How Ada Lovelace, Daughter of Lord Byron, Wrote the First Computer Program in 1842–a Century Before the First Computer

I’ve nev­er quite under­stood why the phrase “revi­sion­ist his­to­ry” became pure­ly pejo­ra­tive. Of course, it has its Orwellian dark side, but all knowl­edge has to be revised peri­od­i­cal­ly, as we acquire new infor­ma­tion and, ide­al­ly, dis­card old prej­u­dices and nar­row frames of ref­er­ence. A fail­ure to do so seems fun­da­men­tal­ly regres­sive, not only in polit­i­cal terms, but also in terms of how we val­ue accu­rate, inter­est­ing, and engaged schol­ar­ship. Such research has recent­ly brought us fas­ci­nat­ing sto­ries about pre­vi­ous­ly mar­gin­al­ized peo­ple who made sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tions to sci­en­tif­ic dis­cov­ery, such as NASA’s “human com­put­ers,” por­trayed in the book Hid­den Fig­ures, then dra­ma­tized in the film of the same name.

Like­wise, the many women who worked at Bletch­ley Park dur­ing World War II—helping to deci­pher encryp­tions like the Nazi Enig­ma Code (out of near­ly 10,000 code­break­ers, about 75% were women)—have recent­ly been get­ting their his­tor­i­cal due, thanks to “revi­sion­ist” researchers. And, as we not­ed in a recent post, we might not know much, if any­thing, about film star Hedy Lamarr’s sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tions to wire­less, GPS, and Blue­tooth tech­nol­o­gy were it not for the work of his­to­ri­ans like Richard Rhodes. These few exam­ples, among many, show us a fuller, more accu­rate, and more inter­est­ing view of the his­to­ry of sci­ence and tech­nol­o­gy, and they inspire women and girls who want to enter the field, yet have grown up with few role mod­els to encour­age them.

We can add to the pan­theon of great women in sci­ence the name Ada Byron, Count­ess of Lovelace, the daugh­ter of Roman­tic poet Lord Byron. Lovelace has been renowned, as Hank Green tells us in the video at the top of the post, for writ­ing the first com­put­er pro­gram, “despite liv­ing a cen­tu­ry before the inven­tion of the mod­ern com­put­er.” This pic­ture of Lovelace has been a con­tro­ver­sial one. “His­to­ri­ans dis­agree,” writes prodi­gious math­e­mati­cian Stephen Wol­fram. “To some she is a great hero in the his­to­ry of com­put­ing; to oth­ers an over­es­ti­mat­ed minor fig­ure.”

Wol­fram spent some time with “many orig­i­nal doc­u­ments” to untan­gle the mys­tery. “I feel like I’ve final­ly got­ten to know Ada Lovelace,” he writes, “and got­ten a grasp on her sto­ry. In some ways it’s an ennobling and inspir­ing sto­ry; in some ways it’s frus­trat­ing and trag­ic.” Edu­cat­ed in math and music by her moth­er, Anne Isabelle Mil­banke, Lovelace became acquaint­ed with math­e­mat­ics pro­fes­sor Charles Bab­bage, the inven­tor of a cal­cu­lat­ing machine called the Dif­fer­ence Engine, “a 2‑foot-high hand-cranked con­trap­tion with 2000 brass parts.” Bab­bage encour­aged her to pur­sue her inter­ests in math­e­mat­ics, and she did so through­out her life.

Wide­ly acknowl­edged as one of the fore­fa­thers of com­put­ing, Bab­bage even­tu­al­ly cor­re­spond­ed with Lovelace on the cre­ation of anoth­er machine, the Ana­lyt­i­cal Engine, which “sup­port­ed a whole list of pos­si­ble kinds of oper­a­tions, that could in effect be done in arbi­trar­i­ly pro­grammed sequence.” When, in 1842, Ital­ian math­e­mati­cian Louis Mene­brea pub­lished a paper in French on the Ana­lyt­i­cal Engine, “Bab­bage enlist­ed Ada as trans­la­tor,” notes the San Diego Super­com­put­er Cen­ter’s Women in Sci­ence project. “Dur­ing a nine-month peri­od in 1842–43, she worked fever­ish­ly on the arti­cle and a set of Notes she append­ed to it. These are the source of her endur­ing fame.” (You can read her trans­la­tion and notes here.)

