Saturday, 17 November 2012

Hubert von Goisern - the king of Alpenrock - celebrated

Hubert von Goisern - a great musician and entertainer.

If somebody would have mentioned the name Hubert von Goisern a couple of years ago, I would not have had the slightest idea who he was talking about. But, mainly thanks to the Austrian Servus television channel, I have been introduced to one of the truly great world musicians and entertainers. 

Last night, in honour of von Goisern's 60th birthday (who would believ that!), Servus broadcast a concert with the king of Alpenrock and his outstanding band of musicians. It was raining cats and dogs in Spielberg, where the concert was recorded, but that did not stop the large audience - and the band - from enjoying the evening together. They played a mix of new and old favorites, like "Schleiniger", "Lawaramoi (Steirer) & Schleiniger", 
"Brenna Tuats Guat", "Koa Hiatamadl", and of course their great hit "Heast as mit". 

Let's hope Hubert will be entertaining us for many, many years to come!

Both the audience and the musicians were happy in spite of the rainy weather  at Spielberg.
The band turned into a male song quartet in the final number of the concert.

A rather good bartender

This bartender has been a hit on YouTube - and it is not difficult to understand why!
He is truly amazing!

Swedish yachtsmen braving the chilly winds in the Sound

It was a grey and cold afternoon today in the Sound, with the thermometer showing only about 3°C. And the wind chill factor must have made it feel more like -  3°C for these Swedish yachtsmen, who seemed to enjoy their November 17 day out sailing:


The ship, which the yachtsmen saw passing by, was the bulk carrier KT BIRDIE, on its way southwards in Øresund. (Maybe the shipowner is a keen golfer?)

Friday, 16 November 2012

Daniel Barenboim's 70th birthday concert

What a joy it was to see Maestro David Barenboim celebrating his 70th birthday with a stunning concert in Berlin last night! To be able to perform two major piano concertos with majestic brilliance in one evening programme is no mean feat by a septuagenarian - or anybody. 

And how wonderful it was to see the two maestros - and friends - Zubin Mehta and Barenboim making music together! An evening to remember. 

Thank you ARTE for showing the birthday concert live!

The medieval Church of St. Mary in Helsingborg

The medieval Church of St. Mary (14th - 15th cent.) is oldest building in Helsingborg. It replaced a small sandstone church in the same spot. At the time it was one of the Denmark's biggest town churches. (Scania and Helsingborg became part of Sweden in 1658).

My own favorite among the treasures in the St. Mary's is the altarpiece, which depicts scenes of the life of St. Mary and the childhood years of Jesus. The altarpiece is dated to the middle of the 15th century, and is considered to be of North German (probably Lübeckian) origin. 

Composer Dieterich Buxtehude, who followed his father as organist of the St. Mary's in 1658, must have had many opportunities to admire the work of the German craftsmanship ...


Had Buxtehude been active now, he would probably have enjoyed the beautiful Marcussen and Son organ from 1959:

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Southwestern Helsingborg just before 5 PM today

This afternoon, just before five, I had a closer look at the area in Helsingborg just to the south of the ferry terminal. In this part of the city there are quite a few municipal and state offices. The Helsingborg Campus of the Lund University is also located here.

The "transportation center" of Helsingborg, with the ferry terminal on the left,  the Knutpunkten terminal  for ferries, trains and coaches in the background, and part of the railway depot on the right.
In the district court building judges and other staff were still busy at work just before five - hopefully considering tough sentences for serious criminals ....
A somewhat closer look at the district court. The lady in the bottom right corner is smoking her cigarrette outside,   because smoking inside the district court is not allowed.   
Most of the civil servants working in the building with the colorful extra "windows" were also still  busy working.
Almost all students at the Campus Helsingborg had already left for home. There was  only one female student left in the reading room. 
The hard-working student.

