Friday, December 25, 2015


The Snow Maiden by Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Russian State Orchestra and Chorus Andrei Christiakov The Snow Maiden is a figure in Russian folk tales. She is beautiful and has skin as white as snow, blue eyes and curly hair. She is known as ‘Snegurochka’ in Russian - ‘sneg’ is the Russian word for snow. She is the daughter of the immortal Gods, Father Frost and Mother Spring. The Snow Maiden first appeared in writing in the nineteenth century. The roots of this character can be found in Slavic pagan beliefs. The folk tale became even more popular in 1873 when it was converted into a play,‘The Snow Maiden’ for the Moscow Imperial Theatre. It was written by Aleksandr Ostrovsky, with music written by Tchaikovsky. The tale was also adapted into an opera by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, ‘The Snow Maiden: A Spring Fairy Tale’, in 1881.

Berlioz La Mort de Cleopatre This is a cantata written by Hector Berlioz. It was inspired from a poem by P. Vieillard. This cantata is less familiar in the vocal music repertoire. For Berlioz's followers, it brings into focus Berlioz's admiration in the realm of antiquity. It also includes a melody that Berlioz would later use again in his opera `Benvenuto Cellini'; it is used as the English horn theme that can be heard at the beginning of the second section of Le Carnaval Romain. The composition is broken into five segments - 1. Allegro vivace con impeto - Recitativo 2. Lento Cantabile - Recitativo 3. Méditation. Largo Misterioso 4. Allegro Assai Agitato 5. Moderato. Recitativo Misurato Berlioz entered this composition in 1829 in the Prix de Rome. This was his third attempt at the coveted prize. In those days, the judges were known for their conservative inclinations and, as expected, even his third attempt was unsuccessful as he did not do anything about diluting his innovative and adventurous style of writing. However, Berlioz won after a couple of years when he submitted another cantata, `La Mort de Sardanaple'. Jessye Norman and Daniel Barenboim with L'Orchestre de Paris bring out a convincing performance and make a strong impression. I have this on DGG vinyl that I purchased in 1985. Norman has given a gripping portrayal of the tragic queen who died by her own hand. Norman is superb in the central Meditation and in the fashion she whispers the last phrases uttered by the Queen. It is a compelling performance. Barenboim matches her achievement by bringing out the innovative nuances of Berlioz's score, supporting her all the time. The final passages are superb with sthe strings illustrating the death of Cleopatra. These are extremely original passages and the judges were arseholes not to realise the astonishing and compelling style of writing.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Sibelius Fourth Sibelius composed his dark Fourth Symphony in A Minor in 1910. He wrote eight symphonies - seven numbered and one big symphonic poem Kullervo. He composed these symphonies between 1899 and 1924 and stopped writing symphonies after that. The movements of his Fourth Symphony are at variance with the symphonic traditions of the times, particularly the way the second and fourth movements culminate and die out in a whimper. Sibelius developed his symphonic style through the formative powers of his themes. He used melodies with a broad span and concise motifs with thematic germ cells. The music ranges between brightness and ominous darkness. The brevity in his composition style is aphoristic. The themes bring out Sibelius' inner thinking processes. The first movement opens with a dark chord and the cello introducing a three-part song. You will come across a thematically independent introduction as well as a coda. The second movement is also a three-part song that has an extensive closing section that introduces new themes. The third movement is an expansive one and it opens with a couple of short phrases that alternate in various forms and they reappear unchanged, giving the whole movement a sense of unity. The finale is written in sonata form but it does not have the standard recapitulation as a result of the change of the thematic material that is found in the development section. Sibelius assembles the motifs of the themes quite prominently in this symphony and they compete with each other, both singularly and in combination. You will come across this in the exposition of the first movement and again in parts of the finale. The cello carries the theme in the first movement while the violin carries it in the final movement. The texture of writing is mostly polyphonic, giving the sound a unique type of transparency. Sibelius favours darker tone colours, making the themes sound significant. Sibelius conducted the premier of this symphony in Helsinki in April, 1911. This symphony represents a deep, sombre and austere side of Sibelius' symphonic personality.

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Swan of Tuonela Tuonela, as per Finnish mythology, refers to the land of the dead. The Swan of Tuonela glides on the dark waters of a lake there and it sings while it glides. This symphonic tone poem is taken from the series of poems Sibelius wrote for his `Legend’ in 1893. These poems were inspired by the Finnish national epic of `Kalevala’. This is part of the Lemminkainen Suite. Sibelius has combined two themes – one is the melody assigned to the swan which is played by the English horn or the Cor Anglais and another is a theme which is initially played by the cello and it is alter transcribed in the swan melody and developed further. Strings are also divided into several parts. They offer a vibrant background to the melody of the swan. The poem rises to a climax of pathos with a solemn reinstatement of the melody and sinking back to the atmosphere created at the opening.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy

Tolstoy The Death of Ivan Ilyich The Death of Ivan Ilyich was published in 1886 after a period of depression and personal intellectual turmoil (1875-1878) that ended with Tolstoy's conversion to Christianity. A Summary During an interval in a trial, some legal professionals converse in a private room. Peter Ivánovich, the protagonist’s closest friend, reads in the obituaries that Iván Ilyich has died. Iván Ilyich had been terminally ill for some time. He was the colleague of the men present. The men immediately think of how Iván Ilyich's death may result in promotion for them all. Each man thinks gratefully that Iván Ilyich is dead and not himself. They also think of how they will be forced to go through all the tedious business of paying respects and visiting the family. Flashback Iván Ilyich is the second son of a bureaucrat. He attends law school. He admires all those people who are in a high station in life and tries to imitate them, in whichever way he can. After law school, he qualifies for a position in the civil service. After a career setback, Iván Ilyich fights for a post with high salary and ends up with a job in Saint Petersburg. He throws himself into decorating. One day, when draping the hangings, he slips and bumps his side. The pain goes away before long. But then, it grows in his left side and he has a chronic unpleasant taste in his mouth. He becomes more irritable and sees a physician who diagnoses his illness as an appendix problem. He is forced to take opium to fight the pain and his mental anguish becomes more terrible as he fights the realization that he has wasted his life. He has dreams of a black sack with no bottom into which he is endlessly being pushed. (Sherlock Holmes also has dreams like these when he is in the possession of cocaine in the Seven Per Cent Solution). When the end seems near, at his wife's behest, Iván Ilyich takes communion and becomes a Protestant Christian. During the last three days of his life, Iván Ilyich screams in agony. But on the third day, he has a revelation. As his son touches his hand, Iván Ilyich finally recognizes that the way he has lived his life has been hypocritical and empty. He falls through the bottom of his dream's black sack and sees a great light. The light is comforting. He accepts that compassion is the key to correct living and tries to ask his wife for forgiveness. He feels no hatred now for others but pities them. He retreats into his inner world at the end. Though he seems to be in agony, internally Iván Ilyich is at peace when he dies. Like death or abandonment, alienation is one of the deepest-rooted fears experienced by human beings. As social creatures, humans have the need to identify themselves as one of a group, whether that group is a family, a culture, or a religion. Alienation is the central theme in Tolstoy's 'The Death of Ivan Ilyich' as it is in Kafka's `Metamorphosis' and Albert Camus’ `Stranger'. “He in his madness prays for storms, and dreams that storms will bring him peace”. “They had supper and went away, and Ivan Ilyich was left alone with the consciousness that his life was poisoned and was poisoning the lives of others, and that this poison did not weaken but penetrated more and more deeply into his whole being.” “With this consciousness, and with physical pain besides the terror, he must go to bed, often to lie awake the greater part of the night. Next morning he had to get up again, dress, go to the law courts, speak, and write; or if he did not go out, spend at home those twenty-four hours a day each of which was a torture. And he had to live thus all alone on the brink of an abyss, with no one who understood or pitied him.” As a writer, Leo Tolstoy was deeply concerned with the idea of the meaning of life. He recognised that what conventional society mistakes for life's meaning -- success, social position, political or corporate power -- were ultimately meaningless in the great scheme of things. Also, Tolstoy saw tremendous irony in the fact that our human lives are so transitory and our fortunes are subject to the whims of fate; yet, we act as if we will live forever with ultimate control over the progress of our existence. He illustrates this in his story ‘The Death of Ivan Ilyich.'

