Tribute to Gustave Doré

Having seen some fantastic engravings for Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Milton’s Paradise Lost by French artist, engraver, illustrator and sculptor Paul Gustave Doré I thought I would write about him. He was born January 6, 1832. He worked primarily with wood engraving and steel engraving. Doré was born in Strasbourg and his first illustrated story was published at the age of fifteen. His talent was evident even earlier, however. At age five he had been a prodigy troublemaker, playing pranks that were mature beyond his years. Seven years later, he began carving in cement. Subsequently, as a young man, he began work as a literary illustrator in Paris, winning commissions to depict scenes from books by Rabelais, Balzac, Milton and Dante.In 1853, Doré was asked to illustrate the works of Lord Byron. This commission was followed by additional work for British publishers, including a new illustrated English Bible. In 1856 he produced twelve folio-size illustrations of The Legend of The Wandering Jew for a short poem which Pierre-Jean de Ranger had derived from a novel of Eugène Sue of 1845.

In the 1860s he illustrated a French edition of Cervantes’s Don Quixote, and his depictions of the knight and his squire, Sancho Panza, have become so famous that they have influenced subsequent readers, artists, and stage and film directors’ ideas of the physical “look” of the two characters. Doré also illustrated an oversized edition of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven”, an endeavor that earned him 30,000 francs from publisher Harper & Brothers in 1883.Doré’s illustrations for the English Bible (1866) were a great success, and in 1867 Doré had a major exhibition of his work in London. This exhibition led to the foundation of the Doré Gallery in Bond Street, London. In 1869, Blanchard Jerrold, the son of Douglas William Jerrold, suggested that they work together to produce a comprehensive portrait of London. Jerrold had obtained the idea from The Microcosm of London produced by Rudolph Ackermann, William Pyne, and Thomas Rowlandson in 1808. Doré signed a five-year contract with the publishers Grant & Co that involved his staying in London for three months a year, and he received the vast sum of £10,000 a year for the project. Doré was mainly celebrated for his paintings in his day. His paintings remain world renowned, but his woodcuts and engravings, like those he did for Jerrold, are where he really excelled as an artist with an individual vision.

The completed book, London: A Pilgrimage, with 180 engravings, was published in 1872. It enjoyed commercial and socio-economical success, but the work was disliked by many contemporary critics. Some of these critics were concerned with the fact that Doré appeared to focus on the poverty that existed in parts of London. Doré was accused by the Art Journal of “inventing rather than copying.” The Westminster Review claimed that “Doré gives us sketches in which the commonest, the vulgarest external features are set down.” The book was a financial success, however, and Doré received commissions from other British publishers. Doré’s later work included illustrations for new editions of Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Milton’s Paradise Lost, Tennyson’s The Idylls of the King, The Works of Thomas Hood, and The Divine Comedy. Doré’s work also appeared in the weekly newspaper The Illustrated London News.Doré continued to illustrate books until his death on January 23, 1883 in Paris following a short illness. The city’s Père Lachaise Cemetery contains his grave.

Tribute to Syd Barratt (Pink Floyd)

The late, Great Singer, Guitarist and songwriter for Pink Floyd Syd Barratt was born 6th January 1946. Pink Floyd were founded in 1965 and originally consisted of students Roger Waters, Nick Mason,Richard Wright, and Syd Barrett. They first became popular playing in London’s underground music scene in the late 1960s. Under Barrett’s leadership they released two charting singles, “Arnold Layne” and “See Emily Play”, and a successful début album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn .

In 1968 Syd Barratt  departed from the group due to his deteriorating mental health & Gilmour joined Pink Floyd as the fifth member several months prior to this.  Following the loss of their principal songwriter, Pink Floyd bassist and vocalist Roger Waters became the band’s lyricist and conceptual leader, with Gilmour assuming lead guitar, taking on most of the band’s music composition, and sharing lead vocals.   With this line-up Pink Floyd achieved worldwide critical and commercial success with their progressive and psychedelic rock music, which used philosophical lyrics, sonic experimentation, innovative album art, and elaborate live shows. and release of many concept albums such as The Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, Animals and The Wall.

