22.5.17

Music and poetry...

Sorry for having been a lousy blogger for a while… and probably will be so still for another while. I’m quite busy with a number of things right now. One of them has been the involvement in a chamber concert which took place last week.

It all started with an article about me in the Göteborgs-Posten, my birth town’s local newspaper. The article was read by a leading violinist in the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, more or less on her way to Paris. Her name is Marja Inkinen-Engström. She read about Paris walks, my interest in music… She contacted me… and we met. I arranged a meeting with a local friend and professional pianist, Cecilia Löfstrand, and we met in the 17th century apartment of another friend, author and poet, Birgitta Lindqvist. Spontaneously, it was decided to, as soon as possible, use the place - and the piano - for a chamber concert.

A couple of weeks later, in May, two weekend concerts could take place. Marja took a few days off, came to Paris again, and was joined by her friend Per Nyström who also flew in from Sweden with his cello. So, Marja, Cecilia and Per could perform together, concentrating on French rather contemporary chamber music. We had invited some selected guests, mostly members of the local Swedish Art Association, who could during the music pause listen to some wonderful poetry by Birgitta… and drink a glass of champagne.

Sincere thanks to everybody who made these memorable moments possible – the musicians and Birgitta – not forgetting the journalist who wrote the article which started it all, Johan Tollgerdt!


Unfortunately there is no video from the concert – you have to imagine! It was a moment never to forget!    

6.5.17

There will be a break...

I’m back from Sweden. I have a very busy program the coming few weeks, so there will hardly be any regular posting for a while. Also, I have already reported quite a lot on my birth town Gothenburg, so from this latest trip there will only be this duck mother and her 15 (!!!) babies, met in a street. I already published a photo on Facebook a couple of days ago. I should have made a video! The mother decided to leave the street for a little garden. There was a little wall. It took a couple of minutes before the last baby managed the jump – after many tries. Only then the mother decided to continue further into the garden. Can ducks count? 

Well, another little thing... I noticed that the French language sometimes is in use in Sweden. 

24.4.17

Celebration

10 years ago - I had just started blogging (yes, 10 years!!) - I left the below message to say that I left for my birth-town for a couple of days to celebrate the 45 years years since I passed my "baccaluréat". Now it's time again for the 55 years (there was a 50-years celebration in the meantime, see further below). I took a new selfie, still with the stupid cap. (Yes, there will be a short while without new posts.)

This is what the already old gentlemen looked like 5 years ago.



20.4.17

More from the 14th arrondissement...


Once I was at Rue des Thermopyles (see previous post), I continued the walk in the area and discovered some other little streets and alleys. Here is one example, “Impasse du Moulin Vert” - I suppose there must have been a green windmill around… Not anymore, just another little street where you still feel some countryside atmosphere, cobblestones, wisterias… .   (One of the buildings is where Patrick Dewaere lived … and left us too early.)


However, someone decided a few decades ago to replace a large part of one side of the street with a neutral, dull, apartment building, meaning that there is a clear contrast between one side of the street and the other side. I doubt that such a decision would have been taken today. 



There are some other charming buildings – and wisterias - in the neighbourhood. 

17.4.17

Rue des Thermopyles


The more you walk around the 14th arrondissement, the more you discover some really charming streets, narrow alleys… Here is another one with the name Rue des Thermopyles. The name of the street is a bit surprising, it refers to a coastal passage in Greece, Thermopylae, where a number of battles have taken place,

…. the most famous obviously between the Greek / Spartan and Persian forces in 480 BC (illustrated by Jacques-Louis David in 1814) and the – hopefully – last one in 1941 between Greek and German forces. 
           


There is actually not much else to say about the street – I found no names of famous inhabitants… you can just enjoy the atmosphere and right now especially the wisterias.






The street ends with a little “jardin partagé” (garden shared by the inhabitants)… and some street art.

The famous personality I was looking for can be found in the prolongation of the street, the Square Alberto-Giacometti… and the nearby address where this artist had his studio for 40 years, from 1926 until his death in 1966, at no. 46, rue Hippolyte-Mandron. Picasso, Braque… and especially Samuel Beckett were frequent visitors. 


13.4.17

No cars anymore...


The Seine banks are more and more given back to pedestrians, bikers…  Since a number of years, a large part of the right bank has been closed to car traffic during some summer weeks, “Paris Plages”. Instead of allowing the cars back by the end of last summer, it was decided to maintain a large part of the right river bank car-free, forever (?).  Not everybody is satisfied with this decision which has created some traffic jams elsewhere, but personally I’m happy – I have no car! I think rather that the ”wrong decision” was taken in the 1960’s, when the river banks were opened for traffic. There are now plans to make the banks even more attractive. Let’s see. (If you want to see some of my older posts about the Seine banks, you can click here, here and here.) 








