Monthly Archives: October 2013

Andreas Gryphius – Master Poet of the German Baroque

Andreas Gryphius – Master Poet of the German Baroque

Andreas Gryphius (1616-1664) On October 11, 1616, German Baroque lyric poet and dramatist Andreas Gryphius was born. For his poems and tragedies Gryphius chose the topics of pain and moral decay during the times of the Thirty Years War as well as human restlessness, solitude and inner conflicts. Unless you have attended a German highschool or have a strong interest in baroque poetry, you might have never heard of Andreas…
Giuseppe Verdi – Master of the Opera

Giuseppe Verdi – Master of the Opera

Giuseppe Verdi(1813 – 1901)Image by Giovanni Boldini On October 9 or 10, 1813, famous Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi was born. He is primarily known for his romantic operas, and together with Richard Wagner, Verdi is considered the most influential composer of operas of the nineteenth century. When I personally think of Giuseppe Verdi, it reminds me of a very impressing night a few years ago when I got the chance to…
Camille Saint-Saëns – a Musical Renaissance Man

Camille Saint-Saëns – a Musical Renaissance Man

Camille Saint-Saëns(1835 – 1921) On October 9, 1835, French composer, organist, conductor, and pianist of the Romantic era Camille Saint-Saëns was born. He was something of an anomaly among French composers of the nineteenth century in that he wrote in virtually all genres, including opera, symphonies, concertos, songs, sacred and secular choral music, solo piano, and chamber music. Moreover, his interests also exceeded the musical genre as being an expert…
Henry Fielding – the Father of the English Novel

Henry Fielding – the Father of the English Novel

Henry Fielding (1707-1754) On October 8, 1754, famous English novelist, journalist and dramatist Henry Fielding passed away. He is best known for his rich earthy humour and satirical prowess, and as the author of the novel Tom Jones. Henry Fielding influenced the main tradition of the English novel through the eighteenth century and the nineteenth century. One of his major contribution to the English novel was a sense of structure…
Niels Bohr and the beginnings of Quantum Mechanics

Niels Bohr and the beginnings of Quantum Mechanics

Niels Bohr (1885 – 1962) On October 7, 1885, Danish physicist and Nobel Laureate Niels Bohr was born. Bohr made foundational contributions to understanding atomic structure and quantum mechanics, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1922. Niels Bohr grew up in a home full of academics. Only his brother became a professional football player and also Bohr played this sport passionately. After school, he enrolled at…
You Ain’t Heard Nothin’ Yet – The Movies started Talking

You Ain’t Heard Nothin’ Yet – The Movies started Talking

The first feature-length motion picture withsequences of synchronized speech:‘The Jazz Singer’ from 1927 On October 6, 1927, the first feature-length motion picture with synchronized dialogue sequences, The Jazz Singer premiered. With its Vitaphone sound-on-disc system it heralded the commercial ascendance of the “talkies” and the decline of the silent film era. We all know that it started with the silent films already at the end of the 19th century as…
Ole Rømer and the Speed of Light

Ole Rømer and the Speed of Light

Ole Rømer at work On October 5, 1644 (or according to the old julian calendar September 25), Danish astronomer Ole Christensen Rømer was born. He is best known for making the first quantitative measurements of the speed of light. Ole Rømer enrolled at the University of Copenhagen in the 1660s and learned from famous scientists like Rasmus Bartholin. Bartholin discovered double refraction of a light ray by Iceland spar and…
John Atanasoff and the first Electronic Digital Computer

John Atanasoff and the first Electronic Digital Computer

John Vincent Atanasoff (1903-1995) On October 4, 1903, American physicist and inventor John Vincent Atanasoff was born. He is best known for being considered as one of the inventors of the electronic digital computer. Even computer scientists most probably haven’t heard anything of this computer pioneer. Of course you will have heard about Alan Turing or John von Neumann, who are traditionally referenced as being the fathers of the computer.…
Carl von Ossietzky and Political Reason

Carl von Ossietzky and Political Reason

Carl von Ossietzky(1889 – 1938) On October 3, 1889, German pacifist and Nobel Laureate Carl von Ossietzky was born. He received the 1935 Nobel Peace Prize for his work in exposing the clandestine German re-armament. In the course of his publications of Germany’s alleged violation of the Treaty of Versailles by rebuilding an air force he was convicted of high treason and espionage in 1931. Carl von Ossietzky was majorly…
Hans Lippershey and the Telescope

Hans Lippershey and the Telescope

Hans Lippershey(1570 – 1619) On October 2, 1608,  German-Dutch lensmaker Hans Lippershey applied to the States-General of the Netherlands for a patent for his instrument “for seeing things far away as if they were nearby”. Even though scientists of the 12th century never heard of telescopes and most of them did not know specific laws of optics, the started laying the foundations for telescopes as we know them today. Ptolemy…
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