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Sunday, 31 July 2016

The Muppets

The Muppets are an ensemble cast of puppet characters, who were first created by puppeteer Jim Henson in 1955.

Jim Henson has said the name "muppet" came from combining the words "puppet" and "marionette," but he also said that he just liked the way the word sounded.

Henson's first Muppet was Kermit the Frog, who would become Henson's signature character. Kermit was originally a lizard and was made from Henson's mother's discarded spring coat and two halves of a Ping-Pong ball (no flipper feet or eleven-point collar).

Kermit The Frog By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use, Wikipedia Commons

Jim Henson wore a beard to cover up acne scars from his teenage years.

Jim Henson majored in home economics in college.

Jim Henson turned down the role of Yoda in the second Star Wars film, "The Empire Strikes Back."

The Muppets were first introduced on Sam and Friends, a television program that aired locally in Washington, D.C., on WRC-TV on weekdays from May 9, 1955, to December 15, 1961.

"The Art of Visual Thinking" sketch of Sam and Friends Fair use, Wikipedia Commons
After appearing on skits in several late night talk shows and TV commercials during the 1960s, the Muppets began appearing on the children's program Sesame Street in 1969. The Muppets were a crucial part of the show's popularity and their success brought Jim Henson national attention.

The Muppets attained celebrity status and international recognition through their breakout roles in The Muppet Show (1976–1981), a primetime television series that garnered four Emmy Award wins.

The Muppet Show was shown in 106 countries at its peak in the Seventies and was watched globally by more than 235 million people.


The Muppets first diversified into theatrical feature films with the 1979 The Muppet Movie.

Most Muppets are left-handed. Because most Muppeteers are right-handed, they operate the head with their favored hand.

Kermit was the first puppet to address the Oxford Union.

Animal, the crazy Muppet who loves to drum, has really big biceps—they're 4.5 inches around.

The Muppets are now owned by The Walt Disney Company. The term "muppet" is trademarked and owned by Disney.

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Mummy

Mummification is a process in which the skin and flesh of a corpse can be preserved. The process can occur either accidentally or intentionally, as the result of exposure to chemicals, extreme cold, very low humidity, or lack of air.


MUMMIFICATION OF HUMANS

While the ancient Egyptians may be the best-known mummy makers, they were far from the first. The Spirit Cave mummies of Fallon, Nevada in North America were accurately dated at more than 9,400 years old and a fishing tribe called the Chinchoros, who lived on the north coast of what is now Chile, were embalming their dead as early as 5000 BC.

The oldest known naturally mummified human corpse is a severed head dated as 6,000 years old, found in 1936 AD at the site named Inca Cueva No. 4 in South America.

The bandaging of an ancient Egyptian mummy often took from six to eight months. It required a collection of special tools, including a long metal hook that was used to draw the dead person's brain through one of the nostrils. The brain was then placed in a jar.

Mummy in the British Museum

Most Egyptian mummies have hearts because Ancient Egyptians believed the center of thought and personality was in the heart, not the brain.

The linen bandages that were used to wrap Egyptian mummies averaged one thousand yards in length.

Mummies in ancient Egypt were often buried with an emerald on their necks carved with the symbol for eternal youth.

When the mummy of Ramses II was sent to France in the mid-1970s, it was issued a passport . Ramses’ occupation was listed as ‘King (deceased)'

Howard Carter opens the innermost shrine of King Tutankhamen's tomb near Luxor, Egypt.

MUMMIFICATION OF ANIMALS

Not only humans are mummified. Many animals in ancient Egypt were considered sacred, including two species which frequent temples - ibises and cats.

Researchers believe more than 70 million animals were mummified between 800 BC and 400 AD.

An estimated 300,000 mummified cats were found at Beni Hassan, Egypt. In 1888 They were sold at $18.43 per ton, and shipped to England to be ground up and used for fertilizer.

In Ancient Egypt, the sacred temple of the jackal-headed god Anubis once held nearly 8 million mummified dogs in its catacombs.

FUN FACTS

King Francis I of France (1494 – 1547) took a daily dose of ancient Egyptian mummy to build strength—like a multivitamin made of corpse.

A pigment called mummy brown, made from real ground-up mummies, was popular among European artists during the 16th century.

During the late 19th century, it was popular for wealthy families to host mummy-unwrapping parties—using real Egyptian mummies.

Source History World

Mumbai

HISTORY

The seven islands that form Mumbai were originally home to communities of fishing colonies. The islands were ruled by successive kingdoms and indigenous empires before the arrival of Portuguese settlers. They were ceded to the Portuguese by The Treaty of Bassein on December 23, 1534

At the time, the cession of Mumbai (or Bombay as the place was named then) appeared to be of minor consequence. It gained a crucial importance when the place passed from the Portuguese to the English in 1661 as part of the dowry of the Portuguese Catherine of Braganza, when she married King Charles II.

In 1687, the English East India Company transferred its headquarters from Surat to Bombay. Following the transfer, Bombay was placed at the head of all the Company's establishments in India. as a result,  Bombay began to grow into a major trading town, and received a huge influx of migrants from across India

Ships in Bombay Harbour (c. 1731). 
Bombay emerged as a significant trading town during the mid-18th century. The Hornby Vellard was a project to build a causeway uniting all seven islands of Bombay into a single island with a deep natural harbor. The project was started by the governor William Hornby in 1782 and all islands were linked by 1838. Along with construction of major roads and railways, the reclamation project, completed in 1845, transformed Bombay into a major seaport on the Arabian Sea.


