Posts Tagged ‘Paris


Wanda (Louise) Landowska ~ Harpsichordist


A Polish-born harpsichordist who initiated the revival of the harpsichord in the 20th century.  She was born on July 5, 1879 in Warsaw and died on August 16, 1959 in Lakeville, Connecticut.  She studied composition in Berlin in 1896, and in 1900 went to Paris where, influenced by her husband, Henry Lew, an authority on folklore, she made researches into old music and keyboard instruments.  She taught at the Schola Cantorum, first played the harpsichord in public in 1903, and in 1909 published, with her husband, Musique ancienne, a study of 17th– and 18th-century music.  She remained until the beginning of World War II the principal exponent of 17th– and 18th-century harpsichord music, particularly that of Bach and Couperin, on whose works she wrote several studies.  In 1925 she founded a school for the study of old music at Saint-Leu-La-Forêt, near Paris, and in 1941 settled in the United States.  Among the modern works she inspired were the harpsichord concerti of Manuel de Falla and Francis Poulenc.  Early in the 20th century her theories of technique were the basis of contemporary harpsichord playing.

Reference:  The New Encyclopedia Britannica (Micropaedia) 

Marie-Antoinette – Queen Consort of King Louis XVII (2 of 2)

Queen Consort of King Louis XVII

Good morning everyone.   This is the second part of the article and it will be good if you read the first article before reading.  Let me continue the second part now ….

As a result, she became the main target of the popular agitators, who attributed to her the celebrated and callous remark concerning the poor:  “If they have no bread, let them eat cake!”  in October 1789 popular pressure compelled the royal family to return from Versailles, to Paris, where they became hostages of the Revolutionary movement.  Six months later Marie-Antoinette opened secret communication with the Comte de Mirabeau, a prominent member of the National  Assembly who hoped to restore the authority of the crown.  Nevertheless, her mistrust of Mirabeau prevented the King from following his advice.  After assistance to a group of émigrés (nobles in exile).  They arranged for the King and Queen to escape from Paris on the night of June 20, but Revolutionary forces apprehended the royal couple at Varennes (June 25) and escorted them back to Paris.

Marie-Antoinette then attempted to shore up the rapidly deteriorating position of the crown by opening secret negotiations with Antoine Barnave, leader of the constitutional monarchist faction in the Assembly.  Barnave persuaded the King to publicly accept the new constitution (September 1791); but the Queen undermined Barnave’s position by privately urging her brother, the Holy Roman emperor Leopold ll, to conduct a counter-revolutionary crusade against France.  Leopold avoided according to her demands.  After France declared war on Austria in April 1792, Marie-Antoinette’s continuing intrigues with the Austrians further enraged the French.  Popular hatred of the Queen provided impetus to the insurrection that overthrew the monarchy on Aug. 10, 1792.

Marie-Antoinette spent the remainder of her life in Parisian prisons.  Louis XVl was executed on orders from the National Convention in January 1793, and in August the Queen was put in solitary confinement in the Conciergerie.  Despite her sufferings, her courage remained unshaken.  She was brought before the Revolutionary tribunal on Oct. 14, 1793, and guillotined two days later.

Louis-Joseph, the first son of Louis XVl and Marie-Antoinette, died in June 1789; their second son, who became the titular king of France (as Louis XVII) upon Louis XVl’s execution, died in a Parisian prison in June 1795. – The New Encyclopedia Britannica



Marie-Antoinette – Queen Consort of King Louis XVII (1 of 2)

Queen Consort of King Louis XVII

Marie Antoinette was born on November 2, 1755 in Vienna and died on October 16, 1793 in Paris.  Queen consort of King Louis XVI of France (ruled 1774-93); by refusing to accept the constitutional restrictions imposed on her husband during the early years of the French Revolution, she contributed to the popular unrest that let to the overthrow of the monarchy in August 1792.

The 11th daughter of the Holy Roman emperor Francis I and Maria Theresa, Marie-Antoinette was married in 1770 to the dauphin Louis, grandson of France’s King Louis XV (ruled 1715-74).  The match was designed to strengthen France’s alliance with Austria, but the anti-Austrian prejudices current in France prevented Mari-Antoinette from winning acceptance in her adopted country.  The timid, uninspiring Louis proved to be an inattentive husband; and by the time he ascended the throne in 1774, Mari-Antoinette had withdrawn into the companionship of a small circle of frivolous court favorites.

