Study of Clouds

John_Constable_-_Cloud_StudyJohn Constable, RA (1776 – 1837)


“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 the postulation of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz: “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

Variations on an Ascending Scale

herschelFriedrich 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


Drawings made to provide a pattern or give instructions

arch. 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.



Fra Angelico (c. 1395– February 18, 1455)

Published in: on December 31, 2013 at 8:09 pm  Comments (4)  
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Arion Riding a Dolphin

Albrecht Dürer (21 May 1471 – 6 April 1528)I started Early — Took my Dog —
And visited the Sea  —
The Mermaids in the Basement
Came  out to look at me —

And Frigates  — in the Upper Floor
Extended Hempen Hands —
Presuming Me to be a Mouse —
Aground  — upon the Sands —

But no Man  moved Me — till the Tide
Went past my simple Shoe —
And past my Apron — and my Belt —
And  past my Bodice — too —

And made  as He would eat me up —
As wholly as a Dew
Upon a Dandelion’s Sleeve —
And then  — I started — too —

And He — He  followed — close behind —
I felt his Silver Heel
Upon my Ankle — Then my Shoes
Would  overflow with Pearl —

Until We met  the Solid Town —
No One He seemed to know —
And bowing — with a Mighty look —
At  me — The Sea withdrew —