10.4.17

Street art again (and again)...

The wall on this building, Quai de Valmy, along the Canal Saint Martin, has been used for street art for a number of years. 
After the tragic Paris 2015 events, the wall was for quite some time covered with this simple “Fluctuat nec mergitur” - “Tossed by the waves but never sunk”, the Paris motto since 1358. (See previous posts here and here.)

The wall is now since a while back in “normal street art use”.  The present, enormous, complete wall decoration – for how long? – is by Da Cruz. A great traveler with artwork left a bit everywhere in the world, Da Cruz is really a local artist, as I understand born and living close to the Canal. You can read more about him here, here, here and here.


Otherwise there is not too much street art along the Canal, rather a bit of tagging and some camouflage, hiding blind walls…   




    

6.4.17

Aristide Briant memorial


Aristide Briand (1862-1932) has an important memorial placed in front of the Ministry of Foreign affairs. He was 26 times a minister and maybe especially a more or less full-time minister of foreign affairs between 1915 and 1932, i.e. during and after the WWI times. He was also “President of the Council” some 11 times between 1909 and 1929.
As a young journalist, he was with Jean Jaurès participating in the creation of the socialist newspaper “L’Humanité” (which after WWI became a communist newspaper). Briand was rather a loner, politically, and he was later actually expelled from the Socialist Party.
Briand was the leading personality in the preparation of the separation of Church and State in 1905.
He was an enemy of war and was together with the German Foreign Minister, Gustav Stressemann, and the British Secretary of State, Austen Chamberlain, the major actor in what is referred to as the “Locarno Treaties”. In 1925 this was how one tried to establish guaranteed European borders, to have the Rhineland demilitarized and to get Germany to join the League of Nations. Chamberlain got the Nobel Peace Prize in 1925 and Briand and Stressemann in 1926.
On Briand’s initiative the “Kellog-Briand Pact” was signed in Paris in 1928, where 15 nations signed for the renunciation of war… and the US Secretary of State, Frank B. Kellog, got the Nobel Peace Prize in 1929.
Briand also tried to initiate a European Union....I guess Aristide Briand was worth this monument.
Well, he died in 1932, his German peace partner Stressemann died already in 1929 … and then Hitler came into power.
Here we can see Briand - also together with Stressemann and Chamberlain.

The monument dates from 1937...



... and was a common project, involving the architect Paul Bigot (also known for e.g. this building, see my post here), the sculptors Henri Bouchard (also known for e.g. this statue, see my post here) – the background - and Paul Landowski (also known for Christ the Redeemer - unfortunately I don’t have my own photo to show, but I have mentioned him in some of my posts, e.g. here, here, here and here.) for the group in the foreground.



3.4.17

In front of the Orsay Museum...


When I last wrote about the Orsay Museum  (see here) one was not allowed to take photos inside. This seems now to have changed…, but in any case, what now follows is about what you find outside the museum, on the esplanade.

The major installation here is a collection of six statues, referred to as representing the “Six Continents”. They were originally created for the third Paris World’s Fair or “Exposition Universelle” in 1878, could be found in front of the “Palais de Trocadero” and remained there until the construction of the “Palais de Chaillot” for the Paris World’s Fair in 1937 (referred to as “International Exposition of Art and Technology in Modern Life”, see my posts here and here). An amazing thing is that these statues, which in 1935 were transferred to the city of Nantes, ended up on a public dump before being saved and installed in front of the museum when it was opened in 1986. (I found the picture of the abandoned statues on this site.)

The Eiffel Tower was of course constructed only 11 years later than the 1878 exhibition, but here we can see not only where the “Six Continents” were placed, but also some pictures of animal statues, which also remained at the Trocadero until 1935 and now also can be found in front of the Orsay Museum.

A closer look on the statues, representing the “Six Continents”.


Well…

So, in front of the Museum, we can also find the “Jeune Eléphant pris au Piège” par Emmanuel Fremiet…

… the “Rhinocéros” by Alfred Jacquemart…

… and the “Cheval à la Herse” by Pierre Rouillard.

Behind the museum, you can find two statues by Antoine Bourdelle, named “Force de Volonté” and “Victoire”. (I wrote recently, here, about the Bourdelle Museum.)