College Craziness, Part 2

My son has submitted another college application. Tonight was the deadline for applying to Curtis Institute of Music, in Philadelphia. The application seemed particularly long and detailed, but he has been working on it for some time, and finally finished tonight, a whole hour or two before the midnight deadline. Woo hoo.

He sent off the application, along with three samples of his original music (he’s applying as a Composition major) and the enormous $250 entry fee (the biggest yet, but if he gets in, the school is tuition-free, so that will more than make up for it).

Curtis is extremely selective, accepting only about 3% of applicants. So we are not holding our breath. On the other hand, I do think he’s a darn good candidate.

Next up: Johns Hopkins. But not tonight.

And if you missed my first College Craziness post, click here.

Here is the young Maestro in concert at the Lyceum two years ago.

December 16 Writer Birthdays

My own birthday is December 16, and while it’s silly to feel pride about something over which I had no control, I am proud to share my birthday with some pretty wonderful writers. In fact, I have yet to find a date with a better array of writer birthdays (though tomorrow’s list will have some impressive entries, too). Judge for yourself…

1770 – Ludwig van Beethoven, superstar German composer and pianist who is considered one of the greatest composers of all time, despite the fact that he was completely deaf by about the age of 40.

1775 – Jane Austen, English novelist of fiction set among Britain’s landed gentry and their poorer relations and neighbors.

1787 – Mary Russell Mitford, English author and dramatist best known for “Our Village,” a series of sketches of village scenes and vividly drawn characters based upon life in Three Mile Cross, a hamlet near Reading in Berkshire, where she lived.

1863 – George Santayana (pseudonym of Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruiz de Santayana y Borrás), Spanish-American writer known for pithy quotations.

1865 – Olavo Brás Martins dos Guimarães Bilac, Brazilian Parnassian poet, journalist, and translator, best known for writing the lyrics to the Brazilian Flag Anthem.

1866 – Wassily Wassilyevich Kandinsky, Russian painter, art teacher, art theorist, and essayist who is considered one of the founders of abstract art.

1867 – Amy Wilson Carmichael, Irish-born Christian missionary who wrote many books about her experiences running a mission in India.

1895 – Marie Hall Ets, Caldecott Medal-winning American children’s book writer and illustrator.

1899 – Noel Coward, influential Tony Award-winning British playwright, composer, actor, and director known for his wit and flamboyant style; he was knighted in 1969.

1900 – Victor Sawdon (V.S.) Pritchett, British short-story writer, memoirist, essayist, literary biographer, and critic.

1901 – Margaret Mead, influential and sometimes controversial American anthropologist and writer.

1917 – Arthur C. Clarke, Sri-Lankan-based British science-fiction writer, essayist, screenwriter, futurist, and undersea explorer whose fictional creations sometimes led to real-world science; he won multiple Hugo and Nebula Awards, and in 2000 was knighted in 2000. Along with Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov, he is considered one of the “Big Three” of science-fiction literature.

1924 – Nicolas Sidjakov, Caldecott Medal-winning Latvian-born American illustrator best known for his work on Baboushka and the Three Kings.

1925 – Kerima Polotan-Tuvera, award-winning Filipino fiction writer, essayist, and journalist; some of her work was published under the pseudonym Patricia S. Torres.

1928 – Philip K. Dick, Hugo Award-winning American science fiction novelist, short-story writer, and essayist known for his dystopian futures and explorations of philosophy and theology in his work; his most celebrated novel is Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Many of his books and stories have been made into movies.

1930 – Bill Brittain, Newbery Honor-winning American author best known for his writings of the fictional New England town on Coven Tree.

1938 – Frank Deford (Benjamin Franklin Deford III), American sportswriter and author.

1941 – Lesley Stahl, American television journalist and author, best known for her work on CBS’s 60 Minutes.

1947 – Trevor Zahra, award-winning Maltese writer of more than 130 books for children and adults, including adventure stories, poetry, folktales, novels, short stories, folktales, workbooks, and translations.

1952 – Susan Estrich, American author, journalist, professor, lawyer, political commentator, and feminist advocate; several of her books discuss her experiences as a survivor of rape.

1956 – E.B. Lewis, two-time Caldecott Medal-winning American illustrator of children’s books.

December 15 Writer Birthdays

1867 – Georges Polti, French writer best known for his list of thirty-six dramatic situations.

1896 – Ann Nolan Clark, American children’s writer, who won a Newbery Medal for Secret of the Andes.

1896 – Betty Smith, American author best known for her novel A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

1897 – Zenta Mauriņa, Latvian writer, essayist, and researcher in philology.

1913 – Muriel Rukeyser, American poet and political activist, best known for her poems about equality, feminism, social justice, and Judaism.

1917 – Shan-ul-Haq Haqqee (Urdu: شان الحق حقی), notable Urdu poet, writer, journalist, broadcaster, translator, critic, researcher, linguist and lexicographer.

1939 – Alan Armstrong, Newbery Honor-winning American children’s author.

1933 – Vasireddy Seethadevi (Telugu: వాసిరెడ్డి సీతాదేవి), Indian writer in the Telugu language who published 42 novels, 10 short-story collections, and several essays; when her novel Mareechika was banned, she took the government to court and got her book released.

