May 4, 2017 – NATIONAL STAR WARS DAY – WORLD PASSWORD DAY – BIRD DAY – NATIONAL ORANGE JUICE DAY – NATIONAL RENEWAL DAY – NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER – NATIONAL DAY OF REASON – NATIONAL WEATHER OBSERVERS DAY – NATIONAL CANDIED ORANGE PEEL DAY
On this day:
1436 – Assassination of the Swedish rebel (later national hero) Engelbrekt EngelbrektssonEngelbrekt Engelbrektsson (1390s – 4 May 1436) was a Swedish rebel leader and later statesman. He was the leader of the Engelbrekt rebellion in 1434 against Eric of Pomerania, king of the Kalmar Union.
Engelbrekt Engelbrektsson was a mine owner and a nobleman from the Bergslag of Norberg in the historic Swedish province of Dalarna. His family originally came from Germany, having migrated to Sweden in the 1360s. The family coat of arms shows three half-lilies formed into a triangle.
Engelbrekt Engelbrektsson was dissatisfied by the numerous offenses of the Danish local bailiffs and heavy taxation. In 1434 he started a rebellion with the support of mine workers and peasants from his home area. Engelbrekt set against the king’s bailiff in Västerås, Jösse Eriksson, who was blamed for the distress that mining men suffered under his rule. The rebellion grew into a massive force sweeping the country.
In 1435 Engelbrekt was appointed Rikshövitsman, Commander in chief, at a Riksdag in Arboga that is often considered the first Riksdag in Sweden. However, he was not able to withstand the Swedish nobility, who wanted to exploit the rebellion. He was somewhat forced into the background. The nobility and clergy decided to support Karl Knutsson Bonde, who in 1436 supplanted Engelbrekt as Rikshövitsman.
On 4 May 1436 Engelbrekt was assassinated at Engelbrektsholmen, an islet in Lake Hjälmaren, by the aristocrat Måns Bengtsson, who lived in the nearby Göksholm Castle. Engelbrekt was buried in Örebro church. Måns Bengtsson was a Swedish knight and chief judge in the traditional Swedish province of Närke. He was a member of the family Natt och Dag, a family from Östergötland which belongs to the Swedish noble class.
Over the next few decades Engelbrekt became a national hero, depicted as a public protector and an opponent of the Kalmar Union. His rebellion came to be seen as the start of the Swedish national awakening, which would triumph in the following century with the victory of King Gustav Vasa (reigned 1523–1560). Engelbrekt himself had no such ideas, which must have been anachronistic at the time; however his rebellion gave peasants a voice in Swedish politics which they never lost afterwards. The Engelbrekt rebellion caused the unity of the Kalmar Union to erode, leading to the expulsion of Danish forces from Sweden. Although later Danish kings regained influence over Sweden, the rebellion had set a precedent for Swedish claims to sovereignty.
A bronze statue of Engelbrekt by Swedish sculptor Carl Gustaf Qvarnström (1810–1867) was unveiled in Örebro in 1865. Statues of Engelbrekt also stand in Stockholm, Arboga and Falun. No known contemporary image of Engelbrekt survives.
Engelbrekt became the subject of Engelbrekt (1928), an opera by the Swedish composer Natanael Berg (1879–1957). Engelbrekts församling (parish) and church in the Church of Sweden Diocese of Stockholm take their name from the hero.
Born on this day:
1907 – Lincoln Kirstein, American soldier and playwright, co-founded the New York City Ballet (d. 1996)
Lincoln Edward Kirstein (May 4, 1907 – January 5, 1996) was an American writer, impresario, art connoisseur, philanthropist, and cultural figure in New York City, noted especially as co-founder of the New York City Ballet. He developed and sustained the company with his organizing ability and fundraising for more than four decades, serving as the company’s General Director from 1946 to 1989. According to the New York Times, he was “an expert in many fields,” organizing art exhibits and lecture tours in the same years.
