Beltane

Beltane is the anglicised name for the Gaelic May Day festival. Most commonly it is held on 1 May, or about halfway between the spring equinox and the summer solstice. Historically, it was widely observed throughout Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. In Irish the name for the festival day is Lá Bealtaine, in Scottish Gaelic Là Bealltainn and in Manx Gaelic Laa Boaltinn/Boaldyn. It is one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals—along with Samhain, Imbolc and Lughnasadh—and is similar to the Welsh Calan Mai.

Beltane is mentioned in some of the earliest Irish literature, and it is associated with important events in Irish mythology. It marked the beginning of summer and was when cattle were driven out to the summer pastures. Rituals were performed to protect the cattle, crops and people, and to encourage growth. Special bonfires were kindled, and their flames, smoke and ashes were deemed to have protective powers. The people and their cattle would walk around or jump over the bonfire or pass between two bonfires, and sometimes leap over the flames or embers. All household fires would be doused and then re-lit from the Beltane bonfire. These gatherings would be accompanied by a feast, and some of the food and drink would be offered to the aos sí. Doors, windows, byres and the cattle themselves would be decorated with yellow May flowers, perhaps because they evoked fire. In parts of Ireland, people would make a May Bush: a thorn bush decorated with flowers, ribbons and bright shells. Holy wells were also visited, while Beltane dew was thought to bring beauty and maintain youthfulness. Many of these customs were part of May Day or Midsummer festivals in other parts of Great Britain and Europe.

Beltane celebrations had largely died out by the mid-20th century, although some of its customs continued and in some places it has been revived as a cultural event. Since the late 20th century, Celtic neopagans and Wiccans have observed Beltane, or something based on it, as a religious holiday. Neopagans in the Southern Hemisphere often celebrate Beltane at the other end of the year (around 31 0ctober /1 November).

UNESCO International Jazz Day

International Jazz Day occurs annually on 30 April. It was organized by UNESCO to celebrate “the virtues of jazz as an educational tool, and a force for peace, unity, dialogue and enhanced cooperation among people.” The Day was proclaimed during the UNESCO General Conference in November 2011. The first annual International Jazz Day was kicked off in Paris by UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Herbie Hancock. UNESCO partners with the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz.

Jazz Originated in the African-American communities of New Orleans, United States, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and developed from roots in blues and ragtime. Jazz is seen by many as “America’s classical music”. Since the 1920s Jazz Age, jazz has become recognized as a major form of musical expression. It then emerged in the form of independent traditional and popular musical styles, all linked by the common bonds of African-American and European-American musical parentage with a performance orientation. Jazz is characterized by swing and blue notes, call and response vocals, polyrhythms and improvisation. Jazz has roots in West African cultural and musical expression, and in African-American music traditions including blues and ragtime, as well as European military band music. Intellectuals around the world have hailed jazz as “one of America’s original art forms”.

As jazz spread around the world, it drew on national, regional, and local musical cultures, which gave rise to different styles. New Orleans jazz began in the early 1910s, combining earlier brass-band marches, French quadrilles, biguine, ragtime and blues with collective polyphonic improvisation. In the 1930s, heavily arranged dance-oriented swing big bands, Kansas City jazz, a hard-swinging, bluesy, improvisational style and Gypsy jazz (a style that emphasized musette waltzes) were the prominent styles. Bebop emerged in the 1940s, shifting jazz from danceable popular music toward a more challenging “musician’s music” which was played at faster tempos and used more chord-based improvisation. Cool jazz developed near the end of the 1940s, introducing calmer, smoother sounds and long, linear melodic lines.

The 1950s saw the emergence of free jazz, which explored playing without regular meter, beat and formal structures, and in the mid-1950s, hard bop emerged, which introduced influences from rhythm and blues, gospel, and blues, especially in the saxophone and piano playing. Modal jazz developed in the late 1950s, using the mode, or musical scale, as the basis of musical structure and improvisation. Jazz-rock fusion appeared in the late 1960s and early 1970s, combining jazz improvisation with rock music’s rhythms, electric instruments, and highly amplified stage sound. In the early 1980s, a commercial form of jazz fusion called smooth jazz became successful, garnering significant radio airplay. Other styles and genres abound in the 2000s, such as Latin and Afro-Cuban jazz.

