Saturday, November 22, 2014

Video of the week: Another Bach

Did you know there were more than one (or two, if you think Anna Magdelena might have written the Bach suites) of the Bach family who composed music?

Here is a cello concerto in A major by Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach, performed by Christophe Coin and Ensemble Baroque de Limoges. 

Note that it is a HIP performance.  Historically Informed Performance.  This means the musicians are trying to recreate the music as it would have originally been played.  For instance, the cello has gut strings (no fine tuners as they don't work with gut), no endpin (and so held differently), and take a look at that bow!  And if you had perfect pitch, you might notice that their A is lower than the A we tune to today.  I love the very Baroque looking ornaments on the cello's corners, too.  I don't know if the cello is truly that old, or only meant to look so.  Well, Wikipedia tells me he plays on "period instruments" so there you go!

Students: How was CPE Bach related to the more well known JS Bach?
And by the way, you may notice in your research that there were even more from the Bach family who composed!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Successful nesting!

Last winter we could see a pair of eagles and their nest through the bare branches of the cottonwood trees near our house.  I watched all summer for a young eagle flying over the lake, and only once did I think MAYBE I spotted one.  Now that the branches are bare again, I definitely saw a young eagle and a parent a few days ago.  Glad to know the nesting was successful!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Letters no longer censored. A long one written May 25, 1945

Here's another WWII letter home from Dad. 

May 25, 1945

Dear Mother, Dad and Gwen,

I should be able to write quite a letter now that our letters are no longer censored.  But it is pretty warm, and I feel rather lazy, as usual.

I don't know where to start, so I will start at New York.  We left New York on the 10th of Jan. ? on the S. S. John Ericsson.  Or perhaps I should go back a little further to Camp Shanks, the N.Y. P.O.E. where we stayed for about a week and processed.  We had abandon ship drill on a dummy ship, shots in the arm, a little new equipment, and all the hot dope they could give us on Germany, a lot on how to escape from a P. W. camp.  Half of us got a pass to N.Y. City.  I didn't get to go, but didn't feel too bad about it as it was at night, and everything was covered with snow and ice.  The next night we were all restricted and at 10 o'clock got on the train for N.Y.  We took a ferry to the pier, and the Red Cross was there passing out coffee and doughnuts.

We sailed about 4 AM.  I was asleep. We didn't have any trouble until about the 9th day when the general alarm was sounded just after breakfast.  I happened to be on deck near the bridge when things started to happen.  The convoy changed shape and the destroyers closed in and started dropping depth charges, and about that time, a ripple went across our bow.  A few minutes later the all clear sounded and we went back to our position at the head of the convoy. Later we were told that a torpedo was fired across our bow.

The Ericsson was a German ship built in 1927.  A luxury liner 625 feet long, 80 ft. beam. It was taken over at the start of the war and converted to a troop carrier and at the present is the largest Motor [?] ship sailing under the American flag.  It is powered by two 18,000 H.P. diesel motors.

We pulled into the bay at Le Havre on the afternoon of the 21st.  Though there was snow on the land along the channel, the sun was shining and it wasn't too cold.  They started unloading at 8 PM with landing craft.  They took us ashore at 1 AM and we loaded into seven ton open trucks, and started for Camp Lucky Strike, about 40 miles south.  It got cold and started to snow.  We arrived at Camp Lucky Strike about 10 AM.  At that time Lucky Strike was only four days old.  We were cold and hungry.  Some of the fellows had frozen feet.  Mine were frost bitten and bothered me quite a lot for about a month.

So we set to work putting up tents and then got into the chow line.  I think the whole division was in that line, and they fed us eggs (dehydrated) and pork sausage and it tasted good.  We would stand in line all day and only get two meals.

There was a severe shortage of fuel, so we could only keep a fire about an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening.  It was like that for a couple of weeks, and then the weather started to warm up.

We got our guns and tractors at Dieppe, and part of the battery went there to get them ready for action.  We sent drivers to Paris for 2 1/2 ton trucks.  Later we sent drivers to S___burg [Cherbourg?] to get Jeeps.  Just after they left, we were notified as to our time of departure, so we sent one of our Cubs to Shurburg [Cherbourg?] to notify the drivers, so they could change their plans and get back in time to leave with us.

