Monday, May 23, 2016

Christianity's Dangerous Idea by Alistair McGrath


  I bought this book a couple of years ago and have already read McGrath's The Passionate Intellect and his biography of C.S. Lewis.  McGrath is a historian, biochemist and Christian theologian from Belfast, Northern Ireland.  A one time atheist and  professor at Oxford University, he is now a Christian and holds the Chair in theology, ministry, and education at the University of London.

I like reading his books because he is committed to challenging Christians to use their minds and intellects to explore and affirm their faith.  While I don't agree with him in all areas, such as his stance on evolution and certain Biblical truths he seems vague on, his work is well-researched and reflects his own commitment to making reasonable and intelligent arguments concerning the Christian faith.

Christianity's Dangerous Idea is a historical account of the origins of Protestantism, its spread throughout Europe, America and eventually the world, its development and adaptation to change and its current cultural face as it exists today.

He starts with the Reformation with Luther and Calvin and meticulously traces their beliefs, comparing and contrasting it with the prevalent Catholic theology and its turbulent spread across Europe, including heretical break offs.  He also explains the separate but contemporary development of the Anglican church under Henry VIII in England and its own struggles between the state church and Puritanism, Puritanism being the branch of Reformed theology that traveled from Geneva under Calvin to Scotland via John Knox.

We travel with the Puritans to America where they were committed to setting up their own churches, free from established state churches and building our great educational institutions today such as Harvard and Princeton.  They also incorporated laws that protected citizens' rights to worship as they believed not as a state controlled religion would impose on them.  

Somehow the Puritan's laws have been twisted today to mean that citizens no longer have a right to worship as they please if it comes into conflict with state-imposed secularism.  Hence wedding caterers and bakers are forced into bankruptcy for "hate crimes" because their beliefs don't conform to state-ordained statutes of what constitutes right and wrong.  Nuns and other businesses have to go to court to defend their personal religious beliefs about birth control and abortifacients. New definitions have been created to determine what discrimination means and freedom of religious expression is being sacrificed at this alter.

Protestant movements saw this as a danger in the 17th century and came to America to freely practice their beliefs and legally protect all people's beliefs.

An interesting phenomenon occurred within the Protestant denominations and McGrath asserts that the very nature of Protestantism produced it.  Because an overhead authority in the form of the Roman church  came between the individual and the Word of God, there was unity in belief and worship.  People did not try to interpret the Bible for themselves, but rather allowed the Holy See to interpret Scripture for them.  This produced a uniformity of worship and doctrine.  Protestants said that their only authority was scripture "Sola Scriptura" and that they needed no human intermediary.

What this produced was many variants of Scripture interpretation and a fractured church as Protestants broke into many denominations, each interpreting the Bible according to their own understanding.

Or so McGrath says and this is where I disagree with him.  He seems to discount an essential phenomena to the Christian walk.  Namely, that when a person becomes a believer in Jesus Christ, the second Person of the Trinity comes to dwell with him, the Holy Spirit.  Jesus promised this in John 16:13:

But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.

and also:

1 John 2:27:

As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him. 

 Consequently, even though there are many Protestant denominations who worship in a variety of ways the differences are secondary.  Each Protestant church will claim the same truths concerning salvation and evidence of that salvation.

The difference lies between churches who believe in the inerrant truth of the Bible and those who claim the Bible is not inerrant.  

McGrath shows the pattern of almost every denomination and how each one eventually splits into two groups:  Liberal and Conservative.  I find these names ironic because the "liberal" churches believe the Bible says whatever you want it to say and any scripture that contradicts modern culture and morals must be wrong.  Conservatives believe one of the attributes of God is that He is immutable.

Malachi 3:6
For I, the LORD, do not change

James 1:17
Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.  

Hebrews 13:8
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. 

McGrath makes the argument that people misunderstand the truths of the Bible therefore, the "meaning" of Scripture can change as Christians gain greater understanding of it, but again this belies the power of God and His ability to impart truth to even the simplest of people.

He uses the argument of Christians justifying slavery using the Bible.  I counter that argument by saying that the people who use the Bible to justify slavery are the same people who would twist the meaning of Scripture today to justify acts of immorality.  They didn't rely on the truth of the Scripture but manipulated it to mean what they wanted.  This is a sure sign someone does not have the Holy Spirit with them.

One of the most interesting topics McGrath writes about is the missionary work and its consequent spread throughout the world that the majority of Christians now live in the "Global South" as it is called.  The biggest Protestant church in the world is in South Korea with a significant underground church in North Korea and China.  Africa and South America also have fertile population growths of Protestant churches.

McGrath claims that two characteristics of Protestantism is responsible:  changing the face of Christianity so that it no longer is entrenched in a European culture and the spread of the Pentecostal movement.

Because of Protestantism's ability to remain malleable, it is able to adhere to Biblical truth while embracing cultural norms of other societies.  Therefore, Africans, South Americans etc. can incorporate their own culture and worship God inside a familiar context.

Ironically, because so many American and European churches have become liberal, those churches are fast losing populations (why go to church if I can believe whatever I want?) while their Global southern counterparts are conservative in Biblical practice and are growing by leaps and bounds. 

The other phenomenon is the rapid spread of the Charismatic movement.  McGrath argues that this particular brand of Protestantism more closely adheres to African, Asian and South American beliefs in spiritualism, faith healing and casting out of demons.

He notes that in America the Pentecostal movement started on Azuza street in 1906 (although many other factors led to that movement) by Charles Parnham Fox and spread throughout America, largely through the poor underclass.  Interestingly, similar movements started in Korea, India, Chile, Venezuela and other countries, even in Norway, around the same time.  For those who are unfamiliar with Pentecostalism, it is the belief that when one becomes saved, one is "baptized" by the Holy Spirit and receives a special "prayer language" that enables the believer to speak in tongues.  This can be while praying to God or in an assembly where an interpreter will reveal to the congregation what was said, usually a message from God for the edification of the people.

There is division among conservative Protestant groups as to the validity of this belief, however, it is a secondary difference.  Pentecostals and other conservative denominations are unified in the essential core beliefs of Christianity:  saved through faith in Jesus Christ, inerrancy of the Bible et al.

