A break...

Time for a break in blogging. This year, Italy again... and again with kids and grandkids! Trust the place is as nice as it looks in the ad! In any case, Italy is always a great pleasure!! Should be back mid-August. Take care!!


Claude Debussy

For musical, dancing, drama... education there is an establishment in « my » arrondissement, the 17th, called the “Conservatoire Claude Debussy”, at present occupying two different premises. I guess that the best translation of “conservatoire” may be Academy, academy of music, dance, drama… The original “conservatoire” is situated on Avenue de Villiers in this beautiful building from 1880, originally built for the de Havilland family where Renoir, Zola, Rodin… were guests. Since 1982 it’s the local music academy with some 600 pupils and some 60 teachers.

More capacity was needed and some other premises have been added for another 600 pupils and some 40 teachers, in the north east part of the arrondissement.

There has now been a decision to create more, adapted space and a new “conservatoire” will be ready next year, situated on the northern border of the arrondissement, with space for more than 1000 students, a “concert hall” for 300 people…

All this is good, very good! I believe however that there is a problem: The name of the “conservatoire”. There are rumours that the local authorities may wish to change the name “Conservatoire Claude Debussy” to “Conservatoire Rostopovitch”. I have definitely nothing against the excellent cellist and conductor Mstislav Rostopovitch, but… 

... Claude Debussy is very much linked to the 17th arrondissement. He lived here at two different premises during many years, when he created some of his most well-known music, like the opera “Palléas et Mélisande”, “Suite Bergamasque” (including “Clair de Lune”), “Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune” (Prelude to the afternoon of a faun)….

Some of us believe that we must protest against this name change initiative. If you agree, you are welcome to write to bruno.juillard@paris.fr or francois.brouat@paris.fr at the Mayor’s office.

In the meantime there is at least a "Square Claude Debussy" in the arrondissement.

… and we can always listen to “Clair de Lune”.

Exceptionally, I have written more or less the same thing also in French:

Pour la formation musicale (+ danse, art dramatique...) il ya un établissement dans «mon» arrondissement, le 17ème, appelé le "Conservatoire Claude Debussy", à l'heure actuelle occupant deux locaux différents. Le conservatoire d’origine est situé sur l'avenue de Villiers dans un bel immeuble de 1880, construit pour la famille de Havilland où Renoir, Zola, Rodin ... ont fait partie des invités. Depuis 1982, c'est devenu le conservatoire local avec quelques 600 élèves et 60 enseignants.

Plus de capacité a été nécessaire et d’autres locaux ont été ajoutés pour 600 autres élèves et 40 enseignants dans la partie nord-est de l'arrondissement.

Il a maintenant été décidé d'en créer encore plus de capacité et un nouveau local sera prêt l'année prochaine, situé sur la frontière nord de l'arrondissement, pour plus de 1000 étudiants, une "salle de concert" pour 300 personnes ...

Tout cela est bon, très bon ! Je crois cependant qu'il ya un problème: Le nom du conservatoire. Il y a des rumeurs que les autorités locales peuvent souhaiter changer le nom "Conservatoire Claude Debussy" à "Conservatoire Rostopovitch". Je n'ai vraiment rien contre l'excellent violoncelliste et chef d'orchestre Mstislav Rostopovitch, mais ... Claude Debussy est très liée au 17ème arrondissement. Il a vécu ici dans deux appartements différents pendant de nombreuses années, quand il a créé une bonne partie de sa musique la plus connue, comme l'opéra "Palléas et Mélisande", "Suite Bergamasque" (y compris "Clair de Lune"), "Prélude à l’après-midi d'un faune " ....

Certains d'entre nous croyons que nous devons protester contre cette initiative de changement de nom. Si vous acceptez, vous êtes invités à écrire à  bruno.juilliard@paris.fr ou  francois.brouat@paris.fr  au bureau de la Mairie.


Another little extra post

This is again a little extra post to follow the local events of the moment. The “real post” is just below this one.

I wasn’t with the crowd to watch the arrival yesterday of the “Tour de France” on the Champs Elysées (but of course saw it on television). The participants arrive along the Seine and then make a number of tours up and down the Champs Elysées and around the Tuileries Gardens. A few hours later, the dismantling and the cleaning were well under way. In the meantime, it was possible to make a walk in the middle of the avenue.