Pink Floyd ranked number 51 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of “The 100 Greatest Artists of All Time”, with David Gilmour ranking 14th in the greatest guitarists list. Largely due to the success of their albums the band was ranked No. 3 in Colin Larkin’s the ‘Top 50 Artists Of All Time’, a ranking based on the cumulative votes for each artist’s albums that appear in the All Time Top 1000 Albums.   Numerous artists have been influenced by Pink Floyd’s work: David Bowie has called Syd Barrett a major inspiration, The Edge (U2) also bought his first delay pedal after hearing the opening to Animals; and the Pet Shop Boys paid homage to The Wall during a performance in Boston; Marillion guitarist Steve Rothery has cited Wish You Were Here as a major inspiration; and many other bands, such as the Foo Fighters, Dream Theater, My Chemical Romance, Porcupine Tree, The Mars Volta, The La’s, Queen, Oasis, Iron Maiden, Stone Temple Pilots, Coheed and Cambria, Tool, Queensryche, 30 Seconds to Mars, Scissor Sisters, Rush, Radiohead, Gorillaz, Mudvayne, Nine Inch Nails, Korn, Primus and the Smashing Pumpkins, some of whom have recorded Pink Floyd covers, have been influenced by them.   Pink Floyd have also been nominated for and won multiple awards Technical awards include a “Best Engineered Non-Classical Album” Grammy in 1980 for The Wall and BAFTAs award for ‘Best Original Song’ (awarded to Waters) and ‘Best Sound’ (awarded to James Guthrie, Eddy Joseph, Clive Winter, Graham Hartstone and Nicholas Le Messurier) in 1982 for the The Wall film. A Grammy came to them in 1995 for “Rock Instrumental Performance” on “Marooned”. In 2008 Pink Floyd were awarded the Polar Music Prize for their contribution to contemporary music; Waters and Mason accepted the prize from King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on 17 January 1996, the UK Music Hall of Fame on 16 November 2005 and the Hit Parade Hall of Fame in 2010.   Pink Floyd have become one of the most commercially successful and influential rock music groups of all time, and have sold over 230 million albums worldwide, including 74.5 million certified units in the United States. The band were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. Since then they have continued to enjoy worldwide success and are one of the most commercially successful and influential rock music groups of all time. Having sold over 200 million albums worldwide.

Happy Birthday Malcolm Young (AC/DC)

Malcolm Young, Scottish-born Australian guitarist and founding member of Rock Band AC/DC was born 6th January 1953. AC/DC were Formed in 1973 by Malcolm and his brother Angus Young, who have remained the sole constant members. The band are commonly classified as hard rock, they are considered pioneers of heavy metal and are sometimes classified as such, though they themselves have always classified their music as simply “rock and roll”. To date they are one of the highest grossing bands of all time.   AC/DC underwent several line-up changes before releasing their first album, High Voltage, on 17 February 1975.

Bass player Cliff Williams replaced  Mark Evans  in 1977 for the album Powerage. Within months of recording the album Highway to Hell, lead singer and co-songwriter Bon Scott died on 19 February 1980, after a night of heavy alcohol consumption. The group briefly considered disbanding, but Scott’s parents urged them to continue and hire a new vocalist. Ex-Geordie singer Brian Johnson was auditioned and selected to replace Scott. Later that year, the band released their highest selling album, and ultimately the third highest-selling album by any artist, Back in Black.   The band’s next album, For Those About to Rock We Salute You, was their first album to reach number one in the United States. AC/DC declined in popularity soon after drummer Phil Rudd was fired in 1983 and was replaced by future Dio drummer Simon Wright, though the band resurged in the early 1990s with the release of The Razors Edge. Phil Rudd returned in 1994 (after Chris Slade, who was with the band from 1989–1994, was asked to leave in favour of him) and contributed to the band’s 1995 album Ballbreaker.

