Celebration of anniversaries in 2011

100th anniversary of the first independent periodical, Serâj-ul-akhbâr, created in 1911 by its foundereditor Mahmud Tarzi, the father of journalism in Afghanistan (2011)

The proposal is laudable in its objectives and is in good alignment with UNESCO’s Communication and Information programme priorities (Freedom of Expression / Memory of the World). This magazine debated issues of regional and global character in its articles. The creation of independent Serâj-ul-akhbâr, by Mahmud Tarzi, in 1911 in Kabul was an important event in Afghanistan and in the region that has contributed to the advancement of knowledge, education, culture, freedom of expression and the right to education.

100th anniversary of the birth of Roberto Matta Echaurren, painter (1911-2002) (2011)

Roberto Matta Echaurren (1911-2002), a Chilean painter, initially studied architecture before giving up his studies in 1933 to settle in France, where he very soon joined the surrealist movement led by André Breton. His painting then became influenced by the process of automatic writing. He experimented with new techniques to find more effective ways of reproducing the images in his head using both a dazzling display of colour and a very strict internal structure. He was able to break loose from movements and establish himself in the art world through the force of his art and the power of his convictions. His phenomenal international career was interspersed with action to protect individual rights.
When UNESCO Headquarters was being built in Paris in 1958, Roberto Matta was commissioned to paint a mural called The Greatest Opening to the Cosmos to decorate the interior of the building.

300th anniversary of the birth of Ruder Josip Boškovic, physicist, astronomer, mathematician (1711- 1787) (2011)

Rudjer Joseph Bošković was a Jesuit, physicist, astronomer, mathematician, philosopher, diplomat and poet. He is famous for his atomic theory, given as a clear, precisely formulated system utilizing principles of Newtonian mechanics. This work inspired Michael Faraday to develop field theory for electromagnetic interaction. Bošković also made many important contributions to astronomy, including the first geometric procedure for determining the equator of a rotating planet from three observations of a surface feature and for computing the orbit of a planet from three observations of its position.

Czech Republic

200th anniversary of the establishment of the Prague Conservatory (1811) (2011)

Established in 1808 (but opened to students in 1811), the Prague Conservatory is one of the oldest schools of music in the world and was the first musical training establishment in the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. From the outset, renowned European musicians, such as Carl Maria von Weber, Hector Berlioz, Franz Liszt, Richard Wagner and Clara Schumann, were invited to collaborate with the establishment. Thus, over time it became “the Conservatory of Europe” open to talented foreign students.
In 1891, the famous Czech composer Antonín Dvořák headed the composition department. Then in 1901, on returning from a long stay in New York, he was made its director until his death in 1904.
This musical training institution also served as a model for the establishment of similar schools throughout Europe and in North America, thus ensuring the international influence of music as a vector for both dialogue, through training, and exchange between artists and talented students worldwide.
Photo legend: Founding Charter

Democratic Republic of the Congo
50th anniversary of the University of Kisangani (2011)

The University of Kisangani is one of the three main state universities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is a first-generation African university. In terms of importance, it ranks third after the universities of Kinshasa and Lubumbashi, established in 1954 and 1956 respectively. Originally founded and run by Protestants as the Free University of the Congo (1959-1971), it became one of the three campuses of the National University of Zaire from 1971 to 1981 before once again becoming a separate state university. The University of Kisangani used to be best known for its role in training teachers and education staff. It is now a comprehensive university and has a Medical Faculty, a Science Faculty and a Faculty of Politics, Social Sciences and Public Administration, in addition to the Faculty of Educational Science and Psychology.

