“The 18th century, the Age of Enlightenment, represented a period of exceptional creativity in Europe in the fields of literature, art and science.
This cultural movement touched on all areas of knowledge and tried to solve all the great fundamental questions which followed from Leibnitz’s postulation:
“Why is there something rather than nothing?”
Astronomers thus searched to understand why the universe was organised, not chaotic, and musicians tried to explain why there was music, not noise.
The temptation to merge these two questions into one was too great and that is why such great names as Galileo, Kepler, Mersenne and finally Herschel at the end of the 18th century, continued the research of their distant precursors, Pythagoras, Plato, Boetius, Thales and Cassiodorus who, since earliest times, had already tried to unite their celestial and musical preoccupations.
William Herschel left his mark on his lifetime both as musician as well as astronomer and if history has only retained the latter aspect, this is due to the impact of his scientific work.”
Dominique Proust, translated by Gus Orchard
Dominique Proust has both scientific and musical background. He is research enginner at the CNRS and works at the Observatory at Meudon where his work is orientated towards cosmology after his doctoral thesis. He has visited most of the international observatories and made observations using the world’s largest telescopes. He studied organ with the organists of Notre Dame de Paris and Saint Sulpice. He is organist at Meudon and has given concerts in Europe, Canada, the USA, Brazil and Chile. He is a member of the Regional Commissions for organs and has co-produced and participated in scientific and music programmes on French Radio and television
Friedrich Wilhelm Herschel (1738 – 1822) was born in the Electorate of Hanover, part of the Holy Roman Empire, to Isaac Herschel and Anna Ilse Moritzen. The family were Lutheran Christians, probably descended on his father’s side from converted Moravian Jews. His father was an oboist in the Hanover Military Band. In 1755 the Hanoverian Guards regiment, in whose band Wilhelm and his brother Jakob were engaged as oboists, was ordered to England. At the time the crowns of Great Britain and Hanover were united under King George II. As the threat of war with France loomed, the Hanoverian Guards were recalled from England to defend Hanover. After they were defeated at the Battle of Hastenbeck, Herschel’s father Isaak sent his two sons to seek refuge in England. Although his older brother Jakob had received his dismissal from the Guards, Wilhelm was accused of desertion (for which he was pardoned by George III). Wilhelm, nineteen years old, was a quick student of the English language. In addition to the oboe, he played the violin and harpsichord, and composed music. After terms as first violin and soloist in one orchestra, and first organist at a church, he was appointed director of the orchestra at Bath, with his sister often appearing as soprano soloist, and three of his brothers as musicians. \ His compositions include 24 symphonies and many concertos. Six of his symphonies have been recorded in the 21st century, by the London Mozart Players, Herschel’s music led him to an interest in mathematics and lenses. He started building his own reflecting telescopes and would spend up to 16 hours a day grinding and polishing the mirrors they used. He began to look at the planets and the stars in 1773, and on 1 March 1774 began an astronomical journal by noting his observations of Saturn’s rings and the Great Orion Nebula. From the back garden of his house in New King Street, Bath, Herschel began a systematic search among “every star in the Heavens.” His theoretical and observational work provided the foundation for modern binary star astronomy. In 1783 he gave Caroline a telescope, and she began to make astronomical discoveries in her own right, particularly of comets. She discovered or observed eight comets, eleven nebulae and, at her brother’s suggestion, updated and corrected Flamsteed’s work detailing the position of stars which was published as the British Catalogue of Stars. She was honoured by the Royal Astronomical Society for this work. From studying the proper motion of stars, Herschel was the first to realise that the solar system is moving through space, and determine the approximate direction of that movement. Studying the structure of the Milky Way he concluded that it was in the shape of a disk. He also coined the word “asteroid”, meaning star-like to describe the appearance of small moons. As part of his attempts to determine whether there were a link between solar activity and the terrestrial climate, he collected records of the price of wheat, as direct meteorological measurements were not available. He theorised that the price of wheat would be linked to the harvest and hence to the weather over the year. In 1800, Herschel was testing filters for the sun so he could observe sun spots. He found infrared radiation in sunlight by passing the light through a prism and holding a thermometer just beyond the red end of the visible spectrum. This thermometer was meant to be a control to measure the ambient air temperature in the room, but after it showed a higher temperature at that end, he ultimately concluded that there must be an invisible form of light. Herschel also used a microscope to establish that coral was not a plant, as many believed at the time, since it lacked the cell walls characteristic of plants Despite his important scientific discoveries, Herschel was not averse to wild speculation. In particular, he believed every planet was inhabited.
