Monday, April 05, 2010

Bette Davis, Van Gogh Cereal, Sexy Art, Gregory Peck & Brass Bands


April 5, 1908: Bette Davis, American actress, was born. Davis was "known for her willingness to play unsympathetic characters, and was highly regarded for her performances in a range of film genres, from contemporary crime melodramas to historical and period films and occasional comedies, though her greatest successes were her roles in romantic dramas."


- If you were a Vincent Van Gogh fan with two tons of Malt-O-Meal cereal and a free weekend, what would you do? "Students at Sky View High School completed a 6,400-square-foot replica of Vincent van Gogh's "Starry Night" made out of breakfast cereal. Humanities teacher at Sky View, Doyle Gedded had more than 150 students participate on the project, which used more than two tons of cereal donated by Malt-O-Meal across the floor in the school's gymnasium..." Read the full story


April 5, 1732: Jean-Honoré Fragonard, French painter and printmaker whose late Rococo manner was distinguished by remarkable facility, exuberance, and hedonism", was born. "One of the most prolific artists active in the last decades of the Ancien Régime, Fragonard produced more than 550 paintings (not counting drawings and etchings), of which only five are dated. Among his most popular works are genre paintings conveying an atmosphere of intimacy and veiled eroticism."

April 5, 1752: Sébastien Érard, French musical instruments maker who patented many of the elements used in the modern grand piano, was born. Erhard "specialised in the production of pianos and harps, developing the capacities of both instruments and pioneering the modern grand piano."

April 5, 1900: Spencer Tracy, American actor, was born. Tracy appeared in 74 films from 1930 to 1967. In 1999, the American Film Institute ranked Tracy 9th among the Greatest Male Stars of All Time. He was nominated for nine Academy Awards for Best Actor, winning two.

April 5, 1908: Herbert von Karajan, Austrian conductor, was born. "His obituary in The New York Times described him as "probably the world's best-known conductor and one of the most powerful figures in classical music". Karajan conducted the Berlin Philharmonic orchestra for 35 years. He is the top-selling classical music recording artist of all time, having sold an estimated 200 million records during his career."

April 5, 1916: Gregory Peck, American actor, was born. "One of 20th Century Fox's most popular film stars from the 1940s to the 1960s, Peck continued to play important roles well into the 1990s. His notable performances include that of Atticus Finch in the 1962 film To Kill a Mockingbird, for which he won his Academy Award. President Lyndon Johnson honored Peck with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1969 for his lifetime humanitarian efforts. In 1999, the American Film Institute named Peck among the Greatest Male Stars of All Time, ranking at #12.


Handwritten Letter Concerning the Coldstream Guards Band and Gramaphones.
Castle Hotel, Windsor: April 13, 1917.

"13th April, 1917 My dear ( illegible), I have heard from the gramaphone co'y & they are pushing on the machines as fast as possible, but will not despatch them until they hear from me further. It is difficult for me at present to make any definite appt's far ahead as one does not know from day to day what is likely to happen. If however, I find that I am free about the middle of a week I will 'phone you the day before & see how you are fixed. I take the five bands of the Brigade of Guards to Paris in a few weeks time for a week, at the invitation of the French Gov't. After this I take my own band to join the Guards Div., & will remain with the Div. until August. Whatever my appt's, I must try & fit them in this month. Until I hear from you I will give no further instructions as to the despatch of the machines & records. All kind wishes, yours as always, Mackenzie Rogan”.

John Mackenzie Rogan’s tenure with the Coldstream Guards Band had a number of highlights- the first British Army band to visit one of the Dominions (Canada, 1896), the first Guards Band to visit France at the invitation of the French Government (1907), the introduction of Tschaikovsky's 1812 Overture to Britain (in 1896 a Coldstream officer heard the work in Russia and returned with the score, which Rogan conducted at concerts throughout the country). In addition, Rogan conducted the Brigade of Guards bands at the funeral of Queen Victoria, the coronation and funeral of King Edward VII and the coronation of King George V.


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