The Mumbai Stock exchange is the oldest exchange in Asia. Its history dates back to 1855, when five stockbrokers would gather under banyan trees in front of Bombay's Town Hall.

The first horse-drawn bus made its début in the city of Bombay on May 9, 1874 traveling two routes.

More than 100,000 inhabitants of Bombay were killed on June 6, 1882 when a cyclone in the Arabian Sea pushing huge waves into the harbor.

Mahatma Gandhi tried to establish a law practice in Bombay in the 1890s, but had limited success. At the time time, the legal profession was overcrowded in India, and Gandhi was not a dynamic figure in a courtroom.

The first session of the Indian National Congress was held in Bombay from December 28-31, 1885.
During the early 20th century Bombay became a strong base for the Indian independence movement.

First session of the Indian National Congress in Bombay 

Upon India's independence in 1947 the city was incorporated into Bombay State.

In 1960, following the Samyukta Maharashtra movement, a new state of Maharashtra was created with Bombay as the capital.

The Government of India officially changed the English name to Mumbai in November 1995. The name Mumbai is derived from Mumbā or Mahā-Ambā—the name of the patron goddess (Kuladevi) Mumbadevi of the native Agri, Koli and Somvanshi Kshatriya communities. It means "mother" in the Marathi language, which is the official language of Maharashtra.


The temple of local Hindu goddess Mumbadevi, from whom the city of Mumbai derives its name. By Magiceye Wikipedia

Mumbai received 99.5cm of rain (39.17 inches) within 24 hours on July 26, 2005, resulting in floods killing over 5,000 people and bringing the city to a halt for over two days.

FUN FACTS

Mumbai is the most populous city in India and the ninth most populous agglomeration in the world, with an estimated city population of 18.4 million.

The Mumbai Suburban Railway system carries more than 6.99 million commuters on a daily basis. It has the highest passenger densities of any urban railway system in the world.

It has the highest GDP of any city in South, West, or Central Asia.

Mumbai accounts for 25% of industrial output, 40% of sea trade, and 70% of capital transactions to India's economy.

Mumbai, gateway to India

Bollywood, the Hindi film industry based in Mumbai, produces around 150–200 films every year. The name Bollywood is a blend of Bombay and Hollywood.

Breathing in Mumbai for one day is equivalent to smoking two and a half packs of cigarettes.

Dabbawalas are a team of couriers that deliver 200,000 hot meals a day to offices in Mumbai. With an error rate of one in 6 million, they're the most efficient delivery system in the world.

There are more curry houses in London than in Mumbai.

Friday, 29 July 2016

Mule

A mule is the offspring of a male donkey and female horse. A female donkey and male horse may have a hinny.



An ancient Greek philosopher called Crysippus died of laughter while watching a drunk mule try to eat from a fig tree.

According to Muslim folklore, Fadda was the name of the Prophet Muhammad's favorite white mule; he performed some of his miracles while astride it

Mules historically were used by armies to transport supplies, and to pull heavier field guns with wheels over mountainous trails such as in Afghanistan during the Second Anglo-Afghan War (1879-80).

A mule battery in the Second Anglo-Afghan War 

George Washington is thought to have been the first in America to try raising mules.

In his short spell serving in the American Civil War, Mark Twain had a mule called Paintbrush.

America’s military has not won a war since it officially got rid of mules in December 1956.


Although it is extremely unlikely for a mule to become pregnant it is possible. As of October 2002, there had been only 60 documented cases of mules birthing foals since 1527.

A few mare mules have produced offspring when mated with a purebred horse or donkey. Herodotus gives an account of such an event as an ill omen of Xerxes' invasion of Greece in 480 BC.

A mule won't sink in quicksand but a donkey will.

The earliest known use of the word mule to mean a drug courier was in 1922.

Muffin The Mule was the first character created for children’s TV. Muffin first appeared on television in an edition of For the Children broadcast by the BBC on October 20, 1946.

Muffin the Mule puppet toy .By Chemical Engineer -Wikipedia
The presenter who played the piano while Muffin danced on it was Annette Mills, who was the sister of actor Sir John Mills.

Source Daily Express

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Muhammad

EARLY LIFE

Muhammad was born in the northern Arabian town of Mecca about the year 570. He sprang from the distinguished tribe of the Koreishites, the custodians of the sacred shrine of the caaba.

Muhammad's merchant father, Abdullah, died almost six months before he was born. and the young boy was brought up by his paternal grandfather and head of his clan Abd al-Muttalib.

His mother, the beautiful Amina died when Muhammad was 6. When Abd al-Muttalib passed away two years later, the young boy was placed into the care of Abdal Muttalib’s successor, Abu Talib, Muhammad's uncle.

As a teenager Muhammad began accompanying his uncle on trading journeys to Syria. He thus became well-traveled and knowledgeable as to foreign ways.

While travelling in Syria with his uncle Abu Talib, the pre-teen Muhammad met a Christian monk called Bahira who told Abu Talib that his nephew would become a prophet. Bahira said that when he had seen the caravan in the distance there was a cloud hanging over them, which was shading them from the great heat of the desert. When the caravan had stopped under a tree the cloud had also stopped above them, a miraculous occurrence that indicated he would be a prophet.

EARLY WORKING LIFE   

As a youth, Muhammad worked with Meccan tradesmen who dealt in spices with Syria and South Arabia. Subsequently he became a camel driver and caravan leader for a widow of means named Khadijah, fifteen years his senior, whom he married.