In the course of his research, Wol­fram pored over Bab­bage and Lovelace’s cor­re­spon­dence about the trans­la­tion, which reads “a lot like emails about a project might today, apart from being in Vic­to­ri­an Eng­lish.” Although she built on Bab­bage and Menebrea’s work, “She was clear­ly in charge” of suc­cess­ful­ly extrap­o­lat­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ties of the Ana­lyt­i­cal Engine, but she felt “she was first and fore­most explain­ing Babbage’s work, so want­ed to check things with him.” Her addi­tions to the work were very well-received—Michael Fara­day called her “the ris­ing star of Science”—and when her notes were pub­lished, Bab­bage wrote, “you should have writ­ten an orig­i­nal paper.”

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, as a woman, “she couldn’t get access to the Roy­al Society’s library in Lon­don,” and her ambi­tions were derailed by a severe health cri­sis. Lovelace died of can­cer at the age of 37, and for some time, her work sank into semi-obscu­ri­ty. Though some his­to­ri­ans have  seen her as sim­ply an expos­i­tor of Babbage’s work, Wol­fram con­cludes that it was Ada who had the idea of “what the Ana­lyt­i­cal Engine should be capa­ble of.” Her notes sug­gest­ed pos­si­bil­i­ties Bab­bage had nev­er dreamed. As the Women in Sci­ence project puts it, “She right­ly saw [the Ana­lyt­i­cal Engine] as what we would call a gen­er­al-pur­pose com­put­er. It was suit­ed for ‘devel­op­ping [sic] and tab­u­lat­ing any func­tion what­ev­er… the engine [is] the mate­r­i­al expres­sion of any indef­i­nite func­tion of any degree of gen­er­al­i­ty and com­plex­i­ty.’ Her Notes antic­i­pate future devel­op­ments, includ­ing com­put­er-gen­er­at­ed music.”

In a recent episode of the BBC’s In Our Time, above, you can hear host Melvyn Bragg dis­cuss Lovelace’s impor­tance with his­to­ri­ans and schol­ars Patri­cia Fara, Doron Swade, and John Fue­gi. And be sure to read Wolfram’s bio­graph­i­cal and his­tor­i­cal account of Lovelace here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

How 1940s Film Star Hedy Lamarr Helped Invent the Tech­nol­o­gy Behind Wi-Fi & Blue­tooth Dur­ing WWII

The Con­tri­bu­tions of Women Philoso­phers Recov­ered by the New Project Vox Web­site

Real Women Talk About Their Careers in Sci­ence

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

Browse a Collection of Over 83,500 Vintage Sewing Patterns

My cos­tume design pro­fes­sor at North­west­ern Uni­ver­si­ty, Vir­gil John­son, delight­ed stu­dents with his for­mu­la for peri­od cloth­ing. I have for­got­ten some of the math­e­mat­ic and seman­tic particulars—does dress­ing some­one five years behind the times a “frumpy” char­ac­ter make? Or is it mere­ly one?

I do recall some anx­ious hours, prepar­ing for the school’s main stage pro­duc­tion of the inces­tu­ous Jacobean revenge tragedy, ’Tis Pity She’s a Whore. The soci­etal cor­rup­tion of the play was under­scored by hav­ing the sup­port­ing char­ac­ters slouch around, snort­ing mimed cocaine in cut­ting edge, mid-80s Vogue Pat­terns … those big unstruc­tured jack­ets were very a la mode, but they gob­bled up a lot of high-bud­get fab­ric, and I didn’t want to be the one to make a cost­ly sewing mis­take.

What sticks in my mind most clear­ly is that 20 years was the sweet spot, the appro­pri­ate amount of elapsed time to ensure that one would not appear dumpy, dowdy, or obliv­i­ous, but rather pru­dent and dis­cern­ing. Don­ning a gar­ment that was 15 years out of fash­ion might be dar­ing­ly “retro,” but anoth­er five and that same gar­ment could be her­ald­ed as “vin­tage.”

