This Day in History: (November 5th)
EVENT: The Great Russian Ball at the Academy of Music, New York City.
One of the greatest spectacles of the 1863 New York social season was the Russian Ball held in honor of the officers of the Russian fleet. So detailed were the newspaper reports (which included descriptions of the dresses, the decorations, the full menu, and the amounts of food and drink consumed) that it is possible that Winslow Homer (Artist) based his drawing on written accounts. Nevertheless, this engraving conveys the excitement and dizzying effects of the evening for the thousands who participated in the glittering event.
Those Americans who supported the Union cause during the Civil War were also pleased that Emperor Alexander II had freed Russia’s serfs in February 1861. He became known as the “Tsar Liberator”, while Americans referred to President Lincoln as “The Great Emancipator” for freeing the slaves in Confederate territories in January 1863.
During the fall of 1863, the darkest hour of the Civil War, part of the Russian fleet arrived at the ports of New York and San Francisco. The first group came in September, and the second in October. There were 12 ships in total.
While the Russians never said why they had come, their arrival was interpreted by many Americans as a concrete expression of Russian friendship. The North seemed to be urgently in need of friends and the arrival of Russian warships dramatically highlighted the fact that not only was Alexander II America’s one true friend, but that he was seemingly prepared to fight on our side.
“God bless the Russians!” exclaimed Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles, and this sentiment was echoed throughout the Union.
The welcome the Russians received in New York and San Francisco was overwhelming, and included elaborate balls. The New York squadron also visited Washington and Boston, and were feted with galas in those cities as well.
Sailing on the “Almaz” clipper was the composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. Legend has it that he wrote “Flight of the Bumblebee” because of that trip. He wrote in a letter home: “I’m bored and hear buzzing wind all the time.” Some believe that buzzing became the sound of the bees in his famous composition.
BOOK: On Resistance to Evil by Force (О Сопротивлении Злу Силою)
by Ivan Ilyin
Written in 1925, On Resistance to Evil by Force is one of the most important tracts composed by white émigré philosopher Ivan Alexandrovich Ilyin. Responding to the pacifist pretentions of Count Leo Tolstoy, Ilyin mounts a tenacious defence of the Orthodox tradition of physical opposition to evil. As he explains, in the face of evil which can be contained by no other means, a forceful response is not only permissible, but becomes a knightly duty. Further, heroic courage consists not only in recognising this duty, but in bearing its heavy moral burden without fear. In his own time, Ilyin penned this guide for the exiled Russian White Army in its continued resistance against the godless Bolsheviks, yet while the world has developed since the civil war which he lived through, Christians everywhere can still find great relevance in his words, for the same evil continues its designs through other means and under other names. Translated here into English for the first time, On Resistance to Evil by Force is destined to become a classic of Christian ethics.
ONLINE READING BOOK (Russian)
ONLINE AUDIO BOOK (Russian)
PEOPLE: Vladimir Horowitz
(Владимир Самойлович Горовиц)
Born: 1 Oct 1903, Kiev, Russia
Died: 5 Nov 1989 (aged 86), Manhattan, New York, USA
Classical Musician. Born into a Russian Jewish family, the youngest of the four children, his mother originally taught him to play the piano; he then became a student of Sergio Tarnowsky, and Felix Blumenfeld. He made his concert debut at age 17, and at age 25 began to tour in Europe and United States. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest pianists of all time.
He developed a flat finger technique to better control the tone and color of each note. His technique excited the audiences, and he became quite a sensation.
As for his personal life, he married Wanda the daughter of Auturo Toscanini and had one daughter – Sonia. His playing suffered in the early 80’s as a result from depression over the death of his daughter Sonia. He made a dramatic comeback in 1986 with another tour of Europe and a return to Russia. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Ronald Reagan. He died of a heart attack and is buried with the Toscanini family.
Remembered on this day. Interred at Cimitero Monumentale di Milano, Milan, Città Metropolitana di Milano, Lombardia, Italy
DOCUMENTARY: Rich Hall’s Red Menace (UK/USA)
Comedian Rich Hall presents an alternative history of the Cold War, from nuclear near misses and fallout shelters to the CIA wiring a cat to spy on the Russian ambassador. In his unique way, Rich looks at the propaganda, ignorance, fear and secrecy, and the natural offspring of these, paranoia, and considers how a 40-year stand-off between the superpowers brought the US and Russia to the verge of nuclear war. The documentary does not look at the Cold War from an American perspective alone. Rich Hall also delves into the psyche of those living in the Soviet Union, of those who took part in the machinations, plots and conspiracies, and of ordinary citizens who, like Rich, lived through this most tense of times. The Cold War and America’s obsession with communism and the Soviet Union isn’t just about the race to produce the atom bomb and conquer space. It’s about spying, political scheming and the fear of communism in Hollywood, in literature and on television. It was science fiction. It went from the absurd to the ridiculous. It even created incredible sporting drama. Rich uses the bizarre, the extraordinary and previously untold stories to give us his take on the Cold War and America’s hysterical preoccupation with the ‘Red Menace’.
WATCH THE DOCUMENTARY:
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