08 April, 2009

Gerald McRaney

Gerald Lee "Mac" McRaney is an American television and movie actor.

McRaney was born in Collins, Mississippi, of Scottish and Choctaw Indian ancestry. He attended college at the University of Mississippi. Before hitting it big as an actor, McRaney worked in the Louisiana oil fields. He also starred in 1969's Night of Bloody Horror, a low-budget slasher film in which he played the lead character Wesley Stuart. Wesley goes out on a killing spree while experiencing the nightmares of his brother, who was murdered 13 years prior.

He holds the distinction of being the last guest star to meet Marshal Matt Dillon in a gunfight on Gunsmoke (1955), in the episode "Hard Labor," which was first broadcast on February 24, 1975 (he lost). He also played a deranged police chief in an episode of The Incredible Hulk, as a receptionist in two different episodes of The Rockford Files as well as a heroin-addicted Vietnam veteran in one episode of Hawaii Five-0. McRaney is perhaps best known as one of the stars of the 1980s television show Simon & Simon. A veteran actor of television, he is also known for starring roles on Major Dad and Promised Land, and a recurring role on Designing Women. McRaney portrayed General Alan Adamle in two episodes of the NBC drama The West Wing. He played a prominent role in the second and third seasons of HBO television series Deadwood, as famed gold prospector George Hearst. McRaney had a starring role in the CBS post-apocalyptic series Jericho as Mayor Green. In addition, he has acted in many television films such as Not Our Son (1995), Going for Broke (2003), as General George S. Patton in Ike: Countdown to D-Day (2004), and appeared as Dan's father in One Tree Hill.

Robert Casadesus

Robert Casadesus was a renowned 20th-century French pianist and composer. He was the most prominent member of a famous musical family, being the nephew of Henri Casadesus and Marius Casadesus, husband of Gaby Casadesus, and father of Jean Casadesus.

Robert Casadesus was born in Paris and studied there at the Conservatoire with Louis Diémer, taking a Premier Prix (First Prize) in 1913 and the Prix Diémer in 1920. Robert then entered the class of Lucien Capet, who had exceptional influence. Capet had founded a famous quartet that bore his name (Capet Quartet)and in which two of Robert’s uncles played: Henri and Marcel. The Quartet often rehearsed in the Casadesus home, and so it was that Robert was initiated into chamber music. The Beethoven Quartets held no secret for him—he knew them backwards and forwards without ever having played them!

Beginning in 1922, Casadesus collaborated with the composer Maurice Ravel on a project to create piano rolls of a number of his works. Casadesus and Ravel also shared the concert platform in France, Spain and England.

Casadesus toured widely as a piano soloist. He often performed with his wife, the pianist Gaby, whom he married in 1921.

From 1935 Casadesus taught at the American Conservatory at Fontainebleau . He and his family spent the Second World War years in the United States. They had a home in Princeton, New Jersey. He taught a notable group of future piano performers from all over Europe and the United States, including Claude Helffer and Monique Haas.

His style of playing was classical and restrained with a very delicate approach to melody and line. He is especially noted as an interpreter of Mozart. Among his other recordings are those of the music of Ravel, and the Beethoven Violin Sonatas with Zino Francescatti.

Guillaume Apollinaire

Wilhelm Albert Włodzimierz Apolinary Kostrowicki, known as Guillaume Apollinaire was a French poet, writer and art critic born in Italy to a Polish mother.

Among the foremost poets of the early 20th century, he is credited with coining the word "surrealism" and writing one of the earliest works described as surrealist, the play Les Mamelles de Tirésias.

Born Wilhelm Albert Włodzimierz Apolinary Kostrowicki and raised speaking French, among other languages, he emigrated to France and adopted the name Guillaume Apollinaire. His mother, born Angelica Kostrowicka, was a Polish noblewoman born near Navahrudak (now in Belarus). Apollinaire's father is unknown but may have been Francesco Flugi d'Aspermont, a Swiss Italian aristocrat who disappeared early from Apollinaire's life. Apollinaire was partly educated in Monaco.

Apollinaire was one of the most popular members of the artistic community of Montparnasse in Paris. His friends and collaborators in that period included Pablo Picasso, Gertrude Stein, Max Jacob, André Salmon, Marie Laurencin, André Breton, André Derain, Faik Konica, Blaise Cendrars, Pierre Reverdy, Jean Cocteau, Erik Satie, Ossip Zadkine, Marc Chagall and Marcel Duchamp. In 1911, he joined the Puteaux Group, a branch of the cubist movement.

He fought in World War I and, in 1916, received a serious shrapnel wound to the temple. He wrote Les Mamelles de Tirésias while recovering from this wound. During this period he coined the word surrealism in the program notes for Jean Cocteau and Erik Satie's ballet Parade, first performed on 18 May 1917. He also published an artistic manifesto, L'Esprit nouveau et les poètes. Apollinaire's status as a literary critic is most famous and influential in his recognition of the Marquis de Sade, whose works were for a long time obscure, yet arising in popularity as an influence upon the Dada and Surrealist art movements going on in Montparnasse at the beginning of the twentieth century as, "The freest spirit that ever existed."

Two years after being wounded in World War I, he died at age 38, a victim of the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. The war-weakened Apollinaire died of influenza during the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918. He was interred in the Le Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris.

Carl Orff

Carl Orff was a 20th-century German composer, most famous for his composition Carmina Burana (1937). He has also become very influential in the field of music education for his pedagogic methods, which survive through Orff Schulwerk.

Orff was born in Munich on 10 July, 1895, and came from a Bavarian family that was very active in the German military. His father's regimental band had supposedly played the compositions of young Orff. Moser's Musik-Lexikon states that Orff studied at the Munich Academy of Music until 1914. He then served in the military during World War I. Afterwards, he held various positions at opera houses in Mannheim and Darmstadt, later returning to Munich to pursue his music studies.

