last verse extolling Ba’athism.  In shortened performances, the chorus was played twice, preceded by an instrumental introduction. Other abridged performances had the chorus twice, then the first verse once, concluding with the chorus performed twice.  In full performances, the chorus was sung first twice, then each verse once with the chorus repeated twice in between, then the chorus sung again twice at the end.

Gholmieh was the founder of both the Lebanese National Symphony Orchestra and the Lebanese National Arabic Oriental Orchestra.  Established in 2000, the Lebanese National Symphony Orchestra, under the leadership of Gholmieh, was able to prove itself both locally and regionally.  In a period of 25 months, the Orchestra presented more than 60 performances in different cities, including a varied international repertoire by classical music composers. On August 2, 2002, Gholmieh led the Lebanese National Symphony Orchestra at the Baalbeck International Festival.

After the ousting of Saddam Hussein’s Ba’athist regime in 2003, the former national anthem of Iraq from the late 1950s and early 1960s, “Mawtini” (not to be confused with the current Iraqi national anthem of the same name) was reintroduced on a provisional basis. That was replaced in 2004 by the new Iraqi government with a new national anthem, also called “Mawtini”, which is currently in use today.  On April 17, 2006, Gholmieh led the Lebanese National Orchestra for Oriental Arabic Music in a captivating evening of Arabic music classics at the Abu Dhabi Music and  Arts Foundation annual festival.  He also headed the panel of judges on the Lebanese television talent show “Studio el Fan,” which is credited for launching the careers of many Lebanese and Arab artists from 1972- 2002.  Gholmieh was featured on the latest album by Damon Albarn’s virtual band, Gorillaz. The album, ‘Plastic Beach,’ was released on March 9, 2010.  Gholmieh died in Beirut, Lebanon, on June 7, 2011 after a long illness.

My collection includes the following work by Walid Georges Gholmieh

Ardulfuratini Watan (Iraq).


Mayfield Park Old School House, Sugar Land, TX


mayfield park School_Buildings0003

Mayfield Park Old School House

106 Avenue D

Sugar Land, TX 77498

The owner of “The Old Sugar Land Club House” blog wrote, “I received a message this week from Carmen Flores Perez (DHS ’67) asking if I had any info on the school for Hispanic children located in Mayfield Park back in the ’20s through the ’50s.  I can’t find the references right now, but I know T. C. Rozelle had these photos of a building that was said to be the school house in question.” Someone responded, “The school was known as the Westside Elementary and was located approximately across from the Park behind Imperial Sugar. It was a 2 story building with a fire escape slid in the back of the school. Kids attended the school there from the 1st thru 4th grade and then attended Lakeview Elementary. The building had Oyster Creek in the back and prison property was across the creek.”

Kote Potskhverashvili and “Dideba Zetsit Kurtheuls”


Kote Potskhverashvili (1889-1959) was a Soviet Georgian conductor and composer who is best known for composing Dideba, the former National Anthem of Georgia.  Potskhverashvili was born in 1889.  “Dideba” (English: “Glory,” lit. ”Praise”), also known as “Dideba Zetsit Kurtheuls” (English: “Praise Be To The Heavenly Bestower of Blessings”), was written and composed by Potskhverashvili and was adopted by the “Menshevik”-led Democratic Republic of Georgia government as the country’s national anthem in 1918 after it became free from Russian rule.

However, “Dideba” was only used for a few years.  Soon thereafter Georgia was invaded, occupied, and forcibly annexed by Russia in 1921 and came under Soviet rule from 1922 onward.  During this time it was replaced by the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic’s “Anthem of the Georgian SSR.”  Potskhverashvili, who also arranged the well-known Russian folk song Indi-Mindi, died in 1959.

