Even if it isn’t the most well-known war in the west, overshadowed by the events of a decade later, the Russo-Japanese war nevertheless led to the abortive 1905 revolution in Russia, the takeover of Korea by Japan, gave Theodore Roosevelt a Nobel Peace Prize, and laid some of the groundwork for the worldwide complications of WW1. I only wish there were a decent documentary about it on Youtube – aside from this short, stuffy clip, all I can find are insufferable animated explainers.
In 1905 the tail-end of the Belle Époque in Paris, home to Isadora Duncan and Ruth St. denis found a new star – a Javanese princess, of princely Hindu birth, immersed in the traditions of sacred Indian dance since childhood, newly arrived in France to demonstrate exotic stripteases where she removed a series of veils until she was only wearing a bejeweled bra and headdress. The newspapers went wild – she was was “slender and tall with the flexible grace of a wild animal, and with blue-black hair,” her face “makes a strange foreign impression” and her dance was “so feline, extremely feminine, majestically tragic, the thousand curves and movements of her body trembling in a thousand rhythms.”
Of course Mata Hari was actually Margaretha Geertruida MacLeod, a divorced mother of two from Leeuwarden in The Netherlands. In her very unhappy marriage to Dutch Colonial Army Captain Rudolf MacLeod, Mata Hari had spent a few years in Java, and escaping her husband’s alcoholism, violence and keeping of a concubine, she had immersed herself in local culture, adopting an artistic name which meant “sun” in Malay.
The most famous part of Mata Hari’s story is its tragic ending. Her execution for treason by firing squad in 1917 has left her a reputation as a double-crossing femme fatale, which in truth she probably did very little to earn. A number of films have been made of this latter part of her life, mostly benefiting from the fact that you cannot libel the dead. Perhaps she would have enjoyed her notoriety still lingering a hundred years after her death, or perhaps she would have said this unfairly negates her life of self-creation and struggle.
This documentary is the best I can find currently available on her life.
When people imagine the future, we often imagine new technologies, but we rarely take the time to consider how those technologies will change how we live our lives, or how we see the world. When the internet started becoming popular towards the end of the 1990s, who could have ever predicted what it would do to us in the next couple of decades? It turned out that connecting people in more and more effective ways didn’t lead to a paradise of self-awareness, empathy and knowledge, but did lead to content bubbles, anonymous trolling, the devaluing of not just journalism but truth itself.
Once created, a technology does not merely slip out of our control; it feeds back round into our souls. The phonograph is no exception. No sooner had it begun to record than it began to influence, and then to homogenize. As much as the spread of railways led to a unification of time zones and a dampening of regional accents, the phonograph turned an infinitely complex musical world into one where artists operated within genres, were influenced on micro and macro levels by famous recording artists, then reflected back these influences as they developed into the next generation of artists. Soon we will see genres springing up – not just in America, but around the world – with astonishing rapidity.
We are too late to witness the first examples of this in the USA, and the pig-headed refusal of the record industry to seek talent outside of a small group of professional recording artists doesn’t help matters at all. Around the world, on the other hand, academics and musicians with an interest in exploration were beginning to travel around with portable phonographs, recording in hard-to-reach places with incredibly rich musical traditions, before any of the artists involved had a chance to be affected by this turbo-charged system of influence. 1905 saw the appointment of Erich Moritz von Horn-bostel as director of the Berliner Phonogramm-Archiv, the world’s first collection of ethnomusicological recordings. Professor Felix von Luschan was one of the first to take a phonograph with him on an expedition – to Sendshirli in present-day Turkey. Other members of the archive traveled to Turkestan, Mexico, Cameroon, Melanesia and many other places, armed only with a phonograph and a box of blank wax cylinders. These recordings then formed the basis of the new fields of comparative musicology and ethnomusicology.
I can tell you very little as to what these researchers thought of the music they collected – how they understood it, whether they thought it somehow inferior to the western musical tradition. All I can say is that they seem to have acted in a more scientific manner than had previously been seen, collecting music as they found it rather than in a contrived way for a pre-conceived record-buying audience. As such, the recordings are nothing short of revelatory, “world music” as we will never be able to hear it again.
