Tuesday, 5 January 2010
Snow, Skewers and Solomon
According to the Cypriot news, Britain is in chaos as the worst snow since the 70s fell today. We've even had some where I am. Schools and airports were closed and those of my colleagues who live in more rural areas left work at lunchtime in the hope of getting home okay.
By way of rubbing it in, they went on to give tomorrow's weather forecast for Cyprus, where they are expecting highs of 20 C (68F) on the coast tomorrow.
Yesterday whilst watching the Aimilia Show, I learnt a new word - σμίλα. I couldn't find this in a Greek dictionary, but it was in my Cypriot one, which said it's a knitting needle. Actually, in the report they were talking about a kebab skewer which a wannabe thief attempted to use to rob his local bank. He really should have gone a bit further away from home - to the next village, even. Despite the fact that he was wearing a mask, someone in the bank recognised his voice and addressed him by his Christian name, at which point he ran away. As the police spokesman pointed out, a kebab skewer can be a nasty weapon. Though if it was me I'd use my deadly fountain pen.
Solomon Cutner (1902 - 1988) was a British pianist. He's unusual in that he was known simply by his first name, Solomon. This was 70 years before Beyonce had the same idea.
He was a child prodigy who (unlike many) became a great musician in adulthood. Sadly his career was cut short in his 50s when he started to have problems with one of his arms. His doctors said he was working too hard, but a few months later he suffered a major stroke and they realised that he'd probably had several mini-strokes beforehand. He stopped performing, but continued to teach, living well into his 80s.
Apparently in his performing days he used to practice by playing extremely slowly - so slowly that it was difficult to recognise what he was playing, and one of his pupils onced asked him about this. Solomon said that he often went past the Royal College of Music and heard the students playing scales incredibly quickly. "At the College they're all practising for important things such as exams and diplomas. But me, I'm just practising for the Albert Hall!".
I picked up some CDs of his Beethoven recordings years ago on special offer, and I knew when I first listened to them that they were something special, even though I'm not exactly an expert. I'd certainly rather listen to them than Beyonce...