Since then, the band’s line-up has remained the same. Stiff Upper Lip was released in 2000 and was well received by critics, and the band’s latest studio album, Black Ice, was released on 20 October 2008. It was their biggest hit on the charts since For Those About to Rock, reaching No.1 on all the charts eventually.   As of 2010, AC/DC had sold more than 200 million albums worldwide, including 71 million albums in the United States alone. Back in Black has sold an estimated 49 million units worldwide, making it the third highest-selling album by any artist, and the second highest-selling album by any band, behind Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of The Moon and Michael Jackson’s Thriller. The album has sold 22 million units in the U.S. alone, where it is the fifth-highest-selling album of all-time. AC/DC ranked fourth on VH1′s list of the “100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock” and were named the seventh “Greatest Heavy Metal Band of All Time” by MTV. In 2004, AC/DC were ranked number 72 in the Rolling Stone list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time”. In 2010, AC/DC were ranked number 23 in the VH1 list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time

Epiphany

Epiphany or Theophany traditionally falls on January 6, is a Christian feast day that celebrates the revelation of God the Son as a human being in Jesus Christ. Western Christians commemorate principally (but not solely) the visitation of the Biblical Magi to the Baby Jesus, and thus Jesus’ physical manifestation to the Gentiles. Eastern Christians commemorate the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River, seen as his manifestation to the world as the Son of God. Eastern Churches following the Julian Calendar observe the Theophany feast on what for most countries is January 19 because of the 13-day difference today between that calendar and the generally used Gregorian calendar. Since 1970, the date of the celebration by Latin Rite Roman Catholics is fixed as January 6 only in countries where the feast is a Holy Day of Obligation, while in other countries it falls on the Sunday after January 1. In the Church of England also, the feast may be celebrated on the Sunday between January 2 and 8 inclusive.

A separate celebration of the Baptism of the Lord was introduced for Latin Rite Roman Catholics in 1955. Initially, this was to be held on January 13, previously the octave day of the Epiphany, but in the 1969 revision of the General Roman Calendar the date was changed to the first Sunday after January 6. In countries where in a particular year the Epiphany falls on January 7 or 8, the feast of the Baptism of the Lord is celebrated on the following Monday. In the Church of England, the same custom may be followed. In the Episcopal Church in the United States, the feast of the Baptism of the Lord is always the Sunday after January 6.

Tribute to Louis Braille

Louis Braille, French teacher of the blind and inventor of braille sadly passed away on 6th January 1852. Born 4 January 1809 in Coupvray, France, a small town located east of Paris. He had an unfortunate accident At the age of three when he was toying with some of the tools, trying to make holes in a piece of leather with an awl. Squinting closely at the surface, he pressed down hard to drive the point in, and the awl glanced across the tough leather and struck him in one of his eyes. A local physician bound and patched the affected eye and even arranged for Louis to be met the next day in Paris by a highly-respected surgeon, but no treatment could save the damaged organ. In agony, the young boy suffered for weeks as the wound became severely infected and spread to his other eye and by the age of five he was completely blind in both eyes. He learned to navigate the village and country paths with canes his father hewed for him, and he grew up seemingly at peace with his disability. His bright and creative mind impressed the local teachers and priests, and he was encouraged to seek higher education. Braille studied in Coupvray until the age of ten.

Because of his combination of intelligence and diligence, Braille was permitted to attend one of the first schools for blind children in the world, the National Institute for Blind Youth in Paris. The school was an underfunded, ramshackle affair, but it provided a stable environment for blind children to learn and associate together. The children were taught how to read by a system devised by the school’s founder, Valentin Haüy. Not blind himself, Haüy was a committed philanthropist who devoted his life to helping the blind. He designed and manufactured a small library of books for the children using a technique of embossing heavy paper with the raised imprints of Latin letters. Readers would trace their fingers over the text, comprehending slowly but in a traditional fashion which Haüy could appreciate.