During his travels, Muhammad met some heretical Arab Christians whose hypocrisy put him off Christianity but encouraged his belief in Monotheism. All he saw was crucifixions and priests and vestments and images and he said that it was as adulterous as the then Arab religion.

BEGINNINGS OF THE QURAN 

In 605 The Black Stone, which was said to have been given by Archangel Gabriel to Abraham, was standing in a shrine called the Kaabi. The Kaabi flooded and the 35-year-old Muhammad was entrusted the job of setting the Black Stone back in it's place.

Muhammad began to pray alone in a cave named Hira on Mount Jabal al-Nour, near Mecca for several weeks every year. He declared that he saw visions, in which the Archangel Gabriel  appeared to him and gave him revelations, which he was commanded to make known to his fellow men. The sum of the new faith, which he was to teach as this: There is but one God, and Muhammad is His prophet.


The cave Hira in the mountain Jabal al-Nour where, according to Muslim belief, Muhammad received his first revelation

When Muhammad reported his first revelation from the Angel Gabriel, his wife Khadija was the first person to convert to Islam. She is commonly regarded by Muslims as the "Mother of the Believers" (i.e., Muslims).

Khadija was followed by Muhammad's ten-year-old cousin Ali ibn Abi Talib, close friend Abu Bakr, and adopted son Zaid. Around 613, Muhammad began to preach to the public.

Muhammad started teaching that God had revealed himself to Christians and Jews but both had misinterpreted his word. He advised his followers to respect Jews and Christians because they too were “people of the book”.

His teachings were called "Islam" which means submission to God.

According to Muslim tradition, the Prophet Muhammad received the revelations that form the Quran the scripture of Islam, between the years 610 and 632, the year of his death.

Mohammed's teachings were recorded or memorized by several of his companions as he spoke them. In 650 Uthman, the second leader after Muhammed decided a single Islamic text was necessary, so he gathered a committee headed by one of Mohammed's old secretaries to collect together the scattered documents, the result of which is the Quran.

A folio from an early Quran, written in Kufic script (Abbasid period, 8th–9th century)

MIGRATION TO MEDINA 

Muhammad's preaching met with much opposition and at times he was stoned, so he concluded that Allah intended the divine message and call to be vindicated by political means. Muhammad moved his base from Mecca to the predominately agricultural settlement of Medina, arriving there on September 20, 622.

The Islamic calendar began on July 16, 622  during the year in which the emigration of Muhammad from Mecca to Medina, known as the Hijra, occurred.

On  his arrival in Medina, Muhammad's sole companions were 75 followers and his faithful Father in Law, Abu Bekr. Here, unlike Mecca, there was a favorable response to Muhammed's message and he was able to make it his headquarters.

ARMED CONFLICT 

His cause being espoused by the inhabitants of Medina, Muhammad threw aside the character of an exhorter and assumed that of a warrior. He declared it to be the will of God that the new faith should be spread by the sword. His victory at the Battle of Badr, on March 13, 624 with a mere 300 men aided by a sandstorm, enabled the Prophet to reach a wider area with his new religion.

Hamza and Ali leading the Muslim armies at Badr

On December 11, 630 Mohammed entered Mecca with a force of 10,000 and the city submitted to him. Within two years all of Arabia was united under Islam.

WIVES AND CHILDREN 

One of Muhammad's employers was Khadijah, a rich widow then 40 years old. The young 25-year old Muhammad so impressed Khadijah that she offered him marriage in about 595. He became a wealthy man by this marriage. (By Arab custom minors did not inherit, so Muhammad had received no inheritance from either his father or his grandfather).

A medal of Khadija seen in Promptuarii iconum 

Khadijah bore Muhammad six children, two sons, who both died at a young age and four daughters. All but one of his daughters, Fatimah, died before him.

Muhammad and Khadija were married monogamously for twenty-five years until she died in 620.

After Khadija’s death Muhammad took in total ten more wives and also several concubines.

His third and favourite wife, Aisha, (613-678) was the daughter of his friend Abu Bakr. They married in 619, when she was aged 6.

When Muhammad died in 632 Aisha resisted the claims to the caliphate of Ali, Muhammad's son-in-law, in favor of her father, Abu Bakr, who helped spread the new religion.

Aisha led a revolt against Ali in 656, but was defeated and exiled to Medina. She is known as the ‘mother of believers’, but the Shia have a generally negative view of Aisha. They accuse her of hating Ali and defying him during his caliphate.

Aisha battling the fourth caliph Ali in the Battle of the Camel

In Medina, Muhammad married Hafsah, daughter of Umar (who would eventually become Abu Bakr's successor). These marriages sealed relations between the prophet and his top-ranking followers.

Muhammad's two surviving daughters also married: Fatimah married Mohammed’s cousin and Umm Kulthum married Uthman. Each of these men, in later years, would emerge as successors to Muhammad as political leader of the Muslims and Ali who is regarded by the Shi’ahs as Mohammed’s successor.

Fatimah was the only child of Muhammad to have male children live beyond childhood. Their descendants are spread throughout the Islamic world and are known as Sayyids. The 11th century dynasty ruling Egypt at the time of the Crusades, the Fatimids, claimed descent from Fatimah

PERSONAL LIFE

Muhammad lived mainly on barley bread, dates and water. His favorite dish was said to be rice cooked in butter.

Mohammed refused garlic as "I am a man who has close contact with others. "

When young Muhammad drank too much wine on one occasion, he went berserkly drunk and made a fool of himself. As a result the Quran forbids Muslims to drink alcohol.

