Roald Dahl and the Classics Factory

Roald DahlOn this day in 1601, the Flemish Baroque painter Jan Brueghel the Younger was born. Clara Schumann (wife of you-know-who) was born in 1819. Here is her Pianoconcerto in A Minor:

Good guy plutocrat Milton S. Hershey was born in 1857. As rich guys go, he was one of the best. But there was an amazing amount of paternalism in him. For example, although he always treated his workers well, he was fiercely against unionization. The reason is clear: he wanted to be in control. He liked thinking of his employees as children and he was not keen to see them grow up. Nonetheless, he was a great man. In Hershey, there was no Great Depression. And he founded the Hershey Industrial School, which although changed (it includes girls for one thing) is going strong. But he has been placed on a pedestal that is far too high for any man.

The great but very difficult composer Arnold Schoenberg was born in 1874. Below is an early work, Kammersymphonie Op. 9. This predates his twelve-tone technique by some time. As a result, it is freer, and I think, more playful. But you can definitely hear why people in 1906 thought it was noise. That was a time when most people still had a problem with Debussy. Bearing that in mind, give it a listen:

The great novelist Sherwood Anderson was born in 1876. Novelist J. B. Priestley was born in 1894. Actor Claudette Colbert was born in 1903. I’m not a big fan, but It Happened One Night is one of my very favorite movies. Here is one of the many great scenes from that movie, “A very nice married couple”:

Singer Mel Torme was born in 1925. Actor Nell Carter was born in 1948.

Miss Manners, Judith Martin is 75 today. Novelist Mildred Taylor is 70. Actor Jacqueline Bisset is 69. Film producer Frank Marshall is 67. Political commentator Tavis Smiley is 49. And Fiona Apple is 36. Here is the “Hot Knife” video, which is pretty great:

The day, however, belongs to the great writer Roald Dahl who was born on this day in 1916. When I was a kid, my favorite book was James and the Giant Peach. Of course, I liked many other of his books like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Fantastic Mr Fox. And even now, I read his short fiction. He was a great talent. Of course, we would know that anyway; there is no way a bookworm like he could have nabbed Patricia Neal was a wife.

Happy birthday Roald Dahl!

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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