Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Johan Svendsen Violin Concerto in A Major

Lars Bjornkjaer Aarhus Symphony Giordano Bellincampi Johan Severin Svendsen (30 September 1840 – 14 June 1911) was a Norwegian composer. Born in Oslo, he lived most of his life in Copenhagen, Denmark. Svendsen's output is two symphonies, a violin concerto, a cello concerto, the Romance for violin as well as many Norwegian Rhapsodies for orchestra. Svendsen was an intimate friend of Edvard Grieg and Richard Wagner. Along with Grieg, Svendsen represents Norwegian Romanticism at its highest. Outside of Norway, Svendsen has got a few followers and it may be only a matter of time before he receives the same belated international interest accorded to Berwald and Nielsen. Svendsen was the son of a military bandsman who taught him wind instruments and the violin. Svendsen performed as a boy in both a regimental band and dance orchestras. His exposure to symphonic classics came with his appointment as first violinist in the Norwegian Theatre Orchestra and subsequent discovery of Beethoven's music. Further study of the masters developed through his lessons with Carl Arnold. He got a royal stipend which enabled him to go the Leipzig Conservatory to study. Svendsen originally aimed for violin studies but shifted to composition due to nervous problems of the left hand. His musicality led to his being allowed to deputize as conductor in the conservatory orchestra. He left the conservatory with honours in 1867 after completing his Symphony No. 1 and string quintet. Svendsen returned to Norway where a concert of his own music drew praise from a review by Grieg. The Franco-Prussian War in 1870 aborted a conducting position in Leipzig but a successful performance of his Symphony No. 1 with the Gewandhaus gave him confidence. Svendsen returned to Norway in 1872 to share directorship of the Christiana (Oslo) Music Society concerts with Grieg. The generosity of a government grant helped create a conducive atmosphere for Svendsen to compose his Second Symphony and his series of Norwegian Rhapsodies. He received directorship of the Royal Opera in Copenhagen in 1883. He traveled widely and met Saint-Saëns, Sarasate and built a friendship with Wagner. His marriage had deteriorated to a point where his wife jealously flung the completed manuscript of a third symphony into a fire in 1882. Svendsen's creativity severely took a blow by this incident. He remarried in 1901. His international reputation continued until illness forced him to cease performing in 1908. Svendsen deserves a place in the select line of Scandinavian composers.

Richard Wagner Rienzi Der Letzte der Tribunen Leipzig Gewandhaus Axel Kober

Leipzig Gewandhaus Axel Kober Wagner’s Rienzi is an opera that rarely gets produced by major opera companies. Wagner did not flash the opera around as he was not proud of it. Another fact this opera did not get performed so often is because Hitler owned the autographed score and the score was ruined in 1945. Most critics deem this opera along with Die Feen and Das Liebesverbot as Italian in flavour. But, the operas canot be passed off as immature even though Wagner never thought them fit enough to be performed even once at the Bayreuth Festivals. Even after his death, his widow, Cosima continued in the same spirit and never had the operas performed there. Thanks to this bicentennial year of his birth. We are seeing all his operas come to light. Another technical reason why Rienzi is so rarely performed is because the title role is rather difficult to sing. Rienzi's Prayer in Act V is extremely difficult to perform. It seems that the Aria was written for a kind of tenor who is nothing short of a singing machine. This famous aria has been recorded earlier by a famous tenor, Lauritz Melchior. He recorded it at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City in the 1930s and again in London in the 1940s. The opera starts with fantastic brass in the overture with the triumphant trumpet signalling in. I have finally seen this full opera now in my fifty seventh year.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Richard Wagner Das Liebesverbot Catalana Fausto Nardi