The prophet was a lover of animals especially cats. In order to go to prayers without disturbing his sleeping pet tabby Muessa, he once cut off the sleeve of his robe as Muessa was nestling on it.

According to legend, the prophet Muhammad created the "m" marking on the forehead of the tabby cat, as he rested his hand lightly on the brow of his favourite cat, a tabby.

Muhammad believed dogs were unclean, but he still taught being kind to all animals including dogs.

According to Muslim folklore, Fadda was the name of the Prophet Muhammad's favorite white mule; he performed some of his miracles while astride it

APPEARANCE 

Muhammad was middle-sized, with a white circular face, wide black eyes, and long eye-lashes. He had thick, curly hair and a bright, luminous complexion.

The prophet Muhammad forbade the portrayal of human figures in art as he feared artists would substitute images of people for God and that would lead to idolatry.

FINAL YEARS

In February 632 Muhammad left Medina, accompanied by all his wives on a farewell pilgrimage to Mecca, After completing the pilgrimage, Muhammad delivered a famous speech, known as the Farewell Sermon, at Mount Arafat east of Mecca

The Muslims observed every move, every act, and every gesture of Muhammad made on his farewell pilgrimage. Everything that he did, became a precedent for all time, to be followed by all Muslims.

A few months after the farewell pilgrimage, Muhammad fell ill and suffered for several days with fever, head pain, and weakness. He died on Monday June 8, 632, in Medina, at the age of 62 or 63, in the house of his wife Aisha..

Muhammad was buried where he died in Aisha's house. During the reign of the Umayyad caliph al-Walid I, al-Masjid an-Nabawi (the Mosque of the Prophet) was expanded to include the site of Muhammad's tomb.

Mausoleum of Muhammad

By the time of the death of Mohammed. all Arabia was Muslim with over 100,000 followers of the new religion. The ageing Abu Bakr was appointed by Mohammed's close followers as the spiritual leader of Islam taking the title of "Caliph". 

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

FAMILY AND EARLY CHILDHOOD 

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born on January 27, 1756 to Leopold Mozart (1719–1787), a musician of the Salzburg Royal Chamber, and Anna Maria, née Pertl (1720–1778), at 9 Getreidegasse in Salzburg.

He was the youngest of seven children, five of whom died in infancy.

Leopold Mozart, an exacting, imperious and often tyrannical man was a well known musician who played in a string quartet and composer. He bought out his classic book on violin playing Versuch einer gründlichen Violinschule ("Essay on the fundamentals of violin playing", the same year as Wolfgang's birth.

Anna Maria Mozart was a vivacious, gossipy woman who had a loud, lavatorial sense of humor and a highly creative approach to spelling.

His elder sister was Maria Anna (1751–1829), nicknamed "Nannerl".

Mozart was baptized the day after his birth at St. Rupert's Cathedral. He was baptized Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart.

The name Amadeus means love of God and is the Latin version of the Greek Theophilus.

At the age of 2 he heard a pig squeal "G sharp" squeaked little Mozart. He was right.

Wolfgang was a small and thin child with a happy disposition.

 CHILDHOOD CAREER

As a child Wolfgang Mozart created a sensation at European courts with his ability to sight read music and improvise. He began picking out chords from a harpsichord at the age of three. At four he was playing short pieces and wrote two minuets for the harpsichord at five. By the age of six he was a virtuoso on the violin and harpsichord. Wolfgang wrote his first symphony at the age of eight.

Anonymous portrait of the child Mozart, possibly by Pietro Antonio Lorenzoni; painted in 1763

Wolfgang started operas (his first one was the Apollo et Hyacinthus written in 1767 when he was 11 years old) before he reached his teenage years.

Leopold soon realized that he could earn a substantial income by showcasing his son as a wunderkind in the courts of Europe. The child performer dazzled audiences by playing with his hands behind his back or keys covered by a cloth. After every performance the child Mozart would ask his audience "Do you love me?"

Mozart’s five-year older sister, Nannerl, was a singer and harpsichord player. who sometimes accompanied her brother as they toured Europe together. Mozart wrote a number of piano pieces, in particular duets and duos, to play with her.

As a child, Mozart was terrified of trumpets.

Wofgang's mother was worried about other children pinching Wolfgang's manuscripts so she sewed name-tags on them.

On one occasion when Wolfgang became ill, Leopold expressed more concern over the loss of income than over his son's well-being.


In 1763 the seven-year-old Wolfgang played before the court at Versailles.

Wolfgang and Nannerl Mozart appeared before the English public for the first time in the Spring Garden Rooms, London on June 5, 1764.

Young Wolfgang stayed in Chelsea in 1765 where his music was much loved by King George II. Mozart astonished the London general public with his playing of the harpsichord with a handkerchief covering the keys.

When Mozart performed in London at the age of nine some members of the Royal Society thought his playing was too good for a child and suspected him of being a dwarf.

The Mozart family on tour: Leopold, Wolfgang, and Nannerl. Watercolor by Carmontelle, ca. 1763

In 1767 Wolfgang was forced to compose in solitary confinement for the suspicious Archbishop of Salzburg, He passed the test and at the age of 11 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a salaried concert master.

The 14-year-old Mozart who was touring Italy as a child wonder, arrived in Rome in 1770 and was invited to a liturgical celebration in the Sistine Chapel, where he could listen to the Miserere for two nine-part choirs. Aware that he could not get the music score because it was strictly prohibited, Mozart transcribed the piece  in its entirety from memory, only returning a second time to correct minor errors. It is now established that Mozart almost certainly knew the work beforehand. Some wags have referred to it as the first ever bootleg.