Leaving, I took a few photos of the rather recently refurbished gate of the back entrance to the Elysée Palace, just behind where the bikers arrive.

Napoleon's "Berlin"

I went to the Museum of the “Légion d’Honneur” (Legion of Honuor) basically to see Napoleon’s “Berlin”, a carriage which was temporarily exposed there (exposition finished July 8). Unfortunately, I had only the time to take the above photo, before I was advised that photos were not allowed. Well I could at least see it and also a lot of items which once belonged to or were linked to Napoleon, including a redingote, frock, the hat and the sword he wore and carried at Waterloo... the “silver” used for the meals, his dental equipment…

... and I could of course take some photos from the outside. The building, which is immediate neighbour to the the Orsay Museum (see previous post), was originally built for the Prince of Salm-Kyrburg, just before the French Revolution (during which the Prince was beheaded), sold to the “Grand Chancellery of the Legion of Honour” in 1804. It more or less burnt down during the “Commune” in 1871, was reconstructed…  In 1922 the Museum was added. 

If you are interested in different orders of chivalry and different national , religious, military decorations, the Museum has hundreds (thousands?) of them from all countries in the world… and also some remarkable paintings, portraits… 

The concentration is of course on the French Legion of Honour, which was created by Napoleon in 1802. The first distribution took place at the Invalides (see previous posts) in 1804.

Reverting to the major reason for my visit: The “Berlin” is a lighter type of carriage which around 1670 was designed for the Elector of Brandenburg - Berlin was then the capital of Brandenburg. The one we could see at the museum was originally built for Napoleon’s Russian campaign (1812). He had a larger more comfortable carriage, “La Dormeuse” (the sleeping car). Both were confiscated after the battle of Waterloo in 1815. Napoleon left the battlefield on a horseback, still wearing his hat and his sword. “La Dormeuse”, after several owner changes, ended up at Madame Tussaud’s in London, where it was destroyed by fire in 1925. The smaller “Berlin” was brought to Prussia and the Kaiser Wilhelm I by the Field Marshal von Blücher, but remained in the Blücher family until it was given back to France in 1971.

As I could not take the pictures of the “Berlin”, here are at least some illustrations, showing that it really was present during the battles.

Napoleon’s hat, which was the one he actually wore at Waterloo, is normally to be found at the Museum of Sens in Burgundy. The “Berlin” should hopefully soon be back and visible at the Malmaison castle, just outside Paris.


July 14th... again.

After some problems with my PC (change of hard disc…), I’m “back”. I was a bit disappointed not being able to show some more pictures from the 14th July fireworks (see previous post). So, here are a few more. Please, consider this as an extra post, the "real one" for the moment is the one below. 


New fences

The fences around “my” park, Square des Batignolles are being restored. The park was designed by Jean-Charles Alphand, who has his name linked to some twenty other squares and parks in Paris, including the most well-known.  The park was officially opened in 1876, but the fences are there since 1862, so 150 years later the need for restoration was there.

The works are planned to be finished late this year. The first restored pieces are now there, however the ornaments, which had disappeared in the meantime and now are promised to come back, are still missing.  

The poster giving information about the works is illustrated by a painting by Eduard Manet, “The Railway”, from 1873. The lady on the painting is the same as we can find on the maybe most famous paintings by Manet, “The Luncheon on the Grass” (1862-63) where she shared the role (the face) with Manet’s wife (the body) and “Olympia” (1863). “The Luncheon on the Grass” was exhibited in 1863 and created uproar, but “Olympia”, exhibited in 1865, even more. Her name was Victorine Meurent (1844-1927). She played the guitar, the violin – even gave lessons – sang in cafés and also modeled for Degas. She became a good painter herself. “Palm Sunday” is by her.

The rail tracks are still there, but the steam engines have been replaced. Even if it seems that “The Railway” may have been created closer to Gare Saint Lazare (Pont de l'Europe), it has anyhow been painted along the same railway tracks that lengthen the park…

… and Manet’s name is clearly linked to the Batignolles area and to the members of the “Batignolles Group”, who later became better known as impressionists (Degas, Monet, Renoir, Sisley,  Bazille, Cézanne, Sisley, Pisarro, Fantin-Latour… ). I already posted about all this e.g. here.