Pentecostalism is one of the fastest spreading branches of Protestantism and it is estimated that around 300 million Pentecostals exist world wide (Pew Forum).

I personally found this book fascinating because I love to trace historical roots of our present culture and connect the past to the present.  It gives me a greater understanding as to the cultural context in which I live my life.  I also love to approach belief systems and how they fit in globally.   As a Christian I feel connected to my fellow believers worldwide.  McGrath's Christianity's Dangerous Idea helped me connect our Christian past to its present and value it all the more.

Monday, May 16, 2016

A Composer's World: Horizons and Limitations by Paul Hindemith



 Here are all the books I'm currently reading


After making such high claims in my last post of making a self-imposed deadline to publish a book review each Sunday, I have succeeded in missing the last two Sundays.  It is not that I'm not reading a boat load of books, I just had not finished  any of them until now.  Therefore, with Ralph Vaughn Williams' exquisite Mass in G minor playing in the background (I'd play Hindemith but his music is way too aggressive to concentrate by) I put pen to paper (figuratively).


https://img.yumpu.com/12209370/1/358x507/a-composers-world-horizons-and-limitations-paul-hindemith.jpg

I don't know how interesting this book will be unless you love the music of Paul Hindemith, something I'm quite passionate about, but maybe you will find his essays describing the process of turning sound into music worth reading.

Paul Hindemith was a German composer of the twentieth century.  He left Nazi Germany in 1940 and immigrated to the United States.  He is known for his percussive, expressionist style of musical composition.  I am most familiar with his Sonatas for piano and various brass, wind and string instruments because I have performed several of them.  This spring I played with a trumpeter and next fall I will be performing with a tubist.  My favorite, however, is the Sonata for piano and flute which I had the good fortune to play with a beautiful flutist (that describes her person and her playing)

 Hindemith's goal was to write a sonata for every instrument but he did not complete this endeavor.  My favorite performances are by Glenn Gould with members of the Philadelphia Orchestra. I've listed a few that I could find on youtube.  The entire set is on Spotify. Type in Hindemith Brass Sonatas. 

The first group of chapters were the most interesting.  He got a bit cranky towards the end of the book and I didn't entirely agree with his perspective.

His first chapter, The Philosophical Approach discusses various scholars throughout the ages, such as Boethius and Augustine and how they defined music.  I found quite a few thought-provoking gems through out this chapter.

Hindemith describes Augustine's philosophy of music thus:  "Musical impressions are by no means simple reactions to external stimuli but rather a complex mixture of sound and though sound can exist independent of a listener, one must hear before they can perceive and mentally absorb what took place.  This in turn releases reactions in the brain's center of hearing.  Then we must imagine music mentally.  Furthermore, music conjurs up mental images from prior experiences and adds to these experiences."

Boethius insists that "music is a part of our human nature" with the "power to improve or debase our character.  Our mind is a passive receiver and is impressed and influenced by the power music exerts."

He also believes, as did Keplar, that our planetary spheres are moved by music, causing the "cohesion of the entire universe".

The next chapter delves into how a listener perceives music intellectually.  How the listener constructs the music depends (according to Hindemith) on his musical literacy.  How can a listener with no prior experience in music accomplish such a "seemingly complicated task of music construction?" he asks.   After all, there "must have been in each human being's life a moment when a first conscious apperception of a musical impression did not permit any reference to former ones."

Hindemith attempts to explain this by asserting that we first respond to music through our own "acts of motility". That their "organization according to space, duration, and intensity," already "well established in his emotional experience, serves as measurement for these penetrating audible impressions." 

He then proceeds to explain how we perceive music emotionally in his next chapter.  We've heard that music is a universal language, but Hindemith declares that our emotional response is cultural.  He supports this by stating that a Western listener listening to Asian music for the first time would not detect in musical significance in it. 

His following chapter theorizes on how music is a vehicle for inspiration.  He makes the interesting comments that "the emotions released by music are no real emotions" but rather "images of emotion that have been experienced before".  He says that musical space is felt by our experience in real space. 

Chapter 5 and 8 describes the means of musical production.  Here he gets a bit technical, developing the concept of tones, overtones, and intervalic structure which, if one is not a musician, or a literate one ( can read and write music) won't make a lot of sense.  But I find his discourse on how music travels through space and the means by which to make this happen (instrument choice, what kind of material to use etc..) very interesting.

In Chapter 6,  7, and 9 Hindemith's tone takes a turn.  He becomes negative about composers who concern themselves more with form rather than substance.  He derides those who wish to dazzle with technique and style instead of quality musical communication.  He has the same criticisms for performers who would rather impress with their ability rather than "lose themselves" in the expression of sound so that the listener forgets the interpreter and only concentrates on the music. 

He also criticizes music being performed in space it wasn't written for.  He believes that most musical compositions were written for small areas and not large concert halls, which he asserts distorts the sound.  It also forces the performers to play on a scale (loudly, fast) contrary to the intentions of the composer.  He finds this especially true when large orchestras play Bach, Handel and Mozart on contemporary instruments rather than in small ensembles and on period instruments these composers' works were originally performed on. He rightly states that modern, versions of instruments can't possibly replicate the sound those composers intended.  However, he also concedes that it is presumptuous to say modern instruments are not equally effective in musical expression perhaps more so in some instances.

His final chapters lambast education and educators.  He believes far less people should choose a career in music and none should choose it for the sole purpose of teaching without developing a love a mastery of a particular instrument.

The last chapter deals with the music industry and again he thinks that there is a glut of mediocre musicians produced from universities because the schools want students to pay tuition rather than a sincere desire to cultivate first rate musicians and mercilessly cull out the rest.

Frankly, I think he is too harsh in this last instance and it really isn't his business who chooses to major in music and seek a career as a performer or teacher.  No one was forcing him to listen to anyone he didn't want to.

Still, all in all, I found this book to be enlightening and a rare opportunity to read the inner machinations of a great man's mind.

He will always be a favorite composer, even if I don't entirely agree with his music philosophy.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/be/Paul_Hindemith_1923.jpg 
Paul Hindemith (1895-1963)

I hope you will take time to hear these beautiful compositions.  I am not the pianist but I have performed all three with various instrumentalists.

