Monday, 28 December 2015

We Have Been Away!

Good Day All Around:

I, Augustus Snodgrass, editor of The Pickwick Portfolio, would like to apologize for our absence from our blog. I was unable to edit our issues for the last three months, and thus they did not appear on our blog. We plan to return with a January issue in the next couple of weeks and once again post monthly issues.

I would like to present two selections sent in by the honourable Tracy Tupman over the past three months that did not make it into an issue. The first is an autumn-related poem, and the second is a composer biography, whose birthday was in October. Please enjoy them!

Augustus Snodgrass

by John Keats, contributed by Tracy Tupman
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
   Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
   With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
   And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
      To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
   With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
      For summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells. 

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
   Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
   Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
   Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
      Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
   Steady thy laden head across a brook;
   Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
      Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.     
Where are the songs of spring? Ay, Where are they?
   Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
   And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
   Among the river sallows, borne aloft
      Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
   Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
   The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
      And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

by Tracy Tupman
Antonio Pasculli was born in Palermo, Sicily on October 13, 1842.  He was an incredible oboe virtuoso; in fact, he could play with such skill and dexterity that he was known as the “Paganini of the oboe.” (And, as luck would have it, both Pasculli and Paganini were born in October!).  Beginning his career at the young age of 14, this brilliant virtuouso soon found himself touring Italy, Germany, and Austria.  Because of his marvelous capabilities, he found it difficult to find music which allowed him to best fulfill his potential, so most of the music which he performed was music he had composed himself.  Although he was a fabulous concert performer, he abruptly stopped performing publicly in 1884. He did so because up until this point, he had been gradually losing his eyesight, and his doctor had warned him that continuing with his public performing could lead to complete blindness.  However, Pasculli still had plenty to keep him busy.  First of all, after settling down to raise a family in Palermo, he continued to be a professor of oboe and English horn at the Royal Conservatory of Palermo.  In addition, he poured himself into growing the talents of the Municipal Musical Corps of Palermo, which he had begun directing in 1877.  He even went so far as to teach all the wind players in the ensemble to play string instruments as well. Eventually, this transformed the musical group into a unique ensemble that could be considered a symphony and a band all in one.  While this “symphony-band” played many works by Pasculli himself, as a result of the extra musical training he gave them, they could also play a wide variety of works that most of Italy had never heard before.  Pasculli continued both his teaching and his directorship of the Municipal Musical Corps until his retirement in 1913. Some of Pasculli’s best-known works include La Favorita ( and Le Api ( ) ,  the latter of which could be considered an oboist’s version of “Flight of the Bumblebee.”  Antonio Pasculli died in 1924 in Palermo, Sicily: the city where he was born and raised, and the city where he lived a life-time full of music.

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