After Georgia became free of Soviet rule in the early 1990s, “Dideba” was readopted as the Georgian national anthem, though at the time of its re-adoption it was barely known by most Georgians as it had been almost seven decades since it was last used as the country’s national anthem.  “Dideba” was used as the Georgian national anthem from November, 1990, until May 20, 2004, when it was replaced by the current Georgian national anthem “Tavisupleba” following a change in governments.  Though the replacement of “Dideba” in 2004 came after this change, preliminary efforts to replace “Dideba” reportedly predated that.

The following work by Kote Potskhverashvili is contained in my collection:

Dideba Zetsit Kurtheuls (Georgia)

The Guerrilla Curriculum By John Taylor Gatto

The Guerrilla Curriculum
By John Taylor Gatto

Falconers have no difficulty understanding that to carry a falcon on one’s arm in opposition to its nature you have to put a bag over it’s head; and horsemen know that a fast horse can be made to run more slowly by adding lead weights to its body; why is it so difficult to acknowledge then that some people might want to transfer these principles of mechanical intervention known to animal trainers to the scientific management of human children? That is to say, to impede their natures in interest of something more important to a manager.

To grasp the full extent of the experiment going on behind visible phenomenon of mass government schooling, it isn’t necessary to invent inhuman agencies, only to see the situation of child training from the perspective of professional social managers. If society is looked upon as an anthill or a beehive, and a management draws on the logic of the corporation, school as we know it must follow.

Read More


Plank Road Little Red Schoolhouse, Fonda, NY


plank road

The Plank Road Little Red Schoolhouse

Cemetery Street

Fonda, NY

The one-room schools of Montgomery County, NY, have all but disappeared with the centralization of school districts. The buildings have either been renovated into homes or razed. Fortunately for the Plank Road Schoolhouse, concerned individuals formed a committee to preserve their last remaining one-room school in the town of Mohawk. Originally located on the southwest corner of the present Route 30A (formerly the Plank Road because it was made of wooden planks) and Old Trail Road, it is believed the District No. 7 school was built sometime before 1870 despite the “1877” date carved on one of the building’s clapboards. The school had the traditional separate cloakrooms for the boys and girls on each side of the entrance. The main room was lined with benches for the assigned seating with the teacher’s desk and the recitation bench in front. A pot bellied stove sat in the middle of the aisle for heating the room on cold days.  Children at the District No. 7 school crossed the Plank road to the old Ingersoll farm when they wanted a drink of water. Sometimes they used a dipper and drank water from a tin pail that tended to freeze in the winter. As the traffic on that route increased, the district, concerned for the safety of its students, purchased land adjacent to the school because it had a spring.  An added bonus for the children was that the land provided additional area for play.

In a 1970s article of the Mohawk Valley Democrat newspaper a former pupil who attended the No. 7 school around the turn of the century related that at that time the building began to require much needed maintenance. Incidentally, during the dedication of the monument to Colonel Simeon Sammons in the nearby cemetery on August 23, 1899, the firing of the cannon blasted out every window in the schoolhouse. The trustees considered constructing a new school north of the Fulton County line. However, the two trustees from Montgomery County outvoted the sole Fulton County trustee to make the necessary repairs to the existing building. With the centralization of the school districts, the one-room school on Plank Road closed in 1949. The schoolhouse sat for years vacant and falling into disrepair. By the 1970s, a project to widen Route 30A threatened the structure. Instead of seeing the demolition of a last vestige of an era of education gone by, a group, led by retired teacher and historian Millard Crane, formed with the mission of saving the schoolhouse and making it an educational museum.

The Fultonville Community Club and the Fonda-Fultonville Kiwanis Club co-sponsored the preservation project and solicited donations to move the schoolhouse to the campus of the centralized Fonda-Fultonville school on Cemetery Street in the Village of Fonda. Donations came in from local residents and from as far away as Florida and Arizona. The “Little Red Schoolhouse Committee,” so named from the 1968 award won by a group of Fonda-Fultonville students on the WRGB program later known as “Answers Please,” accomplished the first phase of their mission with the move of the Plank Road schoolhouse in June of 1973.  At its new location, the schoolhouse was placed upon a foundation of cement blocks. A year later, the BOCES building trades class restored the roof.