Hindemith Sonata for piano and flute
 
Hindemith Sonata for piano and trumpet

Hindemith Sonata for piano and tuba

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Why Call Them Back from Heaven by Clifford D.Simak; Mozart by Marcia Davenport; The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton






It is 11:42  at night and I have yet to write any book reviews and the books are just piling up.  I'm starting to feel overwhelmed.  I probably will not be giving the most lucid reviews but am determined to maintain my self-imposed deadlines.  So with Ernest Chausson's beautiful song, Hebe, playing on Spotify I begin:


Why Call Them Back from Heaven? by Clifford D. Simak
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/e/ef/WhyCallThemAce,jpg.jpg/220px-WhyCallThemAce,jpg.jpg

Simak writes a strange tale of an America that has discovered how to bring bodies back to life.  At least a private company claims to have unlatched this secret.  As a result people are pouring all their resources and savings into a place to store their frozen body in order to be "resurrected" in a better future.  The problem is that they are destroying their present one for the sake of what may or may not be.

There are questions:  Is it true?  How do we know?  And even if it is true, what is this future world going to do with all these bodies?  How about the millions of bodies stored in third world countries who face hunger, poverty, and other deprivation?  Will they not simply reawake to another lifetime of the same predicament?

Then there are the Religious Ones.  Why continue in a sinful, corrupt world when one can die and live forever in Paradise with God?  Who wants to spend eternity in a fallen world?

With this backdrop we have a mystery.  One man, Daniel Frost, is on the run.  He worked for the Forever Center (the company that freezes the bodies) but somehow received a letter containing information that is crucial to Marcus Appleton, another employee.  Even though Frost has seen the letter, he doesn't understand what's in it, but he knows that Appleton is trying to kill him for it.  As Frost loses his identity, his right to be a citizen, or even provide a living for himself, he must also stay in hiding until he can find out how to expose the letter to the right people.

The ending, which I won't give away, poses another philosophical question and yes, it has to do with the secret that is uncovered in the letter.  This book deserves better commentary than I'm giving it here.  I read it to please my husband who loves this author and science fiction in general.  However, I'm glad I read it.  Thank you, Josh, for expanding my tastes in literature.


Mozart by Marcia Davenport

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41fcS0VfPPL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Davenport wrote this biography in 1931 when the style was to dramatize rather than simply supply information.  I understand the thinking behind this method of biography.  It is an attempt to make the subject real to the reader.  So we have descriptions of Mozart smirking here, stamping his foot impatiently there, as well as several imagined conversations that might have taken place with his friends and family.

Like the movie, Amadeus, which I enjoyed, it creates a life like image of a historical figure so we can see him for ourselves.  The problem is, is that the image is largely a figment of the writer's imagination and consequently a false one.  I'd much rather the biographer write what actually happened.  I have read Mozart's letters so I have already experienced his "voice." 

That aversion aside, Davenport does supply us with information that gives us a greater familiarity with arguably the greatest composer whoever lived.  Her book gave me insight into his life and surroundings that I did not previously possess.

The thing from reading Mozart that strikes me most was how small he was in the eyes of his contemporaries.  The aristocracy were lukewarm to him and those who knew better were jealous and successfully sabotaged his career.  Still, slowly, Mozart began to make a name for himself, especially in Eastern Europe where they loved his operas.  If he had chosen to stay there he would have become financially successful. 

But he insisted on returning to his beloved Vienna, where they couldn't care less. If Mozart had lived longer than his thirty-five years he would have seen himself turn into the great legend he now is.  He was on the cusp as his music was gaining greater renown, even in Austria where his enemies retired or, realizing Mozart was on the way up, became his supporters.

One woman in old age was asked how she could be so blase about knowing Mozart.  Her reply was, "But he was such a little man!"

This book did succeed in making Mozart a real person who actually walked on this earth as a regular mortal.  It opened a window into his era and so I conclude that this book is worth reading.  I am now on a quest to find the perfect Mozart biography.  I have already started reading Mozart:  A Cultural Biography by Robert W. Gutman.  It is very different in its scope but I will write more when I finish it.

And finally....

The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton

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It's past midnight and I'm going to be brief.  Ghost Stories contains eleven stories, each about twenty pages long, that deal largely with the same themes that Wharton covers in all her books:  Unhappily married women, beautiful descriptions about New England and British countryside and old manors and clever turns of phrases.  I enjoyed that last two attributes best.

The added element in these stories is that they also include ghosts.  None of them are alike.  Some deal with dead people from the family, others of people who were cheated and have returned for revenge.  Sometimes the person is an innocent bystander caught in the crossfire of supernatural transactions that have nothing to do with them.  One, my favorite, is more psychological in nature in a Dorian Grayesque kind of way. 

Wharton had a traumatic, metaphysical experience when she was young which she said inspired these stories.  A small autobiographical explanation is included in the back as a small epilogue.

It is 12:20 AM, Eric Satie's Premier Gymnopedie for solo piano has just finished playing and I have given my two-cents worth on the last three books I've read. I hope you have the opportunity to read and enjoy them for yourselves.  Have a wonderful week!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Letters of Mozart and Beethoven

 
Being a classical musician, I like to read biographies of the composers whose music I have performed.  Learning a piece of music is comparable to a relationship with someone.  You get to know the work, dig deep into all the different layers, melodies, musical sentences, harmonies, sounds that are supposed to be in the forefront, the ones that are supposed to be in the background.  Songs do speak,  and each musical sentence is saying something.  It's important to listen closely to what you are playing so you can successfully carry that message over to the audience.
Bosephus Hambone is trying to decide which Mozart biography to read first.

And of course, that doesn't begin to describe the amount of practicing involved just to be able to play the notes correctly.  People have called me creative because I am a musician.   That is not exactly true.  Strictly speaking, I am an interpreter of other people's creations.  

As ballet dancers interpret sound through the motion of their body, I must produce that sound correctly so that it communicates what the composer intended to express.

One of the things that helps me as an interpreter is to read up on the historical time periods of the composers.  I read everything about those composers and also look at the art that influeneced the composers.  I find that the art gives me a visual comparison to the aural experience I am trying to produce by playing a certain composition. 