Kirstein was born in Rochester, New York to Jewish parents, the son of Rose Stein (1873–1952) and Louis E. Kirstein (1867–1942). His sister was Mina Kirstein and his paternal grandparents were Jeanette (née Leiter) and Edward Kirstein, a successful Rochester clothing manufacturer who ran E. Kirstein and Sons, Company. He grew up in a wealthy Jewish Bostonian family and attended the private Berkshire School, along with George Platt Lynes, graduating in 1926. He then attended Harvard, where his father, the vice-president of Filene’s Department Store, had also attended, graduating in 1930. His maternal grandfather was Nathan Stein, a senior executive at the Stein-Bloch & Co., in Rochester.
Further information: Hound & Horn and School of American Ballet
In 1927, while still an undergraduate at Harvard, Kirstein was annoyed that the literary magazine The Harvard Advocate would not accept his work. With a friend Varian Fry, who met his wife Eileen through Lincoln’s sister Mina, he convinced his father to finance their own literary quarterly, the Hound & Horn. After graduation, he moved to New York in 1930, taking the quarterly with him. The publication gained prominence in the artistic world and ran until 1934 when Lincoln instead decided to fund the Russian choreographer George Balanchine in his development of an American ballet school and company.
His interest in ballet and Balanchine started when he saw Balanchine’s Apollo performed by the Ballets Russes. Kirstein became determined to bring Balanchine to America. In October 1933, together with Edward Warburg, a classmate from Harvard, and Vladimir Dimitriew, Balanchine’s manager, they started the School of American Ballet in Hartford, Connecticut. In 1934, the studio moved to the fourth floor of a building at Madison Avenue and 59th Street in New York City. Warburg’s father, Felix M. Warburg, invited the group of students from the evening class to perform at a private party. The ballet they performed was Serenade, the first major ballet choreographed by Balanchine in the United States. Just months later Kirstein and Warburg founded, together with Balanchine and Dimitriew, the American Ballet which became the resident company of the Metropolitan Opera. That arrangement was unsatisfactory because the Opera would not allow Balanchine and Kirstein artistic freedom.
World War II and Monuments Men
Further information: Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program
Kirstein’s theatrical career was interrupted by the United States’ entry into World War II. After enlisting in 1943, before going overseas he started working on a project gathering and documenting soldier art. He eventually developed this as the exhibit and book Artists Under Fire. In the spring of 1944, Kirstein traveled to London for the U. S. Arts and Monuments Commission and after a month, was transferred to the unit in France that came to be known as the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives (MFAA). The section was devoted to rescuing and preserving European art. Soon after in January 1945, Kirstein was promoted to Private First Class in Patton’s Third Army and his unit moved to Germany. Kirstein was personally involved with retrieving artworks around Munich and from the salt mines at Altaussee. His article “The Quest for the Golden Lamb” about the quest was published in Town & Country in September 1945, the same month he was discharged from the Army.
Further information: New York City Ballet
In 1946, Balanchine and Kirstein founded the Ballet Society, which was renamed the New York City Ballet in 1948. In a letter that year, Kirstein stated, “The only justification I have is to enable Balanchine to do exactly what he wants to do in the way he wants to do it.” Kirstein went on to serve as the company’s General Director from 1946 until 1989.
In a 1959 monograph titled What Ballet Is All About, Kirstein wrote: “Our Western ballet is a clear if complex blending of human anatomy, solid geometry and acrobatics offered as a symbolic demonstration of manners—the morality of consideration for one human being moving in time with another.”
In a conversation with the poet Vernon Scannell in 1976, he said that “he regarded dancers not as artists but as acrobats’; their skills were, he maintained, entirely physical and he felt his involvement with the dance was a salutary escape from the cerebral and sedentary life into a world that was closer to that of the athlete than the artist.” Kirstein’s and Balanchine’s collaboration lasted until the latter’s death in 1983.