Fourth Symphony by Ives The fourth symphony of Charles Ives was started by the composer in 1910 and completed by 1924. This symphony is recognized for its diverse layers of complexity as it requires two conductors for its performance. It involves large multi-layered orchestration. It combines elements and techniques that are innovative. It is one of the most important works of the twentieth century. It has been also hailed as Ives' climactic masterpiece. This symphony did not get its complete performance until Leopold Stokoswki conducted it with the American Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall in New York City on 26th April, 1965, almost eleven years after the death of Charles Ives. It was also recorded on the Columbia Label.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Storm Quintet of Beethoven

The `Storm' string quintet was composed in 1801. It is in C Major. It is actually a viola quintet as it is scored for the conventional string quartet with an additional viola (2 violins, 2 violas and a cello). It has four movements - Allegro moderato; Adagio molto espressivo; Scherzo; Allegro Presto. It is Beethoven with his simplicity of expressions; they unfold with effortless ease. The work is cheerful and confident sounding. It has a great lyrical flow and reminds you of the serene chamber works of Haydn and Mozart. The first violin has been given a soaring part in this quintet. The opening Allegro sets the mood of this work with its lyricism and ease of flow, making up two major themes. It has a shade of melnacholy in few places. The slow movement is melodic with a theme that is played over pizzicato. The flow is interrupted by expressions from minor keys. The scherzo is taken at a foot stomping pace and has a lyrical trio. The finale starts off with a tremolo that is utterly dramatic and it turns into a melody that rises to the violin's upper range of register. There is a fugal passage that extends across all the instruments to bring the composition to a close. It is a gem of a string quintet.

Monday, August 31, 2015


This is a trilogy by Veronica Roth. It is not in the same vein as the Hunger Games trilogy but remains quite close. It is a science fiction film that is set in a futuristic community after wars have destroyed most of the world population. In this film, societies are divided into five separate factions, representing different virtues. At 18, children have to decide their particular faction based on a test that highlights their inclinations and they have to choose a faction for the remainder of their lives. The protagonist, Beatrice (Tris) Prior has to make a her choice that surprises everyone. This is a good thriller, not as good as Hunger Games,set in a place where people have to pick factions before blood. Tris is warned that she is a divergent, meaning that she does not fit into any slot. Along with Four, a character from the Dauntless faction, she has to unearth a conspiracy by Jeanine (Kate Winslet) to eliminate all divergents. Tris has to understand what makes divergents so dangerous. The character development has been handled well by Director Neil Burger. Good performances by Shailene Woodley as Tris and Kate Winslet.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

A Television Remote Control can help you access Energy Consumption Information

Control4 Energy Management System Cheyenne helps you save energy by using a programmable thermostat control, load disconnect measurement and control and lighting control. All these can be accessed through a television remote control. As per research done by Nielsen Media, today’s average household contains 2.73 television sets per house which is actually more television sets than people as people’s average per household is only 2.55. An average American spends about four hours per day using television. So, many of us are familiar with how a television works. We are more familiar with how a television remote control works than any other electronic device in our home. Through this remote control, you can have the power to access real time information on energy consumption and electricity costs.

Greatest Spinner that played for India

Bishen Singh Bedi was born in Amritsar on 25th September 1946. He was inducted in the Northern Punjab team when he was just fourteen. He made his mark as a slow orthodox left arm spinner from this early age. He went on to become India’s greatest spinner. He played Ranji Trophy for Northern Punjab from 1961 to 1967. Then he played for Delhi between 1968 and 1981. He also played for the County of Northamptonshire between 1972 and 1977. Bishen Singh Bedi played test cricket for India between 1966 and 1979. He made his test debut on 31st December 1966 against the West Indies. He played his last test against England on 30th August 1979. He made his one day debut against England on 13th July 1974 and played his last one day match against Sri Lanka on 16th June 1979. He played 67 tests during his career scoring 656 runs with a top score of 50 not out against New Zealand at Kanpur in 1976. He has taken 266 test wickets, taking more than five wickets in an innings fourteen times. He played ten one day matches and 370 first class matches with a total wicket haul of 1,560 wickets, taking five wickets or more in an innings for one hundred and six times, making him the greatest spinner to emerge from India. No bowler has reached his tally of 1,560 wickets in India. When he played for Delhi in the Ranji Trophy season of 1975, he has picked up a record sixty four wickets in a season. Bishen Singh Bedi was part of the famous spin quartet. He used to lead them from the front. He was Captain for the Indian team in twenty two test matches. He is well known for wearing a colourful Sikh head knot gear known as `patka’. Like Lala Amarnath, he is recognised for his outspoken nature on cricket issues as well as his blunt views. Bishen Singh Bedi’s bowling was known for his artistic style of delivery that was backed with beauty, grace and guile. He was an expert flighter of the ball, inviting the batsman to come down the crease and lift him. He was fully capable of either hurrying the ball or holding it back. His strategic variations in spin got him many wickets as batsmen found him difficult to play. He was able to bowl in all the three sessions, sometimes covering the full day with total control and rhythm. In fact, the pace bowlers would just complete the formalities of taking the shine away from the ball by bowling just about fourteen overs when Bedi would start the spin proceedings. He was of great value to all the Indian captains before he took charge himself in 1976 taking over from Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi. During the Australian tour of 1978, he picked up 31 wickets in that series that India lost marginally by 2-3. Bobby Simpson had come back from retirement to lead Australia to victory. Bedi’s best test bowling was 7/98 against Australia at Calcutta in 1970. Though Kumble took more wickets than him and even got ten wickets in an innings, he could not replace the artistry of Bishen Singh Bedi. Also, in Kumble’s days, India would be playing four times more number of tests than in the previous years when Bedi was in the team. His first test victory as Captain was against the West Indies at Port of Spain in the 1976 series when India made a record 406 runs in the fourth innings to win that test. He also became the first Indian Captain to concede an international one day match in November 1978 against Pakistan at Sahiwal. India was requiring twenty three runs from two overs and Bedi recalled the batsmen from the crease and conceded the match in protest at the bowling of Sarfaraz Nawaz who bowled four bouncers in succession without a single ball being declared a wide by the umpires. It was not in good sporting spirit and Bedi drove the point home. It is another matter that India may not have scored those twenty three runs in the twelve balls remaining. He was a man of principles and played a gentleman’s game as cricket demanded. He started a cricket academy and pointed out that it was necessary for the limbs to be supple for good spin bowling. Hence, he always washed his clothes with his own hands and recommended it as the best exercise for the fingers and shoulders. Bishen Singh Bedi, India’s greatest spinner, has accused one day cricket and small cricket grounds as the murderers of classical spin bowling in India. He refers to T20 cricket as a vulgar display by hooligans.

140 Character Limit of Twitter Hacked

Twitter’s 140 character limit has been hacked. Twitter customers were stunned when they saw that people have managed to write over nine hundred characters in a tweet when they know that the maximum limit is 140. Stack Exchange has posted that this strange message contained backlashes and a bunch of numbers. The message was posted in Russian. It contained Unicode surrogate points that were not properly encoded as UTF-8. The CESU -8 encoding utilized in the tweet is accepted by some Twitter interfaces but for display purposes as the social network expects valid UTF-8 sequences. Each surrogate code point ends up being displayed with twelve characters since three bytes on each of these sequences are displayed as 3 C style octal escape sequences of 4 characters each. Some technicians feel that it is possible since each group of characters that begins with a backlash represents an escape sequence which is considered as a valid character constant. Some of the escape sequences available are control characters. These characters tell the computer to move the cursor to move left or right or delete the characters to the left maybe. They can be used quite effectively to confuse Twitter.

7 ways to protect your printer

There are many risks involved with your printer, particularly when you are networking. You often neglect to keep the printer secure. People have a tendency to secure their data and pay lot of attention with file servers providing encrypted access controlled storage. Workstations are also encrypted with password and even biometric access. What you do not realize is that when you print that confidential data or send it off to a printer, the printer may not be as secure as the remainder of your system. You can avoid the networking printer problems if you are careful with these steps. 1. Unplug If you want to avoid network printer problems, don’t network your printer. If you connect directly from a personal computer through a USB, your printer and your printing jobs can be kept confidential. 2. Password Networked printers can be accessed remotely with a password. You can always change the default password. This is the most important step of all for a networked printer. 3. Firmware When security issues are likely, printer makers release updates to its firmware. You can keep your printer firmware updated. By keeping your printer secure with a strong password and closing any known security holes with up-to-date firmware, you can take care of most basic network printer issues. 4. Secure Your Infrastructure Keeping passwords updated, installing the latest firmware and securing access are just a few of steps you can take through remote-management software. You should also use firewalls to protect against outside attacks and make sure that Wi-Fi networks are secured. 5. Secure Your Data When you send a print job, you have to be sure that it is on a secured network. You can use encryption so a print job can’t be intercepted along its path. 6. Secure Your Printers Beyond changing the default password, implementing access control can protect the printer from being accessed remotely. Printers with hard drives for spooling have to be encrypted. Once a job is printed, traces of it should be erased from the hard drive and from memory. 7. Secure Your Printouts If you generate secure documents with special paper, secure trays are available to protect the media. Avoid leaving documents sitting in a printer tray.