American pianist, keyboardist, bandleader, composer and actor Herbert Jeffrey “Herbie” Hancock was born April 12, 1940. He Started his music career with Donald Byrd, he shortly thereafter joined the Miles Davis Quintet where Hancock helped to redefine the role of a jazz rhythm section and was one of the primary architects of the post-bop sound. He was one of the first jazz musicians to embrace synthesizers and funk music. Hancock’s music is often melodic and accessible; he has had many songs “cross over” and achieved success among pop audiences. His music embraces elements of funk and soul while adopting freer stylistic elements from jazz. In his jazz improvisation, he possesses a unique creative blend of jazz, blues, and modern classical music, with harmonic stylings much like the styles of Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel.

Hancock’s best-known compositions include “Cantaloupe Island”, “Watermelon Man” (later performed by dozens of musicians, including bandleader Mongo Santamaría), “Maiden Voyage”, “Chameleon”, and the singles “I Thought It Was You” and “Rockit”. His 2007 tribute album River: The Joni Letters won the 2008 Grammy Award for Album of the Year, only the second jazz album ever to win the award, after Getz/Gilberto in 1965.

Ben E. King

Prolific American Soul singer Ben E. King (Benjamin Earl King) sadly died 30 April 2015. He was born September 28, 1938 in Henderson, North Carolina. In 1947 his family moved to Harlem, New York and King began singing in church choirs, and in high school formed the Four B’s, a doo-wop group that occasionally performed at the Apollo. In 1958, King (still using his birth name) joined a doo-wop group called the Five Crowns until the Drifters’ manager George Treadwell fired the members of the original Drifters, and replaced them with the members of the Five Crowns. King had a string of R&B hits with the group on Atlantic Records. He co-wrote and sang lead on the first Atlantic hit by the new version of the Drifters, “There Goes My Baby” (1959). He sang lead on a succession of hits by the team of Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman, including “Save the Last Dance for Me”, “This Magic Moment”, and “I Count the Tears”. King recorded only thirteen songs with the Drifters—two backing other lead singers and eleven lead vocal performances—including a non-single called “Temptation” (later redone by Drifters vocalist Johnny Moore). The last of the King-led Drifters singles to be released was “Sometimes I Wonder”, in 1962.

King only recorded thirteen songs with The Drifters— two backing other lead singers and eleven lead vocal performances —including a non-single called “Temptation” (later redone by Drifters vocalist Johnny Moore).Due to a contract dispute with Treadwell in which King and his manager, Lover Patterson, demanded that King be given a salary increase and a fair share of royalties, King never again performed with the Drifters on tour or on television; he would only record with the group until a suitable replacement could be found. On television, fellow Drifters member Charlie Thomas usually lip synched the songs that King had recorded with the Drifters. This end gave rise to a new beginning

In May 1960, King left the Drifters assuming the stage name Ben E. King and embarked on a solo career.  his first solo hit was the ballad “Spanish Harlem”. This was followed In 1961 by “Stand by Me” which became a US Top 10 hit in 1961 and 1986 (when it was used as the theme to the film of the same name) and a number one hit in the UK in 1987 and re-entered the Billboard Top Ten after a 25-year absence. King cited singers Brook Benton, Roy Hamilton and Sam Cooke as influences for his vocals of the song. “Stand by Me”, “There Goes My Baby”, “Spanish Harlem”, and “Save the Last Dance for Me” were all named in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll; and have all earned a Grammy Hall of Fame Award. King’s other well-known songs include “Don’t Play That Song (You Lied)”, “Amor”, “Seven Letters”, “How Can I Forget”, “On the Horizon”, “Young Boy Blues”, “First Taste of Love”, “Here Comes the Night”, “Ecstasy”, and “That’s When It Hurts”. In 1963, King Released “I (Who Have Nothing)”. King sang more R&B hits, including “What is Soul?” (1966), “Tears, Tears, Tears” (1967), and “Supernatural Thing” (1975).