The col­lab­o­ra­tive Vin­tage Pat­tern Wiki puts the mag­ic num­ber at 25, request­ing that con­trib­u­tors make sure the pat­terns they post are from 1992 or ear­li­er, and also out-of-print.

The brows­able col­lec­tion of over 83,500 pat­terns runs the gamut from Dynasty-inspired pussy bow pow­er suits to Bet­ty Drap­er-esque frocks fea­tur­ing mod­els in white gloves to an 1895 boys’ Reefer Suit with fly-free short trousers.

Vis­i­tors can nar­row their search to focus on a par­tic­u­lar gar­ment, design­er or decade. If you click these links, you can see pat­terns from the fol­low­ing decades: 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s1970s, and 1980s.

The movie star col­lec­tion is par­tic­u­lar­ly fun. (Flat­ter­ing or no, I’ve always want­ed a pair of Katharine Hep­burn pants…)

And it goes with­out say­ing that the dog days of sum­mer are the per­fect time to get a jump on your Hal­loween cos­tume.

Those who are itch­ing to get sewing should check the links below each pat­tern enve­lope cov­er for ven­dors who have the pat­tern in stock and pho­tos and posts by com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers who have made that same gar­ment.

The prices and hand­writ­ten jot­tings of the orig­i­nal own­ers will also put you in a vin­tage mood.

The hunt starts here.

via Metafil­ter

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Online Knit­ting Ref­er­ence Library: Down­load 300 Knit­ting Books Pub­lished From 1849 to 2012

Fri­da Kahlo’s Col­or­ful Clothes Revealed for the First Time & Pho­tographed by Ishi­uchi Miyako

Google Cre­ates a Dig­i­tal Archive of World Fash­ion: Fea­tures 30,000 Images, Cov­er­ing 3,000 Years of Fash­ion His­to­ry

The BBC Cre­ates Step-by-Step Instruc­tions for Knit­ting the Icon­ic Dr. Who Scarf: A Doc­u­ment from the Ear­ly 1980s

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

Arnold Schoenberg Creates a Hand-Drawn, Paper-Cut “Wheel Chart” to Visualize His 12-Tone Technique

“These go up to eleven,” Spinal Tap famous­ly said of the ampli­fiers that, so they claimed, took them to a high­er lev­el in rock music. But the work of Aus­tri­an com­pos­er Arnold Schoen­berg, one of the best-known fig­ures in the his­to­ry of avant-garde music, went up to twelve — twelve tones, that is. His “twelve-tone tech­nique,” invent­ed in the ear­ly 1920s and for the next few decades used most­ly by he and his col­leagues in the Sec­ond Vien­nese School such as Alban Berg, Anton Webern, and Hanns Eisler, allowed com­posers to break free of the tra­di­tion­al West­ern sys­tem of keys that lim­it­ed the notes avail­able for use in a piece, instead grant­i­ng each note the same weight and mak­ing none of them cen­tral.

This does­n’t mean that com­posers using Schoen­berg’s twelve-tone tech­nique could just use notes at ran­dom in com­plete atonal­i­ty, but that a new set of con­sid­er­a­tions would orga­nize them. “He believed that a sin­gle tonal­i­ty could include all twelve notes of the chro­mat­ic scale,” writes Brad­ford Bai­ley at The Hum, “as long as they were prop­er­ly orga­nized to be sub­or­di­nate to ton­ic (the ton­ic is the pitch upon which all oth­ers are ref­er­enced, in oth­er words the root or axis around which a piece is built).” The math­e­mat­i­cal rig­or under­ly­ing it all required some expla­na­tion, and often math­e­mat­i­cal and musi­cal con­cepts — math­e­mat­ics and music being in any case inti­mate­ly con­nect­ed — become much clear­er when ren­dered visu­al­ly.

Hence Schoen­berg’s twelve-tone wheel chart pic­tured at the top of the post, one of what Arnold Schoen­berg’s Jour­ney author Allen Shawn describes as “no few­er than twen­ty-two dif­fer­ent kinds of con­trap­tions” — includ­ing “charts, cylin­ders, book­lets, slide rules” — “for trans­pos­ing and deriv­ing twelve-tone rows” need­ed to com­pose twelve-tone music. (See the slide ruler above too.) “The dis­tinc­tion between ‘play’ and ‘work’ is already hard to draw in the case of artists,” writes Shawn, “but in Schoen­berg’s case it is espe­cial­ly hard to make since he brought dis­ci­pline, orig­i­nal­i­ty, and play­ful­ness to many of his activ­i­ties.” These also includ­ed mak­ing spe­cial play­ing cards (two of whose sets you can see here and here) and even his own ver­sion of chess.