From 1925 until the end of his life, Orff was the head of a department and co-founder of the Guenther School for gymnastics, music, and dance in Munich, where he worked with musical beginners. This is where he developed his theories in music education, having constant contact with children,.

Carl Orff burial location in AndechsOrff's association with the Nazi Party has been alleged, but never conclusively established. His Carmina Burana was hugely popular in Nazi Germany after its premiere in Frankfurt in 1937, receiving numerous performances. But the composition with its unfamiliar rhythms was also denounced with racist taunts. He was one of the few German composers under the Nazi regime who responded to the official call to write new incidental music for A Midsummer Night's Dream after the music of Felix Mendelssohn had been banned — others refused to cooperate in this. But Orff had already composed music for this play as early as 1917 and 1927, long before this was a favor for the Nazi government.

Orff was a personal friend of Kurt Huber, one of the founders of the resistance movement Die Weiße Rose (the White Rose), who was condemned to death by the Volksgerichtshof and executed by the Nazis in 1943. Orff by happenstance called at Huber's house on the day after his arrest. Huber's distraught wife begged Orff to use his influence to help her husband, but Orff denied her request. If his friendship with Huber came out, he told her, he would be "ruined". Huber's wife never saw Orff again. Wracked by guilt, Orff would later write a letter to his late friend Huber, imploring him for forgiveness.

After World War II, Orff, faced with the possible loss of royalties from Carmina Burana, claimed to a denazification officer that he was a member of the White Rose, and was himself involved in the resistance. There was no evidence for this other than his own word, and other sources dispute his claim. Canadian historian Michael H. Kater made in earlier writings a particularly strong case that Orff collaborated with Nazi authorities, but in his most recent publication "Composers of the Nazi Era: Eight Portraits" Kater has taken back his earlier accusations to some extent. Orff's assertion that he had been anti-Nazi during the war was accepted by the American denazification authorities, who changed his previous category of "gray unacceptable" to "gray acceptable", enabling him to continue to compose for public presentation.

Orff died at the age of 86 and is buried in the Baroque church of the beer-brewing Benedictine priory of Andechs, south of Munich. His tombstone bears his name, his dates of birth and death, and the Latin inscription "Summus Finis"(the ultimate goal).

Orff is most known for Carmina Burana (1937), a "scenic cantata". It is the first of a trilogy that also includes Catulli Carmina and Trionfo di Afrodite. Carmina Burana reflected his interest in medieval German poetry. Together the trilogy is called Trionfi, or "triumphs". The composer described it as the celebration of the triumph of the human spirit through sexual and holistic balance. The work was based on thirteenth-century poetry found in a manuscript dubbed the Codex latinus monacensis found in a Bavarian monastery in 1803 and written by the Goliards; this collection is also known as Carmina Burana. While "modern" in some of his compositional techniques, Orff was able to capture the spirit of the medieval period in this trilogy, with infectious rhythms and easy tonalities. The medieval poems, written in an early form of German and Latin, are often racy, but without descending into smut. O Fortuna from Carmina Burana is often used to denote satanic forces, for example in the Oliver Stone movie The Doors.[5]

With the success of Carmina Burana, Orff disowned all of his previous works except for Catulli Carmina and the Entrata, which were rewritten until acceptable by Orff. As an historical aside, Carmina Burana is probably the most famous piece of music composed and premiered in Nazi Germany. Carmina Burana was in fact so popular that Orff received a commission in Frankfurt to compose incidental music for A Midsummer Night's Dream, which was supposed to replace the banned music by Mendelssohn. After the war, he claimed not to be satisfied with the music and reworked it into the final version that was first performed in 1964.

Orff was reluctant to term any of his works simply operas in the traditional sense. His works Der Mond ("The Moon") (1939) and Die Kluge ("The Wise Woman") (1943), for example, he referred to as "Märchenoper" ("fairytale operas"). Both compositions feature the same "timeless" sound in that they do not employ any of the musical techniques of the period in which they were composed, with the intent that they be difficult to define as belonging to a particular era. Their melodies, rhythms and, with them, text appear in a union of words and music.

About his Antigone (1949), Orff said specifically that it was not an opera, rather a Vertonung, a "musical setting" of the ancient tragedy. The text is an excellent German translation, by Friedrich Hölderlin, of the Sophocles play of the same name. The orchestration relies heavily on the percussion section, and is otherwise fairly simple. It has been labelled by some as minimalistic, which is most adequate in terms of the melodic line. The story of Antigone has a haunting similarity to the history of Sophie Scholl, heroine of the White Rose, and Orff may have been memorializing her in his opera.

Orff's last work, De Temporum Fine Comoedia ("A Play of the End of Time"), had its premiere at the Salzburg music festival on August 20, 1973, performed by Herbert von Karajan and the Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. In this highly personal work, Orff presented a mystery play, in which he summarized his view on the end of time, sung in Greek, German, and Latin.

Ted Shackelford

Ted Shackelford is an American actor best known for his role as Gary Ewing on the CBS television series Knots Landing, in which he starred from 1979–93. Shackelford also appeared as Gary Ewing on several episodes of CBS's Dallas; this role had originally been played by actor David Ackroyd who was unable to return for future appearances. Prior to his role on Knots Landing, Shackelford played the role of Ray Gordon on Another World. He currently plays recurring character Jeffrey Bardwell on The Young and the Restless.

Shackelford's parents were Paul Olden Shackelford, a physician, and Mary Jane Shackleford. He attended Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, and then transferred to the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, where he procured a bachelor's degree.

Shackelford has also played roles in Wonder Woman and most recently in The Division. He also starred in the British science fiction series, Space Precinct.