This month’s mix is, then, a bit different. We start in the USA and finish there, but in the middle we spend the majority of our time traveling to a huge variety of different places, some of them with music which I hope you find as eye-opening as I do.
Russell Hunting – Casey Listening To The Phonograph 0:00
Arthur Pryor’s Band – A Coon Band Contest 0:12
Bernhard Hagen – Walze 10: Zauberformeln Gesungen Von Malim 2:30
Edison Concert Band – Skeleton Dance 2:47
Len Spencer – The Transformation Scene From “Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde” 4:50
Albert Benzler, Henry Nesbit, And The Edison Military Band – Monastery Bells 6:12
Banda De Zapadores De Mexico – La Paloma 7:19
Juan De Dios Peza – Mi Padre 9:27
Higinio Cazón – Recuerdos 9:37
Gabino Ezeiza – Cosmopolísimo 10:59
Trio Instrumental Arriaga – La Dolores – Jota 12:17
Herrera Robinson Y Picazo – La Paloma Azul 14:20
Mario Pinheiro – A Boceta De Rapé 15:30
Los Montegrins De La Foncella Di Montegri – Queen Of The Flowers 18:47
Unknown Performer – I Lamenti De Un Venditore Di Giornali 20:41
Pablo De Sarasate – Caprice Basque Op.24 20:58
Professor A. Lloyd James – Francis Bacon’s “On Studies” 23:34
Maria A. Mikhailova, Acc. Maria Hamowetzkaya – Ave Maria 23:52
Padre Agustino – Predica Di Padre Agustino- L’addio 26:17
Nellie Melba – Lucia Di Lammermoor 26:38
Maria A. Mikhailova – Thou Brilliant Bird 28:02
Edgar L. Davenport – Lasca (Excerpt 1) 29:46
Virgilio Ranzati – Intermezzo From Op. ‘Rural Honor’ 29:58
Vengopal Chari – Different Kind Of Motor Car Noises 31:44
Edison Concert Band – The Auto Race 32:00
Ada Jones And Len Spencer – Fishing 33:53
Harry Lauder – I Love A Lassie 34:30
Arthur Collins – The Preacher And The Bear 36:19
Arthur Collins – The Goose-Bone Man 38:17
Donna & Gladys Of Albina – Souvenir Record From The Lewis & Clark Exposition 38:38
Edward M. Favor – Fol-De-Rol-Lol 38:54
Len Spencer And Parke Hunter – The Professor And The Musical Tramp 40:44
Billy Murray – Give My Regards To Broadway 41:20
Billy Murray And Bob Roberts – I’ve Got A Little Money And I Saved It All For You 42:42
Bohumir Kryl – King Carnival 43:35
Unknown – Discorso Del Tenente Generale Galliano – A Makalle 45:29
Garde Republicaine Orchestra, Clarinet Solo By Lefebvre – Fantaisie from Rigoletto 45:39
Sofie Roeder – Mazurka 46:38
G-N Marko Ivanov – Ne Plachi Maiko Ne Zhali 47:28
Harmonies Orchestra Of V.S.Varshavsky – Kamarinskaya 48:08
Nikolay Malsky – A Woman Vagabond At The Doctor’s 49:11
Professor Barkatullah Khan – Indian Guitar Instrumental- Piloo 49:19
Bangalore Nagaratnam – Nitya-Kalyani (Part III) Ragamalika 51:50
Tiruvasanallur Narayanasami Iyer – Pallavi Sankarabharanam-Adhi Talam 54:19
Pryor’s Orchestra – The Whistler And His Dog 54:50
Unknown Performer(s) – Una Prova In Orchestra- Scena Comica 56:11
Arthur Pryor’s Band – Razazza Mazzazza 57:14
Herbert L. Clarke And John Hazel – The Friendly Rivals 59:08
John Lawson’s Dramatic Company – Scene From Play ‘Humanity’ 1:00:36
Rogers And Pryor – Misere From Il Trovatore 1:01:10
Ada Jones And Len Spencer – Louis And Lena At Luna Park 1:02:27
Ada Jones – My Carolina Lady 1:02:57
Okofu From Logba – Five Proverbs, Drummed In The Twi Language 1:04:51
Nellie Melba – Good-Bye 1:05:22
Edgar L. Davenport – Lasca (Excerpt 2) 1:06:02