As Shawn describes it, Koali­tion­ss­cach, or “Coali­tion Chess,” involves “the armies of four coun­tries arrayed on the four sides of the board, for which he designed and con­struct­ed the pieces him­self.” Instead of an eight-by-eight board, Coali­tion Chess uses a ten-by-ten, and the pieces on it “rep­re­sent machine guns, artillery, air­planes, sub­marines, tanks, and oth­er instru­ments of war.” The rules, which “require that the four play­ers form alliances at the out­set,” add at least a dimen­sion to the age-old stan­dard game of chess — a form that, like tra­di­tion­al West­ern music, human­i­ty will still be strug­gling to mas­ter decades and even cen­turies hence. But appar­ent­ly, for a mind like Schoen­berg’s, chess and music as he knew them weren’t near­ly chal­leng­ing enough.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Vi Hart Uses Her Video Mag­ic to Demys­ti­fy Stravin­sky and Schoenberg’s 12-Tone Com­po­si­tions

The Avant-Garde Project: An Archive of Music by 200 Cut­ting-Edge Com­posers, Includ­ing Stravin­sky, Schoen­berg, Cage & More

Inter­views with Schoen­berg and Bartók

John Coltrane Draws a Pic­ture Illus­trat­ing the Math­e­mat­ics of Music

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. He’s at work on the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les, the video series The City in Cin­e­ma, the crowd­fund­ed jour­nal­ism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Ange­les Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

Garry Kasparov Now Teaching an Online Course on Chess

FYI: If you sign up for a Mas­ter­Class course by click­ing on the affil­i­ate links in this post, Open Cul­ture will receive a small fee that helps sup­port our oper­a­tion.

Quick FYI: Gar­ry Kas­parov is now teach­ing an online course on chess, appar­ent­ly his first online course ever. A grand­mas­ter and six-time World Chess Cham­pi­on, Kas­parov held the high­est chess rat­ing (until being sur­passed by Mag­nus Carlsen in 2013) and also the record for con­sec­u­tive tour­na­ment vic­to­ries (15 in a row). In his course, fea­tur­ing 29 video lessons, Kas­parov gives stu­dents “detailed lessons,” cov­er­ing “his favorite open­ings and advanced tac­tics,” all of which will help stu­dents “devel­op the instincts and phi­los­o­phy to become a stronger play­er.”

The course is being offered by Mas­ter­Class, the same ven­ture devel­op­ing class­es with these oth­er lumi­nar­ies–Her­bie Han­cock on JazzJane Goodall on the Envi­ron­mentDavid Mamet on Dra­mat­ic Writ­ingSteve Mar­tin on Com­e­dyAaron Sorkin on Screen­writ­ingGor­don Ram­say on Cook­ing, Judy Blume on Writ­ing, and Wern­er Her­zog on Film­mak­ing.

You can take this class by sign­ing up for a Mas­ter­Class’ All Access Pass. The All Access Pass will give you instant access to this course and 85 oth­ers for a 12-month peri­od.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

A Free 700-Page Chess Man­u­al Explains 1,000 Chess Tac­tics in Plain Eng­lish

Clay­ma­tion Film Recre­ates His­toric Chess Match Immor­tal­ized in Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey

A Human Chess Match Gets Played in Leningrad, 1924

Man Ray Designs a Supreme­ly Ele­gant, Geo­met­ric Chess Set in 1920 (and It’s Now Re-Issued for the Rest of Us)

Play Chess Against the Ghost of Mar­cel Duchamp: A Free Online Chess Game

Watch Bill Gates Lose a Chess Match in 79 Sec­onds to the New World Chess Cham­pi­on Mag­nus Carlsen

All the Rivers & Streams in the U.S. Shown in Rainbow Colors: A Data Visualization to Behold

This is a sight for sore eyes. Cre­at­ed by Hun­gar­i­an geo­g­ra­ph­er and map-design­er Robert Szucs, using open-source QGIS soft­ware, the high res­o­lu­tion map above shows:

all the per­ma­nent and tem­po­rary streams and rivers of the con­tigu­ous 48 states in beau­ti­ful rain­bow colours, divid­ed into catch­ment areas. It shows Strahler Stream Order Clas­si­fi­ca­tion. The high­er the stream order, the thick­er the line.