Braille was helped by the Haüy books, but he also despaired over their lack of depth: the amount of information kept in such books was necessarily small. Because the raised letters were made using a complex process, the children could not hope to “write” by themselves. The handcrafted Haüy books all came in uncomfortable sizes and weights, were laboriously constructed, exquisitely delicate, and greatly expensive to obtain. Haüy promoted their use with zeal: the books presented a new and handsome system which could be readily comprehended by those with eyesight. Braille and his schoolmates, however, could detect the books’ limitations. Nonetheless, Haüy’s well-intentioned efforts still provided a breakthrough achievement – the recognition of the sense of touch as a workable strategy for sightless reading. Braille proved to be a highly proficient student and, after he had exhausted the school’s curriculum, he was immediately asked to remain as a teacher’s aide. By 1833, he was elevated to a full professorship. For much of the rest of his life, Braille stayed at the Institute where he taught history, geometry, and algebra. Braille’s ear for music also enabled him to become an accomplished cellist and organist, his musical talents led him to play the organ for churches all over France. He held the position of organist in Paris at the Church of Saint-Nicolas-des-Champs and the Church of Saint-Vincent-de-Paul. Braille was determined to fashion a system of reading and writing that could bridge the critical gap in communication between the sighted and the blind. In 1821, Braille learned of a communication system devised by Captain Charles Barbier of the French Army. Barbier willingly shared his invention called “night writing” which was a code of dots and dashes impressed into thick paper. which could be interpreted entirely by the fingers, letting soldiers share information on the battlefield without having light or needing to speak.

The captain’s code turned out to be too complex to use in its original military form, but it inspired Braille to develop a system of his own and he worked tirelessly on his ideas, which were largely completed by 1824, when he was just fifteen years of age. From Barbier’s night writing, he innovated by simplifying its form and maximizing its efficiency. He made uniform columns for each letter, and he reduced the twelve raised dots to six. He published his system in 1829, and by the second edition in 1837 had discarded the dashes because they were too difficult to read. Crucially, Braille’s smaller cells were capable of being recognized as letters with a single touch of a finger. Braille created his own raised-dot system by using an awl, the same kind of implement which had blinded him. In the process of designing his system, he also designed an ergonomic interface for using it, based on Barbier’s own slate and stylus tools which would keep the lines straight and readable. he system was later extended to include braille musical notation. Passionate about his own music, Braille took meticulous care in its planning to ensure that the musical code would be “flexible enough to meet the unique requirements of any instrument. In 1829, he published the first book about his system,Method of Writing Words, Music, and Plain Songs by Means of Dots, for Use by the Blind and Arranged for Them. Ironically this book was first printed by using the Haüy system. In 1839, Braille published details of a method he had developed for communication with sighted people, using patterns of dots to approximate the shape of printed symbols. his friend Pierre Foucault was also working on the development of a device that could emboss letters in the manner of a typewriter.

Braille had always been a sickly child, and his condition worsened in adulthood. A persistent respiratory illness, long believed to be tuberculosis, dogged him, and by the age of forty, he was forced to relinquish his position as a teacher. When his condition reached mortal danger, he was taken back to his family home in Coupvray, where he passed away on 6th January 1852, two days after he had reached the age of forty-three. Through the overwhelming insistence of the blind pupils, Braille’s system was finally adopted by the Institute in 1854. The system spread throughout the French-speaking world, but was slower to expand in other places. In the Netherlands though, braille was already taught at the institute for the blind in Amsterdam at least as early as 1846. braille was officially adopted by schools for the blind in the United States in 1916, and a universal braille code for English was formalized in 1932. New variations in braille technology continue to grow, including such innovations as braille computer terminals; RoboBraille email delivery service; and Nemeth Braille, a comprehensive system for mathematical and scientific notation. Braille’s revolutionary form of communication that transcended blindness and transformed the lives of millions. After two centuries, the braille system remains an invaluable tool of learning and communication for the blind, and it has been adapted for languages worldwide.