In 1990, King and Bo Diddley, along with Doug Lazy, recorded a revamped Hip Hop version of The Monotones’ 1958 hit song “Book of Love” for the soundtrack of the movie Book of Love. He also recorded a children’s album, I Have Songs In My Pocket, written and produced by children’s music artist Bobby Susser in 1998, which won the “Early Childhood News’ Directors’ Choice Award” and “Dr. Toy’s/The Institute For Childhood Resources Award.” King performed “Stand by Me” on the Late Show with David Letterman in 2007.Ahmet Ertegun said, “King is one of the greatest singers in the history of rock and roll and rhythm and blues.” As a Drifter and as a solo artist, King had achieved five number one hits: “There Goes My Baby”, “Save The Last Dance For Me”, “Stand By Me”, “Supernatural Thing”, and the 1986 re-issue of “Stand By Me”. He also earned 12 Top 10 hits and 25 Top 40 hits from 1959 to 1986. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a Drifter; he has also been nominated as a solo artist.King performing at Scullers Jazz Club in Boston, Mass. on March 31, 2012King’s “I (Who Have Nothing)” was selected for the The Sopranos Peppers and Eggs Soundtrack CD (2001).

King was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame in 2009. “Stand By Me” also receive the 2012  Songwriters Hall of Fame “Towering Song Award” and that King as honored with the 2012 Towering Performance Award for his recording of the song. Stand by Me has also been voted as one of the Songs of the Century by the Recording Industry Association of America.

Walpurgis Night

Walpurgis Night ( Walpurgisnacht) occurs on the night of 30 April, so called because it is the eve of the feast day of Saint Walpurga, an 8th-century Missionary and abbess in Francia. In Germanic folklore, Walpurgisnacht, also called Hexennacht (Dutch: heksennacht), literally “Witches’ Night”, is believed to be the night of a witches’ meeting on the Brocken, the highest peak in the Harz Mountains, a range of wooded hills in central Germany between the rivers Weser and Elbe. The first known written occurrence of the English translation “Walpurgis Night” is from the 19th century. Local variants of Walpurgis Night are observed throughout Europe in the Netherlands, Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Sweden, Lithuania, Latvia, Finland, and Estonia. In Denmark the tradition with bonfires to fence off the witches going to the Brocken is observed as Saint John’s Eve—essentially a midsummer celebration “with witches”.

As Walpurga’s feast was held on 1 May (c. 870), she became associated with May Day, especially in the Finnish and Swedish calendars. The eve of May Day, traditionally celebrated with dancing, came to be known as Walpurgisnacht (“Walpurga’s night”). The name of the holiday is Walpurgisnacht or Hexennacht (“Witches’ Night”) in German, Heksennacht in Dutch, Valborgsmässoafton in Swedish, Vappen in Finland Swedish, Vappu in Finnish, Volbriöö in Estonian, Valpurgijos naktis in Lithuanian, Valpurģu nakts or Valpurģi in Latvian, čarodějnice and Valpuržina noc in Czech.

The Germanic term Walpurgisnacht is recorded in 1668 by Johannes Praetorius as S. Walpurgis Nacht or S. Walpurgis Abend. An earlier mention of Walpurgis and S. Walpurgis Abend is in the 1603 edition of the Calendarium perpetuum of Johann Coler, who also refers to the following day, 1 May, as Jacobi Philippi, feast day of the apostles James the Less and Philip in the Catholic calendar. The 17th-century German tradition of a meeting of sorcerers and witches on May Day eve (Hexennacht, “Witches’ Night”) is influenced by the descriptions of Witches’ Sabbaths in 15th- and 16th-century literature.

In the Czech Republic 30 April is pálení čarodějnic (“burning of the witches”) or čarodějnice (“the witches”) is celebrated, during which Huge bonfires—up to 8 metres (26 ft) tall—are built and burnt in the evening, preferably on top of hills. Young people gather around. Sudden black and dense smoke formations are cheered as “a witch flying away”. As evening advances to midnight and fire is on the wane, it is time to go search for a cherry tree in blossom. Young women should be kissed past midnight (and during the following day) under a cherry tree. They “will not dry up” for an entire year. The First of May is celebrated then as “the day of those in love”.

In Estonia, Volbriöö is celebrated throughout the night of 30 April and into the early hours of 1 May, where 1 May is a public holiday called “Spring Day” (Kevadpüha). Volbriöö is an important and widespread celebration of the arrival of spring in the country. Influenced by German culture, the night originally stood for the gathering and meeting of witches. Modern people still dress up as witches to wander the streets in a carnival-like mood. The Volbriöö celebrations are especially vigorous in Tartu, the university town in southern Estonia. For Estonian students in student corporations (fraternities and sororities), the night starts with a traditional procession through the streets of Tartu, followed by visiting each other’s corporation houses throughout the night.