When you look at the map, you’ll see, as The Wash­ing­ton Post observes, “Every riv­er in a col­or drains to the same riv­er, which then drains into the ocean. The giant basin in the mid­dle of the coun­try is the Mis­sis­sip­pi Riv­er basin. Major rivers like the Ohio and the Mis­souri drain into the behe­moth.” Pret­ty impres­sive.

The map was appar­ent­ly made using data from the Euro­pean Envi­ron­ment Agency and the Rivers Net­work Sys­tem.

You can find the map on Imgur, or pur­chase “ultra high” res­o­lu­tion copies through Etsy for $8.

Szucs has als0 pro­duced data visu­al­iza­tions of the riv­er sys­tems in Chi­na, India, Europe and oth­er parts of the world.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Relat­ed Con­tent 

Ancient Rome’s Sys­tem of Roads Visu­al­ized in the Style of Mod­ern Sub­way Maps 

Down­load 67,000 His­toric Maps (in High Res­o­lu­tion) from the Won­der­ful David Rum­sey Map Col­lec­tion

Japan­ese Design­ers May Have Cre­at­ed the Most Accu­rate Map of Our World: See the Autha­Graph

Buck­min­ster Fuller’s Map of the World: The Inno­va­tion that Rev­o­lu­tion­ized Map Design (1943)

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Watch Johnny Cash’s Poignant Final Interview & His Last Performance: “Death, Where Is Thy Sting?” (2003)

“Ask some­one to name a song that always has the pow­er to reduce them to tears,” writes Inde­pen­dent cul­ture edi­tor Christo­pher Hooton, “and the chances are they’ll swift­ly reply ‘John­ny Cash. Hurt,’” the coun­try leg­end’s heart­break­ing cov­er of Trent Reznor’s masochis­tic anthem. Asked to name a music video with the same emo­tion­al res­o­nance, and you’re just as like­ly to get the same answer. I find myself tear­ing up just read­ing Hooton’s descrip­tion of it. Shot at The House of Cash, the singer’s decrepit home (and shut­tered muse­um), direc­tor Mark Romanek’s wrench­ing video speaks to us of “the tran­sience of life, the grace­less­ness of death, the Ozy­man­di­an crum­bling of an oeu­vre and the decline of a genre, an era and an atti­tude.”

It does all that, but does much more besides: the video, and Cash’s last record­ings in gen­er­al, show us a man in the depths of lovelorn grief, yet unafraid to face mor­tal­i­ty and decline and unwill­ing to deny their rav­ages. We mourn with Cash and for him, but his final per­for­mances are so riv­et­ing because, while most of us may fear death, he did not.

“Corinthi­ans 15:55,” his last orig­i­nal song—on his final, posthu­mous col­lec­tion, Ain’t No Grave—is named after the verse that asks “Death, where is thy sting?” Through­out the album, Cash sounds, writes Adam Richter, “unim­pressed by the threat of death…. Singers are almost nev­er as pre­pared as Cash was to bid adieu to all that.”

The “Hurt” video net­ted Cash, Romanek, and his team six MTV Video Music Award nom­i­na­tions. Before it won for Best Cin­e­matog­ra­phy, Cash sat down with Kurt Loder on August 20th, 2003, for what would turn out to be his final inter­view. Although he con­fess­es to a dis­taste for the work of mak­ing videos, of “Hurt,” he says, “I felt we were doing some­thing worth­while.” He talks about meet­ing Rick Rubin and mak­ing the Amer­i­can Record­ings series of albums, some of the most wide­ly praised records of his career, and the music he had always want­ed to make. And he express­es the fierce inde­pen­dence, com­pas­sion, and authen­tic­i­ty that made him such a phe­nom­e­nal writer and admirable human being.