LATER CAREER 

A hard worker, Mozart produced music for over 20 paymasters ranging from the Viennese masons to the Austro-Hungarian emperor.

On March 13, 1773, Mozart was employed as a court musician by the ruler of Salzburg, Prince-Archbishop Hieronymus Colloredo. The composer had a great number of friends and admirers in Salzburg and had the opportunity to work in many genres, including symphonies, sonatas, string quartets, masses, serenades, and a few minor operas.

The composer in 1777, by an unknown painter

Mozart was treated by Hieronymus von Colloredo as one of his servants and like a valet and he was expected to hang around each morning in case he was wanted. When Mozart refused to waste his time the Archbishop yelled at him to get out. On the way to the door Mozart coolly remarked “I hope this decision is final”.

Mozart grew increasingly discontented with Salzburg and redoubled his efforts to find a position elsewhere. Another contributing factor was his low salary, 150 florins a year.

Mozart watched his mother die in 1778 when she was accompanying him on a promotional visit to Paris. He was unable to get doctors quickly enough, (she refused them) or do anything practical to help. It was the one event in his life, which left him unable to compose for weeks.

In 1778  Mozart declined the position of Organist of Versailles as he did not like French music.

The Mozart family c. 1780. The portrait on the wall is of Mozart's mother.

By 1781, the harsh Prince-Archbishop Colloredo had become exceptionally annoyed with Mozart's frequent absences. That year Mozart fell out with him, during a visit to Vienna. According to Mozart's own testimony, he was dismissed literally "with a kick in the seat of the pants." Despite this, Mozart chose to settle and develop his career in Vienna after its aristocracy began to take an interest in him.

In December 1787, Mozart obtained a steady post under aristocratic patronage when Emperor Joseph II appointed him as his "chamber composer". It was a part-time appointment, paying just 800 florins per year, and required Mozart only to compose dances for the annual balls in the Redoutensaal. This modest income became important to Mozart when hard times arrived.

WORKS 

Mozart's influence is profound in changing opera into the form we know today. He created over 600 musical works despite living only to age 35.

Mozart's work wasn't to everybody's tastes. During his life time many condemned his music for excessive emotionalism.

Mozart wrote straight off the top of his head fully scored for the orchestra with virtually no second thoughts, crossings outs or alterations.

His preference for the piano ended the dominance of the harpsichord.

Mozart was a very fine violinist, though he often took the viola part when playing quartets. He composed five violin concertos for his own use.

Mozart composed works for the glass harmonica. The instrument’s premier virtuoso in his day was Mariane Kirchgessner, a blind Austrian woman. Mozart composed a beautiful quintet for her (Adagio and Rondo in C, K617) and, presumably as an encore, a Solo-Adagio in C (K617a-K356).  

He once composed a piano piece that required a player to use two hands and a nose in order to hit all the correct notes.

This religious solo motet Exsultate, Jubilate K. 165, was composed in 1773.when Mozart was visiting Milan. It was written for the castrato Venanzio Rauzzini and climaxes in an unforgettable series of soaring Allelulas.

Mozart didn't like the flute much and when he was commissioned by the Dutch flautist Ferdinand De Jean to write three flute concertos he could only come up with one- his The Flute Concerto No. 1 in G major, which he composed in 1778.

Mozart's most successful opera during his lifetime was the Die Entführung aus dem Serail ("The Abduction from the Seraglio"), which premiered on July 16, 1782. A knockabout nursery farce, it was popular due to its oriental setting at a time of war with Turkey. After its premiere, Emperor Joseph II anecdotally made the comment that it had "too many notes".

Announcement for the premiere at the Burgtheater

Mozart composed his Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor, K. 491 in the winter of 1785–86 and completed it on March 24, 1786. He premiered the work in early April 1786 at the Burgtheater in Vienna with Mozart himself playing the solo part and conducted the orchestra from the keyboard. The work is one of only two minor-key piano concertos by Mozart, the other being No. 20 in D Minor. It features the largest array of instruments of any Mozart concerto: strings, woodwinds including oboes and clarinets, horns, trumpets and timpani.

When Ludwig van Beethoven heard the concerto in a rehearsal, he reportedly remarked to a colleague in admiration that "[we] shall never be able to do anything like that."

Mozart composed his comic opera The Marriage of Figaro in 1786. The opera became one of Mozart's most successful works and the overture is especially famous and is often played as a concert piece. The Imperial Italian Opera Company paid Mozart 450 florins for this piece, which was a considerable sum in his day.  It premiered at the Burgtheater, Vienna on May 1, 1786.

Libretto 1786

Mozart completed his 40th symphony on July 25, 1788 as an “appeal to eternity.” He never heard it performed.

Mozart's friend Emanuel Schikeneder commissioned The Magic Flute in May 1791 at a time when the Austrian composer could scarcely afford to refuse any work. The piece was designed to revive the flagging theater of which Schikeneder was director, the theatre auf der Wieden in Vienna. Mozart had finished most of the composition by mid-July (in less than two months). He conducted at the premiere at Freihaus-Theater auf der Wieden on September 30. 1791.

Playbill for the premiere, 30 September 1791.

Mozart's Clarinet concerto in A major, K. 622 was written in 1791 for the clarinetist Anton Stadler. It was  one of Mozart's final completed works, and his final purely instrumental work (he died in the December following its completion). Stadler was one of Mozart’s closest friends- they were fellow freemasons at the Palm Tree lodge- but he nevertheless had a nasty habit of stealing small valuables whenever Mozart’s back was turned.

