I was curious about something this morning: How big is the United Kingdom, especially Scotland (since I’ve been listening to Scottish songs for the past week), compared to the state (Michigan) in which I live?
The answer surprised me.
The United Kingdom (England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland) is 94,058 square miles. Michigan is 96,716 square miles. So my state (ranked 11th in size out of 50 in the United States) is bigger than all of the United Kingdom combined.
Lest you think I have a debilitating case of State Envy, if you’ve been reading this blog from the beginning, you should know by now that I like to see things in context. If I can compare something unfamiliar (the century in which Haydn composed, for example) with something familiar (what was happening in America at the same time, for example), I can better understand whatever it is I didn’t understand before.
In this case, I’m comparing the United Kingdom’s square miles to that of the United States so that I can better understand something (albeit a small thing) about the country or region from which these songs come.
The square miles of Scotland is 30,265, which is roughly comparable to the state of South Carolina (the 40th largest state) at 32,020 square miles.
While I’m at it, the square miles of Austria (Haydn’s birthplace) is 32,377, which is roughly comparable to the state of South Carolina.
I’ve always wondered why that region of the world (Austria, Germany) produced so many renowned composers, one after another, down through the centuries. Why did one of the (comparatively) smallest regions of the world provide the world with untold wealth from all of these brilliant Classical composers?
Doubt me? Take a look: Continue reading