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Meaning of Life by Monty Python

The Meaning of Life by the Monty Python troupe is a comedy with a touch of a musical sketch that was made in 1983. It was the last in a series of films that featured all six members of the troupe before the untimely death of Graham Chapman in 1989 due to tonsil cancer. In this film, the team of Monty Python is sorting out an important question in everyone's life - What is the actual meaning of life? They try to answer by exploring numerous life stages, beginning with birth. Here, doctors are more concerned in their equipment than in delivering the baby safely or caring for the mother. Next stage calls for a Roman Catholic family bearing many children as sperm is sacred and there is no room for a condom. This is followed by a lesson of sex education and acts of war. During the middle age, a couple orders philosophy in a restaurant menu, proceeding to live organ transplants. The highlight of the film is a song 'Isn't it awfully nice to have a penis?" many people may find this film tasteless but it happens to be extraordinarily funny; it is my kind of weird fun! The questions about the meaning of life are answered in a chain of vignettes that are outrageously funny. Words cannot describe this wacky riot in detail. See it for yourself in this preview -

Zubin Mehta - A Tribute by Late Pandit Ravi Shankar

"Zubin Mehta has chiselled features, a dashing smile, handsome; he is one of the greatest conductors of our times. As a fellow Indian, musician and friend, I have more reason to admire and love him. I first met Zubin in the early nineteen sixties when I was in Montreal to perform. He was the chief director of Montreal symphony. I came to know him better a couple of years later in Los Angeles when he became the director there. This was right after the Monterey concert and I was also living there a that time. Both Zubin and I met often in parties on various occasions. We got together again in the late nineteen seventies when he became the director of the New York Philharmonic. This is when I started to write my Second Sitar Concerto. Zubin asked me to write minor second and seventh notes. I avoided the fifth note. I tried with rhythmic cycles of five and a half and thirteen and a half beats. It was performed by the NYPO under Zubin. I cherish that memory. We also recorded it later with the London Symphony players. I was living in New York near Gramercy Park with Sue Jones and our daughter, Nora (Geetali), was a few months' old then. I used to go to the Lincoln Center in the mornings where Zubin used to rehearse for the pieces hat were to be played in the evenings. Zubin loved spicy food and hot chilies, particularly. In fact, he always carried a little metal box with him in his pocket which contained hot chilies. I remember Zubin as a conductor who has music running through every vein in his body. He has worked for numerous humanitarian causes and is loved by everyone. He is a caring and a sensitive person. Recently, he heard Anoushka perform in Switzerland and after the concert, he contacted me immediately to tell how ell she played. It was a wonderful gesture from him and I was deeply touched. I like to keep track of Zubin's glorious conducting career and tours all over the world and my love for him grows stronger as I feel closer to him. May God bless and protect him always."

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Magic Fire 1955 This is a biopic on the life of Richard Wagner, played admirably well by Alan Badel. It was made in 1955 by Republic Pictures. Herbert Yates was the studio chief then. It was directed by William Deieterle. For all Wagner enthusiasts, this is a fine film that makes good use of Wagner's music. The actual film music was arranged by Erich Wolfgang Korngold. The film was processed in Trucolor as the other collaboration of Dieterle and Korngold, a Midsummer Night's Dream. Many details and accounts of the life of Richard Wagner were portrayed accurately and some of the accounts were stretched out for dramatic purposes. One of the highest points of this film is the accurate presentation of the riot among the elite at the Opera House in Paris during the Second Act of Tannhauser in its revised version with the Bacchanale and inclusion of ballet. Wagner did not heed to the advice of introducing the ballet in the second act as per the demands of the rich patrons; he kept it instead in the very beginning of the First Act, right after the fabulous overture. The film also correctly brings out the patronage of King Ludwig II in Wagner's life, without going too much into the intricate details of the controversial personality of that king. You will come across lavish sets, brilliant costumes and a large cast that includes the beautiful Yvonne De Carlo as Minna Planer, Wagner's First wife.Rita Gam plays Cosima, Liszt's daughter and Wagner's second wife while Carlos Thompson supports well as Franz Liszt. There are few scenes inducted in the film showing Weimar. This is a prestigious film and serves as a great biographical document for Richard Wagner.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Exodus by Leon Uris

This epic work of Leon Uris went on to become a phenomenon in the world of publishing. It describes a dramatic political event in the history of twentieth century - the formation of the state of Israel. It is the tale of a Jewish freedom fighter and his family and an American nurse who are caught up in a period of anguish and struggle. The story is told in a poignant style. This particular struggle will otherwise go unnoticed in history classes of today. The screenplay for the film is very well done. The film revolves around the events leading to the formation of the state of Israel in 1948. Paul Newman plays Ari bin Canaan. He is a member of 'Haganah', a Jewish paramilitary group. Along with his uncle, he attempts to execute the exodus of six hundred Jewish refugees on a dangerous voyage from Cyprus to Palestine against resistance from the British and the Arabs. This happens on a ship named `Exodus'. The British did their best not to give permission of passage to the ship to reach its destination. The film may look like it is describing fictional events but many of them were fact-based details of the struggle for Israel as an independent country as a home for the Jews. Eva Marie Saint supports well in the role of the American nurse. Lee.J. Cobb plays Ari's father. Ralph Richardson plays General Sutherland. Jill Hayworth plays Karen. Sal Mineo plays Dov Landau. David Opatoshu plays the revolutionary uncle of Ari. Great direction by Otto Preminger. The best thing that happened to this film was the excellent music score provided by Ernest Gold. The main theme as well as Karen's theme are unforgettable. The message is very well brought out from Leon Uris' book, it is an utopia that is still being sought after - a land where the Arabs and Jews could dwell in peace and harmony - something that may never happen.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Lost Symbol

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown is a book that should be read by every one interested in Ancient Mysteries. After reading the Deception point, Digital Fortress, Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons and now this book, I feel that Brown is perhaps the most exciting writer I have come across in the last five decades who spins great narratives around subjects that I am interested in. I still have to read his Inferno. This is one of the best books that I have read in the last decade. Another cracker of Brown's in the last decade was the `Da Vinci Code' which I enjoyed thoroughly. The thrilling book begins with a great quote from the `Secret Teachings of All Ages and ancient Mysteries', "To live in the world without becoming aware of the meaning of the world is like wandering about in a great library without touching the books." Character sketches have been woven with care by Dan Brown and the build up of all of these characters is simply a master stroke. He has developed the knack of telling a tale that is different and unique from the run of the mill thrillers. This book was completed in 2009.The story is set in Washington, D.C.and relies heavily on the world of Freemasonry. It is right up my alley as I am a Freemason. The central character is, once again, the symbologist Robert Langdon. This is his third appearance after Angels & Demons in 2000 and The Da Vinci Code in 2003. The Plot - Harvard symbologist, Langdon, is summoned unexpectedly to appear at the capitol Building in Washington, D.C. to give a lecture on Freemasonry when his life goes topsy-turvy when he finds out that there is not going to be a lecture but a chain of bizarre events that he has to experience. He comes across the severed hand of his long-time friend, Peter Solomon, with all the fingers artfully inscribed with symbols. This is actually an ancient way of inviting knowledgeable and selective people into the world of ancient mysteries. He has to accept such an invitation to save his friend. The narration will take you through a journey which plunges into deep Masonic secrets. The build up of characters is a touch of brilliance. It is an intelligent tale that has surprises for you at every turn. By the time you are done with the book, you would have realized that The Lost Symbol is within you.[Corinthians 3:16] -"Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in your midst?"

Saturday, May 2, 2015

What Trends will set the Future of the Car Industry?

The number of new cars that are being launched at every other motor show across the world is phenomenal. But what trends will make the future of the car industry secure? This is a difficult question to answer. There is no readymade solution. Right now, as far as design is concerned, proportion and styling have given way to decoration and ornamentation. Gaudy treatments of the grilles and a heavy accent on black and chrome is very much in fashion. For example, General Motors is thriving on a fusion of design and style while Ford Motor Company is replacing sophisticated body designs with noses and cockpits that are looking flashy. Volkswagen is giving attention to functions and designing while Mercedes is replacing grace and sophistication with show and flamboyance. It is not anymore fashionable to think big for size. Downsizing is probably becoming one of the topmost priorities for all sizes and price classes of cars. Weight is being considerably reduced across most models. As far as the Japanese market is concerned, with the exception of Toyota, Honda and maybe Nissan, all other car makers are struggling for liquidity and looking out for foreign partners. Subaru is barely surviving with the support from Fuji Heavy Industries. Even with the alliance from the Volkswagen Group, Suzuki has reached nowhere. The cooperation formula is gaining importance once again. The Fiat and Chrysler merger along with the Daimler and Renault partnership comes to mind. To establish a new brand for cars is becoming a very difficult job. There is always a chance for any innovative effort to be bogged down by economic pressure. For example, Tata’s Nano has not at all sold well in India. Saab has also found the same fate with its new models. The settling down of trends with the new models is an uncertain issue as none of the new models have really made an effective impact on the demands of the volatile market. The cars are also not very competitively priced. Distribution has become a tough task. As far as hybrids and electric vehicles are concerned, most of the prospective buyers are asking a question whether the battery is safe and can it be charged with low cost electricity in off-peak times.