[The Ban on Love] Orchestra Ensemble of Catalana Fausto Nardi The opera has been performed for the first time on the Spanish stage at the Castell de Peralada Festival earlier this year in March 2013. The Sawallissch version with Munich is much better. Video is not available. However, this is quite a distinct performance that shows glimpses of one of the greatest geniuses in music history. This opera has been inspired from Shakespeare's 'Measure for Measure'. It is in two Acts. It was first premiered under the name of Die Novize von Palermo (The Novice of Palermo).Wagner put the opera on the shelf and forgot about it. It was composed after his opera written on the Fairies (Die Feen). The opera is a good example of early days of Wagner who then had a gift for Italian kind of melody. There are, however, some sonorities in the work that point to the times ahead. One scene in Act II reminds us of the `Amen' theme in Tannhauser. Here, it is a duet for two sopranos whereas in Tannhauser, it is decorated by powerful brass.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Richard Wagner Die Feen Sawallisch

This is the first opera written by Richard Wagner. People who dismiss this opera as well as Das Liebesverbot and Rienzi are pompous idiots. There is nothing wrong with these operas, even when they sound a bit Weberian. The same thing is not done in the case of Mozart if his early operas are revived and performed. Wagner's style of writing kept on changing throughout his career. Die Feen became so obscure that it did not see a decent performance until five years after Wagner's death. Sawallisch has brought out this score in the early style of Wagner and this remains as the best performance of this early opera. The work is masterful and no one can complain and talk boldly that there is no dramatic movement in the opera or that there are immature musical expressions in this work. The orchestral writing is bloody good. Wagner has definitely been influenced by Weber in the development of the thematic material. The biggest joke is that during his lifetime, Wagner had difficulty in getting anyone interested enough to even look at the score of this opera. The people who did not like the opera were hypocritical and do not deseve to be mentioned or played for. This live performance has given us an understanding of how it affected the ones attending the opera. This performance may have proved the historians wrong. The conductor and the singers are obviously in love with the work and acknowledge the great merit in it. That kind of energy has made this recording a sublime and technically perfect one. Munich Choir and Bavarian Radio Broadcasting Symphony Orchestra Wolfgang Sawallisch

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Gotterdammerung Solti

This is a mighty powerful performance of the Twilight of the Gods! It is packed with drama. Powerful singing with a powerful hand controlling it. Solti rises to that level of musicianship that brings out the impact of power to the highest. Solti has set some orchestral standards that have not been surpassed with Dawn and Siegfried's Rhine Journey. Once again, the only conductor who comes close to Solti in bringing out the intensity has been Furtwaengler. The brass and the strings complement each other. Siegfried's Funeral March is also superb. In the Immolation Scene, Solti brings out all the intertwined leitmotifs to a thrilling climax, the Valhalla motif rising higher with each bar. This Decca set captures Solti's powerful direction and the astounding effort by the Vienna Philharmonic. Solti's Gotterdammerung could be the standard to which you can hold all other Ring cycles. In my honest opinion, no recording comes even close. Karajan is thin when it comes to orchestral punch. The LP records and not the CDs bring out the best sound. The Metropolitan Opera set with James Levine could be thrown in the gutter.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Siegfried Solti

I got introduced to the Ring by Solti's recordings. This was my first Siegfried. What I cannot forget from the first time I heard this opera in 1972 till now is that Siegfried's horn played by Herr Roland Berger, the first chair french horn player from the Vienna Philharmonic ensemble, stays in my mind even today for its sheer force and power. No one has played like that ever since and before too. Vienna Philharmonic is simply stunning in this performance. The scenes of fafner the dragon and the forging scenes are extremely powerful. This is beyond comparison. Solti is untouchable with Der Ring Des Nibelungen.Solti has given a dramatic and intense reading of Wagner's great opera. I am fortunate also to have the vinyl discs on London/Decca and the use of stereophonics is better than even the HD CDs of today. Without any doubt, the definitive Siegfried performance.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Die Walkure Solti

The 1965 Decca set of Solti/Wiener is the definitive Die Walkure. This is the next best.After Solti, the other conductor who has made an impact with performances of Die Walkure is Wilhelm Furtwaengler. Many of Solti's opera recordings are the definitive accounts. He is one of the greatest conductors ever. Solti has been always spectacular in the way he interpreted music. His conducting has been amazingly expressive. He has made more than two hundred recordings, including at least forty complete opera recordings.There was a time when major recording companies had exclusive contracts with selected conductors. Deutsche Grammophon had Herbert von Karajan (1908-1989), Columbia and Sony Classical had Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) and London/Decca had Georg Solti (1912-1997).

