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30
May
15

Steinway & Sons Louis XV Golden Piano

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Steinway & Sons are probably the most illustrious piano manufacturers in the world. Piano players all over the world dream of owning a Steinway one day. One such piano from the annals of the company’s history is up for auction. The piano in question is a Steinway & Sons Louis XV mahogany piano that has been gilded with 24k gold. A golden piano! That seems like something out of a fairytale. This beautiful piano has been owned by several great men like the American poet William Stafford, a New York banker who kept it at his Plaza Hotel residence, Benjamin Sawtelle Hanchett , who owned the piano for almost 65 years. The last owner was Mark Fritz who owned it from 2004 till his death in 2012.

This particular piano was designed as part of the 50th anniversary celebration of the company. It is a 1904 Model B piano with a serial number serial number 108815, and was designed by Joseph Burr Tiffany who was the head artist of Steinway’s Art Case Department. He also happened to be related to the founder of Tiffany & Company. It was then carved by Juan Ayuso from solid mahogany and covered with gold. Several other pianos were crafted for this special anniversary collection.

More than 80 years after it was made, Steinway’s Chairman, John H. Steinway had it restored in 1985 by renowned piano conservationist, Lloyd Meyer of Camilleri Pianoworks. The piano was in good hands as Camilleri has restored musical instruments of many artists and that of The Peabody Conservatory and The Juilliard School of Music. This piano will be auctioned off by Leslie Hindman Auctioneers at their Fine Furniture and Decorative Arts auction being held on April 28 and April 29. The pre-auction estimate for this golden Steinway is around $200,000. One will have to wait and see if the auction surpasses this estimate.

11
Oct
14

Impressive Swimming Pool: Replica of a Stradivarius Violin

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Being able to customize certain aspects of your house is crucial to present day architecture. And people are not shy about their desires when it comes to home design. Take this swimming pool that replicates an 18th century violin. The owner didn’t just want an outdoor resemblance of a violin, but an exact (full detailed) Stradivarius violin as the design for the house of water activities. Cipriano Landscape Design & Custom Swimming Pools delivered a great project that simply dazzles you. Not only with the shape – bridge, strings, tailpiece, f-holes, and chin rest of the violin included in the build – but with its state of the art features. The high level of complexity can be found as well as in the design, but also in the modern technology the entire pool offers.

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Fiber optic depicting the strings can glow in the evenings as well as synchronize with any kind of music if there’s any playing outside the pool. And when you can adjust all settings and utilities from your mobile, comfort is totally delivered. Oh, did we forget to tell you that you can listen to music underwater? Or that you can have a total of 12 persons in the over-flow spa? Yeah, they’re all true. Would you dare to make one for yourself?

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Read more:
http://njcustomswimmingpools.com/projects/bedford-ny/inground-freeform-music-swimming-pool-design/

11
Apr
14

Lunar Eclipse – April 2014

Join it LIVE here!

A total lunar eclipse will take place on April 15, 2014. It will be the first of two total lunar eclipses in 2014, and the first of a tetrad (four total lunar eclipses in series). Subsequent eclipses in the tetrad will occur on October 8, April 8, 2015, and September 28, 2015.

The April 15 eclipse will be visible in the Pacific Ocean region, including Australia, as well as North and South America. The moon will pass south of the center of the Earth’s shadow. As a result, the northern part of the moon will be noticeably darker than the southern part. It will occur during the ascending phase of the moon’s orbit, part of lunar saros 122.

Background

A lunar eclipse occurs when the moon passes within Earth’s umbra (shadow). As the eclipse begins, the Earth’s shadow first darkens the moon slightly. Then, the shadow begins to “cover” part of the moon, turning it a dark red-brown color (typically – the color can vary based on atmospheric conditions). The moon appears to be reddish due to the refraction of light through the Earth’s atmosphere. This is the same effect that causes sunsets to appear red.

The following simulation shows the approximate appearance of the moon passing through the earth’s shadow. The moon’s brightness is exaggerated within the umbral shadow. The northern portion of the moon will be closest to the center of the shadow, making it darkest, and most red in appearance.