Beginning in 1919, Kirstein kept a diary continuing through the practice until the late 1930s. In a 2007 biography of Kirstein, The Worlds of Lincoln Kirstein, Martin Duberman drew on his diaries, as well as Kirstein’s numerous letters. Kirstein wrote about enjoying sex with various men including Harvard undergraduates, sailors, street boys, and casual encounters in the showers at the 63rd St. YMCA. He had longer affairs with Pete Martinez, a dancer, Dan Maloney, an artist, and Jensen Yow, a conservator. Kirstein had both platonic relationships and many that started as casual sex and developed into long-term friendships.
Lincoln Kirstein House, East 19th Street
Despite his same-sex affairs, he also maintained relationships with women. In 1941, he married Fidelma Cadmus (1906–1991), a painter and the sister of the artist Paul Cadmus. Kirstein and his wife enjoyed an amicable if sometimes stressful relationship until her death in 1991, but she withdrew from painting and then from life, suffering breakdowns that were eventually more permanent than his. Some of his boyfriends lived with them in their East 19th Street house; “Fidelma was enormously fond of most of them.” The New York art world considered Kirstein’s bisexuality an “open secret,” although he did not publicly acknowledge his sexual orientation until 1982.
Kirstein’s eclectic interests, ambition and keen interest in high culture, funded by independent means, drew a large circle of creative friends from many fields of the arts. These included: Glenway Wescott, George Platt Lynes, Jared French, Bernard Perlin, Pavel Tchelitchev, Katherine Anne Porter, Barbara Harrison, Gertrude Stein, Donald Windham, Cecil Beaton, Jean Cocteau, W. H. Auden, George Tooker, Margaret French Cresson, Walker Evans, Sergei Eisenstein and others.
In his later years, Kirstein struggled with bipolar disorder – mania, depression, and paranoia. He destroyed the studio of friend Dan Maloney. He sometimes had to be constrained in a straitjacket for weeks at a psychiatric hospital. His illness did not generally affect his professional creativity until the end of his life.
English critic Clement Crisp wrote: “He was one of those rare talents who touch the entire artistic life of their time. Ballet, film, literature, theatre, painting, sculpture, photography all occupied his attention.”
Kirstein helped organize a 1959 American tour for musicians and dancers from the Japanese Imperial Household Agency. At that time, Japanese Imperial court music, gagaku, had only rarely been performed outside the Imperial Music Pavilion in Tokyo at some of the great Japanese shrines.
Kirstein commissioned and helped to fund the physical home of the New York City Ballet: the New York State Theater building at Lincoln Center, designed in 1964 by architects Philip Johnson and John Burgee. Despite its conservative modernist exterior, the glittery red and gold interior recalls the imaginative and lavish backdrops of the Ballets Russes. He served as the general director of the ballet company from 1948 to 1989.
On March 26, 1984, President Ronald Reagan presented Kirstein with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his contributions to the arts.
Kirstein was also a serious collector. Soon after the opening at Lincoln Center of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, he contributed a significant amount of historic dance materials to the Jerome Robbins Dance Division. Before his death in 1996, Kirstein also donated his personal papers, artworks, and other materials related to the history of dance and his life in the arts to the Division. Kirstein was also the primary patron of Fidelma’s brother, the artist Paul Cadmus, buying many of his paintings and subsidizing his living expenses. Cadmus had difficulty selling his work through galleries because of the erotically charged depictions of working and middle class men, which provoked controversy.
Presidential Medal of Freedom, US.
Handel Medallion, NYC highest cultural award.
Brandeis University Notable Achievement Award.
National Medal of Arts, US, 1985.
Royal Society of Arts, Benjamin Franklin Medal, UK, 1981.
National Society of Arts and Letters, National Gold Medal of Merit Award, US.
National Museum of Dance Mr. & Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney Hall of Fame inductee, 1987.
The Saint of Bleecker Street [Original, Play, Drama, Play with music] Production Supervisor December 27, 1954 – April 2, 1955
Misalliance [Revival, Play, Comedy] New York City Drama Company managing director March 6, 1953 – June 27, 1953
The Ballet Caravan – Billy the Kid choreographed by Eugene Loring – May 24, 1939 – [unknown]
Filling Station [Original, ballet, One Act] choreographed by Lew Christensen, premiered January 6, 1938, Hartford Connecticut
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