In Finland, Walpurgis day (Vappu) is one of the four biggest holidays along with Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, and Midsummer (Juhannus). Walpurgis witnesses the biggest carnival-style festival held in the streets of Finland’s towns and cities. The celebration, which begins on the evening of 30 April and continues to 1 May, typically centres on copious consumption of sima, sparkling wine and other alcoholic beverages. Student traditions, particularly those of the engineering students, are one of the main characteristics of Vappu. Since the end of the 19th century, this traditional upper-class feast has been appropriated by university students. Many lukio (university-preparatory high school) alumni wear the black and white student cap and many higher education students wear student coveralls. One tradition is to drink sima, a home-made low-alcohol mead, along with freshly cooked funnel cakes.

In the capital Helsinki and its surrounding region, fixtures include the capping (on 30 April at 6 pm) of the Havis Amanda, a nude female statue in Helsinki, and the biennially alternating publications of ribald matter called Äpy and Julkku, by engineering students of Aalto University. Both are sophomoric; but while Julkku is a standard magazine, Äpy is always a gimmick. Classic forms have included an Äpy printed on toilet paper and a bedsheet. Often, the magazine has been stuffed inside standard industrial packages, such as sardine cans and milk cartons. For most university students, Vappu starts a week before the day of celebration. The festivities also include a picnic on 1 May, which is sometimes prepared in a lavish manner, particularly in Ullanlinnanmäki in Helsinki city.

The Finnish tradition is also a shadowing of the Socialist May Day parade. Expanding from the parties of the left, the whole of the Finnish political scene has adopted Vappu as the day to go out on stumps and agitate. This includes not only political activists. Other institutions, such as the state Lutheran church, have followed suit, marching and making speeches. Left-wing activists of the 1970s still party on May Day. They arrange carnivals. And radio stations play leftist songs from the 1970s.

Traditionally, 1 May is celebrated by a picnic in a park. For most, the picnic is enjoyed with friends on a blanket with good food and sparkling wine. Some people, however, arrange extremely lavish picnics with pavilions, white tablecloths, silver candelabras, classical music and extravagant food. The picnic usually starts early in the morning, where some of the previous night’s party-goers continue their celebrations undaunted by lack of sleep. Some student organisations reserve areas where they traditionally camp every year. Student caps, mead, streamers and balloons have their role in the picnic, as well as in the celebration as a whole.

In Germany, Walpurgisnacht or Hexennacht (“Witches’ Night”), the night from 30 April to 1 May, is the night when witches are reputed to hold a large celebration on the Brocken mountain and await the arrival of spring and also hold revels with the Devil. Brocken is the highest of the Harz Mountains of north central Germany. It is also noted for the phenomenon of the Brocken spectre when a shadow of a person can appear magnified by low level sunlight shining behind and below as the sun is setting.

The Brocken (or Blocksberg) also features in Goethe’s play Faust when magician Mephistopheles conjures up supernatural creatures During Walpurgisnight. “Walpurgisnacht.” Is also mentioned in Bram Stoker’s short story, “Dracula’s Guest,” an Englishman (whose name is never mentioned) is on a visit to Munich before leaving for Transylvania. It is Walpurgis Night, and in spite of the hotelier’s warning not to be late coming back, the young man later leaves his carriage and wanders toward the direction of an abandoned “unholy” village. As the carriage departs with the frightened and superstitious driver, a tall and thin stranger scares the horses at the crest of a hill. In some parts of northern coastal regions of Germany, the custom of lighting huge fires is still kept alive to celebrate the coming of May, while most parts of Germany have a derived Christianized custom around Easter called “Easter fires” (Osterfeuer). In rural parts of southern Germany, it is part of popular youth culture to play pranks such as tampering with neighbours’ gardens, hiding possessions, or spraying graffiti on private property. In Berlin, traditional leftist May Day riots usually start at Walpurgis Night in the Mauerpark in Prenzlauer Berg.

