In 1667, the blind and impoverished John Milton sells the copyright of “Paradise Lost” for £10.
Rather a paltry sum for something that has become such a major literary work. In fact, 348 years ago £10 would be worth a not so whopping £35 in today’s money.
Paradise Lost is an epic poem in blank verse.
The first version, published in 1667, consisted of ten books with over ten thousand lines of verse.
A second edition followed in 1674, arranged into twelve books (in the manner of Virgil’s Aeneid) with minor revisions throughout and a note on the versification. It is considered by critics to be Milton’s major work, and helped solidify his reputation as one of the greatest English poets of his time.
So what’s the poem about? Well, it concerns the Biblical story of the Fall of Man: the temptation of Adam and Eve by the fallen angel, Satan, and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Milton’s purpose, stated in Book I, is to “justify the ways of God to men”.
Milton would want to do that because he had deep personal convictions, a passion for freedom and self-determination, and the urgent issues and political turbulence of his day.
Writing in English, Latin, Greek, and Italian, he achieved international renown within his lifetime, and his celebrated Areopagitica (1644)—written in condemnation of pre-publication censorship—is among history’s most influential and impassioned defences of free speech and freedom of the press.
Samuel Johnson praised Paradise Lost as “a poem which… with respect to design may claim the first place, and with respect to performance, the second, among the productions of the human mind,” though he (a Tory and recipient of royal patronage) described Milton’s politics as those of an “acrimonious and surly republican”.
In 1749, the first performance of George Frideric Handel’s “Music for the Royal Fireworks” takes place in Green Park, London.
The “Music for the Royal Fireworks” is a wind band suite composed under contract of George II of Great Britain for the fireworks in London’s Green Park on 27 April 1749. It was to celebrate the end of the War of the Austrian Succession and the signing of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748.
If you haven’t heard it before, have a listen:
In 1810, Beethoven composes one of his more popular compositions, Für Elise.
Beethoven’s hearing began to deteriorate around 1800 and by the last decade of his life he was almost totally deaf. He gave up conducting and performing in public but continued to compose; many of his most admired works come from this period.
Beethoven’s 9th Symphony in D Minor was written when he was completely deaf. It contains Ode To Joy, which you can listen to here:
Born in Bonn, then the capital of the Electorate of Cologne and part of the Holy Roman Empire, Beethoven displayed his musical talents at an early age and was taught by his father Johann van Beethoven and by Christian Gottlob Neefe. During his first 22 years in Bonn, Beethoven intended to study with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and befriended Joseph Haydn. Beethoven moved to Vienna in 1792 and began studying with Haydn, quickly gaining a reputation as a virtuoso pianist. He lived in Vienna until his death.
In 1981, Xerox PARC introduces the computer mouse.
Although one would think this doesn’t quite fit into the entertainment category, many forms of creativity have arisen from the computer mouse – artistic endeavours such as digital art, music, writing, etc.
If you have a birthday on this day, you share it with Mica Paris and Sheena Easton, among others.
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