“You can’t let peo­ple del­e­gate to you what you should do,” Cash says, point­ing at his heart, “when it’s com­ing from way in here, you know?… I wouldn’t let any­body influ­ence me into think­ing I was doing the wrong thing by singing about death, hell, and drugs.” We’re all lucky that he didn’t. Cash’s expres­sions of grief after the death of June Carter cut deep, but it was his abil­i­ty not only to play the out­law but also to empathize with peo­ple who are abused, per­se­cut­ed, and exclud­ed by the law that set him apart from oth­er coun­try and gospel singers, and made him a hero to mil­lions of peo­ple who don’t share his roots or his faith.

The month before Cash gave his final inter­view, he gave his last per­for­mance at the Carter Ranch. (Watch it above.) Less than a month after the inter­view, he was dead. In 2007, the House of Cash, the house Cash had lived in since 1968, burned to the ground. Cash sure­ly would have mourned the loss, but it would­n’t have kept him down for long, I sus­pect. Not only did he stare down death with grace, humor, and dig­ni­ty, but he faced the pains of life with those same qual­i­ties.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

John­ny Cash Sings “Man in Black” for the First Time, 1971

John­ny Cash & Joe Strum­mer Sing Bob Marley’s “Redemp­tion Song” (2002)

John­ny Cash’s Christ­mas Spe­cials, Fea­tur­ing June Carter, Steve Mar­tin, Andy Kauf­man & More (1976–79)

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

The Female Pioneers of the Bauhaus Art Movement: Discover Gertrud Arndt, Marianne Brandt, Anni Albers & Other Forgotten Innovators

You’d be for­giv­en for assum­ing that the Bauhaus, the mod­ern art and design move­ment that emerged from the epony­mous Ger­man art school in the 1920s and 30s, did­n’t involve many women. Per­haps the famous near-indus­tri­al aus­ter­i­ty of its aes­thet­ic, espe­cial­ly at large scales, has stereo­typ­i­cal asso­ci­a­tions with male­ness, but also, Bauhaus’ most oft-ref­er­enced lead­ing lights — Paul Klee, Wal­ter Gropius, Wass­i­ly Kandin­sky, Lás­zló Moholy-Nagy, Oskar Schlem­mer — all hap­pened to be men. But if we seek out the women of the Bauhaus, what can we learn?

“When it opened, the Bauhaus school declared itself pro­gres­sive and mod­ern and advo­cat­ed equal­i­ty for the sex­es, which was rare at the time,” says Eve­lyn Adams in her short video on the Women of the Bauhaus above. “Val­ue was placed on skill rather than gen­der. Class­es weren’t seg­re­gat­ed, and women were free to select whichev­er sub­jects they want­ed.”

This had an under­stand­able appeal, and in the school’s first year more women applied than men. But alas, “in real­i­ty, despite hav­ing rad­i­cal aspi­ra­tions, the men in charge of the school rep­re­sent­ed the soci­etal atti­tudes of the time. If every­one was wel­comed as equals, then why did none of the women reach the same lev­el of recog­ni­tion as Paul Klee or Wass­i­ly Kandin­sky?”

The sto­ry of Gertrud Arndt, one of whose self-por­traits appears above and one of whose tex­tiles appears below that, sheds some light on the answer. “She must have felt so opti­mistic,” writes the New York Times’ Alice Raw­sthorn, when she arrived at the Bauhaus school of art and design in 1923 as “a gift­ed, spir­it­ed 20-year-old who had won a schol­ar­ship to pay for her stud­ies. Hav­ing spent sev­er­al years work­ing as an appren­tice to a firm of archi­tects, she had set her heart on study­ing archi­tec­ture.” But because of a “long-run­ning bat­tle between its found­ing direc­tor, the archi­tect Wal­ter Gropius, and one of its most charis­mat­ic teach­ers, Johannes Itten, who want­ed to use the school as a vehi­cle for his qua­si-spir­i­tu­al approach to art and design,” the Bauhaus’ house, as it were, had fall­en out of order.