Chamber Symphony in F Major: II. Adagio e cantabile
Ulm Minster was first planned in the mid-14th century and was one of the most ambitious projects for a religious building promoted by townspeople in the late Middle Ages. Lutz Krafft, the burgomaster, laid the foundation stone for the new parish church of the Heilige Jungfrau Maria in 1377. In 1446 Ulm acquired the patronage and parish rights from the monastery of Reichenau. A statement of account from 1387 names the first three consecutive architects as members of the Parler von Ulm family. Ulrich von Ensingen became Master of the Works in 1392 and presided over the most important building phase (1392-1419). The consecration took place in 1405 while the minster was still only partially complete. Hans Kun was appointed architect in 1417 and was succeeded by his son Kaspar Kun in 1435. In 1446, Matthäus Ensinger became Master of the Works and was succeeded by his son Moritz Ensinger in 1465 (his position was confirmed in 1470). After Moritz Ensinger’s premature departure in 1477, Matthäus Böblinger from Esslingen was appointed and given life tenure. The Augsburg mason Burkhard Engelberg replaced Böblinger as minster architect in 1494/5. From 1518 Bernhard Winkler was appointed Master of Works until the Reformation put an end to construction work in 1531. The next important building phase started in 1844 under architect Ferdinand Thrän. The west tower which had been abandoned for centuries as a stump was completed on the basis of Matthäus Böblinger’s drawing by the architect August von Beyer by 1890.
Although this architectural drawing probably dates from the period of work on the third storey of the tower, the lower parts of the tower are not drawn as built but use the same proportions as drawn in a design of about 1399 attributed to Ulrich von Ensingen in the Ulm Stadaarchiv. The earlier drawing is a partial elevation of the west tower. Both are drawn to the same scale. There are a couple of differences between the two drawings; firstly that the later drawing proposes more concentrated proportions for the second storey which is located above the St Martin’s window, and secondly that the two storeys of the octagon are much more slender (this can be seen in the section of the drawing that is at Ulm). The draughtsman may have been inspired by older architectural drawings (Wortmann, 1978) as some ‘modernisations’ of detail, like the depiction of the bases of the portals are drawn in a typically end of the gothic period manner. The later drawing is a variant of the earlier drawing rather than a new proposal.
Victoria and Albert Museum
- The main organ of the church was destroyed by iconoclasts and replaced in the late 16th century. In 1763 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart played it.
- In 1877, the Jewish congregation of the synagogue of Ulm – including Hermann Einstein, the father of Albert Einstein – donated money for a statue of the Biblical prophet Jeremiah.
“The Guardian” writers make new year wishes.
Nature is uplifting and exhilarating, and yet writing about it is often a gloomy business of confronting the ways in which we are consuming and despoiling it. Each year brings small spits in the wind – a clean energy advance here, a new nature reserve there – but these gobbets of good news are blown away by the logic of global capitalism: nature is a finite public resource to be annexed by private individuals for short-term profit.
After a 2013 of species loss and ever-rising exploitation, a realist might wish for 2014 to be a bit less bad. But I would love to see just one glorious occasion where people choose nature over profit – a piece of ground not fracked, a runway not built, a badger not culled. A few such exercises of gentle restraint and voices in mainstream politics and the media may belatedly begin questioning our society’s crazy fixation on economic growth as the source of all wellbeing and happiness. Reframing this miserable, myopic vision is too much to ask for 2014. It’s probably too much to ask for 2041. But it’s never too early to start trying.
Patrick Barkham is a natural history writer for the Guardian and former feature writer. He has also worked for The Times. He is the author of The Butterfly Isles – A Summer in Search of Our Emperors and Admirals and Badgerlands.
Rose The rose is obsolete but each petal ends in an edge, the double facet cementing the grooved columns of air--The edge cuts without cutting meets--nothing--renews itself in metal or porcelain-- whither? It ends-- But if it ends the start is begun so that to engage roses becomes a geometry-- Sharper, neater, more cutting figured in majolica-- the broken plate glazed with a rose Somewhere the sense makes copper roses steel roses-- The rose carried weight of love but love is at an end--of roses It is at the edge of the petal that love waits Crisp, worked to defeat laboredness--fragile plucked, moist, half-raised cold, precise, touching What The place between the petal's edge and the From the petal's edge a line starts that being of steel infinitely fine, infinitely rigid penetrates the Milky Way without contact--lifting from it--neither hanging nor pushing-- The fragility of the flower unbruised penetrates space William Carlos Williams
Lyte Lowys my sone, I aperceyve wel by certeyne evydences thyn abilite to lerne sciences touching nombres and proporciouns; and as wel considre I thy besy praier in special to lerne the tretys of the Astrelabie. Than for as moche as a philosofre saith, “he wrappith him in his frend, that condescendith to the rightfulle praiers of his frend,” therfore have I yeven the a suffisant Astrolabie as for oure orizonte, compowned after the latitude of Oxenforde; upon which, by mediacioun of this litel tretys, I purpose to teche the a certein nombre of conclusions aperteynyng to the same instrument.
A Treatise on the Astrolabe
- Little Lewis my son, I perceive well by certain evidences thine ability to learn sciences touching numbers and proportions; and as well consider I thy constant prayer in special to learn the treatise of the Astrolabe. Than for as much as a philosopher saith, “He wrappth him in his friend, that condescendth to the rightful prayers of his friend”, therefore have I given thee a suffisant Astrolabe as for our horizons, compounded after the latitude of Oxford; upon which, by means of this little treatise, I purpose to teach thee a certain number of conclusions pertaining to the same instrument.
- Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1343 – 25 October 1400)
- ["the firste fyndere of our fair langage," Thomas Occleve (c. 1368–1426)
"lodesterre ... off our language," John Lydgate of Bury (c. 1370 – c. 1451)]