Through much fundraising and many hours of volunteer labor from various groups such as the Fonda-Fultonville students and Green Thumb program, the schoolhouse renovations were complete over a twelve-year period. Old desks and furnishings were recovered from storage while books and memorabilia were donated. Blackboards and a pot bellied stove were installed to restore the authenticity of the one-room school. The construction of a bell tower was the final restoration project along with the addition of the bell from the Town of Glen’s Winne schoolhouse.  The schoolhouse building, originally white in color, was painted red with white trim apropos with its name and in 1985, the Little Red Schoolhouse Museum was dedicated. Since that time, school groups have enjoyed receiving instruction at the museum and have had the opportunity to learn the way their ancestors did long ago. This pre-1870 little red one-room schoolhouse is a museum furnished with original desks, artifacts and memorabilia and is pen by appointment.  Today there are drinking fountains or vending machines to quench the thirst of students.

Herbert von Karajan and the “Anthem of Europe”


Herbert (Heribert Ritter) von Karajan (April 5, 1908 –July 16, 1989) was an Austrian conductor, who was principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic for 35 years, generally regarded as one of the greatest conductors of the 20th century, and a dominant figure in European classical music from the mid-1950s until his death.  Karajan was born Heribert Ritter von Karajan in Salzburg, Austria-Hungary, on April 5, 1908, to parents Ernst and Marta (née Kosmač) von Karajan.  The Karajans were of Greek or Aromanian ancestry. His great-great-grandfather Geórgios Karajánnis, was born in Kozani, in the Ottoman province of Rumelia (now in Greece), leaving for Vienna in 1767, and the surname Karajánnis became Karajan.

Karajan was a child prodigy at the piano.  From 1916 to 1926, he studied at the Mozarteum in Salzburg with Franz Ledwenke, theory with Franz Zauer, and composition with Bernhard Paumgartner. He was encouraged to concentrate on conducting by Paumgartner, who detected his exceptional promise in that regard. In 1926 Karajan graduated from the conservatory and continued his studies at the Vienna Academy, studying piano with Josef Hofmann (a teacher with the same name as the pianist) and conducting with Alexander Wunderer and Franz Schalk.

In 1929, he conducted Salome at the Festspielhaus in Salzburg and from 1929 to 1934 Karajan served as Kapellmeister at the Stadttheater in Ulm. His senior colleague in Ulm was Otto Schulmann. After Schulmann was forced to leave Germany in 1933, Karajan became first Kapellmeister. In 1933 Karajan made his conducting debut at the Salzburg Festival with the Walpurgisnacht Scene in Max Reinhardt’s production of Faust.   In Salzburg in 1934, Karajan led the Vienna Philharmonic for the first time, and from 1934 to 1941, he was engaged to conduct operatic and symphony-orchestra concerts at the Theater Aachen.

Karajan’s career was given a significant boost in 1935 when he was appointed Germany’s youngest Generalmusikdirektor and performed as a guest conductor in Bucharest, Brussels, Stockholm, Amsterdam and Paris.  In 1938 Karajan made his debut with the Berlin Philharmonic and the Berlin State Opera, conducting Fidelio. He then enjoyed a major success at the State Opera with Tristan und Isolde. Receiving a contract with Deutsche Grammophon that same year, Karajan made the first of numerous recordings, conducting the Staatskapelle Berlin in the overture to The Magic Flute.

On October 22, 1942, at the height of the Second World War, Karajan married Anna Maria “Anita” Sauest, born Gütermann. She was the daughter of a well-known manufacturer of yarn for sewing machines. Having had a Jewish grandfather, she was considered a Vierteljüdin (one-quarter Jewish woman). By 1944, Karajan was losing favor with the Nazi leadership, but he still conducted concerts in wartime Berlin on February 18, 1945. A short time later, in the closing stages of the war, he and Anita fled Germany for Milan, relocating with the assistance of Victor de Sabata.

