And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

6 April

1783
Joseph Martin Kraus,
composer

‘The sixth was an academy for the benefit of a newly-established musical society; Die Israeliten in der Wilste composed by Max. Ulbikh was performed. The orchestra was strong but did not contain the promised list of 180 members, but rather only some 70-odd people. In general, the music contained much fire. The overture in D Minor had three movements; the first expressed the uproar of the people quite well. The second, in A Major, and the last, in D Major, didn’t belong at all. He [Ulbrich] proceeds into the first chorus with an idea [taken) from the first movement. [Carl Philipp Emanuel] Bach has understood the same meaning in this chorus better, I believe. The role of the First Israelite was sung by Fraulein Theresia Tauber. The aria “Will er” was too modern, the performance of the singer very poor, and her inability was even more apparent in the cadenza in the last line (“Ach, wie seyd ihr so begluckt [Begluckt seid ihr, ach]”). The Aaron was Hoffman, a wretched bass. His aria was also too modern, and in both of these arias the main problem was that the accompaniment was too strong. The same can be said for the third aria sung by Signorina Cavalieri; it was too soloistic, and the concertante complement to the voice in the English horn was not terribly successful in terms of expression.

The chorus of Israelites (“Du hist der Ursprung,” etc.), however, was far above the former and Bach’s entire work, insofar as the arias and choruses contain fire. The movement is in C Minor and a fugue. With a very well-done contrast. Father Moses interrupt the chorus with his remarks, and the answer of the people to Moses’s question - Hast du die Werke voll Wunder schon vergessen, die fur dich dein Gott getan?” - cannot bought be thought more appropriate: “Gott schlummerte” (Ungrateful people! So do you!). The composer has altered the words according to the circumstances [in general]; in this chorus as well, but with sinfully exposed gaps. The aria of Moses immediately following, however, is too trivial. The duet of both Israelites could, in another meter, be appropriate for any [secular] concert. I should mention in this regard that both singers competed quite prettily with each other as to who could be the most raging. The recitative of Moses mixed with the chorus that follows is pretty but [contains] nothing new. Moreover, the first movement of Moses’s prayer, in which the guilt and the nature of the piece certainly demands heightened tension, is fiat. The fully-worked-out chorus in C Major is well-conceived, and the [word]-painting of the women slaves is shown altogether enchantingly. This concludes the first act.

The same comments are valid for the second act, though the music is much less worthy of a church. The theme of the first recitative is too childish for the subject and characters; the chorus which begins with a solo by M[oses] ditto, the aria of the first Israelite in G Major ditto, and the unusually trivial aria of Moses with an obbligato violoncello ditto. In the second half (“Dies ist der Helden”) the accompaniment is so strong that one cannot hear the voices. In the recitative which precedes the aria, the composer paints [the words] “Doch einst vor meinem Blicken, seh’ ich die Zukunft aufgehellt” with a rising crescendo in the timpani, adding one wind instrument after another on top. The recitative ends in the same fashion but with less effect. The following aria for Signorina Cavaliert is [set] for obbligato oboe, flute, bassoon, horns and a blend of onions and garlic. The last chorus is mediocre. In general, the first half [of oratorio] far outshines the second. The fault [for this] lies partially with the text. In the last part, the composer has thoughts here and there that were heard in the first.

The execution was quite good - but not exact in piano [passages]. I did not observe many of the lesser crescendos [i.e. dynamics], and each of the desks of violins had its own bowings. The bass line was also not clear owing to the softness of the contrabasses and the lack of violoncellos. The composer has also overworked the [vocal] basses too much.

Between the two acts [I] heard the emperor’s wind band consisting of a oboes, 2 clarinets. 2 horns, [and] 2 bassoons. The composition by Johann Went was very well set for the nature of the instruments but nothing new for the mind. The execution was as admirable as could be desired. . .’

Fire in the music

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1810
Mirza Abul Hassan Khan,
diplomat

‘On our way there we saw that lamps were lighted at the door of every house and cottage and that the roads were blocked by a multitude of carriages. I asked the reason for the tumult and I was told that a man called Sir Francis Burdett, who is a member of Parliament for London, had spoken against the Government and the King and caused an uproar in Parliament. He was therefore sentenced to two to three months in prison; if the Council agrees, he will be released after the prorogation of Parliament. This evening his supporters were trying to prevent his arrest: they called for every house to light up and they threw stones at the windows of all those who refused.’ [Burdett, a very popular politician of the time, had published a letter accusing the House of Commons of excluding the press from debates about the disastrous Walcheren expedition during which thousands of troops sent to the Netherlands to fight the French had died of sickness in the swampy Walcheren region.]

I was utterly amazed!

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1885
Rudyard Kipling,
writer

‘No bank holiday for me. Special of three columns on review. Fine weather at last but I must shut up with a click before long. Too little sleep and too much seen.’

Something of myself

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1944
Simon Bolivar Buckner, Jr.,
soldier

‘The Japanese cabinet fell today.

The northern flank continued to advance without opposition and the southern force [began] to [encounter] a strong Jap position.

During the morning Adm. Spruance came aboard and with Adm. Turner and myself conferred on the next phase of the campaign. We all were in agreement. Adm. Spruance’s flagship had recently been hit by a suicide plane whose bombs went completely through the ship, broke a propeller shaft and exploded on the other side of the vessel. He is now on the New Mexico.

From 3:30 p.m. on we were under constant air attack largely by suicide planes. Six or seven ships were hit, mostly destroyers in our picket screens. Also an ammunition ship which was abandoned.

Very few planes got to the transport area. I saw only four hit the water near our ship.

An ammunition dump blew up on Kadena airfield and a gasoline barge burned on shore - possibly from falling anti-aircraft shells that shot down a friendly plane and caused 41 casualties in shore parties.’

The battle for Okinawa

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1974
Tony Benn,
politician

‘I wrote a note to Anne Crossman following Dick’s death yesterday. Dick was a remarkable man, immensely intelligent and kind when he wanted to be but, of course, the teacher throughout his life - always preferring conflict, which cleared his mind. He was absolutely unreliable in the sense that he often changed his views, but he always believed what he said, which is something you can’t say of others. He was also capable of being unpleasant and my friendship with him had deteriorated sharply in recent years. At any rate, he will be remembered through his diaries, which will be the best diaries of this period ever published [see The Diary Junction]; though I hope my own, if they are ever transcribed, will also turn out to be a reasonable record.’

The hopes of the Left

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In general, these diary extracts are quoted as given in the published (book or online) source referred to in the reference articles. Each extract may be all, a large part of, or a small part of the complete entry for that day. I have tried to indicate where text has been removed from within a quote by the use of trailing dots in square bracket.

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