Christmas 2020, in Art and Music

December 25, 2020 at 8:07 pm (Art, Christmas, Music)

Courtesy of the Smithsonian Associates streaming service, I recently had the great good fortune to attend via Zoom a webinar entitled ‘The Nativity in Art: Centuries of Storytelling.’ Our speaker was art historian Elaine Ruffolo.

Here are some of the images she shared with us:

Domenico Ghirlandaio

Taddeo Gaddi

Jacopo Tintoretto

Gentile da Fabriano

Lornzo Monaco


Federico Barocci

Hugo van der Goes (from the Portinari Altarpiece)

And my favorite of all these gorgeous works of art – I can’t say exactly why: Giorgione’s Adoration of the Shepherds:

Elaine Ruffolo was speaking to us live, in real time, from Florence, Italy, where she resides.

And now, some music:







My Chicago family, at Thanksgiving. They’ve been a model of resourcefulness and buoyancy. Hopefully, I will be seeing them again, before too long. I am starved for hugs!

This has  been a tough year for many of us. I believe that next year will be better. Love to all. And to my British friends: Hang in there, as you always have, with courage and resilience.



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Happy Holidays to All!

December 25, 2019 at 11:46 pm (Christmas, Food)

I expect that many of you enjoyed a Christmas turkey or ham for dinner today. This is a wonderful tradition!

However, here at our house, we did something slightly different….

May I present the Christmas Frittata!

(Photography by Ron)

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Further works of beauty, for Christmas

December 25, 2019 at 1:54 pm (Art, Christmas, Music)

Little Garden of Paradise, Upper Rhenish Master

Virgin and Child with Saints and Donor, Jan Van Eyck

Rest on the Flight into Egypt, Gerard David

Virgin and Child, Stefan Lochner

Madonna of the Goldfinch, Raphaello Sanzio (Raphael)

Virgin of the Rocks,  Leonardo da Vinci

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Musical Interlude – and a Poetical Sentiment – at Christmas Time

December 22, 2019 at 2:23 pm (Christmas, Music)

A commenter issues a warning:

‘Monsieur le directeur: faites attention à votre pied.’

Another, in English, says much the same but adds: ‘History repeats itself.’ What history?

Well, it seems that Jean Baptiste Lully, composer of this irresistible ditty, was conducting in the same manner as Monsieur le directeur above, when he inadvertently stabbed himself in the foot with the long staff he was using. The wound became gangrenous. Lully refused to have the infected limb amputated and the infection spread, ultimately causing his death in 1687 at the age of 54.

Here’s an enthusiastic (if tongue-in-cheek) comment on this film clip:

‘Nice to see remaining film footage of this important historical event!’

And it is in point of fact an historical event. For a description of what actually occurred, read Evening in the Palace of Reason: Bach Meets Frederick the Great in the Age of Enlightenment, by James R. Gaines. Oh, and the piece being played was composed by Frederick himself, an accomplished musician.

Here are three more beautiful works in honor of Christmas:




by John Betjeman
* * * * * * * * * * * *
The bells of waiting Advent ring,
The Tortoise stove is lit again
And lamp-oil light across the night
Has caught the streaks of winter rain
In many a stained-glass window sheen
From Crimson Lake to Hookers Green.The holly in the windy hedge
And round the Manor House the yew
Will soon be stripped to deck the ledge,
The altar, font and arch and pew,
So that the villagers can say
‘The church looks nice’ on Christmas Day.

Provincial Public Houses blaze,
Corporation tramcars clang,
On lighted tenements I gaze,
Where paper decorations hang,
And bunting in the red Town Hall
Says ‘Merry Christmas to you all’.

And London shops on Christmas Eve
Are strung with silver bells and flowers
As hurrying clerks the City leave
To pigeon-haunted classic towers,
And marbled clouds go scudding by
The many-steepled London sky.

And girls in slacks remember Dad,
And oafish louts remember Mum,
And sleepless children’s hearts are glad.
And Christmas-morning bells say ‘Come!’
Even to shining ones who dwell
Safe in the Dorchester Hotel.

And is it true,
This most tremendous tale of all,
Seen in a stained-glass window’s hue,
A Baby in an ox’s stall ?
The Maker of the stars and sea
Become a Child on earth for me ?

And is it true ? For if it is,
No loving fingers tying strings
Around those tissued fripperies,
The sweet and silly Christmas things,
Bath salts and inexpensive scent
And hideous tie so kindly meant,

No love that in a family dwells,
No carolling in frosty air,
Nor all the steeple-shaking bells
Can with this single Truth compare –
That God was man in Palestine
And lives today in Bread and Wine.