So we left Lucky Strike on the 2nd or 3rd of March to Dieppe [?] across France to a little village near Metz called Ney, where we spent a few days.  From there to Saarlautern on the 29 of March, I believe, or a day or so before I wrote I was in Germany. 

Enough of that for now.

May 26

Well, we are now camping near the place we last fired from.  We have six guard outposts to keep the refugees moving and to keep them from stealing all the Austrians' chickens, check the soldiers' passes, etc.  And of course the old GI stuff: inspection, dismounted drill, calesthenics, hicks [?] and we lace one pair of shoes criss-cross, and the other pair for [?], and they tell us which day to wear which. We get to go into Linz once a week to take a shower.

I am on guard outpost now.  We get it four days in a row. They either bring our chow out to us, or come and take us in for chow.  There is a corporal and four privates on each post.  We have telephone communication with the guard C.P., and if we catch a prisoner, we just give them a ring, and they come and get him.

Well I must close for now.  Thanks for this paper and your many letters.

P.S. I am enclosing $80 finally!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Remembering our Veterans... Letter home, April 26, 1945

Letter home from my dad, member of the 65th Infantry Division, US Army ... I've made the most interesting part in bold, if you want to skip the small talk.  Links and scans of the original letter follow.

65th Div., 720th FABn, Battery C

Thurs. 26th, 1945

Dear Mother, Dad, Joan and Gwen,

Well, I didn't think it would be this long before I would get a chance to write, but here I am again, this time on a shovel.

Up until now, we have been on the move, as usual.  We are up to the Danube, and by the time you get this, you will probably have read of us in the papers. ~~~~~~~~~~~

Back again, and now I am writing on my mess kit. I was interrupted by a shower.  The weather has been nice, except for a couple days of wind, rain, and sleet.

Well, yesterday we sewed our old division patch back on our shoulder: "the 65th". ~~~~~~~~~~

Interrupted again by a fire mission.  You asked about my job. Well, I am the executive's assistant telephone operator.  The regular operator and I change off, so we don't do too badly for sleep, in fact, we do very well.

Our mail comes in bunches.  We didn't get any mail for about two weeks, and then we got a whole slew of it.  Your latest of April 11.  You asked about my gold star.  That is for major battles.  Oh yes, thanks for the paper.  I owe so many letters, I really wonder if I will ever get caught up.  I believe I told you I had a line from Aunt Ada (?).

A couple of weeks ago we went through a concentration camp where Russian and Polish prisoners had been starved, and when they were too weak to work, they had been shot.  Some of the bodies had been salted down with lime, and thousands of others had been burned on crude incinerators.  Even after seeing it, it was hard to believe.

We came across a British Non Commissioned Officer camp where we freed three or four thousand British and Scotch prisoners.  We talked to them for several hours, and what they told us was very interesting.  How they traded Red Cross cigarettes for food, how they bribed the guards with cigarettes for wireless parts and got messages out.  They also told how they got on the sick list and hid under their barracks when the other prisoners were marched away before our advancing army.  Some of these fellows had been prisoners for five years.  They were sure happy to see us, and it wasn't long before they brought us a pot of tea.  They said that they would never have gotten along if it were not for the Red Cross parcels that they got.  The boys looked quite well, but the fact that they were NCO's and didn't have to work had a lot to do with that.

Well, it is getting dark, so I will have to cut this short.  I am feeling fine, getting lots of C and K rations and plenty of sleep.  Oh yes, this is also quite a scenic trip.

As ever,

P.S. I will mail this tomorrow if the mail goes out.

 From another 65th soldier, leading me to believe Dad was referring to Stalag 383 at Hohenfels
"Prior to our departure from Ulmansdorf, rumors were circulating to the effect that there was an American prison camp in the district and we went about our wood flushing seriously determined to liberate our less-fortunate comrades-in-arms. We were to board artillery trucks at 0900 but as usual we entrucked at 1400 and after considerable confusion and uncalled-for delay we arrived at Hohenfels and for the first time saw the expression of joy on the faces of English, Australians and New Zealanders captured on Crete." 

