Up in Flames
I spent a fair bit of last weekend following the live coverage on Greek TV and radio of the forest fires that were rampaging through North East Attiki (near to Athens). Many people were evacuated, and hundreds of homes were either completely burned down or were damaged. Several countries sent help, including a helicopter and a team of firefighters from Cyprus. Satellite pictures from NASA showed the smoke getting as far as North Africa.
People didn't always heed the authorities' advice to evacuate, and those living in areas where the fire service didn't send planes and helicopters to drop water were understandably frustrated. In the end, though, the fires were contained, though of course at this time of year there are bound to be more around the country.
Yesterday a pilot died when his firefighting plane crashed, probably into electric cables. A similar accident cost two crew their lives in 2007, and was put down to human error. The planes can be in the air constantly during the daylight hours and have to try and dive low in smoky conditions, so it's not surprising that accidents happen.
Name That Tune
This week's random musical accompaniment to my life this week was Beethoven's Eroica Variations.
Beethoven was an expert at producing variations. Usually there is a theme, which is played first. Then variations of this theme follow. For example, Beethoven wrote some brilliant variations on the British National Anthem, and "Rule Britannia". Earlier composers were generally not as bold or creative, and very few composers have ever matched Beethoven's exuberance, and humour. I don't really know how music can be humorous, but his variations are. Even Albert Brendel says so. Syncopation is another strong feature of his works which is particularly noticeable in his variations.
In the Eroica variations, he starts off by playing not the tune, but the bass line on its own. Then he messes around with that a few times, before finally playing the main theme and its 15 variations.
The reason this is running through my head is that I played through the first few pages of this before giving up and playing Glenn Gould's recording of the work. I have to admit that his playing was just a bit better than mine, though I'm not so sure that his singing was...
Have a good weekend!