“Mutual trust, communication, and goodwill would seem to achieve the same purpose between well-disposed neighbors

—at least where there are no cows”

Sunday Poem

Mending Wall

by Robert Frost

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it
And spills the upper boulder in the sun,
And make gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there,
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
“Stay where you are until our backs are turned!”
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of outdoor game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There were it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, “Good fences make good neighbors.”
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
“Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.” I could say “Elves” to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself. I see him there,
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having though of it so well
He says again, “Good fences make good neighbors.”

Remembrances of Lives Past


…According to data released last year by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, a quarter of Americans now believe in reincarnation. (Women are more likely to believe than men; Democrats more likely than Republicans.) Julia Roberts recently told Elle magazine that though she was raised Christian, she had become “very Hindu.” Ms. Roberts believes that in her past life she was a “peasant revolutionary,” and said that when her daughter sits in a certain way she knows “there’s someone there I didn’t get the benefit of knowing … It’s an honor for me to continue to shepherd that.”

At Cannes in May, a Thai film about reincarnation, “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives,” won the highest prize. In it, an old man on his deathbed sees the dead as vividly as the living, and his past life as an ox is as clear as his present one.

In religious terms, the human narrative — birth, life, death and rebirth — has for millennia been relatively straightforward in the West. You were born. You lived. You died. After a judgment you went to heaven (or hell) forever and ever. Eternity was the end: no appeals allowed.

But nearly a billion Hindus and a half-billion Buddhists — not to mention the ancient Greeks, certain Jews and a few Christians — have for thousands of years believed something entirely different. Theirs is, as the theologians say, a cyclical view. You are born. You live. You die. And because nobody’s perfect, your soul is born again — not in another location or sphere, and not in any metaphorical sense, but right here on earth.

… SPIRITUALLY minded Americans have had a love affair with Eastern religion at least since the Beatles traveled to India in 1968, but for more than a generation, reincarnation remained a fringe or even shameful belief.

“I can remember, 30 years ago, if a person wanted to learn about reincarnation, they would go into a bookstore and go into a very back corner, to a section called ‘Occult,’ ” said Janet Cunningham, president of the International Board for Regression Therapy, a professional standards group for past-life therapists and researchers. “It felt sneaky.” Now the East is in our backyards, accessible on the Internet and in every yoga studio.

At the same time, Western religion is failing to satisfy growing numbers of people — especially young adults. College students Mr. Dasa encounters, most of them raised as Christians or Jews, “haven’t given up on the idea of spirituality or religion,” he said. “They’re tired of the dogma they grew up with.” According to the 2008 American Religious Identification Survey, 15 percent of Americans express no affiliation with any religious tradition, nearly double the number in 1990…

Chile: a first video of trapped miners

VIDÉO – In these excerpts broadcast by public television in Chile, the 33 men trapped appear relaxed and very organized at 700 m underground.

Le Figaro (English Translation)

Chilean television broadcast Thursday night the first pictures of the group of 33 miners trapped in a mine, showing the organized, relaxed and explaining their organization at 700 meters underground. Public television TVN broadcast brief excerpts of the video, a total of 45 minutes and already been shown to the families of 33 miners, trapped for three weeks following a landslide on August 5 in the copper mine San Jose in northern Chile.

“Here we have everything well organized,” says a young bearded man, pointing to a corner pharmacy. “Here is the corner where we entertain ourselves, where we have a meeting every day, where we plan. Here is where we pray, “he says.

Several miners welcome the camera. The extracts show aired ten men.

These are the first pictures of the group of children, filmed using a micro-camera that they were transmitted by the probes used to refuel, since their first contact with the emergency services on Sunday.

The rescue of 33 men should take between three and four months, authorities said.

Marcel Poot (7 May 1901, Vilvoorde, Belgium – 12 June 1988, Brussels) was a Belgian composer, professor, and musician. His father, Jan Poot, was Director of the Vlaamse Schouwburg (Flemish Theater) in Brussels.

