1827 — Ludwig van Beethoven dies

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.

Referenced in:

Green Onions — The Blues Brothers
Decomposing Composers — Monty Python

1931 — Leonard Nimoy born

Best known for the role of Mr Spock in the “Star Trek” franchise, Leonard Simon Nimoy was born in Boston, Massachusetts, although he has spent most of his adult life living and working in Los Angeles. He began acting in 1951 with a role in a film titled “Rhubarb”.

Other than Mr Spock, a character he has had a vexed relationship with over the years, Nimoy’s best known roles were Paris in the original “Mission Impossible” and Dr. David Kibner in the 1978 remake of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”.

Referenced in:
The Chanukah Song (Part I) — Adam Sandler

1940 — James Caan born

An American actor born in New York City, James Caan is one of those rare actors to use his real name. His acting career started when he was 21, with roles in off-Broadway productions. Within three years, he was getting regular work as a character actor on tv and in the movies, and the size of his roles increased as fame slowly found him.

Throughout the Seventies, he continued to act, and wound up doing some of his best known roles, notably as Sonny Corleone in “The Godfather” I and II. He also appeared in such films as “Rollerball”, “A Bridge Too Far” and “Alien Nation”.

Referenced in:
The Chanukah Song (Part I) — Adam Sandler