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"The Siege of Fort Detroit" by Frederic Remington

I offer you the great Remington’s take on Pontiac’s 1763 siege of Fort Detroit partly because I am just about there in my reading of Parkman’s Conspiracy of Pontiac and also to alert those of you who don’t know that there is a really rayther interesting discussion of Robert Rogers, Lord Howe and William Johnson, all of whom were prominant players at the time,  going on over at Mr. P’s place

Incidentally, this painting is an accurate representation of the fort, which Parkman describes as having a more or less square-shaped perimeter, with a blockhouse over each gate and a bastion at each corner.

“Fairest Isle” – Musick by Henry Purcell, words by John Dryden, from their collaborative semi-opera King Arthur.

I was inspired to pull it up by this article from the Beeb discussing the cutting off of the ancient British peninsula from the rest of the Continent and the subsequent influence of island status on the molding of the Brit character.  The article contains references to gigantic Norwegian tsunamis, A.T. Mahan and Erskine Childers, which means it’s right up ol’ Robbo’s particularly cluttered and winding alley.

Yesterday’s Mass was by a composer I’d never heard of before, one Philippe de Monte (1521-1603).

Wiki says he was Flemish, but spent most of his long career in Vienna and Prague, writing for the Habsburgs.  His madrigals are said to still be well-known among those who go in for such things.

I was particularly struck by the Gloria, which was especially rich with multiple echoing voices which somehow reminded me of patterns of raindrops.   Often times – at least in my limited experience – even in the thickest of Baroque or pre-Baroque polyphony, when the text reaches the name Jesu Christe all of the voices will come together in unison.   However, I noted that de Monte rolled right through without breaking up the staggered, multi-voice pattern. 

Whether this is of any particular significance one way or the other, I couldn’t say:  It is when I notice these things and begin to wonder about them that I am reminded how little I actually know about theory and composition.

When Cupid points his little bow

(I fear that I must call it),

He doesn’t want your heart, you know,

He’s aiming for your wallet!

Regular friends of the decanter know well ol’ Robbo’s belief that the modern celebration of Valentine’s Day is a terrible combination of mawkish sentimentality and rapacious over-commercialization, and that in protest he generally seeks to have absolutely nothing to do with it.  “Bah,” to quote another curmudgeon’s view of a different holiday, “humbug!”

(This post was pre-approved by Mrs. Robbo, who is used to his little foibles and does not take this one personally, or indeed, seriously.) 

UPDATE: Over at First Things, David Mills and Michael Novak have a pair of outstanding posts that make the case for real, substantive love far better than my off-handed snarks.


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February 2011