Animation_april_15_2014_lunar_eclipse_appearance

Description

On April 15, 2014, the moon will pass through the southern part of the Earth’s umbral shadow.It will be visible over most of the Western Hemisphere including east Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific ocean, and North and South America.In the western Pacific, the first half of the eclipse will occur before moonrise. In Europe and Africa, the eclipse will begin just before moonset.In North America, Mars will arguably be the most prominent object in the sky other than the moon, appearing 9.5° northwest of the moon.Spica will be 2° to the west, while Arcturus will be 32° north. Saturn will be 26° east and Antares 44° southeast.

Mars will be at opposition on April 8 and closest to earth on April 14, so the eclipse will also be an excellent time to observe Mars in a good telescope. It will be a minimum distance of 0.618 AU, the closest approach since 2007. With an apparent diameter of 15.2″, Mars will appear as large in 120 power telescope as the moon will with the unaided eye.

The moon will enter Earth’s penumbral shadow at 4:54 UTC and the umbral shadow at 5:58. Totality will last for 1 hour 18 minutes, from 7:07 to 8:25. The moment of greatest eclipse will occur at 7:47. At that point, the Moon’s zenith will be approximately 3,000 kilometres (1,900 mi) southwest of the Galapagos Islands. The moon will leave the umbra shadow at 9:33 and the penumbra shadow at 10:38.

The umbral magnitude will peak at 1.2907. At that moment, the northern part of the moon will pass 1.7 arc-minutes south of the center of Earth’s shadow, while the southern part will be 40.0 arc-minutes from center. Thus, the northern part of the moon will be noticeably darker. The moon’s appearance will change significantly throughout the eclipse as the depth of the shadow changes. The gamma of the eclipse will be -0.3017.

The eclipse will be a member of lunar saros 122. It will be the 56th such eclipse.

Viewing events

Many museums and observatories are planning special events for the eclipse. The Griffith Observatory will stream the eclipse live on the Internet.

Related eclipses

The April 15 eclipse is the first eclipse in a tetrad; that is, four consecutive total eclipses with no partial eclipses in between. There will be one eclipse every six lunar cycles during the tetrad – on October 8April 8, 2015, and  September 28, 2015. The lunar year series repeats after 12 cycle, or 354 days, causing a date shift when compared to the solar calendar. This shift mean the Earth’s shadow will move about 11 degrees west in each subsequent eclipse.

This tetrad will start during the ascending node of the Moon’s orbit. It is the first tetrad since the 2003–04 series, which started in May. The next series will from 2032 to 2033, starting in April.

Prophecy

According to the Blood Moon Prophecy popularized by Christian pastors John Hagee and Mark Biltz, the April 15 eclipse is a sign of significant change to come.Starting in 2008, Biltz began teaching that the Second Coming of Jesus would occur at the end of the tetrad. Hagee takes a softer stance, saying only that the tetrad is a sign of something significant. The idea gained popular media attention, appearing in newspapers such as USA Today.It was criticized by many Christian writers as being unlikely from a religious perspective.  In a FAQ on the subject, the scientific radio show Earth & Sky called the use of the term “blood moon” to describe a tetrad as a recent invention that had no scientific basis.According to Christian Today, only a “small group of Christians” see the eclipse as having religious significance.

More:  Blood Moon Prophecy

04
Mar
14

Two charged for Strad heist

Prosecutors say it was the suspect’s “dream theft” – to simply snatch an expensive Stradivarius violin from an unsuspecting musician.

Never mind that Salah Salahadyn, 41, had already tried and failed at art theft.

He pleaded guilty in 2000 to trying to resell a US $25,000 statue to the art gallery owner from whom it had been stolen in 1995.

And his ex-girlfriend told investigators that while he had not stolen it himself he did plot the theft.

Salahadyn was sentenced to five years in prison for that crime.

Now he could face up to 15 years for separate theft, after he and another suspect were charged yesterday in connection with the January heist of a 300-year-old Stradivarius violin valued at $5m.

A confidential source told police that Salahadyn talked about stealing high-end art, the criminal complaint said.

“Salahadyn explained that his dream theft was a Stradivarius violin because of its potential value and the fact that it could be snatched from the hands of a musician as they walk down the street,” the complaint quoted the source as saying.

