Category: Nameberry Picks
by Linda Rosenkrantz
Did you know that September happens to be Classical Music Month? Well neither did I, until just recently. This new knowledge inspired me to do a Nameberry Picks list of some of the most interesting classical composers’ first names. And no, turns out they’re not all Franz or Hans or Johann—there are a variety of unusual choices –unfortunately, most of them male.
Alban Maria Berg was an Austrian composer associated with Arnold Schoenberg’s 12-tone technique and the composer of the opera Lulu. Rarely heard in the US, the saint’s name Alban –one of the more unusual paths to Al–is currently Number 132 in France. With a variant spelling, Alben Barkley (born Willie Alben) was US Veep under Harry Truman.
Yes, middle names count—especially this one of Mozart’s that became the title of a movie that won a best picture Academy Award in 1985. In 2010, tennis champ showed that this classical Latin appellation was still wearable when he named his son Amadeus Benedict.
By Linda Rosenkrantz
A few months ago, we blogged about lady detectives, clueing you in to some fabulous names like Trixie, Temperance and Thursday, Loveday and Precious. Now it’s time to investigate their male counterparts—and there are some real doozies—drawn from a variety of genres– from early crime novels to comic strips to contemporary TV.
Arkady Renko— a chief homicide inspector for the prosecutor’s office in Moscow, Arkady Renko is the protagonist of a series by Martin Cruz Smith, beginning with the bestselling Gorky Park. Arkady, a lively three-syllable Russian saint’s name used by Turgenev and Dostoyevsky, is certainly prime import material.
Aurelio Zen (great combo) is a fictional Italian detective created by the British crime writer Michael Dibdin; Zen, a trio of spellbinding cases based on the bestselling novels aired on PBS’s Masterpiece in 2011. Aurelio is an exotic and energetic Italian version of the sunny Aurelius.
For the past couple of years, Charlotte has been at or near the top of the list of Berry favorites, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s a name at the very center of the Sweet Spot of names with a ton of great attributes and references—literary, historic, and royal. She’s demure, yet solid and strong, classic but not stuffy, British with the slightest trace of a French accent–one of the very best classic girls’ names.
She has so much going for her that we thought that she deserved a whole blog to herself.
Like her cousin Caroline, Charlotte is a feminine form of Charles, but arrived there in a roundabout way. Charlotte is actually the English and French version of the Italian Carlotta, itself a feminine version of Carlo, the Italian Charles, and has been in English-speaking use since the seventeenth century. In the fifteenth century, Carlotta of Savoy married King Louis XI of France, where her name became Gallicized as Charlotte, a form which then emigrated to England during the next century.
Since that time, of course, there have been countless more shows with zillions of names of characters belting it out on the Great White Way, ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous. There are so many of the former that it’s been hard to narrow it down to a dozen or so Nameberry Faves, but here are our final picks:
Adelaide—In Guys & Dolls, Adelaide is an endearing Hot Boxclub dancer with a perpetual psychosomatic cold due to the frustrations of a 14-year engagement. Not surprisingly, Aussie Rachel Griffiths chose this rapidly climbing Australian place name for her daughter; Katherine Heigl spelled it Adalaide.