50th anniversary of the death of Patrice Emery Lumumba, symbol of pan-Africanism (1925-1961) (2011)

Born in 1925 in Kisangani, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Patrice Lumumba, one of the pioneers of pan-Africanism, leader of civil society and Congolese politician, dedicated his life to the civic education of citizens in order to advance the right of peoples to self-determination and their emancipation.
Patrice Lumumba, who was self-taught, was a journalist and activist in associative movements. His participation in the First Pan-African Congress in Accra in 1958 marked his entry into politics, as leader of the Congolese National Movement (CNM). Following victory in the elections following the independence of the Congo, Patrice Lumumba was appointed Prime Minister. He died tragically in January 1961 two months after his entry into office.
The commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the death of Patrice Lumumba, the founding father of the Congolese nation, is explained by his commitment and the impact of his action in promoting African liberation through dialogue and democracy. For young Africans, Patrice Lumumba embodied the hope for a promising future for an Africa which, in spite of the burden of colonial history, could take in hand its destiny and benefit from its rich natural resources.
The international significance of Patrice Lumumba’s action is attested to by the toponymy of cities, and the numerous books and films about him. His life has been a source of inspiration for many artists, including Aimé Césaire in his famous work “A season in the Congo”.
A key figure in contemporary African history, the commemorations regarding Patrice Lumumba that have been planned by the Congolese authorities, will provide an opportunity to the educational, scientific and cultural community to initiate activities that could form part of the launch of the project on the educational use of the General History of Africa and the African Liberation Heritage project.
Thus, UNESCO’s association with the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the death of Patrice Lumumba is justified by the role he played in the pan-African movement and by his action for the respect of human rights, in particular the defence of freedom of expression, the right to self-determination and solidarity among peoples.


500th anniversary of the publication of The Praise of Folly by Erasmus (1511) (2011)

Planned in 1509 and written in Latin that same year upon Erasmus’s return from Italy, dedicated in 1510 to the English jurist Thomas More, first printed in Paris in 1511 under the title Moriae Encomium and then expanded in various editions published in Basel up until 1532, In Praise of Folly was one of the great
European successes of the Renaissance.
Beyond the fact that the work is generally thought to have ushered in the Protestant Reformation, In Praise of Folly seeks the truth, combining religious considerations with philosophical principles. Erasmus’s work thus encourages philosophical thought and reflection.

150th anniversary of the birth of Vazha Pshavela, writer (1861-1915) (2011)

Vazha Pshavela (the pseudonym of Luka Razikashvili, 1861-1915) was a Georgian thinker, poet and writer. Vazha Pshavela’s poetry represents the summit of nineteenth-century Georgian realism.
He was born in the small Pshavian village of Chargali. He graduated from teachers’ seminary and studied law at Saint Petersburg University. Vazha Pshavela wrote most of his verses, poems and stories in the vicinity of his native village. His works are mainly devoted to human relationships towards the material world. The national epic works of Georgian poetry in the nineteenth century and the revival of poetic epos are also connected with his name. Heroism, tragedy and humanity define the epic creativity of Vazha Pshavela. His poems and narrative stories are widely translated into a number of languages.

200th anniversary of the death of Heinrich von Kleist, writer (1777-1811) (2011)

It was only in the twentieth century that Heinrich von Kleist (1777-1811), a German writer and playwright, came to be acknowledged as the most original dramatist of German Romanticism. Unrecognized during his lifetime, Kleist’s short life of only 34 years was as romantic and tragic as his works. As a poet of extremes, he created characters which disconcerted his contemporaries but which became more intelligible as psychoanalysis developed. His best-known works include The Broken Jug, The Schroffenstein Family, The Marquise of O, Penthesilea and The Prince of Homburg, which have all become classics of world literature.

200th anniversary of the birth of Franz Liszt, composer (1811-1896) (Hungary, with the support of France) (2011)