The Father of Spiritual Music

Johann Sebastian Bach [1685-1750] is the Father of Spiritual Music. He lived at the end of the Renaissance Period in music. It was also the beginning of the Baroque Period. The impact of Johann Sebastian's output and personality was so deep that the whole Baroque era came to an end with his death in 1750. The name `Baroque' is derived from the style of art of that time that symbolised curvature as well as ornamentation. Bach influenced, single handedly, the style of the period and assimilated it in music throughout Europe. Bach was an extra-ordinary composer besides spending most of his life as a church organist. His music sprang from a strong inner spirit and was wholly expressive of the human values symbolised by his personality. Prior to him, music was purely composed to entertain the elite in the society and for the entertainment of the citizenry. Bach revolutionised that by dedicating it to monarchy of that time, no doubt, but fulfilling his inspiration and writing creativly for the King of Kings. In his young days, he was so enthusiastic about hearing Dietrich Buxtehude play the organ that once he walked close to fifty miles to hear him. Bach went on to become the greatest organist of his time. Johann Sebastian Bach was born on 21st March 1685 in Eisenach. As a young child, he learned to play the harpsichord and the violin. When he was fifteen, he became a member of the choir of St. Michael's Church in Lueneburg. Later on, he became a violinist in the orchestral ensemble at the Court of the Duke of Weimar. He was made an organist at the Churches of Arnstadt and Muelhausen. He then became the Kappell Meister and Director at the Court of Prince Leopold of Anhalt at Coethen. In 1723, he took up the Cantorship of the ThomasSchule in Leipzig in addition to working as a Director and an Organist at the two main churches there. He retained these positions until his death. Bach was a person with a cheerful disposition. He was happy-go-lucky. He married twice and had twenty children. Many children of his went on to become prominent musicians after him. Johann Sebastian Bach was a prolific composer. He has written over a thousand compositions that range from sacred to secular works and from solo instrument pieces to concerti and orchestral suites. Many of his works are regarded as the basic learning models for all aspiring musicians.An example is his Books for the Well Tempered Klavier and his collection for harpsichord, `The Art of the Fugue'(Die Kunst der Fuge). Th opening prelude in C Major of his Well Tempered Klavier is heavenly. It has been used many times later by other composers. Gounod used it in his Ave Maria. One of the movements from his third orchestral suite has been immortalized as the Air for the G String. This was done almost a century after his death when the Aria was transcribed for the lowest string on the violin, the G string. Bach's music represents an art that is timeless and a prayer that reaches the Divine Architect of the Universe.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Definitive Bruckner Third by Solti

This is a symphony dedicated to Wagner. It is written with the vision of Beethoven and the passion of Wagner. Bruckner admired Wagner so much that when he came to writing down the themes for this D Minor Symphony at Bad Kreuzen, he subconsciously filtered quotations from Die Walkure and Tristan und Isolde that he used to hum while taking his walks in the countryside or while taking the salt water baths at the spa. When the third symphony was first performed, it was not so well received as there were many people in the audience who wanted music that was Brahmsian and not Wagnerian. Today, this symphony has become a regular part of the repertoire of Romantic Music. Solti has played this with bravado both with the Bavarian Radio and the Chicago Symphony. The other readings that I like of this symphony are by Volkmar Andreae and Wiener Symphonie and Carl Schuricht and the Wiener Philharmoniker.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Sleeping Beauty

Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Moscow Radio Gennady Rozhdestvensky The Sleeping Beauty of Tchaikovsky is a good fusion of choreography and music. It is the perfect romantic ballet. Though Tchaikovsky's supreme effort in ballets is his Le Lac des Cygnes, Sleeping Beauty is next in spirit and then comes the Nutcracker or Casse Noisette. Tchaikovsky died in 1893 but around the turn of the twentieth century, the Sleeping Beauty ballet was well on its way to becoming one of the most important ballets in the history of music. The story is based on the Grimm Brothers' fairy tale version of Charles Perrault's original eighteenth century fable. Tchaikovsky fell in love with the narrative and wrote the score for the ballet enthusiastically. This was his second ballet and he wrote with intensity and passion, loving every moment while composing. He finished the score for the ballet in a record time despite few travel interruptions. He completed the entire ballet within forty days. The premiere of the ballet took place in St. Petersburg in January 1890. It was well received by both the audiences and the critics. The Tsar, however, was not so enthusiastic about the ballet.Today, it is among the staples in the ballet repertoire. An unabridged performance of the ballet would last close to four hours.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

L'Oiseau Du Feu

Good confronts evil in Mikhail Fokine's drama of a magical Firebird. This is a classic ballet. The Firebird was Stravinsky’s first score for a ballet. It was commissioned by Serge Diaghilev in 1910 and was first performed at the Paris Opéra. Its success marked the beginning of a great collaboration between Stravinsky and Diaghilev that would also bring about Petruchka and Le Sacre du Printemps. Fokine has shifted from classical ballet towards a folk based style of movement. Stravinsky has brought in folk song elements into his music. Firebird climaxes with one of the most brilliant passages of music ever written. This is the best performance of the Firebird that I have come across till date.Valery Gergiev with the Vienna Philharmonic.The conclusion is fiery and earth shattering. Igor Stravinsky is magnificent with this ballet. Other versions of this score that are noteworthy are Pierre Boulez with the Chicago Symphony and Lorin Maazel with Orchestre Nationale de France.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Enigma Variations

Halle Sir John Barbirolli 1956 A definitive performance. The Enigma Variations by Sir Edward Elgar are a set of a theme and its fourteen variations written for orchestra in 1899. Elgar dedicated the piece to “my friends pictured within” as each variation is a portrayal of one of close acquaintances. In the score, each variation is prefaced with a nickname or initials as a clue to the identity of the friend depicted. The Ninth variation has become very popular and carries the name “Nimrod”, a punning reference to the Old Testament patriarch described as “a mighty hunter before the Lord”. The German word for “hunter” is Jaeger and that is why the name “Nimrod” refers to Augustus J. Jaeger, a music editor who was for a long time a close friend of Elgar, giving him useful advice, but was also his severe critic. Elgar related on many occasions how Jaeger had encouraged him as an artist and had stimulated him to continue composing despite many setbacks and frustration. This variation is sometimes used at funerals, memorial services, and other solemn occasions. It is always played at the Cenotaph in London on Remembrance Sunday (the second Sunday in November). Sir John Barbirolli has given a great performance here. Another version I like is the one by Georg Solti and the Vienna Philharmonic and Zubin Mehta and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.