 For example, what Rembrandt achieved with chiaroscuro in his paintings, Beethoven tried to create aurally.  Chiaroscuro is the sharp contrast between light and dark.  Here is a painting of Rembrandt to show what I mean:

http://bryanbeus.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Rembrandt_night_watch.jpg

 If one listens to Beethoven's works, be it symphonies or a piano sonata, one can hear the great contrast between loud and soft, the whole orchestra playing, then suddenly one instrument playing.  Fast vs. slow; calm vs. passion.  His works are in constant flux between contrasting elements.

One thing I never did previously was read the letters of composers.  I don't know, I felt it was an invasion of privacy.  I have had a book of Mozart's letters for 28 years.  It was a gift from the organist at my church in high school.  Just a few months ago, I finally dusted it off and read it.  

What a delightful collection!  I then bought Beethoven's letters and enjoyed that too.  Here is a brief description of both:



Mozart's letters are all the joy, cheer, brilliant wit and love of life that is expressed in his music put into words.  The letters are primarily between the composer and his father.  It is easy to see the optimist, naive, little boy with a wicked sense of humor who never quite grew up.  All of his letters to his father are gushing about the latest friends he has made ("Count so and so loves my work he is going to commission me to write so many sonatas if I will travel to Italy with him etc...") 

And his father's response:  "Are you out of your feather-headed mind?!  I told you to stay in Vienna where you can get a real job with a commission at the court."

I'm paraphrasing, but you get the idea.

Back and forth it goes.  We learn a lot about the aristocracy and how they treated the little guy.  Mozart was apparently a little guy.  He was always strapped for funds and even though many wealthy patrons enjoyed his music, they weren't always intelligent enough to truly understand the genius behind it.  They often treated him disrespectfully.  Here's an excerpt from one of his letters:

So I presented myself.  On my arrival I was made to wait half an hour in a great ice-cold unwarmed room, unprovided with any fireplace.  At length the Duchesses de Chabot came in, greeted me with the greatest civility, begged me to make the best of the clavier since it was the only one in order, and asked me to try it. 'I am very willing to play,' I said, 'but momentarily it is impossible, for my hands are numb with the cold,' and I begged she would have me conducted to a room with a fire. 'Oh, oui Monsieur, vous avez raison,' was all the answer I received and thereupon she sat down and began to sketch in company with a party of gentlemen who sat in a circle round a big able.  There I had the honor of waiting fully an hour...

At last, to be brief, I played on the wretched, miserable pianoforte...however, Madame and her gentlemen never ceased their sketching for a moment, so that I had to play to the chairs, tables and walls...

Then as likely as not, they wouldn't buy his works, or they would take them and not pay him for them.  In short, Mozart was at the mercy of rich patrons who took advantage of him.  

And yet he never lost his sense of cheer and joie de vivre which permeates throughout all his letters, counterpointed by his father's thunderous ones which provides us with a rollicking "storm vs. cheerful exuberance" kind of literary journey.

Also evident in his letters is his deep religious fervor.  He changed his middle name to "Amadeus" which means "to love God". This is also expressed in all his music but especially in his masses. Mozart wrote over sixty religious works.  He said: 

I thank my God for graciously granting me the opportunity of learning that death is the key which unlocks the door to our true happiness.

And  also his animosity towards those he deemed immoral. He wrote of Voltaire:


The ungodly arch-villain, Voltaire, has died like a dog. I have always had God before my eyes… Friends who have no religion cannot long be my friends.

  The movie "Amadeus" portrayed Mozart as something of a womanizer but he wasn't.  While he enjoyed flirtatious banter with various ladies, he explained to his father his intentions of marrying were for a number of reasons, including that, frankly, he didn't want to catch a disease.  So Mozart was hopelessly romantic, which is evident in how he describes his beautiful, charming bride, Constanze, but also pragmatic.  They had six children, only two of who survived.

Unfortunately, Mozart was not good with his finances, which were already distressed by fickle Royalty who were erratic with their payments.  The last few letters in the book are addressed to a friend of Mozart who had lent him some money.  These letters contain painful to read pleas for more money to help the young composer get out of his desperate straits.

The last letter included is by Constanze, who is asking the same man for money to help settle the now dead composer's affairs.  A short epilogue is included to inform the reader that she was able to pay off all of her husband's debts.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1e/Wolfgang-amadeus-mozart_1.jpg 
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  1756-1791

 Bosephus has decided to start with the one by Marcia Davenport






Enthusiastically riding the wave of Mozart's letters, I immediately plunged into a collection of Beethoven's.  This was  after I read a good biography of his life by George Alexander Fischer.  I have others to read but this one had very good foot notes and was well written and was free on kindle so a gem all around.

As bouncy and effervescent as Mozart's letters were, Beethoven's are deep, deep waters with powerful surges, creating tidal waves of emotion.  They are not less or more beautiful but wonderfully different.

A few things surprised me.  While Mozart could be impish to the point of immaturity in mocking people he deemed of lesser talent, Beethoven was surprisingly generous.  In fact, he barely mentions anyone whose playing or composing he doesn't like but spends a great deal of time pouring out volumes of praise on those he did.  His praise is not superficial or melodramatic but filled with love and honor.  Among those composers he loved are J.S. Bach and his son, C.P.E. Bach.  He kept in contact with C.P.E. Bach's son and worked hard to help him promote his father's work.

He sings the praises of Mozart, who, in one generation, had gone from relatively unknown to a national hero.  

He also loved Handel, and also the poet Frederich Schiller-from whom he set the words to Schiller's poem, "An de Freude"-in English "Ode to Joy"- to the final movement of his Ninth Symphony (Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee).  

He had a rather one-sided relationship with the great German writer Goethe.  Beethoven loved Goethe and Goethe disliked Beethoven.   This was because of an incident that Beethoven brought upon himself.

Beethoven and Goethe were walking down a promenade where the Empress was walking with her retinue.  Goethe immediately stepped aside, took off his hat and bowed low until they had all passed.  Beethoven, on the other, kept walking and talking, forcing the retinue to move out of his way as he passed.  This shocked Goethe and he never had anything more to do with the composer.