At first the Queen was interested in politics only as a means of securing favors for her friends; the efforts she made to advance Austrian interests were blocked by the King and his ministers.  Her extravagant court expenditures contributed—although to a minor degree—to the huge debt incurred by the French state in the 1770s and 1780s, and her close associations with the more dissipated members of the court aristocracy prompted her enemies to circulate slanderous report of her alleged extramarital affairs.  These vilifications culminated in the Affair of the Diamond Necklace (1785-86), in which the Queen was unjustly accused of having formed an immoral relationship with a cardinal.  The scandal discredited the monarchy and encouraged the nobles to oppose vigorously (1787-88) all the financial reforms advocated by the King’s ministers.

During these crises, as in those to come, Marie-Antoinette proved to be stronger and more decisive than her husband.  By the time the Revolution broke out in 1789, she was exerting a powerful influence in the royal councils.  After a crowd stormed the Bastille on July 14, the Queen failed to convince Louis to take refuge with his army at Metz.  In August-September, however, she successfully prodded him to resist the attempts of the revolutionary National Assembly to abolish feudalism and restrict the royal prerogative. – The New Encyclopedia Britannica


Julien Offroy de La Mettrie – Physician and Philosopher

Physician and Philosopher

He was born on Decmeber 25, 1709, in Saint-Malo, France and died on November 11, 1751, in Berlin.  He is a physician and philosopher whose Materialistic interpretation of psychic phenomena laid the groundwork for future developments of behaviorism and played an important part in the history of modern Materialism.  He obtained a medical degree at Reims, studied medicine in Leiden under Herman Boerhaave (some of whose works he translated into French), and served as surgeon to the French military.  A personal illness convinced him that psychic phenomena were directly related to organic changes in the brain and nervous system.  The outcry following publication of these views in Histoire naturelle de l’ame (1745; “Natural History of the Soul”) forced his departure from Paris.  The book was burned by the public hangman.  In Holland La Mettrie published L’Homme-machine (1747; L’Homme Machine: A Study in the Origins of an Ida, 1960), developing more boldly and completely, and with great originality, his materialistic and atheistic views.  The ethics of these principles were worked out in Discours sur le Bonheur ou l’ anti-Seneque (“Discourse on Happiness, or the Anti-Seneca”).  He was then forced to leave Holland but the Great, made court reader, and appointed to the academy of science.  In accord with his belief that atheism was the sole road to happiness and sense pleasure the purpose of life (Le Petit Homme a longue quequ, 1751; “The Small Man in a Long Queuq”), he was a carefree hedonist to the end, finally dying of ptomaine poisoning.  His collected works, Oeuvres philosophiques, were published in 1751, and selections were edited by Marcelle Tisserand in 1954.

Photo courtesy:  answer

Dr. Jose Rizal ~ Philippine National Hero

Philippine National Hero

In full known as Jose Rizal y Mercado, or Jose Rizal y Alonzo.  Born on June 19, 1861 and died on December 30, 1896 in Manila.  Patriot, physician, and man of letters whose life and literary works were an inspiration to the literary works were an inspiration to the Philippine nationalist movement.

Rizal was the son of a prosperous landowner and sugar planter of Chinese-Filipino descent on the island of Luzon;  his mother, Teodora Alonso, one of the most highly educated women in the Philippines, exerted a powerful influence on his intellectual development.  Educated at Ateneo de Manila and the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, in 1882 he went overseas to study medicine and liberal arts at the University of Madrid.  A brilliant student, he soon became the leader of the small community of Filipino students in Spain and passionately committed himself to the reform of Spanish rule in his home country.  He never advocated  Philippine independence.  The chief enemy of reform, in his eyes, was not Spain, which was going through a profound revolution, but the Franciscan, Augustinian, and Dominican friars, who held the country in political and economic paralysis.