At the Brussels Conservatory, Poot studied organ with Gerard Nauwelaarts, and composition and instrumentation with Arthur De Greef, José Sevenans, Martin Lunssens, Lodewijk Mortelmans, and Paul Gilson. He also attended the Antwerp Conservatory and furthered his education with Paul Dukas at the École Normale de Musique de Paris.

After completing his studies, Poot worked firstly as a music teacher, reviewer, and freelance composer. In 1925, he and several other former students of Gilson’s formed a group of musicians called Les Synthétistes, who styled themselves as a Belgian equivalent of the The Mighty Five in Russia and Les Six in France. Through the group, they hoped to combine their strength and inject dynamism into an otherwise conservative Belgian musical scene, through the composition of solid contemporary pieces. Other composers who joined Les Synthétistes were René Bernier, Francis de Bourguignon, Théo de Joncker, Maurice Schoemaker, Jules Strens, and Robert Otlet.

Poot was an active music commentator for fifteen years, finding a principal outlet in the magazine he co-founded with Gilson, La Revue Musicale belge. He also contributed to Le Peuple.

In 1934, Poot seemed to achieve fame outside Belgium almost spontaneously after completing his Ouverture joyeuse (Joyful Overture), a work dedicated to his former teacher Paul Dukas. He also composed a substantial wind and brass oeuvre which is often played and performed by students and professionals alike.

In 1939, Poot was appointed a Lecturer at the Brussels Conservatory, and later became Professor of counterpoint and harmony, before succeeding Léon Jongen as Director in 1949 and holding the post until 1966.

From 1963 to 1980, Poot chaired the jury of the international Queen Elisabeth Music Competition and wrote several commissioned works to mark the occasion, one of them being the “Concerto for Piano & Orchestra.” originally composed in 1959. It is rarely performed but recently received an American performance in 2007 by the Valley Symphony Orchestra (LAVC) and pianist Neil Galanter.

He also served as the director of the Musikkapelle Königin Elisabeth between 1969 and 1976. He was elected to the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Sciences and the Arts.

A Portrait of Marcel Poot – sleeve notes

by Francis Pieters

Marcel Poot was born in a family with quite some interest in art and culture at Vilvoorde, near Brussels on 7 May 1901. In 1920 his father Jan Poot, who was a fervent music lover, was appointed director of the Royal Flemish Theatre in Brussels. He also played the clarinet in the local symphonic band ‘Harmonie Royale’ of which he also became the president. Young Marcel Poot was occasionally invited to play the timpani in that band.

The marches ‘Défilé Royal’ and ‘Nuptial March’ are two undated pieces written in his youth. Défilé Royal is a solemn symphonic march in the classical ABA form, dedicated to his father and boasting a striking solo for timpani in the final bars. The Nuptial March, dedicated to Franz Helsen, is a march with a rather cheerful and optimistic character.

Marcel Poot got his first music lessons from the local organ player Gérard Nauwelaerts. Later he went to the Royal Brussels Conservatory of Music studying from 1916 to 1919 solfeggio with M. Kips, chamber music, music history and harmony with Martin Lunssens, Paul de Maleingreau and José Sevenans and piano with Arthur De Greef.

The encounter with composer Paul Gilson (1865-1942) was of capital interest. Poot studied privately counterpoint, fugue and especially composition and orchestration with the master. At that time Poot had already studied for four years at the conservatory of music and it was Gilson who initiated him into the art of composition.

In order to get an official degree, Poot went to the Royal Flemish Conservatory of Music in Antwerp and graduated in counterpoint (1922) – his teacher being Lodewijk Mortelmans – and in fugue (1924). His first mature compositions, such as Dionysos (1923) date back from his period of study in Antwerp.

