On Friday, December 22, 1775, the Continental Congress creates a Continental Navy, naming Esek Hopkins, Esq., as commander in chief of the fleet. Congress also named four captains to the new service: Dudley Saltonstall, Abraham Whipple, Nicholas Biddle and John Burrows Hopkins. Their respective vessels, the Alfred, Columbus, Andrew Doria and Cabot, became the first ships of the Navy’s fleet. Five first lieutenants, including future American hero John Paul Jones, five second lieutenants, and three third lieutenants also received their commissions. Find the Navy home-ported at the library and on hoopla.
If the initial reviews failed to recognize it as one of the greatest pieces of music ever written, one needs to understand the adverse conditions under which the work was first heard. The Vienna concert venue was freezing cold; it was more than two hours into a mammoth four-hour program before the piece began; and the orchestra played poorly enough that day to force the nearly deaf composer—also acting as conductor and pianist—to stop the ensemble partway into one passage and start again from the very beginning. It was, all in all, a very inauspicious beginning for what would soon become the world’s most recognizable piece of classical music: Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67—the “Fifth Symphony”—which received its world premiere on December 22, 1808. Also premiering that day at the Theater an der Wien in Vienna were Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58, and the Symphony No. 6 in F major, Op. 68—the “Pastoral Symphony.” But it was the Fifth Symphony that, despite its shaky premiere, would eventually be recognized as Beethoven’s greatest achievement to that point in his career. Listen to the 5th on hoopla and Freegal.