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Johannes Brahms

Arts Days: May 07, 1833 and 1840: A Couple of Romantics
The famous lilting melody we call “Brahms’s Lullaby” is named for its composer Johannes Brahms. Among his other works were his German Requiem for orchestra and chorus, numerous pieces for string quartet, and several symphonies. Classical music scholars tell us that Brahms was a perfectionist, working and re-working a musical piece. Yet with all his stirring works, it’s Brahms’s delicate lullaby that many people associate with him.

As for Tchaikovsky, he was a kingpin among composers of the Romantic era, creating sentimental melodies and ballet music (such as that for The Nutcracker), the opera Eugene Onegin, and symphonies. He taught music and served as a critic as well as a composer, and he was very well-regarded among fellow musicians, fans, and even the Tsar of Russia, who arranged a special pension for him.
Composers, Europe, Music, Music Legends, Orchestra

Salvador Dali

Arts Days: May 11, 1904: The Eccentric Dreamer
The school of artwork we call Surrealism took a radical leap forward when Salvador Dali teamed up with fellow Surrealists in the late 1920s. The Surrealists were rebelling against what they saw as predictable, traditional art, and Dali—who had already been kicked out of art school and was famous for his eccentric behavior and attire—fit right in.

His artworks—including The Persistence of Memory, with its clocks draped over trees, ledges, and what appears to be a piece of bone with a face not unlike Dali’s own— are filled with quirky images, startling contrasts, and symbolism (meaning that one object stood for something else—an idea, a memory, a concept). But some of his images are surprisingly sentimental: People he loved, like Lucia, a woman who took care of him when he was a child, appear frequently in his art.
Europe, Visual Arts, Innovators & Pioneers

Joan Miró

Arts Days: April 20, 1893: Señor of Surreal
The playful works of the Spanish painter and sculptor Joan Miró are admired and appreciated around the world today, but when he first created them, they shocked viewers. No one had ever seen serious paintings filled with colorful, cartoon-like blobs, some of which looked like animals or eyes or socks floating across the canvas.

Miró, who early in his career painted landscapes and still-lifes of recognizable objects, didn’t care about what people thought about his style of painting. What he cared about was rejecting what he saw as people’s narrow assumptions of what art was…and was not. He was part of a group of artists called the Surrealists, working in the 1920s that was creating art filled with startling, funny, or just plain odd images.
Europe, Visual Arts, Innovators & Pioneers

Augustus Julliard

Arts Days: April 19, 1836: Schooled in the Arts
Augustus Juilliard was born on a ship while his family made the crossing to America from their native France. Raised in Ohio, Juilliard moved to New York City when he was 30, amassing great wealth through his work in the textile industry. Juilliard went on to use his fortune to support a range of cultural and social causes, from the American Museum of Natural History to New York hospitals.

Juilliard is said to have loved music, in particular opera music. In his will, he left money toward the creation of a music school, which today we call The Juilliard School. Juilliard is admired around the world for its rigor in turning out young dancers, musicians, actors, and singers. Those who are admitted into the school have to have exceptional grades and proven talent in the performing arts.
Art Venues, Europe, Education, Music, Music Legends

Beethoven

Arts Days: April 27, 1810: Elise Who?
We´ll never know who the great German composer and piano virtuoso Ludwig van Beethoven had in mind when he wrote this delicate piano composition that is instantly recognizable after just a few notes. While it’s known as For Elise in English, its formal name is Bagatelle in A minor (a bagatelle is a short, light piece of music usually written for piano). Für Elise was actually jotted down right on the paper Beethoven used.