ORIGIN Asomiya is the Assamese language which belongs to the Eastern Indo Aryan group, genealogically. It is the easternmost Indo-European language. This group also includes the Oriya, Bihari and the Bengali languages. Asomiya and its related languages like the Maithili, Bengali and Oriya have developed from the Magadhi Prakrit which is one of the three Dramatic Prakrits, the ancient Indian written languages after the decline of Sanskrit. The Magadhi Prakrit in the east gave rise to four dialects, one of which is the Kamarupa Apabhramsa which resulted in Assamese predominantly in the Brahmaputra valley. Assam derives its name from the tract of the Brahmaputra valley. Asomiya is not a Sanskrit originated language; rather, it was later influenced by Sanskrit as a result of the migration of people from Northern India in different ages and also because of the spread of Hinduism. Sanskrit is a highly Dravidian influenced Aryan language. The reason behind the Assamese language escaping the Dravidian influence is because of the fact that the people who spoke the Assamese language originally never came across the Indian Gangetic Civilisation on their route to Assam. The primary ancestors of the Kalita people of Assam who travelled across the Northern Himalayan tract of Southern Tibet on their way to Assam seem more likely to be the original speakers of Asomiya. The earliest relics of the Assamese language can be found in the palaeographic records of the Kamarupa Kingdom from the fifth century to the twelfth century Anno Domini. Assamese became the court language in the Ahom Kingdom by the seventeenth century. There is evidence of rich heritage of oral traditions of Assamese language in folk songs, children’s stories, festival songs, religious hymns and ballads. Asomiya language was withdrawn from schools and courts in 1836 and was reinstated in 1873. The British government, on advice of a section of public that included some missionaries and Bengalis, introduced Bengali as a medium of instruction in the schools and courts of Assam, removing Assamese. The American missionaries convinced the British that Assamese is a sibling of Bengali. Asomiya is spoken by about fifteen million people. It is the state language of Assam which is the eastern most state in India. Assamese is also spoken in Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Bhutan and Bangla Desh. Assam is part of the Seven Sisters Region of Southeast Asia – Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura being the others. Assam is rich in tea, silk and petroleum resources. Most of the Assamese are Vaishnavas. They do not believe in idol worship and perform Namkirtana where Lord Vishnu’s glory is recited. Asomiya has been declared as one of the major languages of the Indian Republic by the Constitution of India. SCRIPT The Asomiya script came from the eastern variety of Gupta Brahmi script. It is written from left to right and from top to bottom. The phonetic sounds are similar to the Bengali language. The Assamese manuscripts can be categorised into three groups – Gorgoyan script, Bamuniya script and Kaitheli script. Asomiya script is a variant of the Eastern Nagari script and has its roots laid down to the Gupta script. This language had a unique style of writing which was initially done on the bark of the Saanchi tree. The religious chronicles and texts in Assamese have been written on the same bark only. The modern age of Asomiya script started with the British rule in Assam. The modern Assamese script is the one that was used by the Christian missionaries for the purpose of publishing books and magazines in the nineteenth century. In 1819, the publication of the Bible in Assamese marked the start of the Modern Assamese script period. With the advent of the printing machine, there was a drastic change also in the Assamese script. In 1836, the missionaries started the first printing press in Sibsagar. In 1846, Nathan Brown, Oliver Cutter and Miles Bronson printed the first Assamese newspaper called `Arunodoi’. Hemchandra Barua was the editor of the newspaper. In 1867, the missionaries compiled the first Assamese-English dictionary and the major work was done by Miles Bronson. In the early stages of the Assamese script, say in the medieval period, there are some punctuation marks in Assamese. For example, there is use of single vertical line, double vertical lines, single star (*), two single vertical lines with a star in the middle position (I*I), double vertical lines with a single star in the middle position (II*II). During the Ahom period when the Ahom kings had patronised the calligraphers, calligraphic representation of Assamese script was very popular but it lost its popularity gradually with time. During the modern period, the English punctuation marks are used. For example, a comma, semi-colon, note of interrogation (?) and exclamation (!). The Assamese script has ten elementary numeric symbols. The Assamese alphabet is written with a version similar to that of the Bengali alphabet. MORPHOLOGY AND GRAMMAR The number and gender in Asomiya is not marked grammatically. There is a lexical distinction of gender in the third person pronoun. The transitive verbs are different from intransitive verbs. The agentive case is marked specifically