The Scandlines ferries on the Helsingborg - Helsingør route operate 24 hours a day. 
A chimney in the port of Helsingborg area.
Most lights were on also in this office building. Between the two houses, you can see a glimpse of the Helsingborg  hospital. 
A Swedish tourist coach on its way to one of the ferries.

Early Swedish sail training ships

The "G.D. Kennedy", (later renamed "af Chapman"), painted by Jakob Hägg.

The first sail training ship serving the Swedish merchant fleet - "Carl Johan" - was acquired in 1849. In 1879 it was replaced by a small frigate, named after the merchant Abraham Rydberg, who had donated the money for the first ship. 

The launch  of Abraham Rydberg on January 12, 1912

The first "Abraham Rydberg" was in 1912 replaced by the brand new steel hulled training ship wearing the same name. The new Abraham Rydberg, built by Bergsunds Mekaniska verkstad, annually trained about 120 young sailors, of age 14 - 20. In 1920 altogether 5000 youth had received training on board the ship.

The brand new "Abraham Rydberg" in 1912.
Trainees on board the "Abraham Rydberg".
"Abraham Rydberg" with almost all sails hoisted. 

The first Swedish ship for training of officers for the merchant navy - the four masted frigate "Svithiod" - was acquired in 1906. The ship was used as a combined training and cargo ship. In 1915 the shipping company Rederi A.B. Transatlantic bought the frigate "G.D. Kennedy", which it thereafter used as a combined training and cargo ship for training officers for its own fleet. (The "G.D. Kennedy" was in 1923 acquired by the Swedish Royal Navy and renamed "af Chapman". The "af Chapman" is nowadays a familiar sight in Central Stockholm, where it is used as a youth hostel.)

Inspired by the success of the Transatlantic's  "G.D. Kennedy", the shipping company Svenska Lloyd in 1920 also acquired a sail training ship of its own, the "Svecia". 

The four masted frigate "Svithiod"
The "Svecia"
In the late 19th century the Swedish Royal Navy still used the corvette Eugenie as a training ship:

The corvette "Eugenie"

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

An early photograph of the cannons at West Point

The cannons at West Point facing the Hudson River, photographed in the 1880s.

West Point is the most famous military academy in the U.S. - and probably in the world. But as the history page of the academy tells us, the role of West Point in the history of the U.S. dates back to the Revolutionary War:

 General George Washington considered West Point to be the most important strategic position in America. Washington personally selected Thaddeus Kosciuszko, one of the heroes of Saratoga, to design the fortifications for West Point in 1778, and Washington transferred his headquarters to West Point in 1779. Continental soldiers built forts, batteries and redoubts and extended a 150-ton iron chain across the Hudson to control river traffic. Fortress West Point was never captured by the British, despite Benedict Arnold's treason. West Point is the oldest continuously occupied military post in America.

Jutlandia - one of the first ocean going motor ships in the world

The Jutlandia, built by Barclay, Curle & Co in 1912. Note the lack of a funnel.

In February 1912 the Danish East Asiatic Company's Selandia became the first ocean going motor vessel in the world. The Selandia ( including its two diesel engines) was built by Burmeister and Wain in Copenhagen, which already in 1894 had began to co-operate with the inventor Rudolf Diesel

In addition to the Selandia, the Danish East Asiatic Company had ordered two sister ships to be delivered the same year. Probably due to lack of capacity at Burmeister and Wain, one of the ships, the Jutlandia, was  built on the Clyde in Scotland by Barclay, Curle & Co. The Jutlandia was handed over to the Danish owners in May, 1912. 

The good performance of first ocean going diesel ships made the East Asiatic Company soon switch completely from steamers to diesel powered ships, an example followed by more and more shipowners all over the world:

"In 1914 there were fewer than 300 dieselpowered vessels in service with an aggregate tonnage of 235 000 grt; a decade later the fleet had grown to some 2000 ships of almost two
million grt; and by 1940 the total tonnage had risen to 18 million grt embracing 8000 motor ships.
Between the two world wars the proportion of oil-engined tonnage in service thus expanded from 1.3 to 25 per cent of the overall oceangoing fleet. By 1939 an estimated 60 per cent of the total tonnage completed in world yards comprised motor ships, compared
with only 4 per cent in 1920."