BELIEFS 

Mozart's father had been a devout Catholic but the composer, influenced by the ideas of the eighteenth century European Enlightenment, became a Freemason and worked fervently and successfully to convert his father before the latter's death in 1787. His last opera, The Magic Flute, included Masonic themes and allegory.

He was in the same Masonic Lodge as Joseph Haydn.

Mozart had a broad belief in Christianity, who believed in regular religious Catholic practices and the need for the sacraments of the church. A freethinker, he had a private relationship with God.

During his lifetime, Mozart composed more than 60 pieces of sacred music. The majority were written between 1773 and 1781, when he was employed as court musician to the Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg

APPEARANCE AND CHARACTER 

Mozart was 5ft 4 ins and slightly built. He had a pale complexion, a profusion of fine hair and bright blue eyes. In his last year the sickly composer looked grey and haggard and 20 years older than he was.

Mozart c. 1780, detail from portrait by Johann Nepomuk della Croce

The composer was a dandy, his hairdresser arrived 6.30 am every morning to do his hair.

Mozart was passionately optimistic and self confident. Impatient with authority, he was lazy if not interested in his work but a hard working composer.

Mozart was a practical joker (he used to put pepper in his rival composer Saleri's tea) and a teller of risqué jokes.

He exchanged scatological letters with lots of four letter words and plenty of bottom and piddle jokes with his cousin Maria Anna. Mozart also wrote ballads about flatulence. His scatological behaviour sometimes outraged 18th century Vienna.

RELATIONSHIPS 

In 1778 whilst in Germany Mozart fell in love with Aloysia Weber, a 16 year old soprano, and composed arias for her as amatory offerings. At first she encouraged him and Mozart's mother had to persuade the 21-year-old composer not to drop everything and follow her. After a while she was complaining he was such "a little man" then she finally rejected him and married a Viennese actor. Mozart still smitten took up lodgings with her mother.

On August 4, 1782, Mozart married Aloysia's fun loving, dark haired sister Constanze who was also a singer. He wrote the C Minor Mass K 427 in celebration of their wedding.

1782 portrait of Constanze Mozart by her brother-in-law Joseph Lange

Mozart's father was against any interest that would distract his son from his music. He only gave grudging acceptance the day after ceremony.

After his marriage Mozart never saw his sister, Nannerl again.

Mozart wrote to Constanze some of the most poignant love letters of all literature, "dearest little wife of my heart"  and remained faithful to her.

Mozart and Constanze had six children, of whom only two survived infancy. Neither of these two, Karl Thomas (1784–1858) or Franz Xaver Wolfgang (later a minor composer himself; 1791–1844), married or had children.

Mozart and Constanze  spent their money freely and the composer had a weakness for gambling .For the last four years of his life he was increasingly in debt.

After Mozart's death Constanze worked hard on preserving her late husband's memory and remarried a Danish diplomat.

HOBBIES 

The Austrian composer loved to play billiards. A billiard table with five balls and 12 cues was among Mozart’s estate when he died.

Mozart was also an enthusiastic skittles player.

Mozart once compared music to horse-racing. "Melody is the very essence of music. When I think of a good melodist I think of a fine race-horse. A contrapuntist is only a Post-horse."

PETS

The Austrian composer loved animals. When growing up, Mozart had a pet dog, a fox terrier called Bimperl (or Pimperl or Miss Bimbes).

For three years, Mozart  kept a pet starling. His notebook includes a tune the starling sang which he used in his 17th piano concerto, GK453 in G major.

When the starling died, Mozart buried it in his garden and wrote a poem to his 'little fool.'

HOMES 

Mozart's birthplace and childhood home was at Getreidegasse 9, Salzburg. After marrying in 1747, Mozart's father rented the apartment on the third floor, living there until 1773. It consisted of a kitchen, a small cabinet, a living-room, a bedroom and an office.

Birthplace of W. A. Mozart

The restless Mozart had 14 different places of residence in Vienna including nine moves in one year.

Mozart spent the year 1786 in Vienna in an apartment at Domgasse 5 behind St. Stephen's Cathedral; it was here that Mozart composed The Marriage of Figaro. It can today be reached by a staircase in a courtyard.

HEALTH 

Between the ages of 6 and 18 as Mozart traveled around Europe playing at Royal Palaces, he suffered typhus, rheumatism and smallpox The constant travel and cold weather may have contributed to his subsequent illness later in life.

As an adult, Mozart was often ill suffering from chronic respiratory infections and constantly reoccurring typhoid. In addition the Austrian composer always seemed to be catching chills and was always too busy to recover from them.

Mozart snored loudly enough to be heard by neighbors.

DEATH AND LEGACY 

Mozart fell ill while in Prague for the  September 6, 1791 premiere of his opera La clemenza di Tito. He continued his professional functions for some time, but his health deteriorated and on November 20 he became bedridden, suffering from swelling, pain, and vomiting.

Mozart died in his home on December 5, 1791 (aged 35) at 1:00 am, while he was working on his final composition, the Requiem (unfinished when he passed away). His last words were "You spoke of a refreshment, Emile: Take my last notes, and let me hear once more my solace and delight".

Posthumous painting by Barbara Krafft in 1819

The actual cause of Mozart's death is uncertain. His death record listed "hitziges Frieselfieber" ("severe miliary fever"), a description that does not suffice to identify the cause as it would be diagnosed in modern medicine. Dozens of theories have been proposed, which include trichinosis, mercury poisoning, and rheumatic fever.