This did not prevent Beethoven from admiring Goethe and he continued to write many works based on the writings of the great "German Renaissance man."

Another difference between Mozart and Beethoven as might already be imagined is that Beethoven did not do Royalty's bidding, they did his.  He stormed out of a Prince's house after a perceived insult exclaiming, "There are and will be thousands of princes, but there is only ONE Beethoven!"

One thing in Beethoven's favor is that Royalty no longer held a monopoly on the patronage of musical composition .  Primary funding came from publishers who bought the music and distributed it.  Many of the letters in my collection are highly entertaining epistles to publishers from Beethoven who lets them know in no unclear terms exactly where they can go if they do not copy his music to his exact specifications or give him a cent less than the amount he demands for them.

Beethoven's great emotion comes surging out of his letters in the same way music propels off the pages of his compositions.  He is almost bi-polar in his relationships.  One letter is telling a friend how much he hates him and the very next is an abject apology for "losing control of himself".

One of the interesting things is Beethoven's devotion to obtaining custody of his brother's son from the mother.  There are many court battles and as energetic and violent as Beethoven could be, the mother seems up to the task.  It is a horrible case and the nephew at one point attempts suicide.  Luckily he survives and eventually turns out well, a result he credits his uncle with.

Beethoven also loved many women, and to my surprise they loved him back and wished to marry him.  In the end, however, he chose celibacy and never married.  (I choose the word "celibacy" because that is the word used in the book.  I know that flies in the face of our present culture that can't believe anyone not a priest would be so, but there it is.)

It's probably easy to remain celibate when you're chronically ill and Beethoven was chronically ill.  As his hearing loss became worse, so did his spells of depression.  It is a mystery how he came to lose it.  Theories of congenital syphilis have been debunked because none of his siblings were affected with it and Beethoven was the oldest.  An autopsy showed his inner ears to be inflamed.  Probably and tragically it was something that could have been easily remedied today with antibiotics or tubes in the ears.

There were many other ailments, his liver, stomach, joints.  He seemed as he aged to become enveloped in constant pain.  He finally died at the age of fifty-seven.  An autopsy was performed per his request and his liver was found to be shrunken.  This could be due to many causes but the most likely is lead poisoning from drinking contaminated water and leaden cups.  His body was found to have sixty times the amount above normal.

There isn't enough room to discuss Beethoven's music but a few things I found interesting was that he only wrote one opera, Fidelio, because he despised the vulgar and immoral humor that was prevalent in that genre (Mozart, who wrote twenty operas, apparently didn't have the same compunction) .  He thought all music should be a religious experience.  His opera was about the undying faithfulness of a wife to her husband.  It was not popular during his lifetime, but later came to be understood for its greatness.

Then let us do what is right, strive toward the unattainable, develop as fully as we can the gifts God has given us and never stop learning.  L. van Beethoven


Some have disputed Beethoven's religious views.  He was born Roman Catholic but was not known for attending services.  However, his views are best expressed in his Masses, of which he wrote several, and especially his Missa Solemnis.  In the slow movement of his String Quartet No. 15 he wrote the title:  "Holy Song of Thanksgiving to God from a Convalescent".


No friend have I.  I must live by myself alone; but I know well that God is nearer to me than others in my art so I will walk fearlessly with Him.  L. van Beethoven

What I found to be the most rewarding aspect of reading these great men's letters is that it seems as if they are talking directly to me.  I am hearing their voice, crossing the boundaries of over a hundred years telling me their thoughts.  That cannot but increase a sense of intimacy with them and I know that my performance of their works will not be the same.

 http://a4.files.biography.com/image/upload/c_fill,cs_srgb,dpr_1.0,g_face,h_300,q_80,w_300/MTI2NTgyMzIxOTcyMjU5NDU5.jpg
 Ludwig van Beethoven 1770-1827

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Conversations with the Muses by Robert Tracy; Dancing on My Grave by Gelsey Kirkland; Holding on to the Air by Suzanne Farrell with Toni Bentley









Ballet has always been one of my passions.  There is something about watching the fluidity of movement as a dancer uses agility and power to move his or her body through space, controlled by the timing of beautiful music that is such an elevating experience. 

 But all the components have to be there.  


I don't feel the same way when watching gymnasts or ice skaters.  Their moves are not as diverse. They don't move for the sake of beauty but rather for correct motion.  Dancing isn't simply about accuracy and being graded a number.  It is the combination of motion and music. It's not just about speed and impressive jumps but controlling the body to move to the tempo of the music. Dance creates a visual expression of an aural production.

It amazes me how many different kinds of dances and compositions there are.  Also, each dancer gives their own interpretation, which is why you can watch the same ballet with different dancers and receive something different from each one.

My personal preference is for the abstract.  I've never been as interested in the traditional ballets that tell a story like Don Quixote or Romeo and Juliet.  My favorite choreographer is George Balanchine and my favorite ballet dancers are the ones who danced in the New York City Ballet while he was the director. Balanchine wrote many ballets to the music of Charles Ives, Paul Hindemith and many to his good friend Igor Stravinsky's works.  As these composers were Twentieth century in their compositional style, so are Balanchine's dances.  I don't care about a story line when it is the movement of the body to music that provokes an aesthetic response in me, not the - oftentimes overly sentimental- 18th century Romantic Ballets.


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One book I have enjoyed reading many times is Balanchine's Ballerinas:  Conversations with the Muses.  The author Robert Tracy interviewed as many of the choreographer's Prima Donnas as were available, alive, or willing to be interviewed (Gelsey Kirkland refused, but more about her later).

 Balanchine's career spans many decades.  One has to remind one's self that the man who made the ballets for the pale dancers with black eyeliner in those silent screen-like photos is the same one who created ballets for dances that look as if they were performed yesterday, even though the footage is from the seventies.

Most of the women interviewed in Balanchine's Ballerinas share a loyalty, some gushing, some fierce, others merely pragmatic, towards the man that enabled them to reach  such great heights in dance. More than one dancer called him her "Svengali".

Balanchine obsessed over his dancers.  When he found a certain woman, the one with the right body type and ability (he liked tall; one dancer said his training elongated your muscles and turned you into a filly), she became his world and he created all sorts of dances for her.  Some might call it romantic and he did marry some of them, but I think it was something more:  a drive to channel great music through the bodies of people capable of moving in ways according to his vision.