Karajan was discharged by the Austrian denazification examining board on March 18, 1946, and resumed his conducting career shortly thereafter.  In 1946, Karajan gave his first post-war concert in Vienna with the Vienna Philharmonic. That summer he participated in the Salzburg Festival.  On October 28, 1947, Karajan, with the Vienna Philharmonic and the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde, performed Johannes Brahms’ A German Requiem for a gramophone production in Vienna.  In 1949, Karajan became artistic director of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde, Vienna. He also conducted at La Scala in Milan. His most prominent activity at this time was recording with the newly formed Philharmonia Orchestra in London, helping to build them into one of the world’s finest. Starting from this year, Karajan began his lifelong attendance at the Lucerne Festival.  In 1951 and 1952, he conducted at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus, and in 1955, he arrived in New York City for a concert at Carnegie Hall.

In 1956, Karajan was appointed principal conductor for life of the Berlin Philharmonic as successor to Wilhelm Furtwängler.  From 1957 to 1964, he was artistic director of the Vienna State Opera. Karajan was closely involved with the Vienna Philharmonic and the Salzburg Festival, where he initiated the Easter Festival, which would remain tied to the Berlin Philharmonic’s Music Director after his tenure.  In 1971 the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe decided to propose adopting the prelude to the “Ode to Joy” from 4th movement of Ludwig van Beethoven’s 9th Symphony as the European anthem, taking up a suggestion made by Richard von Coudenhove-Kalerg.  Karajan was asked to write three instrumental arrangements – for solo piano, for wind instruments, and for symphony orchestra, and he conducted the performance used to make the official recording. He wrote his decisions on the score, notably those concerning the tempo. Karajan decided on minim (half note) = 80 whereas Beethoven had written crotchet (quarter note) = 120. The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe officially announced the European Anthem on January 19, 1972, at Strasbourg.

The “Anthem of Europe,” based on “Ode to Joy,” is the anthem of the Council of Europe and the European Union and is played on official occasions by both organizations.  It is not intended to replace the national anthems of the member states but rather to celebrate the values they all share and their unity in diversity. It expresses the ideals of a united Europe: freedom, peace, and solidarity.  Due to the large number of languages used in the European Union, the anthem is purely instrumental.  In February 1983, a bronze bust of Karajan was unveiled in the foyer of the newly built State Theatre in Berlin.  In his later years, Karajan suffered from heart and back problems, needing surgery on the latter. Karajan resigned as the Principal Conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic on April 24, 1989. His last concert was Bruckner’s 7th Symphony with the Vienna Philharmonic. He died of a heart attack at his home in Anif, Austria, on July 16, 1989, at the age of 81.

My collection includes the following work by Herbert von Karajan:

“Anthem of Europe”–Ode to Joy or An die Freude after Beethoven (European Union), arr.

Sydenstricker Schoolhouse, Springfield, VA



Sydenstricker Schoolhouse

8511 Hooes Rd.

Springfield, VA 22153

The Historic Sydenstricker Schoolhouse was built in Springfield, Fairfax County, Virginia, in 1928.  Once the center of education and social activities in the community, the schoolhouse now stands as a reminder of a past era, and a testament to the many generations of people that have loved, cared for, and preserved the building over the years.  What’s really special about this place isn’t just that it is a 90 year old historic schoolhouse, but that after all these years it is still a living, breathing, thriving community center.  Its function and role in our community has changed through the years, but its value to the community has not diminished.

The Sydenstricker Schoolhouse is the last remaining example of an early 20th century one-room schoolhouse in Fairfax County in nearly original condition and still on its original site. Except for a few minor changes, the building remains architecturally and structurally intact.  It was the last one-room schoolhouse in the county built prior to consolidation, and when it closed in 1939 it was among the last operating one-room schoolhouses in Fairfax County.  The schoolhouse has been owned and maintained by the Upper Pohick Community League since they purchased it from the Fairfax County School District in 1954.