... and the work goes on, for a couple of months more.


July 14th

Yesterday was July 14th, the French National Holiday. There were fireworks at the Eiffel Tower... and disco music. I was among the thousands (hundreds of thousands?) people watching. I took a few tens of photos. The relatively good ones are vertical, but Blogger doesn’t seem to accept vertical photos, at least not mine. My PC is not working properly, so I cannot make my usual collages… I managed to upload the only two horizontal photos I took; one from before the fireworks, one from when they just started. At least, they prove that I was there. I may revert with a new post about these fireworks if I get my PC to work again within a couple of days. (My PC problem is also an excuse why I will be even less than usual visiting your blogs. Sorry! ) 


Bibilothèque Mazarine

Cardinal Mazarin (1602-61), who took over after Cardinal Richelieu, more or less governed France during the young years of Louis XIV. The future “Sun King” was only five, when his dad, Louis XIII died in 1643 and Mazarin became the co-ruler alongside the Queen Mother, Anne of Austria.

Mazarin was a great collector. He also created a personal library, more based on a wish for knowledge and the spreading of knowledge than for anything else. His first collection was dispersed when he for a while had to leave Paris for political reasons (“La Fronde”), but on his return he immediately began a second one – of course helped by librarians. Already during his lifetime it was made available to “public” (scholars) and at his death it was bequeathed to the “Collège des Quatre-Nations” (College of the Four Nations), which he had wished to create. The name referred to his desire to open a college for students from the territories (the nations) which recently had come under French rule through the Peace of Westphalia in 1648.
The college (with Louis le Vau as architect) was built facing the Louvre. The construction work started the year after Mazarin’s death, in 1662, and the building stood ready in 1688. Before that, in 1682, the Mazarin library had been transferred to the eastern wing of the building, using elements from his own library, in addition to all the books and other items.  A few years after the Revolution the building was given to the “Institut de France”, grouping five academies, the most well-known of course being the “Académie Française”. The library became really public, the oldest public one in France. It contained already some 60 thousand volumes (today ten times more), several thousands of the first printed books (second half of the 15th century), including one of the 48 surviving original Gutenberg Bibles.

So today, the “Bibiliothèque Mazarine” is still there, open to public, and it still occupies the eastern wing of the building, the rest being occupied by the academies.

Mazarin’s tomb is under the cupola of the building, originally a chapel, but today especially known as the place where the Academies hold their public meetings.

On my way to the library, I crossed the Louvre, a warm day, when some people were happy to let their feet be freshened by the water in the basin, surrounding the Pyramid. I stopped listening to some very talented musicians, including two young opera singers.

Reaching the “Pont des Arts”, with the "Institut" and the library in the background, I could notice that there are more padlocks than ever.

Once in the inside court, you have two facing facades, one being the “Institut de France”, the other one the “Bibliotheca a Fundatore Mazarinea”.

The entrance stairs, as they look today, were added during the 19th century. You can find the bust of Mazarin.

You may notice the pieces of green cloth, put there to protect against dust.


Some “details” include a beautiful early 18th century clock, perfectly working, Over one of the doors, you can see the arms of the Cardinal, of course with the cardinal hat, the “galero” on top...

...and some nice golden ceiling lamps. The little angel holding a chess tower indicates that they once belonged to Madame de Pompadour. 


A different kind of demonstration

Last Saturday I found a large group assembled on Place Pigalle…

The new French government has proposed to introduce similar laws as applied in Sweden since some ten years, followed by a few other countries – trying to ban or diminish prostitution by punishing the clients rather than the prostitutes.

What I saw was a demonstration against this proposition, organized by some “sex workers syndicates”. They claim “rights” rather than repression and penalization. I recognized the (university educated) young lady appearing in front of the “Syndicat du Travail Sexuel” (Sexwork Syndicate) banner from different television interviews lately.

News media were of course present and the demonstrators could express their opinions as well by slogans as by interviews.

After the more or less rainy meeting, the crowd marched (I suppose) in the direction of Place de la République.