The girls are interesting studies.  They all have a single driving ambition to dance.  They entered his school at young ages and were raised in a secluded enclave that had little correspondence to the rest of the world.  When reading about these ballerinas, one can't tell what year it is because current events don't touch their lives.  When someone ran up to Suzanne Farrell and told her they saw her photo in a magazine next to the Beatles, Suzanne asked, "Who are the Beatles?"

The downside to this is that Ballet is a young person's career, by the time a dancer is forty, they are usually suffering from multiple injuries, often needing hip or knee replacements.  Ironic that such beauty can be so brutal to the body.  

Another brutal experience for Balanchine's ballerinas was  being tossed over in favor of the new obsession; the younger dancer who could now fulfill the choreographer's idea of mobile perfection.  Many dancers suffered as ballets made especially for them were taken away and given to the new favorite.

I would like to read a book about what most ballet dancers do when their career is over.  Instead, I read a couple of autobiographies of two of Balanchine's Prima Donnas.  The dancers are quite different from each other in temperament as well as their relationship to the man who projected their careers.



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The first one I read was Gelsey Kirkland's Dancing on My Grave.  Kirkland grew up in a famous, privileged and dysfunctional family.  Her dad, the author Jack Kirkland, was an alcoholic.  Gelsey's mother was the last of several wives.  Growing up in an unstable environment probably contributed to the anger that colors her autobiography.  

The contents are filled with horror tales of anorexia, dancing with inflamed tendons, drugs and sleeping around.  She is as merciless in describing her own self-absorbed and destructive lifestyle as she is with those she whom shared that life with.

Mikhail Baryshnikov, with whom she partnered with in the American Ballet Theater for several years, comes across as narcissistic.  Her love affair with him seems like a meaningless after thought, yet she demanded him to love her and couldn't forgive him when he didn't.  Perhaps her growing up gave her such a warped view of  love and intimacy that she had no clear definition of what real love looked like.  She moves from lover to lover, starving herself, becoming a cocaine addict, changing her body and face through plastic surgery (she even clipped her ear lobes!) but nevertheless looking like a fairy-like phantasma as she effortlessly twirls and  trips across the stage.

She describes Balanchine as a monstrous exploiter of women, creating his own personal dance mill and throwing away the used up products afterward.

She wrote a follow up biography which I haven't read.  I hope things improved for her.  
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Suzanne Farrell writes a different biography that comes across as more honest or at least even-handed.  She doesn't sugar coat her relationship with Balanchine.  Well, maybe a little.  We read of a little girl whose all-consuming desire was to dance.  Meeting Balanchine made that dream come true.  

Farrell is considered the embodiment of everything Balanchine wanted in a dancer.  Many dancers suffered the heartache of ceasing to exist in their idol's eyes as they saw Farrell dance ballets originally created for them as well as several ballets that he made personally for her.

It is interesting to read of their complicated relationship.  As far as Farrell was concerned, he was the vehicle through which she was able to dance.  She willingly became his vehicle to express his choreography, so in a sense it was a symbiotic relationship.  

The waters get murky when she describes their off stage relationship.  According to her, it never became physical and she was conflicted with the feelings she had for him and knowing that he was married.  Apparently she didn't consider it wrong to travel all over Europe with a married man, even if it was non-physical.  According to Farrell their relationship had one purpose: to consummate dance between choreographer and dancer.

Considering that Farrell was only 18 and, like the other dancers, had no world outside the New York City Ballet, one can cut her a little slack. Also, there were no men in her life before Balanchine.  Her mother was divorced, she rarely saw her father and she never knew her grandfather.  She never dated or had any kind of relationship with a man before Balanchine.  

However, it shows how myopic someone can be about only one thing: her life had no meaning outside the context of the dance world.

Balachine's last wife was Tanaquil le Clerq, a divine masterpiece of long legs and slender body that flitted across the stage like something from another world.  Her grace and motion was ethereal.  At the height of her powers, she was the ultimate Balanchine Muse.  Tragically she was struck down with polio at the age of 26.  Because of guilt, Balanchine probably stayed married to her longer than his previous three wives. 

But when Farrell came along, after some years, he finally divorced le Clerq in Mexico.  When he returned, he found Farrell had married another dancer.

Farrell does not talk much about her husband Paul Mejia and they seemed to spend more time apart than together, although for the first five years of the marriage they spent their time together dancing in a Belgian Ballet Company after Balanchine evicted them from the NYC Ballet.

Eventually she returned to the NYC Ballet and shortly before his death Balanchine seems to have had some kind of religious conversion.  He took Suzanne to dinner where he talked about the Bible and even recited the Lord's Prayer.  He then told her he was wrong for what he did and asked her forgiveness.

It's interesting that even though Farrell was Roman Catholic and regularly attended Mass, she couldn't quite accept what they did as wrong.  In her book she insists that both she and Balanchine were instruments as a means to create ultimate art.  Maybe that is naivety on her part.  Maybe that is how she really viewed it.

Unlike Kirkland who seems to be a tiny ball of spitfire, Farrell comes across as a tall, cool, drink of water.  In her own words, not much makes her angry.  I don't think she's lying; some people have a more tranquil spirit.  It was her self-containment that communicated a feminine mystique that made her the final and perfect Balanchine Muse.

One thing I greatly appreciated from a performer's point of view (I'm a musician) was how self-effacing Farrell and many of the other dancers were.  They never felt as if they had arrived.  I found their struggles to master the art comforting because it is such hard work to do that.  Like them, I never feel as though I've arrived yet.  I always feel I  need one more month to learn a piece.

What all the women in these three books have in common is a life consumed with love for dance and their ability to use their bodies to convert motion with music into great art.




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Sunday, April 10, 2016

Paris in the Past and Montmartre: Two illustrated history books by Pierre Courthion


I love Paris in the spring time
I love Paris in the fall
I love Paris in the winter when it drizzles
I love Paris in the summer when it sizzles
I love Paris every moment
Every moment of the year
I love Paris
Why oh why do I love Paris?

