Friday, July 4, 2014

The Lively Arts - In Unexpected Juxtapositions...

I have written about some of these individuals in previous blogs; however, I thought that it might be of interest to cite additional examples of The Unexpected and wrap them all into one neat package:
Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin  both sang as choirboys in their youth;  Hitler at the Seminary in Lambach, and Stalin, who gained a scholarship at the theological seminary in Tiflis, the capital of Georgia.   How different would the twentieth century have turned out to be, had the young Hitler been able to pass entrance requirements at the Academy of Art in Vienna?
Reinhard Heydrich presided in a 90 minute meeting of high ranking Nazis in Wannsee in 1942. This meeting dealt with one item on its agenda for that day -  that item was The Final Solution. Heydrich was arguably the most valuable Nazi serving Hitler, demonstrating a perfect, demonic mode of pure genocidal proficiency that arguably could have made him Hitler's successor, had he not been assassinated just a few months after the Wannsee Conference. Hitler himself  referred  to  Heydrich,  in actual  conversation,  as "the  man with the iron heart."  Reinhard Heydrich was  a highly gifted violinist, and performed at weekly recitals in the home of  Admiral  Wilhelm Canaris, at that particular time Hitler's intelligence chief.  Heydrich's  maternal grandfather had been  the Director of the Dresden  Royal Conservatory, and his  father had founded   the Halle Conservatory of Music.   It is difficult for me to picture this tall, blond monster named Reinhard  Heydrich , in a comfortable room with fireplace supplied,  in communion with Schubert, Mozart, Beethoven...
And what about the man who led the crusade into France on D-Day in 1944 to begin the liberation of  a suffering humanity?  The oil paintings of Dwight  D. Eisenhower can be seen.  Do search for a 1955 portrait he did of Winston Churchill, for instance, and the craggy granite of the British leader as Eisenhower the artist saw him.
Or look at the tender creations in still life format that the General created. I'm not calling these paintings great art - I'm simply projecting  to you  another side of one of History's best known warriors.
And what of another great warrior named George Patton? The  reflective, internalized  choice of words in some of his poetry gives us another part of the puzzle we call Patton.
Omar Bradley was one of America's most gifted generals, and gave much to the success against the Nazi hordes in Europe, especially as a leading  member of Eisenhower's General Staff. During moments of rest and reflection in battle, especially during the first few days of the  terrifying  Battle of the Bulge, Bradley would summon rather intense creative powers, especially in Calculus, and create 'games' with this and other mathematical  processes, in order to transport him, at least for the moment, into another world. There is a research fellowship in Bradley's name at Muhlenberg College.
Edward Teller, the creator of the hydrogen bomb, was one of Oppenheimer's entourage in the Manhattan Project, which gave the world the atomic bomb. When Oppenheimer first asked Teller to join him in this historical project, Teller  said he would if he were  allowed to bring a piano with him, so that he could play his beloved Beethoven  Sonatas.  Much to the discomfort of those fellow scientists who were trying to get much needed sleep, Teller played his beloved sonatas into the night. And nights...
And how about the paintings of two of the world's best known crooners, Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett?
Much of the time, many of their paintings are on display somewhere.
 Charles Ives is known to the musical world as one of America's most singular, most powerful composers.
He made his fortune, however, as one of the most successful innovators in the field of insurance, specializing in such aspects as estate planning and corporate insurance law.
The most sensational examples of The Unexpected, to me, are the performances of two legendary musicians performing on Unexpected instruments:
Jascha Heifetz, of course, is considered by many to be the 20th century's reigning violinist.
But what about Heifetz at the piano?
And Stephane Grappelli was the greatest of the Jazz violinists.
But what about Grappelli at the piano?
Go to YouTube - the treasures are there for you to witness...
And there are others; but, enough for now...

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