There is still… Hope!
You may wonder why from time to time there is a post, in my blog, that is apparently not so much related to astronomy. Well, the lack of connection is indeed only apparent. The way I think and perceive the world is the result of a complex process (as is for my kids, you, and all the rest of mankind for that matter). It is always difficult to say which events, people met, books read, music listened and so on led you where you are. In my personal experience, music and astronomy are strongly connected. To be more precise, the music of J.S. Bach and astronomy are tightly linked to each other. I think it was by chance (could it be otherwise?) that an old friend of mine one day (it must have been around 1980) made for me a copy on tape of the Brandeburg Concertos n. 4, 5 and 6, in the version by the Berliner led by von Karajan (nowadays one would certainly say that was not a philological interpretation of one of Bach’s masterpieces). That was exactly in the years in which my interest for astronomy started changing from curiosity into a real passion. And during those cold winters, when I started going out in the nights to observe the skies with an hand made 150mm Newtonian telescope, that music was a sort of soundtrack. And still now, after [gosh] thirty years, when I listen to that music I feel like being out in the Friulian hills, with the frost depositing on the tube of the telescope.
Why am I telling you this? Well, yesterday evening I had the privilege of listening Daniel Hope here at the Prinzregententheater in Munich, accompanied by the Zürcher Kammerorchester. If you have never heard about him, just a few words. He is one of the most acclaimed violinists worldwide. Yehudi Menuhin was his teacher. I think I do not need to say more.
The concert, a real dive into the baroque era, was wonderful. And, of course, lots of Bach’s music, including the notorious Concert for two violins BWV 1043, wonderfully played with Willi Zimmermann. At the end, after being called back on the stage many many times by a never ending applause, Hope said: “We have started this concert with Bach. And we will close it with Bach. Today is a special day for me. It is the 11th anniversary of Yehudi Menuhin’s death. We dedicate this piece to his memory“. You can imagine the commotion in the audience when they started the famous Air from the Orchestral Suite n.3…
Tomorrow I am leaving to Vienna for a quite unusual task: give a talk to the CIE Conference on Lighting Quality and Energy Efficiency. For the record, CIE is the International Commission on Illumination. You might wonder what on earth have I to do with this. As I said in one of my previous posts, in my spare time I have done some research on the night sky brightness and made some contribution to the understanding of some related phenomena. This then brought me in touch with the pressing issue of light pollution. The bottom line is that I will represent the International Astronomical Union, trying to make the point about the impact of an improper illumination on professional astronomy. More in general, I will also try to rise the awareness about this issue in a more global and cultural context.
This is going to be an interesting and unusual experience for an astronomer. I will report from Vienna in the next days.