On this day in 1623, the great physicist (and much, much more) Blaise Pascal was born. In particular, he did a lot of work in fluid flow and invented the hydraulic press and the syringe. In addition to all of his work in science and mathematics, he was also quite an interesting theologian. Unlike Newton, his ideas are still of some interest. (Actually, I’m not sure that Newton’s theological ideas were ever of any interest.)
The Czech composer Johann Stamitz was born in 1717. During his lifetime, he was better known as a violinist. But his output as a composer was large. It’s always interesting to see how much people produced during this time. I think it was due to the fact that they didn’t have much else to do to entertain themselves. Someday, I’ll write about that in more depth. Anyway, Stamitz had two sons who were both at least as important as he was in terms of composition. Still, his music is very appealing. I would call his music Baroque, but he was certainly picking up on some of the stuff that would become classical. Here is the Ensemble Settecento performing the Andante from his Symphony in E-flat Major:
And then there is Alfredo Catalani who was born in 1854. Although he didn’t even live to be 40 due to tuberculosis, he wrote some extremely beautiful operas. He has sadly been all but forgotten. If you like opera at all, however, you will love the following 4 minutes of Renee Fleming performing “Ebben! Ne Andro Lontana” from Catalani’s most famous opera (that is occasionally performed), La Wally:
Moe Howard of The Three Stooges was born in 1897. When I was a kid, I hated the Stooges. But now I can appreciate the art. When I was young, the violence seemed far too realistic. Now it seems artful, almost like dance. It’s very impressive stuff. Film critic Pauline Kael was born in 1919. And musician Nick Drake was born in 1948. He is one of my very favorite musicians. Here is a video made for his song “Day Is Done”:
But in my long tradition of giving the day to personal crushes, this day belongs to Gena Rowlands who is 83 today. She is a great actor and the widow of one of my favorite filmmakers, John Cassavetes. Here is American Music Club’s Gena Rowlands song, “What Holds the World Together” (the wind that blows through Gena Rowlands’ hair):
Happy birthday Gena Rowlands!