Though not totally proved there is some evidence that Mozart was poisoned. In his later years his rival composer Antonio Salieri  would confide to his friends that he poisoned Mozart out of jealousy. "Why would God choose an obscene child to be his instrument?"

Only one person accompanied the great musician from the church to the cemetery for his burial in a regular communal grave, the Central Cemetery, four miles outside Vienna. He was sealed in a wooden coffin and buried in a plot along with four or five other people.

Mozart's modest funeral did not reflect his standing with the public as a composer: memorial services and concerts in Vienna and Prague were well-attended.

When he died, he left so little money that his wife Constanze had to petition the Holy Roman Emperor, Leopold II, for a pension.

When Mozart's autographed manuscript of nine symphonies was sold in 1987 for £2,350,000, it broke the record for the most expensive music and most expensive post medieval manuscript.

The species of frog Eleutherodactylus amadeus was named after Mozart in 1987.

 In a poll of a million music lovers in 1999, Mozart was voted Britain’s favorite classical composer.

Austria's National Anthem is Mozart's "Land of Mountains, Land of Streams" from his Little Masonic Cantata.

It would take you 202 hours to listen to all the music composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. He wrote over 600 pieces, even though he only lived to 35.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is an anagram of "A Famous German Waltz God."

Sources Entries written by myself for Songfacts.com, Daily Express

Mozambique

HISTORY

Vasco de Gama landed at what is now Mozambique on his way to India on March 2, 1498.

The area was colonized by Portugal from 1505. After over four centuries of Portuguese rule, Mozambique gained independence on June 25, 1975, becoming the People's Republic of Mozambique shortly thereafter.

Mozambique was plagued from 1977 to 1992 by a long and violent civil war between the opposition forces of anti-Communist Mozambican National Resistance (RENAMO) rebel militias and the FRELIMO regime.

The flag of Mozambique was adopted on May 1, 1983. It includes the image of an AK-47 assault rifle with a bayonet attached to the barrel. It is one of only two national flags of UN member states to feature a firearm, the other being Guatemala.


The President of Mozambique Samora Machel and 43 others were killed on October 19, 1986 when his presidential aircraft crashed in the Lebombo Mountains just inside the border of South Africa.

In 1995, Mozambique joined the Commonwealth of Nations, becoming, at the time, the only member nation that had never been part of the British Empire.

DEMOGRAPHICS AND CULTURE 

MKozambique's population of around 24 million is composed overwhelmingly of Bantu people.

 Half the people in Mozambique are under-17.

The official language of Mozambique is Portuguese. which is spoken mostly as a second language by about half of the population. Common native languages include Makhuwa, Sena, and Swahili.

Maputo is the capital and largest city of Mozambique. It is known as the City of Acacias, in reference to acacia trees commonly found along its avenues, and the Pearl of the Indian Ocean. According to the 2007 census, Iys population is 1,766,184.

A panoramic view of Maputo. By Andrew Moir - Wikipedia Commons

Mozambique has won two Olympic medals, both won by Maria de Lourdes Mutola in the women’s 800 metres, a bronze in 1996 and a gold in 2000.

In Mozambique, power lines have to be at least 12 m (39 ft) high to permit safe passage of giraffes beneath the lines.

FUN FACTS

If you spell out Mozambique in Scrabble tiles, their values add up to 34, which is more than any other one-word country.


Mozambique is the only country in the world with a one-word name that includes all five vowels.

Source Daily Express 

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Moustache

The oldest recorded moustache (American English: mustache) dates back to at around 300 BC. A portrait showing a shaved ancient Iranian (Scythian) horseman with a moustache is from that date.

300 BC Pazyryk felt featuring a moustachioed horseman with partially shaved head

During the Victorian era, noblemen used moustache spoons to protect their moustaches when eating soup. It was made with a guard on its rim that acted as a barrier between mustache and soup.

Victorian men also used special moustache cups for drinking tea. The cup kept men’s moustache wax out of the tea so it wouldn’t melt into their cup when they took a sip.

Following the Crimean war, soldiers in the British army were required to sport mustaches. This lasted until 1916.

The British Intelligence tried to feed Hitler with doses of oestrogen in order to make his moustache fall off.

Moustaches are hotbeds for bacteria because of the moist air leaving the body through the nose and mouth.

A study conducted at the University of Southern Queensland in Australia found that facial hair can prevent skin cancer against 90 to 95 percent of harmful UV rays.

An Indian man holds the record for the longest growing moustache. According to Guinness World Records, Ram Singh Chauhan has a mustache that spans as 4.29m (14ft) long.) It was measured on the set of the Italian TV show Lo Show dei Record in Rome on March 4, 2010. He has been growing his facial hair since his youth.


Police in India get paid for having moustaches.

In Eureka, Nevada, USA, it is illegal for men with moustaches to kiss women.

In a deck of cards the King of Hearts is the only king without a moustache.

The average moustache contains about 600 hairs.

A man with a moustache typically touches it 760 times a day.

Source Medicaldaily.com

Friday, 22 July 2016

Mousetrap

In Old English, a mousetrap was called a 'mowsfalle' or 'mousefall.'

The classic spring-loaded mousetrap was first patented by William C. Hooker of Abingdon, Illinois, who received a US patent  for his design in 1894.

19th-century ad for a spring-loaded bar mousetrap of William Hooker's design

The "Little Nipper" spring-loaded mousetrap was invented by British ironmonger James Henry Atkinson in 1897. He sold the patent for £1,000 in 1913 to a Welsh company Procter Bros, which has made Little Nippers ever since.