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Holiday Wishes, 2018

December 24, 2018 at 8:48 pm (Art, Christmas, Family, Music)

My best holiday wishes to everyone.

I am deeply blessed and fortunate, and I wish the same for every one of you!



Wilton Diptych, left panel. Artist unknown

Wilton Diptych, Right panel. Artist unknown


Annunciation. Fra Angelico


Virgin of the Rocks. Leonardo Da Vinci


The Alba Madonna. Raphael



My Aunt Patsy and Uncle Hal, enjoying life to the fullest, and always generously sharing that joy with friends and family. Forever in our hearts…


My parents, Lillian and Samuel ‘Ted’ Tedlow at the opera in Bayreuth, Germany. They exemplified class, elegance, and sophistication. I miss them.

Daughter-in-law Erica and Son Ben – Beautiful people in every way


Etta and Welles, growing by leaps and bounds, my love for them growing at the same dizzying speed


My husband Ron. His love, kindness, and companionship make my life worth living.


Le Paradis, by Henri Maik


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Sounds and images of the season

December 25, 2016 at 8:38 pm (Art, Christmas, Music)

Christmas music to accompany your viewing:



Annnunciation, Domenico Beccafumi



Ecce Ancilla Domini, Dante Gabriel Rosetti



Annunciation, Bartolome Esteban Perez Murillo


Annunciation, Sandro Botticelli

Annunciation, Sandro Botticelli


The Annunciation, Henry Ossawa Tanner

The Annunciation, Henry Ossawa Tanner


Madonna of the Magnificat, Botticelli

Madonna of the Magnificat, Botticelli


Adoration of the Shepherds, Giorgione

Adoration of the Shepherds, Giorgione


St. Joseph and the Christ Child, by Guido Reni

St. Joseph and the Christ Child, by Guido Reni


The Alba Madonna, Raphael

The Alba Madonna, Raphael






People Celebrating Kwanzaa

People Celebrating Kwanzaa


Child Lighting Hanukkah candles

Child Lighting Hanukkah candles



Rabbi with a Torah, Marc Chagall

Rabbi with a Torah, Marc Chagall

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa – Happy Everything, and Everyone.


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On Christmas: a feast for the ears and eyes – and heart

December 25, 2015 at 4:29 pm (Art, Christmas, Family, Music)

First, the music:





Then, the gift of great art:

Relfections on the Thames John Atkinson Grimshaw

Reflections on the Thames, by John Atkinson Grimshaw


Coming home from evening service Samuel Palmer

Coming from Church, by Samuel Palmer


Holy Family with Lamb, by Raphael

Holy Family with Lamb, by Raphael


Supper at Emmaus. by Caravaggio

Supper at Emmaus. by Caravaggio


Images of love, with the profoundest gratitude:






And finally, the closing scene of A Christmas Carol, with Alistair Sim ‘s somewhat over-the-top portrayal of Scrooge, but in a great cause, in a film that channels Victorian London in a way  that’s almost uncanny. The message could not be more profound: Redemption is always possible, but it’s best not to wait too long. Scrooge almost did. He was lucky.

I’m deeply fortunate to be blessed with so many loving friends and such a marvelous  family. I wish all of you the Merriest Christmas possible!








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Merry Christmas from Books to the Ceiling

December 25, 2013 at 7:03 pm (Art, Christmas, Music)

First, music and dance (You’ll have to endure commercial messages at the start of some of these videos, but I think you’ll find it worth your while):


(This is a musician’s loving tribute to her father. Watch on YouTube for more details.)


Dance of the Mirlitons from the Nutcracker, performed by young Russian ballet students:


I had not heard of the Huron Carol before encountering it in Louise Penny’s How the Light Gets In. Penny’s novel is a story of sin and redemption and the race to make things right, just before Christmas descends upon the magical, almost mythical, village of Three Pines, as it lies knee deep in the snows of Canada.

Is it possible for something to be almost too beautiful? Listen…


And finally, the exultant first cantata of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, led by one of the world’s great Bach specialists, Nikolaus Harnoncourt:


Art inspired by the Christmas story:

Adoration of the Magi, by Diego Velasquez

Adoration of the Magi, by Diego Velasquez

Adoration of the Magi, by Gentile da Fabriano

Adoration of the Magi, by Gentile da Fabriano

Nativity, by Giotto di Bondone

Nativity, by Giotto di Bondone

Adoration of the Shepherds, by Gerard van Honthorst

Adoration of the Shepherds, by Gerard van Honthorst

Adoration of the Magi, by Peter Paul Rubens

Adoration of the Magi, by Peter Paul Rubens


Adoration of the Magi, by Sebastiano Ricci

Adoration of the Magi, by Sandro Botticelli

Adoration of the Magi, by Sandro Botticelli

Adoration of the Magi - Tapestry by William Morris & Co., designed by Sir Edward Burne-Jones

