get ready 16.11.11.11.11.11.1 tomorrow

Five years ago tomorrow we actually watched the second hand on a digital clock pass 11:11.11 noting that that was the last time this century that 13 x's 1 will appear. Most of the 1's will be back each year.

Veteran's Day, tomorrow, came about in 1919, a year after the Armistice ending the First World War.  Certainly if there was a horrible example of what nations do to their populations and what war grinds out, this was it...and that isn't in the least to discount the 98 years of wars that follow.

Sometimes we adopt World Wars as our own and project ourselves into the center of things and that is only natural and to some extent right.  Armistice Day should be about nothing if not about war being the last alternative and it is doubly sad if it isn't.  You can't wish back the dead.

Ravel, the French composer drove ambulances during WWI.  That must have been a grisly task at best and a nightmare for decades at least. Ravel, as was the case with most of the French population, lost some if not many friends and family. He (Rave)l was a national treasure in France - a composer/artist of international fame perhaps not up for the trenches but a patriot and ready to do his part.  

Death moves a lot of people and he was no exception and between 1914-17 he wrote these various movements in a suite or collection of pieces called Le Tombeau de Couperin - the Tomb of Couperin (Couperin was an 18th century composer - very French and very much admired for his skill).  These pieces aren't to the memory of Couperin but to the individual deaths of spirits living in his friends.
The movements are:
  • I. Prélude
"To the memory of Lieutenant Jacques Charlot" (who transcribed Ravel's four-hand piece Ma mère l'oye for solo piano)
  • II. Fugue
"To the memory of Jean Cruppi" (to whose mother Ravel dedicated his opera L'heure espagnole)
  • III. Forlane
"To the memory of Lieutenant Gabriel Deluc" (a Basque painter from Saint-Jean-de-Luz)
  • IV. Rigaudon
"To the memory of Pierre and Pascal Gaudin" (brothers killed by the same shell)
  • V. Menuet
"To the memory of Jean Dreyfus" (at whose home Ravel recuperated after he was demobilized)
  • VI. Toccata
"To the memory of Captain Joseph de Marliave" (killed in action in August 1914)
We don't own sadness or sacrifice, nationalism or loss. We are just part of all of the Earth populated by those who do and do it well.





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