“It’s ironic, then, that we have no record of George Orwell’s own voice. Orwell delivered hundreds of BBC radio broadcasts during World War II, but not a whisper remains. There isn’t any film footage of him, either. We have plenty of written records of him, naturally. In fact, for last year’s centennial of Orwell’s birth, two new biographies were released – Gordon Bowker’s Inside George Orwell and D.J. Taylor’s Whitbread Prize-winning Orwell: The Life – as well as a sizable new collection of his essays.”
Edinburgh’s skyline is changing. “The pendulum having swung from destruction to timidity, there is now the fervent hope that it might have settled in a happy middle position where we value the past, and look to continue it into an optimistic future.”
The UK has a new law to try to slow the trade of illegal antiquities through London. “The Dealing in Cultural Objects Offences Act outlaws the handling of an item knowing that it was illegally removed from a site anywhere in the world after 2003.”
Does the language you speak affect the way you think? It’s not the conventional thinking – indeed, the accepted idea is that we’re born with some set of language templates already in place. But at least one linguist is playing with the idea that the structure of language helps structure how we think.
Why are there not more young people at classical music concerts, wonders John Rockwell. “The incontrovertible fact remains: classical music, by and large, is ludicrously overpriced. MoMA’s $12 is barely more than the $10.25 to which some movie theaters in Manhattan have recently ascended. Rock concerts may be pricey, but songs can be downloaded for 99 cents or less, all the way down to zero.”
The Voynich manuscript, once owned by Emperor Rudolph II in 16th-century Bohemia, is filled with drawings of fantastic plants, zodiacal symbols and naked ladies. Far more intriguing than its illustrations, however, is the accompanying text: 234 pages of beautifully formed, yet completely unintelligible script. Modern scholars have pored over the book since 1912, when Wilfrid Voynich, an American antiquarian, bought the manuscript and started circulating copies in the hope of having it translated. Some 90 years later, the book still defies deciphering.” Now a computer scientist thinks he might have an answer.
The oldest figurative carvings ever found have been discovered in a cave in Southeast Germany. “While precise dates for the objects are unknown, an analysis of related deposits indicates that the artists lived from 30,000 to 35,000 years ago. The three small ivory carvings suggest a high level of artistic skill among craftspeople living at this time, experts claim.”
St. Thomas’s Choir in Leipzig was once Bach’s choir, and it is an illustrious musical institution. “But the number of boys auditioning for a place in the choir has been declining for years. The choice among those boys with good voices is still large enough, but there is no longer a surplus of boys with very good to outstanding voices. And that trend didn’t develop just a few years ago.”
“Musical notes and actions have been handed down historically; they bear the signs of their use. A composer, and especially a young composer, does not have to know these signs of use. He must feel them, however, for composing also means developing idiosyncrasies and reacting hyper-sensitively. This is possibly the secret of the astronomical success that has set the tone of Matthias Pintscher’s musical career for more than 10 years and has showered him with more contracts and prizes than any other artist of his generation.”
Joseph Volpe is “the general manager of the Metropolitan Opera and it is his job to ensure that those 3,800 seats are occupied every time the Met opens its doors. Or at least most of them. Volpe is celebrated for his lack of tolerance for all the characteristics most associated with opera: preciousness, snobbery, temperamental superstars. But what he can’t abide most of all is unoccupied seats.”