Sweden celebrates Valborg, which has more to do with the arrival of spring. celebrations vary in different parts of the country. Walpurgis celebrations are not a family occasion but rather a public event, and local groups often take responsibility for organising them to encourage community spirit in the village or neighbourhood. During the Middle Ages, the administrative year ended on 30 April. Accordingly, this was a day of festivity among the merchants and craftsmen of the town, with trick-or-treat, dancing and singing in preparation for the forthcoming celebration of spring. The first of May was a great popular festival in the more midland and southern parts of Sweden. On the eve of the festival, huge bonfires blazed. Walpurgis bonfires are part of a Swedish tradition dating back to the early 18th century. At Walpurgis (Valborg), farm animals were let out to graze and bonfires (majbrasor, kasar) lit to scare away predators. In Southern Sweden, an older tradition, no longer practiced, was for the younger people to collect greenery and branches from the woods at twilight. These were used to adorn the houses of the village. The expected reward for this task was to be paid in eggs.

Choral singing is popular in Sweden, on Walpurgis Eve and choirs Sing traditional 19th century songs of spring. traditional spring festivities are held in the old university cities, such as Uppsala and Lund, where undergraduates, graduates, and alumni gather at events that last most of the day from early morning to late night on April 30, or siste april (“The Last Day of April”) as it is called in Lund, or sista april as it is called in Uppsala. For students, Walpurgis Eve heralds freedom. Traditionally the exams were over and only the odd lecture remained before term ends. More modern Valborg celebrations, particularly among Uppsala students, often consist of enjoying a breakfast including champagne and strawberries. During the day, people gather in parks, drink considerable amounts of alcoholic beverages, barbecue, and generally enjoy the weather, if it happens to be favorable.

In Uppsala, students have honoured spring by rafting on Fyrisån through the center of town with rickety, homemade, and often humorously decorated rafts. Several nations also hold “Champagne Races” (Swedish: Champagnegalopp), where students go to drink and spray champagne or somewhat more modestly priced sparkling wine on each other. The walls and floors of the old nation buildings are covered in plastic for this occasion, as the champagne is poured around recklessly and sometimes spilled enough to wade in. Spraying champagne is, however, a fairly recent addition to the Champagne Race. The name derives from the students running down the downhill slope from the Carolina Rediviva library, toward the Student Nations, to drink champagne.

In Linköping many students and former students begin the day at the park Trädgårdföreningen, in the field below Belvederen where the city laws permits alcohol, to drink champagne breakfast in a similar way to Uppsala. Later at 15:00 o’clock the students and public gather at the courtyard of Linköping Castle. Spring songs are sung by the Linköping University Male Voice Choir, and speeches are made by representatives of the students and the university professors.

In Gothenburg, the carnival parade, The Cortège, which has been held since 1909 by the students at Chalmers University of Technology, is an important part of the celebration. It is seen by around 250,000 people each year. Another major event is the gathering of students in Trädgårdsföreningen to listen to student choirs, orchestras, and speeches. An important part of the gathering is the ceremonial donning of the student cap, which stems from the time when students wore their caps daily and switched from black winter cap to white summer cap. In Umeå, there is a tradition of having local bonfires. During recent years, however, there has been a tradition of celebrating Walpurgis at the Umeå University campus. The university organizes student choir songs, there are different types of entertainment and a speech by the president of the university. Different stalls sell hot dogs, candies, soft drinks, etc.

Walpurgisnacht is not celebrated today in the Netherlands due to the national Koninginnedag on the same date, though the new koningsdag (king’s day) is on 27 April. The island of Texel celebrates a festival known as the ‘Meierblis, where bonfires are lit near nightfall, just as on Walpurgis In order to drive away the remaining cold of winter and welcome spring. In recent years a renewed interest in pre-Christian religion and culture such as Walpurgis Night. In 1999, suspicions were raised among local Reformed party members in Putten, Gelderland of a Walpurgis festival celebrated by Satanists. The party called for a ban. Rumors that Satanic sects celebrate Walpurgis Night come from other towns as well, with the local churches in Dokkum, Friesland organizing a service in 2003 to pray to the Holy Spirit to counter such Satanic action.