The bacchanal Dionysos is a remarkable youth composition with regard to both its form and musical contents, evoking in a splendid way the burlesque scenes of processions and banquets of Ancient Greece. The Bacchanal’s orgies are extremely well portrayed by means of a few characteristic themes. In his early wind band compositions Poot follows Paul Gilson’s example. The latter was indeed a shining example as to style (especially involving thematic ideas) and orchestration. Poot became Gilson’s spiritual inheritor: a most worthy son as successor to the ‘father of Belgian wind band music’.

On the occasion of the 60th birthday of Gilson, Poot and six other of Gilson’s pupils founded the ‘Group of the Synthetists’ in September 1925. Besides celebrating this anniversary, they hoped to get more opportunities as a group to have their new compositions performed. A first realisation of the group was the creation in 1925 of their own musical periodical ‘La Revue Musicale Belge’ Marcel Poot as general editor. Their collaboration lasted six years and was encouraged, a.o. by Arthur Prevost, conductor of the Symphonic Band of the Belgian Guides Regiment, the only professional orchestra in Belgium at that time.

The collaboration of the Synthetists with the Guides Band was also partly due to Paul Gilson’s insistence to compose for symphonic band or to make transcriptions for symphonic band of some of their orchestral works.

One of the pieces on the program of the first ‘Synthetists Concert’ by the Symphonic Band of the Belgian Guides Regiment on 21 June 1927 was the third part of Charlot by Marcel Poot. This band had already performed ‘Charlot’ completely at a concert in the series ‘Concerts Populaires’ at the Brussels Opera ‘La Monnaie’ in 1926. These concerts launched Poot’s career as a composer.

The three symphonic sketches are inspired by Charlie Chaplin’s movie pictures, setting a short story by Georges Ramon to music. The subtitles of this symphonic poem are: ‘Attitudes’, ‘Struggle for Life’ and ‘Les dieux s’inclinent’. Charlot boasts a fine rhythmical construction and allows the great symphonic band to demonstrate the extreme wealth of its sound scope. The orchestration demonstrates Poot’s professional skill and shows undeniable influences of Igor Stravinsky and Richard Strauß.

Poot gradually succeeded in breaking away from romanticism and turned to a Latin clearness and even to jazz music. He refused lyricism and sentimentality by means of using constructive and objective forms and even irony. He soon switched over to absolute music with both entertainment music (e.g. a lot of his chamber music compositions) and expressive sound pictures (very well illustrated by his symphonies).

When he was awarded the Rubens Prize in 1930 he got the opportunity to go to Paris and study with Paul Dukas for some time. Back from his stay in Paris, Marcel Poot started a teaching career, at first in day schools in Vilvoorde and Halle. When the academy of music was created in Vilvoorde, Marcel Poot was appointed piano, solfeggio and music history teacher. In 1933 he was engaged by the broadcasting institution which meant quite a social promotion.

He was appointed the very first ‘modulator’ and then became head of department. He cooperated closely with Théo Fleischman and both were very interested in new forms of expression such as the radio play. By working for the radio, Poot got also interested in film music. In between his first symphony (1929) and his second symphony (1938) Poot composed a dozen of one movement orchestral works, the most popular being his ‘Joyful Overture’ dating from 1930.

This ‘Ouverture Joyeuse’ was the most often performed orchestral piece by a Flemish composer in the 20th century. Few composers have been so much acclaimed with most flattering labels because of one single composition as Poot has. This very one-sided aspect of his musical language, namely a roguish character, was continually repeated and so during his whole lifetime he was labelled as ‘the Till Eulenspiegel (a kind of clown or jester) of Flemish Music’.

Still working for the radio, he also met the conductor Franz André, promoter of the ‘NIR (National Radio Institute) Symphony Orchestra’. In 1967 Poot wrote a Fanfare for Franz André for three trumpets and three trombones. His Fanfare for Victory for large brass ensemble probably also dates from Poot’s period with the broadcasting institution. In 1939 he was appointed at the Royal Brussels Conservatory of Music, at first teaching practical harmony (1939- 1940) and then counterpoint (1940-1949). In the meantime, he also wrote many articles and reviews in Belgian and foreign music magazines.