1953 – Robert Charles Wilson, American-Canadian Hugo Award-winning science-fiction author.

December 14 Writer Birthdays

1503 – Nostradamus, author, astrologist, and alleged seer, credited with foreseeing many world events (possibly born on Dec. 21; accounts vary).

1777 – Juan N. Gallego, Spanish poet, priest & interpreter.

1895 – Paul Éluard, French poet who helped found the surrealist movement.

1916 – Shirley Jackson, influential mystery and horror writer of novels, memoirs, and short stories; she is best known for her short story, “The Lottery.”

1917 – Tove Ditlevsen, Danish poet, essayist, and novelist.

1929 – Charles W. Ryan, American technical writer and nonfiction book author.

1938 – Leonardo Boff, Brazilian priest, theologian & writer.

1940 – Carolyn Marie Rodgers, poet, playwright, short-story author, and founder of one of America’s oldest and largest Black presses; a founder of the Black arts movement.

1945 – Stanley Crouch, American poet, music and cultural critic, syndicated columnist, novelist and biographer, perhaps best known for his jazz criticism and his novel, Don’t the Moon Look Lonesome.

1948 – Boudewijn Maria Ignatius Büch, poet, author, and TV personality.

1951 – Amy Hempel, PEN/Faulkner-nominated American short story writer, journalist, and professor.

1953 – Joe Toplyn, comedy writer for David Letterman.

1966 – Lucrecia Martel, Argentinian screenwriter and film director.

1968 – Kelley Armstrong, bestselling Canadian fantasy author.

Photo Friday – A Bookish Christmas Tree

Blast From the Past: I haven’t put up this year’s Christmas tree yet. But I was just reminded of this photo I took exactly three years ago today. That year, in addition to my more typical Christmas tree, I did something I’d been wanting to do for years: I built a Christmas tree (and friendly snowman) out of books! Creating it was more time-consuming than I had expected, but all that work did result in the coolest Christmas tree ever. Why stop with books as presents under the tree, when you can have an entire tree made of books?

December 13 Writer Birthdays

1797 – Christian Johann Heinrich Heine, German journalist, essayist, and literary critic who was also one of the most significant German poets of the 19th century; some of his early lyric poetry was set to music by such composers as Robert Schumann and Franz Schubert.

1871 – Emily Carr, Canadian artist and writer who was heavily inspired by indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast; her autobiography is still considered the finest example of Canadian autobiographical literature.

1890 – Mary Franeis Butts, British modernist writer whose work found recognition in literary magazines such as The Bookman and The Little Review, as well as from fellow modernists including T. S. Eliot.

1902 – Yevgeny Petrov (Евгений Петров), pen name of Yevgeny Petrovich Katayev (Евгений Петрович Катаев), a popular Soviet author and war correspondent; he is best known for satirical novels written with his coauthor Ilya Ilf.

1903 – Shibram Chakraborty (শিবরাম চক্রবর্তী), popular Bengali writer, poet, playwright, humorist, novelist, nonfiction author, and revolutionary whose humorous stories are noted for their unique use of puns, alliteration, and irony.

1906 – Sir Laurens Jan van der Post, prolific Afrikaner book author, journalist, educator, philosopher, explorer, and conservationist who was also a farmer, war hero, political adviser to British heads of government, close friend of Britain’s Prince Charles, and godfather of Prince William.

1915 – Ross McDonald, Pen name of American-Canadian crime fiction writer Kenneth Millar, known for his Lew Archer series.

1916 – Leonard Weisgard, American illustrator whose work on Margaret Wise Brown’s The Little Island won him the 1948 Caldecott Medal.

1925 – John Ehle, Jr., American writer best known for fiction set in the Appalachian Mountains; he has been described as “the father of Appalachian literature.”

1927 – James Wright, Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet.

1949 – R.A MacAvoy, American fantasy author whose books draw on Celtic and Zen themes.

1952 – Jean Rouaud, French author who won the Prix Goncourt for the novel Fields of Glory (Les Champs d’honneur.)

1954 – Emma Bull, influential American science fiction and fantasy author; her novel War for the Oaks is a pioneering work in urban fantasy.

1954 – Tamora Pierce, popular and prolific award-winning American author of young adult fantasy fiction.

1959 – Todd Stanley Purdum, American writer, reporter, editor, and political correspondent for Vanity Fair magazine

December 12 Writer Birthdays

1821 – Gustave Flaubert, influential French author of literary realism best known for the classic novel Madame Bovary.

1905 – Mulk Raj Anand, Indian writer who wrote in English about the lives of the poorer castes in traditional Indian society; a pioneer of Indo-Anglian fiction, he was one of the first India-based writers in English to gain an international readership.

1914 – Patrick O’Brian, English novelist, famous for writing about his series of books about the sea, set in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic wars.

1920 – Elena Garro, Mexican screenwriter, journalist, playwright, short-story writer, and novelist, commonly affiliated with the Magical Realism movement (though she rejected this affiliation). She was married to poet Octavio Paz.

