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Messages - BobAtchison

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Mike Pyles is a great hero in Tsarskoye Selo these days - and for good reason.

The Alexander Palace / Re: Alexander Palace Restoration
« on: August 02, 2012, 04:10:16 PM »
I am working with the palace to find away so people can donate directly to the restoration using PayPal or something like that.  We really don't know how it will work yet, but I hope people would be able to donate towards specific items - like a chair in the Mauve Room - or toward specific rooms or initiatives like restoring Maria Feodorovna's Rose Garden.  Also I hope we can figure out a way to subscribe to monthly donations - like $20 a month.  If we had a thousand members doing that - well can you imagine what it could accomplish?  Everything would go directly to the palace museums.  My goal is to get 1,000 members in the first year - that way we can really prove something to Tsarskoye Selo and show how interested we all are.  We will definitely be trying to figure out a way so people can order books directly from the Tsarskoye Selo Museums.  We all know how hard it is to get books on the palace.  I hope there will be a way for Tsarskoye Selo to announce new publications and members could pre-subscribe to them.  We will definitely be doing a Friends trip next summer....

We also want to help and support all bloggers and websites that are talking about the palace and helping to support Tsarskoye Selo Museums.  This is not the only place to talk or learn about the palace. We'll be wanting to push content out on Facebook, Pinterist and other social media with pictures, stories and general news about the Alexander Palace.  Our goal is to marshal and organize our forces to do whatever we can to help.

The Alexander Palace / Re: Alexander Palace Restoration
« on: August 02, 2012, 03:53:36 PM »
In the next few weeks we'll get an update directly from the Palace and what's really happening.  The new "Friends of the Alexander Palace" will put everyone in direct touch with Tsarskoye Selo.  There will be a monthly newsletter where you'll get all the latest on events, exhibitions, conferences, tours, announcements, etc, regarding the palace directly from them.  You'll all be invited to join and we are planning some really exciting ways you will be able to support the Alexander Palace.

I cannot express how grateful I am to Mike Pyles for his simply amazing gift of $55,000 towards the purchase of the slides.

Over the last few weeks I have been learning more about the palace and their plans for the future.  It has been wonderful to make new friends and reconnect with old ones in Tsarskoye Selo.  The restoration that has been underway is breathtaking.  It is very, very exciting.  Soon our new "Friends of the Alexander Palace " initiative will be formally announced and we'll be telling you all about it.  Thanks again to Mike Pyles for his great and wonderful gift, I can tell you Kuchumov would have been so happy had he lived to see this.  It is wonderful to be in contact with his granddaughter and to be working together in support of the palace again.


The way the forum works when you insert an image into a posting you are create a link to an image that is on another server somewhere on the web.  Your image does not upload to the forum - it is simply a link.  We have no idea what the origin or any image is or who owns it.  We received several emails today from Geoffrey Munn of Wartski complaining about links to images or content from his book on Tiaras appearing in postings in the forum without his permission.

We do not know where these are and which images are specifically a problem.  We have asked Mr. Munn to give us links to the offending image links. We have written about copyright issues before and any posters who have links to Warski images must remove them immediately.  We ask all members to let us know if they see any Wartski image links in the forum so we can remove them.

Thank you
Bob Atchison

Today I was shocked to read in the New York Times of the passing of Mark Goldweber.  He had been a friend of mine for many years.  We met though our common interest in Russian and ballet history about ten years ago.  He found the forum and the Alexander Palace sites and contacted me.  We were instant friends and spent hours and hours on the phone.  I don't think we ever had a call that lasted less than 3 hours! Not only did we share an interest in Russian history, but he was specifically fascinated by Nicholas II and his era.  Mark and I found we had common friends from the past, he knew my old ballet instructor from the University of Washington, Ruthanna Boris and he also knew Ronn Guidi, former director of the Oakland Ballet.  We also knew many dancers in common.  Our conversations were amazing, Mark could talk in depth on such a wide range of subjects and had so many experiences and interests that we could share.  He was handsome, gentle, warm and kind. We were going to do a website on Russian Imperial Ballet at the turn of the 20th century and another on some of the early Diaghilev ballets, but his illness obviously stopped this.  He died of cancer.  I will miss him; what a shame we have lost such a wonderful human being and artist.


The following is from the New York Times:
Mark Goldweber, who was a leading classical dancer with the Joffrey Ballet in the 1970s and ’80s and who won wide acclaim as the Blue Skater in Frederick Ashton’s ballet “Patineurs,” died on Dec. 9 in Salt Lake City. He was 53.

