Robert Schumann saved a steel pen he found at Beethoven’s grave for special occasions, such as writing his essay on Schubert’s C-Major Symphony. There are various ways to understand this act, but I think it sufficient to note the association with Beethoven and that the pen was made of steel. Attempts to manufacture steel pens were not satisfactory until the 1820s, and steel pens did not widely supplant feathers until the 1840s. To find one at Beethoven’s grave would be comparable to finding a typewriter at Wagner’s grave, or a computer at Stravinsky’s.
—Alfred W. Cramer, “Of Serpentina and Stenography:
Shapes of Handwriting in Romantic Melody,”
19th Century Music (XXX/2), Fall 2006
It is not surprising that when the “Anti-Gas Establishment” of the Royal Engineers got together for a reunion ten years after the [First World War], one of the sketches in a comedy program made reference to the Russian ballet. Both gas and the Russian dancers were regarded as the height of “newness,” as expressions of a sense of the modern that far exceeded what was considered acceptable by most of society. Lieutenant Colonel Henry S. Raper, CBE, FRS, Cavalier Crown of Italy, was presented on the anniversary program in the following way:
Raperski Presents his famous Russian Ballet, “Dialysis.” Argument:—The scene is laid in a woodland glade in which the three beautiful sisters, Chlorine, Bromine and Iodine, are discovered wandering. Sodium, a notorious bad character, approaches and beguiles them by presenting each with an electron for their rings. Too late they discover what has happened and they are about to crystallize out in despair, when they are precipitated by Argentum and thus saved from their awful doom. The last scene depicts Sodium, who has now become an Ion, in Brownian motion.
—Modris Eksteins, Rites of Spring: The Great War
and the Birth of the Modern Age