One Response to Entry of the Gladiators

The Radetzky March

Saturday, September 17, AD 2016


Something for the weekend.  The Radetzky March.  Written in 1848 by Johann Strauss Senior, the march celebrated Field Marshal Joseph Radetzky von Radetz, the bright light of the Austrian Army in the first half of the nineteenth century.  Radetzky served seventy years in the Austrian Army and was winning battles into his eighties.  A perhaps apocryphal story tells that the Austrian Emperor would frequently settle Radetzky’s debts.  When some courtiers asked the Emperor why he did this, the Emperor shrugged and said it was cheaper than losing a war!  The sprightly march has been a favorite in America and around the globe since its debut.

Continue reading...

Sambre et Meuse

Saturday, September 10, AD 2016


Something for the weekend.  Le Régiment de Sambre et Meuse.  The poem on which the march is based was written in the wake of the French devastating battlefield defeats in the Franco-Prussian War in 1870 by Paul Cezano.  Music for the poem was composed by Robert Planquette in 1871.  In 1879 the familiar military march arrangement was written by Joseph François Rauski.  The march proved very popular in the United States as any fans of Ohio State football can attest.

Continue reading...

One Response to Sambre et Meuse

  • The army of Sambre et Meuse was commanded by some of the best generals the Revolution produced: Kléber, Moreau, Reynier, Marceau, and Ney. At the same time, the army of the Rhine was commanded by Hoche, Desaix, and St. Cyr and the army in the Apennines was commanded by Bonaparte and Masséna.
    Not without reason, they are referred to as “the generation of genius.”

633 Squadron

Saturday, July 30, AD 2016

Squadron Leader Adams: Well, at least the rockets won’t happen.
Air Vice Marshal Davis: Of course they’ll happen. But they won’t start tomorrow, or this month or on D-Day, and that’s important.
Squadron Leader Adams: Then what’s it all add up to? All their sacrifice?
Air Vice Marshal Davis: A successful operation.
Squadron Leader Adams: But they’re probably all dead. All 633 Squadron.
Air Vice Marshal Davis: You can’t kill a squadron.

Ending, 633 Squadron (1964)



Something for the weekend.  The theme song from 633 Squadron.  In my misspent youth I spent endless hours watching old war movies on TV.  One of my favorites was the British flick 633 Squadron (1964) which recounted the fictional tale of a British Mosquito bomber squadron and their self sacrificial attempt to take out a well-defended Nazi V2 rocket fuel plant in occupied Norway.  The film won praise for its aerial sequences, cutting edge in 1964, and George Lucas has cited the squadron’s attack on the plant as influencing the trench run sequence attack on the Death Star in Star Wars.

Continue reading...

4 Responses to 633 Squadron

6 Responses to The Gael

  • there’s a sense of “impending” in that tune, a feeling that something-big-is-about-to-happen

  • Related, in 2009 one of the PL’s at the US Army COP in Afghanistan where my son served was a graduate of St. Thomas Episcopal School, Houston, TX.. He is a graduate member of the school’s world-champion pipe band. You can see them perform on YouTube.
    Imagine hearing the pipes deep in “Indian country.”
    Excuse me while I tune in to more of the pipes. “Wha’ Saw the 42nd.”

  • That’s fantastic. I had no idea it was composed apart from the movie.

  • Credit to the composer, Dougie MacLean of Scotland.

  • During basic training one of our guys was a piper,he was told he could send home for the pipes,at the end of our day no matter how tired or dirty we were ,he piped us into our barracks area.Amazing effect.All of us straighten up and quickened our steps.We were a divers group but we all fell under the sway of the pipes


Saturday, June 25, AD 2016


Something for the weekend.  Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong team up to give an unforgettable rendition of Summertime.  Composed as an aria in 1934 by George Gershwin for the play Porgy and Bess, it always conveys to me memories of the various hot summers of my boyhood when home air conditioning was rare and a luxury.

Continue reading...

6 Responses to Summertime

  • Thanks Donald. Wonderful song sung by two of my very favorites.

  • ” it always conveys to me memories of the various hot summers of my boyhood when home air conditioning was rare and a luxury.”

    What’s “air conditioning” ? Is it like hair conditioner? 😉

  • Where I live Don, a British diplomat once compared its summer time temperature and humidity unfavorably with that of various tropical postings he had endured. Not all of us can live in the best climate on Earth!

    I will say one thing for Midwest weather however, if one wishes to experience almost everything that Mother Nature can throw at you, not including hurricanes, a year in the Midwest will usually accomplish that!