Salahadyn and a second man, Universal Knowledge Allah, 36, appeared in court yesterday charges of being a party to robbery. Allah is also charged with possessing marijuana.

Court Commissioner Katharine Kucharski ordered cash bail of $10,000 for Salahadyn, citing a lengthy criminal record that includes theft and bail jumping, and $500 for Allah, whose record is clean.

Allah’s lawyer, Paul Ksicinski, noted that the criminal complaint said his client was not at the scene of the robbery. It does say Allah bought the stun gun used in the attack.

Many Stradivarius violins, crafted by renowned Italian luthier Antonio Stradivari, are owned by private collectors who lend them to top violinists to be played in symphonies.

Experts say a Stradivarius violin degrades with disuse but remains in good condition when played regularly.

Experts estimate 600 to 650 Stradivarius instruments remain – about half of what the master produced – and they can be worth millions of dollars apiece.

It would not be hard to find one. Symphonies that feature a Stradivarius often play up the fact in brochures, advertisements and local media.

For example, Frank Almond, a concertmaster at the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, gave newspaper and magazine interviews about the Stradivarius, built in 1715, that was loaned to him by a private owner, and he’s discussed the instrument in podcasts.

He had just completed a performance on January 27 and was putting the violin in his vehicle when a man shocked him with a stun gun, he told investigators. He fell to the ground, and by the time he recovered the thief’s van had sped away.

Violin thefts are generally rare, perhaps because thieves know the easily identified instruments would be hard to sell.

But the robberies seem to be increasing, and musicians should be more cautious, said David Bonsey, a New York-based violin maker and appraiser.

“It’s just one of these really unfortunate things where there’s really a loss of innocence,” Mr Bonsey said. “We’ve seen a lot of this in recent years.”

Police found the stolen violin late on Wednesday night in a suitcase in the attic of a Milwaukee home of Salahadyn’s acquaintances. Police said the homeowner did not know what was in the suitcase.

The music industry breathed a sigh of relief when police said the violin appeared to be in good condition.

But the theft also rekindled conversations about how to balance keeping the violins safe and making sure the public has a chance to enjoy them.

Kerry Keane, an international consultant for musical instruments from Christie’s, said his clients who own Stradivarius violins are rethinking what to do with them.

Many bought the violins with the philanthropic intent of lending them to top virtuosos, he said, but as the violins increase in value, so does the risk.

“One client is considering buying a lesser grade of violin he can lend out,” Mr Keane said.

“That’s my greatest fear – that this will add hesitance to the philanthropists who buy them so they can be played in public.”

27
Jan
14

Sweden’s incredible ice orchestra

i(ce)-Tunes: Sweden’s ice orchestra

(CNN) — They’re among the rarest instruments in the world, but they’ll be discarded come spring. They’re so fragile even the players’ breath risks nudging them out of tune. Turn up the temperature in the concert hall and you’d have, not a finely chiseled viola, flute or conga, but a glass of water.

“And you’d be healthier for drinking it!” says Tim Linhart, ice-instrument maker extraordinaire to an orchestra playing a series of concerts throughout the winter in the remote Swedish town of Luleå, just beneath the Arctic Circle.

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Hearing is believing
Hearing really is believing when it comes to these evanescent instruments made — bar the strings and other odd parts of metal or wood — entirely from frozen water.

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Linhart has held ice concerts not only in Sweden over the past 15 years but also in far-flung locations from Beaver Creek, Colorado, to the Italian alps.
His main problem, he says, in attracting a greater audience to the genre is people’s incredulity that an ice instrument could make more than the most rudimentary sound.
A recording of an ice violinist busking a solo classical piece outside Luleå’s House of Culture in around -10 C is evidence to the contrary.
The sound is sharp and ethereal, with a wide tonal range.

Not only classical
But the ice repertoire doesn’t include only refined, classical pieces.
Along with the violins and a viola, cellos and a bass, there’s an ice banjo in this year’s lineup to accent country and bluegrass numbers.

ice-music-violinist-gallery Beautiful but fragile.