(Pounder’s Marine Diesel Engines and Gas Turbines Eighth edition)

Basic information on the Jutlandia:
  • Built: Barclay, Curle & Co. Ltd., Glasgow (Yard no. 490)
  • Tonnage: 7600 dwt. 4874 gt.
  • LBP: 370'
  • Beam: 53'
  • Depth from Shelterdeck: 30'
  • Diesel: 2 pc. 8 cyl. B&W 4-stroke engines. 2500 IHP. Twin screw.
  • Service Speed: 11 knots

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Sir Simon's shining Sibelius

"My symphony stands as a protest against the present-day music. It has nothing, absolutely nothing of the circus about it."
Jean Sibelius 

What a joy it was to watch and listen to Sir Simon Rattle conduct his Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra last Sunday, when the French/German television channel ARTE broadcast the Lucerne Festival concert from August 28!

At least for this listener the absolute highlight of the concert was Sibelius's Fourth Symphony. It is by no means an "easy listening" piece, but it contains some of the most moving and beautiful music ever composed for an orchestra - when performed by a good enough orchestra and conductor. In this regard, the combination Berliner Philharmoniker and Sir Simon is second to none! They radiate the kind of absolute concentration and precision that is required to produce musical perfection! 

Monday, 12 November 2012

The birth of aircraft carriers: The first flight from a moving ship a hundred years ago

Commander Charles Samson taking off from the runway on the foredeck of  HMS  Hibernia.

The development of aircraft carriers began in the early 1900s. The first experimental take off of a fixed-wing aircraft from a ship took place in the United States in 1910 from the deck of U.S. Navy cruiser USS Birmingham. In May 1912 the British naval aviation pioneer Charles Rumney Samson became the first man to take off from a ship underway. Sources differ on whether the flight from the runway, built over the foredeck of the battleship HMS Hibernia, took place on 2 May, 4 May or 9 May. The Hibernia is reported to have steamed at 10.5 knots at the time of Sampson's take-off. It all happened during the Royal Fleet Review in Weimouth Bay

A Royal Navy aircraft at the Royal Fleet Review.
 During the fleet review,King George V (on the extreme left) witnessed a number of flights.

The Swedish news magazine Hvar 8 Dag reported in its May 1912 issue that the Royal Fleet Review had received a lot of attention in England as well as elsewhere, because the Royal Navy had for the first time used airplanes in its operations:

"The Hibernia had been completely adapted into an airplaneship, from which Commander Samson flew several particularly beautiful and succesful flights, which were observed with great interest by the foremost authorities of the Royal Navy." 

The news report also cites German sources who believed that the use of airplanes "could mean a turning point in the entire British naval strategy." 

Athens and the Greek parliament building in the 1880s

On this late 1880s photograph of Athens, the current Greek parliament building is very visible on the upper right. The neoclassical three-floor structure originally served as a palace for the Greek monarchs. The palace, designed by German architect Friedrich von Gärtner, was completed 1843.

A contemporary photo of the Greek parliament building.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Late afternoon in Helsingborg on November 11

The old lighthouse and pilot station in Helsingborg.

This morning was quite foggy in the Helsingborg area, but the rest of the day was OK, and the late afternoon - when I went downtown in order to shoot some photos - was really nice.

A cargo ship passing by before sunset.
The sun was setting over Helsingør on the opposite side of the Sound just after 4 PM
The City Hall tower dominates the Helsingborg skyline.
James Bond has arrived in Helsingborg.
The old steam ferry station was built in 1885. Now it is used as a restaurant and night club.
The Scandlines ferry Tycho Brahe departing from Helsingborg.
The passenger ferry Pernille on its way to Helsingør.
The pilot boats waiting for action.