  • Genius, from composition to execution. Truly gifts from God, whether any of them thought about that, or cared. Wonderful share – thank you!

  • Almost 40 years ago we Saw Porgy and Bess performed as an opera. Wonderful especially Summertime. We went with another young couple and had to stand in the back as it was SRO and probably SRO was all we could afford. We still have the two record album, but alas no working phonograph. Hadn’t thought of that big city venture in years; thanks for the memories.

  • Yes Don, we are truly blessed here in Godzone.
    The ten years I spent in Australia, we lived on the coast – Wollongong NSW – where the climate was similar to ours here in the Bay of Plenty – frosts in the winter, and warm pleasant temperatures in the summer. But when those hot Nor – westers blew in from the interior – up to 43deg. C and hotter inland – I did appreciate the air conditioning. And of course, the compulsory very chilled Aussie beer after work. 🙂

You’re A Grand Old Flag

Saturday, June 18, AD 2016



Something for the weekend.  You’re A Grand Old Flag sung by James Cagney in the film biopic of George M. Cohan Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942).  Cohan wrote the song in 1906 after an encounter with a Union veteran of Gettysburg who was carrying a torn American battle flag.  The old soldier smiled at Cohan and said the flag was “A grand old rag!”


I cannot have a post that mentions the film Yankee Doodle Dandy without showing the scene of Cagney as Cohan tap dancing down the White House steps.  Cagney did the scene completely impromptu.

Continue reading...

2 Responses to You’re A Grand Old Flag

Stalin Wasn’t Stallin’

Saturday, May 21, AD 2016


Something for the weekend.  Stalin Wasn’t Stallin’.  A historical curiosity of 1943.  The only gospel song that I am aware of that praises Joseph Stalin, it was inspired by this remark in a speech by FDR:

The world has never seen greater devotion, determination, and self sacrifice, that have been displayed by the Russian people and their armies under the leadership of Marshall Joseph Stalin.  The song was performed a cappella by the gospel group Golden Gate Jubilee Quartet.  The song was a moderate success in 1943 and has mercifully been largely forgotten since that.  A tribute to war time tunnel vision and the delusional view of Stalin firmly embraced by President Roosevelt and many other liberal Americans, inside and outside of his administration, at the time.

Continue reading...

One Response to Stalin Wasn’t Stallin’

  • Tunnel vision. An apt description. May the Lord protect from a failure to discern and discriminate. Help us to see and steer clear of evil – with the twin helps of our Mother’s Immaculate Heart and the Sacred Heart of Jesus, closely available to us in Eucharist.

One Response to Simple Gifts

3 Responses to Spring

  • I’m hearing you loud and clear.
    We’re roughly three to four hundred miles North and East of you “flat landers,” and yesterday was truly our first Spring like day.

    Hoping the weather stays warm for trout opener in two weeks. If so, the Brook trout will be in abundance.

    The four seasons by Vivaldi is one of our favorites.

  • Consider giving Alan Hovhannes’ Anahid a try. It has three seasons – spring, summer, and autumn – in one 15 minute movement.

  • LOVE Vivaldi. ?❤️

1812 Overture

Saturday, February 27, AD 2016


Something for the weekend.  Tchaikovsky’s  1812 Overture.  Written in 1880 to commemorate the victory of Russia over Napoleon, its composition was due to the fact that the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, commissioned by Tsar Alexander I in thanksgiving for the victory, was nearing completion.  As it happens, Tchaikovsky did not think much of what would become his most famous piece, writing that it was noisy and lacked all artistic merit and was written by him without love.  Oddly enough, it has become associated in this country with the Fourth of July, as I have heard it performed on several Independence Day celebrations.

Although it has been endlessly parodied, “the cereal that’s shot from guns”, I have always liked it.  Listening to a great piece of music like this, I wonder if the below humor piece does not possess a rare insight:

Continue reading...

5 Responses to 1812 Overture

  • Love those canons!

  • Military pieces are rarely the composer’s best. Beethoven admitted that “Wellington’s Victory” was “sh*t” but that his sh*t was better than other composers best music.
    My reaction when I first heard it was, “Wut? Beethoven wrote ‘The Bear Went Over the Mountain’?”

  • If there’s a composer whose name can be mentioned in the same breath as Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven, it’s Tchaikovsky. He suffers from the same dilemma as Mozart: he’s often so accessible that people overlook his skill. In Mozart’s case, the more you study music, the more impressive he gets. In Tchaikovsky’s case, I think that people who study Russian music in greater depth become enchanted with later, less accessible composers.