The Liszt oeuvre consists of an exceptionally great number of compositions – piano pieces (including four hand and two piano pieces and transcriptions of his works, together with opuses by past and contemporary composers), orchestra pieces (including symphonies, symphonic poems and piano concerti), oratorios, masses and choir compositions (with instrumental accompaniment or a capella), lieds (songs) with piano accompaniment.
Franz Liszt was one of the leaders of the Romantic movement in music. In his compositions he developed new methods, both imaginative and technical, which left their mark upon his forward-looking contemporaries and anticipated some 20th-century ideas and procedures; he also evolved the method of ‘transformation of themes’ as part of his revolution in form, made radical experiments in harmony and invented the symphonic poem for orchestra. As the greatest piano virtuoso of his time, he used his sensational technique and captivating concert personality not only for personal effect but to spread, through his transcriptions, knowledge of other composers’ music. As a conductor and teacher, especially at Weimar, he made himself the most influential figure of the New German School dedicated to progress in music. His unremitting championship of Wagner and Berlioz helped these composers achieve a wider European fame. Equally important was his unrivalled commitment to preserving and promoting the best of the past, including Bach, Handel, Schubert, Weber and above all Beethoven; He contained in his character more of the ideals and aspirations of the 19th century than any other major musician.
“…how much does the present generation understand Liszt’s works, and which of them do they like most, and which least? Twenty-five years ago I published an article in which I tried to answer this question by an examination of the attitude of the public of that time. I arrived at the distressing conclusion that music-lovers and average musicians then liked and accepted, almost exclusively, only the comparatively insignificant and outwardly brilliant works, completely rejecting the most valuable ones which pointed so amazingly ahead of their time. Since then, the situation has improved considerably, but we are still not where we could and should be.” “Now we can turn to the second question. What influence did Liszt’s music have on the general development of the art of music? Once I wrote somewhere ‘I feel that Liszt’s importance to the development of music was greater than Wagner’s’. I still maintain that this is so. By this I do not wish to say that Liszt is a greater composer than Wagner… Liszt on the other hand touched upon so many new possibilities in his works, without being able to exhaust them utterly, that he provided an incomparably greater stimulus than Wagner.” Béla Bartók: Liszt problems (inaugural lecture at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in 1936). English translation in: Béla Bartók Essays, selected and edited by Benjamin Suchoff (London: Faber & Faber Ltd., 1976). Photo legend: portrait painted by Miklós Barabás.

150th anniversary of the birth of Rabindranath Tagore, thinker, philosopher and poet (1861-1941) (2011)

Rabindranath Tagore (Kolkata, formerly known as Calcutta, 1861-1941), poet, music teacher, playwright, visual artist, was a myriad-minded personality who experimented in all fields of creativity, and who authored more than 250 books, the most famous being Gitanjali (1912) that won him the Nobel Prize in 1913. Rabindranath Tagore created an alternative education system; developed rural reconstruction services; set up a school on traditional lines in 1901 which grew organically into a university in 1921 and is now an institution of national importance in India. Tagore was also a cultural reformer and polymath who modernized Bengali art. His paintings and songs have unleashed new horizons of experience. His significant work, which has earned him universal respect and admiration, provides a philosophical system emblematic of Asian civilizations. It addresses all the issues and social contradictions underlying the struggle for political independence and respect for cultural and linguistic identity, while offering ideals and practices based on tolerance and dialogue with the West. A contemporary of Gandhi and Nehru, a friend of Einstein and of many artists and scientists, a member of the International Institute for Intellectual Cooperation (IICI) which preceded the creation of UNESCO, this humanist in search of the universal continues, moreover, to have an impact on the international community as a whole.

Iran, Islamic Republic of
1250th anniversary of the birth of Fârsî Beizavî , known as Sîbûye (Sîbawaihi), philologist (761-796) (2011)

Fârsî Beizavî (761-796), an Arabic grammarian and philologist, studied grammar under Abu Khatab Akhfash (a renowned scholar). His book known as Al-Kitab is an important and pioneering work on Arabic grammar.
Fârsî Beizavî owes his historic importance to the privilege of being the first to write a grammar book for the Arabic language and to develop a methodology for distinguishing and studying the sounds in the Arabic language.

750th anniversary of the active life of Khâje Nasîr-ud-Dîn Tûsî, scientist (1201-1274), with the support of Azerbaijan (2011)

Khâje Nasîr-ud-Dîn Tûsî (1201-1274) was the father of the renaissance in astronomy in the Islamic world and designed the observatory of Maragheh in 1261, which was the turning point in his life and consolidated his renown. He was able to revitalize the sciences of mathematics and astronomy in his time because of the comprehensiveness of his personality. His fields of study were mathematics (arithmetic, geometry and algebra), astronomy, ethics, jurisprudence, literature, music, mineralogy, medicine, literature, basic sciences, and engineering; he was thus extremely comprehensive and was the pioneer of his time in these diverse fields. He is also named the father of mathematics, and computer studies and aeronautics were later inspired by his works.
Photo legend: A manuscript of Khaje Nasir-ud-Din Tusi.

