Saturday, 4 January 2014

Two Popular after Christmas Activities: Excercise and Sales

Two things are always popular after Christmas: Getting in shape after all the good food and drink you consumed, and to go shopping at the after Christmas sales:

"You'll never run alone". Joggers at Helsingborg's medieval Kärnan tower.

On to the next exercise.

The Sales has started.

You can get a picture of Marilyn cheap.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

The Swedish community in Paris on their way to meet King Gustaf V and Queen Victoria in 1908

On November 21, 1908, King Gustaf V and Queen Victoria, who were on an official state visit to France, met with the Swedish colony in Paris. Before the reception the members of the colony posed at the stairs leading to the residence of the French minister of foreign affairs. Many of the properly dressed ladies and gentlemen were probably members of the Cercle Suédois in Paris (founded in 1891). I think I also can spot a couple of people, who most likely were members of the fairly large Swedish artist community in Paris at the time.

PS (3.1.2014)
I noticed that the Cercle Suédois accepted ladies as members only in 1936. Thus what I wrote about membership applies only to the gentlemen.

The Swedish community in Paris on November 21,1909, on their way to meet their King and Queen.

Late 19th and early 20th century "family photographs"

The two old photos below, which I found in a box in the attic, show how late 19th and early 20th century professional photographers went about when they were asked to take "family photographs".

It was of course important to get a good general view of the family's house, which is why family members were asked to place themselves in different locations for the picture. (The photos are from southern Finland).

A Finland-Swedish family posing for the photographer in front of their house in the late 19th century

Another Finland-Swedish family posing for a photograph, probably in the 1910s

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

The Best European 2013-2014 New Year's Concerts: The Dancers of the Wiener Staatsballet "stole the show"

Dancers from the Wiener Staatsballett

The televised New Year's concerts from the Berlin Philharmonie, the Dresden Semper Oper, the Vienna Musikverein and La Fenice in Venice are the eagerly awaited best "delayed Christmas presents" for music lovers in Europe and many countries on other continents.

This year was no exception. All four concerts were wonderful in their own way.

Sir Simon Rattle

The Berliner Philharmoniker under Sir Simon Rattle have been doing their "own thing" quite successfully for years now. The Philharmoniker web page describes it in this way:

For classical music fans, jaunty dance rhythms are just as much a part of New Year’s Eve as the sound of corks popping and fireworks. But need it be waltzes from Vienna, the city on the Danube, ringing in the New Year? By no means, according to the Berliner Philharmoniker and Sir Simon Rattle – and they traditionally programme different music for their New Year’s concerts along the river Spree.

The highlight of the Berlin New Year's Eve concert this year was Sergei Prokofiev's Third Piano Concerto, with the Chinese virtuoso Lang Lang as the brilliant soloist. The entire evening was a great success, with the Philharmoniker and Sir Simon in top form.

Klaus Florian Vogt, Renée Fleming and Christian Thielmann

The Staatskapelle Dresden's "competing" New Year's Eve concert has during the last few years focused on operetta music. The fact that Christian Thielemann, the orchestra's eminent chief conductor, is a self-confessed lover of operetta, is of course a god sent gift to all of us who share his passion.

This year's concert was another smash hit, with the wonderful, velvet voiced Renée Fleming as the highlight of the evening. What an entertainer this multitalented lady is! She certainly knows how to charm an audience. German star tenor Klaus Florian Vogt was as good as was to be expected, and sounded great also in the duets with Fleming.

The Vienna New Year's concerts do not need any introduction. The Wiener Philharmoniker's concert on January 1 is the world's most famous and well known annual music event. I belong to those who in the 1960s and 1970s always looked forward to see the legendary Willi Boskovsky conduct the Vienna concerts on television.

Since1986 the orchestra musicians have chosen a different conductor every year. This year it was great to see maestro Daniel Barenboim in charge of the orchestra, which - as always - sounded great.

But for this "reviewer" the greatest stars of the event were the dancers from the Wiener Staatsballett: Maria Yakovleva, Nina Poláková, Irina Tsymbal, Ketevan Papava, Prisca Zeisel, Kirill Koundraev, Mihail Sosnovschi, Ene Peci, Kamil Pavelka and Alexis Forabosco.

I have never seen more beautifully danced and choreographed concert performances than the ones in this New Year's concert. Kudos to Ashley Page for the choreography! An the dresses by Vivienne Westwood were gorgeous.

Diego Matheuz at the La Fenice New Year's concert

The last of the New Year's concerts was the one from La Fenice, broadcast on ARTE in the evening of January 1. This year the orchestra's young chief conductor Diego Matheuz had chosen a nice mix of well known, mainly Italian opera music by RossiniVerdi, Bellini, Puccini, Mascagni and Donizetti for the concert. It was again a memorable evening of bel canto from one of the world's most beautiful opera houses. The two soloists, Italian soprano Carmen Giannattasio and American tenor Lawrence Brownlee, were excellent.

 The wonderful dancers of the Wiener Staatsballett

Suddenly the dancers turned into a painting! It was magical television!


The 2014 New Year's Fireworks in the sky over Øresund

Our Christmas tree came to play more than a supporting role in my pictures of the New Year's "international firework" as observed from my balcony. The Christmas tree was standing right in front of me, so I could not avoid it. On the other hand, I think it actually adds a reference point to the images.

By "international" I mean that I am able to enjoy fireworks both on my side (Swedish) and the Danish side of the Øresund strait. The Danes have a particular liking for fireworks, which is why the "show" usually goes on their side quite a lot longer than here. In the last picture you can see Danish fireworks in action when most of the Swedish ones already had stopped.


Tuesday, 31 December 2013

"The latest fashion on the streets of Paris" (1908)

A trendy Parisian lady in 1908

Fashion trends in Paris were closely watched in Sweden already in the early 20th century. The weekly Hvar 8 Dag published this picture in one of its 1908 issues with the caption: "The latest fashion on the streets of Paris".

Monday, 30 December 2013

The Power of the Wind

The power of the wind is clearly visible in the neighbouring nature reserve here in Hittarp. After the latest storm a couple of weeks ago, there are tens of fallen trees, which - if they do not obstruct paths - will be left untouched.

I have passed the pine below hundreds of times on my walks in the nature reserve. It was quite a sturdy and healthy looking tree, but still it surrendered to the storm force wind blowing from the Sound side:

Birches seem to have adapted better to the forces of nature. At least those located close to the beach grow in a way that can take quite a lot of stormy weather:

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Images from Helsingborg's Northern Harbour area

The Northern Harbour is one of my favourite locations in Helsingborg. There are quite a few pictures in my blog from this area - and here are some more, which I shot this afternoon:


Esa-Pekka Salonen - A Conductor with a Great Sense of Humour

Salonen - conductor with a good sense of humour

"Finns place great value on words, which is reflected in the tendency to say little and avoid 'unnecessary' small talk. They are better at listening than at talking."

From "The Guide to Finnish Customs and Manners" by professor Olli Alho

Conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen confirms what the professor wrote:

It is OK to take your time. Being a Finnish person, things can be quite slow so it took me seven years to talk to my wife for the first time. We've been married for 22 years now, so it was worth the wait.


The quote is from the BBC page "Esa-Pekka Salonen: 10 tips to becoming a conductor".

Salonen could have added one more tip: A good sense of humour (which he always has displayed)