What You Need to Know to Keep Your Car in Good Condition?

Maintenance and care are the two keywords that help you in keeping your car in a good condition. There are a few things that you should know about car maintenance and servicing to make sure that you get a smooth drive. Disciplining a maintenance schedule is crucial. You simply have to stick to the schedule. There is nothing that is more important than regular servicing of your car to keep it in good condition. The preventive maintenance schedule is quite crucial. You have to comply with this schedule. In this maintenance cycle, brakes, tires, suspension and the electrical connections may be checked regularly. While doing these checks, it is possible that you can get an early warning on issues that may trouble you later. As a car owner, you should be conversant with a little of the basic car maintenance checks. You cannot leave it all to the garage mechanic. A much overlooked requirement is the regular rotation of the car tires. You have to rotate each tire to a different corner each time. The tires also have arrows on their sidewalls to denote their orientation for direction. The car tires have to be inflated correctly with the air pressure as suggested by the producers. This has an impact on the handling of the car at corners and over speed breakers and bumps. It is a good safety feature. Air pressure that is not correct can be risky and may lead to an accident. It also negatively affects the comfort level of the car ride and reduces the life of the tires besides worsening the fuel economy. The tire pressure can vary with seasons. The air that is inside the tires can expand when the temperature rises. It is important to check the air pressure in the car tires regularly. When you buy a car, you expect it to give you service as long as possible. In the initial stages of the break-in period, you have to be patient, particularly for the first thousand miles. You have to keep your speed under fifty five miles per hour. You have to be careful to avoid straining the drive train with a heavy load. Do not tow trailers or place heavy material in the boot. A new car should not idle for long duration. The oil pressure can then send oil to all parts of the engine. The acceleration has to be on the lighter side so that the engine is not rotating above 3000 rpm for the initial driving time. When you drive your car after the break-in period, do not race the engine during the start up. This will wear down your engine faster. You have to accelerate gradually as you begin to drive. The major wearing down of the drive train happens in the first twenty minutes of the running. When you are at the traffic lights, you can shift to the neutral gear to put fewer burdens on the engine and the automatic transmission. When it is extremely hot or cold outside, you have to avoid driving at high speeds. Basic knowledge of your car will go a long way in preserving your vehicle but not many owners are mindful of servicing their cars regularly these days.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Your Logbook Loan could be ready in a Matter of Fifteen Minutes

A logbook loan is a recent phenomenon. The term is popular in the United Kingdom as it is coined by the British. Many people are still not aware of how the logbook loans work. By the term `logbook’, it becomes clear that you need to be the owner of a car to use it as collateral against the loan. The maximum amount of money that you can take on your loan will be based on the current market value of your car. You have to make sure that your car does not have any finance arrangement already as lien. In such a case, you will not be able to deposit the logbook or borrow against the car. When you check online, sites like will offer a huge selection of lenders that give logbook loans. The website will carry details of how the loans of most of these lenders work and also present comparative interest rates. The details will also be provided on where the lenders can meet you and finalise the loan. Often, the loan process will be ready for you in just a matter of fifteen minutes. The lending agencies generally inspect your vehicle before they take a decision to advance the loan amount to you. They will keep the logbook as collateral until the loan is fully repaid. When they examine your car, they will estimate the current worth to establish the loan value. The repayment schedule will be agreed upon mutually. It could be on a weekly or a monthly schedule basis. It is important for you to know you can afford the repayment schedules or else, the lender can get a court order issued to possess your car and sell it off to get their logbook loan amount back.

Your Selection of Shoes will Depend on the Style of the Wedding

Weddings go on for the whole day and you do not want to be kicking your shoes away until you are done dancing. Comfort is a very important factor when you go out to choose a pair of wedding shoes. More than how the shoes look, it is how they feel that is important. If you are used to wearing heels, then only, they can be a decent option. You have to buy your wedding shoes well ahead of the wedding day so that you are able to break them in and get used to the feel. When you want to select the fabric for your shoes, there is a choice available ranging from crepe to satin or raw silk to velvet. This is mainly because these are quite often the fabrics for the dress too. Many brides choose the traditional colour for their shoes to match their wedding dress. There are cases when few brides have to dye their wedding shoes to match the colours of their dresses. Wedding shoes reference from Aleeyas that offer embellishments in the form of encrusted jewels and Swarovski crystals will add to the look of the dress and complement your overall get up. You have to take into account the style of the wedding. It could be a formal wedding or an informal one. Your dress and the season of the wedding do play a part before selecting the shoes. For instance, a satin off-white sandal would do well in summer. A plain silk and closed shoe would nicely complement a conventional raw silk wedding gown during the fall and winter months. If it is going to be an informal kind of wedding, it would easily allow for casual looks and wear, such as ballet flats or embellished sandals.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

A Random Video Chat could be Fun

Soon after the telephone and a mobile phone became common instruments for conversation, forward looking thinkers started visualizing addition of images while conversing. This has now been realized by video conferencing, smartphones and video chat rooms. You can enter these rooms for a free video chat as a guest or you can create a profile to start the chat. There are hundreds of random video chat rooms that are available to you to browse from. Most of these chat rooms are free cam to cam. You can view many cams after becoming a member. You can make your own individual video chat room and invite others to a private chat with you. A random video chat is a great way to have fun as it allows you to see those strangers that you are talking to. You will come across many chat sites on the web that offer a free video chat with hundreds of users. The video chat tool allows viewing other members and texting to or speaking with them in the chat room at the same time. You do not always require a webcam for all video chats. You can take part in the chat even without a camera. Camfrog chats are rising in popularity. Camfrog is software that provides a free live webcam app for Windows operating system. It allows you to share your video while chatting with others during a random video chat. The camfrog chats allow you to make calls to either land-line or mobile phones and could be either done privately or publicly. People like to do networking today and interacting with people to relieve the stress from their work environment. They go to video chat rooms to chat with strangers. They like to keep their anonymity intact by using different usernames and do not reveal their real identity.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Two Stages of Credit Card Processing

When you run a business, it is important for you to be aware of how the (credit card processing) works. The (credit card processing) for your business is done in two stages. The first stage is the Authorization Stage where you get approval for a business transaction that is stored along with an order. The second stage is the Settlement Stage where the sale is processed while it transfers the funds from an issuing bank to a merchant's account. The flow chart looks like this: Buyer - Merchant Store - Data Payment Processor - Issuing Bank or Credt Card Association and reverse in the same order. (Credit card processing) rates may vary by a processor program or by company. [Comparing Rates through (Credit Card Processor Reviews)] It is a smart idea to always compare the rates among competitive financial institutions. In any case, the interests of the customer have to be given priority as far as the processing rates are concerned. There are few issues that you may have to look for while exploring the (credit card processor reviews). These issues are: 1. Looking for processors who do not charge early termination or cancellation fees. 2. The payment processor has to be compatible with your shopping cart online. 3. The option of interchange-plus pricing should be available to you. With this facility, you can track excatly what the Visa or MasterCard charges are for the interchange fee and what you are likely to pay the processor. 4. What is the customer support available if there is help required in a case such as a terminal malfunction. [The Authorization Process for (Merchant Accounts) Orders] When a buyer clicks the 'checkout' button while doing shopping online with (merchant accounts), the process is sent to secure servers to get completed. This authorization request is sent to the payment processor. It is then forwarded to the issuing bank or the credit card association. The details include the 1. Credit Card Number. 2. Expiration Date of the Credit Card. 3. Billing Address 4. CVV or the secret code number. 5. The amount of the order. This information is validated by the credit card company or the issuing bank against the available credit of the buyer. When approved, the order amount is reserved from the sum of available credit of the cardholder. The confirmation is sent to the source within a mater of seconds. [The Settlement Process of an Order] The process of settlement for various merchant services and other compatible (merchant accounts) involves the signing in to their account by the merchants. This goes to the Order Manager. The order is reviewed against any signs of fraud. Before completing the sale, the merchant clicks the `sale' button which is available in the transaction panel of the order. This initiates the process of settlement. When the request is accepted, the cardholder's account is debited by the order amount. [Main Objective of the (Merchant Accounts)] As a business owner, your main objective is to make money and not to spend more on transaction fees or the maintenance of your website. When you want to compare by going through (credit card processor reviews), the important thing to consider for a good deal is the (credit card processing) rate before you open (merchant accounts). Once you have a good credit history behind your business, it is easy to get approval.