Some scholars think the reference indicates Beethoven wrote it for one of his girlfriends, but others say the informal name is the result of a transcription goof, and in fact the piece was intended to be Für Therese (a woman Beethoven had really wanted to marry but never did). At any rate, Für Elise is a charming work.
Math, Music Legends, Composers, Orchestra, Europe

Raphael

Arts Days: April 06, 1483: Renaissance Man
Raffaello Sanzio is considered one of the finest painters of the Italian Renaissance, which flourished in the 15th and 16th centuries. And so, Raphael needs only one name. His paintings, including The Madonna of the Meadow and The School of Athens (one of the series of paintings in the Vatican’s Stanze di Rafaello, or “Raphael’s rooms”) are filled with trademarks of his signature techniques, from their rich, luminous colors to the graceful placement of his human figures.

Important apprenticeships, combined with his own abundant talent, set the stage for Raphael’s thriving career painting commissioned pieces for churches and royal palaces. There’s also no question he paid attention to what Leonardo da Vinci was doing. But in the end, Raphael’s style—its nod to classic Greek art, the soft light that pervades many of the images—came to be all his own.
Europe, Visual Arts

Hans Christian Andersen

Arts Days: April 02, 1805: Father Goose
You may have had fairy tales read to you when you were a little kid, but did you know they were written more than a hundred years ago—in Denmark? Generations of children around the world know and love Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales from “The Ugly Duckling” to “The Princess and the Pea.”

Even though he was Danish, some of the stories he wrote have inspired figures of speech common in the English language, like “the emperor has no clothes,” from the tale, “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” And more than one of his stories, like “The Little Mermaid,” have been turned into a feature film movie. Somehow, Andersen’s stories feel ageless, not tied to a particular time or place, which may be one reason why they continue to enchant young listeners today, no matter where they happen to live.
Europe, Folklore, Literature

Samuel Beckett

Arts Days: April 13, 1906: Post-Modern Poster Boy
Irish playwright and poet Samuel Beckett is considered the first Post-modernist writer. He explored some pretty bleak subjects in works like Waiting for Godot and Krapp’s Last Tape including loneliness, hopelessness, and isolation. His work attracted considerable attention in his day—and even still—for often tossing all conventions of character development and plot, even punctuation, straight out the window.

Some of his works attempted to capture the inner thoughts and feelings of his characters second by second. Beckett combined words and ideas in such innovative ways that he earned the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1969. But because Beckett was such a private person, the fame that accompanied this honor was a double-edged sword.
Controversial, Playwrights & Plays, Europe, Theater

Leonardo Da Vinci

Arts Days: April 15, 1452: The Da Vinci Mode
Though some assume his last name was “da Vinci,” no one really knows the last name of perhaps the greatest all-around creative genius who ever lived. The left-handed Leonardo was so very good at so many things: painting (the portrait of Mona Lisa, The Last Supper, and The Adoration of the Magi ), solving math problems, playing music, and technological inventiveness—he envisioned an early helicopter and other flying machines.

He learned about these subjects while apprenticing with various artists, doctors, and others, but his own curiosity helped him apply all he learned in entirely new ways. His interests fed off of one another. For example, his human anatomy sketches are stunning in their detail and accuracy, and that understanding of how bodies moved helped him to be a better painter. Leonardo also brought his deep understanding of geometry to his art, arranging figures in ways thought to be pleasing to the eye of the spectator. His contributions to art and science are impossible to measure.
Europe, Inventions, Innovators & Pioneers, Visual Arts

Vigeland

Arts Days: April 11, 1869: A Park of One’s Own
Sculptor Gustav Vigeland learned to carve wood when he was just a child, a skill that would serve him well as he moved on to working with different substances, like stone. At the end of the 19th century, he toured Italy and France where he visited the workshop of another great sculptor, Auguste Rodin.

Perhaps his greatest work is Vigeland Park, which came about when he persuaded the city of Oslo to give him a building in which to live and work. In exchange, he would give Oslo all of his subsequent creations. Today, on 80 acres of land, you can visit Vigeland Park, where hundreds of granite and bronze artworks stand, from whimsical statues of dancing babies to the Monolith, a 46-foot high totem depicting dozens of intertwined bodies rising up into the sky.
Europe, Visual Arts

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