and is distinct from the accusative. The kinship nouns are harmonised for personal pro-nominal possession. Adverbs are derived from the verb roots. The Assamese phonemic range involves eight oral vowel phonemes and three nasalised vowel phonemes. A phoneme is the smallest unit of sound that is used to link a meaningful contrast between utterances. Additionally, there are fifteen diphthongs (a gliding vowel with two adjacent sounds within the same syllable) and twenty one consonant phonemes. A large number of ligatures where two letters are joined as a link are possible because all the consonants can combine with one another potentially. Vowels can either be dependent or independent upon a consonant or a consonant cluster. The grammar and phonology of Asomiya have been influenced by the original inhabitants of Assam such as the Kacharis, the Boros, the Tibetan as well as the Burmese dialects in the region. The phonological characteristics of the Assamese language are marked by curling the tongue upward towards the hard palate. In the entire lot of Indo-European languages, Assamese has a large collection of similar sounding words. The Assamese pronunciation transliterated by the Roman alphabet `X’ phonetically is not to be found in any of the Indian languages. On the other hand, it is prevalent in common use in many of the European and Persian languages. Common examples are the Scottish word for the lake (Loch), German proper names like Bach or Ulrich and the Greek word for `Xeros’. In the East, Assamese shows similarities with the Anui language of Japan. Anui people are the aboriginal inhabitants of Japan who arrived there prior to the arrival of the primary ancestors of the Japanese people about thousands of years ago. Examples are words like `kora’ (to do), `pasi’ (basket) and `mekuri’ (cat). DIALECTS In the middle of the nineteenth century, the dialect spoken in the Sibsagar area of Assam came into focus because it was made the official language of the state by the British government. The Christian missionaries based their work in this region. The Assamese taught in schools and used in newspapers today has evolved and incorporated elements from different dialects of the language. The first dialect is the Eastern group which is spoken in and around the Sibsagar District. The second dialect is the Central group which is spoken in Nagaon, Morigaon and Sonitpur districts and their adjoining areas. The third dialect is the Kamrupi group spoken in Kamrup, Bongaigaon, Kokrajhar, Nalbari and Darrang districts. The fourth dialect is the Goalparia group which is spoken primarily in the Goalpara and Dhubri districts. LITERATURE Asomiya literature is quite ancient and rich. It developed into a literary language as late as 13 AD. The Ahoms of Burma who ruled Assam wrote a unique collection of prose works from the thirteenth to the eighteenth centuries. These works were called Buranjis and were liked by the people. One of the oldest and renowned Assamese writers is Hema Saraswati who has written the popular `Prahlada Charitra’ by the end of the thirteenth century Anno Domini. It tells the story from the Vishnu Puranas of how the mythical King Prahlada’s faith in Vishnu saved him from destruction and restored the moral order. Another important figure in the Assamese literature was Madhava Kandali who wrote the famous Ramayana epic in the native language in the fourteenth century. The nineteenth century saw a rise of good Assamese poets in Rajanikanta Bordoloi (1867-1939) and Benudhar Raj Khowa (1872-1935). In 1894, Bordolai published the first Assamese novel, `Mirijiyori’. Some of the popular Assamese writers of today’s generation are Manoj Kumar Goswami, Phul Goswami and Harendra Kumar. Two famous novelists in Asomiya were Gunabhiram Barua (1837-1895) and Anandaram Dhekial Phukan (1829-1896). Gunabhiram Barua was a pioneer of modern Assamese literature. He had been an inspiration for many writers in the nineteenth century Assamese society. Padmanath Goain Baruah was the first President of the Asom Sahitya Sabha which was the biggest literary organisation of Assam. He is considered as the Pitamaha (the great grandfather) in Asomiya literary world. There was also technical literature written in the Asomiya language on several topics like dancing, music and mathematics. The period of modern literature began with the publication of `Jonaki’, an Asomiya journal that introduced the short story form by Lakshminath Bezbaruah. Dr. Devananda Bharati was the pioneer linguist of the Assamese language. TYPING SOFTWARE Lipikaar is a simple typing software method that helps you type Asomiya on an ordinary keyboard. It does not require any learning. It is based on a simple presumption that if you can write in Assamese, then you can type in Assamese. It works on all Windows applications, MS Office, all websites, chat and eMail. The Lipikaar Desktop Application is not dependent on internet connectivity. It is an offline program that stays on the background of your Windows operating system. It is based on Unicode which is a universal standard for representing text in different scripts and is not dependent on a particular font. A document created by using Lipikaar can be seen on another machine on which Lipikaar is not installed.