700th anniversary of the death of Qutb-ud-Dîn Shîrazî, scientist (1236-1311) (2011)

Qutb-ud-Dîn Shîrâzî (1236-1311) wrote critiques of the Almagest of Ptolemy. He also continued the optical studies of Alhazen. It was Qutb-ud-Dîn Shîrâzî who first gave a correct explanation for the formation of the rainbow, which was elaborated on by his student Kamal al-Din al-Farisi. He produced two prominent works on astronomy – The Limit of Accomplishment concerning Knowledge of the Heavens, and The Royal Present. Besides astronomy, he wrote extensively on medicine, mathematics and “traditional” Islamic sciences.
Photo legend: Image taken from medieval manuscript by Qotbeddin Shirazi. The image depicts an epicyclic planetary model.

100th anniversary of the death of Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis, painter and composer (1875-1911) (2011)

Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis (1875-1911) was one of the most important Lithuanian artists. He has invented a unique rhythmic, structural method of synthesizing of art and music in a painting, thus becoming one of pioneers of the abstract art movement in Europe. His creative work radiates with ideas of universality, cultural and religious syncretism and humanism.
He contributed to symbolism and art nouveau and was representative of the fin de siècle epoch. During his short life he created about 300 paintings. The majority of his paintings are housed in the M.K. Čiurlionis National Art Museum in Kaunas, Lithuania. His works have had a profound influence on modern Lithuanian culture. Čiurlionis’ musical legacy is symphonic, choral compositions and music for piano. His musical works implicate elements of late Romanticism and suggestive expression.
Photo legend: M.K. Čiurlionis portrait (photographer S. Fleury, 1908, reproducer A. Baltėnas).

100th anniversary of the birth of Czeslaw Milosz, writer (1911-2004) (Lithuania and Poland) (2011)

Czeslaw Milosz (1911, Šeteniai, Lithuania – 2004, Krakow, Poland), a poet, prose-writer, essayist and translator, won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1980 and received a number of other literary awards. He held honorary doctorates from a number of universities in the United States of America, Italy, Lithuania and Poland and was a honorary citizen of Lithuania and the City of Krakow.
After spending his youth in Vilnius, where he took his first steps as a poet, he worked in the Polish diplomatic service after the War – in the United States of America and France. He became a political exile in France in 1951 and was appointed professor of Slavic languages and literature at the University of California, Berkeley (USA) in 1960.
He is unanimously considered to be one of the most important poets of the twentieth century.

150th anniversary of the birth of Fridtjof Nansen, explorer, and the 100th anniversary of the reaching of the South Pole by Roald Amundsen, explorer (2011)

Fridtjof Nansen (1861-1930) was a Norwegian explorer, scientist and diplomat. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest personalities in the history of Norway. Nansen initially started out as pioneer sports skier, and soon became interested in Arctic exploration. He led the first crossing of Greenland by ski, and achieved great success with his Arctic expedition aboard the Fram. He later became noted as a zoologist and oceanographer, and was a pioneer of the neuron theory. His work had a genuine impact in the world as a whole by his scientific achievements in oceanography.
Roald Amundsen (1872-1928) was a Norwegian explorer of polar regions. He led the first Antarctic expedition which reached the South Pole in 1911. He was also the first person to reach both the North and South Poles, and he is known as the first to traverse the Northwest Passage in a small sailing vessel. He disappeared in June 1928 while taking part in a rescue mission.

400th anniversary of the University of Santo Tomás (1611) (2011)

The University of Santo Tomás covers the fields of expertise of UNESCO in education, science, culture, social and human sciences, communication and cross-cutting disciplines. The 400th anniversary celebration of the University of Santo Tomás will have an international impact as many of the university’s graduates have contributed globally to advance the ideals valued by UNESCO. UNESCO will be involved in these celebrations through the UNESCO Chairs for Cultural Heritage and through its support and advocacy for the University.
Former Director-General of UNESCO, Mr Matsuura, has a Doctor of Law honoris causa from the University.