His Mouvement Symphonique follows the form of the first movement of a classical symphony. A slow introduction is followed by an ‘Allegro’ based on two main themes. The development is interrupted by a ‘moderato’ with a rather expressive character. Poot composed this work, commissioned by the wind band ‘Société les Chasseurs’ from Binche for their hundredth anniversary, in 1938.

After the war, Poot went back to the radio as head of department up to 1949. From 1945 onwards he was chairman of the audition jury with the NIR (National Radio Institute). He left the radio institution in 1949 when he was appointed director of the Royal Brussels Conservatory of Music (up to 1966). He then composed a series of orchestral works and concentrated his composition activities mainly on instrumental music.

Marcel Poot became a member of the Music Committee of the Ministry of Education, a member of the National Council for popular education and chairman of the board of directors of SABAM, the Belgian copyright society (from 1949 to 1977). He was a member of  Royal Academy of Science, Literature and Art of Belgium. He became chairman of the Belgian Composers Union and chairman of the Queen Elisabeth Contest jury.

He was also headmaster of the Queen Elisabeth Music Institution at Argenteuil from 1969 to 1976. He was awarded a prize by the Ministry of Flemish Culture for his complete musical career in 1968. The elderly Poot felt attracted to symphonic music and within twelve years he wrote yet four symphonies and some mature symphonic compositions with clock-like regularity. His style does no longer change, as he has found an own objective, almost terse style of writing. His musical language is linked to a great interest in musical shape.

In 1984 he was ennobled by King Baudouin and became ‘Baron Marcel Poot’. The composer had a lifelong friendship relation with the author Herman Teirlinck. In 1954 he wrote a Honour Fanfare for Herman Teirlinck for 11 brass and percussion. Despite his old age, Marcel Poot got some interest in the rising brass band movement in Flanders. He accepted to be honorary president of the Flemish Brass Band Association and composed two works for this – as far as he was concerned ‘new’ kind of wind orchestra. In 1978 he wrote Cheerfulness in Brass, commissioned by the Flemish Brass Band Association and in 1979 an Intrada commissioned by the BRT 1 Radio Station.

Loyal to his motto ‘inspiration means working’ he continued to write for wind band till the end of his life. Fantasia Concertante (1978) and Diptych (1984) are two later compositions for symphonic band.

Marcel Poot died on 12 June 1988.

Working for critical minds, cultural diversity and intellectual property


It’s a questionable honor, but one that Culture Minister Ángeles González-Sinde says she is proud of. She introduced Spain’s first ever anti-piracy legislation, which was introduced as a section within the December 2009 Law on Sustainable Economy — a series of measures in response to the economic crisis. It immediately became known as the “Sinde Law”, and prompted widespread protests that it infringed fundamental rights such as the freedom of expression.

Under the proposed law, an Intellectual Property Commission (CPI) dependent on the Culture Ministry, and composed of a handful of internet experts, would have had the power to denounce web sites that offer links to unauthorized content for downloading.

The government quickly backed down, and the minister was left holding the baby. “I don’t have a problem with it. I think that this is a very important battle for the ministry, because it involves a deep-rooted change to our culture, and the fact that it is associated directly with a particular person is something that makes me proud.” She adds that although some in the Socialist Party criticized the proposed measures to shut down web sites, she never felt abandoned.

“I knew that Zapatero supported me. He called me up and said he understood the situation.  That’s the way of politics. Legislating is a complicated business, and even more so when dealing with something that is completely new.We have laws that deal with analogical culture, but not the digital age.”

Through Zapatero’s intervention, there was a partial modification of the law, introducing certain judicial safeguards. Only websites themselves would be investigated, and under no circumstances would users face being cut off for downloading movies and music from the net, unlike in the United Kingdom and France, where they face such sanctions. Looking back, Sinde says that once the dust had settled, all parties have been able to see the sense in the measures.