Sergio Leone

Legendary Italian film director, producer and screenwriter Sergio Leone Sadly died on 30 April 1989, of a heart attack at the age of 60. He was born 3 January 1929 and started out In film After watching his father work on film sets, and began his own career in the film industry at the age of 18 after dropping out of law studies at the university.Working in Italian cinematography, he began as an assistant to Vittorio de Sica during the movie Bicycle Thieves in 1948. Leone began writing screenplays during the 1950s, primarily for the ‘sword and sandal’ (a.k.a. ‘peplum’) historical epics, popular at the time. He also worked as an assistant director on several large-scale international productions shot at the Cinecittà Studios in Rome, notably Quo Vadis (1951) and Ben-Hur (1959), financially backed by the American studios.When director Mario Bonnard fell ill during the production of the 1959 Italian epic The Last Days of Pompeii (Gli Ultimi Giorni di Pompei), starring Steve Reeves, Leone was asked to step in and complete the film. As a result, when the time came to make his solo directorial debut with The Colossus of Rhodes (Il Colosso di Rodi, 1961), Leone was well-equipped to produce low-budget films which looked like larger budget Hollywood movies ln the early 1960s, sadly historical epics fell out of favor with audiences.

So Leone shifted his attention to a sub-genre which came to be known as the “Spaghetti Western”, owing its origin to the American Western. His film A Fistful of Dollars (Per un Pugno di Dollari, 1964) was based upon Akira Kurosawa’s Edo-era samurai adventure Yojimbo (1961). Leone’s film elicited a legal challenge from the Japanese director, though Kurosawa’s film was in turn probably based on the 1929 Dashiell Hammett novel, Red Harvest. A Fistful of Dollars was also notable for establishing Clint Eastwood as a star. Until that time Eastwood had been an American television actor with few credited film roles.The look of A Fistful of Dollars was established by its Spanish locations, which presented a violent and morally complex vision of theAmerican Old West. The film paid tribute to traditional American western films, but significantly departed from them in storyline, plot, characterization and mood. As a child the American Old West fascinated him , which carried into his adulthood and his films.Leone’s next two films – For a Few Dollars More (1965) and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) – completed what has come to be known as the Man with No Name trilogy (a.k.a. the Dollars Trilogy), with each film being more financially successful and more technically accomplished than its predecessor.

The films featured innovative music scores by Ennio Morricone, who worked closely with Leone in devising the themesSergio Leone’s next film Was Once upon a time in the west, Which was shot mostly in Almería, Spain Cinecittà in Rome & Monument Valley, Utah & starred Charles Bronson, Henry Fonda, Jason Robards and Claudia Cardinale. Once Upon a Time in the West emerged as a long, violent, dreamlike meditation upon the mythology of the American Old West, with many stylistic references to iconic western films. The film’s script was written by Leone and his longtime friend and collaborator Sergio Donati, from a story by Bernardo Bertolucci and Dario Argento, it was a huge hit in Europe, grossing nearly three times its $5 million budget among French audiences, and highly praised amongst North American film students. It has come to be regarded by many as Leone’s best film.

Leone’s next film Once upon a time in the West was shot mostly in Almería, Spain Cinecittà in Rome & Monument Valley, Utah & starred Charles Bronson, Henry Fonda, Jason Robards and Claudia Cardinale. Once Upon a Time in the West emerged as a long, violent, dreamlike meditation upon the mythology of the American Old West, with many stylistic references to iconic western films. The film’s script was written by Leone and his longtime friend and collaborator Sergio Donati, from a story by Bernardo Bertolucci and Dario Argento, it was a huge hit in Europe, grossing nearly three times its $5 million budget among French audiences, and highly praised amongst North American film students. It has come to be regarded by many as Leone’s best film.

After Once Upon a Time in the West, Leone directed Duck, You Sucker! (Giù la Testa, 1971). Leone was intending merely to produce the film, but due to artistic differences with then-director Peter Bogdanovich, Leone was asked to direct the film instead. Duck, You Sucker! is a Mexican Revolution action drama, starring James Coburn, as an Irish revolutionary and Rod Steiger, as a Mexican bandit who is conned into becoming a revolutionary.Leone continued to produce, and on occasion, step in to reshoot scenes in other films. One of these films was My Name is Nobody(1973) by Tonino Valerii ] a comedy western film that poked fun at the spaghetti western genre. It starred Henry Fonda as an old gunslinger facing a final confrontation after the death of his brother. Terence Hill also starred in the film as the young stranger who helps Fonda leave the dying West with style.Leone’s other productions included A Genius, Two Partners and a Dupe (1975, another western comedy starring Terence Hill); The Cat (Il Gatto; 1977, starring Ugo Tognazzi), and A Dangerous Toy (Il Giocattolo; 1979, starring Nino Manfredi). Leone also produced three comedies by actor/director Carlo Verdone, which were Fun Is Beautiful (Un Sacco Bello, 1980), Bianco, Rosso e Verdone(White, Red and Verdone – Verdone means “strong green” – a pun referring to the three colours of the Italian flag, the star and to director Verdone, 1981) and Troppo Forte (Great!, 1986). During this period, Leone also directed various award-winning TV commercials for European television.In 1978, he was a member of the jury at the 28th Berlin International Film Festival.