Six- and 12-string guitars suit rock ‘n’ roll, and an ice xylophone resting on bicycle inner tubes — to aid its resonance — works across the genres.
As for the orchestra’s gigantic spherical “bubble drums,” Linhart tells CNN, “they really shake your skeleton.”
Doubtless they’ll be deployed to funky effect in the — inevitably, this being Sweden — series of Abba-themed concerts among the 40 or so on the program this year.

Winter pursuit
A stone sculptor in warmer months, the bearded Linhart, 53, makes all the instruments for the winter concerts in a six-week burst in his back garden.
They’re transported to a specially built igloo auditorium seating 170 people in a nature park outside Luleå, where the orchestra plays.
Originally from New Mexico, Linhart was invited to this town of 80,000 residents in Swedish Lapland 10 years ago to take part in the building of one of the world’s first ice hotels.
He met his wife here. That’s one reason he’s stuck around, but no doubt it also helped that Luleå is one of the coldest towns in Sweden.

ice-music-guitarist-gallery “Ice makes a sharper sound than wood,” says creator.

Lovers of a cold climate
So, apart from loving a sub-zero climate, how else do ice instruments differ from the conventional kind?
They’re quicker to make, for a start, Linhart says.
“I can do the carving on the front and back plate of a standup bass in two hours.
“The chisel just glides through the ice.
“My tools are similar to those of a regular instrument maker,” he says. But when it comes to sealing one of his creations together, “the only glue I use is water.”
“If you want to glue a crack in an ice instrument, you just take a little straw, blow through it until the ice melts and then let it freeze again.
“With wood, you can only carve.
“With ice, you can also grow.”
Just add water!
Another difference from conventional instrument making?
Linhart wears dishwashing gloves while he’s carving, something you wouldn’t see many master violin makers doing.

ice-music-violin-making-gallery

Icy materials
The sculptor works mainly with “white ice,” a pearl-colored blend of water and snow that’s especially flexible when frozen.
Then there’s clear ice: “Pure frozen water with no flaws, just molecule against molecule all the way through.”
But it’s harder to find. Northern Sweden is a good place to look, but you have to dig 20 centimeters beneath a lake surface to find the bubble-free stuff.
Instruments wrought from either material are both more beautiful and more fragile than traditional instruments, Linhard says.
What other instrument, he asks, lets the light shine through?
Their unique visual qualities are exploited in the performances, when non-warming LEDs, constantly shifting in color, are placed inside the instruments.
“It’s like a nightclub in heaven,” Linhart says.

Spring thaw

ice-music-tim-gallery What other instrument transmits light?

The instruments are exceedingly delicate.
They melt in springtime and require constant maintenance before then.
When played, the violins are suspended by strings from the ceiling to keep them from the musician’s warm body.
Just the breath from players and audience means every instrument has to be re-tuned slightly between each song.
Such attention is worth it, says Linhart, for the exquisite sound these magical objects produce.
“Ice instruments have a more detailed sound than wood, say, which absorbs the vibrations from the strings and dampens the sound,” he says.
“Ice is stiffer. It picks up all the vibrations.
“That’s why it makes your hair stand on end.
“You might think the sound on a normal instrument is perfectly clear — until you hear an ice instrument and go, ‘Ah ha!’
“The clarity is crystal.”

Flight plans
Up next on Linhard’s icy agenda is an instrument dreamed up specifically for ice called the orgasmatron, after the machine in the Woody Allen film “Sleeper.”

ice-instruments-concert-igloo-sweden

It’s like a cello, but one a player bows from inside, making his or her body part of the sound.
Linhart doesn’t intend his ice-crafting career to end with instruments.
His dream project is an ultralight airplane made from ice.
Luckily, temperatures tends to get colder the higher you fly.


P
ieces of ice: “Shining Child,” played by Michael Mandrell
Terra Aria,” played by cellist Giovanni Solima.