Rizal continued his medical studies in Paris and Heidelberg;  in 1887 he wrote his first novel, Noli me tangere  (“Touch Me Not”), a passionate exposure of the evils of the friars rule, comparable in its impact to Harriet Beecher Stowe’s exposure of Negro suppression in the United States, Uncle Tom’s Cabin.  A sequel, El Filibusterismo (1891, “Filibusterism”) established his reputation as the leading spokesman of the Philippine reform movement.  In1890 he wrote an edition of Antonio Morgas’ Succesos de las Islas Filipinas, which showed that the native people of the Philippines had a long history before the coming of the Spaniards.  He became the leader of the Propaganda Movement, contributing numerous articles to its newspaper, La Solidaridad, published in Barcelona.  Rizal’s political program, as expressed in the columns of the newspaper, included integration of the Philippines as a province of Spain, representation in the Cortes (the Spanish parliament), the replacement of the Spanish friars by native Philippine priests, freedom of assembly and expression, and equality of Filipinos and Spaniards before the law.

Against the advice of his parents and friends, Rizal returned to the Philippines in 1892.  When he founded a nonviolent reform society, the Liga Filipina, in Manila, the Spanish arrested and deported him to Dapitan in northwest Mindanao.  He remained in exile for four years, doing scientific research and founding a school and hospital.  In 1896, however, an insurrection led by the nationalist secret society, the Katipunan, broke out; although he had no connections with that organization or any part in the revolt, he was arrested and tried for sedition by the military.  Found guilty, he was publicly executed by a firing squad in Manila.  His martyrdom convinced Filipinos from Spain.  On the eve of his execution, while confined in Ft. Santiago, Rizal wrote Ultimo Adios (“The Last Farewell”), a masterpiece of 19th-century Spanish verse.

Reference:  Encyclopedia Britannica – William Benton (1943-1973); Helen Hemingway Benton (1973-1974)



Marie Pierre – Neurologist

Marie was born on September 9, 1853, in Paris and died April 13, 1940.  Pioneer neurologist whose discovery that growth disorders are caused by pituitary disease  contributed to the modern science of endocrinology.  A student of the famous French neurologist Jean Charcot at the Salpêtrière Hospital, Paris (1885), he published the first description of acromegaly (1886), a condition characterized by over-growth of bone tissue such as that of the nose, jaws, fingers, and toes, tracing the disease to a tumor of the pituitary gland, at the base of the brain.

He first described pulmonary osteoparthropathy (1890; inflammation of the bones and joints of the four limbs, often secondary to chronic conditions of the lungs and heart), hereditary cerebellar ataxia, also known as Marie’s ataxia (1893; a disease in young adults characterized by a failure of muscular coordination caused by an atrophy of the cerebellum); and (with Charcot) a type of progressive muscular atrophy known as the “Charcot-Marie type.”  He served as professor of neurology at the University of Paris from 1907 to 1925. – The New Encyclopedia Britannica



Marie-Amèlie (de Bourbon-Sicilies) – Daughter of Ferdinand IV of Naples

The daughter of Ferdinand lV of Naples

She was born on April 26, 1782 at Caserta, Italy and died on March 24, 1866 in Claremont, Surrey.  Queen of Louis-Philippe, king of France (1830-48).  She took no interest in politics and devoted her life to her husband and the bringing up of her eight children.  The daughter of Ferdinand lV of Naples (later Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies) and Queen Maria Carolina, she was given a religious education.  She married the exiled Louis-Philippe, then duc d’Orlèans, on November 25, 1809, at Palermo.  She went with him to France when Louis XVIII became king after Napoleon’s 1814 downfall, but she fled to England during the Hundred Days (1815) and returned to Paris in 1817.  When Louis-Philippe ascended the throne in 1830, she lived in fear of a new revolution and avoided public life.  With the abdication of Louis-Philippe in February 1848, they went to England.  She was widowed in 1850.  Her Journal was published in two volumes (1938-43). – The New Encyclopedia Britannica



Alphonse de Lamartine ~ Poet and Stateman

Louis XVIII’s Bodyguard

He was born on October 21, 1790 at Macon France and died on February 28, 1869 at Paris.  He was a poet and statesman whose lyrics in Meditations poetiques (1820) established him as one of the key figures in the Romantic movement in French literature.