Zak holds the World Record for the highest Test Score by a Number Eleven

Zaheer Khan was born on 7th October 1978 at Shrirampur in the Ahmadnagar District of Maharashtra. He was coached at the National Cricket Academy at Bangalore in 2000. Gautam Gambhir was also enrolled there the same year. He has had some strong performances in the domestic circuit. He played for Baroda in the Ranji Trophy and led them to the championship in the 2001 final against the Railways and was man of the match for his 5/43. He started playing for Mumbai from 2007 onwards. He again helped Mumbai defeat Bengal in the 2007 final. He played for Worcestershire County in 2006. In the English County Cricket scene, Zaheer Khan has made history in Worcestershire as the only cricketer to take ten wickets in a match on debut for over a century against Somerset in 2006. Later, the same year, he had figures of 9/138 against Essex. His nickname is `Zak’. Zaheer Khan is a left arm fast medium bowler and a right hand batsman. He has improved in his abilities to swing the new ball and reverse swing the old ball. He is quite good even on flat tracks. He made his test debut against Bangladesh at Dhaka on 10th November 2000. He made his one day debut against Kenya at Nairobi on 3rd October 2000. He made his T20 International debut against South Africa at Johannesburg on 1st December 2006. He has played 78 tests scoring 1,045 runs with three fifties. He has taken 271 wickets and 18 catches. His best test figures are 7/87. He has played 191 one day matches scoring 781 runs with 42 catches and 273 wickets. His best one day figures are 5/42. He has played 12 T 20 internationals scoring 13 runs and taking two catches and 13 wickets. He has played fourteen world cup matches and has taken twenty three wickets. Zaheer Khan’s initial spell in the world cup final this year against Sri Lanka at Mumbai subdued batsmen like Tillakaratne Dilshan and Upul Tharanga. His bowling played an important part in curbing the Sri Lankan batting strength. He bowled three maidens out of his first four overs. While it is the batsmen who are always given a lion’s share of praise for winning a world cup final like the one this year when Mahendra Singh Dhoni walked away with accolades, Zaheer Khan’s contribution with the ball cannot be forgotten. He ended this year’s World Cup tournament as the joint highest wicket taker with Shahid Afridi. During the final, he really rose to the occasion and performed. Hamstring injuries in the 2003 to 2005 seasons kept him mostly out of the team. He is now the pace spearhead of the Indian bowling attack. He swings the ball both ways. In the 2009 test series against Australia in Bangalore, he became the third Indian cricketer after Rusi Surti and Kapil Dev Nikhanj to score a half century and take five wickets in an innings. Zaheer Khan holds the world record for the highest test score made by a number eleven batsman when he made 75 against Bangladesh at Dhaka in 2004. His partnership with Sachin Tendulkar for the tenth wicket of 133 runs is also an Indian record. In one day internationals, his batting average of 19.46 at number ten is also the highest average at that slot. Zaheer Khan belongs to the old school of thinkers who believe that test cricket is the ultimate challenge.

First Test Centurion of India

Nanik Amarnath Bhardwaj was born on 11th September 1911 at Kapurthala, Punjab near Lahore. He lived in Lahore during his early years before the family came to Patiala and settled down there. He came to be known in the cricketing world as Lala Amarnath. He scored a century in his debut first class match for Southern Punjab against the Marylebone Cricket Club in 1933. The Indian team selectors were so impressed with his first knock that he was able to get into the test team and made his debut the same year against England at the Bombay Gymkhana in December. It was the first test match that India played at home ground. Lala Amarnath became the first Indian test centurion and he got his century on debut. India were 21/2 when he came to the crease and counter attacked in such a way that he got his century in just under a couple of hours. He went on to make 118 in that match and that was his only test century as he never made another again. He was a wicket keeper, right hand bat and a right arm medium pace bowler. He bowled from a short run up with a unique delivery from the wrong foot. He played 24 test matches and scored 878 runs with one test century and four half centuries. He took 45 test wickets. He played 186 first class matches scoring 10,426 runs at an average of 41.37 with 30 centuries and a highest score of 262. He took 457 wickets. He was the first post independence captain of India taking over from Nawab of Pataudi Senior when he led India to Australia in 1948. Earlier in 1936, he was sent back from an English tour by the Captain Maharaj Kumar, also known as Vizzy, on grounds of indiscipline. He was an aggressively outspoken person. Between 1936 and 1946, he was in the wilderness taking an extensive sabbatical before he played his fourth test in 1946. This was mainly because of his outspoken nature against the team management and the dominance of the royal families on matters of selection. In addition to the politics that worked against him, the Second World War also interrupted his best years like it did for many other cricketers in the world. In the 1946 tour to England, he was India’s premier wicket taker. He had a five wicket haul in the first innings of the Lord’s test that year. During his 1948 tour to Australia, Sir Donald Bradman was appreciative of his aggressive captaincy. Lala Amarnath earned a distinction of getting Bradman out hit wicket but when Bradman scored his hundredth first class century during that tour, Lala was the first to congratulate him. Lala eulogised Sir Donald Bradman. Lala Amarnath was also the first Indian captain to win a test series against Pakistan in 1952. He played his last test match against Pakistan at Calcutta during that series in December 1952. Lala Amarnath went on to become one of the patriarch figures for Indian cricket as he was very active in his later years as a selector, manager, coach and even as a broadcaster. The class, quality and character of Lala Amarnath as an all rounder are unquestionable. All his three sons played first class cricket. Mohinder Amarnath and Surinder Amarnath played test cricket and the third son Rajender Amarnath played first class cricket both in India and England. Lala Amarnath died on 5th August 2000 at New Delhi and writing on hearing about his death, Sir Donald Bradman called him “an absolutely charming and wonderful ambassador for the game of cricket”.

Monday, April 20, 2015

A Masterwork by Victor Hugo
When I first read this masterpiece by Victor Hugo when I was just fourteen, It had an everlasting impact on my mind and my young brain taught me that forgiveness is perhaps the strongest weapon man has been blessed with and the gift of forgiveness permeates throughout this outstanding work. This is not a book or a movie but a great lesson to learn. There are some unforgettable scenes in this book - for example, the initial scenes with the police and the priest and the final scene at River Seine. Liam Neeson has turned in one of his finest performances as Jean Valjean. He is superb in this role. I watched the entire movie on the edge of my drawing room seat. Hugo has given us a master work that shows us how dignity, power and forgiveness can mould our lives. Uma Thurman as Fantine has also done well. Claire Danes is brilliant but the standout performance in this film is that of Geoffrey Rush as Inspector Javert. I am impressed by the direction of Bille August. Rafael Yglesias has adapted this brilliant 1862 Hugo classic in the screenplay. The narrative is about the pursuit of an escaped convict, Jean Valjean by Inspector Javert. Valjean is originally an honest man who is condemned for stealing just a loaf of braed to feed his starving sister and her family. The tale picks up after twenty years of Valjean's escape from the prison and how he becomes a respectable mayor in the Village of Vigau. Compared with this well acted version, the musical that was released last year is a big joke with Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway and Amanda Seyfried. I shut the movie off after the first half an hour. Les Miserables will turn into a miserable tale if you try to make it into a musical. Only background music has an important role to play in a tale like this and Basil Pouledoris has done a great job in the Bille August version of 1998. This version of Victor Hugo's masterpiece is well acted with good production values. Geoffrey Rush as Inspector Javert is magnificent. Liam Neeson as Jean Valjean is excellent. Uma Thurman and Claire Danes are good. The drama is given its punch by excellent photography and superb music score by Basil Pouledouris. This drama is also popularly known as 'The Bishop's Candlesticks'. The Frenchman, Jean Valjean, is imprisoned for stealing bread and is paroled after nearly two decades only to be struck by twists of fortune when he tries to rob silver cutlery from a Bishop's house that changes his life forever turning him to be a rich benefactor and ultimately a Mayor. Fate does not leave him in peace there. He is hunted down by Inspector Javert and the climax of this master tale is heart wrenching. Once again, an extra ordinary performance by the master actor Geoffrey Rush. Thumbs up to Basil Pouledouris.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

You can talk to your television now

Interesting things are always revealed at the Consumers’ Electronic Shows. Now, you can talk to your television sets without sounding mental. Few years back, if you were found talking to your television, it would have seemed that you were probably agitated, lonely, flipped or down with mental instability. The television manufacturers are hell bent on proving people wrong now. Talking to your television will be considered as rational behavior from now on. At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, there were television sets that responded to speech. Lucky Goldstar Electronics announced that they will sell high end flat panel televisions with a remote that has a microphone. You will be able to speak into that microphone to enter text on the television for Twitter updates and web searches. Hold on yet! You still will not be able to change the channel or control the volume by shouting at the television set. Samsung Electronics also announced that it will sell televisions that would respond to voice commands. Samsung is also in the process of launching its first television with a built-in camera. As you watch the television, that is going to be Model No. ES8000, it will watch you back. It will be looking for hand gestures that will prompt it to move the on screen cursor or the launch Apps. Google Inc. is also trying to break into your living rooms with software for these smart televisions. While on this, Sony is also bringing on a BluRay player that will have a remote with a microphone for voice powered web searches.