My answer is a little different than the song.  I love Paris because I love art and I love history.  If you do too, you will like these two books I'm reviewing today.  You'll be hard pressed to find them because they're out of print.  I found them at a book fair this past year.  They're a little worn but the insides are filled with rich information and small detachable prints of art.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51n3xV8QHGL._SL500_SY373_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Pierre Courthion, who was alive and knew personally many of the impressionist and post-impressionist artists provided the text for both of these books.  He includes quotes from conversations he had with Matisse, Modigliani and a few others.  Paris in the past starts all the way back to Julius Caesar who call the place "Lutetia".  The inhabitants of the region at the time were known as Parisii. It is not certain when Christianity was introduced but St. Denis and St. Genevieve (3rd and 5th centuries, respectively) are connected with the area by then called "Paris".

We then skip several centuries to the first great architect of the city who was King Philip Augustus in the 12th century.  From then on it's pretty smooth sailing with historical records and a reasonably accurate account of the artists and how well they preserved history through their art.
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/00/Entr%C3%A9e_de_Charles_V_%C3%A0_Paris.jpg
King Charles V entering Paris, ca. 1460
Hence we have wonderful Medieval miniatures of peasants, royalty, even religious persecutions and the burning of heretics, not to mention the Books of Hours that wealthy people used to pray.

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Book of Hours
http://www.ancient-origins.net/sites/default/files/Jacques-de-Molay_0.jpg
Ordeal of the heretics by Jean Fouquet ca. 1420



 The book progresses to the Twentieth century while describing all the historical events in between with contemporary paintings.

http://worksofchivalry.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/12-Carroussel-place-royale-avril-1612.jpg
Tournament held on the Place Royale for the Marriage of Louis XIII, 1615 by Anonymous
http://veloursdelyon.fr/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Le_sacre_de_Napoleon_Jacques-Louis_David_1805-1807_0.jpg
The Coronation of Napoleon, Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825), 1805-1807
http://www.artble.com/imgs/b/d/4/134968/july_28_liberty_leading_the_people.jpg
Eugene Delacroix (1798-1863) Liberty guiding the People, July 28, 1830
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/513nII8DHeL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg 
 Montmartre is the same sort of book except that it traces the history of what was originally the countryside outside of Paris and is now a part of a northern corner inside the city.
Apparently, Montmartre was the haven for many artists, especially those of the late 19th century and first half of the twentieth century.  The cafe, the Moulin de la Galette was a popular meeting ground for many artists such as Edgar Degas, Auguste Renoir, Vincent Van Gogh and Modigliani. Courthion devotes a chapter to each artist including but not limited to:

http://fineartamerica.com/images/artworkimages/medium/1/view-of-the-butte-montmartre-louis-jacques-mande-daguerre.jpg
General view of Paris from Montmartre, ca. 1830 by Louis Daguerre (1787-1851)


http://www.edgar-degas.net/images/paintings/women-in-front-of-a-cafe.jpg
Women in a cafe at Montmartre, 1877 by Edgar Degas (1834-1917)


https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/40/Auguste_Renoir_-_Dance_at_Le_Moulin_de_la_Galette_-_Mus%C3%A9e_d'Orsay_RF_2739_(derivative_work_-_AutoContrast_edit_in_LCH_space).jpg
The Moulin de la Galette, 1876 by Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)

https://www.vangoghpaintings.com/paintings/JH1170,%20Le%20Moulin%20the%20La%20Galette.jpg
The Moulin de la Galette, 1886-1888 by Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890)

Toulouse-Lautrec's beloved Moulin Rouge is in Montmartre.
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/ef/Lautrec_marcelle_lender_doing_the_bolero_in_'chilperic'_1895.jpg
The Moulin Rouge, 1895 Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901)

Other artists such as Picasso, Georges Seurat and Pierre Bonnard are also given miniature biographies and their relationship to Montmartre.  Incidentally, this is also the area where the American and British writers such as Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, T.S. Eliot, James Joyce et al. congregated at cafes but they aren't included in this book.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/99/Th%C3%A9ophile-Alexandre_Steinlen_-_Tourn%C3%A9e_du_Chat_Noir_de_Rodolphe_Salis_(Tour_of_Rodolphe_Salis'_Chat_Noir)_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg
Le Chat Noir was an entertainment establishment in Montmartre in the 19th century
Neither of these books are very long, about 100 pages each, but they are extremely interesting and include many prints of the artists who lived, celebrated and- not least- painted Paris and Montmarte.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

One hundred books since summer





I finally have read one hundred books.  When I started out it was as a book-buying fast.  I wasn't going to buy one more book until I had read a hundred that I already owned.  Bwa-ha-ha-ha.  How naive I was.  I made it to about fifty when I broke down and went berserk.  I may be the first bulimic book buyer.  

Still, since I have read the hundred I thought I would list them.  Not all of them have been reviewed but I will create a link for those I have.  I divided them up by the months in which I read them to make the list a little more readable. 

Understand that I did not start and finish each set of books during that month.  I usually read about five or six books concurrently and finish them at different times.  Some take a week to read, others take a month or more.  I am only listing the books in the month I finished them. Modesty compels me to be honest about that.  I wouldn't want anyone out there thinking, "Gee whiz!  Sharon "the Super-duper Nerd Girl" reads fifteen books a month! I wish I was like her.  I feel so inadequate now!"  No, no. Only five, maybe six at any given time.

You'll notice in October I read quite a few folk tales from many countries.  These were very interesting and I need to take the time to review them.  They were, however, not as long as a novel so they puffed my numbers a bit.  On the other hand I did count the Lord of the Rings Trilogy as one book as well as the complete works of Flannery O'Connor so I guess it evens out.

 Please let me know if I read any of your favorites.  Or if you would like a review of one that I did not review.

