Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, a man so great we know him by his first name, was born on this day in 1606. Under normal circumstances, I would have given the day to him. But it is hard to do that when Google has spent the whole damned day hocking their doodle of him. He is unquestionably great, and I really like his work. However, I prefer Vermeer. It isn’t that I think Vermeer is better. From a technical standpoint, Rembrandt is certainly better. To me, he is very similar to the best of the High Renaissance, which is a very great compliment. But there is a certain magic in the way that Vermeer uses light that I find very compelling. Rembrandt is undoubtedly more realistic. But what does my opinion matter? You’re reading a man who is most inspired by pre-perspective religious painting.
The Italian composer Giovanni Buonaventura Viviani was born in 1638. His work is pre-Baroque. You can definitely hear where it is headed. Here is one of his sonatas played by the Chicago Early Music Consort with period instruments:
The American composer Jack Beeson was born in 1921. He is that fairly rare creature: a modern composer who wrote operas. Here is the second act of his opera Lizzie Borden, which is in English, but is demanding music:
Linda Ronstadt is 67 today. She is such a fine pop singer. Here she is in the video for her version of Bob Haggart’s and Johnny Burke’s “What’s New”:
Wrestler and iconoclast Jesse Ventura is 62. Guitarist Joe Satriani is 57. I admire him, but often think of the line from Amadeus, “Too many notes.” Still, here he is with “Flying In A Blue Dream,” which is quite nice once he gets into it:
And actor Forest Whitaker is 52.
But the day belongs to one of my favorite lyricists Dorothy Fields who was born on this day in 1905. She is best known for the songs “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love”, “On the Sunny Side of the Street,” and, of course, “The Way You Look Tonight.” Here is the original version of that last song sung by Fred Astaire. It is not my favorite version at all, but what matters is the song. It is always great:
Happy birthday Dorothy Fields!