A mousetrap very similar to Atkinson's Little Nipper design. By Jerry mouse - Cropped from File:Lapki.jpg, 

According to the Smithsonian Institution in America, more patents have been issued for mousetraps than any other device.

From 1870-1996 more than 4,400 US patents were issued for mousetraps. Only about 20 made money.

The European Patent Office lists 860 mousetrap patents plus 973 patents for mouse traps (two words).

In California you may not set a mouse trap without a hunting license.

Source Daily Mail

Mouse (computer)

The first ball-based computer mouse was developed by German company Telefunken for their TR 86 process computer system. The device was named Rollkugel (German for "rolling ball") and released on October 2, 1968. Telefunken considered their invention too small to apply for a patent.

The first ball-based computer mouse, the Telefunken Rollkugel RKS 100-86 . By Marcin Wichary - Wikipedia

Independently, American inventor Douglas Engelbart at the Stanford Research Institute (now SRI International) invented his first mouse prototype in the 1960s with the assistance of his lead engineer Bill English. Engelbart released his demo on December 9, 1968.

Engelbart and English christened the device the mouse as early models had a cord attached to the rear part of the device looking like a tail and generally resembling the common mouse.

SRI applied for a patent in 1967 and received it in 1970. In the patent application Engelbert's mouse is described as an "X-Y position indicator for a display system".


Engelbart's prototype of a computer mouse. By SRI International - Wikipedia Commons
SRI had no idea of the mouse's value and later licensed it to Apple Computers for around $40,000. Engelbart made virtually no money from his brainchild.

The mouse remained relatively obscure until the 1984 appearance of the Macintosh 128K, the first consumer computer to popularize the pointing device.

The plural of "computer mouse" has long been disputed. Some say "mice", some say "mouses".

Mouse (animal)

HISTORY 

Among the various cures the Ancient Egyptians had for toothache was splitting open the body of a live mouse, then laying it, still warm, along the patient's gums.

In Roman Britain eating mice was considered a good cure for measles, smallpox, whooping cough and other ailments.

The Australian house mouse is thought to have arrived in the country on British convict ships in the late 18th century.


In 1998, Yevgeny Kafelnikov's Wimbledon singles match with Mark Philippoussis was interrupted when a mouse ran onto the court during play,

The world's oldest mouse, Yoda was born April 10, 2000, at the University of Michigan Medical School and lived to be 4 years old, around double the age of normal mice. He lived his last months in quiet seclusion with his cage mate, Princess Leia, in a pathogen-free rest home for geriatric mice.

DIET

It's a myth that mice like cheese. In fact, they actively avoid it, as the smells are too strong for their tiny sensitive noses.

Mice enjoy high-sugar foods such as chocolate or peanut butter or milk.

One ounce of cress boiled down will produce enough cyanide to kill two mice.

ANATOMY

Most of the rodents in homes are likely to be house mice or wood mice. House mice are grey, with long tails, large eyes and small heads. Wood mice are larger with orange-brown fur.

Mice can't see red light.

Mice see best in dim light.


A mouse's whiskers can detect temperature changes as well as help it feel its way about.

Mice can squeeze through a gap just 6mm wide.

Chimpanzees and humans are, genetically, ten times closer than rats and mice.


BEHAVIOR

A female mouse can begin having babies at two months of age and can give birth to up to a dozen babies every three weeks.


Mice have weak bladders and spread urine around homes. Nearly two thirds carry the toxoplasmosis parasite which, if pregnant women are infected, can cause birth defects.

The grasshopper mouse howls like a wolf before biting into its prey.

Mice can instantly recognize relatives they’ve never met, using smell to detect a species-specific protein.

Mice sing like birds, but humans can’t hear them.

POPULATION

The house mouse is the UK's most populous mammal. At this moment in time, there are around 78 million of them living there.

WORDS  

Female mice are does, males are bucks and babies are pinkies or pups.

The word for fear of mice is musophobia.

The word for pertaining to, or characteristic of mice is murine.

Sources Daily Express, Daily Mail 

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Mourning

The Ancient Chinese only wore white clothes and hats when they mourned for the dead.

The custom of wearing unadorned black clothing for mourning dates back at least to the Roman Empire, when the toga pulla, made of dark-colored wool, was worn during mourning.

Anne Boleyn wore yellow to celebrate the death of King Henry VIII's first wife Catherine of Aragon. Her choice of clothing was no less than a calculated insult to the memory of the woman she had supplanted.

Mary Queen of Scots wore white, the traditional mourning color of the French Royal Family, following the deaths of her father-in-law, mother, and first husband Francis II of France.

Mary, Queen of Scots, in deuil blanc c. 1559 following the deaths of her father-in-law, mother, and first husband Francis II .

Formal mourning culminated during the reign of Queen Victoria, whose long and conspicuous grief over the death of her husband, Prince Albert, had much to do with it. For three years after Albert’s death the Queen refused to appear in public, becoming known as ‘the widow of Windsor’. She wore only black for the rest of her reign.

Queen Victoria had a handkerchief embroidered with teardrops for use in mourning and refused to wear any other color gloves than black.

The traditional black band on a Panama hat was added in mourning for Queen Victoria. It's been retained ever since.

The five daughters of Prince Albert wore black dresses and posed for a portrait with his statue following his death in 1861

In India, blue is thought to bring bad luck and is associated with mourning. In Iran, blue is the color of heaven and spirituality and is also used for mourning.