Since last July I have read:
  1. July: The Hobbit by J.R. Tolkien
  2.  A Maigret Trio by Georges Simenon
  3.   The Emperor of All Maladies:  A Biography of Cancer by Siddartha Mukherjee 
  4.  Civil War Stories by Ambrose Bierce
  5.  Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
  6.  The Golem by Gustave Meyrink
  7.   Inventing the Truth:  The Art and Craft of Memoir by William Zinsser
  8. The Centurians by Jean Larteguy
  9.  Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis
  10. August:  The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis
  11. Francis Schaeffer collection Volume One
  12. Ben Carson autobiography:  Gifted Hands
  13. A Practical View of Christianity by William Wilberforce
  14. The Last Crusader:  The untold story of Christopher Columbus by George Grant
  15. The Annotated Brothers Grimm by Maria Tatar
  16. Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R. Tolkien (yes, I counted all six books as one)
  17. Flannery O Conner:  Collected Works (Complete Short Stories, Novels, Essays and Letters)
  18. Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper
  19. The True Furqan by Al Safee and Al Mahdy
  20. The Signet Classic Book of Southern Short Stories edited by Dorothy Abbott
  21. Kingdom of the Occult by Walter Martin
  22. September:  Collected Poems of Emily Dickenson:  Complete and Unabridged
  23. Dorothy L. Sayers:  The Complete Stories
  24. Diary of a Mad Man and Other Stories by Nikolai Gogol
  25. The Surprising Imagination of C.S. Lewis by Jerry Root
  26. Robert Frost Selected Poems
  27. English Country House Murders edited by Thomas Godfrey
  28. The Oxford Book of English Detective Stories edited by Patricia Craig
  29. The Arabian Nights:  Tales from A Thousand and One Nights Translated by Sir Richard Burton
  30. SteamPunk:  Extraordinary Tales of Victorian Futurism  edited by Mike Ashley
  31. A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle
  32.  October:  Why the Jackal Won't Talk to the Hedge Hog a Tunisian fold tale retold and illustrataed by Harold Berson
  33. Of Beasts, Birds and Men Fables from Three Lands retold by Anne Terry White
  34. Princess September by W. Somerset Maugham
  35. The Piece of Fire and other Haitian Tales by Harold Courlander
  36. Terrapin's Pot of Sense by Harold Courlander
  37. Folk Tales from China adapted by Lee Wyndham
  38. Two Russian Tales : Czar of the Water; The Little Humpbacked Horse
  39. The Three Wishes:  Collection of Puerto Rican Folktales by Ricardo E. Alegria
  40. The Fables of India by Joseph Gaer
  41. Shadows from the Singing House:  Eskimo Folk Tales retold by Helen Caswell
  42. Emblems of the Passing World:  Photographs by August Sander, Poems by Adam Kirsch
  43. Les Tres Riches Heures:  the Medieval Seasons Commentaries by Millard Meiss
  44. November:  Medieval Cats by Kathleen Walker-Meikle
  45. Black Cats and Evil Eyes:  A book of old-fashioned superstitions by Chloe Rhodes
  46. Medieval Dogs by Kathleen Walker-Meikle
  47. When They Come for Us We'll Be Gone:  The Epic Struggle to Save Soviet Jewry by Gal Becker
  48. The Deluxe Transitive Vampire by Karen Elizabeth Gordon
  49. John Dalton and the Atomic Theory by Elizabeth Chambers Patterson
  50. The Luminous Landscape: Chinese Art and Poetry by Richard Lewis
  51. Who Moved My Cheese?  by Spencer Johnson
  52. December:  The Last Jihad by Joel Rosenberg
  53. Life and Opinions of TomCat Muir by E.T.A. Hoffman
  54. Nadar: Gaspard-Felix Tournachon
  55. Maigrett and the Informer by Georges Simenon
  56. Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates by Brian Kilmeade
  57. Washington's Secret Six:  The Spy Ring that Saved the American Revolution by Brian Kilmeade
  58. Metaphysical Poetry: An Anthology edited by Paul Negri
  59. Who Made the Moon by Sigmund Brower 
  60. The Story of Prince Ivan, The Firebird, and the Gray Wolf Translated by Thomas P. Whitney
  61. The American Short Story:  Washington Irving to Saul Bellow edited by Thomas Parkes
  62. Treasury of Christmas Stories
  63. January:  St. Francis of Assisi by G.K. Chesterton
  64. Chinese Art:  Masterpieces in Painting, Sculpture and Architecture by Filippo Salviati and Sergio Basso
  65. Japanese Painting:  A Brief History by Kenji Toda
  66. Folk Tales of China
  67. Haiku, Japanese Art and Poetry by Judith Plastt
  68. The Haunted Bookshop by Christopher Morley
  69. The Emperor's Big Gift:  A Chinese Folk Tale by Dell Gritt
  70. My God and My All:  The Life of St. Francis of Assisi by Elizabeth Goudge
  71. Green Hills of Africa by Ernest Hemingway
  72. The Guns of Navarone by Alistair Maclean 
  73. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby
  74. God is in the Manger by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  75. Flatland by Edwin Abbott
  76. February:  Kingdom of the Cults by Walter Martin
  77. Rube Goldberg:  His Life and Work by Peter Marzio
  78. What is the Holy Spirit? by R.C. Sproul
  79. TinTin El Tesoro de Rackham El Rojo by  Herge
  80. The Mystery of the Holy Spirit by R.C. Sproul
  81. Poor Richard's Almanac by Benjamin Franklin
  82. Thursday the Rabbi Walked Out
  83. Charles Chesnutt:  Stories, Novels and Essays
  84. Tacitus on Germany
  85. The Thurber Carnival by James Thurber
  86. Pia Desideria by Philip Jacob Spener
  87. The Splendid Century by Warren H. Lewis
  88. Andre Kertesz:  Photographs (and biography)
  89. Letters of Mozart translated by Mersmann, Hans, Bozman
  90. H.P. Lovecraft:  Tales of Horror
  91. March:  Masterplots Volume One
  92. The Tattooed Jesus: What Would the Real Jesus Do With Pop Culture by Kevin Swanson
  93. Arcimboldi:  A collection of his art, analysis and biography by Pieyre De Mandiargues, Andre
  94. Sources of Chinese Tradition Volume One by William Theodor de Bary
  95. Robin Hood by Howard Pyle 
  96. The Christmas Story The New York Public Library
  97. Vampire Stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 
  98. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler 
  99. Woman in the Dark by Dashiell Hammett 
  100.  Masterpieces of Chinese Art by Rhonda and Jeffery Cooper 
  101.