Daily Almanac for Saturday, December 17, 2022

On this date in 1770, Composer Ludwig van Beethoven was baptized. His birth date is not known for certain. Here is the Ludwig van Beethoven Portrait by Joseph Karl Stieler, 1820. Public Domain, https commons.wikimedia.org


Ludwig van Beethoven (baptised 17 December 1770 – 26 March 1827) was a German composer and pianist. Beethoven remains one of the most admired composers in the history of Western music; his works rank amongst the most performed of the classical music repertoire and span the transition from the Classical period to the Romantic era in classical music. His career has conventionally been divided into early, middle, and late periods. His early period, during which he forged his craft, is typically considered to have lasted until 1802. From 1802 to around 1812, his middle period showed an individual development from the styles of Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and is sometimes characterized as heroic. During this time, he began to grow increasingly deaf. In his late period, from 1812 to 1827, he extended his innovations in musical form and expression.

Beethoven was born in Bonn. His musical talent was obvious at an early age. He was initially harshly and intensively taught by his father Johann van Beethoven. Beethoven was later taught by the composer and conductor Christian Gottlob Neefe, under whose tutelage he published his first work, a set of keyboard variations, in 1783. He found relief from a dysfunctional home life with the family of Helene von Breuning, whose children he loved, befriended, and taught piano. At age 21, he moved to Vienna, which subsequently became his base, and studied composition with Haydn. Beethoven then gained a reputation as a virtuoso pianist, and he was soon patronized by Karl Alois, Prince Lichnowsky for compositions, which resulted in his three Opus 1 piano trios (the earliest works to which he accorded an opus number) in 1795.

His first major orchestral work, the First Symphony, premiered in 1800, and his first set of string quartets was published in 1801. Despite his hearing deteriorating during this period, he continued to conduct, premiering his Third and Fifth Symphonies in 1804 and 1808, respectively. His Violin Concerto appeared in 1806. His last piano concerto (No. 5, Op. 73, known as the Emperor), dedicated to his frequent patron Archduke Rudolf of Austria, was premiered in 1811, without Beethoven as soloist. He was almost completely deaf by 1814, and he then gave up performing and appearing in public. He described his problems with health and his unfulfilled personal life in two letters, his Heiligenstadt Testament (1802) to his brothers and his unsent love letter to an unknown “Immortal Beloved” (1812).

After 1810, increasingly less socially involved, Beethoven composed many of his most admired works, including later symphonies, mature chamber music and the late piano sonatas. His only opera, Fidelio, first performed in 1805, was revised to its final version in 1814. He composed Missa solemnis between 1819 and 1823 and his final Symphony, No. 9, one of the first examples of a choral symphony, between 1822 and 1824. Written in his last years, his late string quartets, including the Grosse Fuge, of 1825–1826 are among his final achievements. After some months of bedridden illness, he died in 1827. Beethoven’s works remain mainstays of the classical music repertoire.


Wright Brothers Day

Near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, Orville and Wilbur Wright made the first recorded flight in history of a powered, heavier-than-air aircraft. Orville piloted the biplane, which flew for 12 seconds and covered 120 feet. Orville was born in Dayton, Ohio, while his business partner and older brother, Wilbur Wright, was born on a farm near Millville, Indiana. As young men, they opened up a bicycle sales and repair shop in 1892, and started building their own bicycles. With their mechanical ingenuity, they soon moved on to building airplanes. Their first design was a glider that they tested unsuccessfully in 1900, and then tested again with a new design in 1901.

The Wrights chose to test at Kitty Hawk, a small village on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, due to its many sand dunes—ideal for providing soft landings. Building on success, they built a wind tunnel, where they tested nearly 200 wing and airframe designs!

In 1902, they flew hundreds of successful flights in their 1902 glider. Their biplane glider featured a steering system, based on a movable rudder, that solved the problem of controlled flight. But they still needed to conquer powered, self-propelled flight. In 1903, they tested an aircraft with a 12-horsepower internal combustion engine. On December 14, 1903, Orville made the first attempt at powered flight, but the engine stalled during take-off and they crashed the plane. On December 17, 1903, Orville got the plane aloft for 12 seconds, flying 120 feet. Wilbur successfully flew the plane that day, too, covering 852 feet in 59 seconds. The modern aviation age was born.

Question of the Day

Can you tell me the origin of the saying “by hook or by crook”?

Reapers’ hooks and shepherds’ crooks are the instruments referred to here. In Old England, forests were the private property of the king, and permission to cut wood was rarely given. Commoners could take deadwood, though, and they increased their bounty by bringing down branches from the trees in any way they could—including by hook or by crook.

Advice of the Day

Eat olives before a journey that may cause motion sickness.

Home Hint of the Day

Pouring vinegar down the drain is an effective means of eliminating odors.

Word of the Day


Named after the Ute tribe. The word ute means “people of the mountains.”

Puzzle of the Day

What goes up the hill, down the hill, and yet stands still?

A road


  • John Greenleaf Whittier (poet) – 1807
  • Arthur Fiedler (conductor) – 1894
  • Eugene Levy (actor) – 1946
  • Bill Pullman (actor) – 1953
  • Milla Jovovich (actress) – 1975


  • Dorothy L. Sayers (author) – 1957
  • Hank Luisetti (basketball player) – 2002
  • Jennifer Jones (actress) – 2009
  • Penny Marshall (actress & director) – 2018


  • Composer Ludwig van Beethoven was baptized. His birth date is not known for certain.– 1770
  • France formally recognized American independence– 1777
  • Tchaikovsky’s ballet The Nutcracker premiered, St. Petersburg, Russia– 1892
  • First National Football League championship game was played at Wrigley Field—the Chicago Bears beat the New York Giants 23-21– 1933
  • The Canadian Maple leaf flag” was approved by the Senate”– 1964
  • A program dedicated to the investigation of UFOs (called Project Blue Book) was terminated. For more than 20 years, the U.S. Air Force had examined 12,618 sightings. Most of these were found to be caused by man-made objects such as balloons, satellites, and aircraft; natural or astronomical phenomena; weather; and hoaxes. At the time of the program’s termination, 701 UFOs remained unexplained.– 1969
  • First heart, lung, and liver transplant– 1986
  • The Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport officially changed its name to Bob Hope Airport– 2003
  • A guitar played by George Harrison on the Beatles’ Revolver album and by John Lennon during the recording of the White Album sold to an anonymous bidder for $567,500– 2004
  • Bob Fisher made 2,371 basketball free throws in 1 hour, in Centralia, Kansas– 2011


  • Snow fell for three weeks in Portland, Oregon, accumulating to 34 inches for a December record– 1884
  • A severe ice storm hit central Illinois– 1924
  • Australia beat a record with its hottest day ever. The average temperature across the country was 105 degrees F.– 2019

COURTESY www.almanac.com