Experience the Penguin Colonies of the Antarctica

There are many options available to you when you want to visit the Antarctica. All cruises with the Antarctic Ocean as a destination explore the Antarctic Peninsula. The cruises are usually lasting for about a fortnight. The Peninsula destination is one of the most sought after among the Antarctic cruises. An expedition ship will take about two days’ voyage from Ushuaia in the Tierra del Fuego province of Argentina. This is the southernmost city in the world. You cross the Drake Passage to the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. There are many cruise operators that you can select from. The Antarctica cruises are offered by many tour operators such as Polar Cruises, Travel Wild, Aurora Expeditions, Victory Cruises, Southern Explorations, Oceanwide Expeditions and Princess Cruises. The Antarctic Peninsula has a mountain range that stretches across eight hundred miles. There is plenty of opportunity to see a large range of wildlife in the Antarctic. During this voyage, you can learn about Antarctic’s natural history with presentations that are done onboard. You can watch for whales and also will be able to see squadrons of albatrosses and sea gulls along the route. You will come across many icebergs before you reach the White Continent. When you land on the shores of the Antarctic Peninsula, you can visit the research facilities and many other historical locations. The winter part of the cruise calendar allows you to see much birdlife, particularly the courting and the mating of the penguins in their colonies. There are seventeen species of penguins and they are grouped into three families. They are brush-tail, king or emperor and crested. Six of these seventeen species are found in the Antarctic. They are the Rockhoppers, Macaronis, Gentoos, Adelies, Chinstraps and Kings which are also known as Emperors. Gentoo and Chinstrap penguins come to the shores to feed their young. February is the best time of the year to see many marine mammals with crab eater seals on the frozen sea water masses. Colonies of Rockhopper penguins are the highlight of any cruise to this peninsula. It is also a marvellous sight when you see the Emperor penguins on the Snow Hill Island in the Antarctica. Here, you can find a colony of almost four thousand breeding pairs of Emperor penguins in the Weddell Sea. The Weddell Sea goes so far into the Southern Antarctic Ocean that it is under the direct effect of the cold. It is bordered to the south by the Larsen Ice Shelves. It was first explored by a British sealer by the name of James Weddell in 1823. Emperor penguins are the largest species of penguins in the world. They stand around three feet tall and weigh about hundred pounds. They are known as the deepest diving birds in the world. They even plunge to depths of over one thousand five hundred feet. They are also capable of staying under water for as long as twenty minutes. They will breed in the harshest conditions. They lay their eggs when the temperatures are even seventy five below zero Fahrenheit. Snow Hill Island is situated at the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. You can reach this place only by the help of icebreakers or helicopters. Kapitan Khlebnikov is the world famous cruising icebreaker. It is the only working unit that is available to the eco-travellers and is capable of reaching Snow Hill Island in the Antarctica. This powerful ship smashes its way through the world of icy wildlife while you are snug and warm with comfortable accommodation and delicious meals onboard. You can even take a helicopter ride from the peninsula to the colony of Emperor penguins to witness them as they march back and forth to feed their chicks. The Emperor penguin colonies are usually surrounded by huge icebergs. Sometimes, you may find it difficult to see the penguins from even a distance of a couple of hundreds of meters. Scientific explorers from the British Antarctic Survey are trying to identify penguin colonies from space by the help of satellite waves. When the weather permits, you will be able to see the glow of the twilight on the icebergs and it is a majestic sight. Experiencing the presence of the Emperor penguins will definitely become your priority on the Antarctic expeditions. These specialty trips to Snow Hill Island operate from late October to end of November. This is perfect time to witness the extra ordinary breeding cycle of these penguins in the winter. They hatch in July and August. Between February and September, the ice at the colony is a little too soft for a cruise to the Snow Hill Island.