Leone turned down the opportunity to direct The Godfather, in favor of working on another gangster story he had conceived earlier. He devoted ten years to this project, based on the novel The Hoods by former mobster Harry Grey, which focused on a quartet of New York City Jewish gangsters of the 1920s and 1930s who had been friends since childhood. The four-hour finished film, Once Upon a Time in America (1984), featured Robert De Niro and James Woods. It was a meditation on another aspect of popular American mythology, the role of greed and violence and their uneasy coexistence with the meaning of ethnicity and friendship. Unfortunately Warner Bros. Edited it drastically for the American market, abandoning its flashback structure for a linear narrative. Lasting over just two hours, the recut version received much criticism and flopped. However The original version, was released in the rest of the world, and achieved major critical acclaim, with some critics hailing the film as a masterpiece.

Before his death he was part way through planning a film on the Siege of Leningrad, set in the Eastern Front during World War II. He was survived by his wife and three children.In his later years, Leone had a falling out of sorts with actor Clint Eastwood. When Leone directed Once Upon a Time in America, he commented that Robert De Niro was a real actor, unlike Eastwood. However, the two made amends and reconciled before Leone’s death. In 1992, Eastwood directed Unforgiven, a revisionist western drama for which he won an Oscar for best director, as well as Best Picture. Leone was one of the two directors whom Eastwood dedicated his award to, the other was Don Siegel who directed Eastwood in a string of movies in the 1970s, including Dirty Harry. (The film contains a dedication “To Sergio & Don” before the end credits roll.)

Eduoard Manet

Prolific French painter Édouard Manet Sadly died 30 April 1883 in Paris After contracting gangrene, Rheumatism, syphilis and Locomotor Ataxia. He was born 23 January 1832 at his ancestral hôtel particulier (mansion) on the rue Bonaparte. His father, Auguste Manet, was a French judge who expected Édouard to pursue a career in law. However His uncle, Edmond Fournier, encouraged him to pursue painting and took young Manet to the Louvre. In 1841 he enrolled at secondary school, the Collège Rollin and in 1845, he enrolled in a special course of drawing where he met Antonin Proust, future Minister of Fine Arts and subsequent lifelong friend. in 1848 he sailed on a training vessel to Rio de Janeiro, but twice failed the examination to join the Navy. Instead From 1850 to 1856, Manet studied under the academic painter Thomas Couture. In his spare time, Manet copied the old masters in the Louvre and From 1853 to 1856, visited Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands, and was influenced by the Dutch painter Frans Hals, and the Spanish artists Diego Velázquez and Francisco José de Goya.

In 1856, Manet opened a studio Where he painted The Absinthe Drinker (1858–59), beggars, singers, Gypsies, people in cafés, and bullfights. He rarely painted religious, mythological, or historical subjects; apart from Christ Mocked, now in the Art Institute of Chicago, and Christ with Angels, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Manet had a portrait of his Mother and Father and The Spanish Singer, displayed at the Salon in 1861. In 1862 he painted Music in the Tuileries (See below), and in 1863 he painted The Luncheon on the Grass (Le déjeuner sur l’herbe) which was exhibited at Salon des Refusés (Salon of the Rejected) and also painted Olympia, both of which caused great controversy. In 1868 he painted Berthe Morisot with a Bouquet of Violets and also became friends with impressionists Berthe Morisot, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, Paul Cézanne and Camille Pissarro, Morisot also became his sister-in-law when she married his brother, Eugene in 1874. Unfortunately Manet was excluded from the International Exhibition of 1867 at the Paris Salon, so he set up his own exhibition.