100th anniversary of the birth of Czeslaw Milosz, writer (1911-2004) (Lithuania and Poland) (2011)

Czeslaw Milosz (1911, Šeteniai, Lithuania – 2004, Krakow, Poland), a poet, prose-writer, essayist and translator, won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1980 and received a number of other literary awards. He held honorary doctorates from a number of universities in the United States of America, Italy, Lithuania and Poland and was a honorary citizen of Lithuania and the City of Krakow.
After spending his youth in Vilnius, where he took his first steps as a poet, he worked in the Polish diplomatic service after the War – in the United States of America and France. He became a political exile in France in 1951 and was appointed professor of Slavic languages and literature at the University of California, Berkeley (USA) in 1960.
He is unanimously considered to be one of the most important poets of the twentieth century.

50th anniversary of the death of Simion Stoilow, mathematician (1887-1961) (2011)

The mathematician Simion Stoilow (1887-1961) laid the foundations for and developed a new branch of mathematics, the topological theory of analytic functions. Three theorems of Stoilow, published in 1928, 1932 and 1935, constitute his main contribution to this field.

50th anniversary of the death of Lucian Blaga, poet (1895-1961) (2011)

Lucian Blaga (1895-1961), great poet, but also philosopher by training, pursued a career in the diplomatic service until 1939. His contribution to philosophy was marked by the development of a metaphysics of culture that made the “Romanian village” a locus for self-awareness in harmony with omnipresent nature. This extremely original work earned him recognition worldwide and an international reputation.

50th anniversary of the death of Mihail Sadoveanu, writer (1880-1961) (2011)

A highly prolific writer, Mihail Sadoveanu (1880-1961) combined his great narrative gifts with a personal style in which the vernacular of Moldavia and Bucovina held pride of place.
His great historical epic The Jderi Brothers and his novel Neamul Soimarestilor are among the classics of Romanian literature. He is one of the leading Romanian authors of the twentieth century.

Russian Federation
50th anniversary of the first manned mission to space (1961) (2011)russia_Gagarin200.jpg

In 1961, the Soviet spaceship-sputnik Vostok 1 was put into orbit around the Earth taking on board the first ever man from Earth: Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Alexeevich Gagarin (1934-1968). This historical flight brought about a real orbital revolution with remarkable scientific effect. It was a very important event and has paved the way to numerous discoveries in space and opened up a new era of outer space exploration.

300th anniversary of the birth of Mikhail Lomonosov, scientist and writer (1711-1765) (2011)

Mikhail Lomonosov’s work in science was of an encyclopaedic scope. He was actively engaged in physics, chemistry, astronomy, geology, meteorology, and navigation. He also contributed to population studies, political economy, Russian history, rhetoric, and grammar. He brought the most advanced scientific theories to Russia, commented on their strengths and weaknesses, and advanced original ideas.

100th anniversary of the birth of Jan Cikker, composer (1911-1989) (2011)

Ján Cikker (1911-1989), Slovak composer and pedagogue, was the main representative of modern Slovak classical music. In a number of his works, Cikker utilized traditional Slovak melodies. In others, he moved towards expressionism and eventually embraced serial procedures. His works for the stage are particularly notable. In 1966 he was named National Artist by his homeland, and that same year he was awarded the Herder Prize by the University of Vienna. In 1979 he received the UNESCO/International Music Council Prize.

100th anniversary of the birth of Mirzo Turzun-Zoda, poet (1911-1977) (2011)

Mirzo Tursun-Zade (1911-1977) was an important poet and a prominent political and public figure, who has been elevated to the level of national hero of Tajikistan. The town of Tursunzoda is named in his honour. Poems Khasan Arbakesh, The Voice of Asia, The Eternal Light brought to the poet great popularity and recognition. In 1960, Tursun-Zade was given the honorary title of Laureate of the Lenin Prize.

