Sunday, January 05, 2014

On BBC Radio 4 you can listen to the first episode of Jamie Cullum's Piano Pilgrimage. Among other places he visited the Brontë Parsonage:
Jazz pianist Jamie Cullum explores the piano's place in modern life. With recent stories about the decline of the piano, Jamie delves behind the myths to find out about the history of the instrument he is most passionate about and looks at how the piano industry is still thriving in the UK.
In the first episode, Jamie begins by focusing on the piano itself and traces the story of an old abandoned piano that he rescued from a street corner. His journey leads him to the London Borough of Camden where piano historian Dr. Alastair Laurence takes him on a tour around the area that, only a century ago, was the world centre of the piano making industry.
After exploring some of the remaining piano retailers in the neighbourhood and playing London's most out of tune piano, Jamie travels to the Yorkshire Dales to visit one of the few places left in the country where pianos are still being made from scratch.
At Newark College, Jamie talks to the course leader and students at the last piano tuning course in the country and learns some surprising facts about the physics of piano tuning.
Finally, Jamie visits the Brontë's old family home to play on the sisters' own piano that has been carefully restored.
Produced by Andrea Rangecroft.
A Folded Wing production for BBC Radio 4.
EDIT: BBC Radio 4 on YouTube:
Jamie Cullum improvises a piece on the Brontë family's original piano at their former home in Haworth, West Yorkshire. Jamie was kindly allowed to play the recently restored piano by the Brontë Parsonage Museum as part of his Piano Pilgrimage series for Radio 4:

Rachel Cooke discusses in The Guardian Ruth Rendell's claim that 'reading is a dying art':
Then there is the question of culture, of aesthetics, of pleasure. What a pity, to be shut out of these, and I'm not only talking about Charlotte Brontë and Jane Austen but about Barbara Pym and Dorothy L Sayers, or whoever else floats your boat. Fewer people used to be excluded from this endless richness, of this I'm convinced.
We are experiencing (not only in reading, but in general) a polarisation of the society. As much 'globalised' we are, more we are becoming  polarised. Compare the aforementioned discussion above how reading is no longer 'a matter of fact' business with a book like How to Be A Heroine. Or, what I've learned from reading too much by Samantha Ellis. The Guardian and The Sunday Times review it:
On a fan-girl trip to Wuthering Heights, Samantha Ellis found herself in heated debate with her best friend about who was the best: Jane Eyre or Cathy Earnshaw. "I thought Cathy. Obviously Cathy," she writes. "The point of this walk (this pilgrimage) was to see the ruins of the farmhouse that inspired Wuthering Heights, which loomed at us promisingly from the top." Despite both of them having turned up in the same lace-edged T-shirt in tribute to their heroines, they clash horribly. Ellis is perplexed about why it matters so much to her to know which is "best". It is, she realises, because she has based a whole identity on the women she has read about in novels. (...)
I particularly enjoyed the passages about her eccentric and varied love interests, always heady, always doomed. She blames her excessively romantic streak partly on her Iraqi Jewish heritage. A common endearment in her family is "fudwa", which means "I would die for you": "In a five-minute phone call about yoghurt my grandma can offer to die for me 10 or 15 times. So the Sturm und Drang of Heathcliff and Cathy's love made sense to me. I wanted a love so intense it could send me into a brain fever or cause the man who loved me to gnash his teeth and dash his head against a tree till he bled." (Viv Groskop)
Katy Guest in The Independent thinks that 'not every childhood heroine grows with us':
As a teenager, I was entranced by Tess of the D'Urbervilles, but if I read the novel now I would I want to smack Tess in her mobile, peony mouth and tell her to get a grip? Could I ever root in the same way for Jane Eyre, as she stands her ground against the petulance of rude Mr Rochester, knowing that in the end, reader, she married the miserable so-and-so?
The OneRing interviews the actor Graham McTavish, Dwalin in The Hobbit saga. A Brontëite in disguise:
GD: I read about your naming of Dwalin’s axes…
GM: After Emily Brontë’s dogs, yes. I read a book about the Brontës. I’d always been interested in them, not just because of what they wrote but the fact that they were women writing at that time, and surmounted these incredible odds to become best-selling writers of their day. And Emily in particular; she only wrote Wuthering Heights… well, that was the only novel that was published… And she was this tiny woman; but she was incredibly stubborn! Apparently when she was dying she refused to lie down – so she just walked around and basically died on her feet. So that gives you an idea of the kind of woman we’re talking about.
She had these two quite sizeable hounds, called Grasper and Keeper.
DJ Taylor in The Independent makes a bold parallelism:
The English novel, it might be argued, reaches an initial peak in the late 1840s with Dickens, Thackeray and the Brontës and then goes on to pursue half-a-dozen alternative courses. The hot-house conditions in which pop music thrived, since the birth of rock and roll in the mid-1950s, meant that these changes happened with lightning swiftness.
Fabula (France) reviews  Le plébéien enragé by Alain Brossat:
On trouvera dans des romans comme Le Rouge et le Noir, Les Hauts de Hurlevent ou L'amant de Lady Chatterley, sinon ce qu'on y cherche, du moins ce qui va s'accorder au plus près avec l'attente de chacun : donc plus souvent la fable "éternelle" des amours contrariées que celle du plébéien moderne, rebelle voire enragé. (...)
Le plébéien évoqué par Brossat (Jean-Jacques des Confessions, Julien Sorel, Heathcliff, Mellors...) est une singularité rétive, et, à ce titre, un fauteur de trouble et de désordre. (Marc Escola) (Translation)
Global Winnipeg offers two free tickets for the upcoming Manitoba Jane Eyre production:
Watch Morning News at 6:00 a.m.for details on how to enter our Watch & Win contest!
Enter to win 2 tickets for MTC’s “Jane Eyre” and to be entered in a Grand prize draw for 2 tickets and a Keg Gift Certificate.
Diario Progesista (Spain) renames Branwell Brontë in an article about drugs:
Es posible que el laúdano acabara con la vida y la ilusión literaria de Bardwell Bronte pero no surtió el mismo efecto en otros. (Eduardo Nabal Aragón) (Translation)
Esther's Narrative is re-reading Shirley;  film captures posts caps of Wuthering Heights 2011; el blog de filmin (in Spanish) discusses Jane Eyre and its adaptations; Hogwarts Professor discusses the Jane Eyre roots of Twilight. Finally, an alert for today at the British Film Institute (London):
Gothic: Love is a Devil: Wuthering Heights 1939
Jan 5, 2014 6:20 PM
On a blizzard-swept moor, a stranger arrives at Wuthering Heights in search of shelter. He receives a chilly welcome from its owner, but an even chillier one from the ghostly apparition at the window... This screen adaptation of Emily Brontë’s novel explores the power of love both to destroy life and to transcend death. Heading up an all-British cast, Olivier is a dark and brooding Heathcliff, who endures humiliation and rejection in pursuit of true love. – Jo Botting
The screening on Sunday 5 January will be introduced by Kusum Joshi, South Asian Cinema Foundation.


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