  • “As it happens, Tchaikovsky did not think much of what would become his most famous piece, writing that it was noisy and lacked all artistic merit and was written by him without love.”

    If anyone would like to hear what Tchaikovsky considered his love, listen to his Serenade for Strings Op 48 (the 1812 Overture is Op 49, both were written in 1880). The two have similarities, but the Serenade is a very beautiful work, one of the best ever.

  • very interesting article– the “hologram” of great music seems possible ! 🙂
    I have always been drawn to pre-Soviet music, prose and poetry…that Russian spirit is also close the the heart of our blessed Mother, I think

One Response to Go Down Moses

Glory Music

Saturday, January 9, AD 2016

We bide our chance,
Unhappy, and make terms with Fate
A little more to let us wait;
He leads for aye the advance,
Hope’s forlorn-hopes that plant the desperate good
For nobler Earths and days of manlier mood;

James Russell Lowell, Memoriae Positum

Selections from the score of the movie Glory (1989), the story of the 54th Massachusetts, one of the first Union black regiments, up to their valiant assault on Fort Wagner in 1863.  A prime example of historical movies should be made, Glory performs the epic feat of bringing to life again the days of the Civil War when the fate of the nation was decided.

Continue reading...

Happy New Year 1958

Saturday, January 2, AD 2016

Something for the weekend.  Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians playing Auld Lang Syne.  The first year I spent on this globe was in 1957.  The above is the New Year’s Eve broadcast on CBS by Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians on December 31, 1957.  Born in Canada, Lombardo became a naturalized American citizen in 1938.  For 48 years, until his death in 1977, Guy Lombardo and his band ushered in the New Year with broadcasts, first on CBS radio and then on CBS television.  The first televised broadcast was in 1956.  Guy Lombardo and his band managed the feat of remaining popular, and highly profitable, for half a century, a difficult feat in as fickle an enterprise as the entertainment industry.  Lombardo was the heart and soul of the operation, his band surviving his death only by two years.

Continue reading...

4 Responses to Happy New Year 1958

  • Compare a ball drop to that sweet romantic nostalgia. When the Lord creates everything new, the ball drop will be one of the things forgotten.

  • Guy Lombardo lived in Freeport, Long Island, New York, where he kept his cabin cruiser in the canal in his backyard. He often played at Jones Beach Marine Theater, which is still popular for concerts – different name. He would go to Jones Beach by boat from his home. Mr. Lombardo’s last Jones Beach production was Finian’s Rainbow in 1977.

    I live about 30 minutes away from Freeport. Have been there many times over the years. It’s waterfront is known for seafood restaurants and pleasure boating.

  • In Kentucky in the ’50s my cousins, a few acres away, were crazy about Guy Lombardo, and everything he played, especially a song about some Mounties capturing Dangerous Dan McGrew. Since I loved Mounties I felt kindly toward The Royal Canadians but at the age of ten I was already hooked on Beethoven and Toscanini. But this did sound rather velvety today, to ears dinted by years of other hideous sounds which can in no way be called music.

  • Kmbold calls to my mind something I had wrong in the first place. I’ll tell it with a dutiful correction at the end. My father’s best friend’s father had in his youth an infatuation with opera singer Ernestine Schumann-Heink. He would leave flowers by her dressing room door at the Met. That is doubtless true but I thought it was Toscanini who said to a rehearsing orchestra,” Louder! Louder! I can still hear the Heink.” A bit of fact checking corrects me that it was actually Richard Strauss who said that. Now, how did I get that wrong? Perhaps Toscanini engaged in a little playful plagiarism.

Handel’s Advent Messiah: For Unto Us A Son Is Given

Thursday, December 24, AD 2015

The culmination of the Advent portions of Handel’s Advent Messiah.  Go here to listen to the earlier portions.


Handel heralds the coming of Christ with the immortal words of Isaiah Chapter 9, verse 6:

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Continue reading...

One Response to Handel’s Advent Messiah: For Unto Us A Son Is Given

  • A beautiful rendition by the unmistakable Helen Watts of “Oh Thou that tellest good tidings to Zion,” but it brings back memories to me of Kathleen Ferrier in 1950.

    One of my earliest clear memories (earlier memories are mere snatches) is of the Messiah, with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Sir Adrian Boult in 1950. My parents took me to London for it – I was five -and this it is this passage that stands out so clearly in my memory.

    Also burnt into my youthful memory is the sound of some 5,000 seats in the Royal Albert Hall, flipping up, as the audience stood, according to the British custom, for the Hallelujah Corus. So far from being a distraction, it was a strangely appropriate and impressive introduction.