You can use your Facebook Timeline to promote your business

Facebook is making its new Timeline layout to all user profiles. Business pages on Facebook are not affected and your company can take advantage of this move. The Timeline is a change to the format for displaying content on Facebook profiles. It makes the Facebook content more attractive and it lays the entire history of a user’s Facebook posts in a chronological order that makes it easier to browse to earlier material. The new layout will be a welcome change to Facebook business pages in several ways. Businesses can take advantage of Timeline’s features to build up on brand recognition and word of mouth marketing. By featuring your company on Facebook’s Timeline profile, you can maximize your exposure on Facebook. There is a large banner image featuring at the top of the Facebook Timeline. The cover art is different from the picture associated with the Facebook profile. The image is displayed in a smaller thumbnail superimposed over the bottom left of the cover art. Most people would like to post a picture of their kids, their family or images of nature. This is a prime location actually to show off your business. You can use an image of the company logo, a picture of the business or a team picture of your employees. You can make sure that the business name or logo is in plain view of people. You can also offer some incentives to your employees if they are willing to show off your business on their Timeline profile. You can also create paper business cards that will feature your Timeline cover art. Tagging photos also can be a very effective way to promote your business.

4G will push up your Smartphone Bills

If you are thinking about upgrading to a 4 G phone, you can also plan to pay a little more every month as the 2 GB data caps are going to take their toll. On an average, people are using about 750 MB of data on their mobile devices currently. The main reason for the bills going up is the large scale roll out of 4G and the lightning fast wireless networks that are being deployed. 4G is now capable of speed that can be compared to your home broadband service as it is about ten times faster than 3G phones. In the next five years, it is estimated that the average smartphone connection speed is likely to grow to three times what it is now. If the connection becomes swifter, people keep on piling more data on their mobile handsets and they can include large video files. This will be the main cause of the download upsurge. The streaming video services like Netflix, YouTube and Hulu are going to dominate the download scene in 4 G phones in the next half decade. 4G is making up about fourteen per cent of the global mobile traffic and that is likely to rise to almost half of all the traffic in the next five years. People owning 4 G phones usually download videos by impulse. It has a great impact on the wireless network carriers and also on your pockets. As you build up more GB s on your 4 G devices, you will end up paying more. The smartphone traffic is going to shift more and more to Wi-Fi now.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Strangers on a Train

This is a masterpiece by the Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock. It can be best described as a psychological thriller. It was made in 1950. The film has a strong cast of Farley Granger and Robert Walker, supported by Ruth Roman. The narration is based on Patricia Highsmith's novel. Some of the highlights of the film that you simply cannot erase from your memory are the strangling scene in an amusement park that is shot from an isolated right frame of a fallen pair of spectacles. It is simply spectacular and unique way of filming. Another unforgettable scene where Walker crashes the Senator's party and tries to demonstrate how easy it is to choke a victim. His relationship with his parents is brought out admirably by Hitchcock. The finale at the merry go round is a cracker of a scene. The film's narrative is built around the events on a train as a binding link; another link that binds the tale is Granger's cigarette lighter which he receives as a gift from Roman.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

1913 Silent film on Richard Wagner This silent film made on the major events in Richard Wagner's life in 1913, even before the first major silent motion picture, `The Birth of a Nation' by D.W. Griffiths. This silent film is made by Carl Froelich. It featured Giuseppe Becce as Richard Wagner and it is a master stroke in casting as Becce resembles Wagner to a great extent. Becce also wrote the background music score for this film. It was released on 20th November, 1913 and was considered one of the first full length bio-pics as silent films in those days did not run for more than a reel or two or more than ten or twenty minutes. The length of this film is one hundred and four minutes. Froelich was a pioneer in German silent films. He made over seventy films in a span of forty years after 1912. This was his directorial debut. He made his first talkie in 1929, 'Die Nacht Gehort Uns'.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Maestro for the Screen After Wilhelm Furtwangler's death, it was Herbert von Karajan who took on the mantle at Berlin Philharmonic and reigned supreme as a Maestro for thirty four years from 1956 to 1989. This documentary has been well crafted along with another that was made by BBC called `Karajan's magic and Myth'. During Furtwangler's regime with the Berlin Philharmonic, he was active in London with the Philharmonia Orchestra for a brief stint in the early nineteen fifties, guest conducting along with the then resident director, Otto Klemperer. Karajan has always remained an enigma to his fans all over the world. He wore his hair coiffed all the time. With his baton rarely in his hand, he was keen on being filmed from his left hand side with soft lighting focused on him. He insisted that he looked his best from his left side. Karajan is that very familiar face on hundreds of vinyl records, CDs, DVDs, laser discs and videos. There can be no argument about him being the only conductor who turned symphonic music into a big commodity in the period after the Second World War. He was a Maestro who had imperialistic ambitions. He wanted to achieve all pinnacles of media coverage and turned such events into commercially lucrative opportunities for the Berlin Philharmonic and himself. Within the philharmonic society in Berlin, Karajan was never a popular figure; he remained elusive for people playing under him and was not able to form friendships with those musicians whom he associated with for more than three decades. His political past also linked him to the Nazi party and this was a faint stigma on his reputation throughout his career. There were critics of his style of conducting who repudiated his superficial gloss, and showmanship for orchestral sonority.They thought that he had a philosophy of a one-size-fits-all style for repertoires of Bach to Alban Berg. Some called him the `Emperor of Legato'. Many felt that his style of orchestral sound had no place in the orchestral culture of today. John Bridcut tried to cover all these aspects in his film called `Karajan's Magic and Myth'. there are some interesting moments in this documentary. There also interviews with musicians from London's Philharmonia Orchestra from early nineteen fifties and from the Berlin ensemble. There is an interesting interview with Nikolaus Harnoncourt who played as a cellist with the Vienna Philharmonic under Karajan. Other interviews are by Anne Sophie Mutter and Jessye Norman. There is also an interesting angle to the filming obsession. As mentioned earlier, he always wanted his shots covering his left profile mostly; he also did not want his principal flautist, James Galway covered on the film as he did not like his facial hair. He also did not like bald players in his ensemble. He made some bald players wear wigs for the filming sessions. Another thing that you cannot miss out about Karajan's inimitable style of conducting is his approach of keeping his eyes closed. The contract with the Berlin Players was made out in such a way that they had to be available at his beck and call round the clock whenever he was stationed in Berlin. They were summoned at just an hour's notice for recordings, rehearsals and filming sessions. Whatever may be said or written against him, Karajan was an achiever. He achieved fame and stature for himself and his unit. No one can afford to risk rejecting many of his recordings as they are a valuable treasure. Those who reject his conducting will always miss out on the very scale of power and intensity of the sound he created in that famous Philharmonie Halle in Berlin. He was a true visionary in the way he made use of the latest media. An example of his master classes is his rehearsal with the Vienna Philharmonic of Schumann's D Minor Fourth Symphony. He turned a rehearsal and musical analysis into a great filming experience. What he is saying to the Vienna Philharmonic ensemble gives us a great insight into the makeup of Schumann's Fourth Symphony. Karajan's philosophy of conducting involved treating every piece of music as one single sweep of momentum in musical terms that was made up of several interconnecting lines of harmony and melodies. He had answered to queries about his closed eyes performances that it was a way of recalling the scores by seeing them in his mind's eyes and turning the pages in his imagination. He told the people interviewing him that he kept his eyes shut in order not to lose his concentration on the musical scores. His physical gestures also told a great story of what he was doing on the podium. You would have often found him reaching down with the help of his hands and moulding a sound wall that began somewhere under his podium. His crescendos were almost always powerful as the music surged upwards with brutal energy and orchestral clarity. His two Beethoven symphonies' cycle with Berlin are a testimony to his dedication to make Berlin Philharmonic an ultimate ensemble to reckon with on the world stage. I recall watching a DVD of Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony of a recording that was made in 1968. The cinematography was as strong as his interpretation; so much so that you could almost feel the storm brewing and the stream flowing peacefully in the finale. You could sense Beethoven's expression through your ears and your eyes, as well. (Source: Herbert von Karajan will always remain a Maestro with extraordinary abilities for me and I consider him as one of the top ten conductors the world has experienced.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Beethoven changed the very World of Music

