Monthly Archives: May 2019

Richard Wagner – Genius and Megalomania

Richard Wagner – Genius and Megalomania

On May 22, 1813, German composer, theatre director, polemicist, and conductor Richard Wagner was born. His compositions, particularly those of his later period, are notable for their complex textures, rich harmonies and orchestration. His music is characterized by elaborate use of leitmotifs, i.e. musical phrases associated with individual characters, places, ideas or plot elements. His advances in musical language greatly influenced the development of classical music and made way to modern music. And…
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Marcel Breuer – Master of Modernism

Marcel Breuer – Master of Modernism

On May 21, 1905, Hungarian-born modernist, architect and furniture designer of Jewish descent Marcel Breuer was born. Being one of the masters of Modernism, Breuer extended the sculptural vocabulary he had developed in the carpentry shop at the Bauhaus into a personal architecture that made him one of the world’s most popular architects at the peak of 20th-Century design. “I am as much interested in the smallest detail as in the whole…
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Honoré de Balzac and the Comédie Humaine

Honoré de Balzac and the Comédie Humaine

On May 20, 1799, French novelist and playwright Honoré de Balzac was born. He is best known for his his keen observation of detail and unfiltered representation of society, which is reflected in his opus magnum, the Comédie Humaine, sequence of short stories and novels, which presents a panorama of French life in the years after the 1815 fall of Napoleon Bonaparte, the period of the Restoration and the July Monarchy (1815–1848).…
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Alcuin of York – Architect of the Carolingian Renaissance

Alcuin of York – Architect of the Carolingian Renaissance

On May 19, 804 AD, English scholar, ecclesiastic, poet and teacher Alcuin of York passed away. At the invitation of Charlemagne, he became a leading scholar and teacher at the Carolingian court. He wrote many theological and dogmatic treatises, as well as a few grammatical works and a number of poems. According to Einhard’s Life of Charlemagne, Alcuin was “the most learned man anywhere to be found“. “And those people should not…
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Walter Gropius – Founder of the Bauhaus School

Walter Gropius – Founder of the Bauhaus School

On May 18, 1883, German architect and founder of the Bauhaus School Walter Gropius was born, who is widely regarded as one of the pioneering masters of modern architecture. “Art itself cannot be taught, but craftsmanship can. Architects, painters, sculptors are all craftsmen in the original sense of the word. Thus it is a fundamental requirement of all artistic creativity that every student undergo a thorough training in the workshops of all branches of…
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Joseph Norman Lockyer – a Pioneer of Modern Astrophysics and Founder of Archaeoastronomy

Joseph Norman Lockyer – a Pioneer of Modern Astrophysics and Founder of Archaeoastronomy

On May 17, 1836, English astronomer Sir Joseph Norman Lockyer was born. Lockyer is regarded as one of the pioneers of modern astrophysics and founder of archaeoastronomy. Along with the French scientist Pierre Janssen, he is credited with discovering the gas helium. Lockyer also is remembered for being the founder and first editor of the influential journal Nature. “The nineteenth century will ever be known as the one in which the influences of…
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Theodore Maiman and the Invention of the Laser

Theodore Maiman and the Invention of the Laser

On May 16, 1960, American physicist Theodore Maiman presents the world’s first operating laser at Hughes Research Laboratories, Malibu, California. Today, lasers are present everywhere, ranging from common consumer devices such as DVD players, laser printers, and barcode scanners to professional laser devices for surgery and various other skin treatments, or in industry for cutting and welding materials. Actually, it was Albert Einstein, who has laid the theoretical foundations for the laser in his…
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I must go, the Fog is Rising – The Poetry of Emily Dickinson

I must go, the Fog is Rising – The Poetry of Emily Dickinson

On May 15, 1886, American poet Emily Elizabeth Dickinson passed away. Despite unfavorable reviews and skepticism soon after her publications, she is now almost universally considered to be one of the most important American poets. Emily Dickinson’s poetry is rather unconventional and unique for her time, in which she wrote. They contain short lines, typically lack titles, and often use slant rhyme as well as unconventional capitalization and punctuation. Like writers such as…
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The American Expedition of Lewis and Clark

The American Expedition of Lewis and Clark

On May 14, 1804, American explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark departed for the first American expedition to cross what is now the western portion of the United States, departing from St. Louis on the Mississippi River making their way westward through the continental divide to the Pacific coast. To cross Northern America from the east to the west, and doing this even more than 200 years ago, this really was an adventurous…
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Please Don’t Ignite the Earth’s Atmosphere…

Please Don’t Ignite the Earth’s Atmosphere…

When in 1952 the world‘s first thermonuclear fusion bomb was ignited, mathematicians and physicists thought it would be rather unlikely that testing the newly developed device might result in burning all the nitrogen in the earth‘s atmosphere. However, the possibility could not be excluded completely. Nevertheless, they have have tested the bomb and fortunately for all of us not the like did happen. One of the key persons behind the development of…
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