Adoration of the Magi – Tapestry by William Morris & Co., designed by Sir Edward Burne-Jones

Nstivity with Burnning Bush, by Albert Herbert

Nativity with Burning Bush, by Albert Herbert (British, 1950s)


For more delightful images inspired by the holiday season, go to one of my favorite sites, In So Many Words…


9780393051582_p0_v2_s600 I used to think that Dickens’s classic Christmas tale was a bit of lighthearted sentiment. Now I think it’s one of the most profound stories I know. Scrooge’s redemption shows us that it is never too late to change, from a bad person to a good one, from a good one to a better one. Best not to wait too long, though.

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Christmas card

December 22, 2012 at 2:34 am (Art, Christmas, New York City)

Met tree

Click here for the concert that I was privileged to attend on Sunday the 9th, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Choir of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine assembled before this magnificent Christmas tree, in the Medieval Sculpture Hall. (You can toggle back to the first screen and gaze upon the tree, while listening to the music.)

For more on this music, and on Christmas in New York, click here.

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Christmas in New York City, 2012

December 13, 2012 at 1:45 pm (Art, Christmas, Music, New York City)

It’s been many years since I was in Manhattan at Christmas time. I was there last weekend. Wanting to be as close to the Metropolitan Museum as possible, I stayed at a small hotel on the Upper East Side. There were some delightful decorations along Madison Avenue. The windows of Ralph Lauren’s flagship store were gorgeous!

(The building seen at 00:28 through to 00:34, a French Renaissance revival edifice completed in 1898, is called the Rhinelander Mansion.)

What I was most excited to see was the Christmas tree at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Each year the Museum puts up a Christmas tree decorated with eighteenth century figures from Neapolitan Nativity scenes. It’s been many years since I’ve seen this moving and beautiful display.

(Thanks go to my husband Ron for creating the above video montages.)


Sunday night my friend Helene and I attended a concert at the museum. Directed by Kent Tritle,  the Choir of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine presented a program of sacred music entitled O Magnum Mysterium (“O Great Mystery’). In all my years of going to the Met, I’d never been there when the museum was not completely open. Certain galleries were lit, especially those that led to the Medieval Sculpture Hall where the concert was to be held. Others were roped off and dark. We came in through the Roman Sculpture Court.

This was the set-up for the performance: metconcert . The choir entered from the right; we heard them before we saw them. They were singing a Gregorian Chant entitled Veni, veni Emanuel. They entered slowly, grouping themselves directly in front of the Christmas tree.

Here, the chant is sung by the Christendom College Choir and the Schola Gregoriana:

Neither photography nor videorecording were permitted on this occasion, so I have selected some YouTube videos of several of the pieces performed by the choir. This setting of O Magnum Mysterium  by Tomas Luis de Victoria is sung by The Sixteen:

Hans Leo Hassler‘s Verbum Caro Factus Est is sung here by Domchor Fulda:

Several of the pieces on the program were by twentieth century composers. I was especially taken by this Ave Maria by Franz Biebl, a composer with whom I was not familiar.

Franz Biebl  1906-2001

Franz Biebl 1906-2001

And I was delighted to find a video of Chanticleer singing this luminous work in the very same space where Sunday night’s concert took place:

I had heard the music of Morten Lauridsen before – specifically, at one of the Bach concerts I regularly attend with my friend Emma. I knew his O Magnum Mysterium would be gorgeous, and it was:

This performance is by the King’s College Choir,  King’s College, Cambridge. It’s accompanied by these comments from the poster:

Probably the best and most moving piece of music I have ever heard. I was lucky enough to be able to watch this on “Carols from Kings” on Christmas Eve 2009 and it left me in tears. The beauty of the harmonies and the control of Kings College Choir transcends all words and I was left in a state of shock quivering and speechless. I have never heard anything like this in all my life! I never want it to end!

The piece that I heard at the Bach Concert earlier this year is called”Dirait-on:”

Can music be too beautiful? For me, “Dirait-on” comes close…..

At the close of the concert, the choir, once again singing Gregorian chant, made its stately way out of the Medieval Sculpture Hall, to the gallery at the right.

Here is Conditor alme siderum, sung by the Schola Gregoriana  Mediolanensus of Milan, Italy:

How could something be so magical? We were transported. O Magnum Mysterium, indeed.

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