Alas, “Arndt was told that there was no archi­tec­ture course for her to join and was dis­patched to the weav­ing work­shop.” In recent years, the Bauhaus Archive in Berlin has put on shows to hon­or female Bauhausers like Ard­nt, tex­tile design­er Beni­ta Koch-Otte, and the­ater design­er, illus­tra­tor, and col­or the­o­rist Lou Schep­er-Berkenkamp. “The sit­u­a­tion improved after Gropius suc­ceed­ed in oust­ing Itten in 1923,” writes Raw­sthorn, hir­ing Moholy-Nagy in Itten’s place. “Hav­ing ensured that female stu­dents were giv­en greater free­dom, Moholy encour­aged one of them, Mar­i­anne Brandt, to join the met­al work­shop. She was to become one of Germany’s fore­most indus­tri­al design­ers dur­ing the 1930s,” and her 1924 tea infuser and strain­er appears just above.

Art­sy’s Alexxa Got­thardt has the sto­ries of more women of the Bauhaus, includ­ing Anni Albers, whose 1947 Knot 2 appears just above. Her oth­er work includes “a cot­ton and cel­lo­phane cur­tain that simul­ta­ne­ous­ly absorbed sound and reflect­ed light” and tapes­tries that “would go on to have a con­sid­er­able impact on the devel­op­ment of geo­met­ric abstrac­tion in the visu­al arts.” Alma Sied­hoff-Busch­er, writes Got­thardt, dared “to switch from the weav­ing work­shop to the male-dom­i­nat­ed wood-sculp­ture depart­ment,” where she invent­ed a “small ship-build­ing game,” pic­tured below and still in pro­duc­tion today, that “man­i­fest­ed Bauhaus’s cen­tral tenets: its 22 blocks, forged in pri­ma­ry col­ors, could be con­struct­ed into the shape of a boat, but could also be rearranged to allow for cre­ative exper­i­men­ta­tion.”

Bauhaus art and design took crit­i­cism in its hey­day, as it still takes crit­i­cism now, for a cer­tain cold­ness and steril­i­ty — or at least the work of the men of the Bauhaus does. But the more we dis­cov­er about the less­er-known women of the Bauhaus, the more we see how they man­aged to bring no small degree of human­i­ty to its artis­tic fruits, even to those of its most rig­or­ous branch­es. “There is no dif­fer­ence between the beau­ti­ful sex and the strong sex,” Gropius once insist­ed in a some­what self-defeat­ing pro­nounce­ment, but the dif­fer­ences between the male and female Bauhausers — in their per­son­al­i­ties as well as in their work — make the move­ment look all the rich­er in ret­ro­spect.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Down­load Orig­i­nal Bauhaus Books & Jour­nals for Free: Gropius, Klee, Kandin­sky, Moholy-Nagy & More

3,900 Pages of Paul Klee’s Per­son­al Note­books Are Now Online, Pre­sent­ing His Bauhaus Teach­ings (1921–1931)

Kandin­sky, Klee & Oth­er Bauhaus Artists Designed Inge­nious Cos­tumes Like You’ve Nev­er Seen Before

Watch an Avant-Garde Bauhaus Bal­let in Bril­liant Col­or, the Tri­adic Bal­let First Staged by Oskar Schlem­mer in 1922

32,000+ Bauhaus Art Objects Made Avail­able Online by Har­vard Muse­um Web­site

Bauhaus, Mod­ernism & Oth­er Design Move­ments Explained by New Ani­mat­ed Video Series

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. He’s at work on the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les, the video series The City in Cin­e­ma, the crowd­fund­ed jour­nal­ism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Ange­les Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

The Animated Score for Penderecki’s “Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima,” the Horrifying Composition Featured in Lynch’s Twin Peaks, Cuarón’s Children of Men & Other Films

If you were watch­ing episode 8 of Twin Peaks on Sun­day night, you might still be recov­er­ing from an over­dose of uncut, pure David Lynch. We’re not here to sum­ma­rize the episode but instead to point to the musi­cal accom­pa­ni­ment to one of the most star­tling sequences in all of the director’s fil­mog­ra­phy: The slow track­ing aer­i­al shot into the heart of the first nuclear test mush­room cloud, right into the mid­dle of hell itself (see below).

