The great French landscape painter Claude-Joseph Vernet was born on this day in 1714. Interestingly, his son Carle Vernet—also a painter—was born on this day in 1758. (The grandson, Horace Vernet was the best painter of the the bunch, although he was born on 30 June 1789.) The Austrian Classical composer Leopold Hofmann was born in 1738. Here is his Cello Concerto in D major:
Physicist Hans Christian Orsted was born in 1777. He discovered that changing electric currents created magnetic fields. This is one of the critical experimental findings in the study of electromagnetism. The sickly dentist, gambler, and all around badass Doc Holliday was born in 1851. Mathematician Guido Castelnuovo was born in 1865. Novelist and playwright John Galsworthy was born in 1867. The great modern composer Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji was born in 1892. He was gay, but somehow the British government never got around to sterilizing him. Here is his Pastiche on Habanera from “Carmen” which is a lot of fun:
Musique concrete composer Pierre Schaeffer was born in 1910. Basically, he recorded different sounds and then put them together in a kind of aural collage. It is an artistic form that can be tiresome—see, for example, John Lennon’s “Revolution 9.” But in Schaeffer’s hands, it is quite interesting although hardly the kind of stuff you’d want to listen to for long. Here is Apostrophe:
Satarist Russell Baker is 88 today. I like this quote of his, “Misery no longer loves company. Nowadays it insists on it.” Both Lynne Cheney and David Crosby are 72. What a pair! Steve Martin is 68. He’s a smart and funny guy, but try as I might, I couldn’t find any video of him that I liked. Maybe that’s because I don’t think much of him as a stand-up. I always get the impression (and I think this is true) that he despises his audience for laughing at what he thinks of as pretty low humor.
The day, however, belongs to the great film director Wim Wenders who is 68 today. He has some annoying habits, but when it works as it does in The American Friend and Paris, Texas it is great art. Here is the trailer for The American Friend, which I don’t think enough people have seen:
Happy birthday Wim Wenders!