The cause was lymphoma, said Adam Sklute, the artistic director of Ballet West in Salt Lake City, where Mr. Goldweber was the ballet master.

Mr. Goldweber established himself in his late teens as an impressive performer whose dancing was rooted in pure classical ballet form and style and informed by it. His compact body was not that of the ideal elegant male classical dancer, but he brought to ballet a vivid intelligence and a gift for seemingly effortless razzle-dazzle technical feats.

He was at home in the wide-ranging Joffrey Ballet repertory, dancing Ruthanna Boris’s “Cakewalk,” Laura Dean’s hypnotic spinning piece “Fire” and the fast-moving youth-culture ballets of Gerald Arpino, the resident choreographer and later artistic director of the Joffrey.

Mr. Goldweber was celebrated above all for his dancing of the Blue Skater, also known as the boy in blue, the lead role in Ashton’s “Patineurs” (“Skaters”). The work, a giddy, snowy holiday greeting card of a ballet, was in reality a demanding test of virtuoso classical dancing. Mr. Goldweber first danced the role in 1977, his first year with the Joffrey after two years with the company’s junior troupe. He was only 19, but his future was clear.

“He’s in the growing-pains stage of elfhood, but his phrasing is already compelling,” Arlene Croce, writing in The New Yorker, said of his debut performance. “He shines with innocence and talent, and the audience eats him up.”

Nine years later Anna Kisselgoff, writing of “Les Patineurs” in The New York Times, said of Mr. Goldweber, “No degree of virtuosity could faze him — the changes in direction, the multiple turns, the butterfly jumps were all superb.”

His performing never suggested the effort of the choreography, but he felt the strain. “I dread ‘Patineurs’ every time, and I’ve probably done it a hundred times,” he admitted in a 1982 interview in The Times. “The ‘butterflies,’ for instance — a kind of aerial cartwheel that goes straight into pirouettes onto the knee, with your head pretty close to the ground — make you dizzy. And Mr. Joffrey likes the pace brisk in the ballet. There are times in it when I’m so out of breath I wonder why I’m dancing.”

He retired from performing in 1988 but remained in the Joffrey family, moving on to become a founding ballet master with the Oregon Ballet Theater, whose artistic director was James Canfield, a former Joffrey dancer. Mr. Goldweber returned to the Joffrey in 1996 to become a ballet master and the director of the company’s junior troupe.

He joined Ballet West, whose staff was largely drawn from the Joffrey, in 2007.

Mr. Goldweber danced the Blue Skater in the public television series “Dance in America.” He also appeared in “The Company,” a 2003 Robert Altman film about a ballet troupe, in which he played himself.

Mr. Goldweber was born on April 8, 1958, in the Coconut Grove neighborhood of Miami. He trained with Thomas Armour and at the Washington School of Ballet and the New York City Ballet-affiliated School of American Ballet.

He is survived by his father, Morton; his brother, Adam; and his sister, Ruth.

The Alexander Palace / Re: alexander palace hallways
« on: April 18, 2009, 01:30:37 AM »
Actually the balcony connection over the hallway makes a huge amount of sense.  Prior to its construction there was no way for Nicholas to walk to the opposite side without crossing the corridor.  There were guards here - even at night - can you imagine Nicholas trotting across the hallway in his PJs, unlocking and locking doors as he went from one side to the other.  Simply crossing the corridor at night entered the daily reports of the guards.  Going across the balcony was not.

There were special 'silent' alarm bells that were set off when the Tsar moved across the hall - any activity that was detected in the Imperial Rooms was recorded and reported the next day.  Alexandra found out that the sound of her flushing the toliet at night was being time stamped and recorded which shocked and embarassed her.  The toliet in the bedroom was right up next to the wall and the plumbing went through the guard rooms below.  The Empress was already shy about these things and this made it worse.  They had a goal of moving the guards on the other side of the Maple Room and New Study, but I don't think it every happened.

I have always found it hard to visualise the corridor.  The artificial marble was moved here from the Stasov Music room when it was demolished and encrusted on the walls.  There were lots of paintings, closets and - of course - the elevator.  I found a diagram of the elevator and its mechanism.  It went into the floor and up into the attic - I was surprised how extensive the apparatus was.  I have never seen a photo of it, but they must exist.

I have one big picture of the vestibule showing servants and guards along with the glass door leading into the hallway.  There must be more in the photo albums.

