Sitting at home on a rainy day has to be one of life’s uncommon and less celebrated enterprises. It is nonetheless a heartening endeavour; and, given a chance, it can be inspiring. In spite of its seeming unimportance, getting here requires inordinate confluence of circumstance. First, naturally, it has to be raining or at least threatening to do so. Rain is not something I instinctively identify with Hilton Head Island. For example – apart from today’s soggy conditions – the weather forecast for the upcoming week is nothing but sunshine with temperatures as high as 74°F. Sunshine is the norm around here. Second, there must be nothing else on one’s agenda for the entire day – no shopping, no appointment, no visiting. Which reminds me, I just made an appointment to have my hair cut tomorrow. Third, you have to be in the mood to recline and to suffer indolence. It is not in my nature to be slothful. For whatever industrious, pertinacious or psychological reason I prefer some recognizably improving activity such as bicycling. Admittedly movement of almost any description is the sine qua non of my less than demanding assessment of improving human activity – which might for example include nothing more adventurous than getting a car wash (conveniently out of the question today because of the ubiquitous puddles if indeed the service were available). It helps to achieve this mandatory dormancy to be in a state of overall fatigue whether as a result of “the weather” or as well-entitled exhaustion from previous vigour. Considering my non-stop activity this I view not only as welcome but also as needed from time to time.
For many others I believe reading is the answer to a rainy day. No question, reading is very close to the pinnacle of desirable activity (or should I say, inactivity). Either way, reading is good, no question; however my uncontrollable and constantly burgeoning inclination to productivity spirits me instead to some fashion of self-expression. In my case and at my advanced age that convention is limited to music, writing and photography. Though I have tried without success to enable music production on the computer, my creativity (if I may presume to call it such) is enhanced by listening to music from my newly-acquainted friends at Apple Music who through the sorcery of technology and algorithms have determined what sound is for me most appropriate and reinforcing. Presently I am soothed by Fauré’s Pavane.
The Pavane in F-sharp minor, Op. 50, is a short work by the French composer Gabriel Fauré written in 1887. It was originally a piano piece, but is better known in Fauré’s version for orchestra and optional chorus. It was first performed in Paris in 1888, becoming one of the composer’s most popular works.
I was also drawn to an album by Jean Sibelius whose Finnish nationality is not far removed from the Estonian nationality of Arvo Pärt another of my favourite composers.
Estonia, officially the Republic of Estonia, is a country in northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland across from Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea across from Sweden, to the south by Latvia, and to the east by Lake Peipus and Russia.
This coincidence is personally enlarged because my parents formerly lived in Stockholm, Sweden; I traveled to Finland to a military base with my father (who had an office in Helsinki) as far north as the Russian border; and, these days Vladimir Putin is sadly in the news for enacting one of the world’s most egregious displays of bullying by surrounding Ukraine with tanks and militia. The Grand Duchy of Finland was formerly part of the Russian Empire. The wintry remoteness of Arvo Pärt’s music captures all those emotions.
The Grand Duchy of Finland, alternatively Grand Principality of Finland) was the predecessor state of modern Finland. It existed between 1809 and 1917 as an autonomous part of the Russian Empire.
Originating in the 16th century as a titular grand duchy held by the King of Sweden, the country became autonomous after its annexation by Russia in the Finnish War of 1808–1809. The Grand Duke of Finland was the Romanov Emperor of Russia, represented by the Governor-General. Due to the governmental structure of the Russian Empire and Finnish initiative, the Grand Duchy’s autonomy expanded until the end of the 19th century. The Senate of Finland, founded in 1809, became the most important governmental organ and the precursor to the modern Government of Finland, the Supreme Court of Finland, and the Supreme Administrative Court of Finland.
Economic, social and political changes in the Grand Duchy of Finland closely paralleled those in the rest of the Russian Empire and in the rest of Europe. The economy grew slowly during the first half of the 19th century. The reign of Alexander II (1855–1881) saw significant cultural, social and intellectual progress, and an industrializing economy. Tensions increased after Saint Petersburg adopted Russification policies in 1898; the new circumstances saw the introduction of limited autonomy and the reduction of Finnish cultural expression. Unrest in Russia and Finland during the First World War (1914–1918) and the subsequent collapse of the Russian Empire in 1917 resulted in the Finnish Declaration of Independence and the end of the Grand Duchy.
One further mention is Vivaldi who distinguishes himself by more than his renowned Four Seasons.
Antonio Vivaldi (1678–1741)
Antonio Vivaldi is one of an unfortunate, if select, group of composers whose fame rests almost exclusively on a single work. Unlike such other Baroque one-hit-wonders as Pachelbel and Albinoni (not that Albinoni actually wrote “his” famous Adagio), however, Vivaldi—hugely popular and influential during his lifetime—is slowly but steadily achieving greater, and richly deserved, recognition today. His oeuvre is in fact broad and wide-ranging, including several hundred sonatas, sinfonias and concertos, of which The Four Seasons is but one, as well as more than forty operas, numerous sacred choral works and around forty cantatas.
Despite his international renown, Vivaldi’s star gradually began to fade, and by the late 1730s he was in financial difficulties. He left his native city for Vienna, and it was there that he died in July 1741. Despite this rather quiet end to an illustrious career, Vivaldi left behind him an extraordinary legacy. His music—wonderful on its own merits—broke new ground, inspiring a generation of younger composers, including JS Bach.
The last resort of the idle person is the restful chair on the balcony overlooking the Harbour Town golf course whence the distant now azure sky beckons wistfully. The links become greener by the day – anxious as they no doubt are for the RBC Classic golf tournament considered one of the most difficult on the PGA tour.
The RBC Heritage, known for much of its history as the Heritage Classic or simply the Heritage, is a PGA Tour event in South Carolina, first played 52 years ago in 1969. It is currently played in mid-April, the week after The Masters in Augusta, Georgia.
Harbour Town Golf Links is a public golf course in the eastern United States, located in South Carolina in Sea Pines Plantation on Hilton Head Island in Beaufort County. Since 1969, it has hosted the RBC Heritage on the PGA Tour, usually in mid-April, the week after The Masters.
Often referred to in the context of the PGA simply as “Hilton Head“, Harbour Town Golf Links is ranked high among golf courses in America by Golf Digest and Golf Magazine. The course consists of narrow fairways, overhanging oaks, pines, palmettos, and dark lagoons. Harbour Town, along with the Atlantic Dunes (formerly known as Ocean Course) and Heron Point, make up the Sea Pines Resort.