The music of Ludwig van Beethoven not only turned him into a phenomenon after his death but it also brought about some changes that were disconcerting enough to make way for a romantic idiom in musical history. It broke away from Classicism. His music left a big impact on the composers that were to follow him. It also molded the whole world in the way that people began to acknowledge musical ideas through the voice of an orchestral ensemble. Beethoven moulded the identity of what was termed as Romanticism in music. It has also been observed that during the second half of the nineteenth century, the concert halls mostly played music of composers that were long dead and Beethoven was very much the focus of most of the concert programs. This is mainly due to the intensity that is brought out by his compositions and his unique style of generating large structures with a dense development of motifs. These motifs went on to shape the very culture of Romanticism in music and its repertoire. It is now one hundred and eighty eight years after his death and we can be honest by saying that we cannot get bored of hearing his music even when we are hearing it for the umpteenth time. Beethoven's orchestral music, especially, brings before us what is mighty in music and its value can not be measured. You can sense infinite yearning, setting in motion awe and pain, at the same time. After Beethoven, the orchestra was not any longer a cute ensemble for the entertainment of the elite classes but it came to life thereafter. It is an interesting fact to note that majority of concert programs after Beethoven's death generally included one of his symphonies to close the concerts. The art of conducting also took shape as a result of his mighty symphonies and styles developed through various interpretations of how his works were performed. This was unthinkable in the days of Mozart and Haydn. There was not much room for improvisation or style of interpretation. Forget the orchestra; the pianoforte also went through a transformation and carried the mark left by Beethoven as a highly flexible instrument. When the twentieth century arrived, the technology behind recording techniques also evolved more or less taking Beethoven's symphonies into consideration. The first classical music long playing vinyl record was made in 1931 and it was Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. When the first compact disc was issued, it was formatted to last seventy five minutes and this was mainly because the entire Choral Symphony could be captured on it. There can be no argument on the issue that Ludwig van Beethoven changed the very world of music, particularly that which is played in the concert halls. The concert hall transformed from being regarded not as a place where diverse musical entertainment could be acquired but it became a meeting place for austere memorials to the brilliance of the composer and the artists performing their music. Music listening went through a revolutionary change after Beethoven passed away. Listeners were now expected to pay complete attention to the dense and emotional narratives of the expressions by Beethoven. Take the example of Eroica, for example. Haydn could not stomach it when he first heard it and expected that the world should be ready to change their attitude to what they perceive music as. The musicians' platform changed into an invisible drama stage and the concert halls became prayer rooms where the Creator was glorified through revelations with sound. During the Second World War, Beethoven's Fifth Symphony took on the code of being symbolized for victory. The opening motif notes were then linked to the Morse code for victory. In 1989, Bernstein conducted the Choral Symphony after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Beethoven's late string quartets have also been hailed as a pinnacle in string ensemble writing. Many authors who wrote biographies of Beethoven have mentioned that the unrest during the Napoleonic wars in Austria and Germany and the eventual restoration of the monarchy rule had an influence on Beethoven's life and turned him into a recluse in a world of visions. His deafness also led him to behave the way he did; he was agitated and impulsive. It separated him from the mundane and daily life activities. As he grew in age, he started becoming fond of dead masters like Haendel, Bach, Haydn and Mozart. He started taking interest in counterpoint and polyphony. Beethoven was perpetually influenced by several political forces in his life, from a very early point in his career. The influence is seen ihis Creatures of Prometheus, Ruins of Athens, Coriolan, Missa Solemnis, Wellington's Victory, the Eroica, Fifth and the Choral Symphonies. The European Union has gone ahead and converted the finale of his Choral Symphony - the Ode to Joy- as its national anthem, officially. There is no tribute that will be sufficient for Beethoven. You do not come across this kind of musical genius everyday. It is rare. He went through tough experiences during his journey in life with so many tribulations. It was not in vain that he suffered inside with a mental anguish; it moulded his musical compositions to shape the very world of music after him. His life may have been a whole lot of pain for him but it was a big victory for the age of Romanticism. If you want to feel the anguish that he felt, you have to read his Heiligenstadt Testament in which he describes that his thirty-second year was the darkest hour in his life; he was struggling with love, loyalty and political ideas and with the approaching deafness. The testament to this struggle was the Eroica which shattered the walls of the classical and bourgeois world.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Two Towers

The Two Towers was completed in 2002. It is the second film in the trilogy of Tolkien's 'Lord of the Rings', directed by Peter Jackson. Some of the events from the Second Book have been carried forward to the third edition called `the Return of the King'. The Two Towers are Orthanc and Barad-Dur.
Besides many characters coming back from the Fellowship of the Ring, this edition features Éowyn - a noble lady of Rohan who wants to become a warrior, Éomer - a Marshal in Rohan and Eowyn's brother; Théoden - the troubled king and uncle of Éowyn and Éomer and his counsellor, Gríma Wormtongue. The actors were supplemented by several special effects creatures that included tree-like Ents, the pterodactyl-like flying steeds of the Nazgûl. You cannot forget Gollum who is perhaps the most uniquely realized CGI character in a non-animated film. His facial expressions were modeled on those of Andy Serkis. The surviving members of the Fellowship of the Ring were made to split into three groups - Frodo and Sam face many dangers on their journey to save Middle-earth by the destruction of the One Ring in the furnace of Mount Doom; Merry and Pippin escape from the Orcs and are sheltered by the Ents in their eventual battle against evil forces of Saruman and Sauron; Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas come across a mysteriously transformed Gandalf as the white Wizard of the forest and battle Saruman's army at Helm's Deep in alliance with King Theoden. The Two Towers combines stunning action sequences with an emotional narrative, leaving the audience spellbound and eager for the final edition. Peter Jackson is in full command in this second edition of the Ring Trilogy. Howard Score reigns over the film with his towering and epic score once again:

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Silver Linings Playbook

Jennifer Lawrence deserves the best actress award she picked up for this film. The film revolves around Bradley Cooper (Pat Solatano). He loses his wife and his job and spends time in a mental facility. After being discharged, he lives with his parents Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver. He rebuilds his life and wants to reunite his wife who has separated from him. His father is obsessed with Philadelphia Eagles and gets into regular bets on their games. Solatanos' life changes when he meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence). She is instrumental in helping him reconnect with his wife but only if he helps her out in her ambitions. The title of the film is after Cooper's lifestyle and the playbook he compiles mentally with positive items as silver linings.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Scriabin Mysterium Nemtin Universe 00:41:46 II. Mankind 01:33:45 III. Transfiguration Alexei Lubimov, piano Thomas Trotter, organ Anna-Kristiina Kaappola, soprano Ernst Senff Chor St Peterburg Chamber Choir Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin Vladimir Ashkenazy Mystery surrounds Mysterium. It is a work that was left unfinished by Aleksandr Scriabin. He started working on this composition in 1903 but kept it incomplete until his death twelve years later. He wanted this work to be performed in a synesthetic concert stage which gave the sensation of smell, touch and hearing. He wanted the spectators to participate. The intention on the core sheet was to include a large orchestra, a mixed choir and a wind machine along with a projector that gave out visual effects. He also wanted dancers with rhythmic articulation. He also wanted incense to be burnt all around the performing enclosure. It was his intention that the work should be first performed in the Himalayan foothills in Tibet with the help of lights and mists to give substance to the architectural contour. At the time of Scriabin's death, seventy two pages were completed of this composition. Aleksandr Nemtin spent twenty eight years after the death of Scriabin to reform the sketches and convert it into a work than spanned almost here hours. It was recorded eventually. This is a great version by Ashkenazy and the Berlin orchestra.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Monuments Men

Monumental Film The Nazis stole many art pieces during the Second World War and hid them at isolated places. The intention was to make a Museum for Hitler. This film is about art scholars, historians and architects who are past their prime in life. They build a unit and volunteer to retrieve as many of the European masterpieces as they can lay their hands on. The mission takes on an urgency when they learn about the `Nero Decree' taken out by Adolf Hitler and this decree ordered the destruction of all these artworks if the Third Reich fell. These people are caught in a race against time and they risk their lives to get back some of the greatest achievements of mankind back to their rightful places. There is an excellent background score given by Alexandre Desplat. He has turned out another brilliant score recently for `The Imitation Game'. Excellent fifth directorial venture by George Clooney. He started with Confessions of a Dangerous Mind in 2002. His last film was The Ides of March. Clooney puts in a good performance and he is very well supported by Matt Damon, Bill Murray and Cate Blanchett. Some people felt that the film is light-hearted for the subject it is covering but this very fact does not take anything from this engrossing tale even if it looks like Oceans Eleven going into the heart of the Second World War inferno.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015