In 1879 he painted a self portrait and became influenced by the Impressionists, especially Monet and Morisot and also painted two portraits of the composer Emanuel Chabrier. Among Manet’s fans were Émile Zola, Stéphane Mallarmé, and Charles Baudelaire. In 1878 he painted The Cafe Concert, which was set in the Cabaret de Reichshoffen on the Boulevard Rochechouart, and went on to paint many other cafe scenes depicting the Bohemian social life in 19th-century Paris in which people were depicted drinking beer, listening to music, flirting, reading, or waiting. Manet also visited Pere Lathuilles a restaurant on the Avenue de Clichy and painted Chez le père Lathuille (At Pere Lathuille’s). In 1873 he painted Le Bon Bock and in 1864 he painted The Races at Longchamps and Masked Ball at the Opera and his 1868 painting The Luncheon was painted in Manet’s Dining Room.

Manet also painted War subjects including View of the International Exhibition, and the Battle of the Kearsarge and Alabama (1864), the Battle of Cherbourg (1864) and The Barricade. The French intervention in Mexico also interested him and he Painted The Execution of Emperor Maximilian, 1867, an action which raised concerns regarding French foreign and domestic policy and is currently at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. In January 1871, Manet traveled to Oloron-Sainte-Marie in the Pyrenees and his friends added his name to the “Fédération des artistes” of the Paris Commune. In 1973 He painted The Railway, widely known as The Gare Saint-Lazare, and In 1874 painted several boating subjects which are now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, His last major work, was A Bar at the Folies-Bergère (Un Bar aux Folies-Bergère), and In 1875, he provided Lithographs for a book-length French edition of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven”. Then in 1881,the French government awarded Manet the Légion d’honneur.

Sadly Manet contracted syphilis in his forties, for which he received no treatment. He also suffered from rheumatism and developed locomotor ataxia, a known side-effect of syphilis, which caused him considerable pain. Then In April 1883, his left foot was amputated, sadly though the wound became infected causing his death eleven days later on 30 April 1883 in Paris, he is buried in the Passy Cemetery in the city.

Day of Remembrance for victims of Chemical Warfare

The Day of Remembrance for all Victims of Chemical Warfare takes place annually on April 29 as a “tribute to the victims of chemical warfare, as well as to reaffirm the commitment of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to the elimination of the threat of chemical weapons, thereby promoting the goals of peace, security, and multilateralism.” April 29 was chosen as the date for the event’s celebration because the Chemical Weapons Convention entered into force 29 April 1997. It is officially recognised by the United Nations (UN) and has been celebrated since 2005. On the 2013 observance day, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Urged the international community to intensify efforts to rid the world of chemical weapons, along with all other weapons of mass destruction and also urged them to work together to bring all States under the Convention and promote its full implementation to honour past victims and liberate future generations from the threat of chemical weapons.

In 2005, during the last day of the United Nations’ Tenth Session of the Conference of the State Parties, the members of the UN officially recognised the Day of Remembrance for all Victims of Chemical Warfare, following a suggestion by Rogelio Pfirter, Director-General of the Secretariat and proposed the erection of a monument at the Hague commemorating all victims of chemical warfare

Although the majority of the world has either given up or destroyed their stockpiles of chemical weapons as of 2013, several nations have yet to do so. Five of these, Angola, Burma, Egypt, Israel, and North Korea, have not ratified the Convention and are suspected to possess chemical weapons. Syria is also known to possess a sizeable stockpile and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted this in his 2013 speech, condemning the nation for its alleged exploitation of chemical weapons in its ongoing civil war. On September 14, 2013 the United States and Russia announced in Geneva that they reached a deal whereby Syria would ratify the treaty and give up its chemical weapons. The Syrian government has been cooperating and as of November 2013, all but one of Syria’s 23 publicly declared chemical weapon sites have been visited by international inspectors that are dismantling the Syrian chemical weapons program.

  • More International and National Events and Holidays happening on April 29
  • National Hairball Awareness Day – 2016
  • Day of Remembrance for all Victims of Chemical Warfare
  • International Dance Day
  • National Arbor Day
  • National Peace Rose Day
  • National Shrimp Scampi Day
  • Viral Video Day
  • World Wish Day
  • Zipper Day

Zipper day commemorates the anniversary of the date of 29 April 1913 when Gideon Sundback patented a “hookless fastener,” which became the first widely marketed zipper.