After his education with the Jesuits at Belley, Lamartine wrote verse and travelled, served for several months in Louis XVIII’s bodyguard, and emigrated to Switzerland.  In 1820 he was appointed secretary to the embassy at Naples and married an Englishwoman, Maria Ann Birch.  In the same year he published his first book of poems, Meditation poetiques, which because of its new romantic tone and sincerity of feeling, was immensely successful.  Nouvelles meditations poetiques, Mort de Socrate (1823), and Le Dernier Chant du pelerianage d’ Harold (1825) increased his reputation.  Lamartine was elected to the French Academy in 1829.  In the following year he abandoned a diplomatic career, devoting his time to travel and to the composition of a long metaphysical poem, of which Jocelyn (1836) and La Chute d’ un ange (1838) form part.  During the next decade, he became increasingly active in politics as a spokesman for the working class.  He published historical and political works.  After the revolution of 1848, he was, briefly, the effective head of the provisional government.  He afterward devoted his life to writing.

Visual source:  ac-grenoble


Francois de La Mothe Le Vayer ~ Writer

An Avocat at the Parlement of Paris

He was born on 1588, Paris and died 1672.  He is an independent thinker and writer who developed a philosophy of skepticism more radical than that of Michel Montaigne but less absolute than that of Pierre Bayle.  He became an avocat at the Parlement of Paris, taking over his father’s seat, but soon resigned when the attraction of belles letters became stronger.  His work La Contrariete d’ humeur entre la nation francaise et l’espagnole (1636; “Conflicts of Interest Between the French and Spanish Nations”) and Considerations sur l’ eloquence francaise (1638) earned him admission to the Academie Francaise in 1639.  He was admired by the powerful Cardinal de Richelieu and was tutor to several noble youths, including from 1652 to 1657 Louis XIV, for whom he wrote a complete series of texts.  The King rewarded him by appointing him historiographer of France and councilor of state.

His many philosophical works include De la vertu des paien (1642); “On the Goodness of the Pagans”); a treatise entitled Du peu de certitude qu’il y a dans l’ histoire (1668; “On the Lack of Certitude in History”), which marked a beginning of historical criticism in France;  and five skeptical Dialogues, published  posthumously under the pseudonym Orosius Tubero, which are concerned, respectively, with diversity in opinions, variety in customs of life and sex roles, the value of solitude, the virtue of the fools of this time, and differences in religion.


Marie-Therese Lamballe – Louise de Savoie-Carignan, Princess De




Lamballe, Mari-Therese-Louise de Savoie-Carignan, princesse de 

(Birth: September 8, 1749, Turin, Piedmont, now in Italy—Death: September 3, 1792, Paris), the intimate companion of Queen Marie-Antoinette of France; she was murdered by a crowd during the French Revolution for allegedly participating in the Queen’s counter revolutionary intrigues. 

The daughter of Prince Louis-Victor de Savoie-Carignan, she was married in 1767 to Louis-Alexander-Stanislas de Bourbon, prince de Lamballe, who died the following year.  She went to live at the royal court at Versailles upon the marriage (1770) of the dauphin Louis to Marie-Antoinette, and, by the time Louis ascended the throne as King Louis XVI in 1774, Marie-Antoinette had singled her out as a confidante.  The following year she became superintendent of the Queen’s household. 

In October 1789, several months after the outbreak of the ‘revolution, Mme Lamballe accompanied the royal family to Paris, where her salon became the meeting place for Marie-Antoinette’s secret intrigues with royalist sympathizers of the revolutionary National Assembly.  Mme Lamballe was also popularly suspected of abetting the Queen’s private dealings with France’s Austrian enemies.  After the overthrow of the monarchy of August 10. 1792, she was imprisoned with the Queen in the Temple prison but was transferred to La Force prison on August 19.  Having refused to take an oath against the monarchy, Mme Lamballe was on September 3 delivered over to the fury of the populace, who cut off her head and carried it on a pike before the windows of the Queen. 

A.  Sorel’s La Princesse de Lamballe was published in 1933. 


Visual source:  allposters

July 2020

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