He also briefly mentions touring a concentration camp, likely the same one Dad did:
 "Some of us visited the concentration camp at Ohrdruf and saw for ourselves the height of Nazi bestiality. We left Ohrdruf a little more conscious of what we were up against and with at least a partial answer to the oft-asked question
-- -- -- 'Why we fight'."

 Liberated NCO camp Stalag 383
More details from a POW
"The Yanks are Coming" and "Hiding and Hoping" from more POW's
 Photo at time of liberation, 22 April, 1945 Additional photos (see 2nd page for liberation)

Warning, graphic photos in this link, taken at Ohdruf Concentration Camp

"Ohrdruf was liberated on April 4, 1945, by the 4th Armored Division and the 89th Infantry Division. It was the first Nazi concentration camp liberated by the U.S. Army.[7][8]
When the soldiers of the 4th Armored Division entered the camp, they discovered piles of bodies, some covered with lime, and others partially incinerated on pyres. The ghastly nature of their discovery led General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe, to visit the camp on April 12, with Generals George S. Patton and Omar Bradley. After his visit, Eisenhower cabled General George C. Marshall, the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington, describing his trip to Ohrdruf:[1]
... the most interesting—although horrible—sight that I encountered during the trip was a visit to a German internment camp near Gotha. The things I saw beggar description. While I was touring the camp I encountered three men who had been inmates and by one ruse or another had made their escape. I interviewed them through an interpreter. The visual evidence and the verbal testimony of starvation, cruelty and bestiality were so overpowering as to leave me a bit sick. In one room, where they were piled up twenty or thirty naked men, killed by starvation, George Patton would not even enter. He said that he would get sick if he did so. I made the visit deliberately, in order to be in a position to give first-hand evidence of these things if ever, in the future, there develops a tendency to charge these allegations merely to 'propaganda.'"

"Seeing the Nazi crimes committed at Ohrdruf made a powerful impact on Eisenhower, and he wanted the world to know what happened in the concentration camps. On April 19, 1945, he again cabled Marshall with a request to bring members of Congress and journalists to the newly liberated camps so that they could bring the horrible truth about German Nazi atrocities to the American public. That same day, Marshall received permission from the Secretary of War, Henry Lewis Stimson, and President Harry S. Truman for these delegations to visit the liberated camps.[1]
Ohrdruf made a powerful impression on General George S. Patton as well. He described it as "one of the most appalling sights that I have ever seen." He recounted in his diary that:[1]
In a shed ... was a pile of about 40 completely naked human bodies in the last stages of emaciation. These bodies were lightly sprinkled with lime, not for the purposes of destroying them, but for the purpose of removing the stench.
When the shed was full—I presume its capacity to be about 200, the bodies were taken to a pit a mile from the camp where they were buried. The inmates claimed that 3,000 men, who had been either shot in the head or who had died of starvation, had been so buried since the 1st of January.
When we began to approach with our troops, the Germans thought it expedient to remove the evidence of their crime. Therefore, they had some of the slaves exhume the bodies and place them on a mammoth griddle composed of 60-centimeter railway tracks laid on brick foundations. They poured pitch on the bodies and then built a fire of pinewood and coal under them. They were not very successful in their operations because there was a pile of human bones, skulls, charred torsos on or under the griddle which must have accounted for many hundreds."

Scans of Dad's letter:

Video of the Week: Are your scales boring?

Here are some ideas for working on technique while playing scales.  Try them!  Pay attention to how much and which parts of the bow you are using.  (6th European Suzuki Teachers’ Xchange Convention in Germany.)

Students: Come to your lesson prepared to demonstrate one of these!


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Fairy Garden Tomato!

A tiny tomato plant sprang up right in the middle of my spring fairy garden, planted in compost. Eh-hem... Award-Winning compost! :-) One blossom, one tomato.

At risk of frost, I brought it inside to ripen. I think brother-in-law was right, it is a Roma, but growing in a fairy garden, it isn't exactly large!

It will be part of today's lunch. Yum!