William Blake was perhaps the greatest English poet of his time, and one of the small pantheon of all time greats, standing alongside Shakespeare, Byron, Shelley and Tennyson. His best known works include The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, The Songs of Innocence and The Songs of Experience.
Born in London in 1757, not far the site of the Ripper murders over a century later, Blake’s family were not wealthy, and he stayed at school only long enough to learn to read and write. However, this was enough to get his natural talents as a writer and artist going, and Blake never looked back. His work, however, was often controversial – his most frequent subject matter could best be described as a species of pagan christianity, and his mysticism was a profound influence on his work. He died with visions of his Heaven in his eyes and words of faith and devotion on his lips.
You Don’t Pull No Punches, But You Don’t Push The River — Van Morrison
Ludwig van Beethoven is one of the most well-known composers ever. His Fifth Symphony’s opening bar is perhaps the most recognisable musical passage in Western culture – “da da da DAH!” (It’s also the Morse code for V, which is the Roman numeral for 5. Sam Morse apparently liked complicated puns.)
Born in Bonn, Germany in the year 1770, he would rise from relatively humble beginnings to become one of the great composers of his (or any other) era. In addition to his nine symphonies, he also wrote a wide variety of sonatas, concertos, string quartets and a single opera. Among his better known compositions are “Fur Elise” and the Triple Concerto.
He died on March 26, 1827 in Vienna, after a lengthy series of illnesses that had left him deaf and bedridden. His funeral was a massive undertaking, and mourners lined the streets of Vienna as his body was taken to the cemetery. He left behind him a vast musical legacy, and remains one of the most played and performed of composers even today.