5 March 2019

5 March

Pier Paolo Pasolini - writer and film director

Controversial figure who met violent death

The novelist, writer and film director Pier Paolo Pasolini was born on this day in 1922 in Bologna. Pasolini's best-known work included his portrayal of Jesus Christ in The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964), his bawdy adaptations of such literary classics as Boccaccio’s Decameron (1971) and Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales (1972), and and his brutal satire on Fascism entitled Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975). He also wrote novels and poetry and was an outspoken columnist for the Milan newspaper Corriere della Sera, expressing political views that would regularly spark heated debate. He died in violent circumstances in 1975, his beaten body found on a beach in Ostia, near Rome, after which a young man he had picked up at Rome’s main railway station confessed to his murder. Read more… 


Giovanni Battista Tiepolo – artist

Painter’s decorative work can be seen all over Venice

Painter and printmaker Giovanni Battista Tiepolo was born on this day in 1696 in Venice. Also sometimes known as Gianbattista or Giambattista Tiepolo, his output was prolific and he enjoyed success not only in Italy, but in Germany and Spain as well. Highly regarded right from the beginning of his career, he has been described by experts as the greatest decorative artist of 18th century Europe. Although much of his work was painted directly on to the walls and ceilings of churches and palaces in his native Venice, many of Tiepolo’s paintings on canvas are now in art galleries all over the world. Read more...


Alessandro Volta – scientist

Invention sparked wave of electrical experiments

Alessandro Volta, who invented the first electric battery, died on this day in 1827 in Como.  His electric battery had provided the first source of continuous current and the volt, a unit of the electromotive force that drives current, was named in his honour in 1881. Born in 1745 in Como, Volta also discovered and isolated methane gas in 1776, after finding it at Lake Maggiore. He was a friend of the scientist Luigi Galvani, a professor at Bologna University, whose experiments led him to announce in 1791 that the contact of two different metals with the muscle of a frog resulted in the generation of an electric current. Volta’s invention led to many more electrical experiments. Read more…


Marietta Piccolomini – soprano

Popular star who found fame as Violetta

The operatic soprano Marietta Piccolomini, who was most famous for her performances as Violetta in Verdi’s La Traviata, was born on this day in 1834 in Siena.  Her career was relatively brief, spanning just 11 years. Yet she managed to achieve unprecedented popularity, to the extent that crowds of fans would gather outside her hotel and men would volunteer to take the place of horses in pulling her carriage through the streets.  Some critics said that the adulation she enjoyed was more to do with her youthful good looks and her acting ability than her voice, yet she was seldom short of work and she was the first Violetta to be seen by opera goers in both Paris and London.  Read more…


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