Although Ange­lo Badala­men­ti is back on board as the show’s com­pos­er, Lynch chose to use for this scene the mod­ern clas­si­cal work by Krzysztof Pen­derec­ki, Thren­ody to the Vic­tims of Hiroshi­ma, one of the most har­row­ing works of the 20th cen­tu­ry.

The eight-and-a-half minute composition—-which you can lis­ten to while fol­low­ing the composer’s abstract score in the video above—-was writ­ten by the Pol­ish com­pos­er for 52 strings, noth­ing else. This accounts for the shrill, all tre­ble nature of the piece. The title and ded­i­ca­tion came lat­er, only after Pen­derec­ki had lis­tened to it being per­formed.

“I was struck by the emo­tion­al charge of the work,” Pen­derec­ki said, “I searched for asso­ci­a­tions and, in the end, I decid­ed to ded­i­cate it to the Hiroshi­ma vic­tims.”

The work went on to take third place at the Grze­gorz Fitel­berg Com­posers’ Com­pe­ti­tion in Katow­ice in 1960 and won the Tri­bune Inter­na­tionale des Com­pos­i­teurs UNESCO prize in 1961, two major awards that began Penderecki’s jour­ney to become one of Poland’s most respect­ed com­posers, sec­ond only to Hen­ryk Górec­ki.

This isn’t Lynch’s first use of Pen­derec­ki, hav­ing put an excerpt of 1970’s Kos­mogo­nia in Wild at Heart’s “lip­stick freak­out” scene, and six pieces in Inland Empire.

And it isn’t the first time Thren­ody to the Vic­tims of Hiroshi­ma, has been used in film. It was cho­sen by Alfon­so Cuarón for Chil­dren of Men, and by Wes Craven for The Peo­ple Under the Stairs, which coin­ci­den­tal­ly starred two actors from Twin Peaks.

Inter­est­ing­ly, Pen­derec­ki had scored films in the ‘60s, but they were work for hire jobs: a pleas­ant folk filled score for Woj­ciech Has’s The Saragos­sa Man­u­script and choral pas­tiche in a Renais­sance style for Alain Resnais’ Je t’aime, Je t’aime, along with some tele­vi­sion work. But he kept that music sep­a­rate from his seri­ous work as a con­cert com­pos­er, see­ing sound­track work as undignified—-this was long before Philip Glass was scor­ing films, when careers were more reg­i­ment­ed.

Because he refused to score William Friedkin’s The Exor­cist for that rea­son, the direc­tor chose instead to use five of Penderecki’s already exist­ing works for some of the film’s scari­est moments: the appear­ance of words on Regan’s body, Father Merrin’s vision of evil near the start of the film, and dur­ing the exor­cism itself. Peo­ple remem­ber Mike Oldfield’s “Tubu­lar Bells” for its futur­is­tic sound of occult appre­hen­sion, but it’s Pen­dereck­i’s work that accom­pa­nied all the scream­ing from the audi­ences.

Six years lat­er in 1979, Stan­ley Kubrick would use sev­en Pen­derec­ki works for The Shin­ing, under­lin­ing the state of mad­ness in that par­tic­u­lar­ly jar­ring film.

By the mid-1970s, the com­pos­er was turn­ing away from the dis­cor­dant tonal clus­ters of these ear­ly works and towards a more tra­di­tion­al and often beau­ti­ful style. But for a cer­tain gen­er­a­tion of film­mak­ers, Pen­derec­ki will be syn­ony­mous with hor­ror. Last Sun­day showed the piece still holds a grim, dev­as­tat­ing pow­er.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Clas­si­cal Music in Stan­ley Kubrick’s Films: Lis­ten to a Free, 4 Hour Playlist

The Scores That Elec­tron­ic Music Pio­neer Wendy Car­los Com­posed for Stan­ley Kubrick’s A Clock­work Orange and The Shin­ing
Ange­lo Badala­men­ti Reveals How He and David Lynch Com­posed the Twin Peaks‘ “Love Theme”

Ted Mills is a free­lance writer on the arts who cur­rent­ly hosts the FunkZone Pod­cast. You can also fol­low him on Twit­ter at @tedmills, read his oth­er arts writ­ing at and/or watch his films here.

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