“This is a balanced model that respects everybody’s rights. On the one hand there is the presumption of innocence when it comes to cataloguing the habits of users. At the same time, distribution models are changing all the time, and it is easier than ever to pirate. The government has to be able to back up those who feel that their rights have been breached by people not respecting copyright,” she says.

The minister also says that she understands the unhappiness of many figures from the entertainment world who supported Zapatero during the election campaign, but who feel that he failed to act rapidly and decisively enough to prevent piracy.  “I can comprehend that; it is perfectly natural. Our intellectuals are there to criticize, and they are there to alert us when we stray from the path.”

González-Sinde feels that it is important to defend the Socialist Party’s record on defending the arts, and draws parallels with what she calls the opposition Popular Party’s “abysmal” record in this regard.

“There is a huge difference in the way both parties have addressed the issue of the arts, and this is principally to do with the values of the left, which historically have always been rooted in culture and the arts. “We believe in the principles of free thought, and that people should not be manipulated.

Bear in mind the following fact: during the PP’s administrations, it spent ¤27,000 on new books for the country’s libraries; the Socialist Party has already spent ¤18 million.” Her criticism of its record aside, the minister believes that the PP will support the Law of Economic Sustainability when it goes before Congress later this year.

Asked about the somewhat bitter comments of her predecessor, César Antonio Molina, that he had been replaced by somebody with “glamour”, Sinde, an award-winning filmmaker, looks uncomfortable. “I would never associate myself with the idea of glamour, because in my business, we reserve that for the actresses.” On the subject of movies, Sinde says that it is important to dispel the myth that Spanish cinema survives on state subsidies.

“The agriculture sector, or the automobile industry receive subsidies, and I don’t hear anybody crying out in protest about that. There are those who want to dumb down our film industry, because they see it as linked to the values of the left and of a critical, free spirit.”

At a time when digital seems the only game in town, the minister says that she is concerned about the disappearance of what she calls “cultural diversity.” “A model whereby culture is available to all, free of charge, and without restrictions, such as the model defended by the television companies, and oriented to the widest possible number of people is fine,” she says, “but I don’t think it is the government’s job to defend that.  There are other, minority interests, and they should be defended.

They too are necessary.”

View and Plan of Toledo

Museo Nacional del Prado

Calle Ruiz de Alarcón 23

Madrid 28014

Tel. +34 91 330 2800

Room 9A – Villanueva Building
Until 1 november

Visitors to the Prado will have the chance to appreciate the El Greco’s unique work, View and Plan of Toledo. In contrast to the partial views of the city that appear in other works by the artist, this canvas offers a multiple viewpoint; in addition to a perspectival presentation it includes a detailed plan of the city, held up by the figure of a young man and painted with the characteristically sketchy handling of the artist’s last years.

This complex composition also includes an allegory of the river Tagus, seen here as a sculpture that pours water and hence prosperity, as well as the iconic religious image of that city, that of the Virgin placing the chasuble on Saint Ildefonso. In addition, prominence is also given to the Hospital de Tavera, which is depicted on a cloud in an explicit reference to the administrator of the building, Pedro Salazar de Mendoza, a friend of the artist and the probable patron of the work.

With the aim of highlighting the presence of Toledo in many of El Greco’s most famous paintings, View and Plan of Toledo will be exhibited in room 8A, which will form an additional space to the two permanent galleries devoted to the artist’s work in the Prado. The View and Plan is accompanied by three other works by the artist: Saint Sebastian, Saint Andrew and Saint Francis, and Saint Bernard.

The latter belongs to the Prado but has been on long-term deposit with the Museo del Greco (in Toledo) since that museum opened. It has now returned to the Prado while the museum in Toledo is being restored and will return there on completion of work.

During the period of their special installation in this room the three paintings will have labels that identify the most famous buildings in Toledo that are depicted in each painting, such as the castle of San Serando, the Alcántara bridge, the Alcázar, the monastery of San Bartolomé and the Montero chapel, all important monuments that can also be seen and identified in the View and Plan of Toledo.

Related (Wiki):   El Greco