Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Fathers and Sons, Simple Gifts, La Pola, A Remembrance of Things Past, and Drinking Fire Water

On this day in 1719, Leopold Mozart, composer and father of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born.

On this day in 1740, Johann van Beethoven, music teacher and father of Ludwig van Beethoven was born.

On this day in 1900, American composer Aaron Copland was born.  One of my favorite American composers, Copeland's music is accessible, melodic and intensely emotive.  The orchestrations of his pieces remind me of an America thrusting forward its relatively new chest with pride and confidence.  While his early music painted a landscape of an innocent and wholesome America, his later works were infused with an edgier, urban jazz element.

We all know his works. Whether it be Appalachian Spring, Billy the Kid, Fanfare for the Common Man, Our Town, or even the simple orchestration of the Shaker tune Simple Gifts, they are all instantly recognizable.  Copeland passed away in 1990, and his gift to American music was immeasurable.


On this day in 1967, Colombia would declare this day as "Day of the Colombian Woman" in honor of the 150th anniversary of the death of Policarpa Salavarrieta.

Known as La Pola, Salavarrieta was a Colombian seamstress who, during the age of Spanish control of that country, spied for the revolutionary forces who desired a free and independent Columbia. Captured by Spanish Royalists, she would ultimately be executed for high treason on November 14, 1817 at age 23.

The Historical Inebriant: Aguardiente
Neat, since that is the way La Pola drank it.

Aguardiente is a generic term in many Spanish/Portguese/Catalan speaking countries for an anise flavored beverage that contains anywhere between 29% and 60% alcohol by volume. The term means "fiery water" or "burning water" derived from "water" (agua in Spanish; aigua in Catalan; água in Portuguese) and "fiery" (ardiente in Spanish; ardentin Catalan; ardente in Portuguese).  The name may give some insight into the not so subtle taste of the beverage.

A humorous article in The Village Voice about the beverage:

Colombian Aguardiente: A Drink That May Make You Punch Someone in the Face.


Remembrance of Things Past

On this day in 1995, as a result of a budget standoff between Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. Congress, the federal government is forced to temporarily close national parks, museums and some government offices.


'Tis the gift to be simple, Its a gift to be free,
'Tis the gift to come down where you ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
Will be in the valley of love and delight.

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