The Alexander Palace / Re: rooms of hte palace
« on: April 18, 2009, 01:03:43 AM »
Nicholas disliked meeting with more than one minister at a time.  Some said he didn't like them ganging up on him and trying to force his hand or make his opinions known.  Also two ministers in the same meeting could report entirely different accounts of the same meeting and attribute contrary opinions to the Emperor.  Nicholas hated this.

When ministers came to the AP they were visiting the sovereign in his home - at his invitation. Council meetings had been held in the Semi-circular Hall and in the New Study.

The Alexander Palace / Re: Exterior Fixtures, elements
« on: April 18, 2009, 12:53:56 AM »
The railing behind the palace dates from Quarenghi's time, but the terrace had to be rebuilt and reset.  This area of the place had problems with an underground stream and it caused cracks in the foundations and vaults of the semi-circular hall during construction.  You can see the railing still has lots of damage from WWII that was not repaired in the mid 90's.  I have great pictures of the front railings and light fixtures from the 20's and you can see that they were painted light blue.  The pictures show the guard station up close as well.  Alexandra's balcony was painted the same color.  The railings of the balcony can we seen at the Hermitage and at the Belvedere Palace, they seen to have been 'stock' from the ironworks of the time.

I have never seen pictures of the balcony after the war.  I don't know if the Germans stripped if for scrap and sent it off to Germany, or it was so badly damaged that there was no way to save it after the war or (this is the most likely) the balcony was pulled down on purpose after the war to eliminate something that was too clsoely associated with Alexandra.  We know that many of the rooms - including the Maple Room survived the war only to be destroyed by the Soviets.

Throughout the palace - inside and out - there were many remains of heating systems, window mechanisms, electricity, when I was there in the early 90's.  A few years later most of this had been swept away.  I hope documenting photographs were taken before this destruction took place.  As I have send before in the 90's the museum authorities did not want to restore the rooms of Nicholas and Alexandra and there were plans to destroy the New Study and Nicholas's Reception room.  The intent was to restore the palace to the time of Nicholas I.  Thank God - and I mean THANK GOD - the museum authorities did not have the money to do this.  There was a great dislike of Nicholas and Alexandra then - even hostility towards them.  Interest in them was considered a foreign 'obsession' and a sign of lack of culture in Tsarskoe Selo.  Certainly this has changed but the damage done deliberately and through neglect is there.

As I have written elsewhere what was done to the roof on the Imperial Wing when it was replaced was barbaric and completely unnecessary. The money was given for a proper replacement and what was done was a hack job that destroyed evidence from all periods of the palace dating back to the original construction.

Imperial Transportation / Re: Was Rasputin ever aboard the Standart
« on: February 19, 2009, 09:49:46 AM »
Isn't that the Nizhni Dvoretz?

The Alexander Palace / Re: Family Portrait
« on: February 19, 2009, 09:48:17 AM »
These rooms were closed down by the Soviet government in the 1920's.  Some things were moved downstairs - mostly icons and smaller personal items.  Some of the furniture remained behind and was used in the recreation rooms that were used by the CHEKA here. Some of the furniture was dispersed to local party offices and the homes of party officials.  Other things were sold in Gostinny Dvor to the public, shipped abroad for sale or sold in state antique stores to foreigners.  I don't know what happened to the painting of Alice from upstairs.  I will look and see if Kuchumov marked in his notes to me where it went.  As you all know the picture of Alice from the downstairs went to Pavlovsk and is still there.

The Alexander Palace / Re: Alix's bathroom
« on: September 07, 2008, 12:06:20 PM »
There were a couple of night alarm buttons.  They only went off accidently twice.  This proved the system worked.

Few realize how the Imperial family was isolated by their security.  It was a huge 24-7 operation - well hidden, but it was complete.

The Alexander Palace / Re: The Nazi's
« on: September 07, 2008, 12:01:59 PM »
There are many pieces in the USA that were stolen from the place.  Here's an example - John Atzbach, a dealer in Washington, has a bronze statue from the Pallisander Room stolen by the Germans from the palace.

It was sold in New York by one of the two big auction houses in the 70's or 80's.  It reappeared in the 90's and I arranged for a man who supported the Alexander Palace to buy it, with the promise he would have it returned to the palace on his death.  Unfortunately, he sold it without telling me and now Atzbach has it.  It is stolen so it should go back.

The Alexander Palace / Re: Alexandra's mezzanine nook...
« on: September 07, 2008, 11:56:46 AM »
I don't know.... good question...

The cast ones from Nicholas's time had iron (it looks like iron) rods in them.  This caused them to split and crack when water penetrated them.

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