*By Simon Busch, CNN, January 22, 2014

16
Jan
14

da Vinci’s piano-cello hybrid

Listen to Leonardo da Vinci’s 500-year-old piano-cello hybrid

da Vinci -piano-cello hybrid
Drawings from the Codex Atlanticus were used by a Polish pianist to resurrect the ‘mythical’ instrument

November 2013: A musical instrument that was devised by the Italian luminary Leonardo da Vinci over 500 years ago has been constructed and played in Poland for the first time.
Sławomir Zubrzycki, a pianist and composer, crafted the ‘viola organista’ from the plans that were sketched by da Vinci in around 1470. The plans come from the Codex Atlanticus, an 11-volume collection of da Vinci’s drawings and writings, comprising work on a range of subjects from botany to physics.
There have been a number of attempts to recreate the viola organista in the past, but each time the instrument “fell into oblivion”, Zubrzycki said in an interview.
So, the Polish musician set upon creating his own version of the “mythical” instrument. Starting the project in 2009, Zubrzycki only completed it last year after overcoming a number of practical complications.
The instrument, which resembles a baby grand piano, is a hybrid of sorts, combining the piano and the cello. To play it, a foot pedal is continuously pumped, spinning four wheels inside the instrument that are wrapped in horse tail hair (the same material that is used for violin bows). When a key is pressed, the corresponding metal string presses down onto the wheel, creating a sound similar to a cello.
The viola organista was debuted by Zubrzycki last month at the Academy of Music in Krakow, the academy from which he graduated in 1988.
Speaking at the event, Zubrzycki said: “I have no idea what Leonardo Da Vinci might think of the instrument I’ve made, but I’d hope he’d be pleased.”

14
Jan
14

Titanic’s violin and jewels

Titanic violin sells for more than $1.4 million at auction

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AP Photo/Henry Aldridge and Son

Oct. 2013 LONDON – A violin believed to have been played on the Titanic before the doomed vessel sank beneath the waves has sold for 900,000 pounds (some $1.45 million) at auction.

An unidentified bidder on Saturday won the violin, whose metal fixtures appear corroded by seawater and is no longer playable. The violin, with bandmaster Wallace Hartley‘s name on it, is believed to have been found at sea with the musician’s body more than a week after the Titanic sank.

Hartley and his seven fellow band members were among the 1,517 people aboard the Titanic who died after it hit an iceberg. According to some accounts, the band played the hymn “Nearer, My God, To Thee” to keep spirits up as the passengers boarded lifeboats in the early hours of April 15, 1912.

Auctioneer Henry Aldridge and Son says the violin has been subject to numerous tests to check its authenticity since it was discovered in 2006. It said earlier this year that the violin was Hartley’s “beyond reasonable doubt.”

The German-made violin was a gift from Hartley’s fiancee Maria Robinson, and was engraved with the words “For Wallace on the occasion of our engagement from Maria.”

“It is just a remarkable piece of history,” auctioneer Andrew Aldridge said ahead of Saturday’s auction. “I have been an auctioneer for 20 years, but I have never seen an item that brings out this degree of emotion in people before.”

The musicians have been hailed as heroes for sacrificing their chances of escape.

“Mr. Hartley and the band were very brave people … standing by their posts to the bitter end,” Aldridge said.

Titanic’s jewels on display

Fifteen pieces of jewelry recovered from the wreckage of R.M.S. Titanic recently went on display at the Luxor Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. The exhibit, “Jewels of Titanic” is part of “Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition” and will be on display until May 31, 2013.

T-Diamond_Ring
Charm necklace
T-Charm_Necklace Charms were believed to bring good luck and this type of jewelry was popular in the Victorian era. This necklace features a good-luck pig, a modified star with a three-leaf clover and a rose cut diamond engraved with the words “This Be Your Lucky Star.”

Button covers
T-Cufflinks These men’s button covers are made from diamond, onyx and gold. They would have been worn on a tuxedo, along with cufflinks and studs.
Diamond filigree pendant

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Gold locket

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Sapphire and diamond ring

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Open locket
T-Open_Locket This small gold locket features an engraving in French that reads, “4 Aout 1910,” or “4 August 1910.” The owner of the locket is unknown.

Thomas William Solomon Brown’s pocket watch
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Brown, a 60-year-old South African hotel owner, was a second-class passenger on Titanic, on his way to Seattle, Washington with his wife and daughter. The two women survived in a lifeboat and Brown’s watch was presented to his daughter, Edith Brown Haisman, after it was recovered in 1993.

Three diamond ring

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