Richard Wagner was inspired by nature for Tannhauser as in the case of the Flying Dutchman. When Wagner visited Wartburg in April 1842, he spent many months near a mountain ridge which he called `Horselberg'. This is where he completed most of this opera. This work was originally labelled as 'Der Venusberg'. It was changed in 1845 to 'Tannhauser und der Saugerkrieg auf der Wartburg'. He revised the score a couple of years later and changed the finale among many other things that included the addition of Venus and the funeral procession for the departed Elisabeth instead of a mere announcement of her death and it came to be known as the Dresden edition. It was revised once again in March 1861 and it came to be considered as the Paris version. The difference between these versions is that the initial two scenes were expanded through a Bacchanale with a pantomime written on a large scale. It also called for a ballet in the second act. Walther's song was also added in the second act. The Paris version brought out a nice contrast between the chromatic and the diatonic. The use of incidental music and choruses is also unique in this opera. It is surprising to note that Tannhauser was performed for the first time in Bayreuth in 1891. This performance took place in July 1994 during he opera festival of the Bavarian State at the Munich national Theater. This is a modern staging of Wagner's opera. It is a deeply passionate performance by Zubin Mehta but it will fall in line after Sir Georg Solti's Paris version, Wilhelm Furtwangler and Sir Colin Davis' interpretations. Must have been exciting for the people who attended this Munich Opera Festival.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Tchaikovsky's Visit to the New World in 1891

TCHAIKOVSKY IN AMERICA New York City had a concert hall built by Andrew Carnegie in May 1891. It became the biggest venue for a classical concert in the city. Music festivals were held and in the initial season, Tchaikovsky was invited. These are notes from his diary written to his brother, Modeste, “I was accorded a very warm welcome here with the local papers all running my portraits and writing stories about me. Looks like I’m even more popular here than in Europe. I’m a big shot here, I really am… There are things people in Moscow have hardly heard about while here in America they are played and written about several times a year. Take, for example, my overture to Hamlet, which they never once played in Moscow and which is very well known in America…” Tchaikovsky was touched by the hospitality shown to him in the New World. “The Americans are absolutely amazing!” he wrote. “Their sincerity, generosity, friendliness and desire to please are absolutely out of this world! Nowhere but in Russia have I ever seen so much love for foreigners.” The New York Philharmonic Society held a dinner to honour Tchaikovsky and the composer was impressed by the general attention he got. “The list of the treats literally went forever. Halfway through the dinner they served ice cream in special boxes complete with pencils and small wooden plaques featuring excerpts from my music elegantly handwritten on them. I was supposed to put my signature on them too,”. On 5th May, the opening night's program featured music by Beethoven, Berlioz and Tchaikovsky who personally conducted his music. The moment the final chord ended, there was a deafening applause. Tchaikovsky got a standing ovation. “Tchaikovsky is a tall, gray-haired and well built man of about 60,” The New York Herald wrote. "He looks a bit embarrassed as he returns the ovation with short and brisk bows. The moment he picks up the baton and starts conducting, however, his confidence is back and he steers the orchestra with a firm hand…” . In his interviews, Tchaikovsky talked about how he loved America and New York City with its fast moving lifestyle, architecture and a penchant for new things. “Tchaikovsky’s second appearance at the festival was as successful as the first time and the Symphony Society orchestra had never played the way it did that night… Mr. Tchaikovsky is a courageous and inspired conductor, driven, confident and magnetic and he made the orchestra into a very special organism playing with clockwork precision. No one has ever been able control the orchestra the way Tchaikovsky does…”. The newspapers were full of rave accounts about Tchaikovsky’s performance. On His birthday on 7th May and then again on 15th May, the first piano concerto was played by Adele Aus der Ohe. “Tchaikovsky’s concerto is one of the finest in modern music,” eulogized The Evening Sun newspaper. It is replete with expressive melody lines and fresh orchestral effects. Miss Aus der Ohe and Mr. Tchaikovsky got big kudos and a standing ovation this hall had never seen before. The Americans realized once again that Tchaikovsky’s participation was the biggest highlight of the whole festival…” Once the concerts were over, Tchaikovsky visited the Niagara Falls. While returning back on the sea liner, Tchaikovsky admired the Statue of Liberty. He was not aware that this would be his only voyage across the Atlantic to the New World. He was dead within a couple of years. A

Thursday, February 12, 2015

What is Garcinia Cambogia?

Many people do not like the very idea of dieting. It restricts them. It also tends to lead them to cravings or makes them suffer from hunger pangs. Out of hundred who take up a strong resolve to diet, only half of them go through the discipline successfully. The other half generally give up the idea and eat with so much revenge on the return that they gain more weight than what they were trying to shed. Most of the traditional methods of weight loss have a bad success rate. Not many people have succeeded in the long run. This brings us to a site, which tells you all about a popular dietary supplement for weight loss called Garcinia Cambogia. Many health experts have endorsed this extract and confirmed that it reduces appetite and helps you to lose weight without putting in much effort. What is Garcinia Cambogia? When an extract becomes as popular as this one, the first question that comes to people’s minds is, `What is Garcinia Cambogia?’ Garcinia Cambogia is a plant native to Southeast Asia. It is also referred to as Garcinia Gummi-Gutta. The fruit of this plant resembles a small and greenish pumpkin. It is also used in many conventional Asian dishes for the pungent and sour flavor. There is a large dose of Hydroxycitric Acid as a natural substance in the skin of this fruit. This is the main ingredient in the extract of Garcinia Cambogia and this is what produces the weight loss effect. Purchasing Garcinia Cambogia Where can I purchase Garcinia Cambogia? I can do it at People like to do through research before buying a dietary supplement like this. Garcinia Cambogia Select is 100% pure extract. It is being recommended by doctors and has been backed up by clinical studies. The recommended dosage is a thousand milligrams of the Garcinia extract with 50% HCA to have a maximum effect on fatty areas in the body and for the reduction of overall weight. Why Garcinia Cambogia? Many reviews of Garcinia Cambogia have confirmed that the extract is hundred per cent natural unlike many products that could have some unwanted additives. There are no preservatives or binders with chemical additives in Garcinia Cambogia extract. The power in this fruit’s extract comes from the high content of Hydroxycitric Acid, making it one of the most effective fat busters in this world. The American television personality, Dr. Oz, the famous health Guru, has spoken very highly in his reviews of Garcinia Cambogia. He has featured Garcinia Cambogia on his television show and has even hailed it as one of the most breathtaking breakthroughs in natural weight loss. Fat Burning Properties of Garcinia Cambogia When you read about this fruit and its extract at, you will realize that the best thing about Garcinia Cambogia Select is its dual action properties of burning fat. It prevents the creation of fat in your body and also suppresses the appetite simultaneously. A combination of these effects is what makes it possible for you to lose weight without bothering much about exercising or dieting.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Tchaikovsky's Fate in F Minor Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op. 36, was composed in the spring of 1877. Tchaikovsky talked about a symphony he is writing on the subject of fate in his letters. The work was played first in Moscow in February 1878. The Symphony is scored for a piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets (in A, B-flat), 2 bassoons + 4 horns (in F), 2 trumpets (in F), 3 trombones, tuba + 3 timpani + violins I, violins II, violas, cellos, and double basses. Tchaikovsky was financially backed by a wealthy widow, Nadezhda von Meck, who sent him a monthly stipend in return for his steady correspondence with her about his music. The two never met in person but many letters remain from their steady correspondence. Those letters offer an insight into the perspective on his compositions. Tchaikovsky wrote about this symphony, "Never yet has any of my orchestral works cost me so much labour, but I have never yet felt such love for any of my things.…Perhaps I’m mistaken, but it seems to me that this symphony is better than anything I have done so far. This kind of enthusiasm was a bit strange for Tchaikovsky. He generally expressed dissatisfaction with his works. In this case, he felt that he had exceeded even his own demanding standards. The symphony score bore a dedication “to my best friend,” a reference to Von Meck. She accepted the honour but only on grounds of anonymity. Tchaikovsky explained that the opening fanfare has to sound ominous like the opening motif of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. The opening is sounded out by french horns and bassoons. The motif represents fate hanging over our heads like the sword of Damocles. The motif has to be suggestive of gloom that is all-consuming and it has to obscure all hints of happiness that tend to appear in the form of light melodies in triple time, suggestive of waltzes. In the second movement, Tchaikovsky presents a continued expression of melancholy that is felt when you are lonely at the end of a weary day. The third movement with its unique pizzicato dominance represents fleeting images that pass through a person's imagination when he is a bit flippant and whimsical and out of this emerges the finale with its positive energy. The energetic drive is broken with the dark theme from the opening movement as the motif reappears to let the listeners be reminded that fate cannot be conquered and its force cannot be crushed. The symphony concludes with letting the people know that among the gloom, you can look at the plight of others around you and take solace by accepting whatever life offers you and how to bear it. Yevgeny Mravinsky has given a magnificent performance with the Leningrad Symphony and it was issued as a vinyl record on Deutsche Grammophon. The energy of that performance in 1960 is still preserved and no conductor has surpassed the sheer vitality of this performance. The majestic brass and the discipline of the strings is the trademark of Leningrad and Mravinsky. This particular performance was recorded during the visit of Leningrad Philharmonic to London and the capture was done at Wembley Town Hall in London.