1946 – Josepha Sherman, American author, folklorist, and anthologist, known for her own fantasy novels as well as work within the Star Trek universe.

1969 – Madeleine Wickham (born Madeleine Townley), English author of chick lit who is best known for work written under the pen name Sophie Kinsella.

December 11 Writer Birthdays

1725 – George Mason, American planter, politician, statesman, writer, and delegate to the U.S. Constitutional Convention of 1787, one of three delegates who refused to sign the Constitution. His writings, including substantial portions of the Fairfax Resolves of 1774 and his Objections to this Constitution of Government, have greatly influenced American political thought; he is called the Father of the U.S. Bill of Rights, which was based on his Virginia Declaration of Rights.

1756 – Anton Tomaž Linhart, Slovene playwright and historian who is considered the father of Slovene historiography.

1810 – Alfred de Musset, French dramatist, poet, and novelist.

1849 – Ellen Karolina Sofia Key, Swedish feminist writer on many subjects in the fields of family life, ethics, and education, who was an important figure in the Modern Breakthrough movement and an early advocate of a child-centered approach to education and parenting.

1882 – Subramanya Bharathi, Indian poet, journalist, independence activist, and social reformer who wrote in the Tamil language; he was a pioneer of modern Tamil poetry and is considered one of the greatest Tamil literary figures of all time.

1892 – Harriet Stratemeyer Adams, American writer of books for pseudonymous children’s mystery series including “Nancy Drew” and the “Hardy Boys.”

1906 – Birago Diop, Senegalese veterinarian, diplomat, poet, and story-teller, whose writing is credited with popularizing African folktales.

1911 – Nahguib Mahfouz, Nobel Prize-winning Egyptian author, known for “works rich in nuance – now clear-sightedly realistic, now evocatively ambiguous,” who has formed “an Arabian narrative art that applies to all mankind.”

1916 – Elena Garro, Mexican screenwriter, journalist, playwright, short-story writer, and novelist who was commonly affiliated with the Magical Realism movement (though she rejected that affiliation). She was married to poet Octavio Paz.

1918 – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Nobel Prize-winning Russian novelist, short-story writer, and dissident lauded for “the ethical force with which he has pursued the indispensable traditions of Russian literature.”

1922 – Grace Paley, American short-story author, poet, teacher, and political activist.

1931 – Jerome Rothenberg, JAmerican poet, translator, and anthologist, noted for his work in ethnopoetics and performance poetry.

1932 – Keith Waldrop, National Book Award-winning American poet, translator, and scholar.

1937 – Jim Harrison, American author of poetry, fiction, reviews, and essays about the outdoors; his novella “Legends of the Fall” was adapted into a movie.

1939 – Thomas McGuane, American author of novels, screenplays, and short stories, known especially for his writing about fishing.

1945 – Pauline Gedge, New Zealand-born Canadian novelist best known for her bestselling historical fiction trilogies; she also writes science fiction, fantasy, and horror.

1946 – Diana Palmer, pen name of American romance and science-fiction novelist Susan Kyle, who has also published under Diana Blayne, Katy Currie, and her own name.

1964 – Ayelet Waldman, Israeli-American lawyer, novelist, and essayist known for her self-revelatory essays, and for her fiction and nonfiction about the changing expectations of motherhood, and the demands of children, partners, career and society.

Winter (Concert) Is Coming

The T.C. Williams H.S. Orchestra concert is coming! Tomorrow at 7:30 p.m., we will all be in the high school auditorium to hear the three orchestras (9th Grade, Concert, and Chamber) perform the music they’ve been working on this fall.

My son is a first violinist in the Chamber Orchestra, but on one piece, he’ll be accompanying the orchestra on piano. He’s accompanying the Concert Orchestra on piano for one of its pieces, too.

Alexandria schools have a terrific music program, and the high school orchestra program — especially our outstanding Chamber Orchestra — is one of the best anywhere. The concert is free and open to the public, so come on over and listen!

The T.C. Williams High School Chamber Orchestra taking a bow at the Fall Concert last month. (My son is the tall curly-haired violinist at left.)

December 10 Writer Birthdays

1783 – Maria Benitez, Puerto Rican poet.

1830 – Emily Dickinson, beloved and prolific American poet, most of whose work was not discovered until after her death.

1891 – Nelly Sachs, Nobel Prize-winning Jewish German poet and playwright who escaped to Sweden to avoid being sent to a forced-labor camp; in her work, she gave voice to the suffering of the Jewish people under the Nazi regime.

1925 – Carolyn Kizer, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet of the American Northwest.

1933 – Philip Craig, American author known for his Martha’s Vineyard mysteries.

1956 – Jacquelyn Mitchard, American journalist and bestselling author of adult and YA books; her novel The Deep End of the Ocean was named one of the ten most influential books of the past 25 years.

1958 – Cornelia Funke, U.S.-based German author of children’s and YA fiction, best known for her “Inkheart” trilogy.

1960 – Kenneth Branagh, Northern Irish actor, director, and screenwriter, best known for his Shakespeare adaptations (and his role as Professor Gilderoy Lockhart in the Harry Potter films); he was nominated for an Oscar for his Hamlet screenplay.