100th anniversary of the birth of Kukrit Pramoj (1911-1995) (2011)

M.R. Kukrit Pramoj (1911-1995) was a Thai politician, writer, journalist and scholar. He was the thirteenth Prime Minister of Thailand, serving in office from 1975 to 1976. He is also known as a veritable “Thai public intellectual” and a great Thai writer. Kukrit Pramoj was a prolific writer in prose as well as poetry. His short story Morm has been proclaimed as one of the best national short stories. It narrates the career of a stray mongrel through the ups and downs of his master’s fortunes.

The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
50th anniversary of the first edition of the International Festival “Struga Poetry Evenings” (2011)

The International Festival “Struga Poetry Evenings” (SPE) is one of the oldest poetry festivals in the world, which takes place in Struga (the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia). Over the years, a great number of world-famous poets have been invited to participate in this annual event. Each year, the international jury that consists of outstanding intellectuals in the field of literature and poetry awards the famous “Golden wreath” prize to an internationally recognized poet. Poetry New Anthologies are published each year and through this activity, the SPE library has become one of the biggest in the world. Today, the SPE represents a universal poetic centre, associated with UNESCO’s cultural action.


400th anniversary of the birth of Evliya Çelebi, writer (1611-1682) (2011)

Evliya Çelebi (1611-1682), renown Turkish traveller, writer, calligrapher, poet and musician, is one of the prominent figures of travel literature of the 17th Century. He traveled all over the Ottoman Empire and beyond, visiting numerous cities and towns in Asia, the Middle East and Europe. He wrote about customs, traditions, history, important personalities and architecture he came to know during his travels.
His travel notes are collected in his 10 volume work, “Seyahatname” (The Book of Travels), which is the first and most prominent travel book of Turkish literature.
Evliya Çelebi placed special emphasis on the languages and local dialects of the people and, with the aim of addressing all, he adopted a simple, humble and clear writing style.

1000th anniversary of the foundation of St Sophia Cathedral, Kyiv (1011) (2011)

Kiev's Saint-Sophia Cathedral symbolizes the “new Constantinople”, capital of the Christian principality of Kiev, which was created in the 11th century. It belongs to the most outstanding monuments of Byzantine area. The cathedral has the most complete ensemble of authentic mosaics and frescoes of the beginning of the 11th century, which are considered to be outstanding artistic masterpieces. The spiritual and intellectual influence of Saint-Sophia Cathedral and Related Monastic Complex contributed to an important interchange of human values. As a spiritual centre of the East Slavs, the cathedral has played a major role in the development of science, art, education in Ukraine and all over the world. Today, it is one of the city's best known landmarks and the first Ukrainian cultural property to be inscribed on the World Heritage List.

150th anniversary of the death of Taras Shevchenko, writer (1814-1861) (2011)

Taras Hryhorovych Shevchenko (1814 –1861) was a Ukrainian poet, artist and humanist. His literary heritage is regarded to be the foundation of modern Ukrainian literature and, to a large extent, the modern Ukrainian language. T. Shevchenko also wrote in Russian and left many masterpieces as a painter and an illustrator. His poetry contributed greatly to the growth of Ukrainian national consciousness, and his influence on various facets of Ukrainian intellectual, literary and national life is still felt to this day. Influenced by Romanticism, T. Shevchenko managed to find his own manner of poetic expression. A great number of his pictures, drawings and etchings preserved to this day testify to his unique artistic talent. He also experimented with photography and may be considered to have pioneered the art of etching in the Russian Empire. In 1860 he was awarded the title of Academician in the Imperial Academy of Arts specifically for his achievements in etching.

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
450th anniversary of the birth of Francis Bacon, writer and philosopher (1561-1626) (2011)

Francis Bacon was an English philosopher, one of the leading figures in natural philosophy, a statesman and a scientist. He is well known for his treatises on empiricist natural philosophy (The Advancement of Learning, Novum Organum Scientiarum) and for his doctrine of the idols, which he put forward in his early writings, as well as for the idea of a modern research institute, which he described in Nova Atlantis.

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